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Fall colors season begins soon

Thursday, September 13th, 2018 by Max, Mono Lake Intern
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It’s that time of year again! Yes, we are already halfway through September and the first official day of fall is just around the corner. As we welcome the cooler mornings, migrating Eared Grebes, and the occasional high-elevation snow flurry, we can also look forward to the much-anticipated fall colors. If fires or a busy schedule kept you from visiting Mono Basin this summer, don’t fret! You still have an opportunity to catch a glimpse of what helps make the basin so spectacular—the changing hues of vibrant aspen trees.

So far there were only a few spots of fall color high up in Lundy Canyon on Monday, September 10. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Fall colors haven’t quite started to display in the Mono Basin quite yet, but within the next week we can expect to see some hints of yellow or orange streaks, especially at the higher elevations. Mid-September to mid-October is generally (more…)

Refreshing ‘Ologists: Effects of climate change on mountain ecosystems with Connie Millar

Sunday, September 9th, 2018 by Joslyn, Mono Lake Intern
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Join us on Wednesday, September 12 at 4:00pm in the Mono Lake Committee gallery for this week’s Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists presentation. Connie Millar, US Forest Service Senior Research Ecologist, will be here to discuss the effects of climate change on mountain ecosystems. If you can join us, register here for this free program!

A pika near Virginia Lakes. Connie will be discussing her research on pikas, which are particularly vulnerable to rising temperatures. Photo courtesy of Ken Hickman.

Connie will provide an overview of her research into the responses of mountain ecosystems—in particular, pines and pikas—to changing climates. With information on how species responded to (more…)

Free guided tours at Mono Lake: Fall schedule

Saturday, September 8th, 2018 by Max, Mono Lake Intern
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The seasons are starting to shift and with that comes a shift in the Mono Basin interpretative tour schedule. Join a naturalist for a free guided South Tufa tour or a Stars Over Mono talk this fall—both are great ways to experience the Mono Basin from a new perspective and learn something new, no matter if you’re a new visitor or you return every year.

Join us at South Tufa on Monday nights this fall for the free Stars Over Mono program. Photo courtesy of Gowrishankar Lakshminarayanan.

This fall, South Tufa tours will be offered to visitors on Saturdays and Sundays at 1:00pm and will begin at the South Tufa kiosk. These tours will be led by a naturalist from the (more…)

Mono Lake Committee initiates study of Mono Basin glaciers

Friday, September 7th, 2018 by Mono Lake Committee Staff
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Jace Shuler, a junior math major at Boston College, started a study of Mono Basin glaciers when he worked at the Mono Lake Committee this summer. This post was written by Jace.

When I tell people that I spent the summer studying and mapping the glaciers in the Mono Basin, the question I always seem to get is, “There are glaciers around Mono Lake?” The short answer is, yes, there are, and they are of great interest to the Mono Lake Committee.

The first step of my project with the Committee was to identify what exists in the area, both in terms of glaciers and data about those glaciers. From there (more…)

Refreshing ‘Ologists: Insects & conservation with Kristie Nelson

Sunday, September 2nd, 2018 by Joslyn, Mono Lake Intern
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Join us on Wednesday, September 5 at 4:00pm in the Mono Lake Committee gallery for this week’s Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists presentation. Kristie Nelson, Lead Scientist for Point Blue Conservation Science, will be here to discuss insects and their ability to conserve the planet.

A wasp and a Sierra Blue butterfly pollinating. Photo courtesy of Kristie Nelson.

Insects comprise over 80% of Earth’s organisms, yet relatively few people pay attention to them, and declining populations or localized extinctions risk not being noticed. For example (more…)

The story of the Pioneer Solar Pavilion

Wednesday, August 29th, 2018 by Janet, Volunteer Coordinator
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“Once upon a time, in a little mountain town on the edge of a big blue lake, a small group of people wanted to do something. They noticed that winter snows were less deep, and summer days were drier and hotter with forest fire smoke in the air. The group wanted to protect their beautiful lake, which depended on the snow to stay healthy.

“So the group decided to build a beautiful pavilion with a roof of solar panels, based on an idea from a town across the sea, to showcase how it is possible to have clean energy. It was a wonderful plan, but there was no money or knowledge to build something so grand.”

This is the beginning of the story of the Pioneer Solar Pavilion that was dedicated on Saturday, August 25, 2018 at Hess Park in Lee Vining.

Lee Vining’s Pioneer Solar Pavilion is a community-built gathering space that provides shade, electricity, wi-fi, shelter from wind, and information about local pioneer families. Photo by Elin Ljung.

The rest of the story is this: (more…)

Learn about the hot topic of wildfire in the Fire Ecology of the Eastern Sierra field seminar

Monday, August 27th, 2018 by Eric, Mono Lake Intern
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If you’ve ever wanted to know more about the role of fire in California, our upcoming field seminar, Fire Ecology of the Eastern Sierra, is the place to jump in. After a summer when wildfires have made news all over California and the western US, spend September 15–16, 2018 in the field with fire expert Malcolm North to learn about this powerful force. Sign up here.

The Marina Fire burns on the west side of Mono Lake in June 2016. The site of the Marina Fire will be one of the stops in this seminar. Photo by Santiago Escruceria.

It has been a hot summer for wildfires in California, and while fires are vital to maintaining healthy forests in much of the western US, many modern fires burn differently than the fires forests evolved with. What is the current wildfire situation (more…)

Successful invasive sweet clover removal at Mono Lake

Thursday, August 23rd, 2018 by Nigel, Birding Intern
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This summer, Mono Lake Committee staff, volunteers, and guest naturalists made substantial progress toward removing invasive white sweet clover (Melilotus albus) from the Old Marina area. This annual project is a crucial piece of the Committee’s mission to restore native habitats throughout the Mono Basin.

Volunteers Joy and Maddog add to the growing pile of pulled sweet clover. Photo by Nigel Bates.

Sweet clover can quickly overtake an ecosystem if it is not held in check, so our yearly invasive removal events are critical to maintaining the biodiversity of the area. Over the course of two mornings, we removed 199.75 pounds of sweet clover! This marked one of our most efficient summers ever, with each participant pulling an average of 17 pounds. Thanks to all of our volunteers for their hard work and good spirits.

As we pulled sweet clover, we were treated to informal lectures by our guest naturalists (more…)

Refreshing’ Ologists: Mono Basin glaciers with Jace Shuler

Saturday, August 18th, 2018 by Joslyn, Mono Lake Intern
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Join us on Wednesday, August 22 at 4:00pm in the Mono Lake Committee gallery for this week’s Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists presentation. Jace Shuler will be presenting his findings from his undergraduate research project on glaciers in the Mono Basin.

Changes in the Kuna glacier (left) and the Koip glacier (right) between 1985 (top) and 2014 (bottom). Photos courtesy of Jace Shuler.

Jace will discuss the status of the four glaciers in the Mono Basin—Conness, Dana, Kuna, and Koip glaciers. He has been using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and aerial photos to examine how the surface area of the glaciers has changed since 1951, as well as working on how we can use the same tools to forecast the glaciers’ future. It’s important to educate both the public and policymakers about the effects of climate change on the Mono Basin, and Jace’s work contributes to that effort.

Celebrate clean air with a discount on Mono Lake canoe tours

Friday, August 17th, 2018 by Alison, Canoe Coordinator
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The Ferguson Fire, which started burning on July 13, 2018 near the western edge of Yosemite National Park, is finally nearing full containment after over a month of hard work by firefighters and response crews. Yosemite Valley was closed for almost two weeks due to road closures and hazardous air quality, but the valley has officially reopened to the public. While the Ferguson Fire is still burning, it is 87% contained as of August 17 and air quality within the park as well as in the surrounding gateway communities has improved drastically.

Anna, Mono Lake Intern, prepares to lead a smoky canoe tour on Mono Lake. Photo by Alison Kaplan.

Here at the Mono Lake Committee we were lucky to have clean enough air in the mornings to run all of our scheduled canoe tours despite the generally poor air quality, but visibility was low and views of the surrounding mountains were scarce. (more…)

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