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Inyo National Forest closes starting at 5:00pm tonight

Monday, September 7th, 2020 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

Starting tonight at 5:00pm, the Inyo National Forest will close temporarily due to extreme fire danger and firefighting resources that are already stretched thin.

The closure includes all campgrounds, all day-use sites, all trails, all roads, all recreation, and all dispersed camping. It affects Mono Lake, which is within the Inyo National Forest, and is already partially closed at the South Tufa and Navy Beach areas.

The closure will be in place for at least one week, and then starting on September 14th will be re-evaluated daily as conditions change. Update: Since the closure was put in place on September 7th it has been extended week by week, at least through October 1st. See the Forest Service’s Region 5 website for the latest closure orders.

Seven other National Forests will close tonight: (more…)

South Tufa & Navy Beach will remain closed through Labor Day weekend

Thursday, September 3rd, 2020 by Claire, Office Manager

South Tufa and Navy Beach will remain closed through the Labor Day holiday weekend in the wake of the Beach Fire, which burned nearly 3,800 acres in mid-August.

South Tufa and Navy Beach are closed after the Beach Fire burned nearly 4,000 acres along the southeast shore of Mono Lake in mid-August. Photo by Santiago Escruceria.

The fire is now completely out, but California State Parks staff is still assessing resource damage and preparing signs and barriers to keep visitors on established roads and pathways. They report that some tufa was scorched, but there’s been no serious damage to (more…)

Firefighters close to containing Mono Lake’s Beach Fire

Wednesday, August 19th, 2020 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

While lightning-sparked fires spread across Northern California, at Mono Lake, the Beach Fire is nearly contained.

The Beach Fire burned between South Tufa and Navy Beach, scorching some tufa towers. The main tufa groves are undamaged. Photo by Rose Nelson.

Lightning ignited the sagebrush and rabbitbrush uplands of the south shore of Mono Lake on the evening of August 16 and as of August 19, a total of 3,780 acres had burned. The fire has burned between South Tufa and Navy Beach (more…)

Beach Fire ignited by lightning near Mono Lake’s southeast shore

Monday, August 17th, 2020 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

Last night at about 6:30pm lightning ignited the Beach Fire southeast of Mono Lake, which is estimated to be 1,650 acres in size and 20% contained as of this morning, according to the Inyo National Forest. It is being “aggressively suppressed.”

A view of the Beach Fire from Highway 120 East yesterday evening as it flared up, driven by gusty winds from the east. Photo by Santiago Escruceria.

Mono Lake Committee staff who volunteer on the Lee Vining Fire Department were among the first responders to the fire, and staff who live north of Mono Lake got a good view of the plume of smoke with storm clouds to the east of it. (more…)

2020 Mono Basin Field Seminars are canceled

Monday, May 25th, 2020 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

Last week we made the difficult decision to cancel all Mono Basin Field Seminars through the end of the year. After much consideration, we couldn’t envision offering them with the uncertainties that lie ahead, in a way that minimizes risk well enough, and yet doesn’t compromise the experience that participants expect.

The 2020 Mono Basin Field Seminars have been canceled due to the uncertainties and risks associated with the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo from 2018.

We are deeply disappointed about this—the Field Seminars have been a tradition at Mono Lake for more than 25 years, and we will miss seeing all the great instructors and enthusiastic participants in the Mono Basin this year. But as hard as the decision was to make, it was also clear—we don’t want to risk anyone’s health during a year when gathering together will be tricky at best.

While this program has been canceled, there are (more…)

Efforts to rid Mono Lake’s islets of Bassia continue

Thursday, March 12th, 2020 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

Since mid-February’s successful prescribed burn on Twain Islet to clear breeding habitat for California Gulls, the Mono Lake Committee has been working with the Inyo National Forest and Point Blue Conservation Science to schedule another burn before the gulls return to nest for the season.

Mono Lake Committee and State Parks staff returned to Twain Islet in late February to continue efforts to restore California Gull nesting habitat. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

However, a combination of windy and rainy weather, the complex logistics of getting all parties out to the islands, and Point Blue biologists’ observations of gulls already returning to Mono Lake means that the burn window has closed for this spring.

Even though (more…)

A burning solution to the Bassia problem

Friday, February 21st, 2020 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

In a monumental effort, the Inyo National Forest, in partnership with the Mono Lake Committee, conducted a series of prescribed fires with the specific goal of restoring California Gull breeding habitat on the islands in Mono Lake.

The Bassia caught fire better than expected in February’s warm, dry weather, so the Inyo fire crew burned as much as possible over two days. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

Working between episodes of wintry weather, the Committee and Inyo fire personnel raced to mitigate the impact of a troublesome invasive plant, Bassia hyssopifolia, that has grown to cover over 70% of the Negit Islets and is preventing California Gulls from nesting successfully.

Despite an initial, discouraging assessment of how well the weeds might burn, in mid-February a long-planned prescribed fire moved forward and resulted in (more…)

Prescribed fire on Mono Lake’s islet in the LA Times

Saturday, February 15th, 2020 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

Veteran Los Angeles Times reporter Louis Sahagun accompanied Mono Lake Committee staff and Inyo National Forest fire personnel to Twain Islet yesterday for the prescribed burn to restore California Gull habitat taken over by the invasive weed Bassia hyssopifolia. Check out Louis’ article here, and if you get the paper, watch for it in tomorrow’s Sunday edition!

Smoke signals good news for Mono Lake’s California Gulls

Friday, February 14th, 2020 by Arya, Communications Director

If you were lucky enough to be in the Mono Basin—or if you checked out the webcam—the past two crystal clear, glassy water, calm days, you likely would have noticed something unusual rising out over Mono Lake—smoke.

There is no cause for alarm, it’s actually a good sign—especially for California Gulls whose nesting grounds on the Negit Islets are being cleared of an invasive weed in time for the 2020 nesting season.

After much consideration, the Inyo National Forest, Mono Lake Committee, and Point Blue Conservation Science concluded the most efficient course of action was to pursue a prescribed burn to eradicate the invasive weed taking over the gull nesting grounds. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

In a partnership born out of a mutual interest in this critical wildlife habitat protection effort in the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area, the Inyo National Forest, the Mono Lake Committee, and Point Blue Conservation Science have been planning and working towards a solution to the recent invasion of Bassia hyssopifolia for three years. The smoke rising from the islets is from a prescribed burn being done to protect gull nesting habitat.

The Mono Lake Committee advocated for a prescribed burn (more…)

Refreshing ‘Ologists: Conserving giant sequoia and coast redwood in a time of global change

Saturday, July 27th, 2019 by Ellie, Mono Lake Intern

Join us on July 31 at 4:00pm in the Mono Lake Committee gallery for Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists. Kristen Shive, Science Director of Save the Redwoods League, will be here to discuss how sequoias and redwoods respond to a changing climate. If you can join us for this free event, please sign up here.

A prescribed burn in the Mariposa Grove in Yosemite. Photo courtesy of Kristen Shive.

(more…)

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