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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…)

Mono Basin Winter Wander field seminars in March

Thursday, February 20th, 2020 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide

Have you ever visited the Mono Basin in the winter? It is silent, mysterious, and majestic. It is a whole different experience than the hustle and bustle of summertime. Winter invites us to experience the forgotten season and wander in a mountain meadow or along a frozen creek, curious and in awe.

Lee Vining Creek flows between snowy banks in 2017. Photo by Nora Livingston.

We are offering two dates in March for a unique field seminar that investigates the wonders of winter (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…)

Registration is open for 2020 Mono Basin Field Seminars

Saturday, February 1st, 2020 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

Field Seminar registration opened this morning at 9:00am for Mono Lake Committee members, and sign-ups are going strong! Now is the time to make sure your membership is current and snag spots in the seminar(s) of your choice.

Don’t miss your chance to take a Mono Basin Field Seminar this year! Photo by AnnaLisa Mayer.

This year there are more than 30 seminars to choose from, covering topics such as woodpeckers, small mammals, arborglyphs, oil painting, watercolor painting, geology, and several (more…)

2020 Mono Lake Field Seminars posted online

Wednesday, January 15th, 2020 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

The complete list of all the Mono Lake Committee’s 2020 Field Seminars is now available online here! Registration opens at 9:00am on Saturday, February 1 for members only.

Check out the whole list of 2020 Mono Lake Field Seminars here! Photo by Rose Nelson.

Take a look at the seminars now so you know what to sign up for in two weeks when registration opens on Friday, February 1 at 9:00am for Mono Lake Committee members only. If you are not a Committee member, but you wish to register in February, you may join the Committee and sign up for the class of your choice at the same time. If you have any questions, you can check the list of frequently asked questionsemail the Field Seminar team, or call (760) 647-6595.

2019 in review: The 5-Mile Radius challenge at Mono Lake

Monday, January 6th, 2020 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide

A coyote trots along the wintry shore of Mono Lake on January 1, 2019. Photo by Nora Livingston.

In 2019, I set out to dig deeper into the natural history of the Mono Basin so I can better share it with visitors and locals alike. I took on a quest called the 5-Mile Radius (5MR) challenge that focuses on getting to know the flora and fauna within five miles of my home. It is more than keeping lists of birds seen and plants found—it is a way to pay careful attention to my community. It is a way to fall in love every time I set foot outside my door. In my particular case, it is also (more…)

Mono Lake’s California Gulls make headlines once again

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019 by Arya, Communications Director

In an article released today, “Non-native weeds are engulfing the ancient breeding grounds of Mono Lake’s California gulls,” the Los Angeles Times revisits the colorful history and challenging current situation on the gulls’ nesting islands.

It’s another chapter in the fascinating, colorful, and ongoing story of Mono Lake’s California Gulls.

In 1978 the National Guard made the first of two attempts to blast a moat across the landbridge to Negit Island. Archive photo from Storm Over Mono by John Hart.

(more…)

Monitoring willow growth along Rush Creek

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019 by AnnaLisa, Mono Lake Intern

After tumbling out of the car following a jaunt down Forest Service roads to Rush Creek, fellow intern Meghan and I started the steep, sandy descent to a location known as Vestal Springs, weaving our way between fragrant sagebrush and rose shrubs.

AnnaLisa measuring a willow stem as Robbie looks on. Photo by Meghan Cihasky.

The springs are named for California Fish & Game Biologist Elden Vestal (1914–1998), an expert on Mono Lake’s tributary streams and a critical witness during the courtroom and State Water Board proceedings leading up to the 1994 Mono Lake decision.

Vestal Springs support a lush, grassy oasis separate from the nearby riparian habitat of Rush Creek. In addition to grasses and wildflowers, the area is scattered with large willow trees. It is these trees that Meghan and I came here for. (more…)

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