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2020 Lake level forecast report: Mono Lake to drop over a foot this runoff year

Wednesday, July 8th, 2020 by Arya, Communications Director

We wouldn’t blame if you if you missed the April 1 start of the 2020–2021 runoff year this year. Since it’s such an important date for Mono Lake, we made sure to read the lake level gauge with Los Angeles Department of Water & Power staff (physically-distanced, of course), and the lake measured 6382.6 feet above sea level.

On April 1, 2020 Los Angeles Department of Water & Power and Mono Lake Committee staff safely read the lake level gauge. The result: 6382.6 feet above sea level. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

With this number in hand, both the Mono Lake Committee and DWP look at snowpack numbers, similar past years, and a veritable river of other hydrological statistical data, and each come up with a lake level forecast for the runoff year.

While DWP’s forecast is for only a 0.6-foot drop in lake level, there is evidence that its runoff forecast based on the April snowpack is too high, making the lake level projection too optimistic. Unfortunately, the Committee’s forecast is for a 1.2-foot net fall in lake level, which means that on April 1, 2021 we expect Mono Lake to be 1.2 feet lower than (more…)

Mono County Supervisors tackle the big picture on Tioga Inn, direct major fixes

Wednesday, July 1st, 2020 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

After two lengthy days of public meeting and deliberation, the Mono County Board of Supervisors sent the Tioga Inn project back to the developer and staff for major improvements to the design and content.

In September last year, the Mono County Planning Commissioners and members of the public visited the Tioga Inn project site. Photo by Elin Ljung.

The Board affirmed its commitment to protect the long-term best interests of Mono County and its residents and visitors. Supervisors recognized the project will set a precedent for large development throughout the county and frequently noted the need to get the Tioga Inn project right, especially in light of its prominent location and size relative to the existing community.

Supervisors are expecting significant project design improvements that will reduce visual impacts, resolve fire concerns, and add a safe pedestrian route between Lee Vining and the project site. The Mono Lake Committee continues to work closely with the Lee Vining community and looks forward to engaging with Mono County staff to craft significant changes that will produce a project that respects the local community and the scenic Mono Basin.

The Board tentatively scheduled a July 20 special meeting when they can consider the improved project.

Eleventh-hour project changes

On Monday, thoughtful input from (more…)

Tioga Inn project hearing continues into day two

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020 by Arya, Communications Director

After nine hours of presentations and public comment yesterday, the Mono County Board of Supervisors decided to hold deliberations and their vote to approve, modify, or deny the Tioga Inn project on the planned second day of this special meeting.

Highlights and surprising moments from the meeting thus far include 51 in-person and by-Zoom two-minute-limited public comments, with 3 in support and 48 againstthe introduction of wholly new potential elements to the project from the developer, and wide-ranging questions from the Board.

In an effort to assess the effects of reflective surfaces at the proposed Tioga Inn project site, Mono Lake Committee staff brought a 2×3-foot mirror to the site and photographed the reflection from South Tufa. This photograph was presented to the Board. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Mono Lake Committee staff comments focused on the unmitigated significant negative impacts in the Final Subsequent Environmental Impact Report—scenic impacts to South Tufa, the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area, and throughout the viewshed, impacts to the dark night sky, and issues in direct conflict with the Mono Basin Community Plan, including pedestrian safety, impacts to schools, feasibility of a trail to town, fire safety, and more.

By far, the most impressive part of the day was the wide array of thoughtful and heartfelt comments from the public.

You can follow the proceedings starting today, Tuesday, June 30th at 9:00am online by Zoom, telephone, or live stream (click here for instructions for each).

See you there.

Looking west towards Tioga Pass from South Tufa. Photo courtesy of Jeff Sullivan.

Tioga Inn project: Minimal modeling shows significant impacts to the Mono Basin’s scenic resources

Saturday, June 27th, 2020 by Robbie, Restoration Field Technician

The Draft Subsequent Environmental Impact Report (DSEIR) for the Tioga Inn project identified five significant and unavoidable adverse impacts. Despite a large and comprehensive public response voicing concerns over these impacts, the Final Subsequent Environmental Impact Report (FSEIR) declared:

“The significant and unavoidable adverse impacts that were identified in the DSEIR will remain significant and unavoidable if the proposed Tioga [Inn] project is approved, even with modifications proposed in this FSEIR.”

Of these five impacts, impacts to scenic views were the hardest for me personally to fully comprehend since no 3-D models were provided to demonstrate what the project would look like after grading and construction were completed. Notably, the FSEIR acknowledged that project impacts to aesthetic resources were the most common and frequent concern from comment letters. To better understand what the final project as proposed in the FSEIR would look like I conducted a 3-D visualization and viewshed analysis using ArcGIS. (more…)

Deadline to send comments about the Tioga Inn extended

Friday, June 26th, 2020 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

The deadline to email comments to Mono County about the Tioga Inn project has been extended from 5:00pm tonight to 9:00am on Monday morning, which is when the hearing begins.

Please email your comment to cddcomments at mono dot ca dot gov and also to Bartshe Miller, the Committee’s Policy Director.

Helpful resources for writing your comment:

In addition to emailing your comments, you can attend the hearing online via Zoom and speak as well. Thank you for making your voice heard!

An example of one of the project’s significant adverse visual impacts: This reflection from a small piece of glass at the Tioga Inn project site is clearly visible at South Tufa, marring the dawn view. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Jeff Maurer Chautauqua Research Grant recipients

Wednesday, June 24th, 2020 by Rose, Education Director

During a typical Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua, the Jeff Maurer Chautauqua Research Grant is awarded to support research in the Mono Basin. The grant is in memory of biologist, birder, and educator Jeff Maurer, who died in a climbing accident in 2009.

Jeff Maurer, in purple shirt, leading a field trip during the 2007 Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua. Photo by Arya Harp.

Despite having to cancel the event this year, the Chautauqua team agreed that supporting research needs to continue. We are happy to announce that we awarded two research projects with a $2,000 grant each.

The first grant (more…)

Tioga Inn project threatens Mono Lake views and creates harmful impacts for the Lee Vining community, Mono County, and the gateway to Yosemite National Park

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

Next Monday, June 29, starting at 9:00am PDT, the Mono County Board of Supervisors will consider the Tioga Inn project and ultimately vote to approve, modify, or deny it.

The reflection from a small piece of glass at the Tioga Inn project site is clearly visible at South Tufa, marring the dawn view. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

 

This is a critical moment for public comment. The Tioga Inn project threatens to bring a host of significant adverse impacts to the community of Lee Vining, the scenic Mono Basin, and the gateway to Yosemite National Park.

Since the scoping process for the project began four years ago, over a thousand comment letters and hours of testimony from residents, agencies, and the public have offered suggestions about, mitigations for, and solutions to the project impacts. However, the developer has rejected meaningful changes to the project, and the significant adverse impacts remain.

As a result, the Supervisors now have to consider a project that damages the scenic nature of the Mono Basin, compromises the safety of motorists, pedestrians and cyclists, stretches the capacity of local schools and the volunteer fire department, and saddles the Lee Vining community and Mono County taxpayers with impacts and financial burdens that should be the responsibility of the developer.

Monday’s meeting will be (more…)

2020 Mono Lake Committee Scholarship recipients

Wednesday, June 17th, 2020 by Rose, Education Director

Since 2008, the Mono Lake Committee has supported local students by awarding two $1,000 scholarships to Mono County high school seniors.

2020 Mono Lake Committee Scholarship recipients Keely Podosin of Mammoth High School and Ben Trefry of Lee Vining High School. Photos courtesy of each graduate.

We couldn’t think of a better time to continue our support than for the graduating class of 2020. We asked applicants to get close to the shoreline of Mono Lake without distractions and jot down what they saw, heard, smelled, and felt around them and then reflect on the question: Why do places like Mono Lake matter?

The essays we received this year were (more…)

Sign up to help inform the organization of monolake.org

Sunday, June 14th, 2020 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator

Although the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore is currently closed and most of our typical summer programs are cancelled, Mono Lake Committee staff are still hard at work from home. One of the major projects we are undertaking during this time is creating a completely redesigned website, and we need your help!

We are currently working on a major update and revision to monolake.org and we need your help.

In July, we will be working on creating the information architecture for the website—focusing on organizing, structuring, and labeling website content in a simple and clear way. This will help us create the foundation for the redesigned site, with the goal of helping visitors easily find information and successfully complete tasks on the website.

There are two online exercises we need your help with—card sorting and tree testing. The card sorting exercise will ask you to organize topics into groups that make sense to you to inform the site map. The tree testing exercise will ask you to try to accomplish a series of tasks using a draft site map we create.

If you’re interested in completing these exercises, you can sign up here or simply send me an email saying you would like to help. After signing up, expect to receive a couple emails in July inviting you to complete each exercise. Thank you for your help!

Mono County Board of Supervisors will consider Tioga Inn project on June 29

Tuesday, June 9th, 2020 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

At their regular meeting this morning, the Mono County Board of Supervisors confirmed that they will consider the Tioga Inn project on Monday, June 29.

The view over Mono Lake from the site of the proposed Tioga Inn project. Photo by Elin Ljung.

The meeting will take place in the Lee Vining High School gym, which can accommodate up to 100 people with proper social distancing protocols. It will also be available virtually on Zoom. The combined in-person and virtual meeting format will allow (more…)

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