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DWP takes unilateral land management action, causing litigation: Is dewatering of Long Valley meadows the first step in a new phase of water extraction?

Thursday, November 15th, 2018 by Geoff, Executive Director
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The Mono Lake Committee celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. That means the Committee has been advocating for Mono Lake and its tributary streams for more than half the years that the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) has been in the business of exporting water from the Mono Basin.

The Mono Lake Committee and our expert consultants, network of partners, and 16,000 members are always alert to threats to Mono Lake, its tributary streams, and surrounding lands. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

DWP has changed in many ways over those 40 years, some internally generated and many, like the protection of Mono Lake, resulting from intense advocacy efforts and new rules imposed by outside authorities. Institutional change has often been due to the citizens of Los Angeles requiring greater environmental responsibility from DWP, both directly and through elected city council members and mayors who have worked together with groups like the Committee to reach that goal. As a result Los Angeles is a leader in building a more sustainable and reliable water supply through conservation, reclamation, groundwater cleanup, and local supply.

The famously contentious relationship between DWP and the Eastern Sierra has changed as well. (more…)

On to the future: 40 years and rising

Monday, November 12th, 2018 by Sally, Board of Directors
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Editor’s note: To celebrate the Mono Lake Committee’s 40th anniversary in the Newsletter, Sally Gaines, co-founder and Board Chair, is writing a series of reflections on the past, present, and future of the organization.

Even if I squint or put on my reading glasses, most aspects of the future are impossible to foresee, as if the crystal ball is clouded with brine shrimp like the aquarium in the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore.

Everyday technology and style is already beyond my understanding. Genetic engineering on plants, animals, and humans is a big unknown as is artificial intelligence, for just a couple examples. What is clear to me is that everything the Mono Lake Committee does today is with the future in mind. (more…)

Fall 2018 Mono Lake Newsletter now online

Friday, November 9th, 2018 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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At the 40th anniversary storytelling roundtable held during the Defense Trust Weekend, listening to Sally Gaines, Martha Davis, Geoff McQuilkin, and Peter Vorster reminisce about the early days of the Mono Lake Committee, I had a sudden, clear thought:

What we’re doing—all of us, every day at Mono Lake—is defending the public trust.

The roundtable was held at the brand-new Pioneer Solar Pavilion in Hess Park, a project brought to life by the (extra) ordinary people of Lee Vining, who believe in a better future for Mono Lake and all who love it. They’re defending the public trust.

During the early days of the Committee’s efforts to save Mono Lake, even before the legal argument that the lake should be protected for the public good was articulated, Sally and David and the other founders were defending the public trust. (more…)

Defending the public trust at Mono Lake

Thursday, November 8th, 2018 by Geoff, Executive Director
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2018 Defender of the Trust Peter Vorster. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

The California Supreme Court begins its landmark 1983 Mono Lake decision with these powerful words: “The public trust is an affirmation of the duty of the state to protect the people’s common heritage of streams, lakes, marshlands and tidelands…”

Every other year, to celebrate the history of the public trust at Mono Lake, we organize a special three-day Defense Trust Weekend for the Mono Lake Committee’s high donors. The weekend is full of field trips, good food, and time spent with fellow Mono Lake enthusiasts and Committee Board and staff.

This year we had an open house in the Committee office, a Rush Creek tour with experts including (more…)

Mono Lake Committee objects to Inyo National Forest Plan elements

Thursday, October 25th, 2018 by Bartshé, Education Director
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On August 3 the Inyo National Forest released its revised land management plan and draft record of decision.

According to the Committee’s analysis, Mono Lake’s tributary streams are eligible for Wild & Scenic River designation. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

Also known as the Inyo National Forest Land Management Plan, this new plan, when final, will replace the 1988 plan that the Inyo has been following. Once the new plan is approved it will provide management guidance for the Inyo’s two million acres over the next two decades.

Since 2014 the Mono Lake Committee has been involved in the public plan revision process, attending meetings, analyzing information, and commenting on the plan revision. Specifically, the Committee has evaluated (more…)

Early-bird Mono Lake Free Drawing winner, plus more chances to win

Friday, October 12th, 2018 by Joslyn, Project Specialist
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Last week we drew the winner of the early bird prize for the 2018 Free Drawing—congratulations to Marta Beryt of Fresno, who won an iPad mini 4!

I got to pull Marta’s winning ticket for the early bird Free Drawing prize! Photo by Elin Ljung.

If you haven’t yet sent in your tickets for the Free Drawing, there is still time—we will be drawing all the winners in mid-December. Those who enter could win one of 26 fun-filled prizes that include ski passes, canoe trips, vacations and retreats in the Mono Basin, San Francisco, Mammoth Lakes, Hope Valley, Benton Hot Springs (more…)

Save the tufa!

Friday, July 6th, 2018 by Mono Lake Committee Staff
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Tufa is otherworldly, oddly enchanting, and one of Mono Lake’s most iconic and popular features. Tufa towers are important nesting sites for birds—from Osprey to owls—while underwater tufa is habitat for alkali flies. For years, photographs of tufa have played an important role in spreading the message that Mono Lake, and the tufa itself, needs protecting.

Fragile rock

Growing only underwater, tufa is a precipitate formed when calcium-rich spring water mixes with carbonate-rich Mono Lake water—slowly building up around seeps and springs. Though tufa towers are rock formations, they are fragile—they crumble, topple, and erode from wave action, high desert weather, and, unfortunately, from people being careless around them. (more…)

Discover more on Mono Lake Mobile: monolakemobile.org

Wednesday, July 4th, 2018 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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Have you ever been down at Mono Lake wondering: How many brine shrimp live in Mono Lake? Why do the tufa towers at Old Marina look different than the ones at South Tufa? What else can I do during my visit?

When you visit Mono Lake, pull up monolakemobile.org on your phone for a self-guided tour of South Tufa, directions, and more. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

You can find the answers to all of these questions and more by visiting monolakemobile.org on your phone. Designed to be mobile-friendly and used while visiting the lake, Mono Lake Mobile is the best way to learn about the lake on your own schedule and at your own pace. You can take a self-guided tour of South Tufa (complete with audio narration) and learn about other great sites to visit around Mono Lake including Old Marina and County Park.

You can also (more…)

Evidence of high flows persists on Mill Creek: Restoration potential reaffirmed

Monday, July 2nd, 2018 by Lisa, Eastern Sierra Policy Director
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Almost a year after the epic 2017 winter and resulting record Mono Basin runoff, positive effects from the high flows can still be seen on all of Mono Lake’s tributary streams—including, notably, the beleaguered floodplain of the Mill Creek bottomlands.

During last year’s record runoff, long-dry side channels in the Mill Creek bottomlands carried water; some of the rewatered channels were still flowing this spring. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Last summer, long-dry side channels in the bottomlands carried water when Lundy Lake Reservoir spilled for almost the entire summer. Some of these rewatered channels are still flowing despite low-flow early springtime conditions, and evidence of lasting restoration benefits is abundant. Back eddies and ponded areas well away from flowing channels continue to hold water. Below the surface, recharged groundwater is once again available for vegetation, and fine sediment deposited across floodplain cobble is primed for new seedlings to grow. All of this is a glimpse into Mill Creek’s bright future. (more…)

Aqueduct retrofit ensures export accuracy: Mono Lake Committee advocacy produces results

Friday, June 29th, 2018 by Geoff, Executive Director
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One thing the Mono Lake Committee and the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) can agree on is that accurate measurement of water exported from the Mono Basin is important. One might assume that measuring water sent out of the Mono Basin through the Los Angeles Aqueduct would be fairly straightforward, but due to infrastructure complexities, DWP has historically used a calculation to derive the export amount.

Aqueduct improvements in 2009, shown here, added equipment to directly measure water exports, but the system was unreliable until recent repairs, thanks to the Committee’s persistence. Photo by Greg Reis.

Getting from calculation to measurement

To understand why DWP couldn’t simply measure its (more…)

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