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Revised water license for DWP on the horizon: State Water Board expects finalization in 2020

Wednesday, March 11th, 2020 by Geoff, Executive Director

Over the past year, the California State Water Resources Control Board has been effectively advancing the long-running project of revising the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power’s (DWP) water license to include a set of next-generation stream restoration requirements agreed to in the Mono Basin Stream Restoration Agreement with the Mono Lake Committee.

Mono Lake’s tributaries will get streamflows that better mimic natural runoff patterns when DWP’s water license is amended to reflect the 2013 Mono Basin Stream Restoration Agreement. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Signed in fall 2013, following 15 years of stream studies and three years of intensive legal negotiations, the Agreement was a significant milestone for Mono Lake. It marked the completion of a major area of study required by the State Water Board and the launch of a new period of restoration at Mono Lake in which the Los Angeles Aqueduct serves the new additional purpose of healing streams. In this new era, the important ecological, wildlife, scenic, and economic values of Mono Lake and its tributary streams will be recognized equally alongside the water needs of Los Angeles.

Persistence pays off

In the years since signing the Agreement, the Committee has maintained constant pressure on (more…)

Winter & Spring 2020 Mono Lake Newsletter now online

Saturday, March 7th, 2020 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

The Mono Basin can feel completely quiet and isolated in winter. Mountain passes close for the season and visitors dwindle to a trickle. Birds have flown to warmer places and it’s as if the whole basin is far away from everything else in the world.

But during the prescribed burn on Twain Islet this month I was reminded of how many people see Mono Lake, even in the depths of winter.

Eastern Sierra neighbors hiking north of the lake took photos of the plumes of smoke rising near Negit Island. Locals came into the bookstore to inquire about the activity out on the lake. Someone called to ask if the volcanoes were erupting! Members keeping an eye on the Mono Lake webcams called in, curious about (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…)

Tioga Inn development proposes significant adverse impacts: Inadequate DSEIR prompts strong public response to Mono County

Thursday, November 21st, 2019 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

Mono County is considering a newly-proposed development of unprecedented scale in the Mono Basin. The controversial Tioga Inn project proposes an expansion at the Tioga Gas Mart (often called the Mobil Mart), and includes a 100-unit “Workforce Housing Village” of two-story buildings on top of a highly visible bluff at the junction of Highway 395 and Highway 120 West.

A mock-up of the Tioga Inn project, looking west, shows the scale of the development if it were to be built as proposed in the DSEIR. Mono Lake Committee graphic made with Google Earth.

The Tioga Inn project has an alarming number of “significant and unavoidable adverse environmental impacts,” as stated in the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (DSEIR) released this summer. Among these impacts are (more…)

Shop for Mono Lake this holiday season

Wednesday, November 13th, 2019 by Lily, Information Center & Bookstore Manager

The holiday season is upon us! It’s time to start making your lists—and checking them twice. There are many great gifts to choose from in the Mono Lake Committee’s online store, and as with all purchases made from the Committee, 100% of the profits go towards protection, restoration, and education programs here at Mono Lake!

Do your holiday shopping at Mono Lake Committee’s online store to support our work on behalf of Mono Lake. Photo by Elin Ljung.

We invite you to peruse our online store and 2019 Fall Catalog to help you start checking gifts off your list. Purchases can be made directly online, or if you would like to call with your order you can phone (760) 647-6595, Monday through Friday, 9:00am–5:00pm to be assisted by one of our staff “elves.” (more…)

Mono Basin Outdoor Education Center turns 25

Thursday, November 7th, 2019 by Rose, Education Director

Since 1994 the Mono Basin Outdoor Education Center has been connecting students from Los Angeles to the source of their water. Photo by Miranda Norlin.

“Where does your water come from?” This question has been asked to thousands of students visiting the Mono Basin Outdoor Education Center (OEC) from Los Angeles over the past 25 years. At the beginning of their week-long stay in the Mono Basin, some students are unsure.

By the end of the week, there is no question. They have played in high Sierra snow, traveled to the northern extent of the Los Angeles Aqueduct at Lee Vining Creek, pulled invasive plants along Mono Lake’s tributary streams, and pondered the total ecological destruction narrowly escaped at Mono Lake. Through these experiences, they learn where their water comes from, about themselves as (more…)

Phalarope researchers and their muses flock to Mono Lake

Monday, November 4th, 2019 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide

If you’ve been to Mono Lake in late July, you may have been lucky enough to have seen the elegant aerial ballet of a flock of Wilson’s Phalaropes.

Phalarope surveyors counted birds through binoculars in a clockwise transect around Mono Lake. Photo courtesy of Ryan Carle.

This summer there were thousands of phalaropes along Mono Lake’s south shore, so visitors were fortunate to have the chance to witness these small shorebirds in magnificent flocks dancing above the reflective lake surface, turning on a dime, flashing their white bellies all at once before seeming to disappear in the dark mountain background when they turn their brown and gray backs in unison. This flocking behavior is a truly breathtaking sight to behold. It was a notable phalarope summer at Mono Lake in several other ways as well. (more…)

For the love of grebes

Sunday, October 20th, 2019 by Robbie, Restoration Field Technician

In British Columbia Robbie assisted Dr. Boyd with telemetry studies to determine annual migration patterns of Eared Grebes. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

They’re not an endangered species, they’re not an invasive species, and they’re not a mascot for a sports team—according to a recent paper these are indicators that we shouldn’t expect Eared Grebes to start trending on Google anytime soon. In fact, a paper published in the National Academy of Sciences journal identified grebes as one of the least-popular bird groups in the United States.

I learned this not-so-fun fact while I was in Riske Creek, British Columbia, capturing Eared Grebes with Dr. Sean Boyd and his colleagues from Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC). While cradling a little one-pound grebe in my hands, the bird patiently waiting to be released, I felt baffled about why such a cool and unique bird was not more loved.

Eared Grebe aerial photo surveys at Mono Lake have been conducted almost every year since 1996, and the Mono Lake Committee has (more…)

Fall 2019 Mono Lake Committee staff migrations

Friday, October 18th, 2019 by Jessica, Office Director

The 2019 Mono Lake Committee staff. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

In a blink, summer 2019 came to a close and another excellent group of seasonal staff headed out into the world, in one way or another changed by their time spent in the Mono Basin.

When not answering questions on the front counter, Information Center & Bookstore Assistant Kevin Brown also presented his talk, “Save the Pupfish! History, Water, and the Surprising Persistence of the Devils Hole Pupfish,” at our Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists lecture series.

Merryn Venugopal is sticking around the Eastern Sierra for the winter after a great summer as Information Center & Bookstore Assistant. We were fortunate to have her professionalism and experience with retail systems at the front counter all season. (more…)

Mono Lake Committee intern program receives new support

Thursday, October 17th, 2019 by Anna, Philanthropy Director

The Mono Lake Committee’s intern program is a bridge that connects passionate people to the Mono Lake story.

2019 Ruth Borun Intern AnnaLisa Mayer, right, on a field trip with members of the Committee’s staff and Board of Directors. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Internships allow individuals (young and old) the opportunity to be paid to work for a successful environmental organization and launch their own careers or propel them in new directions. Past interns fondly remember leading walking tours at South Tufa, answering challenging questions in the bookstore, guiding canoe trips with unbelievable scenic views, and recruiting new members to join the Committee.

In 2019, two families chose to honor family members with special contributions to support internships over the summer. This marks the first year the Committee made available the opportunity for memorial gifts in this manner. (more…)

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