Wednesday, March 11th, 2020 by Geoff, Executive DirectorcloseAuthor: Geoff, Executive DirectorName: Geoffrey McQuilkin Title: Executive Director About: Geoff's goals for the Committee are: ensuring Mono Lake's continuing protection, restoring Mono Lake's tributary streams, developing a permanent education program, and ensuring that the strong tradition of scientific research at Mono Lake continues. A graduate of Harvard in the history of science, Geoff has worked for the Committee since 1992 and was an intern and volunteer before that. He's happy to live close to the lake with his wife Sarah and their daughters Caelen, Ellery, and Cassia.See All Posts by Geoffrey (158) Contact Geoffrey
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…)
Saturday, March 7th, 2020 by Elin, Communications CoordinatorcloseAuthor: Elin, Communications CoordinatorName: Elin Ljung Title: Communications Coordinator About: Elin's job consists of some of her favorite things: finding typos, experimenting with layouts, and figuring out how best to communicate the Committee's work to the world. She also oversees the Field Seminar program. Elin grew up in on California's Central Coast dreaming of the two weeks each summer that her family would spend in the Eastern Sierra, and as soon as she graduated from St. Olaf College in 2005 she moved to Mono Lake full-time. She prefers to travel at high speed on either telemark skis or a mountain bike, or be completely still, immersed in a good book.See All Posts by Elin (368) Contact Elin
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.
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…)
Friday, February 21st, 2020 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy DirectorcloseAuthor: Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy DirectorName: Bartshé Miller Title: Education Director About: Bartshé works on Mono Basin policy issues such as protecting the integrity of the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area, coordinating with regional agency staff, and working with the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power and scientists on the ongoing restoration of Mono Lake and its tributary streams. He has been an Eastern Sierra resident since 1993.See All Posts by Bartshé (84) Contact Bartshé
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…)
Thursday, November 21st, 2019 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy DirectorcloseAuthor: Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy DirectorName: Bartshé Miller Title: Education Director About: Bartshé works on Mono Basin policy issues such as protecting the integrity of the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area, coordinating with regional agency staff, and working with the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power and scientists on the ongoing restoration of Mono Lake and its tributary streams. He has been an Eastern Sierra resident since 1993.See All Posts by Bartshé (84) Contact Bartshé
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…)
Wednesday, November 13th, 2019 by Lily, Information Center & Bookstore ManagercloseAuthor: Lily, Information Center & Bookstore ManagerName: Lily Pastel Title: Information Center & Bookstore Manager About: Lily was drawn to the Mono Basin by the beauty of the area as well as the Mono Lake Committee’s worthy cause, and now she can’t leave! She began as a Mono Lake Intern in 2014, fresh out of college. Since then she has held a handful of positions and has settled into her role as Information Center & Bookstore Manager. Lily loves reading, hiking, unicorns, and lipstick. Her summers are full of exploring the Eastern Sierra, ordering new and exciting books, and making sure that visitors leave the Information Center & Bookstore with a deeper understanding of and appreciation for Mono Lake.See All Posts by Lily (88) Contact Lily
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…)
Thursday, November 7th, 2019 by Rose, Education DirectorcloseAuthor: Rose, Education DirectorName: Rose Nelson Title: Education Director About: After graduating with a degree in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Cruz in 2012, Rose worked as a botany research assistant at UC Berkeley, a Research Assistant for the California Department of Fish & Wildlife monitoring riparian plant species on rivers throughout California, and as a California State Parks interpreter. In 2017 she was here at Mono Lake as an Outdoor Education Instructor, and has now returned to oversee the Committee's education programs.See All Posts by Rose (13) Contact Rose
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…)
Monday, November 4th, 2019 by Nora, Lead Naturalist GuidecloseAuthor: Nora, Lead Naturalist GuideName: Nora Livingston Title: Lead Naturalist Guide About: Nora is a passionate naturalist who got her interpretive start as a Mono Lake Intern in 2008 and went on to seven years of seasonal ornithologist work in the most beautiful corners of California and beyond. She has since led many popular birding field trips for the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua. It is her utmost joy to share her love of birds and nature with anyone and everyone to help foster a deeper respect for this unique planet.See All Posts by Nora (47) Contact Nora
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…)
Sunday, October 20th, 2019 by Robbie, Restoration Field TechniciancloseAuthor: Robbie, Restoration Field TechnicianName: Robert Di Paolo Title: Restoration Field Technician About: Robbie grew up in San Francisco and received his BS in Environmental Science from Humboldt State University. He first heard about Mono Lake in an environmental policy class, became a Mono Lake Intern in the summer of 2014, and hasn't left since! He is now responsible for monitoring Mono Lake's tributary streams, measuring the level of Mono Lake, coordinating annual aerial Eared Grebe surveys, leading the invasive plant removal program, and assisting with any additional restoration programs in the Mono Basin. In his free time you might find him fishing, hiking, skiing, or playing board games.See All Posts by Robert (45) Contact Robert
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.
Friday, October 18th, 2019 by Jessica, Office DirectorcloseAuthor: Jessica, Office DirectorName: Jessica Schneider Title: Office Director About: Jess began working at the Mono Lake Committee in 2010, oversaw the bookstore for several years, and returned to the Mono Lake Committee in late 2014 as Office Director after working at a local resort and starting her own business. Jess creates the complicated office and bookstore schedule, oversees the intern and volunteer programs, and keeps the office functioning smoothly. She lives on a small ranch north of Mono Lake, with horses, cows, goats, dogs, chickens, turkeys, and a cat.See All Posts by Jessica (46) Contact Jessica
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…)
Thursday, October 17th, 2019 by Anna, Philanthropy DirectorcloseAuthor: Anna, Philanthropy DirectorName: Anna Christensen Title: Philanthropy Director About: Anna's packed résumé includes former Committee Membership Coordinator (1999–2000), Director of Development for Indiana State University Foundation, Chief Development Officer for the Geological Society of America Foundation, and Director of Marketing and External Relations for the Beacom School of Business at the University of South Dakota. She is happy to be back working at the Committee as Philanthropy Director.See All Posts by Anna (5) Contact Anna
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…)