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Fall 2019 Mono Lake Newsletter now online

Wednesday, October 16th, 2019 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

At the Mono Lake Committee we spend a lot of time thinking about inputs of water into Mono Lake. How much? For how long? In what patterns? From what sources? When will it arrive? Is it enough?

But during the recent windstorm-induced power outage (see page 17), I got to thinking about Mono Lake’s output. It powers the phalaropes (see page 6) on their long migration to South America after they have stopped here to gorge on brine shrimp and molt. On their non-stop flight to Chile, Argentina, Peru, and Paraguay, each new feather, each tiny digestive system is powered by Mono Lake. (more…)

Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve Ranger, Dave Marquart, retires

Saturday, October 5th, 2019 by Arya, Communications Director

In July, longtime Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve Ranger Dave Marquart retired after 36 years of service at Mono Lake. To say that Dave is an institution at Mono Lake, and within the Reserve, is an understatement—in his tenure he saw much change, and through it all, he served as a dedicated caretaker of the resources and a skilled interpretive guide, helping countless people learn about and become inspired by Mono Lake.

By the time he retired in July, ranger Dave Marquart had led countless bird walks at County Park during his 36-year career with the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve. Photo by Elin Ljung.

The Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve essentially protects the central core of Mono Lake—the bed and waters of the lake itself and all state-owned portions of the lake’s 40-mile shoreline, including the majority of the tufa groves, for a total of approximately 49,000 protected acres. Dave’s (more…)

A bountiful year at Mono Lake

Monday, September 30th, 2019 by Geoff, Executive Director

If you wanted to summarize this past summer at Mono Lake in one word it would be this: phalaropes.

Phalaropes flocked in spectacular formations at South Tufa this summer. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

The dainty Mono-loving migrators put on spectacular displays at South Tufa for many days, dipping and weaving in tight flocks of thousands. Visitors stopped in their tracks and canoes floated in place to watch the aerial acrobatics. Mono Lake Committee staff captured one dramatic episode on video and it quickly became our most-watched video ever; you can see it for yourself here.

The phalaropes have now headed to points south for the winter, but like many things at Mono Lake, their summer displays were possible thanks to protection work behind the scenes (more…)

Mono Basin Outdoor Education Center receives many pairs of donated boots

Thursday, August 8th, 2019 by Miranda, Outdoor Education Instructor

The Mono Basin Outdoor Education Center (OEC) staff have been busy this season with a different group every week. Students of all ages, often from Los Angeles, spend five days with us, camping, hiking, and canoeing. They learn about the Mono Basin, where their water comes from, and how to cherish and preserve natural spaces and resources.

OEC students from Modesto’s Camp Cricket hiked up Bennettville Dome in boots generously donated by members. Photo by Miranda Norlin.

Each group brings new and wonderful adventures, but it takes hard work and support from many people to make sure students are prepared and to—literally—get boots on the ground. Most participants don’t have all the equipment needed to hike and recreate outdoors, so we turn to the OEC closet to find what they need.

We put out a call for gently used boots in the most recent Mono Lake Newsletter and received an awesome response! (more…)

Genny Smith memorial naturalist hikes

Saturday, June 29th, 2019 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide

Join us on July 13 and August 24 for hikes in memory of naturalist Genny Smith. Photo courtesy of Andrew Aldrich.

Genny Smith was the Naturalist Queen of the Eastern Sierra. She wandered many Eastern Sierra trails in search of flowers, birds, mammals, and quiet serenity, and in turn learned about the important interactions between all of the life in these habitats and the ancient geology that sets the stage. These experiences inspired her (more…)

Major changes to fishing regulations possible

Wednesday, June 5th, 2019 by Lisa, Associate Policy Director

Just a month before this year’s fishing season opener, the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (DFW) threw out a lunker of a proposal—a potential change to existing fishing regulations to allow year-round inland trout fishing throughout the state of California, including the Eastern Sierra. According to DFW, the motivation for the change is to simplify fishing regulations statewide.

The California Department of Fish & Wildlife has proposed that year-round inland trout fishing be permitted throughout the state, including on Mono Basin streams. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Since the announcement, DFW has hosted a series of meetings around the state. Locally, the topic has sparked much interest—not only among anglers and fishing guides, but also business owners, seasonal resort owners, and public officials, all of whom (more…)

Summer 2019 Mono Lake Committee staff migrations

Friday, May 31st, 2019 by Jessica, Office Director

The 2018 Mono Lake Committee staff; 2019 staff arrive today! Photo by Elin Ljung.

Incoming seasonal staff are like spring flows in the creeks, bringing excitement, growth, and renewal to the whole Mono Basin. Without them, our extensive education programs at the lake and in the Information Center & Bookstore would be nearly impossible, and their zest for all things Mono Lake reminds us why we are all here.

We have two staff returning this year. Ava Stavros is back for her third year as an Outdoor Education Instructor after a winter working at The Lift café, a new woman-owned business in June Lake. Alison Kaplan will once again be leading weekend tours as the Canoe Coordinator after working for the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County over the winter.

Information Center & Bookstore Assistant Kevin Brown has a wealth of retail experience in addition to experience as (more…)

Mono Lake: Surviving the Anthropocene

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

Saline lakes are in steady decline around the world. Treasures on a planet of primarily freshwater lakes, saline lakes are unique, wild, and fascinating in their own right, as well as critical niche ecosystems in which birds and people live.

Mono Lake is likely the only salt lake ecosystem on earth with meaningful protection on a watershed scale. It is also a critical stop on the Pacific Flyway for migratory birds like phalaropes, seen here. Photo courtesy of Marie Read.

Because they are located in arid and semi-arid regions where evaporation loss is significant, water diversions have an increased impact on these lakes. Diversions have, in some cases, led to ecological collapse and loss of fisheries and/or critical bird habitat along with catastrophic air quality problems. Climate change is frequently blamed, but saline lakes began shrinking and disappearing decades ago as water diversions increased well ahead of global temperature rise. (more…)

Summer 2019 Mono Lake Newsletter now online

Friday, May 24th, 2019 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

Photo by David Gubernick.If you have arrived at Mono Lake and picked up this Newsletter, wondering “what is this place and who are these people,” you’re in good hands.

On page 16 you can find the Mono Lake story in a nutshell, and the essay on page 22 gives a brief history of this organization. There’s a map and things to do on pages 14–17. You can learn, like the students who come to the Outdoor Education Center, about the physical tie between Mono Lake and Los Angeles that is the Los Angeles Aqueduct. You can see the intricacies required to keep Mono Lake protected at an everyday, practical level—the comments we submitted on proposed fishing regulations (more…)

This year’s deep snowpack will raise Mono Lake

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019 by Geoff, Executive Director

Today it is once again possible to see the sky out of the windows at the Mono Lake Committee office—instead of a wall of snow—but the wet and snowy 2018–19 winter will continue to affect Mono Lake and its tributary streams throughout the summer and well into fall.

With 157% of average snowpack by April 1, it was an impressively wet winter in the Mono Basin. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Storms rolled into the Sierra this past winter and temperatures stayed cold, allowing for a large snow accumulation in Lee Vining and along the shore of Mono Lake. In February one noteworthy storm sequence dropped nearly four feet of snow in town and turned the entire Mono Basin into a snowfield. Another (more…)

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