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March Planning Commission meeting regarding the Tioga Inn is canceled

Sunday, March 22nd, 2020 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

The March 23 Mono County Special Planning Commission meeting regarding the Tioga Inn is canceled.

The meeting has been rescheduled for April 16 at 9:00am. According to the Mono County Community Development Department, the meeting will be accessible remotely in a Zoom meeting online here and by telephone at 669-900-6833 (meeting ID# 760-924-1815), where members of the public shall have the right to observe and offer public comment.

As of the date of this post, the Mono County website has not yet been updated with the latest meeting information; the meeting will be re-noticed prior to April 16 along with a meeting agenda.

The Mono Lake Committee is concerned, given the background COVID-19 disruption affecting everyone’s lives, that (more…)

Efforts to rid Mono Lake’s islets of Bassia continue

Thursday, March 12th, 2020 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

Since mid-February’s successful prescribed burn on Twain Islet to clear breeding habitat for California Gulls, the Mono Lake Committee has been working with the Inyo National Forest and Point Blue Conservation Science to schedule another burn before the gulls return to nest for the season.

Mono Lake Committee and State Parks staff returned to Twain Islet in late February to continue efforts to restore California Gull nesting habitat. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

However, a combination of windy and rainy weather, the complex logistics of getting all parties out to the islands, and Point Blue biologists’ observations of gulls already returning to Mono Lake means that the burn window has closed for this spring.

Even though (more…)

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…)

Tioga Inn public workshop introduces final plan

Wednesday, March 4th, 2020 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

The Mono Lake Committee is delving into the Final Subsequent Environmental Impact Report (FSEIR) for the Tioga Inn project (released just last Friday night) to understand the changes made from the draft document that was released last summer. While some changes have been made to the project thanks to public comments, five original significant unavoidable impacts remain, including adverse impacts to the scenic resources of the Mono Basin.

Last night about 45 community members attended the Mono County Planning Department’s public workshop about the project, which provided an opportunity for people to hear more about the project as described in the FSEIR and ask clarifying questions. The project proponent (more…)

As decision on Tioga Inn project nears, public input is still key

Thursday, February 27th, 2020 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

This spring, Mono County will decide whether to approve an unprecedented, large-scale development project that threatens to permanently alter the visual resources of the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area and the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve and erase the small-town, rural character of Lee Vining (see Fall 2019 Mono Lake Newsletter article here). A Final Subsequent Environmental Impact Report (FSEIR) for the Tioga Inn Specific Plan Amendment is scheduled for release in late February or early March 2020. The Mono County Planning Department will lead a public workshop on March 3.

The Mono County Planning Commission (more…)

Tioga Inn public workshop scheduled for Tuesday, March 3

Monday, February 10th, 2020 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

The Mono County Planning Department has scheduled a public workshop on the Tioga Inn project—the meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 3 from 6:00pm to 8:00pm at the Lee Vining Community Center (296 Mattly Avenue).

The workshop will be a chance to discuss the Final EIR for the project; it is available on the Mono County website and at the Lee Vining Library.

Then what happens?

The first decision point for project approval or denial is with the Mono County Planning Commission. The Commission has tentatively planned to address the Tioga Inn project on March 23. It is critical that decision makers hear from you before they decide on this project and the future impacts to the Mono Basin that will result. After the Commission, the project goes before the Mono County Board of Supervisors later this spring for a final decision. The Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors meetings are the two meetings when your voice will matter the most.

Due to the developing nature of the timeline for this project, please check here to confirm meeting dates and times before traveling.

Project background

Last year Mono County received over 1,000 comment letters about the controversial Tioga Inn project, which proposes a major expansion at the existing Tioga Gas Mart. As currently proposed, the project will be highly visible from many classic viewpoints, including South Tufa, Panum Crater, and Highway 395 south of Lee Vining, and will have adverse impacts on the prized dark night skies throughout the Mono Basin, deer migration, the Lee Vining community and more.

Learn more about the Tioga Inn project, see visual mock-ups of the project area, and read the Committee’s comment letter here.

Mono Lake CBC results

Friday, January 3rd, 2020 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide

The Mono Lake Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is a one-day citizen science effort to tally all wild birds in the Mono Lake area. The 40th annual Mono Lake CBC was held on December 17, 2019.

Pinyon Jays in a Jeffrey pine. Photo by Nora Livingston.

Twenty-two birders, mostly local residents, counted every bird in the 15-mile diameter CBC circle centered on the northwestern edge of the lake. The circle includes all of Lee Vining south to the intersection of Highway 158 north and Highway 395 at Cain Ranch, west into the Sierra including Bohler, Lee Vining, Lundy, and Virginia canyons, north to Conway Summit, and east just past the islands in Mono Lake, which includes the areas of County and DeChambeau ponds, and the Black Point shoals.

The weather this year was (more…)

Connie Millar honored with American Geophysical Union’s Ambassador Award

Saturday, December 28th, 2019 by Lisa, Associate Policy Director

Earlier this month at the annual American Geophysical Union (AGU) conference, Dr. Connie Millar was recognized as one of five recipients for the prestigious Ambassador Award, which recognizes individuals for their outstanding contributions to one or more of the following areas: societal impact, service to the Earth and space community, scientific leadership, and promotion of talent/career pool. The Ambassador Award honors individuals whose achievements extend beyond those recognized by traditional scientific awards.

Connie Millar backpacking in the mountains of Nevada. Photo courtesy of Connie Millar.

(more…)

Christmas Bird Counts around the corner

Wednesday, December 11th, 2019 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide

Each winter, tens of thousands of people get together all over the Western Hemisphere and count birds in what is possibly the largest community-science project in the world. The Christmas Bird Count, or CBC, has been going on for 119 years—the 2019–2020 season is the 120th CBC!

A Clark’s Nutcracker with food in its crop (a special pouch in its throat), on last year’s Mammoth Lakes CBC. Photo by Nora Livingston.

Last year, about 80,000 people tallied over 48.6 million individual birds during the count window. The previous year’s count was over 56 million. These counts help show trends in bird populations, because the areas where people are counting are standardized into individual 15-mile-diameter count circles and the counts are repeated the same way every year.

Want to participate in a count near you? (more…)

2019 Mono Lake Committee Annual Report

Saturday, December 7th, 2019 by Arya, Communications Director

The Mono Lake Committee’s 2019 Annual Report is now available online and in print!

The 2019 Mono Lake Committee Annual Report is now available online. Photo courtesy of Thomas Piekunka.

The report is full of photos of the Mono Lake Committee in action in our focus areas of protection, restoration, education, and scientific research. It also has the Committee’s (more…)

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