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Refreshing ‘Ologists: Rock glaciers as under-explored hydrologic reservoirs and climate refugia

Saturday, September 7th, 2019 by Ellie, Mono Lake Intern

Join us on Tuesday, September 10 at 4:00pm in the Mono Lake Committee gallery for this week’s Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists. Connie Millar, Senior Scientist with the US Forest Service, will be here to discuss rock glaciers as under-explored hydrologic reservoirs and climate refugia. If you can join us for this free event, please register here. Please note: This talk is on a Tuesday!

Gibbs Rock Glacier and Kidney Lake, seen from Dana Plateau. This is an active, ice-embedded rock glacier, moving at a rate of about 0.5 meters per year, and producing a steady output of cold groundwater. Photo courtesy of Connie Millar.

Despite their ubiquity, rock glaciers are little-recognized land forms of the high Sierra Nevada and other Great Basin mountains. Long studied globally by glacial specialists, their unique properties as enduring sources of cold-water springs and lakes, and their related roles in providing habitat for (more…)

“An effort of this magnitude will never be perfect”

Friday, September 6th, 2019 by Kevin, Information Center & Bookstore Assistant

Twenty thousand years ago, a glacier churned down Lee Vining Canyon. Hundreds of feet thick at the top of the canyon, the glacier reached its maximum extent at the site of what is now the US Forest Service ranger station, just west of Lee Vining.

It is now easier to picture this arm of what scientists call the Tioga glaciation thanks to a new US Geological Survey map showing its extent throughout the Yosemite region. Greg Stock, geologist for Yosemite National Park and one of the map’s authors, spoke at the Mono Lake Committee last month. To a packed room, he described the jumble of moraines, boulders, and rock striations that he and his colleagues deciphered to build the map.

The USGS’s new map, released this summer, shows the extent of the Tioga glaciation in the vicinity of Yosemite National Park. This corner of the map shows a glacier flowing down Lee Vining Canyon toward ancestral Mono Lake (Lake Russell). Image courtesy of the USGS.

But this latest map is based on more than work by Stock and his colleagues. It also draws on the efforts of an earlier generation of scientists. In other words, just as the Tioga glaciation isn’t the only glacial period in the Sierra Nevada’s past, the 2019 map is not the first map of the Tioga glaciation in the park. (more…)

Stream monitoring in the Mono Basin: Rush Creek field camera

Monday, September 2nd, 2019 by Chloe, Mono Lake Intern

The smell of sagebrush permeates the air. Rush Creek, full and thriving, flows by on its way to Mono Lake. The hot Sierra sun beats down on the brim of my Mono Lake Committee hat as I tramp along behind another Committee intern, Ellie Neifeld, and Restoration Field Technician Robbie Di Paolo.

Me on the way to the Rush Creek field camera with Mono Lake in the background. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

We head away from the road, pushing through fragrant sagebrush and thorny bitterbrush and occasionally slipping down sandy hills. Eventually we make our way to our destination: a field camera overlooking Rush Creek! The field camera blends in well, sitting unobtrusively out of the way of both humans and animals as it takes one photo every five minutes of Rush Creek. (more…)

Refreshing ‘Ologists: Sage-grouse conservation across the sagebrush sea

Saturday, August 31st, 2019 by Ellie, Mono Lake Intern

Join us on Wednesday, September 4 at 4:00pm in the Mono Lake Committee gallery for this week’s Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists presentation. Eric Tymstra, PhD candidate at UC Davis, will be here to discuss his research on the Greater Sage-grouse, their behavior, diet, and conservation. If you can join us for this free event, please register here.

A male Sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) struts his stuff on the lek during the breeding season in an effort to attract a mate. Photo courtesy of Andrew Hallberg.

Conservation and restoration efforts aim to protect organisms and the areas that they use. Herbivores in particular face unique challenges when it comes to habitat use: many plants have high fiber content, low nutritional value, and defenses such as toxins. In response to toxic, low-quality food, many herbivores have evolved counter defenses, such as (more…)

Refreshing ‘Ologists: North America’s Rosy-finches and climate variability

Sunday, August 25th, 2019 by Ellie, Mono Lake Intern

Join us on Wednesday August 28 at 4:00pm in the Mono Lake Committee gallery for this week’s Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists. Tim Brown, UC Santa Cruz PhD candidate, will be here to discuss Sierra Nevada Rosy-finches and climate vulnerability. If you can join us for this free talk, please register here.

Tim Brown holding a Sierra Nevada Rosy-finch. Photo courtesy of Tim Brown.

Mountaintop animals are among the most vulnerable species to climate change. If warming forces them upwards, they face an “escalator to extinction” as they reach the upper elevational limits of available habitat. Understanding mechanisms that (more…)

Over 700 comment letters submitted about the proposed Tioga Inn project

Thursday, August 22nd, 2019 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

We asked for help protecting the Mono Basin’s world-class scenic views and dark night skies, and you responded in a big way. Thank you to the more than 700 of you who sent a comment letter about the proposed Tioga Inn project!

Mock-up of the proposed Tioga Inn Project. (Map data: Google, Landsat/Copernicus)

You can read the Mono Lake Committee’s letter here, and the accompanying letter from our legal team at Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger here.

It was such a pleasure to read your letters as they rolled in—they are detailed, heartfelt, and demonstrate your strong connections to Mono Lake, the Mono Basin, and the Eastern Sierra. Keep an eye on the Mono Lake action center—we plan to post excerpts from them there.

Though the legal deadline was yesterday at 5:00pm, you can still send a letter. The Mono County Community Development Department has encouraged additional comments, writing:

“The public is invited to comment until a final decision is made regardless of the closure date of the DSEIR comment period. Comments can be submitted after the close of the DSEIR comment period and County staff commits to providing a response, even though not required, through public hearings before the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors. Therefore, the public continues to have the opportunity to comment on and potentially affect the outcome of the project until the final decision.”

Thank you for your letters to Mono County, for your continuing interest in this project, and most of all, for your love for the Mono Basin. More to come—stay tuned.

Updated schedule: Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists 2019

Monday, August 19th, 2019 by Ellie, Mono Lake Intern

Join us for the four remaining lectures in this summer’s Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists series, featuring scientists presenting their work in the region.

Join us for Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists on Wednesdays at 4:00pm at the Mono Lake Committee. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Lectures happen at 4:00pm in the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore gallery. Presentations last about one hour and include light refreshments. If you can join us for these free events, please register here!

Join us for these scheduled talks: (more…)

Refreshing ‘Ologists: From Mono Lake to Mar Chiquita—how are phalaropes faring in the 21st century?

Saturday, August 17th, 2019 by Ellie, Mono Lake Intern

Join us on Wednesday, August 21 at 4:00pm in the Mono Lake Committee gallery for Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists. Ryan Carle, conservation scientist, will be here to discuss cutting-edge research on phalaropes. If you can join us for this free talk, please register here!

A flock of phalaropes on Mono Lake. Photo courtesy of Marie Read.

Phalaropes are tiny shorebirds that make impressive migrations between North and South America. Mono and other saline lakes—which are nearly universally threatened by climate change and water diversions—are critical migratory refueling stops (more…)

Action alert: Threat to scenic Mono Basin, letters needed by August 21

Thursday, August 15th, 2019 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

August 22 update: Over 700 comment letters submitted about the proposed Tioga Inn project

The Mono Lake Committee is encouraging people who value the Mono Basin to submit a comment letter regarding the Draft SEIR for the Tioga Inn, which has “6 significant unavoidable adverse impacts”* from the proposed major addition to the gas station and restaurant known as the Mobil Mart.

The Draft SEIR for the Tioga Inn is a significant addition to the current development known as the Mobil Mart.

This is a critical moment for public input; the letter deadline is August 21, 2019 at 5:00pm.

The Draft Subsequent Environmental Impact Report (SEIR) and Specific Plan for the Tioga Inn Project has studied a developer proposal to expand the approved site footprint onto a tall bluff that overlooks Highway 395 and Mono Lake. The proposed multi-unit, two-story construction of a 100-unit/150-bedroom Workforce Housing Village will, if approved as is, fundamentally change the experience of wild natural beauty of Mono Lake and the Mono Basin. Mono Lake, Mono County, and the scenic highway and gateway to Yosemite National Park deserve better.

As currently proposed, the project will be highly visible (more…)

This Saturday: 11th annual Great Sierra River Cleanup

Wednesday, August 14th, 2019 by Meghan, Mono Lake Intern

Looking for a fun and easy way to give back to this place we all know and love so much? Come join us this Saturday, August 17 from 8:30am to 12:30pm for the 11th annual Great Sierra River Cleanup! We will spend our morning picking up any and all trash that has accumulated around Lee Vining Creek.

If you are free this Saturday, get your family and friends together and meet us outside the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore in Lee Vining. From there we will carpool to the DWP diversion site on Lee Vining Creek. Make sure to bring sturdy footwear, a water bottle, and sun protection. Our goal this year is to use as little single-use plastic as possible for the cleanup, so if you have your own gloves and buckets for trash, bring them along! We’ll provide work gloves where necessary as well as (more…)

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