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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…)

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.

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…)

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…)

New Inyo National Forest Land Management Plan released: Mono Lake tributary streams receive Wild and Scenic River System eligibility

Thursday, October 24th, 2019 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

After more than five years of planning and public process, Inyo National Forest Supervisor Tammy Randall-Parker signed and released the Final Record of Decision for the Inyo National Forest Land Management Plan on October 23, 2019.

The new Inyo National Forest Land Management Plan includes Wild and Scenic River System eligibility for 15 segments of Mono Lake’s tributary streams, including Lee Vining Creek. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

The new Forest Plan replaces the 1988 version, and will provide much-needed and updated management direction for the Inyo’s two million acres. Included in the final plan are area-specific desired conditions for the Mono Basin. In addition to management direction for the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area (incorporating existing Scenic Area Management plan guidelines), the new plan includes additional Wild and Scenic River System eligibility for 15 segments of Mono Basin streams—something the Mono Lake Committee advocated for extensively. (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…)

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.

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…)

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