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‘Eastern Sierra Policy’ Category

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…)

Retired Mono County Superior Court Judge Edward Denton passes

Tuesday, August 13th, 2019 by Geoff, Executive Director

Judge Edward Denton, April 24, 1926–July 12, 2019. Photo courtesy of the Reno Record-Courier.

Judge Edward Denton, who played an influential role in re-watering Lee Vining Creek, died on July 12, 2019 at age 93.

During a heat wave in May of 1986 the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) was forced to release water down the previously-dry Lee Vining Creek—water that brought trout with it. The Mono Lake Committee quickly went to court to keep water flowing in the creek for the trout, and it was Mono County Superior Court Judge Denton who granted the temporary restraining order that forced DWP to release enough water to keep the fish alive until the case could be tried. While it was just ten cubic feet per second of water, it was a significant decision to the Mono Lake Committee.

In a recent issue of the local paper, The Sheet, retired Judge Stan Eller recounted his memory of (more…)

Rush Creek advocate Dick Dahlgren passes

Thursday, August 1st, 2019 by Lisa, Associate Policy Director

Dick Dahlgren, a successful advocate for stopping the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s (DWP) total diversion of Rush Creek, died on July 9 in Boise, Idaho near his home.

Dick Dahlgren fishing on Crowley Lake Reservoir. Photo courtesy of Jim Matthews.

In 1984, Dick, an avid fly-fisherman, found a population of healthy brown trout in lower Rush Creek—a finding that was more surprising than it may initially seem. Historically a blue ribbon fishery, Rush Creek ran dry after the LA Aqueduct was built in 1941 and (more…)

A 100-unit workforce housing village proposed adjacent to Lee Vining near Mono Lake and Yosemite National Park

Thursday, July 25th, 2019 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

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

Tioga Inn public comment period open until August 13 August 21, workshop July 30

The Tioga Inn is the name for the full build-out plan for the project that is currently best known as the Mobil-mart/Whoa Nellie Deli and gas station above the intersection of Highway 120 and Highway 395 just south of Lee Vining. This project has the potential to significantly change the community of Lee Vining, and could double its population. During this open public comment period every opinion and concern matters—people who live in, visit, or know Lee Vining are all encouraged to submit a comment letter.

The existing Mobil gas station, Whoa Nellie Deli, and workforce housing that are part of the proposed Tioga Inn development project.

Project overview

Over twenty six years ago Mono County approved the Tioga Inn Specific Plan & Final Environmental Impact Report, which includes a two-story, 120-room hotel, full-service restaurant, convenience store, gas station, and ten workforce housing units. While the Mobil Mart/Whoa Nellie Deli, (more…)

Following Mill Creek water rights

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019 by Lisa, Associate Policy Director

Mill Creek, Mono Lake’s third-largest tributary, is unique in the Mono Basin because it was never diverted to Los Angeles. Mill Creek is also the heart of one of the Eastern Sierra’s natural treasures, Lundy Canyon, where it flows from the Sierra crest through waterfalls, fields of wildflowers, and beaver dams, into and out of Lundy Lake Reservoir, and through rare wooded wetlands before it reaches Mono Lake.

Mill Creek and the Wilson system flow through the north part of the Mono Basin. Photo by Sandra Noll.

Upper Mill Creek is healthy as evidenced by streamside forests and flows consistent with other Eastern Sierra streams. But downstream of Lundy Reservoir—especially in the (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…)

Policy notes from the Mono Lake Newsletter

Tuesday, April 30th, 2019 by Mono Lake Committee Staff

Caltrans Lee Vining US 395 Rehab Project

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is developing plans for a new highway project along five miles of Highway 395.

Plans for the Caltrans Rehab Project include significant amenities for the town of Lee Vining, such as upgrading sidewalks and drainage, replacing pavement, and improving safety. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

The project area is between Highway 120 west and Cemetery Road past The Mono Inn (see Fall 2018 Mono Lake Newsletter). The Lee Vining US 395 Rehab Project will replace pavement throughout the project area, improve sidewalks and curbs in Lee Vining, upgrade drainage systems, and improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists.

While the in-town section allows for significant (more…)

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