Wednesday, March 11th, 2020 by Geoff, Executive DirectorcloseAuthor: Geoff, Executive DirectorName: Geoffrey McQuilkin Title: Executive Director About: Geoff's goals for the Committee are: ensuring Mono Lake's continuing protection, restoring Mono Lake's tributary streams, developing a permanent education program, and ensuring that the strong tradition of scientific research at Mono Lake continues. A graduate of Harvard in the history of science, Geoff has worked for the Committee since 1992 and was an intern and volunteer before that. He's happy to live close to the lake with his wife Sarah and their daughters Caelen, Ellery, and Cassia.See All Posts by Geoffrey (157) Contact Geoffrey
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…)
Thursday, February 13th, 2020 by Greg, Information & Restoration SpecialistcloseAuthor: Greg, Information & Restoration SpecialistName: Greg Reis Title: Information & Restoration Specialist About: Since his internship with the Mono Lake Committee in 1995, Greg has been deeply involved with Mono Basin restoration and research. He studied Forestry & Natural Resources at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and has followed
the thalweg of hydrology, resource management, watershed management, and habitat restoration ever since. Greg lives in the Bay Area with his wife and two kids, where he also works for The Bay Institute's Rivers and Delta Program.See All Posts by Greg (187) Contact Greg
Rush Creek flows above Grant Lake Reservior have been in the single-digits since mid-December. When adjusted for changes in Southern California Edison reservoir storage upstream, unimpaired near-natural runoff can be calculated. These unimpaired flows averaged 5.7 cubic feet per second (cfs) in January 2020—the lowest that I can remember seeing for a monthly average.
A portion of the USGS Mono Craters Quadrangle geologic map, with the Parker Creek stream gauge circled in red at top and the Rush Creek gauge circled in red in the middle. The Parker Creek watershed for its size has proportionally more surface sediment deposits above the gauge, and the gauge is lower in elevation than the Rush Creek gauge. Both gauges reported similar unimpaired flows in January after five months of very low precipitation.
For comparison, flows in Parker Creek—a much smaller creek than Rush Creek—averaged 5 cfs in January. Interestingly, Parker Creek has two glaciers in its watershed and Rush Creek has none, a difference that would tend to affect summer flows more than January flows. (more…)
Saturday, December 7th, 2019 by Arya, Communications DirectorcloseAuthor: Arya, Communications DirectorName: Arya Harp Title: Communications Director About: Arya oversees the Committee's communications program, which includes the Mono Lake Newsletter and the Mono Lake Calendar. She loves her job because she gets to share the inspiring work of the Mono Lake Committee with members and visitors alike. Her favorite things to do in the Mono Basin include ice skating on nearby lakes, skiing the Mono Craters, and getting to smell the sagebrush when it rains.See All Posts by Arya (202) Contact Arya
Tuesday, October 29th, 2019 by AnnaLisa, Mono Lake InterncloseAuthor: AnnaLisa, Mono Lake InternName: AnnaLisa Mayer Title: Mono Lake Intern About: Raised amid Barred Owl voices and whispering beech leaves in Vermont's Green Mountains, AnnaLisa first came to the Mono Basin in 2016. Falling in love with the expansiveness of the West, she has since spent nearly 200 days immersed in California and Arizona's diverse backcountry. A naturalist at heart, AnnaLisa studied Ecology and Environmental Humanities at Sterling College in Craftsbury Common, VT. When not poking around in the depths of tiny flowers, she can be found making things with her hands, chasing crescent moons, and playing fiddle for the clouds.See All Posts by AnnaLisa (4) Contact AnnaLisa
After tumbling out of the car following a jaunt down Forest Service roads to Rush Creek, fellow intern Meghan and I started the steep, sandy descent to a location known as Vestal Springs, weaving our way between fragrant sagebrush and rose shrubs.
AnnaLisa measuring a willow stem as Robbie looks on. Photo by Meghan Cihasky.
The springs are named for California Fish & Game Biologist Elden Vestal (1914–1998), an expert on Mono Lake’s tributary streams and a critical witness during the courtroom and State Water Board proceedings leading up to the 1994 Mono Lake decision.
Vestal Springs support a lush, grassy oasis separate from the nearby riparian habitat of Rush Creek. In addition to grasses and wildflowers, the area is scattered with large willow trees. It is these trees that Meghan and I came here for. (more…)
Monday, September 30th, 2019 by Geoff, Executive DirectorcloseAuthor: Geoff, Executive DirectorName: Geoffrey McQuilkin Title: Executive Director About: Geoff's goals for the Committee are: ensuring Mono Lake's continuing protection, restoring Mono Lake's tributary streams, developing a permanent education program, and ensuring that the strong tradition of scientific research at Mono Lake continues. A graduate of Harvard in the history of science, Geoff has worked for the Committee since 1992 and was an intern and volunteer before that. He's happy to live close to the lake with his wife Sarah and their daughters Caelen, Ellery, and Cassia.See All Posts by Geoffrey (157) Contact Geoffrey
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…)
Wednesday, September 4th, 2019 by Meghan, Mono Lake InterncloseAuthor: Meghan, Mono Lake InternName: Meghan Cihasky Title: Mono Lake Intern About: Originally from Chippewa Falls, WI, Meghan moved to Monterey, CA to seek new adventures. She quickly became enthralled with the Sierra after a few backpacking trips spent among spectacular trees, alpine lakes, and peaks. She attended the University of Minnesota at Duluth to pursue Environmental Science, then spent a semester abroad in New Zealand, traveling and studying the diverse culture and environment. Now, she is looking forward to spending her summer in the Mono Basin, trail running, backpacking and sharing her passion for the outdoors.See All Posts by Meghan (3) Contact Meghan
When I first started at the Mono Lake Committee as an intern this past June, I had very little concept of why invasive plants are such a threat to healthy habitats. I would see posters plastered around boat ramps, heard about volunteer opportunities for invasive plant removal, and driven through vehicle inspection stops and thought, “so what?”
Interns Meghan and AnnaLisa checking along Mill Creek for invasive plant species. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.
Last month I took my first invasive plant scouting trip down at Mill Creek (one of Mono Lake’s tributaries that the Committee is working to restore) with Restoration Field Technician Robbie Di Paolo. It didn’t take long to see the threats invasive species pose here in the Mono Basin and why they’re so important to address. (more…)
Monday, September 2nd, 2019 by Chloe, Mono Lake InterncloseAuthor: Chloe, Mono Lake InternName: Chloe Isaacs Title: Mono Lake Intern About: Born and raised among the quiet forests and rocky shores of Connecticut, Chloe has always felt a deep connection to the natural world around her. This love of nature encouraged her to pursue an undergraduate Geology degree from Oberlin College, during which she spent a semester abroad in New Zealand learning about earth science and environmental policy. In her free time, Chloe can be found reading in a sunny spot by the window, geeking out about cool rocks, or sitting on a beach looking at the ocean with her camera by her side.See All Posts by Chloe (4) Contact Chloe
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…)
Tuesday, August 13th, 2019 by Geoff, Executive DirectorcloseAuthor: Geoff, Executive DirectorName: Geoffrey McQuilkin Title: Executive Director About: Geoff's goals for the Committee are: ensuring Mono Lake's continuing protection, restoring Mono Lake's tributary streams, developing a permanent education program, and ensuring that the strong tradition of scientific research at Mono Lake continues. A graduate of Harvard in the history of science, Geoff has worked for the Committee since 1992 and was an intern and volunteer before that. He's happy to live close to the lake with his wife Sarah and their daughters Caelen, Ellery, and Cassia.See All Posts by Geoffrey (157) Contact Geoffrey
Judge Edward Denton, April 24, 1926–July 12, 2019. Photo courtesy of the Reno Record-Courier.
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…)
Tuesday, August 6th, 2019 by Caroline BottegacloseAuthor: Caroline BottegaName: Caroline Bottega Title: Mono Lake Intern About: Coming all the way from New Jersey, Caroline is fulfilling her dream of living where her love for the outdoors and Sierra Nevada began. She received her BS in Environmental Science/Restoration Ecology and Geology minor from Lafayette College. Upon graduating in May 2019, she left the next day to drive across the country to begin her position at Mono Lake. Caroline enjoys research and teaching others about the wonders of the natural world. She can often be found hiking or writing, and is looking forward to taking in everything the Sierra has to offer!See All Posts by Caroline (4) Contact Caroline
Intern Caroline Bottega recording groundwater levels on Rush Creek tributary. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.
“I can really count this as work?” I thought, while wading knee-deep in the cool, swift water of Rush Creek. Robbie Di Paolo, the Mono Lake Committee’s Restoration Field Technician, was a few paces ahead and leading the way to our next monitoring well. It felt like a scavenger hunt, as we navigated from well to well between the stream channels and sagebrush until another tall, white PVC pipe would finally appear among the vegetation.
Part of the mission of the Mono Lake Committee is to restore the important habitats of the Mono Basin, which include the habitats of the freshwater tributaries that feed Mono Lake. As one of my intern projects for the summer, I have been tasked with collecting groundwater measurements along both Lee Vining Creek and Rush Creek each week. Through my weekly well readings, I have had the opportunity to get up close and personal with the Committee’s restoration efforts and dive deeper into the complex relationships that exist between the important habitats of the Mono Basin. (more…)
Thursday, August 1st, 2019 by Lisa, Associate Policy DirectorcloseAuthor: Lisa, Associate Policy DirectorName: Lisa Cutting Title: Eastern Sierra Policy Director About: Lisa supports the policy team with her two decades of experience in Mono Basin policy issues. She concentrates on the north Mono Basin, Caltrans projects, restoration progress, and other focused policy issues. Lisa uses sleuthing-out good fly fishing spots as another excuse for hiking, and it's always a treat when her dog Tucker comes to visit the office!See All Posts by Lisa (38) Contact Lisa
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…)