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‘Seasonal Update’ Category

Fall hours at the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore

Thursday, September 12th, 2019 by Chloe, Mono Lake Intern

It’s that time of year again! Fall is nearly upon us and that means some changes are happening here at Mono Lake. Not only are fall colors beginning to appear in the Eastern Sierra and temperatures are dropping to near freezing at night, but the Mono Lake Committee will soon be transitioning to fall hours.

As of Sunday, September 15, the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore will be open 9:00am–7:00pm. Starting on Sunday, September 29, we’ll be open 9:00am–5:00pm. As always, we’re open seven days a week.

A few seasonal staff will remain for the next couple of weeks and all of the usual friendly faces will stay here year-round. We are always happy to answer any questions you may have, play the Mono Lake Story film in the gallery, or help you pick out a new book to read. Whether you are visiting Lee Vining for a few days or just driving through, feel free to stop by and say hello!

“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…)

Field seminar adventures: Mono Basin Landscapes & Milky Way Photography

Thursday, September 5th, 2019 by Chloe, Mono Lake Intern

Nature and art go hand-in-hand here at the Mono Lake Committee and one of the best ways to make use of this is through a field seminar, which the Committee hosts throughout the year.

Field seminar participants capture the evening light and the rise of the moon at South Tufa. A reflection of the scene shimmers in the foreground of the photo. Photo courtesy of Jeff Sullivan.

In early August the Mono Basin Landscapes & Milky Way Photography field seminar took place, led by accomplished nature photographer Jeff Sullivan. It was timed to take advantage of the waxing crescent moon and allow for extraordinary astrophotography that highlighted both the shining moon and abundant stars that are visible throughout the Mono Basin. (more…)

39th annual Tioga Pass Run coming up

Sunday, September 1st, 2019 by Meghan, Mono Lake Intern

As the heat of the summer simmers down and the phalaropes head south, runners will be lining up on Sunday, September 8 outside the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstorefor the 39th annual Tioga Pass Run.

With the Dana Plateau towering above, athletes head uphill during the Tioga Pass Run. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

This 12.4mile run goes up the shoulder of scenic Highway 120 West and finishes at the eastern entrance of Yosemite National Park. Ascending over 3,000 feet, it’s a challenge that’s worth the effort—athletes are rewarded with lunch at the Whoa Nellie Deli and the bragging rights of completing this hefty task. (more…)

Canoe with the osprey at Mono Lake this weekend

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019 by Alison, Canoe Coordinator

One of the perks of working as the Canoe Coordinator for the Mono Lake Committee is that I get to closely observe the nesting osprey at Mono Lake. Just like me, the osprey usually arrive at Mono Lake in late spring. Canoe tours don’t start until mid-June each summer, so for the first month I only observed the birds from the shore at South Tufa.

A canoe tour paddles past Pirate Ship Tufa on a calm morning. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Once canoe tours start, though, I have the unique opportunity to see these birds from the water. There are approximately 16 pairs of nesting osprey at Mono Lake, all of which nest on the tufa islands, and humans must stay at least 250 yards away from the nests at all times. The only exception to this rule is (more…)

Video of migratory phalaropes at Mono Lake

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

On Saturday morning canoe tour participants were treated to a spectacular show by migratory phalaropes, which are arriving to the lake by the thousands!

Over their four- to six-week stay at Mono Lake, the phalaropes molt into a new set of feathers and double their weight in preparation for their continued migration. From here, they fly 3,000 miles non-stop to South America—an epic journey fueled almost entirely by Mono Lake’s alkali flies and brine shrimp. With just a quick walk down to South Tufa, you too may get a front-row seat to their incredible aerial performance!

Thank you to our friends at New West Studios for generously providing the music in the video.

Mono Lake is rising

Monday, July 8th, 2019 by Robbie, Restoration Field Technician

Last month we measured Mono Lake’s level as 6382.2 feet above sea level on June 3. This month we measured 6382.7 feet, an impressive half-foot rise. This falls right in line with our “likely range” forecast, with more lake rise to come in July.

A Mono Basin Outdoor Education Center group from Los Angeles touches the lake water at South Tufa. Mono Lake is expected to rise another foot this year. Photo by Miranda Norlin.

Be sure to check back with us in August—hopefully Mono Lake will rise past the 6383-foot threshold.

The sound of the fury

Monday, July 1st, 2019 by Kevin, Information Center & Bookstore Assistant

There are a number of ways to picture from afar the torrent of water heading downhill from the Sierra Nevada toward Mono Lake right now. One is to review data on the rapidly dwindling snowpack at Tioga Pass, some of which is destined for the lake.  Another is to check in on DWP’s real time streamflow monitoring, which quantifies in cubic feet per second how much water the creeks are carrying. And depending on shadows and leaf, it is even possible to glimpse Mill Creek itself from an overhead webcam.

All of these tools provide critical information for the Mono Lake Committee, DWP, and stream scientists. But they also all seem sterile in comparison to actually standing next to a creek flowing at 50, 100, or even 350 cubic feet per second. The reason, I think, is that they have no sound. And to traipse along one of the swollen creeks pouring out of the Sierra and into the Mono Basin this summer is to be awash in sound.

The author recording Lee Vining Creek. Photo by Kevin Brown.

To capture this auditory landscape, I spent a recent morning along the Lee Vining Creek Trail—not a half-mile from the Committee office—with my microphone, headphones, and field recorder. (more…)

It’s the season for interpretive activities at Mono Lake

Sunday, June 30th, 2019 by AnnaLisa, Mono Lake Intern

Summer is a busy time in the Mono Basin, and the birds aren’t the only ones making the most of the warmer temperatures and longer days! Whether it is your first or fiftieth visit to the area, there are a variety of exciting interpretive programs for the whole family available at and near Mono Lake this summer.

Join a 10:00am or 6:00pm free South Tufa tour to learn about Mono Lake from a naturalist guide. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Gain an understanding of the ecology and history of the lake by stopping by charismatic South Tufa for one of the free, hour-long tours at 10:00am and 6:00pm every day, where you’ll have the hands-on opportunity to get to know the fascinating ecosystem and political history of the lake with the guidance of a naturalist. While the tours are free, South Tufa is (more…)

Genny Smith memorial naturalist hikes

Saturday, June 29th, 2019 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide

Join us on July 13 and August 24 for hikes in memory of naturalist Genny Smith. Photo courtesy of Andrew Aldrich.

Genny Smith was the Naturalist Queen of the Eastern Sierra. She wandered many Eastern Sierra trails in search of flowers, birds, mammals, and quiet serenity, and in turn learned about the important interactions between all of the life in these habitats and the ancient geology that sets the stage. These experiences inspired her (more…)

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