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Winter & Spring 2020 Mono Lake Newsletter now online

Saturday, March 7th, 2020 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

The Mono Basin can feel completely quiet and isolated in winter. Mountain passes close for the season and visitors dwindle to a trickle. Birds have flown to warmer places and it’s as if the whole basin is far away from everything else in the world.

But during the prescribed burn on Twain Islet this month I was reminded of how many people see Mono Lake, even in the depths of winter.

Eastern Sierra neighbors hiking north of the lake took photos of the plumes of smoke rising near Negit Island. Locals came into the bookstore to inquire about the activity out on the lake. Someone called to ask if the volcanoes were erupting! Members keeping an eye on the Mono Lake webcams called in, curious about (more…)

Mono Basin Winter Wander field seminars in March

Thursday, February 20th, 2020 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide

Have you ever visited the Mono Basin in the winter? It is silent, mysterious, and majestic. It is a whole different experience than the hustle and bustle of summertime. Winter invites us to experience the forgotten season and wander in a mountain meadow or along a frozen creek, curious and in awe.

Lee Vining Creek flows between snowy banks in 2017. Photo by Nora Livingston.

We are offering two dates in March for a unique field seminar that investigates the wonders of winter (more…)

Rush Creek’s January 2020 flow among the lowest on record

Thursday, February 13th, 2020 by Greg, Information & Restoration Specialist

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 gage circled in red at top and the Rush Creek gage circled in red in the middle. The Parker Creek watershed for its size has proportionally more surface sediment deposits above the gage, and the gage is lower in elevation than the Rush Creek gage. Both gages reported similar unimpaired flows in January.

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…)

Road to Bodie State Historic Park to re-open on February 7

Wednesday, February 5th, 2020 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

Highway 270, the Bodie Road, will re-open from its winter closure on Friday, February 7 at 10:00am.

Photo of a snowy Bodie taken about 1911–1912. Photo courtesy of California State Parks.

This will allow motorists to reach Bodie State Historic Park, but if significant winter weather resumes, the road may be closed once again. In winter, Bodie is open from 9:00am to 4:00pm every day.

Mono Lake CBC results

Friday, January 3rd, 2020 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide

The Mono Lake Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is a one-day citizen science effort to tally all wild birds in the Mono Lake area. The 40th annual Mono Lake CBC was held on December 17, 2019.

Pinyon Jays in a Jeffrey pine. Photo by Nora Livingston.

Twenty-two birders, mostly local residents, counted every bird in the 15-mile diameter CBC circle centered on the northwestern edge of the lake. The circle includes all of Lee Vining south to the intersection of Highway 158 north and Highway 395 at Cain Ranch, west into the Sierra including Bohler, Lee Vining, Lundy, and Virginia canyons, north to Conway Summit, and east just past the islands in Mono Lake, which includes the areas of County and DeChambeau ponds, and the Black Point shoals.

The weather this year was (more…)

Happy holidays from the Mono Lake Committee

Wednesday, December 25th, 2019 by Arya, Communications Director

Wishing you joy and peace this holiday season.

Photos courtesy of Rick Kattelmann, Robb Hirsch, David Carle, and Nora Livingston.

Christmas Bird Counts around the corner

Wednesday, December 11th, 2019 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide

Each winter, tens of thousands of people get together all over the Western Hemisphere and count birds in what is possibly the largest community-science project in the world. The Christmas Bird Count, or CBC, has been going on for 119 years—the 2019–2020 season is the 120th CBC!

A Clark’s Nutcracker with food in its crop (a special pouch in its throat), on last year’s Mammoth Lakes CBC. Photo by Nora Livingston.

Last year, about 80,000 people tallied over 48.6 million individual birds during the count window. The previous year’s count was over 56 million. These counts help show trends in bird populations, because the areas where people are counting are standardized into individual 15-mile-diameter count circles and the counts are repeated the same way every year.

Want to participate in a count near you? (more…)

Join us for a snowy sunrise at Mono Lake for Giving Tuesday

Monday, December 2nd, 2019 by Arya, Communications Director

Join us for a snowy sunrise at Mono Lake for Giving Tuesday

It is snowing once again here at Mono Lake! When the snow comes we breathe a sigh of relief since every drop helps us reach a higher lake level and a healthier lake.

We are continuing our Giving Tuesday tradition of bringing you a Mono Lake sunrise, live from the shoreline. We hope you’ll join us at 6:30am tomorrow for the show.

It has been an exciting year at Mono Lake (more…)

Join us for a winter field seminar at Mono Lake

Friday, October 11th, 2019 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

Travel to the Mono Basin in winter to experience the “forgotten” season on the east side of the Sierra Nevada. Winter here is quiet, majestic, and worth discovering with a guide on one of our winter field seminars.

Join us for a winter field seminar to experience the “forgotten” season in the Mono Basin. Photo by Arya Harp.

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Winter Photography at Mono Lake
January 10–2, 2020 • Joe Decker

Mono Basin Winter Wanders (half-day) •
February 1 & 15, March 7 & 21, 2020
• Nora Livingston

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Registration will open on Tuesday, October 15 at noon. To sign up, call (760) 647-6595 or register online. (more…)

Winter & Spring 2019 Mono Lake Newsletter now online

Thursday, March 14th, 2019 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

When my husband and I were planning our courthouse wedding five years ago, we asked Judge Stan Eller to officiate. Judge Eller retired last year from a long, storied career that included preventing DWP from shutting off Rush Creek after a big flood returned water to it in the mid-1980s for the first time in decades (see page 11). I wanted to feel connected to Mono Lake on that very important day for us, and as Judge Eller pronounced us married, I did.

So many people feel connected to Mono Lake, and never more than during exciting periods of weather. This February has brought more days with snow than without, and we hear from (more…)

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