Sunrise light on a grove of tufa towers emerging from the water of Mono Lake with soft green and dusty-red wild grasses in the foreground, Canada geese in the shallow water with reflections of the rocky towers, and desert hills in the distance.

Celebrating the Mono Basin Stream Restoration Agreement

Conventional wisdom says that in life it is important to celebrate successes. By all accounts, the Mono Basin Stream Restoration Agreement certainly qualifies, so on September 30th we celebrated.

The celebration started with everyone packing into the Mono Lake Committee headquarters at the Information Center & Bookstore. Photo by Jessica Ashley.

In truth, we celebrated a lot of things that day—starting with the original State Water Board restoration orders that led us to this day and have produced the results you can already see on Rush, Lee Vining, Parker, and Walker creeks. We celebrated the resolution of three years of intensive collaborative negotiations between the Mono Lake Committee, the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP), CalTrout, and the Department of Fish & Wildlife. We celebrated an innovative, groundbreaking, and precedent-setting agreement that signals the launch of a new era of restoration in the Mono Basin. And we celebrated a new era of restoration that includes updates to the Los Angeles Aqueduct infrastructure that will bring it into the 21st Century by maximizing Mono Basin water for the streams, the lake, and the people of Los Angeles.

Of course we wish that every Mono Lake Committee member and friend could have been there—it was a spectacular fall day, and the festivities were poignant and fun. In that spirit we’ve gathered some photos from the day for you.

Nobody could remember a time when this many DWP staff had paid us a visit all at once. Here, DWP General Manager Ron Nichols introduced his staff.
The whole celebration crew trekked out to the Grant Lake Reservoir Dam where we got oriented to the Los Angeles Aqueduct infrastructure and heard from the partners to the Agreement. Photo by Jessica Ashley.
The partners to the Agreement from left to right: Geoffrey McQuilkin of Mono Lake Committee, Mark Drew and Jeff Thompson of CalTrout, Steve Parmenter of the Department of Fish & Wildlife, and Ron Nichols and Marty Adams of the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power.
We then walked down into the spillway to hear about the future "hole in the dam." Photo by Elin Ljung.
It was amazing to be down in the spillway, and a particularly great and special occasion to have the opportunity to check it out.
Marty Adams sketched out some of the "hole in the dam" possibilities being considered as part of the Agreement.
The weather and scenery of the day matched the celebratory mood perfectly.
After the spillway talk people spontaneously walked down towards Rush Creek.
Lunch was provided by local caterer Linda Dore Foodservice with locally-grown produce and fresh-baked bread by Stella's Bakery. Photo by Elin Ljung.
Then the partners planted three aspen trees on Rush Creek just above the Old Highway 395 bridge near the Mono Lake Committee's Outdoor Education Center site.
Mono Lake Committee Information & Restoration Specialist Greg Reis gave some historical perspective on tree planting in the Mono Basin and a quick lesson in successful planting techniques.
The partners to the agreement, along with their respective lawyers, literally dug in to the tree planting---it was hard to tell if it was more fun to plant the trees or to watch the crew negotiate the planting process.
The proud partners to the Agreement with their jointly-planted aspen trees.
Ron Nichols added a very thoughtful addition to the celebration---he brought bottles of champagne from 1997, the first year of the restoration orders, in honor of this next chapter. Note Ron's cap, generously given to him by a Mono Lake Committee staff member. Photo by Santiago Escruceria.
This event marked the start of a new era of restoration, and the Mono Lake Committee is very much looking forward to turning this Agreement into successful restoration on the ground. Here, after the festivities, Mono Lake Committee staff make sure that the aspen trees are protected from deer. Photos by Arya Degenhardt unless otherwise noted.

We couldn’t have made this progress without the steadfast and generous support of the Mono Lake Committee’s 16,000 members. Thank you.


  1. Looks like a good time – everyone celebrating the result of caring about Mono Lake.

    I live far away now – can’t get back to photograph violet green swallows preening or least chipmunks munching around South Tufa.

    But there are other issues here in New Mexico – and some of them have to do with responsible water use. Maybe some of the Mono Lake lessons will be helpful.

  2. I think this agreement is one of the greatest things for the Mono Baisn in many years. Great job done by all.o

  3. Congratulations to all on this fantastic achievement. If this poor old world survives, it is going to be the efforts of folks like you who make it so.

    In the words of the great Kojac/Telly Savalas:

    “Who loves ya, baby?”

  4. The many years of hard work are now paying off. To everyone who has given their time, their financial support, I applaud you.

    It’s only been recently that I’ve had the pleasure of being a member but hopefully my son and my two grandsons will take an active part in future committee endeavors.

  5. A great accomplishment, and a wonderful reason to celebrate. Wish I could have been there. MLC is an inspiration to all who would protect this earth.

  6. Thanks for the day in photos, since I couldn’t be there. Really inspirational in all ways.
    We could start a new joke: how many lawyers does it take to plant an aspen tree?
    Congratulation to an incredible staff!!