My favorite definition is “restitution of something taken away or lost.”
Restoration work began in the 1980s with the restitution of the water itself, the vital ingredient that DWP had taken away when it completely diverted four of Mono Lake’s tributaries starting in 1941. With the water gone, so much was lost—the fish, forests, and animals. The ability of the streams to generate and support life was lost. The possibility of life was lost.
The restoration program’s technical streamflows and infrastructure improvements are bringing restitution to the fish with precise amounts of water at specific times. The forests are getting restitution through newly opened stream channels that bring water to more of their roots. Restoration is bringing back the possibility of life for animals who could not live along dry washes.
If you’ve ever sat by a stream in the desert you know what else we are restoring. The dense presence of other beings—birds, fish, willows—going about their lives in the stream community. That specific aroma of damp soil that immediately means life. A cool, green respite from the sun that our instincts crave.
I invite you to come see the restoration. When you step from the sagebrush into the forest near Rush Creek you’ll smell that incredible fresh scent of water. When you dip your toes into Lee Vining Creek you’ll feel instinctively at home. When the Yellow Warblers flit about their business above your head you’ll know there’s life.
“Restitution of something taken away or lost.” The water, the possibilities, our home. We’re about to see restoration like never before.
Top photo by Robbie Di Paolo.