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Help us to continue the inspirational Mono Lake story—become a member of the Mono Lake Committee today!
Mono Lake is a striking blue oasis in eastern California surrounded by desert peaks, volcanoes, and the Sierra Nevada. Scenic tufa tower formations and saline waters lie at the edge of freshwater streams and snow-capped mountains. Millions of birds, trillions of brine shrimp, and countless alkali flies contribute to one of the most productive lake ecosystems on the planet.
In 1941, the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power began diverting water from Mono Lake’s tributary streams, sending it 350 miles south to meet the growing water demands of Los Angeles. Deprived of its freshwater sources, the lake dropped 45 vertical feet. Its salinity doubled and the ecosystem approached collapse.
Researchers, students, birders, and the public took notice and formed the Mono Lake Committee in 1978. Sixteen years later, this dedicated grassroots movement changed history by protecting Mono Lake, securing new water solutions for Los Angeles, and transforming water law in California. The Mono Lake story is about changing values and balancing those values against difficult odds. It’s about how a small and dedicated group of individuals, trying to do the right thing, can grow into an effective coalition of organizations, agencies, and public support that triumph over fundamental environmental challenges.
The Mono Lake story is a rare environmental success that can inspire and inform the environmental challenges of our time.
Top photo by Antonia Chihuahua.