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The logistics of canoeing on Mono Lake’s unique water

June 30th, 2018 by Alison, Canoe Coordinator
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As the new Canoe Coordinator, I arrived in mid-May to begin preparing for a summer packed with canoe tours on Mono Lake. My early season responsibilities included familiarizing myself with the area, reading all about the canoe program and how it functions, learning how to back up the canoe trailer, and taking inventory of all of the equipment before the first weekend of tours in late June.

A family enjoys a leisurely paddle on Mono Lake. Photo by Alison Kaplan.

To my surprise, the task that took up the most time out of all of these was the equipment inventory. I had read in the canoe program manual that some of the equipment had to be replaced every year due to damage, but I didn’t really understand the extent of that damage until I saw heavy-duty ropes and straps falling to pieces in front of my eyes.

Mono Lake canoe tours aren’t wildly adventurous or extreme; we paddle close to shore at a relaxed pace, observing the birds and wildlife while discussing the lake’s natural and political history. How, then, does the canoe equipment take such a beating each season? The answer lies in Mono Lake’s unique chemistry. … more »

Aqueduct retrofit ensures export accuracy: Mono Lake Committee advocacy produces results

June 29th, 2018 by Geoff, Executive Director
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One thing the Mono Lake Committee and the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) can agree on is that accurate measurement of water exported from the Mono Basin is important. One might assume that measuring water sent out of the Mono Basin through the Los Angeles Aqueduct would be fairly straightforward, but due to infrastructure complexities, DWP has historically used a calculation to derive the export amount.

Aqueduct improvements in 2009, shown here, added equipment to directly measure water exports, but the system was unreliable until recent repairs, thanks to the Committee’s persistence. Photo by Greg Reis.

Getting from calculation to measurement

To understand why DWP couldn’t simply measure its … more »

Looking back on the 2018 Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua

June 26th, 2018 by Nigel, Birding Intern
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A record-setting crowd of over 330 people convened in the Mono Basin for the seventeenth annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua. Over the course of the weekend, participants enjoyed over 100 field trips, workshops, and presentations that covered the area’s tremendous diversity of birds and other wildlife.

Birders enjoy a spectacular view of the Sierra crest on a field trip to the Rush Creek Delta. Photo courtesy of Sarah Angulo.

This year’s Chautauqua participants racked up an impressive list of 171 bird species. For many, the avian highlight was a Grace’s Warbler that entertained birders all weekend along Bald Mountain Road east of the June Lake Loop. Other notable sightings included Indigo Bunting in Lundy Canyon (for the second year in a row!), Sandhill Crane and Common Grackle at Bridgeport Reservoir, and Common Loon at Crowley Lake. … more »

The future of Sierra Nevada snow: Dr. Alex Hall on the climate future of the Sierra

June 23rd, 2018 by Geoff, Executive Director
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What will happen to the Sierra Nevada’s snowpack as climate change impacts accumulate through the 21st century? This question is vital to both the ecological health of the Range of Light and to water delivery systems throughout California. And, it matters a great deal to Mono Lake and its many miles of tributary streams, which depend on Sierra runoff for their vitality.

A view of the Eastern Sierra from Virginia Canyon to Mt. Conness, including Mono Lake. Photo by Geoff McQuilkin.

Forecasts of the future rely on complex climate modeling, and I talked with Dr. Alex Hall, Professor of Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences at UCLA, about the work he and his team have been conducting to produce actionable climate science. Dr. Hall heads the Center for Climate Science, where they have developed cutting-edge downscaling techniques to create geographically detailed climate projections for the Los Angeles area and the Sierra Nevada.

Geoff: Thanks for taking time to talk, Alex. You have just released a major report, Climate Change in the Sierra Nevada: California’s Water Future. What are the big takeaway messages?

Alex: Temperatures across the Sierra Nevada are warming … more »

Summer interpretive activities begin at Mono Lake this weekend

June 21st, 2018 by Gabrielle, Project Specialist
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Days are longer, evenings are warmer, and the Mono Basin is buzzing with activity. Summer is in full swing and when you visit there are many things to do: South Tufa tours, bird walks, Panum Crater walks, Stars Over Mono programs, and canoe tours!

Guests observe alkali flies on a free South Tufa Tour. Photo by Sandra Noll.

Join us daily for free South Tufa tours to learn about the political and natural history of Mono Lake. Tours last approximately one hour and your guide will lead you through towering groves of tufa, help you observe Mono Lake’s endemic shrimp, and if you’re lucky you may even catch a glimpse of nesting Osprey. Meet at the South Tufa kiosk, daily at 10:00am & 6:00pm. (Tours are free, however there is a $3 fee to visit South Tufa.)

The Mono Basin is a birder’s paradise. Free bird walks … more »

Screenings of “The Longest Straw” film at Mono Lake

June 19th, 2018 by Gabrielle, Project Specialist
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“The Longest Straw” plays June 22, July 6, & July 20 at the Mono Lake Committee in Lee Vining. Photo courtesy of Samantha Bode.

In 2015 we had the pleasure of meeting Samantha Bode. She had just finished hiking the length of the Los Angeles Aqueduct—338 miles from Los Angeles to Mono Lake—for a documentary she was making.

In Sam’s documentary, The Longest Straw, she talks to community leaders, residents, and advocates in Los Angeles as well as the communities most affected by the exportation of water south. The film premiered at the New Urbanism Film Festival last October and we are excited to be hosting three showings here in the Mono Basin this summer.

Free screenings will be held on June 22, July 6, and July 20 at 7:00pm at the … more »

Free concert on Sunday at Mono Lake County Park: Fun for the whole family!

June 15th, 2018 by Alexis, Mono Lake Intern
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Attention everyone ages 0–99—there is a free concert at Mono Lake County Park this Sunday, June 17!

Join us at Mono Lake County Park on Sunday at noon for good music, tasty food, and friendship! Photo courtesy of Sally Miller.

This a fantastic opportunity for people to come together for an afternoon of music and good vibes. The concert will begin at 12:00noon and will feature local band Wild Mountain Thyme. This talented group brings a fantastic blend of traditional music from around the world to the Eastern Sierra for your enjoyment.

There will be burgers galore available for lunch … more »

Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua programs still have space

June 12th, 2018 by Gabrielle, Project Specialist
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The seventeenth annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua starts this week! This year’s festival is sure to be an incredible weekend with over 300 participants and more than 50 presenters. If you haven’t had a chance to register, don’t worry—there are still programs available.

Yosemite ranger Karen Amstutz leads a trip near Virginia Lakes. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Click through to see a list of programs that still have space. Full trip descriptions can be found on the event website.

OPEN PROGRAMS … more »

Information Center & Bookstore summer hours begin Thursday

June 10th, 2018 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Starting on Thursday, June 14, the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore will be open from 8:00am to 9:00pm every day.

Starting on Thursday, June 14, the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore will be open from 8:00am to 9:00pm every day. Photo by Erv Nichols.

Stop by to pick up a Mono Lake T-shirt, buy maps for your next hike, find gifts for friends and family, watch The Mono Lake Story half-hour film, select some postcards to help remember your trip, or get information about canoeing, hiking, camping, lodging, restaurants, and more. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Peak streamflows on Mono Lake’s tributaries exceed expectations

June 7th, 2018 by Greg, Information & Restoration Specialist
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Peak snowmelt runoff on Mono Lake’s tributary streams is occurring!

Restoration Field Technician Robbie Di Paolo retrieves a temperature logging device in high flows on Rush Creek. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Lundy Lake Reservoir is spilling, and the Rush Creek peak flow of 380 cubic feet per second (cfs) below Grant Lake Reservoir is being released over the next five days. So far, snowmelt runoff above the aqueduct has peaked at 272 cfs on Rush Creek, 238 cfs on Lee Vining Creek, 46 cfs on Parker Creek, and 23 cfs on Walker Creek. The flows should begin to subside soon given the rapid melting and limited snowpack. … more »

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