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The Tioga Pass lower gate is open

May 31st, 2019 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

At noon today Caltrans opened the lower gate on Tioga Pass, which opens 13 miles of Highway 120, from Highway 395 to the Yosemite National Park boundary. The gate at the park boundary remains closed.

The Tioga Pass lower gate on February 7, 2019. The snow has melted and the gate opened today. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

With the lower gate open, people can access the high country near the park boundary—it remains almost completely snow-covered with wintry conditions and variable weather. Visitors planning to leave the road should be prepared for such conditions. Ellery Lake and Tioga Lake are still covered in ice and snow, and Saddlebag Lake Road is still closed, so there is no vehicle access to Saddlebag Lake. Tioga Pass Resort and Saddlebag Lake Resort remain closed.

There is still no estimated opening date for Tioga Pass; plowing updates can be found here and a list of previous opening dates here.

Summer 2019 Mono Lake Committee staff migrations

May 31st, 2019 by Jessica, Office Director

The 2018 Mono Lake Committee staff; 2019 staff arrive today! Photo by Elin Ljung.

Incoming seasonal staff are like spring flows in the creeks, bringing excitement, growth, and renewal to the whole Mono Basin. Without them, our extensive education programs at the lake and in the Information Center & Bookstore would be nearly impossible, and their zest for all things Mono Lake reminds us why we are all here.

We have two staff returning this year. Ava Stavros is back for her third year as an Outdoor Education Instructor after a winter working at The Lift café, a new woman-owned business in June Lake. Alison Kaplan will once again be leading weekend tours as the Canoe Coordinator after working for the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County over the winter.

Information Center & Bookstore Assistant Kevin Brown has a wealth of retail experience in addition to experience as … more »

Mono Lake: Surviving the Anthropocene

May 28th, 2019 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

Saline lakes are in steady decline around the world. Treasures on a planet of primarily freshwater lakes, saline lakes are unique, wild, and fascinating in their own right, as well as critical niche ecosystems in which birds and people live.

Mono Lake is likely the only salt lake ecosystem on earth with meaningful protection on a watershed scale. It is also a critical stop on the Pacific Flyway for migratory birds like phalaropes, seen here. Photo courtesy of Marie Read.

Because they are located in arid and semi-arid regions where evaporation loss is significant, water diversions have an increased impact on these lakes. Diversions have, in some cases, led to ecological collapse and loss of fisheries and/or critical bird habitat along with catastrophic air quality problems. Climate change is frequently blamed, but saline lakes began shrinking and disappearing decades ago as water diversions increased well ahead of global temperature rise. … more »

Summer 2019 Mono Lake Newsletter now online

May 24th, 2019 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

Photo by David Gubernick.If you have arrived at Mono Lake and picked up this Newsletter, wondering “what is this place and who are these people,” you’re in good hands.

On page 16 you can find the Mono Lake story in a nutshell, and the essay on page 22 gives a brief history of this organization. There’s a map and things to do on pages 14–17. You can learn, like the students who come to the Outdoor Education Center, about the physical tie between Mono Lake and Los Angeles that is the Los Angeles Aqueduct. You can see the intricacies required to keep Mono Lake protected at an everyday, practical level—the comments we submitted on proposed fishing regulations … more »

The Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua still has space open–sign up now!

May 22nd, 2019 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

The eighteenth annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua is right around the corner, coming up June 14–16, 2019.

Bullock’s Oriole. Photo by Santiago Escruceria.

This year’s program has a whopping 106 events—field trips, presentations, workshops, and more. And there’s still space in 62 of those events! More than 275 people have already signed up, and we expect many more … more »

This year’s deep snowpack will raise Mono Lake

May 21st, 2019 by Geoff, Executive Director

Today it is once again possible to see the sky out of the windows at the Mono Lake Committee office—instead of a wall of snow—but the wet and snowy 2018–19 winter will continue to affect Mono Lake and its tributary streams throughout the summer and well into fall.

With 157% of average snowpack by April 1, it was an impressively wet winter in the Mono Basin. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Storms rolled into the Sierra this past winter and temperatures stayed cold, allowing for a large snow accumulation in Lee Vining and along the shore of Mono Lake. In February one noteworthy storm sequence dropped nearly four feet of snow in town and turned the entire Mono Basin into a snowfield. Another … more »

Tioga Pass watch: Current conditions

May 20th, 2019 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide

Dana Meadows, at the top of Tioga Pass, looking northeast towards Tioga Peak. Photo by Nora Livingston.

On Saturday, May 18, I tagged along with a researcher studying sparrows up Tioga Pass. We drove all the way to the Yosemite National Park entrance station to check out the current conditions and set up a weather station for her study plot. It is still a winter wonderland up there! … more »

Court memorial honors Judge Finney

May 17th, 2019 by Arya, Communications Director

On the wall at Mono Lake Committee headquarters, quietly perched above the fray, it reads, “People protecting Mono Lake for future generations.” There are many protectors—birders, scientists, students, lawyers … a bright star in that constellation, Terrence Finney passed away in November 2018, but his legacy will forever shine at Mono Lake.

Honored to have been part of hearings in his courtroom: restoration consultant Scott English, hydrogeographer Peter Vorster, and attorney Richard Roos-Collins with a photo (from Storm Over Mono) of Judge Terrence Finney, at the court memorial in January. Photo courtesy of Richard Roos-Collins.

According to the El Dorado County Superior Court, in Judge Finney’s 20 years of service, the Mono Lake case was “the biggest case of his career.” It certainly was vital to the protection of Mono Lake and restoration of the tributary streams.

In 1989 Judge Finney’s courtroom became the epicenter of … more »

Record attendance at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival

May 15th, 2019 by Joslyn, Project Specialist

The Mono Lake Committee hosted our eighth annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival in Pasadena and Santa Monica this past March.

The Committee’s eighth annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival in LA was a great success. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

Each year Committee staff migrate to Los Angeles to bring a selection of inspiring films to our friends and members on the southern end of the Los Angeles Aqueduct. This year marked … more »

2019 Andrea Lawrence Award presented to Elsa Lopez

May 10th, 2019 by Anna, Philanthropy Director

Community members, friends, and family of Andrea Mead Lawrence gathered at Mammoth Mountain’s Parallax Restaurant on May 3 to present Los Angeles community leader Elsa Lopez with the 2019 Andrea Lawrence Award.

Current and former Mono Lake Committee staff with Quentin Lawrence and 2019 award recipient Elsa Lopez (second and third from left). Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Elsa is a pioneering educator and activist committed to strengthening the link between Los Angeles and Mono Lake. Beginning in the 1980s, Elsa engaged her organization, Mothers of East Los Angeles–Santa Isabel, in the successful implementation of LA’s ultra-low-flush toilet retrofit program, creating effective water conservation solutions in her community. … more »

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