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.

Support stacks up for Mono Lake’s threatened state park

This post was written by Morgan, 2011 Project Specialist.

Mono Lake’s state park is still listed as one of 70 state parks in California scheduled to close this fall. This fact continues to raise more questions than it answers. What does closure mean for Mono Lake, a park covering over seventy square miles of sovereign California state lands?

As Mono Lake rises, already over two feet this year, the water floods vegetation like this salt grass where black alkali flies forage for algae among brilliant yellow Jeffrey pine pollen. This view looks north from Old Marina, one of the threatened state park access locations that features a brand new handicap-accessible boardwalk. Photo by Morgan Lindsay.

Will visitors still be able to experience Mono Lake from the water by taking a canoe, kayak, or motor boat tour? Will scientists be able to collect samples of Mono Lake’s famous arsenic bacteria? Will filmmakers like the BBC or Nova be able to capture Mono Lake’s unique tufa towers, alkali flies, or migrating birds for the world to see? Maybe not. All of these important activities operate under special use permits from the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve—if the state park has no resources to issue permits for Mono Lake, then the boat tours, scientists, and filmmakers can’t legally operate.

Eight-year-old state park advocate Jessamine Turner shows off the many petition signatures she gathered with the help of grandparents Deborah Lurie and Gary Nelson. Photo by Morgan Lindsay.

One certainty remains amidst all the confusion. People care about Mono Lake. Already this summer the Mono Lake Committee has collected over 2,000 letters and 1,300 petition signatures in support of keeping Mono Lake’s state park open. That’s more than three thousand individuals taking the time to let decision-makers in Sacramento know that Californians and visitors from all over the United States and the world want to see Mono Lake protected. It’s not too late to send your own letter of support now!

Many thanks to all who have written letters—it is important that our elected officials hear your voices. All the petition signatures and letters are carefully collected, photocopied, and hand delivered to Governor Jerry Brown, State Park Director Ruth Coleman, State Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, and State Senator Ted Gaines. A big thank you goes to Betsy Reifsnider, our Sacramento Policy Associate for making weekly deliveries of all the letters in our state’s capitol.

Reams of colorful letters and petitions bound for Sacramento on display next to the all-important office copier. Many thanks to interns Erik Lyon and Abby Rivin for all their hard work. Executive Director Geoff McQuilkin and Policy Coordinator Morgan Lindsay join Erik by the copier at the Mono Lake Committee. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.

Many questions remain about what closure means for Mono Lake. The Mono Lake Committee continues to explore possible solutions with the State Parks Department that would hopefully maintain the current “caretaker”  level of support currently in place at the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve. Stay tuned to the Mono-logue for future updates on this critical issue.


  1. You may add my name to those requesting the continued opening of Mono Lake . I was talking to a person at the Parks in Sacremento and told her how I thought its closure was a very poor idea. She was not very hopeful but we can always write and agitate for its continued being left open. I was there this year for a week-end and think it’s a wonderful place. Here’s hoping they rethink their decision. Yours Gene

  2. you may add my nam to the list opposing closure or curtailing of use of the park. it is a place like no other on earth

  3. Add my name to the list. I have visited Mono Lake several times over the past 25 years, and so much improvement has occurred in the past 10 years!

  4. Add my name to the list. I will write a letter to Governor Brown. should I send it to the Committee or straight to Sacramento? Is anyone
    working on some form of alternate funding, maybe through the Mono
    lake Committee? What will happen to surrounding lands? This is a big park. Will it be open to development? I was there for the bird Chautagua, and was very disappointed to hear the park was up for closure.
    Keep up the good work
    Sandra Wieser

  5. Thank you all for your support. The best way for you to add your names to the fast-growing list of Mono Lake state park supporters is to visit our action alert center at It’s easy to send a letter in support of Mono Lake’s state parks to the Governor, State Parks Director Ruth Coleman, and our California legislators in Sacramento.

    Many questions remain about what closure means and how it would play out here on the ground. Right now the Mono Lake Committee is working with local partners and State Parks staff to develop a creative solution to the threat of closure. Stay tuned to the Mono-logue and the Newsletter to learn more this fall.