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Timelapse video: Watch Mono Lake rise before your eyes

Friday, October 13th, 2017 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator

So far in 2017, Mono Lake has risen an astounding 4.5 vertical feet before leveling off in the past month. About 3 feet of that total lake rise occurred from mid-May to mid-August. Watch below for a quick 20-second timelapse showing the incredible lake rise this summer, or scroll down and see the full two-and-half-minute timelapse video.



Observing four years of an ever-changing Mono Lake

Monday, August 21st, 2017 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator

June 2014—Mono Lake level: 6380.4 feet above sea level

One of my first visits to Mono Lake on a full moon in 2014. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Just three years ago, during the middle of California’s historic drought, I visited Mono Lake for the first time. The large, salty lake in the middle of the high desert amazed me and I vividly remember admiring the incredible tufa towers for the first time one summer evening. That was before I worked for the Mono Lake Committee, before I understood the significance of Mono Lake’s level, and the last time I would see the lake with that much water until this month (August 2017). (more…)

Saddlebag Lake Reservoir spills

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017 by Greg, Information & Restoration Specialist

Water courses down the Saddlebag Lake Reservoir spillway, possibly for the first time ever. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

For the first time since at least as far back as 1983, Saddlebag Lake Reservoir on Lee Vining Creek is spilling. This is a rare event—and possibly a first—for the highest lake you can drive to in California.

Saddlebag Dam, at 10,090′ elevation, was built in 1921 to enlarge an existing alpine lake for hydropower generation purposes. The dam was raised and a spillway was added in 1925. The reservoir is oversized compared to the volume of water produced in its watershed, and given the agreement between Southern California Edison (SCE) and the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP), which requires it to be very low every spring. It is unclear if it has ever spilled before now. Last week it was inches away from its spillway, at the end of the day on Monday it was very full at 9,400 acre-feet of water, and on Tuesday it spilled! (more…)

Mono Lake rose a record amount in June 2017

Thursday, July 20th, 2017 by Mono Lake Committee Staff

This post was written by Julissa Rosales, 2017 Canoe Coordinator.

Over the past winter, the Mono Basin received record levels of snowfall—estimated runoff was at 206% above average for Rush and Lee Vining creeks at the end of May. According to ASO Principal Investigator Dr. Tom Painter, over a three-week span during January the Sierra Nevada received more water than the entire Colorado River basin receives in an average year. In the first week of July Saddlebag Lake Resort reported 12 feet of snow still on the ground—that is a lot of snow for July.

Mono Lake’s shoreline on June 3, just as high volumes of snowmelt were beginning to flow down the tributary streams to the lake. Mono Lake Committee wildlife camera photo. (Comparison photo after the jump!)

With spring in our pocket and summer upon us, the time has come for warmer weather, and Mono Lake has been at times rising a twentieth of a foot per day. This added up to (more…)

Scaling back the fence thanks to a rising Mono Lake

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017 by Mono Lake Committee Staff

This post was written by Jenny Rieke, 2017 Birding Intern.

I recently had the opportunity to go out to the landbridge to help with maintenance of the gull fence. I woke up at 5:00am in order to get out there in time, and by 6:30am we were ready to head out, chest waders and all.

The north shore of the landbridge is a surreal, other-worldly landscape. Photo by Jennifer Rieke.

This was my first time to the north shore of Mono Lake and it was quite a contrast to the scenic southern shore I am used to. With Black Point behind us, we trudged over salt flats towards Negit Island. Passing skeletons of last year’s giant blazing stars and coyote scat, we approached the electric fence when suddenly I heard it—the clamor of the gull colony! I put my binoculars up to see the islets overflowing with California Gulls. This was a place I had only imagined in my mind, and now it was coming to life. (more…)

See Mono Lake’s rise on the landbridge

Friday, June 30th, 2017 by Arya, Communications Director

The landbridge is a particularly excellent place to see Mono Lake’s incredibly fast rise right now (click on the images for larger versions):

Dawn on June 15 out on the landbridge, where Mono Lake lapped at the end of the temporary electrified fence that is protecting the nesting California Gull colony from coyote predation. Mono Lake Committee wildlife camera photo.

Twelve days later Mono Lake had risen over half a foot, and it was time for the end of the fence to be adjusted. Mono Lake Committee wildlife camera photo.

Mono Lake has risen 2.8 feet so far this calendar year and is projected to rise another 1.5 feet by year’s end.

Timelapse: Mono Lake rising

Thursday, June 29th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

Want to see Mono Lake rising before your eyes? Check out this timelapse from May 25 to June 25, when the lake rose an incredible 1.2 vertical feet!

You’ll see wildlife along the shore investigating the changing habitat as lagoons form, tufa blocks get submerged, and the grass floods. You might also notice that the lake rise speeds up in early June, when warm weather started melting snow in the high country more quickly, sending record volumes of water down the streams and to the lake.

Mono Lake has risen 2.8 feet so far this calendar year and is projected to rise another 1.5 feet by year’s end. It’s a remarkable time to be at Mono Lake when it’s rising so fast—make plans to visit this summer and see for yourself!

Record runoff reaches the Rush Creek delta

Sunday, June 25th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Unlike Mono Lake’s other tributaries, Rush Creek hasn’t experienced high restorative flows of water since the decision was made to restore the creeks in the mid-1990s. Until this year! Rush has been receiving its highest flows in 50 years, near and exceeding a volume of 800 cubic feet per second. The work that all this water is doing is visible at the delta, where the creek meets Mono Lake in a plume of fresh, turbid water. The foreground of the photo above is a laminar flow of fresh water where sediment drops out and builds the delta habitat.

Check back during this runoff season for more stream restoration updates here on the Mono-logue—you can also find them all by clicking on the “2017 runoff” tag, below.

Lee Vining Creek Trail closes after record runoff

Friday, June 23rd, 2017 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator

Over the past couple of years, I’ve walked the Lee Vining Creek trail more times than I can count. In the fall, I enjoy the golden aspens along the calm stream. In winter, I’ve trekked across the trail in deep snow on skis and on foot, marveling at the beauty and silence of that quiet season. Spring means the emergence of wildflowers and the beginning of the runoff season, while in summer all the plants burst back to life, lizards dart across the trail again, birds fly above, and the creek is raging as the runoff reaches its peak.

Lee Vining Creek’s braided channels are full and rushing with water during this peak runoff season. Unfortunately, the Lee Vining Creek Trail has been washed out and is closed temporarily. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Walking the trail yesterday, this trail I have followed numerous times before, I felt transported to an entirely new place. (more…)

Seven times more water in the snowpack than this time last year

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

The ASO survey data arrived from the June 5 flight, and in a nutshell? There’s A LOT of water still contained up in the snowpack. The data for the Rush Creek watershed indicates that 64% of the April 1st snowpack remains, containing about 78,000 acre-feet of water. At this time last year—a drought year—only about 10,500 acre-feet of water was left in the meager Rush Creek snowpack. This year at the start of June there’s over seven times more water up in the snowpack, much of which will melt and flow into Mono Lake!

Check back during this runoff season for more stream restoration updates here on the Mono-logue—you can also find them all by clicking on the “2017 runoff” tag, below.

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