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Tioga Inn project hearing continues into day two

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020 by Arya, Communications Director

After nine hours of presentations and public comment yesterday, the Mono County Board of Supervisors decided to hold deliberations and their vote to approve, modify, or deny the Tioga Inn project on the planned second day of this special meeting.

Highlights and surprising moments from the meeting thus far include 51 in-person and by-Zoom two-minute-limited public comments, with 3 in support and 48 againstthe introduction of wholly new potential elements to the project from the developer, and wide-ranging questions from the Board.

In an effort to assess the effects of reflective surfaces at the proposed Tioga Inn project site, Mono Lake Committee staff brought a 2×3-foot mirror to the site and photographed the reflection from South Tufa. This photograph was presented to the Board. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Mono Lake Committee staff comments focused on the unmitigated significant negative impacts in the Final Subsequent Environmental Impact Report—scenic impacts to South Tufa, the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area, and throughout the viewshed, impacts to the dark night sky, and issues in direct conflict with the Mono Basin Community Plan, including pedestrian safety, impacts to schools, feasibility of a trail to town, fire safety, and more.

By far, the most impressive part of the day was the wide array of thoughtful and heartfelt comments from the public.

You can follow the proceedings starting today, Tuesday, June 30th at 9:00am online by Zoom, telephone, or live stream (click here for instructions for each).

See you there.

Looking west towards Tioga Pass from South Tufa. Photo courtesy of Jeff Sullivan.

A 100-unit workforce housing village proposed adjacent to Lee Vining near Mono Lake and Yosemite National Park

Thursday, July 25th, 2019 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

August 22 update: Over 700 comment letters submitted about the proposed Tioga Inn project

Tioga Inn public comment period open until August 13 August 21, workshop July 30

The Tioga Inn is the name for the full build-out plan for the project that is currently best known as the Mobil-mart/Whoa Nellie Deli and gas station above the intersection of Highway 120 and Highway 395 just south of Lee Vining. This project has the potential to significantly change the community of Lee Vining, and could double its population. During this open public comment period every opinion and concern matters—people who live in, visit, or know Lee Vining are all encouraged to submit a comment letter.

The existing Mobil gas station, Whoa Nellie Deli, and workforce housing that are part of the proposed Tioga Inn development project.

Project overview

Over twenty six years ago Mono County approved the Tioga Inn Specific Plan & Final Environmental Impact Report, which includes a two-story, 120-room hotel, full-service restaurant, convenience store, gas station, and ten workforce housing units. While the Mobil Mart/Whoa Nellie Deli, (more…)

Experience Mono Lake by canoe!

Thursday, July 6th, 2017 by Mono Lake Committee Staff

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

View from the canoe tour starting destination at Navy Beach. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Whether you are a local or simply passing through right now is the best time to get out on Mono Lake. Since January of this year the lake has risen over two feet and we are expecting it to continue to rise another foot-and-a-half. It is a magical, serene, and beautiful place to experience by canoe.

The Mono Lake Committee offers hour-long canoe tours with knowledgeable guides paddling you through tufa groves. We offer these tours every Saturday and Sunday at 8:00am, 9:30am, and 11:00am through the first weekend in September. Reserve your spot online today!

Canoe guides lead you through tufa groves while looking for brine shrimp. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

It is astonishing how much the lake has risen in the past month. I go out every week as often as I can, even on my days off and before work, just to see how different the changing water level makes tufa disappear under the water’s surface. There is so much to see from the Sierra Nevada’s still-snow-covered peaks, the lake teeming with brine shrimp, and the new nesting Osprey chicks. There is so much to explore and be grateful for in what the Mono Lake Committee and friends have done to ensure that this splendid lake is not lost or forgotten. We’d love it if you would join us for an amazing morning out on Mono Lake so you can experience the magic yourself.

Mono Lake’s California Gulls safe for the season

Thursday, May 25th, 2017 by Geoff, Executive Director

A mile of citizen-funded solar-powered electric fence is up and running, protecting Mono Lake’s nesting gulls—one of the three largest colonies in the world—from mainland predators. The fence is the result of a year and a half of planning by the Mono Lake Committee and California State Parks along with other agency partners, a dedicated local installation team, and generous funding from Mono Lake supporters across the country.

The temporary electric fence stretching one mile across the landbridge has 11 motion-activated wildlife cameras with infrared nighttime flash capability along its length. In late April, camera #5 documented a coyote walking the fence line, confirming that the fence is functioning as a coyote barrier. Mono Lake Committee wildlife camera photo.

Why is the temporary fence—which will be removed when nesting is finished—needed? Five years of drought lowered Mono Lake seven feet, shrinking the protective moat of water between the lake’s north shore and Negit Island and adjacent islets—exposing a landbridge that allows coyotes access to the lake’s long-established nesting colony of California Gulls. Last summer signs were found on a few of these islets that coyotes had indeed walked the landbridge and then swum the remaining 500 feet or so of shallow water to prey on eggs and chicks, disrupting nesting and causing gulls to be suspicious of returning to these sites in future years.

Not a typical fence site

The electric mesh netting fence used for the project (more…)

Fence post: An update from Mono Lake’s landbridge

Friday, April 21st, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

The temporary electrified fence protecting Mono Lake’s nesting California Gulls has been up and running for about three weeks now. After a long and snowy winter the gulls’ calls signal spring’s arrival, and it’s gratifying to know that as they build nests and lay eggs out on the islands, they are protected from coyote predation.

Gull researcher Kristie Nelson works on one of the fence sections that extends into Mono Lake. Photo by Geoff McQuilkin.

The fence stretches for about one mile across the landbridge, and is made up of five sections that overlap—an electrified long middle section, two shorter electrified sections at the ends near the water’s edge, and two passive sections at (more…)

Marina Fire update: 95% contained

Friday, July 1st, 2016 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

As of this morning, the Marina Fire is 654 acres and 95% contained.

This map of the Marina Fire from June 28 shows the extent of the burn along Highway 395. Map courtesy of SoCal Fire Team 1.

This map of the Marina Fire from June 28 shows the location and extent of the burn area. Map courtesy of SoCal Fire Team 1.

Since the fire burned on the steep slopes above Highway 395 along Mono Lake’s west shore, a team has been mapping the burn severity in order to estimate potential damage from erosion and debris flows in future storms. The next step is to propose solutions to minimize or prevent damage to Highway 395, the power line road, and structures near the highway.

The fire was determined to be human-caused, but the exact cause and origin are still under investigation. As the Fourth of July holiday approaches, please be extra fire-safe, and follow the Inyo National Forest fire restrictions that are in place.

Marina Fire update: Monday

Monday, June 27th, 2016 by Arya, Communications Director

The Marina Fire continues to smolder on the slopes above the west shore of Mono Lake, but residents are breathing a cautious sigh of relief as firefighters now have the 654-acre fire 46% contained. (The change in acreage is due to more precise GPS mapping.) Fire crews continue to work on the ground and with air operations, improving containment around the fire perimeter and mopping up along Highway 395. The weather forecast is for high temperatures and low humidity and local afternoon winds, so fire crews remain on high alert for the potential for the fire to spread.

2016-06-26 2017 - IMG_9113

A view of the Marina Fire area from Highway 395 taken this morning. Some people may recognize this area because of the aspen grove known for its beautiful colors in fall, or as the property involved in a Forest Service land trade to avoid development and subdivision around 2007. Photo by Geoff McQuilkin.

As of 8am this morning Highway 395 is open in both directions. Caltrans, Southern California Edison, and fire crews are active along Highway 395—please keep your eye out and drive safely along the section of Highway 395 along Mono Lake adjacent to the fire. (more…)

Marina Fire update: Sunday 11:00am

Sunday, June 26th, 2016 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

This morning the Marina Fire continues to smolder on the slopes above the west shore of Mono Lake. An updated mapping effort put the acres burned at 758, with 30% containment.

Smoke from the Marina Fire was visible at South Tufa yesterday morning. There is much less smoke today. Photo by Erv Nichols.

Smoke from the Marina Fire was visible at South Tufa yesterday morning. There is much less smoke today. Photo by Erv Nichols.

Highway 395 is open to one-way escorted traffic between the town of Lee Vining and Highway 167; the wait time is approximately 20 minutes. Caltrans reports that the highway is estimated to reopen fully at noon today. (more…)

Marina Fire update: Saturday 4:30pm, escorted traffic along Highway 395

Saturday, June 25th, 2016 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

As of 4:30pm this afternoon cars are being escorted 50 at a time through the fire closure on Highway 395. If conditions become unsafe the highway will close completely once again.

A DC-10 bomber drops fire retardant along the north flank of the Marina Fire on Saturday, June 25. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

A very large air tanker drops fire retardant along the north flank of the Marina Fire on Saturday, June 25. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

The fire’s statistics have not been updated on Inciweb since this morning—819 acres burned, with 5% containment, and 300 personnel responding. However, it now says on Inciweb that containment of the fire is expected to take at least five more days, with full containment estimated for Thursday, June 30. (more…)

Marina Fire update: Saturday 10:30am

Saturday, June 25th, 2016 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

As of 10:30am this morning the Marina Fire is still burning just north of Lee Vining along Highway 395. According to Inciweb, the fire spread has been mapped at 819 acres and is 5% contained.

A view of the Marina Fire last night from Mono City. Photo by Geoff McQuilkin.

A view of the Marina Fire last night from Mono City. Photo by Geoff McQuilkin.

Highway 395 is closed in Lee Vining on the south, and closed at Highway 167 on the north. There is no estimated opening time right now; the highway is reported to be closed due to rockfall on the road. (more…)

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