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.

Why do you value Mono Lake?

Articulating one’s core values isn’t simple. Committee staff have been discussing values by filling in the simple phrase “I believe ______” For example: “I believe that the algae, brine shrimp, alkali flies, and birds are important. ” I believe that both the planet and the people on it need places like Mono Lake.” “I believe in saving places like Mono Lake for my children’s children.”

A simple truth emerged quickly from this exercise: we all love Mono Lake. Because we’re always thinking in terms of watersheds and ecosystems, loving Mono Lake means from the headwaters to the lake-bottom, including the tributary streams.

But why do we love Mono Lake? For this we go back to the “I believe” statements. “I believe wild places should exist for their own right.” “I believe people need places that are dominated by natural forces, not human ones.” “I value the sense of solitude, the quiet, and the changing beauty of Mono Lake.”

There is something about wild and natural places that clearly resonates with people. As Committee founder David Gaines often said, the lake speaks for itself and it touches people’s hearts.

So we love Mono Lake for what it is, a wild and natural place, and we also value the sense of inspiration it creates within us.

And so begins the Mono Lake Committee’s five-year strategic plan: “Values are the timeless, unchanging motivators of our actions. They are solid, steady points of reference for the next 50-100 years. They are the basis of this strategic plan.” All of our discussions were distilled down to three overarching values that motivate the Committee’s plans for the future:

1. We value Mono Lake, its tributary streams, the lands of the Mono Basin, and the sense of inspiration they create within us.

2. We value positive, principled, proactive solutions to problems.

3. We value the Mono Lake family of friends.

Mono Lake and the Mono Basin inspire something within us, something many people have in common. It is why we visit, come back, check the Webcam when we’re away, and it’s why we continue to work together for solutions that will protect this place we love for many years to come. It is why we are here, and it is what we really mean when we say, “Long Live Mono Lake!”

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