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!”

Why do you value Mono Lake? Log in and post your comments!


  1. I believe in the mountain bluebird that claps its beak as it chases a moth through the burn on the south side. I believe it is a winged symbol of renewal, the color of water, the content. I believe it stands out, as it flits among the leafless pines, like Mono Lake does from the shoulder of Warren Bench or the window of a plane on it’s way east to Providence. I believe they are beautiful, these bits of blue, and that I cherish them and carry them with me, and that I am thankful.

  2. I believe in the unconditional love of a place, in its ability to soothe, restore, and excite. Those places we love always give love back.

  3. I believe that the world is full of second chances. You never know what will grow, thrive, change, or surprise if given a second chance.

  4. The diversity and isolation(somewhat) of the region is tops. Mountains, lake, rivers, and the expanse of sage is so different from the environ that I’m from. The lake has been saved(yeh), yet some of those great tufa formations we’ve come to love will now be submerged back from where they came. Sad yet joyous. I’ve come to Mono since the mid 80’s and there’s still ton’s of places to explore. This is one of my very favorite places on Earth. Russ in California

  5. I get such a feeling of serenity and calm, and and overpowering sense of the permanence and beauty of nature from the vista of the lake. I’m also always aware of how old it is. Seeing something that’s been around for 1 million years gives me a feeling of reassurance that the world endures and is good.

  6. I feel that such a bizzarity in the natural world should be protected with all our heart. Let us keep it the way it should be like, forever!

  7. From Monoville’s aspens in fall to Conway. From the mills to the craters and west among the grinding rocks…………from the “prayer” rocks to the old Mormon road…………it’s been timeless, ethereal, surreal, limitless and free. Inspiration, uncluttered, unfettered and totally egalitarian. The great leveler. It takes no prisoners and affords no wimps, yet it gives to those with the eyes to see. I love it, dust, grit, snowblind and sandstung. Nothing better than having hiked where the spirit calls only to come back and park on the bench in front of Mono Market with a cold one, completely covered in salt, sans wet hat and marvel at the gift……….to see life as it was, and still is and knowing full well that the Bimmer Pilots heading for LaLa land just won’t get it. No IPOD. And they missed the sweetest music of all, the singing heart!!!

  8. My first visit to the region was in 1973, I was not yet four. While not an activist, naturalist, or any ist, my grandfather taught me to love the rugged beauty, fragility, and diversity of Mono Lake. There was nowhere on Earth that he cared for more. From 1973 until I began working full time, I visited at least once a year. Sometimes spending entire summers working with Chuck and Mavis up at Saddlebag or just hiking and camping with Grandpa and sometimes I stayed for just a few days at a time. After I started working full time, I began to lose focus and years went by without a visit. I realized that something was missing but I wasn’t able to put my finger on it. It wasn’t until my Grandpa fell ill that I returned to Mono Lake. It was then that I discovered what had been missing. Mono Lake restores your senses, it puts things into perspective and it reminds you of what is important. I’ve made the 800 mile round-trip at least twice a year (and sometimes five or six) every year since then. My grandfather passed away a few, years ago but when I sit quietly on the shores of Mono Lake amongst the Brine Flies and screaching Gulls, I know that he is still with me. That is why I love Mono Lake.

  9. I first saw Mono Lake as a kid back in the middle 50’s. I was fascinated by this salt lake in the Sierra’s. When I found out that DWP was taking water from the tributaries, I decided to take action and join the committee. I’m so glad that Mono Lake’s water level is going back up. For a while, I was afraid it might be too late. But it wasn’t! It is a treasure for future generations.

  10. My mother died, when I was 9, in an auto on Hwy 395 near Lee Vining. It was 1960 and I first saw the lake 3 years later and it haunted me with its surreal beauty unlike any place I’d ever seen before, but it was also associated with grief and loss. I came to Mono Lake as a quest to understand personal tragedy; repeated trips over the years shaped me as a naturalist, writer, mother, citizen and ultimately, through the experience of transforming grief I discovered this particular landscape is virtually unlimited in its power to surprise and renew me each time I visit, as I have done as often as possible for more than 35 years. I was born in Los Angeles and once I was aware of the water issues connecting Mono Lake to my birthplace, I became a member of the fledgling Mono Lake Committee, sometime in the 1970s. Eventually, I discovered the work of Mary Hunter Austin and began a lifelong love affair with the entire eastern Sierra. I always knew that each time I arrived by car and stepped onto the sandy ground, smelled sagebrush, inhaled deeply of the high desert air and cast my gaze 360 degrees in all directions to take in every mountain and basin, every cloud and its shadow upon the land, I was home. I came to Mono Lake in search of ghosts and eventually learned that I was really searching for–and found–myself and that this place is my best, most loved and valued place on the earth. The rituals of cresting Conway Summit for the long exhilarating descent into the valley evoke as much anticipated joy as anything I know. The secret places I have found in the ancient landforms near the lake, counting gull eggs on a field trip, gliding over alligator-scaled slabs of tufa beneath crystalline waters in a canoe, and once, the hilarious immersion in the lake to float alongside bobbing seagulls. All these moments and hundreds more I cherish as I look to the calendar pinned on my workstation wall, here in the Midwest, homesick and yearning for my spiritual home, Mono Lake.

  11. I left the midwest and found myself at Mono Lake. The expanse, the sound of the snow falling as I sit on a granite outcrop in an epic canyon, shooting the tufa on a moonlight canoe trip, counting gulls as an excuse to take off work and sleep in the coolest volcano ever built, swimming naked in the briny waters, roaring down Tioga Pass on two wheels and a prayer, viewing the lake from as many possible angles as possible. Stealing moments for myself that I wish all of humanity could experience. I returned to the midwest and will always remember how it came to be that I found my true self.

  12. Every three years i bring a group of jr high students up from the mt baldy area to canoe on mono lake. It is the most wonderful thing that i can do for them, is to let them see this magical lake up close and personal. This year will be the first time we will be trying to swim in the water. I am so looking forward to it.

  13. I first saw Mono Lake in 1980 while on a fishing trip with friends. I asked “what is that?” The Biologist in our group said “Mono Lake. It’s really important but it soon will be dead.” At the time it did not mean much to me. 12 years later we drove up 395 to camp at Virginia Lakes. During that trip we visited the MLC offices and the visitor center – learning about what Mono Lake was all about. We came to the East Side frequently for our summer vacation, and now love the Lake, the Committee, and most of all the town. We will be spending part of our retirement years in LV.


  15. I just had the privilege of visiting Mono Lake! It is truly one of the most beautiful places i have ever seen! I look forward to my next visit already. It is something that should be taken care of so that it can be enjoyed by future generations!

  16. Mono Lake offers a sensitive and timeless link to a past filled at times with quiet and at other times, filled with the sound of fierce wind and waves pushing sand and gravel onshore

  17. We enjoy the scenic and geographic diversity, history and geology. We also enjoy the (usually) clean air and uncrowded conditions.

  18. It’s easy to forget how old the lake is, it’s almost as if it watches us come and go, new people old people the Kuzedika’a too. I think we all did a great thing by keeping the water flowing into it, thank you Dave for leading us.

  19. Like the MLC, my tenure with the lake celebrates 30 years this summer. I have not found a stronger, personal, “place spirit” I hold so dearly. I have a strong appreciation of what I’ve learned of (and through) this place, how it’s affected my outlook and understanding, what I’ve gained of how individuals “see for the first time” a place their experience has no comparable reference, so that childlike sense of awe and wonder takes hold, and how I hold that span of time I’ve come to know this place through. To answer the question, then…I value how Mono Lake has affected the person I am, and am still becoming.

  20. Researching book on drowning of six at Mono Lake 9/28/78. I lost many friends then and still have fond memories of all my times at the Peigne’s home over-looking the lake. Contact at above email addr. Brooks G.