Community comes together to clean up the Mono Basin

October 22nd, 2020 by Rose, Education Director

The Mono Lake Committee, California State Parks, and the DeChambeau Creek Foundation focused on cleaning up the Mono Basin during the Facelift “Act Local” Cleanup last weekend. Photo by Rose Nelson.

Last week across the Eastern Sierra, locals participated in the Facelift “Act Local” Cleanup to pick up garbage left by many visitors to the area during an unusually busy summer. The Mono Lake Committee joined California State Parks and the DeChambeau Creek Foundation to focus on the Mono Basin.

Throughout the three-day cleanup, 37 volunteers picked up over 400 pounds of garbage throughout the Mono Basin! Volunteers focused on Lee Vining Canyon, Lundy Canyon and reservoir, the town of Lee Vining, and other favorite places around Mono Lake. … more »

Calling Mono Lake photographers

October 19th, 2020 by Arya, Communications Director

Submitting images for consideration for the Mono Lake Calendar has never been easier, so if you have a beautiful shot of Mono Lake, we’d love to see it! Now is the time—the deadline is Saturday, October 31, 2020, and you can find submission information here.

We are looking for images of scenes within the watershed boundary of Mono Lake, and possible subjects include, but are not limited to: plants, geologic features, streams, mountains, weather, fall colors, and wildlife. Images of sand tufa (which are different from regular tufa towers) will not be considered due to the degradation affecting these features. Where possible, images identifiable within the context of Mono Lake’s and/or the Mono Basin’s unique scenic beauty will receive preference. In striving to represent the natural beauty of Mono Lake, images that are obviously or heavily filtered or manipulated will not be considered. … more »

Tioga Inn hearing outcome: FSEIR certified, project approval deferred  

October 14th, 2020 by Arya, Communications Director

In a late-in-the-day development, the Mono County Board of Supervisors certified the Tioga Inn Final Subsequent Environmental Impact Report (FSEIR) with changes discussed at today’s meeting but deferred approval of the Tioga Inn project itself.

Supervisors Jennifer Kreitz, John Peters, Fred Stump voted to certify the FSEIR. Supervisor Bob Gardner voted against the certification after highlighting the community impacts that remain unresolved. The Tioga Inn project is located in Supervisor Gardner’s district. Supervisor Stacy Corless was recused.

The Board held off on final project approval until the developer consults further with the Mono Lake Kutzadika’a Tribe and Caltrans on the project.

After another day and a half of hearings, we wanted to pass along this news to the dedicated Mono Lake Committee members and friends who have followed this issue, written countless comment letters, and commented before the Board on multiple occasions over multiple years. While many important issues were left unaddressed, some visual impact reductions have been incorporated, and today’s hearing made it very clear that your input has made a positive difference.

Unfortunately, by approving the FSEIR despite extensive community, public, and agency input and concern, the Supervisors essentially chose not to include provisions fixing the “significant, unavoidable impacts” of the project, including fire safety concerns and requests of the Lee Vining Fire Department.

We will post a thorough analysis soon on the hearing developments and clarification of what the decision means for issues of visual impacts, fire safety, pedestrian safety, community connectivity, and project phasing.

For context on this project, please read more, here.

Tioga Inn public hearing continues on Wednesday, October 14

October 13th, 2020 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

Today’s public hearing on the Tioga Inn project got underway today at 2:00pm with Mono County staff and consultants presenting changes made to the project since the last hearing in early August.

The hearing was then opened up for individual Supervisors to ask questions. Supervisor Bob Gardner, who represents the district where the project would be built, asked many questions of County staff, the consultants, and the developer in order to better understand and attempt to improve this complicated, controversial project.

The hearing will continue tomorrow morning starting at 9:00am with questions from other Supervisors, public comment, and then Board deliberation. If you can tune in tomorrow to comment, please do—comments from the public continue to make a difference.

Fall 2020 Mono Lake Newsletter now online

October 12th, 2020 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

What a different world this is than when I last wrote this note in the Mono Lake Newsletter. Just as the Winter & Spring 2020 issue was mailed, we headed home and hunkered down.

We saw the year emptied of joyous Mono Lake gatherings—the Bird Chautauqua, Field Seminars, canoe tours, more. But just as quickly, we filled it back up with new and long-deferred projects like virtual tours, renovating the website, and increasing our efforts to be more a diverse, equitable, inclusive, and just organization.

I keep seeing the dualities of this situation like a coin flipping back and forth. … more »

Tioga Inn public hearing Tuesday, October 13

October 9th, 2020 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

On Tuesday, October 13 at 2:00pm the Mono County Board of Supervisors will once again consider the Tioga Inn Specific Plan Amendment.

The Tioga Inn, if approved as currently proposed, would be visible from South Tufa in this world-class view looking toward the Sierra Nevada. Photo courtesy of Jeff Sullivan.

In addition to considering key issues surrounding safety impacts the project would produce, the Supervisors will review the new “Alternative 7–Hybrid Plan” with revisions that have occurred since the previous hearing on August 6. These revisions include more details on the Phase 1 site plan and a new Landscape Concept Plan, which includes a mix of native and non-native trees that offer some screening of project buildings.

The Mono Lake Committee encourages the interested public, and everyone who has closely followed and commented on the Tioga Inn project to tune in on Tuesday and comment again. … more »

DWP attempts to undermine State Water Board mandates at Mono Lake

October 8th, 2020 by Geoff, Executive Director

The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) launched a brazen strategy earlier this year to undermine the California State Water Resources Control Board mandate to protect and restore Mono Lake.

DWP is claiming that Mono Lake has “largely been restored” when it still has more than ten feet to rise to reach the State Water Board-mandated management level. Photo by Sandra Noll.

In the spring, DWP abruptly announced it wouldn’t fulfill certain obligations to restore Rush, Lee Vining, Parker, and Walker creeks unless it received new water export guarantees in the entirely separate matter of restoring Mono Lake to its healthy management level.

In response to this unexpected and alarming turn of events … more »

Remembering Patrick J. Flinn, Defender of Mono Lake

October 7th, 2020 by Arya, Communications Director

Mono Lake lost one of its fiercest courtroom interrogators, and the Mono Lake family lost a very good friend and creative advocate with the death of attorney Pat Flinn to brain cancer. As a Morrison & Foerster attorney, Pat helped represent the Mono Lake Committee in Judge Terrence Finney’s courtroom and in the State Water Board hearings—the linchpins of protection and restoration for Mono Lake and its tributary streams.

From Storm Over Mono by John Hart: “The Mono Lake brain trust at the water board hearings. Left to right: Scott Stine, David Shuford, David Winkler, Bruce Dodge, Peter Vorster, Patrick Flinn. Water and Power attorney Janet Goldsmith (right) looks on.” Photo courtesy of Gerda S. Mathan.

Pat’s interrogations and boundless energy bolstered the Mono Lake case in the courtroom, and his behind-the-scenes political strategy and team-player approach bolstered the motley crew with much-needed planning and humor. With the news of Pat’s diagnosis … more »

Tioga Inn project coming back around: Here’s a refresher

October 7th, 2020 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

Editor’s note: The Tioga Inn project will be back before the Mono County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, October 13, 2:00–5:00pm, with the (likely) potential to continue the topic on Wednesday, October 14 at 9:00am if needed. While the item has not yet been agendized, two documents have been posted: the Alternative 7 Description + Concept Site Plan + Landscape Concept Plan and the Conceptual Grading Plan. For a refresher on this controversial development project we have posted here the article Bartshe wrote for the Fall 2020 Mono Lake Newsletter, which is being printed right now. Stay tuned for more on this project before next week’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

The largest project of its kind ever proposed in unincorporated Mono County, the Tioga Inn development project continues to transmute and persist despite nearly unanimous public objection to its significant adverse environmental impacts.

Without proper mitigations the Tioga Inn project would be highly visible from South Tufa, as demonstrated here with 2′ x 3′ piece of glass reflecting the rising sun from the project site. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

On three days of hearings this past summer (June 29, 30 and August 6), the Mono County Board of Supervisors navigated overwhelming public opposition to the project, considered project changes, posed questions to the developer, and ultimately delayed a final decision to … more »

Eastern Sierra fall color locations reopen

October 5th, 2020 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

Spectacular fall color is happening up and down the Eastern Sierra, and now that the Inyo National Forest has partially reopened, many fall color locations are open to visitors and locals alike.

Fall colors at Walker Creek in the Mono Basin (photo from 2015). Photo by Elin Ljung.

Good fall color information can be found at Mono County Tourism’s website, and the Eastern Sierra tag on the California Fall Color blog. For the most up-to-date information on Mono Basin fall color locations, give us a call at the Mono Lake Committee: (760) 647-6595.

See below for a list of places for good fall color viewing. Keep in mind that … more »