Special Guest Article
Mysterious Mono Lake
I know you'll enjoy this article by Laura Twining about her recent trip to Mono Lake and what she learned there!
This is a large and shallow lake in Mono County on the Eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. As a desert lake, it has an unusually diverse ecosystem based on the brine shrimp that thrive in its saline waters, providing critical nesting habitat for two million annual migratory birds that feed on the shrimp.
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MYSTERIOUS MONO LAKE, CALIFORNIA
By: Laura Twining
Creator, Author, & Photographer of DRMARM'S BLOG
Recently, I had the pleasure to visit the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountain range in California.
Highway 395 rolls along at elevations over 7000 feet; even in summer there are snow-capped mountains. The vistas are stunning and just breath-taking.
Mono Lake is a State Natural Preserve located outside of the town of Lee Vining, CA.
Lee Vining is one of the portals to
The preserve is home to millions of migrating birds, in particular huge colonies of Gulls. Wilson's Phalarope's are also native to the lake and feed on the Brine Flies which are abundant in the lake environment.
Mono's Tufa Towers
Mono Lake, known mostly by the odd mineral formations called Tufa Towers, is a vast wilderness covering about 65-70 square miles. The Tufa Towers are made of calcium carbonate, a common substance found in rocks all over the world.
One of the reasons this lake is so different is that there is no outlet. Water run-off from the surrounding streams enters the lake and then the fresh water evaporates, generating a significantly high count of salt and alkalinity, (more than twice the salinity of ocean water).
The Big Controversy
Depending upon your whereabouts decades ago, you may know about the controversy that surrounded this unusual lake - water from the lake was diverted to Southern California to meet growing water demands by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power for over 50 years.
This significant loss of water caused the lake level to drop a vertical 45 feet at it's lowest point, which caused an even greater increase in salinity levels. Naturally, the animals, vegetation, and ecosystems were greatly effected by these changes!
So in 1994, a settlement was reached, which agreed to a minimum water level for the lake of 6392 feet above sea level, which is where it remains today.
Mono Lake Today
Today we see Mono Lake in the news once again - this time the ecosystem may be fine, but soon it won't be accessible to the public.
This historic gem, believed to be over one million years of age, is going to be closed as a California State Park due to our devastating budget crisis.
Suzi here: Please see the latest update below!
No specifics about how the park will be closed - or which access points will close - have been shared publicly. The time listed on the State Park website states October as a closing date for numerous parks, but no concrete plan is published.
I, for one, will make another trip there before the sun sets on our access to this state treasure! I would urge others who can, to do so as well.
Highway 395, 13 miles east of Yosemite National Park, near the town of Lee Vining, California.
A hearty thank you to Laura for sharing her interesting and
informative experiences with us! Be sure to follow her at DRMARM'S BLOG for more great pictures and articles from around the North State!
To learn more about Mono Lake - plus two more Northern California Insider Secrets - see My 3 Best Kept Northern California Travel Secrets.
And the good news is that, since Laura wrote this article, I have
received word that - thanks to a six month grassroots effort - the
M.L. Tufa State Natural Reserve has been saved from the chopping block of California's 70 park closure list! This is truly good news for Mono Lake, for the friends of other state parks and facilities, who are working hard to save their parks, and for the residents and visitors of California! There's still hope for California's State Parks!! ;D
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