• Re: Democrat plundered Mono Lake was supposed to have been saved from g

    From But Trump!@21:1/5 to forging asshole on Sun Jul 24 08:54:42 2022
    XPost: alt.fan.rush-limbaugh, alt.politics.usa.republican, talk.politics.guns XPost: sac.politics

    In article <t2qcrk$3q6q7$31@news.freedyn.de>
    forging asshole <governor.swill@gmail.com> wrote:

    Gov. Gavin Newsom, D-Calif., misrepresented his wildfire preparedness and even disinvested in prevention.

    LEE VINING, Mono County — The few who live along the shores of
    Mono Lake are accustomed to the peculiarities of this high
    desert basin.

    Famously strange limestone spires known as tufa towers rise from
    the water. The lake contains so much salt that it’s barren of
    fish. In the arid sands beyond, sagebrush thrives, and that’s
    about it.

    But the alkali flats that are emerging from the lake’s surface,
    ghost white, aren’t just another nod to the uniqueness of this
    ancient place. They’re a sign of trouble. Amid a third year of
    drought, the sprawling lake on the remote east side of the
    Sierra Nevada is sharply receding, and the small towns and
    wildlife so closely tied to the water are feeling the pinch.

    Already, parts of the lake popular with kayakers, beachgoers and
    tribal members have dried up. Fierce dust storms blow off the
    exposed lake bottom and cloud the skies with some of the
    nation’s worst air pollution. A land bridge is forming to
    islands with tens of thousands of nesting gulls, threatening to
    bring coyotes within easy reach of baby birds.

    “It affects everybody, that lake — we all live around it,” said
    Marianne Denny, a 40-year resident of the basin who says “the
    white stuff,” indicative of the lake’s decline, is among the
    most she’s ever seen. “Hopefully we’ll live to see more water.”

    The drought bearing down on Mono Lake and the rest of California
    picks up on a two-decade run of extreme warming and drying. It’s
    a product of the changing climate that has begun to profoundly
    reshape the landscape of the West and how people live within it.
    From less alpine snow and emptying reservoirs to parched forests
    and increased wildfire, the change is posing new, and often
    difficult, challenges.

    At Mono Lake, an emblem of the state’s wild and distinct beauty,
    the reckoning has been a long time coming.


    For eight decades, the city of Los Angeles has piped water from
    four creeks that feed the lake to its facilities 350 miles to
    the south, sometimes diverting almost all of the inflow. It’s a
    familiar California tale of old water rights yielding inordinate

    The concerns at the lake, though, were supposed to have been
    resolved. In 1994, after a lengthy environmental campaign that
    spurred “Save Mono Lake” bumper stickers on vehicles up and down
    California, state water regulators put caps on L.A.’s exports.
    Slowly, lake levels rose. But they did not rise as much as they
    were supposed to.


    Drought, on top of a climate that’s changed faster than
    expected, has slowed progress. On April 1, the typical start of
    the lake’s runoff season, the water level measured 6,379.9 feet
    above sea level, about 12 feet short of the state target. Before
    Los Angeles began drawing water from the creeks here, the lake
    was nearly 40 feet higher.

    “A lot of Californians who know about Mono Lake think, thank
    goodness, we got it on the success list,” said Geoff McQuilkin,
    executive director of the nonprofit Mono Lake Committee, which
    advocates for the basin. “The thing is we’ve given it 20 years,
    now 28 years, and we’re still seeing the problems they thought
    would be gone by now.”

    McQuilkin and his staff run an information center and bookstore
    out of an old dance hall in Lee Vining, the only community on
    the lake with a gas station and grocery store. It’s about a five-
    hour drive from San Francisco. Tourists on scenic Highway 395
    can stop at the center and learn about the area.

    If they spend some time, they’ll learn that many residents here
    want the state to revisit its recovery plan for the lake — and
    force Los Angeles to surrender more water.


    On a recent morning, McQuilkin walked along the quiet north
    shore of the 70-square-mile lake.

    Above, the Sierra crest loomed, and below stood the wide expanse
    of the unveiled lake bottom. It’s colored white from salt that
    rises to the surface with groundwater.

    Like its sister, the Great Salt Lake in Utah, Mono Lake is
    brimming with salt — about 2½ times more so than the ocean —
    because it has no outlet for drainage. Thousands of years of
    evaporation have concentrated minerals in the lake and the
    groundwater beneath it. The lake is believed to be at least
    760,000 years old, and maybe a few million, making it one of the
    oldest in North America.

    “There’s just all these interesting things here,” McQuilkin
    said. “Californians do not want to let this go.”

    The tufa spires that lift from the shallow water are also a
    result of the lake’s unusual water chemistry. They’ve formed
    over centuries as carbonates in the lake mix with calcium from
    underwater springs and coalesce as mineral deposits that look
    like giant slabs of coral reef.


    Because of the unique environment, the lake’s inhabitants are
    limited: mainly brine shrimp and hovering alkali flies. These
    critters, though, provide food for as many as a million
    migratory birds annually, including eared grebes and Wilson’s
    and red-necked phalaropes.

    McQuilkin is watching, in particular, the California gulls. He
    wants to make sure they’re safe. In the summer, about a quarter
    of this gull’s total population nests on the lake’s Negit
    Islets, which are at risk of being invaded by predators because
    of a land bridge emerging in the increasingly shallow water. The
    birds already abandoned one of the main islands, Negit Island,
    decades ago because it became connected to the mainland with
    lower lake levels.

    “There’s no question that coyotes can swim across that,”
    McQuilkin said, looking at the channel between the current
    islands and the north shore. “We’re just hoping they don’t.”

    Five cameras that McQuilkin and his colleagues have set up
    monitor for coyotes. The Mono Lake Committee keeps more than a
    mile of electric fence on hand that employees plan to string out
    if the wild canines begin to amass. So far, the cameras have
    picked up just two passers-by.

    The group debuted the temporary barrier during last decade’s
    drought, when coyotes started making their way to the islands
    and scouting for eggs and young birds.

    This year, the group hopes the lake bottom will remain partially
    submerged at least until next month, when most of the newborn
    gulls will have hatched and be ready to fly off to places like
    San Francisco Bay.

    Next year is a different story. Even if the Sierra gets a lot of
    snow come winter, melt-off into the lake won’t arrive until late
    spring and summer, so lake levels will likely be even lower when
    the gulls return. McQuilkin said the fence will almost certainly
    go up then.


    At the home of Priscilla and Cole Hawkins, the exposed lake bed
    on the north shore means dust, and sometimes lots of it.

    Strong desert winds can pick up the mineral-laden soil and carry
    it for miles.

    “We call them dust devils,” said Priscilla, whose off-the-grid
    property backs up to the lake and offers big vistas of the tall
    peaks in Yosemite National Park, at least when the air is clear.

    Cole bought the house with his wife two decades ago, moving in
    full time a few years back. The dust is not a problem that
    often, he said, but when it is, it can be severe, limiting
    visibility to less than a quarter-mile. He compares the dust
    storms to fog banks with debris.

    “When it gets really bad, we go inside or head for the hills,”
    he said, looking out at a blue sky on this particular afternoon.
    “We’ve come back to the house and it’s almost like sand on the

    The dust, which is tracked by the local air district under the
    label PM10, or particulate matter that is 10 microns in diameter
    or less, is a health issue, district officials say. The
    particles can lodge deep in the lungs and cause tissue damage
    and lung inflammation.


    In nine of the past 10 years, the Mono Lake area has had the
    distinction of racking up more federal air quality violations
    for PM10 than any other place in the nation, according to the
    district. In 2016, during last decade’s drought, federal air
    standards were breached on 33 days.

    The past few years haven’t seen as many violations, according to
    data from the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control
    District. However, Phill Kiddoo, air pollution control officer
    for the agency, says the trend line remains bad.

    “Mono Lake probably has some of the best air quality in the
    nation 90% of the days of the year, but on windy days, we have
    some of the worst,” he said.

    With less snow and less runoff in the Sierra to fill the lake in
    recent years, Kiddoo, whose job it is to try to keep the skies
    clean, believes it’s time for Los Angeles to further reduce its
    draws from the basin.

    “Every inch of lake-level rise that we can get protects air
    quality,” he said.

    The State Water Resources Control Board, which regulates water
    draws, told The Chronicle that it is paying attention to the
    lake, the basin and to the thirst that’s compromised them.

    While acknowledging that the lake’s rise has stalled — lake
    levels have generally hovered a little more than 10 feet below
    the target for a decade — state officials credit water
    restrictions for at least stabilizing things.

    Owens Lake, about 150 miles to the south, was not so fortunate.
    The lake was sucked dry by Southern California water diversions
    almost a century ago and is nothing but salt flats today.


    The 1994 regulation at Mono Lake established caps on how much
    Los Angeles can draw from the feeder creeks based on how high
    the lake is. This year, the city’s diversions were limited to
    4,500 acre-feet of water, about enough to supply 60,000
    residents, according to the city. If the lake had been 3 feet
    lower, no water could have been drawn.

    Erik Ekdahl, a deputy director at the State Water Board, said
    the changing climate, notably the “aridification” of the West,
    has constrained lake levels more than regulators anticipated and
    the agency will likely have to re-evaluate its regulation.

    “We are at the point where we do want to start asking, ‘What are
    the next steps?’ and ‘What’s the timeline for having a more
    thorough discussion?’” he said.

    The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power insists that
    whatever comes of future deliberations, more water restrictions
    are not the answer.

    In an email to The Chronicle, the department’s managing water
    utility engineer, Paul Liu, said the city’s draws had a
    negligible impact on the lake’s decline, compared to drought and
    other climate factors.

    The city, in recent years, has reduced diversions to about 12%
    of the water in the creeks flowing to Mono Lake where it has
    water rights, he said. Meanwhile, the city has spent tens of
    millions of dollars to help restore the creeks and promote
    healthy runoff. About 3% of the city’s total water comes from
    these creeks, Liu said, a supply that is small but considered

    “In a scenario where Mono basin exports to Los Angeles are
    reduced or cut off completely, that shortfall will have to be
    made up by increasing exports from the State Water Project or
    the Colorado River, which are both extremely strained and
    limited as well,” wrote Liu.

    But Christine Garrison, like many who live in the area, says
    something has to be done, and sooner rather than later.


    On a recent morning, the Mono County native pulled into the Old
    Marina near Lee Vining, a spontaneous stop at the lake that took
    her back to her youth. A descendant of the Mono Lake Paiute,
    Garrison used to watch her grandmother walk the lakeshore and
    collect the pupae of the alkali fly, a traditional protein-rich
    delicacy called kutsavi.

    Garrison put on her “irrigation boots” with the intention of
    scooping up pupae, but then stopped. The waterline was too low
    to proceed.

    “I had to go so far out that I was afraid I’d get stuck in the
    mud,” she said. “I could still smell (the kutsavi), though.”

    She added: “When there’s no water in the lake, everything goes.”

    Kurtis Alexander is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.
    Email: kalexander@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @kurtisalexander


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