Sagebrush, Jeffrey pines, volcanoes, tufa towers, gulls, grebes, brine shrimp, alkali flies, freshwater streams, and alkaline waters comprise an unlikely world at the transition between the Sierra Nevada mountains and the Great Basin desert. Embracing 14 different ecological zones, over 1000 plant species, and roughly 400 recorded vertebrate species within its watershed, Mono Lake and its surrounding basin encompass one of California's richest natural areas.
Mono Lake is an ancient saline lake that covers over 70 square miles and has no fish. Instead it is home to trillions of brine shrimp and alkali flies. Freshwater streams feed Mono Lake, supporting lush riparian forests of cottonwood and willow along their banks. Along the lake shore, scenic limestone formations known as tufa towers rise from the water's surface. Millions of migratory birds visit the lake each year.
From 1941 until 1990, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) diverted excessive amounts of water from Mono Basin streams. Mono Lake dropped 45 vertical feet in 41 year (1941-1982), lost half its volume, and doubled in salinity.
The Mono Lake Committee was founded in 1978 to stop the excessive water diversions to Los Angeles that had caused Mono Lake to lose half its volume. The health of the Mono Basin was seriously threatened by the diversions and in 1994, after years of litigation and struggle, the California Supreme Court and State Water Board ordered Los Angeles to allow Mono Lake to rise. The lake has been on a path toward health ever since.
The Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore offers a video about the Mono Lake story, interpretive exhibits, tourist information, a fine art gallery, and a selection of items for sale: books, maps, T-shirts, local artisan crafts, jewelry, and gifts.