Friday, July 25, 2008

Wildlife Coming Back at Mono Lake

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the restoration of Mono Lake has led to a burgeoning recovery of lake wildlife.

Mono Lake, located in Central California near Bishop, was drained and nearly destroyed when the water from tributary streams was diverted to Los Angeles by the city's Department of Water and Power. The lack of fresh water left the lake with deadly salinity levels and created salt flat dust storms. The Save Mono Lake conservation group sued the DWP in 1978, and California courts ordered Los Angeles to reduce its water diversion.

While the lake is still below a normal level, and the Save Mono Lake group still believes it has "a long way to go," the tributaries have fostered newly lush grasses and other riparian vegetation. Trout, warblers and other birds have returned to Mono, and it seems to be on its way back to life.

Newport Back Bay

Rich and flashy Newport Beach might seem an unlikely place for a wildlife refuge, but it is, in fact, a critical estuary habitat for migratory birds. An estuary is where fresh and salt water mix, as in a creek meeting the sea. It is one of the few remaining estuaries in Southern California.

The Upper Bay, or "Back Bay," located on Back Bay Drive just off of the Pacific Coast Highway at Jamboree, is a 752-acre ecological preserve surrounded by bluffs. The California gnatcatcher, the cactus wren, the brown pelican, and the California least tern are among the rare or endangered birds that feed from or inhabit the bay. During the winter migration, as many as 30,000 birds use the bay as a stopover, making it a major bird-watching spot for minimal effort. The bay also has the Peter & Mary Muth Interpretive Center, and Back Bay Science Center.

The Back Bay is easy to reach by car or bike, and has a (one way) road that will take you from end to the other. It is a popular place year-round for walkers, joggers, painters, bike riders, bird watchers, nature lovers, and photographers. For more information, check out