The High Country Responds to A Changing Climate, a seminar on climate issues in the Eastern Sierra, drew a full house to the Scenic Area Visitor Center Theater in Lee Vining on June 16. This critical topic affects us all, from our snow-based winter economy, to our water supply, to our weather and the health of our trees.
Five local experts shared their expertise. Lee Vining High School student Caelen McQuilkin discussed her award-winning science project on the American Pika, and how high temperatures affect activity levels in this high elevation resident. Geoff McQuilkin, Caelen’s dad and Executive Director of the Mono Lake Committee, spoke about the effect of drought on Mono Lake, dropping the lake level in spite of the 1994 Water Board decision to bring the lake to a higher and healthier level. The years of water diversions of Mono’s tributary streams were, in effect, a human-caused lengthy drought that is very difficult to recover from as our climate warms and dries.
Forest Service Senior Scientist Connie Millar presented an overview of historic and future climatic influences in the Sierra, and how different trees and animals cope with these changes, demonstrating resilience and adaptability. Yosemite Geologist Greg Stock spoke about glaciers rapidly disappearing and how water supply and high elevation habitat will be affected. Sarah Stock, Yosemite Wildlife Biologist, shared the success stories of the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep, the Peregrine Falcon, and Sierra Nevada Red Fox, and how human intervention has allowed these three endangered species a second chance to thrive.
A discussion by the speakers followed. All agreed that the public needs to “make noise” about the urgency of climate action and demand that it become a constant part of public discourse.
The seminar was sponsored by 350 MONO, a local climate action group formed in the Mono Basin last year. The speakers all volunteered to participate and share their knowledge. We are fortunate in the Eastern Sierra to have a wealth of scientists and researchers exploring a wide range of climate influenced topics.
The seminar was recorded and will be posted soon on YouTube.
Anyone who would like to join our climate action email list, please contact Janet.
A website for 350 MONO is in progress and our Facebook page is www.facebook.com/350mono
Parsons Lodge in Tuolumne Meadows will host two climate-related lectures in August, that are free and open to the public. 2 – 3:30pm
Aug 13, Saturday: Greg Stock on Vanishing Ice, Vanishing History: Natural and Cultural Implications of Glacier Loss in Yosemite National Park
Aug 14, Sunday: Elizabeth Kolbert, Pullitzer Prize winning author of The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History