Mouth of Lee Vining Creek
Lee Vining Creek flowing into Mono Lake. I've visited Mono Lake dozens of times. I love it, I love the whole thing, the whole vast ecosystem. Before May 2015 when this picture was taken, my last visit was back in 1995. Before that, Los Angeles diverted all of the streams that flowed into the lake and sent that water 400 miles south to the metro LA area. In 1994, the California State Water Board mandated that a lake level of 6,392 feet be reached and maintained, and that permanent stream flows into the lake be maintained. This was the first time I had seen water flowing into the lake, and it was exciting! There were deer, Canada geese, seagulls, and hundreds of other birds all screaming and feeding, and the fresh water seemed to be leaping up and shimmering on its journey to the lake. It was truly the highlight of my trip to Mono Lake.
An update: This picture was taken on Saturday, May 2, 2015. On Monday, May 4, 2015, Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power stopped all diversions from Mono Basin in compliance with the California State Water Resources Control Board order D1631 that mandates year-round stream flows into the lake even during extremely dry years. Runoff in the four streams that LA diverts is too low now to sustain diversions and maintain stream flow into the lake, so diversions have completely stopped. Diversions can be monitored on this website: