A massive weed infestation on a tiny island at Mono Lake has choked out the nesting grounds that California gulls need to complete a life cycle as ancient as the million-year-old Sierra Nevada ecosystem.
On Friday, conservationists finally got their wish: a controlled burn aimed at destroying thousands of the nonnative spider-like plants.
The fire, set by federal firefighters, sent columns of gray smoke snaking up into the sky above the alkaline lake east of Yosemite National Park. The smoky haze cast an eerie pall over the famously lunar-like landscape of bizarre, craggy tufa formations, dormant volcanoes and jagged High Sierra granite peaks.
After the smoke cleared in the afternoon, nearly half of 11-acre Twain Island had been brought back to a semblance of its natural state of sand, gravel and rocks. Splotches of charred clumps of weeds covered the area like leopard spots.
Read the full story on LATimes.com.
We have been working to get a prescribed burn on Mono Lake's islets for the last three years, and it's happening now! Inyo firefighters are burning the invasive plant Bassia , which has covered the open ground that California Gulls need for nesting on the islets. https://t.co/O9A64xl0Tm
— Mono Lake Committee (@Mono_Lake) February 14, 2020