Feds Burn Island Weeds at Mono Lake to Help Birds Feather Their Nests

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Fire crews burning non-native Bassia hyssopifolia to restore and protect nesting areas for birds on a tiny island at Mono Lake on Feb. 14, 2020. (Credit: Inyo National Forest)

Fire crews burning non-native Bassia hyssopifolia to restore and protect nesting areas for birds on a tiny island at Mono Lake on Feb. 14, 2020. (Credit: Inyo National Forest)

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.

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