Owens Lake restoration

Owens Lake is a significant inland water body approximately 130 miles north of Los Angeles, California. Situated in the Owens Valley between the Sierra Nevada and Inyo Mountains, the lake has, historically, been fed by the Owens River. The lake was one of the most important stopover sites for migrating waterfowl and shore birds in the western United States for thousands of years. However, in the early 20th century the lower Owens River was largely diverted to the Los Angeles aqueduct. Water from springs and artesian wells kept some of the lake alive; however, toxic chemicals and dust significantly affected the regional environment and disturbed the important bird habitat.

Beginning in 1999, a plan was put in place to restore the lake region and to alleviate the dust build up. A series of ponds, expansion of native grasses, distribution of gravel deposits, and limited shallow flooding helped re-establish the migratory stopover habitat and to limit dust problems.

Landsat satellite data acquired in 1985 and 2010 are used to monitor the restoration efforts and to record areas where surface water covers the recently dried lake bed.

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Friday, January 7, 2011