Geoff McQuilkin

Executive Director

Mono Lake Committee


Geoffrey McQuilkin became a Mono Lake Committee member in fifth grade and his enthusiasm for Mono Lake has never waned. He has worked for the nonprofit Mono Lake Committee for over twenty years, including the past decade as Executive Director, giving him the chance to be involved with all aspects of the citizen group’s protection, restoration, education, and science programs. He can be found wherever Mono Lake advocacy is needed, from the lake’s salty shores to Los Angeles to Sacramento. A graduate of Harvard in the History of Science, Geoff lives at Mono Lake with his wife and three daughters.

Title: Keeping Mono Lake Protected: Vigilance Through Public Policy and Science

10:55am - Thursday, May 12th

Abstract: Mono Lake is well known for its scenic tufa towers, a legendary water battle over excessive water exports to Los Angeles, and a notable set of protections achieved over the past 30 years. Mono Lake and its tributary streams are now healing after decades of excessive water diversions, providing real world proof of our ability to balance human water needs with ecological protection.

Continued protection and restoration progress require constant vigilance. Science, advocacy, and sound public policy continue to play critical, complimentary roles in advancing tributary stream and lake ecosystem restoration.

California’s four-year drought has lowered the lake significantly, putting this management approach to the test. The drought has triggered a reduction of water exports to Los Angeles, reignited concerns about predator access to nesting islands, and raised questions about the long term management of the lake in an era of climate change. At the same time, challenges such as highway construction and implementation of a major restoration agreement continue to require vigilance on the lake’s behalf.

The successes and lessons at Mono Lake offer hope for other threatened saline lake systems and suggest strategies to achieve their long -term sustainable management.