Historically the creeks feeding Mono Lake were fishless. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, Lahontan cutthroat, rainbow and brown trout among other species were introduced and their populations thrived.
The diversion of significant amounts of water from these creeks to the Los Angeles Aqueduct in the 1940’s resulted in the total dewatering of blue ribbon fisheries in the Mono Basin, particularly in Rush and Lee Vining Creeks.
Additionally, significant habitat degradation and reduction in both riparian and aquatic species occurred due to historical water exports. Along with the Mono Lake Committee, the National Audubon Society, and others, CalTrout was heavily involved in litigation that resulted in the precedent-setting 1983 California Supreme Court decision to protect Mono Lake and its tributaries with the Public Trust Doctrine.
The fisheries in the tributaries to Mono Lake are now subject to Restoration Orders emanating from the settlement.
Today, the four main tributaries to Mono Lake (see below) are being restored to pre-1941 conditions, yet challenges with water temperature and flushing flows remain. Stream restoration is currently occurring on all of the creeks except Mill Creek.