The high population of single-celled algae present in the warm shallow waters creates a rich food chain. The absence of competition from fish (due to the high salinity of the water) make it a vital resting and eating stop for nearly 2,000,000 migratory water-birds. This critical nesting habitat for several bird species make it one of the most productive ecosystems in North America, but this has been threatened by the decline in water level. Owens Lake, which sustained a similar ecosystem, completely dried up because of water diversions. Mono Lake was spared the same fate on September 28, 1994, when the California State Water Resources Control Board issued an order to protect Mono Lake and its tributary streams. Since that time the lake level has steadily risen.
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