Interesting set of articles recently from the Los Angeles Times on various schemes for fixing the problems of the Salton Sea
|Animated Gif - Los Angeles Times|
|(Gary Coronado /Los Angeles Times)|
|Animated Map - Los Angeles Times|
|(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)|
|Click Here to Magnify|
|Image - Google Earth|
The image above is from Google Earth on the Hwy 111 bridge in Imperial Valley just south of the town of Calipatira, California. The view is looking south at the Alamo River which comes out of Mexico. Often at this point in the Alamo you can even see those giant foamy suds floating downstream towards it's goal north to the Salton Sea. As you can see the vegtation here is predominantly non-native Tamarisks and Arundo cane. Neither of these plants are favoured by beaver as compared to the willows, Ash and cottonwoods which dominated in the early descriptions of accounts of beaver in Imperial Valley. Although Beaver have been found to chew on Tamarisk in the Colorado River where no other palatable plants exist. If you venture over to Google Earth to this exact location and turn completely around viewing the Alamo River looking north, you will see some natives like California Fan Palms (Washingtonia filifera) which in my almost 40+ years of experience viewing this region are in fact on the increase as a result of birds. Grackles most likely.
The original Breach in Irrigation Canal Construction which gave us the Salton Sea
|Animated Historical Map - Loa Angeles Times|
|Courtesy of Chris Landis collection|
Fascinating Read on the original breach along the Colorado
Resulting Consequences to Wildlife
|CREDIT: DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE|
|Photo - Milton Friend|
|US Fish ans Wildlife Service|
Flocks of snow geese (above) rest on an upland habitat adjacent to the Salton Sea that is part of the Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge. This scene flashes me back to a time when Spanish Explorer, Juan Bautista de Anza, came through Imperial Valley, there was no mention of the great Sea's existence in 1774-1776 in his journal when they camped at San Sebastian Marsh where San Felipe Creek enters into the Salton Sink. Oddly enough at the time, the climate was far different. Both Fray Pedro Font and Anza made reference on the second journey the following year of a fierce snow blizzard they encountered at San Sebastian Marsh (about the area of Hwy 85 Border Patrol Checkpoint), where conditions were so miserable that they lost several livestock and horses which they brought with them on the expedition. Hard to believe such a weather event like this happened if you've ever passed through here and seen the area's lunarscape appearance. But interestingly, when they did leave Anza Valley in the San Jacinto Mountain range and looked down into the Hemet-San Jacinto Valley from the higher elevations coming down through present day, Bautista Canyon, he did comment on what had the appearance of a massive snowy landscape in the valleys below. In reality once the Spanish expedition arrived on the Hemet-San Jacinto Valley floor, they found a massive riparian habitat where millions upon millions of aquatic birds like snow geese, maybe even white pelicans, egrets, etc covered the landscape. Ancient Lake Cahuilla (Salton Sea) must have at one time (before Anza) looked like that scene when the Colorado followed the same ancient pathway where the canal construction breach took place at the Colorado River in 1905.
1950s Las vegas by the Sea gone Bust
|Postcard Image - From Wanderland|
So are there any real viable Soultions ???
|SDSU Center for Inland Waters|
Comments from readers in the original article in Yahoo News
"Dig a tunnel to San Diego and fill it up."This comment above had the right idea, but the logistics were a way off their target. Something closer to home - Mexico!
"The best thing for the Salton sea is to let it return to it's natural state as a dry lake bed."Okay now this was a totally out of touch. True, the modern day Salton Sea was a dry lakebed prior to the construction accident in 1905, but allowing it to go back to a dry lakebed is not the answer and creates massive amounts of health issues. Both for human as well as wildlife. There was once a water pipeline plan dismissed years ago which may not have been an attractive option to save the beleaguered Salton Sea way back when, but now it may be the only best way to buy the region more time. Below here are three links to info on the scheme of building a sea level canal from Sea of Cortez to Salton Sea. This really is the only viable option, but as usual it's only a mere fix-it-pill approach which is generally the way humans ever accomplish anything. While this proposal in interesting, there should also be a side by side second canal or pipeline which should act as a release valve back to Sea of Cortez in case of another Hurricane Kathleen in 1976 and Doreen the following year 1977 flooded which made the Salton Sea level rise significantly enough to flood several coastal towns like Bombay Beach. But here are the links to canal info.
“Bureaucracy, made up entirely of petty minds, stands as an obstacle to the prosperity of the nation; delays for seven years, by its machinery, the project of a canal which would have stimulated the production of a province.”
Honoré de Balzac - French Novelist & Playwright
Animated Map Sources: Tim Krantz, professor of environmental studies, Salton Sea Database program director, University of Redlands; Lisa Benvenuti, GIS analyst, University of Redlands; California State Parks.
References about Salton Sea It's Creation, it's historical Drawdowns and eventual DeathI'm reserving this spot for a furture post which deals with why the ancient Lake Cahuilla disappeared in the first place. The post is almost completed and I'll place it here, as well as the Networkedblogs Facebook page.
Los Angeles Times: "Riverside County has a new plan to fix the Salton Sea — or at least a part of it"
Los Angeles Times: "State unveils a 10-year plan to restore habitat and control toxic dust storms along the Salton Sea's receding shoreline"