Wednesday, March 22, 2017

CA Drought Almost Over

Living in Southern California, I am keenly aware that the pleasant climate and attractive environment are really just an artificially irrigated desert that was never meant to have millions of humans living here (more than 1/2 of California's nearly 40 million - yes, forty million [39.8 million as of 2017] live in the Los Angeles and San Diego metropolitan areas).  For thousands of years, there were less than 1/2 a million people inhabiting what is now California.  Today's population is massively disproportionate in a longitudinal comparison to what the natural resources can sustain.

So while being aware of the resource limits, I try to not waste water, sewage, electricity, and natural gas accordingly, and use as little synthetic chemical solutions and pollutants around the house, minimizing my footprint as much as possible.  It makes good environmental sense, as well as good financial sense, since Dr Desert Flower and I don't use $100 bills as toilet paper nor are we passing gold bricks when we use the rest room.

The recent inundation rain fall that blanketed the state in January, February, and early March 2017 have apparently reversed the 149 year record drought that the state had been experiencing.  Rain water reservoirs are full and over-flowing, and the snow pack in the Sierra Nevada mountains is at 200% of normal levels. Streams and creeks that have been bone dry for many years are now freely flowing.  All that being said, San Diego county is still "abnormally dry" and the eastern part of the county is in "moderate drought" ... a condition that is really isolated to the US / Mexico border currently.

Dr Desert Flower and I went to Borrego Springs in the southern California portion of the Sonoran Desert, just to the East of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park last weekend, to see the record desert bloom of wild flowers.  There was a plethora of yellows, white, blue, magenta, orange, and red flowers blooming in a desert that is normally brown, gray, and tan.  It was remarkably beautiful.  Granted, there were 10s of thousands of other visitors who normally are not there in the desert, but our four wheel drive Volvo XC70 helped us to drive down significantly eroded dirt roads and get out to places where most of the other flower tourists could not reach.

The infrastructure in Borrego Springs is designed to take care of the 3000 or so residents, but was completely overwhelmed by the 10s of thousands of visitors who drove their cars there.  Bathrooms, restaurants, cafes, all totally swamped with lines of humanity.  Dr Desert Flower and I DID speak with a very nice elderly volunteer at the Borrego Springs visitor center who told us about the off road excursion since we had a four wheel drive vehicle (thanks to the experienced docents!).

The area has not seen this much rainfall in 2.5 months for more than a century.  The wild flowers were in full spectacular bloom.  The bees were busy trying to pollenate everything.  The lizards and rodents were all busy scurrying about in the under-brush, filling their stomachs and feeding their families.  Sadly, we saw no snakes... but we did see several raptors.  The ambient temperature was in the mid 90s, but there was a merciful light breeze that felt pleasant on exposed skin (exposed skin slathered with SPF70).  It was a great way to spend the day in nature.

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