Friday, July 26, 2013

Wildfire & Climate Change Infographics

Also some Yarnell Hill Fire updates on the conditions under which 19 firefighters died at the end of the post.

Union of Concerned Scientists - Infographics

This organization has produced an infographic
 about how Climate Change could affect wildfires
 in the western United States.

Western Wildfires & Climate Change -Methodology & Assumptions

animated chart: Fire

Can you imagine what 2013 will look like at the end of this year ?
It's only half over with the worst yet to come.

Investigative MEDIA

Granite Mountain Hotshot co-founder Darrell Willis describes 19-member crew’s last stand on Yarnell Hill

Media Update: Part I

Media Update Part II 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Paving Bautista Canyon Road ???

photo: Ik Lodsh
Don't you just hate driving on washboard dirt roads ? My wife and I once traveled from Prescott Arizona on the old Senator Highway which is a forestry road all the way to the tiny old Ex-Railroad-Mining town called Crown King, way up in the Bradshaw Mountains. Once there, we went into the general store and I bought her a T-shirt that showed an animation of a guy driving this washboard road and shaking all the way. It had a title that said, "I survived the Crown King Road". Man what a chore that was. I always hated driving washboard roads when I live in Anza. It made exploring and attempting to travel shortcuts almost impossible to enjoy or even worth it. Getting from Anza to Hemet was always a lengthy chore. Either direction it took over an hour depending on weather conditions. Then there was this wild and crazy hair-brained scheme to straighten out and pave Bautista Canyon Road from Anza to Hemet. It always was a Riverside County maintained road, but it just wasn't paved. But there were always those rumors that would sneak up and moments of hope when partial paving would take place and from both ends. The first bit of hope was back in the 1980s when pavement was accomplished on the road between Scrub Oak Ln where pavement at one time ended on Bautista Road and just beyond the turn before Old Comanche Trail. (see here)  

Then there was the pavement project which started a couple of miles before you come to the Bautista Creek Flood Control Catch Basin (not a dam, more like Santa Ana River's Prado Flood Basin). [see here]  This pavement would be accomplished to provide good transport for the new construction of the Bautista Canyon Honor Camp Detention Center. [see here]  But no such luck of it coming further. Still if you ever traveled it in the old days, things were terribly washboarded and rough. Washouts common. In fact in the days before pavement, I believe when I traveled it in the very early 1980s during that massive rainfall flooding period known as El Nino, this creek had to be criss-crossed seven times. Some  places were scary. At the time all I had was a tiny light blue Chevy Luv Pickup. Needless to say I didn't really take it very much. The Honor Camp paving project did pull Bautista Road up out of the Creek in all places but one, which is about a mile beyond the Camp and on graded dirt road. [see here] For those interested in Botany, just about a few hundred feet from the Tripp Flats Road turn off, there is a road on the opposite side which is Forest Service Route 6S16 where up a bit in a dry wash are some beautiful examples of Boxelder Maple (Acer negundo var californicum) on your way up to Thomas Mountain and Rouse Ridge.   [see here] 

But now recently, I actually stumbled across a website which uses a digital image technology with photo simulation for designing images or road design potential adjusting to actual the physical features within an actual real photo. Very kool. So there is actually on the books a virtual paved Bautista Canton Road. For all you Techie-Types, you'll love this software and may have great potential in actually designing good road and driveway applications for property construction on one's own remote rural property. Something to think about before you hire the local flaky "Joe Six-Pack" to randomly Bulldoze the crap out of your land's wonderful picturesque biodiversity.  Here is a quote from below explaining the technology.

"The Bautista Canyon photosims are a good example of photosimulations produced with Microstation and a paint application. A 3D model of the road design was produced in Microstation, as well as the surrounding context as a 3D DTM. the road surface was texture mapped with an image of asphalt and striping. A camera was placed in the scene at the location from which the background image was taken. A wireframe view of the model was 'printed' using one of the image based print drivers, and superimposed over the background image. The wireframe was then scaled and moved until it lined up with the existing condition photo. The wireframe layer was then used as a 'template' to paint in the proposed road and embankments."

Credit: Federal Highway Lands Division

(click to enlarge image)

This photo above is the upper end of Bautaista Canyon Road where it begins to wind down the twists and turns of Bautista Canyon. Seriously, I have no idea how good old Juan Bautista and his team managed this without even a bad road. This is the Canyon as it actually looks today in it's untouched state. 

Credit: Federal Highway Lands Division

(click to enlarge image)

Here is an enhanced image of what the potential for road straightening and finished road pavement construction would look like afterwards. I can just see all the real estate offices and developers licking their chops over this one. Carl Long and Frank DeMartino must be rolling over in their graves with this. I'm kidding of course!

Credit: Federal Highway Lands Division

(click to enlarge image)

This is another view further on down after making numerous twists and steep hillside of the canyon below. I remember after some promising pavings part way up from Hemet and down a few miles from Anza, I was in Larry Minor's Agri-Empire office and he told me they offered the County to construct with his equipment and their pavement the whole rest of the entire road. Who knows if it will really ever get accomplished one day.

Credit: Federal Highway Lands Division

(click to enlarge image)

Here is what it would look like straightened and paved. This portion of the road is very steep on the canyon side and there were never any good turnouts to allow passing. Also it is washboard all the way. One trip on this road and a thin film of dust powder coats the entire inside of your vehicle.

Microstation Setup

"A preferred alternative for the road design was developed by FLHD in Geopak, and the first steps were to produce a 3D Model surface of the road alignment, and a DTM of the surrounding terrain covered by the survey data in Microstation. The surfacing process is discussed in 
 Section 2.2

"Documentation of the location where the photos were taken allowed the creation of virtual cameras in Microstation at the same locations in the project site. Good documentation at the time the photos are taken- noting existing features in the site data, using a high resolution aerial for reference, placing targets, or even capturing GPS locations, can make the camera placement in the 3D model much easier."

Credit: Federal Highway Lands Division

Wireframe view of road surface model. Isn't this imaging kool ?

"The target for the camera is placed in the 3D model so that the center of the viewport matches the center of the background photo as closely as can be determined. If the virtual camera location matches the real camera location on-site, and the target is placed at the center of the background view, the perspective of the camera view in Microstation will match the perspective of the photo. The field of view then needs to be the same or greater than the photo, and the wireframe output from the viewport can be scaled and matched to the photo in Photoshop."

The process for camera matching in Microstation is described in section 4.2

The road surface can be rendered in Microstation with the asphalt texture and the striping in place by applying a material with a texture map, or Pattern Map material applied to the road surface element. The road texture map is repeated along the surfaced road geometry, and rendered in perspective to match the background view. The Pattern Map material application process is shown in section 2.9 the Image Save utility is outlined in section 2.3

Road Surface Texture Map

Painting the Image
"With the image from Microstation overlayed correctly on the photo, the road surfaces and cut/fill slopes will be shown in the right locations and perspective. The cut slopes can then be painted in using textures the match the background photo. Using elements of the background photo, the existing road is then painted out."

Cut Slope Surface Texture

Article Source

And here below is the final photo-simulation again - click the image for high resolution (1.3MB):

Credit: Federal Highway Lands Division

(click to enlarge image)

I was never overly jazzed about major thoroughfares coming up to where I lived in Anza and encouraging more and more people to move up into the wildlands where I lived, but certainly this technology is amazing and beneficial for improving old issues with existing roads. Switzerland is an excellent example of actually caring ecologically about how they develop their very limited landscape. They really do not have any choice, but actually, neither do people living in southern California have such luxury options.

Again, this website and planning also no doubt will excite the old time Real Estate Boys had they been around, but Carl Long and Frank DeMartino are no longer there. I'm sure they had always hoped there would have been a building boom up there one day. I'm sure the news boys like Big Bob Giffin and others would welcome such Even if they paved that road, the fuel prices still would make commuting prohibitive to many. I would say that Nature would be the winner, but well, you know, it's that Global Thingy now.

credit; Santa Barbara Wildflowers
BTW, for the Nature and Native Plant lovers out there. This section at the top of Bautista Canyon Road above from this point & down about 2 miles are some great examples of Chaparral Flowering Ash [Fraxinus dipetala] It's easiest to view them in Springtime when fresh light green growth contrasts with the darker surrounding chaparral plant community. It's one of the few places I have personally found it other than in the Ortega Mountains in Orange county, especially up Trabuco Canyon Road. What I appreciated about the view of the Chaparral Flowering Ash there is it was across the river on a northern slope of the Canyon growing in community with other Chaparral plants. The beauty of this was that with the competition for light and space, and by means of Phenotypic plasticity, it forces the Ash to develop a single slender central leader trunk as opposed to multiple bushy competing vertical branching leaders when grown out in the open. Finally these long tall slender trees pushed through the Chaparral Elfin Forest canopy and branched into a beautiful umbrella form almost as a Lady's parasol-like shape. When out and about in Nature, always look to replicate something in the landscape as found in Nature.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Rural Gardens & Bird of Paradise Bush (Caesalpinia gilliesii, pulcherrima, etc)

On the last few days of my visit to San Diego County and traveling on my way here or there, I stumble across a few locations which had beautiful informal rural garden settings especially along the roadsides. One location is on Hwy 67 east of downtown Ramona and the other location is along Hwy 76 in Pauma Valley just west of the Casino drive entrance. The plant in question here is Bird of Paradise Bush (Caesalpinia gilliesii) which I previously wrote about  along with it's other Mexican Bird of Paradise relative which carries the bright orange/yellow/red flowers (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) Here . Now while I was out and about purposely on other missions with my photography, I just could resist stopping and taking these beautiful country rural pics.

Photo Mine

This is along Hwy 76 in Pauma Valley just down the road west of the Pauma Casino and heading towards the Pala Reservation Casino. I believe this is on the property of the old Pauma General Store which would be to the right in the photograph. Lots of traffic and the pic was hard to get with masses of automobiles traveling in both directions. where in the world do people in this lousy economy get money to blow like that ? Anyways, here is the roadside informal hedge of  the (Caesalpinia gilliesii)

Photo: Mine

This is taken from the west bound lane of  Hwy 67 before coming into Ramona. It was  just one too many times that I passed here  back and forth on missions east and north  that I then just had to stop and photograph  this wonderful South American native. Just about the only water it receives is from the  poor annual rainfalls of late.

Photo: Mine

Here is the frontal view of the roadside plants on a picture post card property most will recognize when passing the old Hi-Way Market on Hwy 67 on way to Santa Ysabel or Julian. Very tough little shrub and good selection for dry hot areas. also I like the way it doesn't become an invasive and take over the wild, although I have seen it naturalize by reseeding.

Photo image: Mauro Guanandi

São Paulo Brazil neighbourhood
Caesalpinia mexicana

Top Tropicals

Caesalpinia 'Rosae Pink'
Like Columbines and other flowers with great cross breeding abilities for variety, these shrubs above have similar varietal possibilities. So I thought it would also be kool to share a few of these varieties with regards to members of these wonderful flowering desert subtropical shrubs. Most of the folks in the desert cities southwest are only familiar with the bright red-orange with yellow splash which was introduced probably back in the 1980s, maybe Arizona. Well, at least that's where I first saw these plants when traveling Arizona and how the Arizona Highway department was utilizing them along Freeway landscaping on and off ramp exits. What impressed me most is the care and attention to any artistic detail their Highway Department were determined to create in the aesthetics pof theor roadway infrastructure which in most cases is generally steriles and boring and covered up with water loving landscape if you've got that water available. Arizona is unique in the lack of water has actually forced them to be creative. Take the Mural below which takes in elements of native plants and early cultural designs in art.

The Tucson Murals Project

Image from AAA Landscapes
As far as landscape goes, they've selected some of the most beautidul desert trees and shrubs from around the globe, but especially from the State of Arizona which make a perfect fit not only for the general desert climate with plants that can also withstand higher intensified heat generated by the surrounding concrete and asphalt. This example on the right is from Maricopa County in the city of Chandler. Generally they also incorporate many plants in the pea family of trees and shrubs. Caesalpinia pulcherrima being one of these. The effects over the years has been that such beaty has inspired to public to copy what responsible leadership has done within their landscapes. Odd isn't it ??? Leaders leading by example ??? There are so many areas for improvement here!


Caesalpinia pulcherrima Guadeloupe
However sometimes they can be over used and over whelm an area. This Caesalpinia pulcherrima Guadeloupe is a much more red coloured variety and most of these other variations in colour, I've known about, but have never really seen them in the landscapes around the Southwest. I'm sure someone else creative will one day find just the right hardscape and landscape theme to insert them into. But the rather large selection reminds me also of other flowering plants with  multi-colour selections like for example Tropic Cannas.


Caesalpinia pulcherrima
Guyanese flower

There is just so many kool varieties of things and it's simply a matter of being in the right place and at the right time for discovery and perhaps collecting the seed or cloning from cuttings. I'm glad there are folks out there with the patience for doing such things with a species of plant with which they specialize. Again, I just don't have that type of patience. I sure wish I did though. This world has everyone keyed up and anxious. Stress is everywhere, but the garden is certainly a way of escape. At least that's always the way it was for me. And I suppose still is. Outdoors and discovery though are even better. Still, maybe some have seen some things here they never knew existed as far as availability. 

Image by Maryory Strap - Pinterest
Of course there is one final variety, though it's is an entirely different species and rather large tree of the tropics. It's that picturesque tree often visualized in some romantic colonial era setting of some British or French colony in the Caribbean Islands. 'Poincianna Royal'. The interesting thing about this tree is that it hates the cold. I remember when I first read about this tree while researching Caesalpinia pulcherrina and the name Royal Poincianna came up. By cold, I'm not talking about some frosty mornings, but it hates temps getting down to 45 degrees (7.2 Celsius). This tree and I have something in common. We both dislike cold. So San Diego just might be a good choice for this one. I'm sure Balboa Park has some excellent examples.

Image from  'Royal Poinciana'

Other Posts on this subject.
Utilizing Ornamentals of the Legume Family in Southwest Landscapes

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

2013 Mountain Center Fire Progress Updates

Map Image: Bill Gabbert

General large area of Mountain Fire which has burn from McCall Park road on private property in Mountain Center California towards and down into Indian Canyon towards Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley.

UPDATE: July 20, 2013 (11:45 P.M.)

Idyllwild Fire: Thunderstorm Threat Is A Wildcard

Thunderstorms present a major threat to progress this weekend. Combined with hot air on the ground, the unstable air could create a strong updraft that draws smoke high into the atmosphere, fire spokesman Capt. Mike Lindbery said.
If the smoke column rises too high, moisture at the top could freeze and the weight of the ice could cause the column to collapse, creating a powerful downdraft in all directions. 
"We're very concerned because this is the condition in the past that has definitely caused big firestorms and the death of citizens and firefighters," Lindbery said.

Photo Credit: AP

Looking at fire from Idyllwild through Fern Valley and Humber Park

UPDATE: July 18, 2013 New map of "Mountain Fire" progress

3-D Image: Bill Gabbert

3-D Map of Mountain fire at 9 p.m. July 17, 2013. Looking northwest from above Santa Rosa Mountain angle.
(Click to Enlarge)

The "Mountain Fire" has grown considerably Wednesday and is now listed at 22,800 acres. There is a large southeastern flank which is heading into Trails End and Morris Rand Road and the northern flank which has burned up towards Tahquitz Peak and into the Mount San Jacinto Wilderness and branched out into areas of the Palm Springs side of the mountain range.

Image Credit: Bill Gabbert (Wildfire Today)

Map of the Mountain fire at 9 p.m. July 17, 2013. The difference between the red shaded area and the non-shaded area inside the red perimeter represent the growth of the fire on Wednesday.
(Click to Enlarge)

It's sad to think of what has happened to this region of the San Jacinto Mountains as it use to be my home for almost 24 years of my life. I had been there taking photos of just this region of Mountain Center and greater surrounding region where so many accounts and stories are to be found behind every view. This event moved me to write about specific things I've seen back in the early 1980s and was going to post later, but moved up my timeline. Here is the way things stand now and thanks to Bill Gabbert for updates.

Image provided by Bill Gabbert & Google Earth

Here is a larger image link for this 3-D map of the Mountain Fire coverage I've created for everyone to click on for greater details of locations. Hopefully this may be larger than the one showing. The images in red is  showing heat detected by a satellite. The red squares are the most recently detected. Clicking on the image, you can also Zoom in with your own screen tools.
USDA MODIS Active Fire Detection Program for Mapping

Credit: UCSD Web Cam (El Toro) 

This view is looking west towards the Mountain Center Fire from El Toto Peak in the Santa Rosa Mountains above Palm Desert. This is the UCSD webcam shot of the fire at
10:47 a.m. July 16, 2013.

Here is a link to the El Toro webcam. There are some very kool image tools if you know how to use it of the Mountain Fire's progress throughout each day and night from this El Toto Peak Webcam. They are recorded here at this link every few minutes. They also have other Webcams on other strategic locations around Southern California which may be helpful at any one time.

El Toro Peak Webcam images for Mountain Fire Progress

The fire near Mountain Center has been mapped as of 8 p.m. July 16th at an estimated 9,000 acres before sundown Tuesday, and more than 2,200 personnel aided by 25 aircraft were assigned to the blaze, according to a U.S. Forest Service update.  The fire had destroyed 21 structures, including homes, mobile homes and outbuildings. As most everyone now knows, it started before 2 p.m. Monday afternoon on July 15th west of the junction of Highway 243 and SR 74 on private property on McCall Park Road. It's apparently still being investigated as to the cause, but no doubt some human error. This fire may well burn for months in small pockets in inaccessible terrain. The danger potential will always exist during this period as weather conditions made worse by the ever changing climate components may or may not exacerbate the problem with some hazardous flare ups. This coming weekend a monsoonal wind flow pattern from the southeast out of Mexico will test what happens to the direction of this fire. Hot Spots could flare up because of the  desert southeast winds and blow the fire up the backside of Tahquitz Mountain and/or push fire more westerly into the Mount Jacinto Wilderness Park. There are literally no roads other than some hiking trails up there. To give an illustrative difficulty of the containment challenge, the Mount Gorgornio's or San Bernardino Mountains (click the link) Hathaway Fire above Banning/Cabazon has still been active for over a month with FULL containment yet to be realized as a result of the impossible rugged terrain. So everyone within range of this Mountain Center fire should for the next couple of weeks be prepared for anything to happen at a moments notice.

Update July 18, 2013:  Pyrocumulus Cloud formation intensity picking up with wind shift created by this weekend's Monsoon flow moving fire from Garner Valley back up over Mount San Jacinto towards Idyllwild and Fern Valley.


You've all seen this pattern before and it's returning and shifting things which means fire surprises

Mountain Center Fire and this Weekend's Monsoonal Flow Shifting

Update July 17, 2013: "Idyllwild Fire Grows to 19,200 Acres, Destroys Homes and headed for Fern Valley & Idyllwild"

 Evacuation Notice for Idyllwild and Fern Valley

Incident: Mountain Wildfire 
Released: 2 hrs. ago 

Due to the rapid growth of the Mountain Fire the Riverside County SheriffÂ’s office in cooperation with the Idyllwild Fire Protection District has issued an Evacuation Order. 
The following areas are being evacuated: 
The communities of Idyllwild and Fern Valley, US Forest Service Campgrounds and the US Forest Service Wilderness and the Mt. San Jacinto State Park are also included. 
This evacuation notice does not include the areas of Pine Cove, Mountain Center, and Poppet Flat. The fire has transitioned from a wind driven fire to a fuel and topography driven fire. This condition has caused a shift in the direction of spread necessitating the evacuation as the fire moved to the west this afternoon and presents a threat to nearby communities. With vegetation moistures at record lows fire spread has been extreme and dangerous.
The fire has transitioned from a wind driven fire to a fuel and topography driven fire. This condition has caused a shift in the direction of spread necessitating the evacuation as the fire moved to the west this afternoon and presents a threat to nearby communities. With vegetation moistures at record lows fire spread has been extreme and dangerous. This is the best choice in a difficult situation. The highest priority is to protect the lives of citizens in the immediate area of the blaze. 
Every possible effort is being taken to slow the fire and prepare to halt its progress. Firefighters continue to fight the fire on the ground and with helicopters and fixed wing aircraft. Additional crews are improving contingency lines west of the fire where they may be afforded the opportunity to stop the fires advance. 
Residents who are out of the area and need to return to evacuate family and retrieve valuables will be allowed through road closures with proper identification.
Evacuation Routes 
Hwy 74 to Hemet 
Hwy 243 to Banning 
Hwy 74 south to Anza, Palm Desert 
Road closures: 
State Highway 74 between the Pepper Trees to State Highway 371. 
State Route 243 at Banning. 
Evacuation Centers 
Hemet High School, and Hamilton High School and Beaumont High School

Update: July 18, 2013: Trails End & Camp Joe Sherman being evacuated along with other residents on Morris Ranch Road north of Garner Valley

Mountain Fire Updates for Trails End and Camp Joe Sherman & Chaparral Fuel Management

Credit: InciWeb

Many don't realize that these events are happening all over the globe. Sometimes they only become relevant News when we are personally effected. The Human ERROR element has always
been an issue with these origins, but the greater problem now is change in global Climate Change which for some bizarre reason is allowing these fires to outperform mankind's most sophisticated technological innovations, experience and understanding of fire fighting strategies. This fire above is near Las Vegas. It is called the Carpenter1 Fire and still active. 

Inci Web: Carpenter1 Fire

Relevant Information Links for Mountain Fire:

Riverside County Fire Department (2013 Mountain Fire Incident)

Incident Information System: "2013 Mountain Fire"

Keenwild Weather Station Report - Mountain Center

CAL FIRE and Riverside County Fire - West Live Audio Feed

Monday, July 15, 2013

Cottonwoods ? Give me one of those "cottonless" Cottonwoods over a Fremont any day!

This was the usual attitude I found when discussing plants in landscapes up in Anza California by new land owners moving up from the cities. People in general by their very Nature are impatient when it comes to landscaping and they want instant landscapes NOW, not what they perceive as being years or decades on down the road. Species of Populus are widely used in landscapes – especially when fast growth is desired. Most of these are hybrids and most often they are so-called “cottonless” Cottonwoods. These are male clones selected because they do not produce the cottony seeds that become a nuisance. I also believe their origin is from back east as they do not have the same characteristics [bark, leaf, or even silhouette patterns] as the western natives like Fremont. Keep in mind that I'm not saying here that they are a great choice for residential landscapes – they are not. In many ways, I think that are a bad choice because their water requirements are much greater than natives, especially when older. These "cottonless" varieties of  cottonwoods can become very large when grown in or near a perennial water source. When young, they often perform well in irrigated landscapes. This is why they are preferred. Over time, they usually outgrow the irrigation system and begin to die back or succumb to disease. I have rarely seen large cottonwoods that have survived longer than 12 or 15 years in a landscape unless they have a creek, river, or septic system to sustain them. When regularly flood irrigated, they will grow and survive, but most drip systems [typical for Anza] will not provide adequate irrigation. Their roots are also extremely aggressive like the one in my former front yard had roots over 100' away clearly on the other side of the home. So anybody can be successful with them that first decade, but it's that time afterward when these giant trees have much greater water requirements especially in drier climates like Anza CA. 

Photo: Mine

Göteborg Botanical Gardens Spring 2013
But that takes me now to the biggest complaint against the native Fremont Cottonwood which admittedly does have a cottony seed, but only the size of a Dandelion. It's a minor inconvenience to live with for selecting a better choice for cottonwood which will have deeper roots and be a tougher survivor as compare to the back east hybrid which is not really that long lived by comparison. Up in Idyllwild, folks will complain about the Pines dropping pollen everywhere. Seriously no one would suggest getting rid of them in favour of neater choices. ALL Landscapes have maintenance issues. But this brings me to my recent visit a couple of weeks ago the Göteborg Botanical Gardens. There was a tree there that I really never noticed before or paid any attention to it being a Cottonwood. I supposed I always missed it because I came at the wrong time of year before or after it bloom, but here it is below. It is Populus wilsonii and is from central China in Asia.

This was enough to make anyone do a double take.  This stuff was everywhere. It was undeniable what this tree was and reminds me of something I've never forgotten when it comes to plant identity, although while the origin of this saying did have to do with plants, it was used illustratively in identifying the type of person we run across in life. 
 "By their fruits you will recognize them" Matthew 7:16  
Believe it or not, when I'm stumped out in the field and having a difficult time identifying plant which looks familiar, but has familiar shapes or patterns to something else, I actually look for fruits, nuts or other seeds. So the old saying of "by their fruits you will know them" holds an element of field working merit. While there are many type of plants, within the same group there will always be similar characteristics or identifying marks and patterns in the fruit they produce. Of course there are always exceptions, but still it makes things a fun challenge.

Photo: Mine

Here is a view from underneath the Cottonwood's canopy looking up towards the sky. These large cotton balls are so unmistakable and hard to miss. Wonder why I never paid any mind before ? Oh yeah that's right, I was always there in  the middle of deep summer.

Here is a much closer zoomed in shot to give you an idea of the size of these cotton balls. The leaves also are far more bigger than what most folks are use to seeing over in the States with the Native Fremont Cottonwood (Populus fremontii). The size of the cotton balls in this tree were huge and in some cases bigger than any actual cotton boll I've ever encountered in a Texas Farmer's field when I stopped along the roadside for the first time in my life encountering them. It was incredible stand under this tree and gazing up at some so unbelievable. And to think, if I had come at another moment as times past, I would have missed all of things and never paid the tree any mind as I had in the past. Funny, I never once when passing this tree ever glimpsed at the identification sign below it to find out what it was. I'll always pay close attention now and be sire to come back at the right time of year. *smile* 

Photo: Mine
And finally to give a better sense of scale for this trees leaves and the size of those large cotton balls, here is my hand lowering down a branch a bit for a closer shot. Looking at the size of these things, I wondered if anyone historically attempted to utilize these cotton bolls the same way we use the conventional cotton plant.

Photo: Mine
Anyone find this incredibly enlightening and educational ? I did.  Fremont Cottonwoods (Populus fremontii) don't really look half bad now do they ? This photo was taken in middle May 2013 in the San Jacinto Valley just north of the town of San Jacinto on what I presume is State Street or old Hwy 79. That sign is an indication you are approaching the San Jacinto River bridge to the Jct of turning right to Soboba Rd heading towards the Indian Casino or left onto Gilman Springs Rd towards Moreno Valley or north to Beaumont. The entire area was once a massive miles long and wide Cottonwood and California Sycamore Forested Savanna with most likely other trees like Arizona Ash which actually have heavy woodlands further upstream in Bee Canyon which is a tributary to the east. The natural world Juan Bautista de Anza saw in the Spring of 1774 & once again in 1775 must have been at it's peak in pristine condition must have been ever so beautiful.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Unbelievable Land Management on Small Scale Private Ownership

Prudential Real Estate
Maybe I should have said mismanagement. It's easy to point out flaws of the evil big government mismanagement of public lands, I mean, after all they are such a giant target and the flaws of what they do are so glaringly apparent. But there are literally millions of smaller, even tinier targets that when collective brought together, they make themselves look like Goliath and the Government that of David. These collective smaller targets are called Private Property Owners. Of course it's easy to not notice them as they do what they do on such a micro-scale. But if you are intuitive enough and aware of your surroundings, you can never miss these glaring mistakes. Looking through some real estate info on the Internet over in and around Anza California today, I stumbled across this advertisement which is the exact property across from my old property and home on Table Mountain. Of course it was an older Ad and the property is no longer for sale. As you can see from the photo to the top right here, this is location is Table Mountain just east of the town of Anza California and it's the actual view across the street from my old front yard off Burnt Valley Rd. I was here visiting my old place around April 2013 with Patrick Dennis and Mary Ann Kiger, just before we went to the South Fork San Jacinto Canyon trek. We asked the present owner of my old place who was selling the property. I never ever knew of any owner of this piece as it was never lived on or developed to any degree before. But the Lady who now lives in my old place said the guy was selling it because he ran out of money. Even though you see some chaparral in the picture here, down below he stripped it of much old growth Manzanita for clearing a building pad in the glen and if that wasn't bad enough, he also cut down two of the original forest remnants of one large and one small Coulter Pine. Seriously, of all things, he cut out the most important outstanding features of this property, which actually would have sold it. The best location for putting any home from a buyers point of view would be on the rocky outcropped ridge on the western side of the property that actually had the best 180 degree view of the entire Anza Valley. Needless to say I walked down to photo document those trees for writing about the former forested area which once thrive here. Whatever!

Former Listing of Prudential Real Estate

59885 Table Mountain Trail Anza, CA 92539

Here is a much better view of Cahuilla Mountain from this Table Mountain property. Incredibly, the original sale of this property was $35,000 for almost 4 view mountain top acres of land. I assume it went into foreclosure and was put on Auction back in March of this year 2013. The Auction had only seven bids with the winning bid which won the property at a steal at $5,000. Can you believe it ? Actually with the major economic downturn which to me actually hit in 2007 along with the excessively rapid rise in Fuel prices, Anza experienced a major real estate shutdown and many properties did go into foreclosure. Seriously, look at most of the real estate listings up there and many sales are Bank owned.
Can you imagine the interest in this land at the original price had the owner left that land alone ? The shock of the Coulter Pines being chained sawed down was reminiscent of the Chainsaw Massacre on Rattlesnake Mountain which I encountered the hostility of those neighbours from Sky Ranch Community guilty of the Conservation Area trespass and protected plant destruction I wrote about Here . This isn't the only example of private land mismanagement. It's everywhere in the back country. Someone will buy property on a mountainside with impossible access and will be determined to conquer it. In the process they create an ecological mess that is hard to correct. While out on San Felipe Rd with Richard Halsey and his Graduate Student assistant Dylan, we encountered just such an example behind the San Diego County Sheriff Sub-Station on a steep mountainside where someone had hired a company to bulldoze an improbable road access up a steep mountainside to a outcropping rocky knoll where they constructed a building pad for their dream home. Clearly destructive and almost impossible to maintain, and there will be no quick fire route escape access either. If my camera batteries hadn't gone out I would have photographed this place. Nevertheless, you all know where to find it just south of R.D.'s Log Cabin on San Felipe Rd (S-2) just behind the Sheriff Sub-Station.

Photo: Mine

I know, not much to look at with this photo (and I wasn't in the mood to climb down for a better shot), but that's the point, it use to be when the Coulter Pine trees were there! This seriously is almost the carbon copy of what happened to those Torrey Pines in El Cajon CA. I'm sure they made use of the larger logs which were put to good use as firewood. I seriously have no idea why they would cut down both of these trees.
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The Table Mountain development I believe was started sometime back in the early 1970s. Burnt Valley Rd was at one time the major highway leaving east out of Anza Valley. If I was to judge how that map was drawn up, there was never any real forethought that went into taking into consideration the actual geologic features or any other on the ground geography by walking through studies done in deciding how this map should be laid out. It's reminiscent of the film "Junior Bonner" where Jr Bonner's (Steve McQueen) fiction brother in the film, Curly Bonner (Joe Don Baker) a real estate Huckster with his Reate Rancheros retirement land scheme over in Prescott Valley ? Never mind, I just watched the film again last Wednesday. One of my classic favourites. It's also reminiscent of the way the British relinquished their Empire's occupation land holdings around the globe after the World War II and gave free autonomy (with strings of course) to Crown approve Puppets who ruled over boundaries which were hastily drawn up for what was expedient for British interests. In the process, historical tribal and cultural lands were ignored or disrespected and mankind is paying for those irresponsible results ever since right down to the present. Seriously, look up the reasons for many of the major squabblings and conflicts going on presently and somewhere is a former European Colonial Power behind the curtain pulling levers and pushing buttons. 

Credit: Gayle M. Woodsum

Land development when irresponsibly thrown together on a shoestring budget has the same consequences on down the road. When folks buy land in the rural areas, you need to do your homework on not only the land in question's history, but also that particular region area. I've seen some awesome view places in pristine locations, but access can be almost impossible and a nightmare during floods or snow storms. They can also be death traps in fire. Also take note of how your potential neighbour's are taking care of their land. Much like a typical modern scene in the photo above where landowners in rural Colorado take care of their land the same way many folks did in Anza Valley. Or for that matter what they are doing with it. There are still a lot of Kooks out there. Your Real Estate agent may be helpful, but appreciate that they will many times do anything to make the deal go through, same with the developer. Look at the time and effort put into proper road construction. Often times these offroad nightmares where only built to sweeten the property deal without any forethought or care as to future troubles. And for Pete's Sake, take care of that land properly by not letting it get run down. In some cases, the owners are forced to do things they shouldn't in order to fit their dream onto the the lack of insight lot creation created by the developer. That Table Mountain Ranchette  scheme is a prime example. Nightmare roads that no one can fix even if they had the money and an irresponsible Water System that was less than adequate to provide for the needs of hundreds of residents. It was nothing more than a buyer's lure. Despite all of this, a private landowner has a responsibility to the land. Seriously, you moved out there because you think the city sucked, so why develop something that is the mirror image of what you left. Don't be a junk collector, this is another issue with private landowners.

The average person can be compared to a child, who looks up to Government & Big Business as an Authority figure. Like a child, it's the old saying - "Like Father Like Son" ? The average land owner follows the examples of those taking the lead. There have been times I often thought there should be a proper Eco-Land Management course and certification requirement before a person is allowed to purchase property. And like any license, before any renewal, it comes only after careful inspection of the property to verify the property owner has kept the requirements under the law. Well yes, of course this is ridiculous, and would involve more bureaucratic insanity along with all the manner of under the table cheating and fudging that goes along with such programs. You know how humanity is ? But the truth is, Earth is also ruined by the billions of little people. Unfortunately, most folks often forget this when they join causes and movements to fight against some big Industry pursuit or Government  Policy. It falls on everybody. *Sigh* Still, can you believe it, $5,000 greenbacks for an awesome four acre view lot ?  I believe that's about what those lots went for back in the early 1970s.

"A sense of place is the sixth sense, an internal compass and map made by memory and spatial perception together.” —Rebecca Solnit
BTW, little off topic, but here is a hiking trip up Cahuilla Mountain by David Lockeretz of "Nobody Hikes in L.A." The pictures are beautiful, especially when you get up above it all and appreciate beautiful landscapes untouched by the Human Stain.
Seriously though, think about what I just said and take GOOD CARE of your LAND. Enjoy the pics below.
The example of a death trap area can be found in the link on the Yarnell Hill death trap area for which 19 firefighters lost their lives as a result of no escape outlet. Please don't ever expect anyone to save your material belongings in a death trap area chose out of a bad decision choice. Do your homework, the lives you save may be your family:
The Search for Clues in the Yarnell Hill Fire
"An aerial photograph of the site where 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, an elite firefighting crew, died. The visible road was made by a bulldozer to retrieve the bodies."