Thursday, June 16, 2016

Face of the Climate Change & Drought in San Diego County

Google Maps
Remember the old saying a picture is worth a 1000 words ? This first picture below is in San Diego county in California along Hwy 79, close to the junction of highways 79 & 76. The man made reservoir which created Lake Henshaw is now itself practically a mud hole. This first photo is of an iconic Cottonwood Grove which for me has existed since my childhood in the early 1960s when our family took those Sunday drives out into the rural backcountry. Over the years this cottonwood grove always thrived, even during the dry periods. The cattle which grazed this property which I believe is owned by the Vista Irrigation District and leased out to ranchers always found shade and shelter in this grove from the hot summer sun. Those days are gone forever. But these past several years have been different. Aside from the obvious lack of measurable rainfall, it just seems that other factors are playing out in this present environmental degradation.
photo credit - Kevin Franck - (May 15, 2013)

These native Fremont Cottonwoods are all but gone now as the picture below reveals. What ever rains have fallen have been spotty at best. Even Palomar Mountain to the west of here which historically received 8" to 13" even during small winter storms because of it's unique geographical location has at best gotten 2" to 3" in latest storm events these past seasons. Nothing in the realm of drenching downpours, subsoil recharging caliber floods which were promised by the Press and Scientific soothsayers has happened this past season. Their promised weather Messiah El Nino was a bust, a fraud and as usual unpredictable. The El Niño eco-activist cheerleaders around the internet with Pom Poms were smoke screening the true irreversible climate change problems behind the scenes. Nobody wants to deal with such a possibility as the idea that human activity has gone to far to be salvaged. I understand wanting things to improve, maybe even getting back to the way things use to be (whatever that was), but times have changed and I'm afraid we've gone well past that point of no return scenario many scientists have feared regarding reversing the climate degradation. The photo below is viewing towards the south. from that point on 1000s upon 1000s of native Oaks are dying. Even many area of chaparral are in trouble.

photo credit - Kevin Franck - (June 11, 2016)

Failed Predictions by Forecasters
And for those who believed what all the cheerleaders said about El Nino saving the day for Central and Northern California, think again. Yes they got large amounts of rainfall in some locations and many mountain areas had large snowpacks. But these mountain ecosystems have a long way to go before subsoil moistures are restored well enough to capacity to allow wild native plants to maintain health and vigor during the dry hot months of the year and these areas are also setting record high temps across the board. Record high temps early on allowed snow melt much earlier as opposed to later when much needed water would be most needed in the peak of Summer. This entire year has thus far had each month setting new heat record highs and this month of June 2016 is set to break even more records as I write. Take a look at the video below of how dire the situation is in forests of the Sierra Nevadas. Eco-Activists don't have to worry about the Timber Industry, nature is deforesting itself in response to irresponsible scientific innovation.  

Update June 19th 2016
 SF GATE: California drought bummer: Sierra water runoff coming up short
But there are some possitives, but they're mainly localized urban landscape ones
photo credit - Kevin Franck - (June 30, 2014)

Pisolithus tinctorius truffle
It was on June 30th 2014 when we first planted Foothill Pines, Engelmann Oaks, California Holly and Cleveland Sage. By most folks standards it was risky because it was during a time of 100+ temperatures outside. We of course inoculated each planting with MycoApply, but I also had visited the Hwy 79 Desert View Vista Point south of Julian and collected numerous truffles of the mycorrhizal fungi Pisolithus tinctorius. The one here to the left was huge as comparison to the USA 25 cent coin shown for scale. I also incorporated crushed truffle spore powder within the soil of each plant. Below this year is the first I've seen of truffle formation on my brother's plants.

photo credit - Kevin Franck - (June 11, 2016)

The photo below is a Foothill Pine [Digger Pine] (Pinus sabiniana) which is probably a little more drought tolerable than others even native to the area and this particular location and climate. Although like others, this pine has limits as well. Back on June 30, 2014, this plant wasn't even a foot tall when I purchased it for my brother at Las Pilitas Native Plant Nursery in Escondido, which also has gone by the wayside. Other decades old specimens exist on  other folks properties here in Ranchita and are doing exceptionally well. Hence I thought it a good fit for my brothers 5 acres in an enviornment which is often challenging because of it's dry climate nature, heat and constant prevailing wind conditions. Not many of the conventional retail plant nursery pics of non-natives will make it up here.

photo credit - Kevin Franck - (June 11, 2016)

 Some references for home gardeners and urban landscapers [habitat restoration is out of the question for the moment]
Is it safe to plant & water California Natives Plants in Summer ?
Creating Chaparral Alcoves in your Landscape for personal regeneration & meditation retreats 
Deep Irrigation Methods for Training Deeper Rooting networks 

Concluding Commentary

It's commendable that many wish to fight to save what remains as a remnant of what once was. Unfortunately all the environmental activism in the world is not going to save anything. Mainly because the passion so often is hatred filled against those deemed as the cause environmental ruin as they see it and their solution is to force the opponant. Declaring massive tracts of land as Preserves, Reserves, Wilderness or National Monuments are certainly admirable, but these are not going to reverse anything regarding climate and other natural world ecosystem disruption. And what are they really saving anyway ? The rescued Land has already been degraded long ago of any old growth plant community ecosystem and it's inhabitants. These heroic acts are more of a symbolic victory than viable corrective solution. More often than not it has become a maneuver to trip up a much hated political opponant's ideological worldview. There is no real materialist fix here or viable scientific solution. Despite the propaganda about Science, it is truthfully not the self-correcting fix all which will reverse the damage caused by the misuse and abuse of industrial science for over a century of imaginary enlightenment. Science today is infected with way too much politicking and ideology. As time pants on to the end, the words of United States Environmental Lawyer, Gus Speth, ring so true. Mankind's problem is a spiritual one and not a materialistic innovative one. And by the word/term 'spiritual', we're talking about clean healthy human personality traits which are not necessarily something physically seen, but rather the secret person of the heart expressed in daily conduct. Every man, woman and child in every land around the globe has to be on the same page morality-wise if mankind and nature is going to have half a chance. Qualities such as neighbour love, which mainly is a respect for fellow man and nature. But admittedly, even the world's mainstream religions are bankrupt on this one. It's funny, I get slammed by both sides if I refuse to participate in one position or another. The old biblical saying, "The Truth will set you Free" doesn't really apply with this subject, especially since telling the truth in this present dysfunctional system more often than not gets you hammered by either side.


  1. Interesting article. I restored a dry creek bed on the farm I bought in 1990. Actually I didnt do anything but let the willows grow back. My 95 pound dog went swimming in the creek yesterday. I'm encouraging morels to grow in my garden. I saw a few a year ago under the peach tree. Costco is selling "wild" morels so I blended them up and soaked cardboard and straw and put the experiment in the shade on sandy soil. I would love to try truffles. Can you give me a resouse for them. We have a Las Pilitas Nursery near here. Are they related to the Escondido one? Felicitysfarm

    1. The El Nino offered absolutely nothing in the way of relief in SoCal. This year has had devastating heat waves one after anther with each month setting records across the board. June is presently going out with a bang. One wonders what July and August will be like. How many more fatalities by drought and fire will this year experience ?

  2. Here is a comment from Google Plus user - Michael Risney. This is illustrative of the lack of understanding and reliance on others for info instead of folks doing their own homework on ecosystems.

    "Just a big cycle.
    No one cried when the last ice age killed the trees?
    "Save the dinosaurs"
    We can help Earth by being more responsible, but most of what happens is just natural cycle.
    Southern California is and has been a desert. That grove of trees, probably should not have been planted if they can not survive the natural lack of water."

    My response:

    Thanks Michael for your comment. However, Southern California is not a desert. From the coast up to the high mountain ranges, these are predominantly coastal sage scrub, Chaparral and forested plant communities. The only deserts are from the high mountain rain shadows eastward to Arizona.

    The Fremont Cottonwood grove is in a major riparian floodplain which traditionally and historically has always had a wealth of water underground. No one planted them there, they are a part of the natural environment. The present severe climate scenario is of human influence and making irrespective of what certain religious and political elements want to spin it.


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