|Photo Image by Richard Halsey, Chaparral Institute|
|USGS Historical Topographic Map|
|Image University of Arizona (2004)|
|Desert Viewpoint south of Julian on Hwy 79|
|image: San Diego Birding Pages (2006)|
|Google Earth (2012)|
|Updated Photo from Google Earth (2013)|
This is the updated version from last year which reveals the dead wood from the trees which was consumed in a fire since then. Definitely in poorer shape, but it gets worse.
|San Felipe Creek bridge on Hwy 78 looking north (June 30, 2014)|
This photograph was taken two weeks ago on June 30th. The Cottonwood trees still standing in the distance are actually only partially leafed out. They are beginning to struggle. As a youth in the early 1970s who started driving, we would stop at this exact spot and go down to the water's edge. You couldn't see much beyond the railing and massive Cottonwoods & Sycamores. Down by the water the first thing you'd see with the masses of tiny fish darting everywhere. Oddly enough these were not the common Mosquito fish (Gambusia), with that characteristic flat topped head and body. Off hand from memory, I would relate what I saw and caught to something similar to the Arroyo Chub (Gila orcuttii) which I have seen in the San Jacinto South Fork River canyon, but perhaps more likely it was something more similar to the down stream Desert Pupfish (Cyprinodon macularius) which is indeed native to the lower San Felipe Creek, Fish Creek and drainage ditches all around Imperial Valley. I use to fish down there in the 1970s canal fishing and some drainage ditches. Young Mexican kids were always catching them back then and using them for bait for catch fish under road culverts. In any event, what were present didn't seem to be mosquitos fish.
|Desert pupfish photo © John Rinne|
Back in the middle 1960s, my friends and I who were on a Boy Scout camping trip at Ocotillo Wells further to the east from Scissors Crossing. But the Scout Master stopped all the vehicles at Scissors Crossing for us to walk around and explore. We indeed did see what were clearly larger fish which would dart here and there sending those smaller fish scurrying for cover, but we could never get a handle on exactly what they were. We had no idea whether someone had let go some bluegill or bass, but they seemed too slender for those fish and the habitat seemed two warm for trout of any type. Pondering back now, I'd love to believe they were historical holdovers from when Lake Cahuilla was at it's shoreline peak near Ocotillo Wells and San Felipe Creek flowed more perennially down to the lake's shore where perhaps some Humpback Suckers and Bonytail Chubs may have made their way upstream. Both of these were present in the Cahuilla Fish traps and hearths around Coachella Valley, but again who really knows for sure.
|Humpback Chub (gila cypha)|
|Bonytail Chub (Gila elegans)|
|Photo by Diego Ortiz|
Sonoran or Desert Mud Turtle
Another critter we use to see were turtles which would flop back into the water as we walked along San Felipe creek's banks. I have to assume that this could have been the Western Pond Turtle, but again way back in the 1970s. It could also have been the Desert or Sonoran Mud Turtle (Kinosternon sonoriense), since this region has more connection to deserts east, but again, who knows for sure. Not myself, nor friends ever gave it any thought way back when, other than we knew what we saw. The other creature which I don't remember seeing, but know of it's existence is the lowland leopard frog which is endangered and use to inhabit the upper San Felipe Creek all the way to San Sebastian Marsh near the present day Salton Sea.
Lowland Leopard Frog
|Hwy 78 bridge over San Felipe Creek looking south (June 30, 2014)|
This view is looking towards the south side of San Felipe Creek bridge at Scissors Crossing. Straight ahead is community of Shelter Valley and the creek itself veers off to the left down Sentenac Canyon. Between here and the Canyon most of the majestic Cottonwoods are gone and even the Mesquite are struggling against the invasive Tamarisk which was never there previously in such massive population numbers. The lush reeds, rushes and sedges are all but gone now.
|image: Charles Doersch (April 2012)|
These are some hikers camping under San Felipe Creek bridge in April 2012, something that never would have been before possible just a few decades ago where permanent surface water flowed under here at a good pace.
There are multiple complex components all throughout this San Felipe Valley riparian ecosystem & beyond which are only the tip of a vast iceberg here. For that matter, take any ecosystem around the globe and view as a body with various parts of necessary function: climate, geography, plants, animals, birds, reptiles, aquatic creatures, whatever – all of these components within their niche habitats can be subdivided into sub-ecosystems all within the entire system, and those can be further subdivided all the way down to microbiological level with it's underground organisms and right down to the very nutrient molecules they organize for life above, but all working together cooperating as a whole. Putting it all back together again requires recognizing the whole picture and not just some researcher working within their own specialty of personal training and practice. At every level, we see incredibly intricate tuning, synchronization, and functional complexity. Frankly for the sake of debate, it doesn't matter how it all came together as a finely tuned machine firing on all pistons with precision. It has always been that way from the beginning. True biomimicry in putting it all back together again is imperative, minus all the jealousies, envies, childish infighting among researchers, conjecture, assumptions and religious assertions. Find out how things really work and replicate.
In the old days when things weren't so globally effected, a civilization like those of Easter Island, Colorado Plateau or Empires of Central America or Europe could screw up locally or regionally and not effect an entire continent. Things are not that way now. Like global economies whose oil prices go through the roof every time some psychopath dictator hiccups, there are consequences now where all nations fail at taking care of business properly. If one Nation does something stupid ecologically, everyone else suffers. No amount of restoration techniques or politicking for stricter laws and regulations are going to succeed unless these weather mechanisms get back to proper function. I've seen to much disruption and outright wholesale failure out there on my last visit to California which has become increasingly worse since every other last visit. The biggest problem is never addressed and that is human behavior. How do you convince humans to do the right thing ? Persuasion seems to be a failure. Marshal Law ? Who wants to live in a Sci-Fi world ? Some major event around the globe is about to explode onto the scene, but how many are willing & ready to pay attention and keep awake ? When it does happen, that will not be the time to pay attention. It will be too late.
“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need but not for every man’s greed.” Mohandas Gandhi
Further Reading of InterestThis might be of interest to some reading here. The USGS has an Historical Topographic Map Explorer that allows you to view topographical maps at all scales that were ever produced by the agency, going back to the 1880s. You can pull up an 1887 map of the Prescott area like the one in the screen shot below. The sliding bar at the bottom of the search box lets you see what scale maps were generated in what year. This is where I brought up the older 1984 shot of Sentenac Canyon with it's graphics symbols. Maps are available for the entire country or regions of North America. You seriously may want to consider bookmarking this link below for future reference.