|Image: Regional Conservation Authority|
San Jacinto River west of Hwy 74 bridge across from Cranston Station
Traditionally when mankind created settlements which became towns and eventually large cities, they mostly were located on the banks of rivers and/or delta outlets into the world's oceans. Their economies demanded it and they of course were in great need of available supply of fresh water. Seriously, look on any world map at all of today's present cities anywhere around the globe and view where they are mostly located. Of course in today's world of modern technological advances, it is no longer necessary for any city to be located within close proximity to such an ecosystem. Many centuries ago, the world's most well known classical rivers meandered this way or that through a dense forest of riparian woodlands. This includes the once lush green San Jacinto River Valley in which such a lush environment was actually described by those first Spanish explorers as predominantly Cottonwoods, Sycamores, etc. But we also know from other journal contributors that these woodlands held such food bearing plants as California Fan Palms with their dates, Elderberry trees, roses and Fray Pedro Font made mention of native grapes everywhere, starting in Bautista Canyon. Such an overflow of variety also filled with vast backwater marshlands on either side of the heavily dense old growth forests along the main river channel attracted a myriad of waterfowl along with large and small animals which would be lured by the abundance of natural food sources.
|Image - Wikimedia|
Luiseño Indians Mazestone Petroglyphs, Hemet CA
|Image - torreto|
Can you imagine getting caught in a Grizzly Maze at the wrong time ? If the Maze Petroglyph is really an annimation of an actual Grizzly Maze, I can ponder why Native Americans found other uses for fire than the popular ones propagated by fire ecologists. But seriously, could the Natives have observed and followed those same Grizzly bears to some of their favourite foraging grounds which would have also provided a wealth of food catches for themselves ? Hmmmm, so what were those Luiseño Indians of the Hemet & San Jacinto valleys really telling us in some of their petroglyphs ? Could the Hemet and Diamond Valley Mazestone petroglyphs (image above left) have been a representation of the extensive labyrinth of vegetation tunnels created by Grizzly and/or other black bears in the riparian system surrounding all sides of the river that Francisco Garcès recorded seeing in the San Jacinto Valley when he ventured through there in March of 1775 ? If you check out the image below, you can see the trail and tunnel or pathway labyrinths observed in the riparian habitat at Kaflia Bay aka "the grizzly maze" of Alaska.
|Kaflia Bay aka "the grizzly maze"|
Interestingly, Chaparral and Wildlife Biologist Richard Halsey has researched and studied about the California Grizzly Bear's ability to shaped and form the native chaparral vegetation habitats it once lived and thrived in. See Richard's blog link below which goes into depth on the Grizzly's chaparral tunnels.
|Image: Richard Halsey|
|Courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library|
Vaqueros lasso a grizzly bear
Biomimetics and Riparian Ecosystem Designing
(Click here to Zoom larger image)
Here is an extremely interesting idea for slowing water down by means of a floodplain detour and allowing a healthier vegetative community which in turn allows for more effient water percolation while filtering it better at the same time. It also provides greater habitats for both wildlife and people. What struck me too when I first saw this architectural drawing from the Arroyo Seco Project for creating a wider floodplain aside from the actual narrow channel of the riverbed, was that it is in miniature what I described with regards the San Jacinto River Valley on it's historical grander scale and the 1980 flooding of the city of San Jacinto from the upstream breach of the levee which shut off the natural flow of the floodplain. The San Jacinto Valley should always have had been allowed a much wider channel from the very start of development as opposed to the present forced narrow corridor it has now shoved up against North Mountain where it is today. By their very flawed human nature this was never allowed when the area was originally settled because personal speculative economic fortunes were at stake. Then of course there was all that ignorance thingy and the fact that most didn't automatically care enough to consider finding out the truth of the matter we know as pros & cons of proceeding or not with a planned rearrangement of the landscape. In fact many of the housing & other commercial interests (which is really the motive behind re-channeling to facilitate Human economic interest which brings more tax revenues) in the floodplain areas should never have been allowed in the first place. While one may view from the ground what looks to be a large flood corridor as it exists presently today in some photographs, it's actually not capable for handling the often massive waterflow capacity which charges like Spain's running with the bulls chaos out of those mountain canyons when all it's side tributaries are firing on all pistons at once. I've posted a recent study in my references section at the bottom of this post which points out the problems regarding forcing Nature's hydrological components into narrow channels even when it seems to be for the greater economic economic and human safety considerations. It basically deals with the Missouri River and what the Lewis & Clark expedition actually saw when they explored new things like these Spaniards with their own American Empire building ambitions.
The other problem with Human rearranging of river courses by means of concrete channeling is that most of the water which falls as rain in Southern California is purposefully expedited downstream quicker and is lost forever into the Pacific Ocean. I found this to be true even when I lived in San Diego County. Even when it rained lightly in San Diego County's own inland empire, most of what falls ends up as asphalt street runoff and the Mission Dam area quite often will always look like it's at major flood stage, even when there are no heavy rains. I am most certain that way back in historical times, this region (El Cajon, Santee, Lakeside valleys) didn't always flood with massive amounts of runoff with almost every single rainstorm. Even when it did rain heavy, most of the healthy vegetated topography would have allowed more of the important water percolation or infiltration into the soils which is necessary for downstream water sustenance in riparian ecosystems during the dry season by means of various springs. Water would still end up eventually into the Pacific Ocean anyway, but at a much later time frame and slower level of pace. Other system community members such as beavers and believe it or not bears would have contributed to the slowing down of water as it pursued it's ultimate path of least resistance goal to the Ocean by means of gravity and other physics. Look up most older historical topo maps, especially Thomas Bros and you'll find a common notation by means of symbols of the exact location of Springs. Many were named, but many others were not. Question is why ? Wasn't necessary, but Springs were more important to travelers in times past than today. They were the rest stops of the day. You should however know that most of these are now dried up, gone and long forgotten mostly by the cattlemen who used them. I know because in the surrounding Anza Valley area where I once lived for over two decades, I actually made a deliberate attempt to find each and every one of these on my old Thomas Guide which took a little over a decade. Most of the springs without names were fashioned into cattle water concrete and/or stone troughs from seeps other small water anomalies. Today these springs hold little importance to the modern day person and therefore omitted from all newer maps. Okay change of subject:
Biomimetics and Hydraulic Redistribution
|Image animation: DawsonLab|
Okay, here I go again. Apparently I have to bring up the essentially important subject of hydraulic redistribution regarding the very foundational underground rooting network which allows everything above ground that we see and enjoy to become an ongoing perpetual sustainable reality over countless lifetimes. This is even partially why I even created "Earth's Internet" in the first place, even though many of the subjects may seem boring to short modern day attention spans. Let's consider the illustration above for a moment. Let's pretend that this cartoon animation illustrates the huge old growth Cottonwood trees on the present normally dry sandy floor of the San Jacinto Valley floodplain. These deeper rooted old growth riparian ecosystem trees which could also include California Sycamores would have been efficient performers of that all important hydraulic descent even during dormancy, even as the #3 option in the graph illustrates. Such interesting mechanical phenomena would also have been present during drier times, maybe even prolonged macro-climate drought events where a sustained high water table untouched by any human concerns would have allowed the lush system to maintain itself. The challenge however in artificially rebuilding any type of vegetation ecosystem is education on exactly what type of vegetation components act as the best Hydraulic redistribution mechanisms. I researched this for many years up in Anza when living within the predominantly Chaparral Plant Community up in Anza California. This actually helped in establishing pines and oaks in remote locations with little or no water available for conventional irrigation. While I found several candidates, Redshank or Ribbonwood [Adenostoma sparsifolium] and a close second by it's evil tough wildfire causing cousin Chamise or Greasewood [Adenostoma fasciculatum]. Kidding of course about the wildfire thingy, that's more about attitude and prejudice more than truth based on knowledge. In the riparian system it's easy, Cottonwoods, Sycamores, and in some cases within this region Mesquite trees. Some willows also may have value during temporary dry period years, but not always. Other trees for the San Jacinto system also may be Arizona Ash which has large populations on the valley floor as it emerges out of Bee Canyon along the Indian Creek water course and floodplain.
(Bit of a side note regarding White Alder (Alnus rhombifolia) in the San Jacinto River valley)During the wetter years when both San Jacinto River and Bautista Creek ran all year, or even when it trickled by flood comparisons, White Alders flourished even in low regions of their valley floors where there were extremely hot temperatures. In Bautista Creek they were present even in the basin catchment behind the diversion dam. In the San Jacinto River they would often show up as far as the river flowed towards Mystic Lake. If this happened in the 1980s, then they were present back when the Spaniards came through. These trees are almost always associated with continual moisture & cooler climate conditions and that's true that they do thrive in such situations. However in there are other unique instances given surface water presence, these not so deeply rooted trees can even become successful anywhere in the hot valleys below. For example, when during the same 1980s flooding event period when Tahquitz Creek and other Palm Springs water courses flowed year long into the main channel of Whitewater River down the greater Coachella Valley, these trees sprouted all along the water courses here and there. Even when temps topped well over 100+ degrees Fahrenheit (40+ C). I know because I was amazed when I went on my weekly visits to one of my clients at Mac Magruder Chevolet whose property sets next to the creek on Hwy 111 in downtown Palm Springs. The problem comes when the surface water goes away. For a short while they may flourish and sustain themselves from below ground water, but they eventually fry in the intense heat even when that goes further deeper into the soil. They are not deeply rooted like Cottonwood or Sycamore trees. Hence they would make a lousy candidate for establishing trees with great hydraulics potential. However, from a biomimcry point of view, if one needs to stabilize an actual streambed with permanently running water, they would be the best at holding tightly together the streambed. Only then world the shallower rooted Alder be your best choice. In Idyllwild along Strawberry Creek when water levels were low, you could see why the dominance of the White Alders was a good thing. These shallow rooted trees weave their shallow surface root systems in and around boulders and large cobblestone river rocks so tightly and close together, not even large massive floods seem to be able to budge anything about the main bed. At the same time, this physical feature also makes them a terrible candidate for lawn trees as the constant mowing shaves off the tops of these lateral roots create a pattern of burn mark outlines in the grass as the roots grow larger with age and scaring is horrible as well. But once again, these are shallow roots and need permanent water flow. Here in cool wet Scandinavia they grow on mountainsides far away from Creeks and therefore in no need of a water course.
Given these facts, hydraulic redistributing from the deepest roots of old growth Cottonwoods and Sycamores would have played the most important role in sustaining the entire system even during the drier water table fluctuating periods. The main problem I find when it actually comes to the subject of hydraulic redistribution is that you rarely if ever hear it ever discussed. Other than a handful of not well known intellectually written pieces often times behind some ridiculous Paywall, does anyone really hear about this info anywhere being discussed ? No and they should. This is where such basic fundamentals on any and all plants prior to engineering an ecosystem based on the discipline behind Biomimcry which in this case simply means having knowledge of what each riparian component is and what it accomplishes within that system is imperative and where true architectural design becomes a real success. But I'll go further. Those who sign up as volunteers for many of these land or habitat restoration projects should be required to go through an education program where they actually understand the underground system mechanisms of the above ground paradise they are attempting to save. But lets go even further, the school systems should have such subjects have as part of their science programs which would include these same basic fundamentals in regards how Earth's ecosystems work, function together and maintain over the long haul. Dump the old failed dogma of "Survival of the Fittest" and replace it with "Survival of the Mutually Cooperative". The biggest road block to all of this is these suggestions while many will agree upon, they are simply far to logical to be implemented into any government run program irrespective of the country. Sadly the world's authority just doesn't work that way under the present system. With the present disastrous water shortages in all of California, better uses of major floodplains for percolation purposes should be looked at more closely. This may even mean relocating folks, but that would be another major headache issue. Of course, then there is also the issue with regards street contamination of water which might restrict drinking water quality. At the very least, public parks and other utility usage needs could be satisfied. Take a look at the two comparable photos below of where the present San Jacinto River Channel runs close to the western end of Soboba Hot Springs Resort.
|Image: Mojave Jones (Panoramio)|
Notice the main channel to the left hand side which has been forced up against North Mountain's foothills and the overflow flood channel on the right. Also notice the island of native vegetation in the middle which separates them them ? Below now, notice the flood overflow on the right hand side becomes more apparent when full of excessive water overflow is at flooding stage. When rivers and streams are forced against the natural physical demands of how water flow should proceed, the narrower channel creates stronger force which allows scouring and deep erosion to take place. Especially when vegetation is removed. If vegetation is still present, then it won't be for long. Keep in mind in regards to the rain photo below, this is not truly a real flood event of times past like the 1980s. This would be normal winter year, although even that seems to be changing with the climate disruption.
|Image: Mojave Jones (Panoramio)|
|Regional Conservation Authority - Western Riverside County|
"On June 24, 2009, the RCA acquired the San Jacinto River Ranchos property, totaling approximately 73.29 acres. This property is located within the San Jacinto Valley Area Plan, Subunit 3 - Upper San Jacinto River/Bautista Creek area. The property also falls within Rough Step Unit 2. The acquisition of the property is expected to help conserve important biological resources including arroyo toad, mountain yellow-legged frog, burrowing owl, Cooper's hawk, least Bell's vireo, southwestern willow flycatcher, yellow warbler, bobcat, Los Angeles pocket mouse, mountain lion, western pond turtle and slender-horned spine flower. The subject property will assist in providing a linkage for wildlife movement along the San Jacinto River and is adjacent to existing PQP conserved land to the north and east of the property. On July 28, 2009, the RCA also acquired the Meadows at Lone Cone property, totaling approximately 67.61 acres. The Meadows at Lone Cone property is immediately southeast and adjacent to the San Jacinto River Ranchos property and contains similar biological resources."
Now, Getting down to the Bear facts as I see them
|illustration: Soren Hendrich|
|image: Mike Cavaroc 2010|
|Image: Wildfire Programs|
|image: logs and trees|
|image: Gordon Robinson|
|Riverside Flood Control|
"Streams the way Nature intended them to be"
|Hydrology & River Sciences|
I'll close here as I can say what more I need to say in my main and final post on the Anza Expedition post next week. Below you may want to view and enjoy bears love of water in riparian habitats. Try and imagine this scene in numerous dead riparian regions which either exist in fraction or completely altogether. As always, please make practical application of things read and observed about Nature in your own garden and urban landscape.
"All parts of the fabrication and recycling process are cleverly linked and powered largely by water. The destruction of ocean crust via subduction leads to the formation of continental crust through water-facilitated melting. The destruction of continental crust via water-driven erosion ultimately replenishes the mantle for the next round of ocean crust production. Efficient, sustainable, robust, and elegant, the system would win top honors in an industrial design competition." [emphasis mine]
The above quote is from Geology Prof Marcia Bornjerud who commented on the tectonic system in her book, "Reading the Rocks". The first and last sentences struck me as beautifully descriptive of a healthy riparian ecosystem when viewed as a well oiled machine. Of course I know she's talking about the Earth's Tectonic plate mechanisms, but still ? She wrote a wonderful piece a few years back on Fracking and Strip Mining which I found interesting:
Interesting Reading References:
Here is an article I remember reading several years back from the Washington University of St. Louis about how different the Missouri River is presently compared to when Lewis and Clark first journeyed on it. It was much wider then and less flood prone because of greater width. The river now is far narrower because of the work done by Army Corps of Engineers and more subject to floods than it was back in history. Go figure!
Here is a further take on some geographical mechanisms which can shape, create, tear down and rebuild a natural water course and it's the example of the two water flow channels of Bautista Creek mention by Fray Pedro Font which the majority of folks presently living in the city of eastern Hemet know nothing about:
This is a further link to a piece I wrote recently about Juan Bautista de Anza's description from his diary of when he approached the Santa Ana River valley looking just like the the San Jacinto Valley he just traveled from. Today there is no such comparison, so I provided a reverse description to illustrate what San Jacinto Valley looked like in times past. Had I not done this, there is no other way to explain it to you.
Finally, this mostly has my own personal speculation as to possible historic connections of waterways to the Santa Ana River on a more permanent basis which would have allowed various other native fishes to exist, even if at times temporarily isolated: