Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Busy Beavers & Slow Water Movement are back in the News again

Leave it to Beavers (Full Documentary)
Stop the dams – Irrigate the oceans – Courtesy Steve Hunter
Leave it to Beaver ? No way, says Salt Lake County in the State of Utah
(Steve Griffin | The Salt Lake Tribune)

Just when nature awareness and education movements finally after decades of long hard work actually get the average rural citizen interested and excited about Nature on their own perperties and how to better nuture and maintain  it, then the Authorities &/or Corporate entities under the guise of an eco-green cloak, later on say, "Nah, that's really not such a good idea after all." Here was a story that should have had a happy ending. This entire valley where a natural drainage of Big Willow Creek winds and meanders across numerous properties, everyone is on board with excitement. As you well know, many properties owners have traditionally at times dislike such natural obstacles which they perceive may impede what they had originally intended to use the property for. If that was the case here, then people later on changed their minds. This photo above and to the right is Kelly McAdams walking across a beaver dam in his back yard to remove a bucket that was caught on the top of the dam on Thursday, April 6, 2017. Salt Lake County officials are pressuring McAdams and his neighbors to remove the beaver dams from Big Willow Creek where the stream flows across their properties. They insist the dams have been there for years and should remain because they are natural and provide wetland habitat, but officials say they pose a flood hazard. When is the last time you heard of a group of property owners wanting to quietly get together on their own without the invite of a group of radical monkey-wrenching eco-activist groups to create and protect an ecological wetland area ???
Draper, Utah • Big Willow Creek bends and meanders behind Kelly McAdams' Draper home and her backyard steps down into an urban wildlife preserve.   
Thanks to a string of beaver dams, the creek pools into wetlands teaming with life. Ducks and geese nest on the banks lined with cattails; herons and pelicans visit to dine on the 18-inch carp and catfish. Neighborhood kids also fish the ponds.   
But where McAdams, his wife, Kris Burns, and neighbors on Dunning Court see an ecological sanctuary, Salt Lake County sees "unauthorized modifications to a countywide drainage facility."   
The county Division of Flood Control has ordered them to remove the dams or face a $25-a-day fine, even though federal wildlife officials say these dams enhance the water quality, hydraulics and riparian habitat of an impaired segment of Big Willow Creek. 
"The dams have been here for at least 20 years," said McAdams, who moved in five years ago. "It is unfair they are coming in and destroying the area when there are alternatives."   
Along with neighbor David Dustin, McAdams is fighting the county's dam-removal order, saying it misapplies the county's flood-control ordinance by ignoring the proven benefits beaver dams provide and ways to reduce their risks. 
But county officials say they have a legal obligation to keep waterways open and safe.  Should high water push the beavers' tangle of branches and creek debris downstream, the material could back up the creek onto someone else's property or obstruct culverts, and the county would be liable for the damage, according to Rick Graham, deputy county mayor for operations.   
"The waterways and channels need to be clear and run and serve their purposes. There is a balancing act," Rick Graham said. "The county has demonstrated many times it balances wildlife habitat on creeks and waterways as they run through the city."   
Graham has overruled McAdams' appeal, which is slated to go before an administrative law judge on April 26.  Generations of Westerners have battled beavers because their dam-building clogs irrigation ditches and backs water into inconvenient places. The federal Wildlife Services, the animal-killing arm of the Department of Agriculture, kills about 22,000 beavers a year and many more nuisance beavers are relocated by states.   
For land managers and ecologists, however, beavers are miracle workers when it comes to restoring damaged landscapes, and wildlife agencies encourage property owners to accommodate the animals whenever practical.  Beaver dams help control floods, slow water flows when they're high, connect water tables to floodplains and create wetlands and wildlife habitat, said conservation biologist Allison Jones.   
"You have all these ecosystem services that keep the entire stream corridor functioning as it should," said Jones, with the Wild Utah Project. "Many other municipalities across the county are starting to allow beavers back to perform this critical engineering service."   
McAdams, whose one-acre lot has s360 feet of creek frontage, agrees. Without the dams, the creek channel would narrow to about 2 feet and dry up in late summer, making it impossible for him to pump irrigation water when he needs it most.   
"They want to take this wetland and turn it into a trench," McAdams said. "I'm afraid I might end up in jail over this."  On one dam he installed a flexible 10-inch pipe — a device known as a "beaver deceiver" — allowing water to pass through and help equalize levels on either side.   
The county began raising concerns about the dams two years ago and homeowners above and below McAdams and Dustin have agreed to let the county pull them out by hand, according to Graham. He hopes to remove all Big Willow dams at the same time to minimize disturbance.
There are literally tonnes of practical application we can glean by observising nature regarding Beavers, Alluvial Floodplains, the meandering pattern of water courses like rivers, streams etc. I have two links at the bottom of this post which will illustrate what many non-scientists out there have accomplished with a passion for biomimicry to prove Nature's worth at inspiration as opposed the tradition view of nature being so badly designed that scientists have the answer for fixing the imaginary flaws. The links will be provided at the end of this post at the bottom. Now let's report on the importance of slow meandering water courses as opposed to the opposite proposed by Industrial Business who claim to be backed by ecological science.

Slow Water Movement ??? vrs Corporate  Monopoly for the Natural Resource ???
Image - Coca-Cola Company
"USFS Deputy Forest Supervisor Rachel Smith and Patrol Captain Alberto Ortega walk through the brush near the Big Tujunga watershed, a large cluster of the non-native, invasive plant species (Arundo Cane) behind them."

Back on April 22, 2017, I stumbled upon this article about Coca Cola Company's seemingly altruistic concern for Nature and their plans to eradicate the evil Arundo Giant Reed or Cane which is a plague of many Southern California riparian floodplain corridors. At first glance that seemed okay, because I dislike what both non-native invasive plants, Arundo and Tamarisk, have done to take over native riparian habitats throughout the entire west. However, I then watch a (Coca Cola Company video) titled, "Coca Cola and the US Forest Service Tackle Invasive Plants to Replenish Water," which is supposed to be about their honorable proposal to eradicate invasive water gulping plants to allow free flowing water supply to reach Los Angeles from the San Gabriel Mountains like the photograph you see they provide on the above right. Sounds like a noble cause until you watch the video where he explains this and you realize that other giant corporate entities besides Coca Cola like Nestle and others have had ambitious water schemes for years to create a drinking water supply monopoly and sell this same water back to the public by means of bottled water. The Coachella Valley's main newspaper, The Desert Sun, carried an article exposing all these schemes back in March 2015. The article was titled: 
Then there was another article on the 89.3 KPCC website titled:    (Can Nestlé, Coca Cola help enviros fight drought?) where the Center for Biological Diversity, sued the USFS over Nestlé's bottled water permit, revealing that their increasing streamflow was a self-serving goal for their company. I'm not a real fan or cheerleader for the Center for Biological Diversity (whose sole purpose is mostly about sue & settle), but I do agree with this quote from the article:
"If the restoration project is about actually restoring habitat, I think that's a noble thing. If it's just to have greater water flow coming down from the Station Fire area, I'm not sure that that actually heals the wounds that have occurred in that landscape."
Then there was this little tidbit of collaboration collusion with a Mr. Roger C. Bales, a hydrologist tied to Industrial Agricultural irrigation business interests in the San Joaquin Valley and believe it or not The Nature Conservancy, which is another one of those environmental organizations who have caved into the corporate  business interests deands which in turn has greatly increased their funding and donations. They seemed to have sided with Bales' unproven ideological worldview here with regard the stream hydrological scheme on their own properties in the unscientific assumption that logging and thinning water hogging trees will magically make more volume of water appear in streams to fill reservoirs at lower elevations. UC Merced's Roger Bales' association with Industrial Agriculture in the Central Valley and even the Nature Conservancy association with the water bottling companies who have donated money to them makes a person take pause. Either way, these unholy alliances expose the modern day  environmental movement's hypocrisy for funding being masked behind a cloak of eco-green. And that's really sad because years ago I liked the work they did. But like other phony so-called ecology non-profits, I've pulled away from them. This is yet another one of those lying, "necessary evil for the greater good" justification schemes. Just so that folks know and understand something about these tree thinning/removal schemes mention by Roger Bales and the Nature Conservancy, it has been totally debunked and found to be untrue. California's four or five year drought along with the bark beetle loss of over 100 millions trees has not produced more water in streams or rivers to fill downstream reservoirs.
BREAKING NEWS: Apparently Trees don't really Gulp, Guzzle & Water Hog, only Humans do that
Let's change the subject back to why 'Slow Water Movement' is far more important than what Municipalities & Big Business Interests!
Image - Bureau of Land Management

Image - acegeography.com
Many people think of floodplains as something negative which ruins and destroys vaulable property. The reality is they have always provided an abundance of resources for many living things. Mankind as a rule has had economic interests in floodplain soils for farming which have a build up of nutrient rich soils created over thousands of years. But floods still continue tp be an annual occurence and they aren't exactly conducive to the type of neat organized plans farmers, cities and industries prefer nor can they be tolerated. So science has come up with several various technology strategies to prevent this from happening, with the most popular being dredging and straight channelizations of water courses whether a river or a creek. But even this can many times be more problematic than beneficial. In the Southern California view of things, rainwater is something meant to be rapidly transported on it's way towards oceans and away from human habitats and their livelihoods. And yet they'll spend million on importing water 100s to 1000s of miles away to be utilized as drinking water. This same drinking water they use for watering their landscapes. But the meandering slows the water down, doesn't prevent water from going back to the sea, but allows many things to benefit from it's presence along the way. But it's this slowness of meandering floodplains that prevents the rapid transport of water which should be replicated through biomimicry to water various city landscapes and home gardens by means of rain harvesting infrastructure. Without revealing what type of infrastructure, I'll post a couple of links I've already written on the subject which will point out where such respect for water has allowed inventive people to engineer some pretty amazing projects, which allow both water to be harvested and less destructive volumes of water ending up in creeks and rivers which can create unnatural flooding. Watch this three minute video on why rivers curve and meander.

This meandering part of the stream or river which looks very much like an elbow or bend in the river is known as a oxbow. In the photo of the floodplain further up, you can see older oxbows where the river once ran and changed course which allowed curved lakes to remain as part of the greater floodplain. The animation above demonstrates over time just how oxbows develop and become cut off from the main river channel. But again, industrial and urban storm drainage infrastructure could be used to slow this flooding and racing to the ocean way down and syphon much of this polluted street water from entering creeks and streams where high volumes can do the most damage. So much wasted street water like the example below of a Los Angeles street corner that floods, often with very little rainfall.

Image via Sterling Davis / Curbed LA flickr pool
Then we have example of smart curb-side and Parkway median landscaping where rainwater harvesting is taken advantage of which is saving cities fom using their municipal drinking water for irrigating public and private homeowner landscapes. I'll provide some links below this picture below which illustrate many of the designs intelligent creative people have made. 
Image - State College Pennsylvania

Rain Water Harvesting Infrastructure Design Concepts
Tucson Arizona: Regenerating Parks & Parkways through Biomimicry of Floodplains
Beavers can help battle ongoing Drought in desert-like places in Elko, Nevada
(Photo credit: BLM, Elko District - 1980)

(Photo by Bryce Gray)
This is an area about Beavers in which the average human being who likes nature has no clue about the incredible variety of habitats beavers can adapt to and improve. Like the documentary I linked to at the very top of this post, most films depict beavers familes living in a so-called pristine ecosystem loaded with birch, aspen, cottonwood and willows. But take this habitat above. In the west when Europeans arrived, they have attempted to raise livestock like they did previously in the wetter habitats of central or northern Europe and eastern United States. These plants do not respond the same way to herbivore disturbance the same way other plants in wetter climates do. Rather than four seasons, most lower elevation habitats in the west have only two, a wet & a dry season. So grasses and other plants do not recover quickly.  Below is an article from Northwestern University which deals with climate change and how beavers can be used as an incredibly beneficial tools to improve the environment which has been ruined through human stupidity as land stewards.

The rebound of Susie Creek and Maggie Creek in the adjacent watershed began in the early 1990s, when Evans approached ranchers leasing BLM land along the waterways with a proposal to improve grazing practices and restore the riparian habitat, primarily for the health of local fisheries.   
“A lot of it was done for the reintroduction of Lahontan cutthroat trout,” Evans said, referencing Nevada’s state fish, which faces an uphill battle to survive in the face of climate change. Evans said that the area is predicted be out of the species’ temperature range within the next couple decades.   
Fences were put in to restrict cattle access to riparian corridors, enabling vegetation to reclaim the creek bed, trapping sediment and building a floodplain. By 1996, a number of willow saplings had taken root, and by 2003, beaver recolonized the creeks as an unintended consequence of the restoration effort.   
“I didn’t know it would turn out the way it did,” said Evans, noting that throughout the BLM’s Elko District there has been a “build it and they will come” relationship between rehabilitated habitat and beaver. Although Evans does not know precise population data, beaver are now found in a number of regional streams, including an 11-mile stretch of Susie Creek and approximately 16 miles of the Maggie Creek basin.   
Beaver are hardly newcomers to the area. In colonial times the species used to be nearly ubiquitous throughout North America before their pelts ignited a fashion craze that fueled exploration of the continent and eradicated them from much of their historic habitat range.  Besides humans, beaver are perhaps the animal that exerts the greatest influence on the natural environment, and the wide-scale elimination of the species had a profound impact on water resources.
From the early 19th century to the late 20th century, an estimated 48-64 million acres of American wetlands were converted to dry land, with much of that habitat loss linked to the simultaneous decline in the beaver population.   
“Look at those numbers in terms of water that’s being held,” said Dr. Suzanne Fouty, an Oregon-based hydrologist who works with the U.S. Forest Service and has visited Susie and Maggie creeks. Fouty likened that water storage system to savings accounts.   
“In the West, you want to make sure that when you get a windfall of water, your savings accounts are ready to take it in,” she said “Those savings accounts are essentially empty right now.” But beaver habitat can change that, she said. “Instead of (water) racing downstream and flooding, it’s slowed down and stored and you have all these areas of savings accounts being filled up.”   
And those “savings” influence more than just surface water, as they can percolate through soil to become groundwater and recharge aquifers. At Maggie Creek, a one- to two-foot rise in the water table has been observed, even during drought years.   
Evans said that beaver habitat has such tremendous water storage potential because the species essentially converts a watershed into “a slow-moving lake” progressing through a staircase of beaver ponds, instead of as a gushing torrent. She believes that’s how the area’s streams once flowed in their original state, since soil profiles still show the traces of long periods of standing water in the valley bottom.   
“I’m sure the beaver were a large mechanism in that,” Evans said. “They were such an important part of the ecology of the system. You see how prevalent they can be.”  But grazing, too, can change the landscape. Dan Gralian is the general manager of the 400,000-acre TS Ranch, bounded to the east by Maggie Creek. He acknowledged that generations of abusive ranching practices hurt the land where trappers left off. “If you remove the stability of the land – the plants and the root structure – that’s what holds the land together,” said Gralian. 
“If you remove that, it becomes vulnerable to erosion. And that did occur over a large area of the West and this is one of those areas.”  That destructive legacy is still evident from the old, dry irrigation ditches sitting 10-15 feet above the present level of Susie Creek, where beaver and cattle are attempting to coexist as unlikely neighbors. “This is the story of the West,” says Evans. “When you have poor grazing practices and beaver together, it's totally not sustainable.
(Photo credit: BLM, Elko District - 2011)

(Photo by Bryce Gray)
Here in the photo above is that same location as the one in the 1980  of Maggie Creek that you saw of how dry and eroded the area once was, this 2011 image shows the stream’s wetter transformation. But also take close note of a freshly chewed Silver Sagebrush stump which is a sure sign of beaver activity along Susie Creek. Hardly no one would ever appreciate this from watching all those Disney type documentaries over the past several decades. Who would ever associate Beaver with such dam construction materials ? Even food sources and diets of beaver can change from riparian trees. In addition to willow and cottonwood, beavers will eat cattail roots, blackberry vines, fennel, pondweed, and various scrub plants. But cattails can often overwhelm a pond and crowd out open water, here is a video showing how beaver can even help keep that under control through summer feeding on this aquatic plant.

This video is only about 25 seconds long, but well illustrates how well they can maintain small ponds and lakes. We already know how things go without their presence if cattails are not manually (even chemically) dealt with to maintain open water for fish and other creatures. Below here the Northwest University article continues:
Whether beaver can be used on a broader scale to help the West conserve dwindling water resources remains to be seen, but the recolonization of streams in northern Nevada provides a hopeful snapshot of their climate change mitigation potential.   
“Nevada is so water-limited, if beavers can transform this landscape, they can do it anywhere,” said Fouty.   
Similar projects have taken root in other parts of the West. In Washington state, Forest Service officials are using reintroduced beaver to increase water resources for coho and Chinook salmon. In Colorado, “nuisance” beaver are being relocated from population centers to habitat where their ecological services will be less disruptive. And in Idaho in the 1940s, the state Department of Fish and Game launched a stranger-than-fiction campaign to parachute beavers in crates into the backcountry.   
Whatever role beaver ultimately play in the future of the West, they will need their significant environmental footprint to find a balance with ranching and other land uses. But if the BLM’s Elko District is any indication, that’s certainly possible.   
“We didn’t recognize that we have similar goals,” Griggs said, noting that ranchers like him have quite a bit in common with their aquatic neighbors. 
“I have a lot of respect for beaver. They’re probably the hardest-working things in the animal kingdom. We just needed to figure out a way to have them work for us.”
(Source: Northwestern University)
Historical Photos Reveal & Illustrate Change
 Photos: Bureau of Land Management
How beavers have enhanced the Susie Creek Watershed in north-central Nevada since 1991
Rough and Beautiful Places in Nevada
Journal of Rangeland Applications - Incredible Befores & Afters
Practical Grazing Management to Maintain or Restore Riparian Functions and Values on Rangelands
TOM WARREN & CAROL EVANS Bureau of Land Management

I loved that read and the setting for which it was referencing. Again, it gives folks a different take on the variety of habitats that Beavers can sustainably benefit. Also interesting was the reasons for reintroducing the Beaver. While they had to convince the ranchers of improvements to the grazing habitat, the other reasons were just as important. Remember, "restore the riparian habitat, primarily for the health of local fisheries." And of course the prime subject was reintroducing the Lahotan Cutthroat Trout. This reminded me of other important fisheries which could benefit from a natural meandering floodplain being restored for the benefit of juvenile fish like the native fish of the Colorado River and Salmon of California.

Photos by Jacob Katz
The top photo is from a program started to reintroduce juvenile Salmon back into floodplains of the Yolo Bypass in Northern California where much of it is farmland. With cooperation with one farmer, the fish were proven to grow faster and fatten up better than if they were forced to stay within the main river channel where there is less food and more predators. The very things they dealt with here are identical to challenges faced by native Colorado River fish like the Razorback Sucker, whose juveniles also benefit from floodplain nurseries. Anyway, both stories of the two fish were fun and interesting and highlighted the value of floodplains
Floodplain Farmlands Benefit Juvenile Western Native Fish
Image - Biographic 
This last topic below hits close to home for me because the beavers of western Riverside County in California were prospering wonderfully, until some official experts decided they weren't the original inhabitants of the landscape (this is a flat out lie) and they mandated that they be killed or moved. The other bogus story was beaver were destroying the habitat of an endangered songbird. Another rumor was that drinking water officials viewed them as fouling the water. And yet another lie.
Success and Failure in Western Riverside Californa with regards Beavers
Image - Pail Mason - Lake Skinner Temecula Ca

This first link below is to a post by Duane Nash of Ventura who has a passionate love for everything to do with Beavers and follows their historical and present locations within the state, but especially Southern California. Duane touches on the Santa Margarita River canyon southwest of the city of Temecula where Beavers have even dwelled within the city's Murrieta Creek. The second post is mine comparing human dams to Beaver dams. But I also touch on the tragety that happened to this Lake Skinner you see here in the photos above and below. The other excuse for removal was that these beavers were destroying the Least Bell's Vireo & Southwestern Willow Flycatcher habitat who need willows. This is a sham because beaver actually expand riparian habitats creating more resources for other creatures. In an ironic twist, when the beaver ponds dried out after the beaver were removed and dams destroyed, the invasive Tamarisk moved in and took the place of willows. 
Southern California's Santa Margarita River: Undammed by Man, But Not Beaver
How human dams destabilize river food webs & Beaver Dams stabilize them

Image - Aaron Claverie - The Press-Enterprise
Further references on Lake Skinner Beavers
Management by assertion: beavers and songbirds at Lake Skinner (Riverside County, California)
Practical Application for Biomimicry of both Meandering Floodplains & Beaver Dams
Floodplain Farmlands Benefit Juvenile Western Native Fish
Rain Water Harvesting Infrastructure Design Concepts
Tucson Arizona: Regenerating Parks & Parkways through Biomimicry of Floodplains

Monday, June 26, 2017

What's the real connection between Droughts & Wildfires ?

"There are three things that are never satisfied. There are really four that never say, ‘I’ve had enough!’  These things are the cemetery, the childless mother, the land that never gets enough rain, and Fire that never says, ‘I’ve had enough!’  
Proverbs 30:15-16 (International Children's Bible)
David McNew / Getty Images

I used a children's simplified wording in the above text to help readers understand what was written centuries ago was not only true back then, but even more so today. It describes a reality of certain realities in lifes faced by human beings which are inescapable. You don't even have to accept the bible to agree with what is clearly stated. The common grave of mankind is always hungry and never satisfied for more occupants. Child barreness would be a welcome circumstance to those obsessed with scientific population control by means of eugenics. In a later text at Luke 23:29, a future time of distress is foretold, and the “barren women” it states would be happy, relieved, not having the anguish of seeing their children suffer. I suppose that would be true of our times. Today drought and lack of rain are plaguing many lands all around the globe and the problem is growing and growing as if it's never satisfied. And of course we are experiencing a time of extreme wildfire which is worse today than at any time in the past and fire's hunger (figuratively speaking) seems to never be satisfied. But focussing on the last two subjects, drought (land with no rain) & wildfire, is there really a connection ? Wow, who knew ? Earlier this year, Jennifer Balch, a wildfire ecologist at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and other researchers published findings that 84% of wildfires are now started by humans as opposed to natural causes (lightning, volcanoes, etc). But wait, it gets worse folks. They also emphatically said this:
"In California, the eastern United States, and the coastal Northwest, people are behind more than 90% of wildfires. And, by starting so many fires, humans are essentially lengthening the fire season, into times of the year when natural causes—such as lightning—don’t play a major role."
Really, the West Coast (California, Oregon, Washington & British Columbia) is at 90% human caused wildfires ??? 😕
Science Magazine: "Who is starting all those wildfires? We are"
During these past four or five years, the world's fire ecology experts have been making connections between these furious wildfires and severe droughts which they insist are making wildfires even worse. Droughts can occur in any climate, whether it's hot or cold, dry or humid. So is that true or false ? Yup, it's true. Same thing is true of wildfires. But have you ever noticed in the literature when these two words are almost always surgically linked together by the fire ecologists, that the word "Drought" almost always preceeds the other word "Wildfire" ? The idea conveyed here being that the droughts are responsible for causing the extreme wildfire events we experience today. But you might be interested to know that surprisingly the words should really be in the reverse. Some of NASA's latest research finds that it is most likely the wildfires and diliberate prescribed burning that have helped to bring on the droughts. On the surface, to average folks it might seem only logical that the higher temperatures & lack of rainfall brought on by climate change are expected to increase the amount of moisture that evaporates from land, vegetation and lakes (basically sucking everything dry), which would also cause rainfall patterns to shift to more drought conditions. Hot temperatures coupled with dry conditions would also seem to increase the likelihood of more extreme wildfires. But now the reverse seems to be the cause and folks should not be surprised. Earlier this year,  January 2017, some researchers from NASA provided proof that it's the Wildfires, especially those whose origin has a human causasation are responsible for less rainfall, hotter temperatures & Climate Change. 
"A periodic temperature shift in the Atlantic Ocean, known as the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation, plays a role, as does overgrazing, which reduces vegetative cover, and therefore the ability of the soil to retain moisture. By replacing vegetative cover’s moist soil, which contributes water vapor to the atmosphere to help generate rainfall, with bare, shiny desert soil that merely reflects sunlight directly back into space, the capacity for rainfall is diminished."  
"Another human-caused culprit is biomass burning, as herders burn land to stimulate grass growth, and farmers burn the landscape to convert terrain into farming land and to get rid of unwanted biomass after the harvest season."
Now this I have found fascinating, the idea of herders burning the land to stimulate grass growth to increase grazing productivity for harvesting the animals for food. Where have we heard this before ? One of the major justifications often cited for prescribed burns is that the ecological Native Americans (considered by many experts as the original environmentalist) burned the landscape to create better grazing for animals they made a living off of. But in view of the new information we've received from NASA, are we to believe this was still a good thing environmentally in view of the consequences referenced below as we continue reading ?
As with overgrazing, fires dry out the soil and stymie the convection that brings rainfall. Small particles called aerosols that are released into the air by smoke may also reduce the likelihood of rainfall. This can happen because water vapor in the atmosphere condenses on certain types and sizes of aerosols called cloud condensation nuclei to form clouds; when enough water vapor accumulates, rain droplets are formed. But have too many aerosols and the water vapor is spread out more diffusely to the point where rain droplets don’t materialize."  

Yup, even in the Earth's great oceans, microscopic organisms, along with other organic particles and salt, are thrown into the atmosphere every time an ocean wave breaks. Identifying the chemical composition of sea spray sheds light on how there is an  ocean-cloud connection, and how ocean biology may impact how clouds form and the climate. So too with the natural volatile organic compounds given off by vegetation. Disrupt any of the natural components which enrich our atmosphere with organic compound particles which act as nuclei for water molecules to form droplets and we get less rainfall and more drought. That apparently is what too much fire does.
For example, in years that had more than average burning during the dry season, measurements of soil moisture, evaporation and vegetation greenness—all of which help to trigger rain—decreased in the following wet season. Even within dry seasons, the amount of water decreased in areas with more humid climates as the burning became more severe.  

Illustration - ScienceDirect.com

Back during the early 1980s in the San Jacinto Mountains of Southern California when we had the heavy winter rainfall seasons caused by the El Niño & Hawaian Pineapple Express moist wind jet stream, I noticed that cloud formation during the following Summer's monsoon season was exceptionally heavy and complete. The main reason was heavy moist ground sturation on the surface from winter storms which lasted for months. It was a very green period where nothing turned brown or dry. After this time with normal or drier winters, summer monsoon cloud formation was more isolated as opposed to solid formation over all land mass. The areas where cloud formation was consistent had to do with an untouched area from development and contained old growth vegetation whether it was forest trees or solid old growth chaparral shrubs. The fragrance of aerosol release was also more powerful in those areas as well. Knowing what we do about aerosol importance as a nuclei particle for droplet formation, it makes perfect sense how mechanical or wildfire removal of such natural biological mechanism would stifle cloud formation and rainfall and if large enough effect, create droughts. If enough localized and regional droughts around the globe come together, then we get climate change. But in all the ideological debates we are fed out there by Climate Change champions, almost no one mentions what the NASA folks have provided here as evidence for climate change. Such information just never seems to be mainstream, but always on the fringes. It's much more sexy talking about factories and Coal/Oil in order to score some political points against one's political enemies, than telling the truth by providing a more complete picture of the present situation.
“The removal of vegetal cover through burning would likely increase water runoff when it rains, potentially reducing their water retention capacity and invariably the soil moisture,” Ichoku said. “The resulting farming would likely deplete rather than conserve the residual moisture, and in some cases, may even require irrigation. Therefore, such land cover conversions can potentially exacerbate the drought.”
NASA Study Finds a Connection Between Wildfires and Drought

Illustration - ScienceDriect.com

The illustration above has been adapted from Luiz E. O. C. Aragão's, “The rainforest’s Water Pump” which teaches us that like many ecosystems where much of the rainfall over tropical forests comes from water vapour that is carried by the atmosphere from elsewhere like oceans and falls over land during the rainy season, there is also a large component of mositure which is ‘recycled’ after the rainy season has passed. During what would normally be the dry season, rainwater is pumped by trees from soil into the atmosphere through evapotranspiration. This water exits the forest trees as evapotranspirated vapour infused with aerosols are pumped into the atmosphere where cloud formation is able to take place and again fall as rain in monsoonal thunderstorms. So the water sources does not necessarily have to come from oceans, but rather the land itself. The atmospheric transport of water vapour into the forest is balanced by the exit of water in the form of vapour and run-off. It has been discovered that the world's present mechanized deforestation reduces this important evapotranspiration and inhibits this water recycling. This decreases the amount of moisture carried away by the atmosphere, reducing rainfall in regions to which the moisture is transported. Decreasing evapotranspiration also leads to increase localized run-off and raises river water levels which increases water loss back to the seas.

Some of us (like me for example) generally take certain things for granted until some excellent responsible research comes along and shakes us out of our soft warm and fuzzy blanket comfort zone of ignorance. I always thought drought made fires worse and climate change makes droughts worse. But clearly (& this makes total sense) humans have brought on the very the climate disruptions and severe drought conditions through their incessant agricultural burning (not to mention the stupidity factor in causing wildfires) and irresponsible land stewardship in general that are the result of healthy old growth vegetation removal. BTW, for a long time now, many trees in the western United States have been putting most of their resources into defensive measures to just survive. Very little offensive strategy has been employed into putting available resources into the production of seeds. But that's the way it is with any organism. When times are good for food & water, then we have population explosions. When times are bad, it's all about survival. Oddly enough regions further north have been experiencing what has happened in Southern California since the 1990s. I used to collect seed and back in the late 90s, many pine nuts were hollow.  In recent years researchers have noticed after most of these major fires, very little in the way of pine seedling reappearances were observed after these fires.
Colorado's wildfire-stricken forests showing limited recovery

Image - University of Colorado Boulder
“It is alarming, but we were not surprised by the results given what you see when you hike through these areas,” said Rother, who earned her doctorate from CU Boulder in 2015 and works as a fire ecologist at Tall Timbers Research Station in Tallahassee, Florida.   
Among the most barren sites were those of the 2000 Walker Ranch fire in Boulder County and the 2000 Bobcat Gulch fire in Larimer County, where approximately 80 percent of plots surveyed contained no new young trees.   
“This should be a wake-up call, that under the warming trends associated with human-caused climate change, significant shifts in forest extent and vegetation types are already occurring,” said Veblen. “We are seeing the initiation of a retreat of forests to higher elevations.”   
Previous research has suggested that hotter, more severe fires make it harder for the forest to bounce back by killing mature trees and reducing seed stock. But the study found that even after lower-intensity fires, presumed to have had less effect on mature trees and seed stock, seedlings were still scarce. Hotter, drier areas at lower elevations or on south-facing slopes had the fewest seedlings.

animated image - gutenberg.org
The prevailing paradigm in fire ecology within the Scientific Orthodoxy reminds me of those evil stepsisters from the story of Cinderella where they tried cutting their toes off to fit in that Prince's glass slipper. They insist their narrative version must be true despite what the data says to the contrary. As a general rule, what data they do present for their case is often theory ladened, which means that any claimed observations have been inffected by the theoretical presuppositions held by the fire ecology investigator. There's no shaking the blind faith of a determined fire ecologist who insists life evolved in such and such a way through it's Creator fire or that fire is a kind of hallowed tool used by Indians (Native Americans) who are often considered the ultimate in ecosystem conservation. Facts are Native indigenous peoples of the past and their descendents today were and still are equal in every way to the Europeans they first encountered. This includes not only the capacity for love and goodness, but also the inherited tendency towards flaws and imperfection common to every human on the planet. Yes they used fire. A few may have used it as a type of conservation tool, but they had no more control over it than we do now. There is evidence that they also misused and abused fire for war against their bitter enemies (other Natives, not white men), used fire for hunting down prey chasing 100s of them over a cliff at a time, unattended campfires etc. They also used it for agriculture on a smaller scale which brought about localized or regional droughts centuries ago which doomed some ancient empires in Central and South America (Nazca, Maya & Aztecs). Now take a look below at some satellite photos of cloud formation which clearly exists because of the presence of healthy vegetation, no matter what the plant community ecosystem it is. But seriously, note where and over what the clouds form. Trees & Shrubs!

Image - scantours.net

The photo above is Ascension Island in the South Atlantic. This at one time was a true desert (in the true sense) island with almost most no vegetation other than some mosses, lichens, ferns, and small annuals and/or perennials. I reprinted parts of an article about Ascension Island which came out in 2013 by journalist, Fred Pearce, from Yale Environment 360, where he wrote about how a true desert island was basically transformed by19th cebtury British Sailors who brought in plants for gardens and escaped into the wild and by a Bristish Colonial Botanist, Sir Joseph Hooker, who wanted to actually terraform the island and infuence the increase for rain which was almost zero and provided no water supply. That's all changed now as rainstorms come in and even heavy clouds of mist precipitation provide water for natural ponds and streams.

Image - islandholidays.co.uk

Incredibly, not everyone has been pleased with this islands amazing transformation. The political activist environmental group, Center for Biological Diversity, is strongly opposed to such terraforming because the claim of invasive plants taking over and destroying the tiny native ferns and lichens would be wiped out. This has been proven false. I have kept in contact with the island's conservation officer, Stedson Stroud, who has provided photographs of these rare ferns and lichens actually doing much better by growing on the braches and trunks of this non-native vegetation. The non-native have created a healthier environment which has caused such specimens to grow bigger than they did previously on the desert island environment. People on this planet are going to start questioning who and what so-called non-profit organizations they are putting their trust and money into. Here are two links for which I have written about this remarkable island and it's turn around which has valuable climate change solution teaching lessons for us.
Climate Change and Ascension Island
Ascension Island's Green Mountain Cloud Forest Created by Mist ?

NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens

Image - Yann Arthus-Bertrand 

Orinoco River near the Esmeralda, Amazonas region, Venezuela

Image: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC
The various aerial and satellite images over the past couple of years have fascinated me as to how vegetative land surfaces encourare cloud formation as opposed to bare land or even seas. The picture above shows cloud formation over forest, but not the river. The picture to the right shows cloud formation over these Indonesian islands, but not the surrounding sea. Back in the 1980's a brazilian physicist, Eneas Salati, proved that the rainfall in the Amazon had consequences that are felt across the globe. Only 20–30 % of the rainfall actually stays in the region. Mostly, it evaporates back to the air to be carried by currents to regions such as the Andes, the Atlantic, and the South Atlantic towards South-Africa through phenomena such as cloud formation. If you've followed the news over the past few years, countries bordering Brazil have lost rainfall because of the forest deforestation which has resulted in the dismantling of these cloud formation mechanisms. When large areas are deforested or the forest becomes fragmented, the system of cloud formation breaks down. Put simply, no cloud formation, no rainfall, no rainforest or any other type of vegetated ecosystem.

Some more interesting references:
Science Direct: "Anthropocene" - The significance of land-atmosphere interactions in the Earth system—iLEAPS achievements and perspectives
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory: "Born by Bubbles, Destined for Clouds"

Then there's always that one anomalous Ponderosa Pine discovery somewhere out in Nature observed giving live birth to a Sapling that throws all those sacred Fire Ecology Paradigms out the window & into a tailspin
Image - Jennifer DeMente

Okay I'm only kidding 😆

I'm not exactly keen on this obsession with celebrating fire or justifying it because the Indians (Native Americans or other non-white indigenous peoples) did it. Like modern humans today, they may have responsibly used some fire, but they also misused and abused it which makes them equal to human beings today. I was corrected by a scientist when I referenced my sadness about what has happened with all the human caused fires throughout the mountains surrounding Tucson Arizona. Her response was puzzling as she parroted the modern day secular religious paradigm of all fires being natural. This planet is clearly in trouble if the present failed leadership continues.
Burn Baby Burn - Fire Ecologist Celebrate Fire Season

Friday, June 23, 2017

Floodplain Farmlands Benefit Juvenile Western Native Fish

Think of all sorts of Pacific Salmon varieties including the endangered California Steelhead Trout species. But there's more. In the deserts southwest historically there were once large six foot long native fish once called the "White Salmon" (Colorado Pikeminnow) & the recovering Razorback Sucker. What do all these native fish have in common ? They desparately need meandering river floodplains
Image - Carson Jeffres

SierraClub.org - July 16, 2012
Back in the 1970s, I was intrigued by an article from the Arizona Highways magazine article which told about a Native golden Apache Trout which almost went extinct were it not for the efforts of Biologists working with the Apache Indian Reservation. But they also referenced other native fish, even mentioning that some 35 different species of native fish once occupied the desert aquatic environments of Arizona. That was almost hard to believe. Like California, Arizona has dammed up it's rivers and channeled much of their watercourses to faciliate agriculture and urban sprawl. Take the river channel in photo on the right which has large tall levees on both sides to prevent the ancient floodplain from reappearing and reclaiming it's former territory. This area of Northern California is known as the Yolo By-Pass region where the floodplain is allowed to prevail once a year. Here below is a video of a very long elevated freeway section of Interstate 80 which allows the floodwaters to do their former inundation of the former wetlands landscape.

Of course there have been times (like the recent 1016/17 winter rainy season) when wetter than normal rainfall events have caused the rivers near the delta region to burst these levees in numerous places and reclaim former territories which are now towns, cities and other farmlands. This ends up in the News and the Army Corps of Engineers are called back to the reign in the power of Nature, saddle break it and force it to do what mankind wants and needs it to do. Very little of human infrastructure actually works with Nature instead of against it. Unfortunately humans are learning (too late) the correct course to take, but sometimes things in many areas are just permanently lost. There's no going back. But maybe with a few exceptions.

Image - Yolo County Flood Control - 1993
Here's a prime example above of those horrific flooding events in California's Central Valley back in 1993. Traditionally, almost the entire valley flooded in one way or another. This only happens now after long periods of rainy years where many of the reservoirs overflow their spillways and rivers run again freely with nothing to really block their former historical flow. If the flow is intense enough and more rains come, then breaches in these levees like the one above are common. Take a look at an article about a research study from U.C. Davis where solutions to Salmon decline have been found in rasing them in former floodplains.
The Solution to Restoring the Native Fish populations is restoring the Floodplains
Photos by Jacob Katz

Image - Plos.org

Using Rice fields as floodplain Nurseries
“This study demonstrates that the farm fields that now occupy the floodplain can not only grow food for people during summer, but can also produce food resources and habitat for native fish like salmon in winter,” said lead author Jacob Katz of California Trout. “Our work suggests that California does not always need to choose between its farms or its fish. Both can prosper if these new practices are put into effect, mimicking natural patterns on managed lands. By reconnecting rivers to floodplainlike habitat in strategic places around the Central Valley, they have the potential to help recover endangered salmon and other imperiled fish populations to self-sustaining levels,” said Ted Sommer, lead scientist for the California Department of Water Resources and a co-author on the study. 
Using Rice Fields as Floodplains
Since 2012, a team of scientists has been examining how juvenile salmon use off-channel habitats, including off-season rice fields. The experiments provide evidence that rice fields managed as floodplains during winter can create “surrogate” wetland habitat for native fish.  The team suggests that shallowly flooded fields function in similar ways to natural floods that once spread across the floodplain, supplying extremely dense concentrations of zooplankton — an important food for juvenile salmon. Foraging on these abundant and nutritious invertebrates, the young salmon grow extremely quickly, improving their chances of surviving their migration to sea and returning in three to five years as the large, adult fish. Take note of the succees above of the fish size after being released within the rice field for a month. Representative juvenile Chinook salmon before (top) and after (middle) rearing for six weeks on the Knaggs Ranch experimental agricultural floodplain on Yolo Bypass. Bottom picture is of a tagged Knaggs fish incidentally recaptured in a rotary screw trap in the Yolo Bypass Toe Drain 13 miles downstream of the release site four weeks after the termination of the experiment. These small fish have no real chance of  survival in a large river channel. Too many predators in the deeper river and not enough food trsources for them as would be the case in large shallow bodies of water where the zooplankton and insects thrive in warmer shallow waters.

Update (March 7th 2018)
Jacob Katz, with California Trout, says growing bugs in rice fields could be part of the solution for boosting salmon populations in rivers statewide. 😀
Image - Ezra David Romero/Capital Public Radio
NPR: "A 'Floating Fillet': Rice Farmers Grow Bugs To Replenish California's Salmon" 
Some other articles and references to this floodplain restoration concept to save Salmon and still allow commercial farming
PLOS.org: Floodplain farm fields provide novel rearing habitat for Chinook salmon
Studies show the rice-field fish are larger, healthier and more robust than those in the river at the same age

Image - Biographic 

So many of the native species of Colorado River basin native fish have disappeared for the very same reasons that have troubled the Salmon. Some are making a comeback and their story is not so dissilmilar to the Salmon rebound of California. The native fish above is the Razorback Sucker, but it itself is not the top predator. That would be the Colorado Pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus lucius) which ranged throughout the Colorado Drainage Basin as far south as the San Pedro River in southeastern Arizona into Mexico where old west historical accounts of six foot long fish were said to be common. In fact it could rival any large Salmon, even called at one time by the common name, White Salmon. But the deeper waters of the modern Colorado River which has been controlled by dams and channelization to keep it from flooding into former floodplains has hurt the reproduction efforts of many of the native fish which once dominated the river. Below is the story of the Razorback Sucker as seen in the picture above.

Image - Biographic

Image - Biographic
The fingerlings here have been captured by the researchers using a seigning net along the shallows where small fingerlings would be located. While you look at this bag of small fish on the right, only four were actually Razorback Suckers. The others were Bluehard Suckers and Flannelhead Suckers. Both native and that is good thing, but their main goal was the Razorbacks. Apparently these Scientists captured both adult Razorback Suckers and larvae in the canyon, but they didn’t find any juveniles or sub-adults. Just mature adults and larvae. These adults were living in Lake Mead and moving up the canyon to spawn. But again, beyond finding the Razorback larvae, there were no larger juveniles which indicated a problem. 

Image - Biographic
The only way to tell Razorback Sucker larvae (at the bottom) from more common cousins like Bluehead Suckers (top) and Flannelhead Suckers (middle) is through a microscope, using diagnostics like the density of back speckles and muscle fibers. So the other sucker species were doing okay, just not the razorbacks. The Glen Canyon Dam made the Colorado River simultaneously more stable, by eliminating massive spring floods, and more volatile, by instituting unnatural tide levels in the river. By tides we are basically talking about higher and lower water levels fluctuating regularly, something unnatural to this river canyon. In the Arizona morning, millions of people in Phoenix and other desert cities flick on their lights and air conditioners, then the dam managers crank up flows through Glen Canyon’s hydroelectrical turbines to meet power demand. But then at night they power back the turbines. These water level fluctuations in the river are called hydropeaking, because they cause the river to rise and fall by several feet each day. This messes with the aquatic ecosystem's biological food supply, especially for the tiny fish. More on that in a moment. 

Image - Biographic
At several days old, larval Razorback Suckers have developed little more than digestive tracts, leading some biologists to dub them, "squiggles with eyes." Doesn't such scientific intellect speak just make your spine tingle and hairs stand up on the back of your neck ? Whatever. What they found was that the Colorado River canyon was almost completely bereft of mayflies, stoneflies, and caddisflies, river-edge specialists whose eggs are most likely to be exposed and desiccated by this hydropeaking. Tiny blackflies, which lay eggs in open water, are relatively unfazed by tides, but they don’t compensate fish for the loss of the more nourishing prey. Scarce food, more than perhaps any other factor (like larger predator fish), is what's holding native fishes back from increasing within their native habitat.
During our second day on the river, we pulled over to run our seines along a cobble bar. Nothing. Healy knelt to inspect the lifeless rocks. “In every other river, that cobble would be covered with caddis and mayflies and all kinds of algae,” he said glumly. “Here you don’t see anything because these huge tidal fluctuations leave it dry half the time.”   
Even in the pre-dam era, Healy added, the Grand Canyon’s tight confines would have challenged larval razorbacks, which prefer to grow up in wide, shallow floodplains. What little habitat the canyon had once afforded, hydropeaking now erodes and dries out. “Razorbacks need warm, stable habitats full of food to get out of that larval stage,” Healy said. “They’re not getting that here.”
Biographic: In Search of Suckers

Photo: Michael Short, The Chronicle
Unfortunately other than giving honorable mention to floodplain shallows back prior to dam construction on the Colorado River and lack of shallows for pond insects and the zooplankton which would feed the little Razoeback Squiggles and other fish larvae, the Biographic article goes no further with it than that. Too bad because creating such artificial floodplain settings would probably go along way in making successful larval transition into larger juveniles and sub-adults. Like the farm/floodplain experiments which have proved quite successful in fattening up small Salmon fingerlings on zooplankton like that in the jar above right and later on aquatic insects who appear later. Below you can see the various forms of large aquatic insect life that help the California Salmon move up the food chain. The Grand Canyon Park Service quite often sings the praises with great enthusiasm about the canyon’s bizarre native fish, defending them against the complaints of the sport fish anglers who’d prefer to see the place given over to rainbow trout. And that's probably one of the biggest obstacles to recovery. The original intent of satisfying sport fishermen who were used to game fish from back east. Brian Healy, their lead fish biologist for Grand Canyon National Park, said this about the sport fisherman, “You always get that one guy who says, ‘Well, can you eat ‘em? No? Then what good are they?’” Such a typical response reveals ignorance of how an aquatic system actually works. If the average farmer has little understanding of how a natural ecosystem works in supplying plants with nutrients and in naturally maintaining checks and balances for keeping pests under control and trusts only what Industrial Ag Science tells him, then why should your average fisherman be any different ??? 😞

animated illustration - fcps.edu
And that is the other issue is humans having this need to see instant gratification in the way they view something's worth or value to them. In the Pacific Northwest and in California, it's much more easy to argue for conserving the Salmon, a fish that sustains the Native peoples and keeping the multi-million dollar commercial fisheries in profit. But here in the Southwest, it is considerably harder challenge to make the case for the humpback chub and razorback sucker, two species that support no industry, provide no tangible ecosystem services from the average person's perspective (which exposes their ignorance), and are effectively invisible to the overwhelming majority of park visitors. And yet this shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. The California river systems and other native fish there like the Delta Smelt, while not being a sport fish, do provide a further food source for larger sub-adult Salmon. And yet the idea of saving and preserving the Delta Smelt habitat is something controversial because of large scale industrial agricultural business interests and industrial water aqueduct construction interests.

Image - Ben Kiefer/UDWR
Take special note here of a native Colorado River fish called the Colorado Pikeminnow. This one in the photo on the right was caught by Logan Johnson who is holding a Colorado Pikeminnow on the Middle Green River in Whirlpool Canyon which is a tributary river north of the Colorado River. From the historical accounts and oldest photographs in existence regarding this fish, the one Logan here is holding is a juvenile by comparison to old photographs of fishermen holding six foot long Pikeminnows from their head to the ground. Such sizes no longer exist, but this really illustrates how such a western fish could have been a large game fish which is supported by the smaller less desirable sucker species we've been discussing. Again, all of this aquatic life starts with small tributaries and floodplains. 

Image - Tom Teske & Google Earth

Image - Tom Teske
The  image above is Tom Teske's of El Centro novice attempt to show the lake level near the beach. The view is toward Fish Creek Mts. But I believe he's done a very good job of illustrating the expansive shallows of the ancient Lake Cahuilla shoreline. This area would have been a prime spawning habitat area of shallow floodplains along ancient Lake Cahuilla's western shore. Incredibly, the Cahuilla Indians constructed numerous shallow fish traps, for which several bones of native Colorado River fish were present possibly by the millions. These fish traps above right are up near the city of Indio/Thermal in the southern Coachella Valley. In both traps and camps sites where the Cahuilla peoples lived, many of these fish bones have been found. I have no doubt that the larger Colorado Pikeminnow (formerly Colorado Squawfish) were in present in Lake Cahuilla in the deeper portions of the ancient lake, but the Humpback Chub and Razorback Sucker were smaller and apparently spawning along the shoreline. Clearly the Cahuilla Indians would have easily observed this shallow spawning behaviour. I've also seen this Razorback spawning habit in the sandy shallow shorelines of Lake Havasu along the California and Arizona border. So have others. Who hasn't as a kid figured out how to trap fish with cobblestone river rocks in a small stream and tried to catch them in a bucket ? We use to devise simplistic contraptions like that. The natives would have also made some type of special reed basket fishtrap for scouping up their prey like the one below I referenced from the Oakland Museum. 

Image - Tome Teske

These traps above are some other unique fish traps on the western edge of ancient Lake Cahuilla further south in Imperial county and are radically different from those of the Indio fish traps further north. Certainly the stones are much different. Altogether they have discovered around 69 of these traps on the shallow flats. I've posted an example of a common native American fish trapping basket that may have been close to what the Cahuilla would have built and  used. Interestingly they have found the bones of native the Colorado River fish down here as well. Ninety-eight percent of the fish bones found at these archaeology sites are bonytail chub and razorback sucker which we discussed above. Both of these fish thrived in the warm, productive, plankton-rich environment of Lake Cahuilla. Remember, such shallows afforded these tiny delicate  babies an opportunity to fatten up and move upwards in the food chain where insects would have become part of their diet. The reeds and other tules would have offered protection from predators, though many would have become food sources for many other lifeforms like birds. Still once big enough, they would have moved out into deeper water only to become prey for the top predator, the Colorado Pikeminnow. Also something else to ponder, with open access from the outflow of lake Cahuilla south of Mexicali to the Sea of Cortez by means of an extremely expansive delta, who knows what else may have entered the lake from the sea at one time. Perhaps the endangered almost extinct Vaquita porpoise and other fish we know almost nothing about. Some fish do migrate from sea to fresh water and back again. There is so much we will never know. But floodplains play major roles if only people will utilize them again. Fortunately the present system as it stands now has no future. Only then will things heal to the point of recovery and improvement far better than they were before.

What was once the Colorado Delta Floodplain once was (1905) and what it is today (2017)
Image - National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

Important References