The Salton Sea SRA

Trip Start Dec 27, 2009
Trip End Apr 20, 2010

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Flag of United States  , California
Friday, April 2, 2010

The first of the month arrived but everyone was ready to get underway.  With stops planned in both Joshua Tree NP and Death Valley NP we plotted a route north through California via the Salton Sea.   The Salto Sea is California's largest body of water covering an area 15 by 35 miles. We are traveling with our winter neighbors at the moment and so are not totally on our own schedule.  I don't think this stop was everyone's 'cup of tea' but Don and I have marked it for a return visit at a time when the migrating birds are more prolific.  Even at this time of year there was lots to see.  The SRA site gives this description:
'One of the world's largest inland seas and lowest spots on earth at -227 below sea level, Salton Sea was re-created in 1905 when high spring flooding on the Colorado River crashed the canal gates leading into the developing Imperial Valley.  For the next 18 months the entire volume of the Colorado River rushed downward into the Salton Trough.  By the time engineers were finally able to stop the breaching water in 1907, the Salton Sea had been born at 45 miles long and 20 miles wide – equaling about 130 miles of shoreline.  Salton Sea State Recreation Area covers 14 miles of the northeastern shore and has long been a popular site for campers, boaters and anglers.  Increasing salinity in the Salton Sea basin has limited the number of types of fish that can be found there, and most fish currently caught are Tilapia.' 

After trudging through shells - the walking was tough - we decided to check out the west side of the lake.  After passing through the Imperial Valley and miles on miles of hot dry desert we were amazed to discover vineyards and intensive market at the north end of the lake.  However, when traveling south on the west side of the lake we were soon back into desert-scape.  This side of the lake is privately owned and years ago was someone's dream for lakeside development.  There were miles and miles of serviced land - paved roads, electricity, etc - all with a view of the lake, but only a sprinkling of houses.  I wonder if this was all part of Sonny Bono's dream to save the Salton Sea while he was mayor of Palm Springs, and later as a member of Congress?  More likely it occurred earlier during the period when the Sea was a popular weekend and vacation retreat - before the high salinity of the water turned people away.  The linked CNN report states that by the 1970s, as the sea grew heavy with salt, sewage and agricultural chemicals, disease outbreaks began to kill birds and fish. Tourists stopped coming, as debates raged of what to do about the Salton Sea's woes.  Whenever it occurred, it makes me think of the book that Don is reading The World Without Us  by Alan Weisman and the discussion of how long it would take for the earth to return to its natural state.

The sunset over the Salton Sea was yet another bonus.

We woke to clear skies and decided to take a shoreline walk in the other direction - we had discovered a pathway for easier walking.  It was a treat as we could get up close to some of the birds using the Salton Sea as a resting place on their way north.  The Salton Sea is on one of north americas major flyways so if you are there in the right season there is lots for the birder to enjoy.  Even at this late date, there was plenty of action for us to enjoy.

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Mary on

I read that book. What a chain of events would occur if we weren't here buggering everything up. Sort of a no win situation eh?

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