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2019-10-11 Lack & Lindsey Road

Clark's Grebe - Aechmophorus clarkii
Along the Southeastern shoreline of the Salton Sea near the intersection of Lack and Lindsey Roads in Imperial County California.

I spent an enjoyable afternoon near the Salton Sea at Vendel Road on Thursday. I left there early Friday morning and drove east, and then north to the southeastern beaches; a stretch of lakeshore I call “Lack and Lindsey Road”. It seems inevitable that the shoreline will continue receding, but I can’t help but feel disturbed each time I see the water level fall.

The natural 500 year cycles that caused the ancient lakes to form in this deep basin seem unlikely to ever happen again. As long as the dams placed along the Colorado River remain intact, the cycles of flooding and sediment delivery can no longer take place. These dams divert most of the water to support the exploding populations in the southwestern USA, and no longer carry these life-giving supplies to the river delta in the Gulf of California. Because of these man-made alterations to the ecosystem, this important historical refueling station for migrating birds began to collapse during the early 20th century.

It was a fortunate accident that caused the Colorado River to flow unabated for two years into the Salton Sink in the early 1900s, creating the present day lake and providing migrating birds an alternate location for refueling. Unless humans intervene to prevent the inevitable drying of the Salton Sea, this important ecological resource will disappear.

Freshwater in the American Southwest is not a resource that could be allocated in the quantities required to solve the problem. The Salton Sink is several hundred feet below sea level. Gravity and/or syphoning of sea water from the Gulf of California could provide the solution, if only humans could get behind the idea that it needs to be done.

Bird welfare may not be enough justification to pursue a solution for “civilized” society, but air pollution is an issue that might persuade action by the powers that be. Studies have shown that airborne dust blown up from the exposed shore is causing a health issue for humans. So if not for the birds, maybe we could look to solve the dilemma for people!

The locations here I’ve used for capturing bird images in the past, are becoming less viable. I was successful to a certain degree on this morning, but it seems unlikely that my old tricks will work in the future. I did the best I could on this Friday morning. Here are a few images I was able to capture.

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