Just another stunning site



SAN DIEGO 12 pose on the boardwalk of Tombstone AZ…

For the second time in two years, the WYATT EARP LOOK-A-LIKE COMPETITION “was scratched” because no one signed up. What happens when you throw a four day event no one shows up to compete as the reigning “WYATT EARP” at the premier OLD WEST location with all the bragging rights, TOMBSTONE, AZ, Home to the ShootOut at the OK Corral, Boothill, Crystal Palace, the Birdcage, Kevin Costner’s “Wyatt Earp” and Val Kilmer’s Doc Holiday in “TOMBSTONE”. Hundreds of people come from all over the world to walk in Wyatt Earp’s footstep, to follow Earp, Doc Holiday, brothers Virgil and Morgan strutting into the OK Corral and telling the bad guys to throw down their guns and throw up their hands, “They’re under arrest and goin to jail.” Its possible folks feel Earp’s footstep may be too large and haunting to settle in for an entire year because there was many EARP want-a-be who enjoyed getting out for the long weekend and living the past for four days, perhaps they thought “walking on water” for an entire year might be too much. Still for two years running, the competition was scrapped while the competition for dance hall girls, specialty entries like 1992 Tombstone Movie Actor, and town folks were very competitive and had the judges pulling on their beards and squinting in the late May glare of day. In the crowd, I found a “dance hall” mother with her “cowgirl” daughter, a Pinkerton Agent, the Duke was there, Johnny Ringo, Ike Clanton, John Behan, Curly Bill Brocius, Big Nose Kate, Johnny Rebs, Mexican Bandiditos (one was really ugly) and Charros and yes, Morgan, Vigil and Wyatt were there so were there wives and they strolled the boardwalks and occasionally would pause and reflect the scene in “TOMBSTONE” when Kurt Russell lines up the family in a window reflection and marvels at life’s blessings. “We’re from San Diego!” for the past four years the group of twelve has been coming to Tombstone and “living the dream”. For many they just love the old west and the legends, and for some specifically the antics of one person at a time and place in history. How does did this group get its’ start? “It all started with a vest”, says Vinny Skandunas. “He made one for himself, the next year he made another, and a third vest was made the year following and the rest, the boots, jackets, sidearms, knives, hand fans, corsets, dresses just followed and here we are again, Esther Skandunas says.specialitycatagoryjudging

I tapped one cowpoke’s shoulder one year to ask a question and found he spoke no English, strictly German, but looked like he belonged and was born there. The bartender at the Crystal Palace remembers one very slow night when ten cowpokes wandered into the bar and quietly settled at the bar. He didn’t know a one of them, but they looked the part, it wasn’t til the third round when they started getting loud and very German. “‘It was great” says the bartender, “they had a great time til closing, so did I and as they left they said they’d be back, but they haven’t been back yet. The APACHE SPIRIT RANCH, three miles north of Tombstone, opened its door last fall and was already completely booked in April. Early on it catered strictly to Europeans, mostly Germans and Swedes, who like the owner grew up on tales of the American West and the Indian. Wanting to build a bridge between the noble Redman and White man, the Apache Spirit Resort has a couple Chiricahua Apache, a Blackfoot, a Hopi and some World-class Hoop Dancers who visit the ranch and teach the Europeans their ways of life. The last week in September and the first week in Octobers, the Resorts will celebrate the Native American’s contribution to the Old West, with different programs each night. While the Resort’s nightly stay is over $200 a night, that does include all meals, campfires, gunfights and programs, including the horseback outings both morning and evening and you get to meet real indians. The seventeen rooms lineup with old west fronts like the Post Office, the Newspaper, Kittie’s Bordello, with the multi-room suites going for between $400-$500 a day. The onsite Trappmann Saloon has a glass floor highlighting the old ranches root cellar where its residence reportedly hid from raiding APACHES and a bare bulb illuminates the supply room and a skeleton. “It’s an Ebay skeleton ! It came in pieces and took forever to piece together.” Last week, the Resort held a horseback wedding for a Minnesota couple, they can do it all, wifi anywhere for laptop packing guests, even the pool area. Still Americans are welcome, “Americans are so easy going! says the very perky German office manager, Germans complain so much. We enjoy the Americans visits so much, Germans are always so picky and always complaining about the service, she adds, “Americans are so laid back.”
So TOMBSTONE, AZ is at a crossroads. Since the shooting at the OK CORRAL, the town has depended upon volunteers (Lion’s Club) to run the show, local Gunfighter groups participate and the Arizona Rangers have provided security and traffic control and apathy has slowly eroded the OLD WEST Experience probably because more and more is asked of fewer and fewer (thirteen, I’m told) people. This year some folks were doing four jobs, daily programs were nowhere to be found, phone calls in advance assured callers that locals were clueless, no ads in local newspapers and the website was dated. The question is Why Kill the Golden Goose? You have the franchise on something folks come from all over the world to see, to participate in and to hear and feel. They love TOMBSTONE, AZ ! Make it a good experience and they love it and return. Make it a bad experience and slowly nobody comes back. It’s an easy choice, and the time to choose has come.

Take steps to save the past now and Tombstone’s future. Encourage the traveling Old West re-enactors, trick gunfighters, the folks from Virginia City, Nevada and Lincoln, New Mexico, western bands, beer gardens, let the old west wash over you, drink deep and quench your thirst.



Mt Lemmon SkyCenter is left over Air Force Radar Base with Command Control Communications for Titan Missile Bases deployed during the Cold War in the Tucson Basin.
Hawk Eye Mark Kimble points the way…
Our recent outing to the Mt Lemmon SkyCenter was probably the most refreshing experience I have had in months. After a slide briefing and a tasty light dinner the group moved from the Education Center to the mountains western edge to enjoy the sun set on Northwest Tucson and to look for the amazing “green flash” … As darkness fell we familiarized ourselves with starfinders and exploring the constellations in the sky overhead with binoculars and then moved inside to explore with the 32 inch scope. It continued to get chilly and before the program ended around 10 pm, it was flat out cold. Perhaps, the most amazing view we enjoyed was the large scope’s view of Saturn. We also visited various nebuli edgewise or otherwise, enjoying many age old views dating back to the beginning of the universe …

The SkyNights experience is offered nightly throughout the year. Learn the constellations, observe interesting atmospheric phenomena, and view the wonders of the cosmos from a high-quality astronomical site using an outstanding new 32-inch Schulman Telescope…Arizona’s largest dedicated public viewing telescope !
ASTRONOMER NIGHTS is a Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter program in which visitors observe as professional astronomers for 1 or 2 evenings. As a visitor for this extended observing program, YOU become the astronomer investigating the cosmos and deciding how the night unfolds. This unique astronomical experience for $750 a day includes: observing at a telescope with an astronomer/guide, acquiring high quality data, lodging on site in astronomer dormitories, and data and image processing by astrophotographer Adam Block.
YOUTH OBSERVER NIGHTS SkyCenter provides programs to youth groups (middle school and older) to learn about the night sky. SkyCenter staff will modify our standard program for your group based on your needs. SkyCenter has worked with school groups, girls scouts and boy scouts and clubs. Groups have access to the 20-inch Jamieson telescope or the 32-inch Schulman telescope. These programs can be overnights as well as one evening.
Discovery Days is a summer/fall day-time weekend opportunity to escape the summer heat. UA Science hosts various hands-on and family-oriented activities at the SkyCenter such as investigations of hummingbirds, solar observing, searches for near-Earth asteroids, and tree-rings. During 2011, Discovery Days will open the facility the third Saturday of June, July, August and September from 10 am to 4 pm. Join in various activities and learn about the history of the site while escaping the heat. You can stay for the SkyNights program (separate cost) to complete your investigation of science on the mountain. $8 adult and $5 children (12 and under)
SKY ISLAND CAMPS AND WORKSHOPS explore the science and culture of the unique sky island environment, from the forces that built the mountains to the impact of fires to the amazing night skies. Cost includes use of telescopes and telescope operation, rooms (double occupancy), and all meals. Adult-to-camper ratio is 1:6 with separate accommodations (with supervision) for male and female campers. You’ll leave from the UA early Monday morning and return late Friday afternoon. The exact schedule for the camp is weather dependent, but suggested activities include time on the 32-inch Schulman telescope, a Laboratory of Tree Ring Research project, and exploration of geology, ecology, art, and photography. This is a UA Science program in conjunction with Biosphere 2. For more information, visit
THE SkyCenter’s Astrophotography program is a unique and awe-inspiring opportunity to peer beyond the blue horizons of southwestern skies and explore the astronomical wonders of the Universe. We’ll not only looking through the telescope but also capture the views through a CCD camera. Reknown astrophotographer, Adam Block, will take you through the process of how he creates these amazing images that have earned him worldwide recognition. During this six hour program you will navigate the night sky with binoculars and skycharts then gaze at spectacular planets, galaxies, and nebulae with the 32-inch Schulman Telescope. Cost: $75/person

Saturn Astrophotography by Adam Brock on the Mt Lemmon SkyCenter 24 inch telescope

Pusch Ridge viewed from Tucson NorthWest side is an hour’s drive and at least 35 miles away. Mt Lemmon distant green ridges at left


(from left) Bill Badger, Patricia Maisch, Roger Salzgeber the night before Endeavour launched.

THE GOOD GUYS got their first break January Eight in that Tucson Arizona Safeway parking lot when the deranged gunman aimed at Col. Bill Badger’s head and missed. Bill ducked and felt the bullet graze the top of his head as his blood began to flow, Bill and Roger Salzgeber heroically charged the gunman tackling him to the ground and giving Patricia Maisch the opportunity to grab the fresh clip from the struggling gunman hands. Ending the mass murder of six persons and the wounding of 13 others, including Tucson Congresswomen Gabrielle Giffords. Patricia Maisch says she’s an ordinary person who did nothing more than what anyone else in her position would have done–had they been there. That may be, but I know when I first read of this trio’s deeds I know I got that chill in my spine that I reserve for heroic acts and big doins and I know truly in my heart they are my heroes. Since that day, they have been written about, quoted and ask to comment. They have struggled to return to way things were. For some the spotlight is too bright. Daniel Hernandez, the Gifford’s Volunteer who exposed himself to gunfire giving first aid to the Congresswomen, he was introduced to the nation by President Obama, lent his support to change gun laws has now sought to return to his studies, struggling to be ordinary again. Still others hope interest will fade but Gifford staff member Mark Kimble, sends out an hundreds of updates daily, and fields more than 200 emails a day asking about the Congresswomen recovery. Time Magazine named Giffords “One of a Hundred of the Most Influential People in the World Today”, while in a Houston hospital recovering from her wounds. The Trio was honored by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department in April awarding each Badger, Maisch, Salzgeber the Department’s Citizen’s Medal presented by Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik.
FOUR MONTHS AFTER ALL THIS STARTED…. these folks have worked to make something good and positive come from this common experience and that has drawn everyone every close particularly Badger, Salzgeber and Maisch to each other, as well as, with the Giffords staff themselves. So when Commander Mark Kelly’s Shuttle launch was scheduled the Giffords staff was able to obtain credentials for the Tucson trio to view the launch from the congressional viewing area. Badger, Salzgeber and Maisch agree a real hero Is someone who blasts himself into space with little regard for their own safety for love of country, much like Commander MARK KELLY and the crew of Space Shuttle Endeavour, named after Captain Cook’s ship that sailed first around the world, another heroic journey. But Endeavour’s Launch represented something else for Tucson, news was Gabby would watch the launch and her doctors thought her well enough to travel to see ENDEAVOUR launch into space to visit the International Space Station and return, heroes indeed. The United States needs heroes-so when Gabrielle Giffords watches the golden glow of Endeavour punching through the low hanging clouds and hoots “Good Stuff”, it is good stuff indeed and everyone deserves to get that tingle in their spine that tells us heroes are amongst us and “good stuff” is goin on…


Patricia Maisch and Bill Badger with wife Sally meet Mike Collins, one of a few astronauts who left sub-orbit. in 1969 Collins flew APOLLO 11 into lunar orbit in the Command Module Columbia and patiently circled while Neal Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin went to the surface in the Lunar Module Eagle. After a day on the Moon’s Sea of Tranquility. Buzz and Neil rendezvoused with Collins and he took them back home to Earth. His instructions were to return with or without the lander crew.LIFTOFF ! SPACE SHUTTLE ENDEAVOUR’S LAST WORLD TOUR photo is the NASA official portrait of the crew members of STS-134. The crew members are Commander Mark Kelly, Pilot Gregory H. Johnson and Mission Specialists Michael Fincke, Greg Chamitoff, Andrew Feustel and European Space Agency astronaut Roberto Vittori. All mission specialists. Heroes one and all…NASA PHOTO




The studies of Yuman People by South West Anthropologist Leslie Spier center on interviews of folks in their 70-80’s in the mid-1930’s about their early life, one chapter dealt with Shaman or religious leaders capable of astro-projection, in this tale the leader slept on when and where to attack his enemy and in his sleep he saw his enemy camped behind a mountain and the next days his warriors found the encampment where it was reported.
The Blythe Geoglyphs or Intaglios may have been a prayer to their God and the drawings an intimate communication with a divine figure who they associated with the river. Nearby another man shape is seen near another glyph of an animal, the light shapes were created by moving aside the rock or soil cement covering of the hard landscape revealing the desert floor beneath it, the removed rock, has been covered by a rock varnish or patina, which darkens the desert floor in contrast to the lightly-colored sand. Three different Arizona Tribes have found explanations for the Blythe Intaglios in their origin stories, the Mohave, the Hopi and the Quechan Tribe who said the large figure was one of a evil giant from the Parker area who terrorized folks living along the river and those folks solicited help from the God of the Sea who saw their plight and sent a large octopus upstream to entice the giant stream side and then two tentacles grabbed his legs and two grabbed his arms and dragged him into the stream and finally in a huge struggle drowning the evil giant and taking the body back downstream to the sea. The octopus is seen in the glyph next to the man drawing whereas the other two tribal versions claim that drawing to be one of a mountain lion who assisted their deity in the creation of the world.

Octopus vs Mt Lion ? Personally I think it has a tail and not eight arms, but I much prefer the Octopus tale…

side view

Geoglyphs are found elsewhere along the River, Patton’s tanks drove over one glyph their tank tracks run through it damaged in training for WWII. The Fisherman is found on the Arizona side near Bouse north of Quartzite, it shows another man shape, this one with a spear, apparently fishing in the river and the spear’s point is made entirely of quartz, overhead is a fiery sun. There are fish in the stream. THE FISHERMAN, this geoglyph is found 25 miles from the river next to a trail used by natives accessing the stream and is thought to be a prayer to their God to reward their journey with a bounty of fish for their efforts. In recent years many more glyphs have been found and many more protected by fencing, like the Bouse Fisherman. Elsewhere is the Fort Mohave Twin figures, the Parker Rattlesnake, which is 50 meters in length, the Mystic Maze, The Racetrack, The Shaman or the Horse Intaglio thought to be a commemoration of the first meeting of natives peoples with a horse and is therefore historically much younger in age and distinctly more artful horse design. Horse Intaglio Elsewhere we find mounds, interlocking ovals, geometric circles, Vision Quest Circles and Power Circles have been identified and some studied like the Lizard which is 8 meters in length, the Spider is 8 meters square or the Quechan Stickman which is 25 meters by 6 meters and is incorporated into a prehistoric foot trail according to Boma Johnson’s 1986 BLM study of the EARTH FIGURES of the LOWER COLORADO and GILA RIVER DESERTS.. More than two-hundred images have been discovered along the river from Nevada to the Gulf of California. All told, six-hundred-plus geoglyphs have been recorded in the Southwest and nearby areas of Mexico.


Quartzsite Intaglio Earthworks



The Howitzer and the Missile both had a 20 mile range.HONEST JOHN MISSILE
The South West is under attack or it may seem so if you are driving along west of the Colorado River on the California side and
suddenly you brake when you notice Weapons of Mass Destruction stashed in the desert just off CASR 95 near the Yuma Proving Grounds, 32 miles north of Yuma.
A roadside pullout allows you to wander through Vietnam-era self propelled howitzers, World War II tanks, missiles that ended the Korean Police Action and the smallest missile in the US Arsenal capable of delivering a nuke, along with some big brothers, like the Honest John, capable of carrying a 5000 pound payload 20 miles away, hits within 250 yards of target, but with nukes, who cares? All of war machines on display were tested and developed for the US Ground War here at the Yuma Proving Grounds. The testing grounds got its start during WWII when the US needed to develop better bridging capability, so they moved to the desert where the Colorado River stretches 1450 miles across the WEST. Every Year more than 500,000 artillery, mortar and missiles are fired, 36,000 parachute drops take place and 4000 air sorties are flown from YPG which is one of the largest military installation’s in the World, it includes 1300 square miles on both sides of the Arizona and California Line. Yuma Proving Grounds 6000 plus foot runways at Laguna Army Airfield grabbed the hedlines recently when a passing by SouthWest Airlines Jet began to loose its skin covering and the pilot make an emergency landing at Laguna Field. Everyone survived, thankful for Yuma Proving Grounds stuck out in the middle of nowhere, which was there to save them when they needed it. Many troops train in Yuma before shipping out, most all of the equipment they use is developed and tested there before deploying to the troops. Yuma has a stake in the glorious past of the American Military and its Future. As you drive the 200 miles of improved road making up this military reservation you will find our military’s colorful past scattered tastefully along the side of the roadway as if some performance artist ran amuk with a huge crane until running into two big MP’s who took him away quietly… Leaving the past behind…
Old War Horse
closeup of OWH track
“OLD WAR HORSE” or the General Stuart, a light tank which lead infantry with its 37mm cannon, almost 6,000 where built and deployed from 1941 but by 1944 German counterparts outgunned the light tank who found its start in the desert sands of Yuma. Some of the earliest construction on the YPG was done by Italian POW’s captured in North Africa, and who were allowed weekly trips to Yuma, they went home in 1945.

The M107 (right) a Vietnam-era howitzer fired 174 pound 105mm projectiles 20 miles, the M386 Launcher with a 762 mm Honest John Rockets had an early range of 15 miles but with shorter fins and better rifling increased range to more than 30 miles. Manned Honest John Rocket with M386 Launcher



ARIZONA’S COLOR WEEK can be blinding and that can be dangerous in a place where everything will either stick, sting or bite you so get a grip before venturing out into the GREAT SONORAN DESERT. Always carry water, if you don’t need it, someone else might ! Make sure your tires and spare is in good condition and tell someone where you are going, when you will be home and charge your cellphone battery and your camera battery. Now relax and enjoy the drive and in almost any direction you care to venture fro Tucson or Phoenix ! Two weeks ago, the Palo Verde Tree took on its annual golden coat and the Hedgehog Cactus showed off its purple bloom, a few weeks earlier, a few poppies and lupine made a wildflower showing but 2011 will not be a memorable year. Since then, old reliable favorites, everyone is getting into the act, the Cholla has green, yellow, red blooms and the prickly-pears ever present abundant yellow bloom, the Octillo blooms red, and the white Saguaro bloom has already begun to show in spite of its big show in early June but the Sonoran Desert will be in riotous color for the next month as this land begins to heat up for a long, unrelenting summer, interrupted only by the monsoon rains … April is the only month when I have seen Gila Monsters out walking around, it is their mating season so they tend to prowl a bit more and they raise he ante for folks who never look where they are putting their feet and hands. Those are the folks who tend to get stung or bitten. Rattlesnake have made a showing in every month of the year but this time of the year they are out, but moving onto the warmer shoulders of roadways in the early evenings so take a flashlight for your walk back and wear boots not tennies, stepping on a snake is the best way to get bit! Who carries a plastic comb anymore in this digital age, you should, nothing works better in removing the “dreaded jumping cholla” from the back of your leg. Scorpions can be found under most any rock, the sting of the tiny Bark Scorpion, can last twelve hours and will lay out a big guy, for relief apply ice…. A macro focusing lens can be helpful but a close-focusing telephoto allows you to work at a safer distance. The Sonoran Desert is well known for its quality of light but blooms tend to open after sunup and spread their petals as the sun warms the day so late afternoon may be best time to venture out to see what is going on right in your own backyard.



Imperial Dam

Until the early 20th century the Colorado River ran free from its headwaters in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado southwest into Mexico, where it flowed into the Gulf of California, Significant quantities of nourishing silt from throughout the Colorado River Basin were carried downstream, creating the vast Colorado River Delta. Prior to the construction of major dams along its route, the Colorado River fed one of the largest desert estuaries in the world. Spread across the northernmost end of the Gulf of California, the Colorado River delta’s vast riparian, freshwater, brackish, and tidal wetlands once covered almost two Million acres and supported a large population of plant, bird, and marine life. Because most of the river’s flow reached the delta at that time, its freshwater, silt, and nutrients helped created and sustain a complex system of wetlands that provided feeding and nesting grounds for birds, and spawning habitat for fish and marine mammals. In contrast to the surrounding Sonoran Desert, the Colorado River delta’s abundance was striking so says .

Lake Havasu
Parker Dam

When Parker Dam was built in 1938, the valley slowly began to fill and initially Lake Havasu was once a segment of the mighty Colorado River. As the Lake has grown to 45 miles, in 1964, Lake Havasu City Incorporated and today it has a population for over 50,000 residents. The main business drive, through town and across the London Bridge to the Island paradise of shops, restaurants, bars is McCulloch Drive, named after an oil tycoon who in the late 1950’s spotted from the air the perfect place to test his motor boats and engines. In 1964, Robert P. McCulloch purchased 26 square miles of property in western Arizona (at a cost of $73.47 per acre it was the largest single tract of land ever sold in Arizona. At the time, there were no buildings or paved roads in the area. But the land was all along the Colorado River, just hours from Southern California, Las Vegas and Phoenix, making Lake Havasu City, a prime vacation, second homes and retirement destination for boating, golfing, off-roading and sun-loving enthusiasts. Lake Havasu has been the Arizona home of the “ London Bridge” since 1971 when McCulloch bought the bridge, had it shipped to America and then reconstructed it over the man made channel separating the island and the main land of Lake Havasu City.
London Bridge

Laguna Dam flow

The basin dams store more than 3 Billion cubic feet of water, which is about four times the Colorado River’s average annual runoff. The largest, HOOVER DAM, was completed in 1936, it is the border between Nevada and Arizona. GLEN CANYON DAM is the second largest, built in 1964 in north-central Arizona. These two dams provide about 80 percent of the entire water-storage capacity in the basin. The Moralos Diversion Dam, located on the Mexico–Arizona border, is the southernmost dam on the Colorado River. It sends nearly all of the remaining water to irrigation canals in the Mexicali Valley and to the Mexican towns of Mexicali and Tijuana.
Morelos Diversion Dam Canal in Northern Mexico
As a result, the river rarely reaches the Gulf of California, normally the river’s mouth. Consequently, the vast wetlands at the mouth of the Colorado River have been reduced to just a fraction of their former size, vegetation and wildlife have been affected. Before the construction of all these dams, the Colorado flowed 80 miles through Mexico to the Gulf of California.

The Colorado River was the first to employ a multi-purpose dam system during the 20th Century. These dams were primarily to generate electricity, control floods, and provide recreational opportunities. They also stored water during wet times for use during the dry months or dry year Hydroelectric generation from water stored at dam sites along the Colorado River totals about 12 billion kilowatt-hours per year, which is roughly equivalent to one-sixth of the electricity consumed in Arizona each year. This power is shared among several western states. CAP uses gravity feed to generate hydro-electricity. “THE STRIP” LAS VEGAS puts on the dog every nite …
The dams of the Colorado River are used to control runoff and to develop flood-prone lands along the lower river. Some of the reservoirs created by dams have become national recreational areas against
fantastic southwest landscapes. Lake Mead National Recreation Area as one example, is Lake Mead, formed by Hoover Dam, and Lake Mohave, formed by Davis Dam, and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area includes Lake Powell.
The Imperial Dam, about 18 miles northeast of Yuma, Az diverts water into the All-American Canal, which goes west of Calexico, Ca before going north into the Imperial Valley. Six smaller canals branch off the All American Canal distributing water into the Imperial Valley. The canal systems can irrigate over 600,000 acres of good crop land and has greatly increased crop yield.
It is the largest irrigation canal in the world, carrying a maximum of 26,155 cubic feet per second.
The Colorado River’s ability to generate hydroelectric power has been very successful. More than 20 dams have been built on the Colorado and its tributaries, As a result, the river rarely reaches the Gulf of California. The Morelos Diversion Dam, located on the Mexico-Arizona border is the southernmost dam on the Colorado. It sends all of the remaining water to irrigation canals in the Mexicali Valley and to the towns of Mexicali and Tijuana.

Mexicalli Valley is one of Mexico’s Bread basket and this is the area affected by the Earthquake in 2010.

Picking lettuce in Northern Mexico east of Mexicalli

salt in hand

SALINITY is a water quality problem of growing importance within the Colorado River. The amount of solids or salts comes naturally from runoff over rocks and soils. When river water is used for irrigation, some salts evaporate, and become concentrated in the remaining water that returns to the river. The salt problem is also caused by evaporation from reservoir surfaces and water use by plants along the river. The concentration of salt in the water of the lower river valley is so high that it cannot be used for human consumption without treatment. As a result, U.S. desalinization plant in YUMA removes salt from the river and allows the United States to provide Mexico with usable water.
Because the river carries an estimated 9 million tons of salts annually water quality problems occur in the Colorado River Basin. The salinity is expected to increase in the future because of increased human use, even worse, the lower Colorado River contains about 2,000 pounds of salts per acre-foot.

In 2010 April 4 an earthquake on the Mexico Border buckled canals and destroyed pipelines in a broad agricultural area south of Mexicali irrigated by water diverted from the Colorado River at the Morelos Dam south of Yuma, Az. Because of the quake damage Mexico can not deliver the water to their farms. Roughly one-third of the Mexicali Valley suffered damage to its water infrastructure.
Under a 1944 treaty, Mexico receives 1.5 million acre-feet of water a year from the Colorado River. California can draw 4.4 million acre feet, Arizona gets 2.8 million acre feet, and Nevada’s share is 300,000 acre-feet. Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, also get shares of under the Colorado River Compact of 1922. Because of the quake damage in Norther Mexico and its’ inability to distribute it’s CAP allotment MEXICO has begun talks to store their share at Lake Mead until their Northern Mexico canals and farms can be repaired.

irrigation pushes back the
dunes and makes way for green fields

An acre-foot is enough to supply two average Las Vegas area homes for a year. Each 100,000 acre-feet of water adds about one foot to Lake Mead, and a single foot is crucial as the lake level drops closer to a shortage declaration. At 1,075 feet, Nevada and Arizona will be forced to reduce their combined water use by 400,000 acre-feet a year. Nevada’s share of those shortages would start at 13,000 acre-feet, increase to 17,000 acre-feet, and then reach 20,000 acre-feet as Lake Mead continues to drop.
LAKE MEAD’S floating docks became essential as the water levels continue to drop

In exchange for helping now and future Colorado River Water if Mexico begins harvesting drinking water from the sea some day, both sides of the border have expressed interest in U.S. investment in Mexican desalination plants along the Pacific Ocean and Gulf of California. Jointly funded plants would supply drinking water to growing coastal communities south of the border and thirsty U.S. cities, including Las Vegas. Mexico might become the only game in town for the seven Western states that share the drought-stricken Colorado River. if Mexican officials built a desalination plant for the growing city of Rosarito, south of Tijuana, the Southern Nevada Water Authority might buy a piece of that plant in exchange for a portion of Mexico’s allocation of Colorado River water. Thirsty cities, like Phoenix and Los Angeles could make similar arrangements. This paradigm works only if the Colorado River has water to exchange. If there’s nothing in the river, there’s nothing to swap Mexico .



Yuma Sunset

May 02, 2013 – A new NASA airborne mission has created the first maps of the entire snow pack of two major mountain watersheds in California and Colorado, producing the most accurate measurements to date of how much water they hold. The data from NASA’s Airborne Snow Observatory mission will be used to estimate how much water will flow out of the basins when the snow melts. The data-gathering technology could improve water management for 1.5 billion people worldwide who rely on snow melt for their water supply.


Whopping Crane on the banks of the Colorado River

The lower Colorado River plays an important role in the migratory pathways of birds that winter in the southern United States and serves as the gateway for those species continuing south into Mexico. Although not extensively studied, the delta’s significance for migratory birds is indisputable, as it is the principal freshwater marsh in the region. A total of 358 bird species have been documented in the Colorado River Delta and upper Gulf of California region. From these, two are listed as endangered, six as threatened, and sixteen are under special protection in Mexico. Two wintering species and five breeding species have been locally extirpated, including the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, the Fulvous-whistling Duck, and the Sandhill Crane.
The delta supports a variety of wildlife, including several threatened and endangered species. Mexico’s Environmental Regulations on Endangered Species lists the following endangered species found in the delta:
• the Desert Pupfish, also listed as an endangered species in the U.S., the largest remaining population anywhere is in La Ciénega de Santa Clara
• the Yuma Clapper Rail, also listed as an endangered species in the U.S.
• the Bobcat
• the Vaquita porpoise, the world’s smallest marine cetacean, listed as a species of special concern by the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission. There are less than 250 vaquita left in the world.
• the Totoaba, now virtually extinct, a steel-blue fish that grows up to seven feet and 300 pounds and once supported a commercial fishery that died in 1975
• the Colorado Delta Clam, once an extremely abundant species and important in the ecosystem.

• The delta of the Colorado River is one of the major desert-river estuaries of the world and contains the largest wetland ecosystem in the Sonoran Desert.

Much of the delta has been converted into irrigated farmland; but approximately 250,000 hectares of unconverted delta land, too low for drainage and too saline for agriculture, still exists at the southern end of the delta in Mexico. Within this area lies the Cienega de Santa Clara, the largest brackish wetland habitat in the lower delta. This wetland is about to undergo major alteration in flow and salinity of input water due to activation of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Yuma Desalting Plant in Arizona.

• Prior to the construction of Hoover Dam and other upstream water diversions, the majority of the delta was lushly vegetated with an estimated 200 to 400 plant species I as well as numerous bird, fish, mammals. The Cienega de Santa Clara may be the largest wetland bird habitat left in the Delta long known for its higher concentrations of Yuma Clapper Rails and Pupfish than known elsewhere. Both species remain on the endangered list. Mexican officials have also expressed interest in cooperating to protect the delta wetlands where the diminished river trickles into the Gulf of California.

mouth of the Colorado River at entrance to the Gulf of California

The lower Colorado River also separates two great deserts, the Mojave on the California (western) side and the Sonoran on the Arizona (eastern) side. Over the eons the River has served as a genetic barrier, separating both sides as well as isolating species that can’t swim across the river or fly across the desert, limiting the development of subspecies in the region.

Birds of the Colorado

Colorado River Nature Center


The Colorado River system, including the river, its streams, and the lands that those waters drain, is called the Colorado River Watershed. It drains 246,000 square miles, including parts of U.S. states Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, California and Mexico. Colorado River Basin is federal land comprised of national forests, national parks, and Indian reservations. The drainage total runoff is 25,000 cubic feet per second, about two-thirds is used for irrigation, and the other one-third supplies urban areas, evaporates into the atmosphere, or provides water to riparian vegetation.

Today nearly 17 million people depend on the Colorado’s waters 80 percent of the region’s residents live in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona, and Las Vegas, Nevada are the largest cities in the basin, and they use the Colorado River as their prime source of water. Water from the Colorado River is diverted eastward across the Rocky Mountains to Denver, The Colorado River Aqueduct carries water to metropolitan Los Angeles, and the Central Arizona Project supplies the Phoenix and Tucson areas. The All-American Canal provides water for the Imperial Valley of southern California, a productive agricultural region created in the desert. Los Angeles Canal built in 1930-31
The Central Arizona Project brings 1.5 million acre-feet of Colorado River water per year to Pima, Pinal and Maricopa counties in southern Arizona between Phoenix and Tucson.Glenn Morales fertilizes CAP water on the San Xavier Farm south of Tucson.
The CAP carries water from Lake Havasu near Parker to the southern boundary of the San Xavier Indian Reservation southwest of Tucson. It is a 336-mile long system of aqueducts, tunnels, pumping plants and pipelines and is the largest single resource of renewable water supplies in the state of Arizona.

The Colorado River is the primary water source for these four major US cities, all considered at-risk for suffering from acute water shortage, Los Angeles (first) Phoenix (third) Las Vegas (seven) and Tucson (eighth). Other cities on the list are Texan towns of Houston, San Antonio, Fort Worth and Orlando Florida, Atlanta Georgia and the entire California San Francisco Bay area.
Currently Tucson (ranked 8th) receives less than 12 inches of rainfall each year, the Tucson region uses about 350,000 acre-feet of water per year. At this rate, Tucson’s groundwater supply, which now provides the majority of the city’s water, has a very limited life span. In addition to this, the city is currently bringing in 314,000 acre-feet per year from the Colorado River under the Central Arizona Project. However, Tucson has added more than 20,000 people since 2000.
Las Vegas (ranked 7th) receives 4.5 inches of rainfall each year. Home to a half million people living in the middle of the Mojave Desert getting 85 % of its water from Lake Mead which is now almost 60% dry. Perhaps the lights going out in LA will be noticed when Hoover Dam stops producing electricity in 2013.
Phoenix (ranked 3rd) receives 8.3 inches of rainfall leaving 1,593,659 people depending upon their groundwater, the Salt-Gila Complex, and the Colorado River for their drinking water. Phoenix is adopting an recycling campaign to aggressively replenish groundwater, and cut back on over use.
Los Angeles (ranked lst) receives 14.77 inches of rainfall annually leaving 3,831,868 people depending upon the Colorado River drinking water carried by miles of pipes, aqueducts. The fastest growing city in the country continues to increase its demand at an unsustainable rate.
Hoover Dam, which is the main source of electricity for LA and much of the greater southwest, is now producing at a lower rate than it has historically. Some scientists suspect this drop-off will continue to a point where its electricity production is too small to sustain the dam economically. Los Angeles, even if the dam doesn’t cease production in 2013, as some predict, it still faces serious water shortages.

aerial view of the US-MEXICO BORDER showing Colorado River Water in the ALL AMERICAN CANAL and the irrigated Imperial Valley and note the lands south of the border-the empty lands of Mexico.

The All-American Canal is a 170-foot-wide conduit that transports water from the Colorado River near Yuma, Ariz., across the arid desert along the Mexican border for 17 miles into the Imperial Valley of Southern California and with over 500 people having drowned in the canal since 1997, it has been called “the Most Dangerous Body of Water in the U.S.. The canal was constructed in the late 1930s and early 1940s, it supplies water to the Imperial Irrigation District. It is the largest water canal in the world at 80 miles in length.

MILTON COLEMAN from YUMA Says the BLUEGILL fish he catches is the “best-eating” fish he catches in the All AMERICAN CANAL…


PAUL W. “loved the Colorado River” and his friends left his marker overlooking the river he lived for. ..

Famed humorist, actor, statesman and cowboy Will Rogers said this about the OWENS VALLEY that the LA aqueduct drained in 1930: “Ten years ago this was a wonderful valley with one-quarter of a million acres of fruit and alfalfa. But Los Angeles had to have more water for its Chamber of Commerce to drink more toasts to its growth, more water to dilute its orange juice and more water for its geraniums to delight the tourists, while the giant cottonwoods here died. So, now this is a valley of desolation.”


Alfredo Cervantes, a life-long agricultural supervisor or field-worker that came to the US in the 1960’s from Mexico with his father to farm land next to the Colorado River and he never left the River. Across the river in Arizona there are some folks who would hate Alfredo because he had three kids, all did well, one son’s a paramedic and another works admission at a hospital another works elsewhere in the medical field and all ask dad “why do you work so long and hard”. Cervantes admits he works day and night for his fields, always has. He gets up to turn on the water and nurses the water into the rows to beat the sun and the evaporation. ” When I farm I grow enough food for almost a 100 people”, he says modestly of his yearly efforts farming his fields adjacent to the Colorado Rivers nine miles south of Blythe, CA. He nurtures his alfalfa, his family, the sugarcane he grows on the family farm outside of Guadalajara in Jalisco and has struggled for a lifetime to give his kids a better life. Alfredo admits he never went to school!

field irrigation

But he learned to read, he liked World Books, folks gave him other reading, he pursued his interests–I mentioned my Cuba trip and he brightened when I pointed out they shared his Spanish blood … “Richest land anywhere, they say in Cuba you can grow anything there”! he announces with absoluteness. But his readings have also made him worry about what he sees around him. The field across the road became a RV Park adjacent to the river “for people on vacation” he says they sold their water rights to LA like about 30-40 per cent of the entire valley has already sold and the richest land in the world sits fallow. Meanwhile the water flowing next to this field is siphoned from the river pumped uphill day-in, day-out sending the farmer’s water share to LA since they bought the water rights there. just like LA did in Owens Valley says Alfredo who explained how LA had bought up all water rights in the richest Eden ever-known and after building an engineering miracle of a 200 mile aqueduct they returned to pump out the ground water and to turn the once green, lush paradise into an alkali wasteland of blowing dust void of topsoil. “You know, like they did in Oklahoma during the depressions” Alfredo continues … He also feels bad feels bad about his lack of education, but he believes he “elevated his children’s opportunities in life but feels bad because none of them want to do the work he had done all his life and inherited from his father, a life of living off the earth. A life in harmony with the land. After talking to Alfredo, I cheaked facts and found he was right about so much, the Mono Lake debacle, where the 20 mile-long lake, the centerpiece of Owen Valley had disappeared, destroying the resident’s way of life and property values, some say, the residents of the Owen Valley were made whole by final settlements, but how do you reimburse someone for destroying their quality of life.

Alfredo Cervantes is the canary in the coal mine ! He’s worried, he is looking around and it’s getting dark all around him and he is speaking out–doesn’t everyone see where this is heading … it has happened before. LA is doing it again ! They are still debating whether or not they can plant lawns in LA. Tucson gave up lawns for green gravel in the mid-1970’s. St. George Utah is fast growing, and happens to be the driest county in Utah. Presently, they are debating the building of a canal to Lake Powell 130 miles away, some are for it and other say they don’t need it. They point out St George has the highest per capita water consumption rate for desert cities in the US (335gal/person/day twice Tucson’s usage) and still enjoys the country’s lowest rates and grow green lawns made from Kentucky Bluegrass, a species known for its thirst.

Morrow Mayo, a Los Angeles reporter wrote: “Los Angeles gets its water by reason of one of the costliest, crooked, most unscrupulous deals ever perpetrated, plus one of the greatest pieces of engineering folly ever heard of. Owens Valley is there for anybody to see. The city of Los Angeles moved through this valley like a devastating plague. It was ruthless, stupid, cruel and crooked. It stole the waters of the Owens River. It drove the people of Owens Valley from their homes, a home that they had built from the desert. For no sound reason, for no sane reason, it destroyed a helpless agricultural section and a dozen towns. It was an obscene enterprise from the beginning to end.”

SOUTHWEST PONZIE SCHEME…the next economic bubble specific to every homeowner in the South West Region
I got to thinking that the Colorado River could be the biggest ponzie scam of all. There were lots of warnings, but not until I read how the $68Million relining of the All American Canal had been financed and paid for by San Diego County for the rights to the water that would have been lost from the canal had it not been relined. It was then, I thought of the campers shoulder to shoulder, backed into a parallel parking spot with maybe a picnic table, shared toilet and water for $20-$45 a night or $320 for the week. Drop a boat in the water, add $20-$50 (summer rates) a day to moor. Need power, septic, cable, shade, try $60 a night. Extra person in campsite or RV add $6, Dog deposit fee $20 refundable, if all goes well. Or the twenty-five boat dealers or rental facilities who will rent a pontoon boat from $275 up a day and delivery it anywhere on the river for $150. This is big business! From the resorts, hotels and folks squeezed into campsites shoulder to shoulder. People spend $45 or more to park their rig in sought after cove operations which are self-sufficient, having their own fuel pumps, restaurants, club house and enforced peace and quiet. They will collect A premium fine, if you or your dog misbehaves.

for sale
It is in this focus that the warnings that Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States, could feasibly run dry, with catastrophic implications. FOR EXAMPLE; take a mobile home worth $30,000 everywhere else and place a hundred of them next to the river and sell them each for $99,000 each, everyone’s happy till the water runs out. Everything is leverage against everything else and if the water goes away so goes it all. The water is the glue that holds all of it together.


Waverunners with California backdrop
Arizona Shoreline north of Parker
SPRING BREAK, is a nation-wide popular rite of SPRING, at Lake Havasu on the Colorado River, it also begins the transition from the quiet SNOWBIRDS to a long-summer infestation of RIVER RATS. Talked with one winter visitor who parks his RV Bus on a strip of dirt called Imperial County long term parking and he and 900 other vehicles or approximately 1800-2000 people hang out and prowl the hills looking for birds and bighorns. When winter ends my RV Visiter, former military from Conneticut, drives it ten miles north to the :Yuma Proving Grounds and parks it there for the summer at $40 a month. He son from Gilbert, AZ picks him up there and puts him on a plane in Phoenix til next year. Further up the road on the Arizona side, in Quartzite, gem sales popup everywhere and between 20-25,000 RV’s showup and park in the warm winter sun, creating a city in early January of 50,000 campers. LAKE HAVASU which sits on the Arizona side of the lake and borders California this year is also in the nation’s theaters with PIRANHA 3D, a hi-tech view of the river community during spring break but then fish start eating people-there are lots of half-eaten folks-strange PR—but the best press you don’t read—you simply weigh it. Much like fishing, don’t tell me about some fish you caught, put it on the scale.
Today nearly 17 million people depends upon the water of the Colorado River’s 80 percent of these folks live in Phoenix and Tucson and Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

Hoover Dam in 1931 was the greatest engineering accomplishment of it’s time and made it all possible. It’s 726’ height and 1244’ length dams up the greatest river in the American SouthWest, the Rio Colorado, whose headwaters 1450 miles north in Colorado, drains almost a quarter million square miles. The Dam, enjoys seven million visitors a year, and has enough concrete (4.5 million cubic yards) in Hoover Dam to build a two-lane road cross-country from Seattle to Miami. Lake Mead has added 550 miles of shoreline behind the dam and has a capacity of 1.25 trillion cubic feet of water that could cover the state of Pennsylvania one foot deep. It is the largest reservoir in the United States.

Roughly 60 million people today live in the American South West amongst with the ruins of civilizations that were brought to their knees by severe droughts experienced frequently in this region over the last 2,000 years. Droughts serve as stark reminders of just how inhospitable the great American desert can be. Previous catastrophic droughts occurred in times free from the influence of global warming and the increasing aridity that many scientists predict will bring new challenges to living in the southwest.


ARIZONA River houses

The Colorado River has long been the lifeline of the American South West, the watershed covers seven states and Mexico. More than 100% of its water today is used for recreation, agriculture and drinking water. Heavily recycle, the water is constantly re-used. Because of over-use the massive reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell have gone down in the past decade to half capacity. When the Colorado River was divided up in 1922, more water was awarded than actually exists most years, and the recent drought make those numbers worse moving into a period of “global warming” clearly the golden period of water has past. Last year’s rainfall and snow melt are now predicted to cover the region’s needs but last year it was feared CAP water allotments might be necessarily cut due to shortages at Lake Mead. Nature and the poorer regions like Mexico receive less and less. The South West view that money flows uphill toward money is seen by the unchecked growth of LAS VEGAS, NEVADA and today water flows to where man demands rather than to where nature intended, a tradition that began at the turn of the century and continues today. But can it be sustained ? Warnings have been made that Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States, could feasibly run dry with catastrophic economic implications to the Southwest.


Duke fire burned along the US-Mexico Border

SOMETIMES WE JUST GET LUCKY, maybe when the “man-made” DUKE Fire started out as a warming fire for illegal crossers it ended up as a 4000 plus acres desert wildfire which scorched the desert floor right up the ridges into the pine leaving no grasses, or ground cover and essentially nothing growing. Which means, no ground cover, no camo or no shade … Just scorched earth. Duke fire burned along the US-Mexico Border.

Low intensity desert fire burns through the grasslands which holds the soil and the scrub oak which anchors everything with its root system

At a time when the desert fauna is posed to take off, all the cactus blooms and wildflowers, a fire comes along and arrests everything in its path—and leaves cleared land which runs right up to the border. The grassland of the San Rafael Valley is some of the sweetest turf in Arizona, rolling hills which are higher and cooler than the low desert, little cactus, wooded providing shade and fuel for fires, it also is home to some of the greatest amount of Homeland Security assets on the ground and in the air. Aerostat ( the spy blimp at Fort Huachuca) scans the horizon from the west, to the east is Rio Rico and the nortorious I-19 BORDER PATROL CHECKPOINT .

<img src="Tight view of the DUKE FIRE burning northeast of Nogales AZ” alt=”” />
So the DUKE FIRE was lucky, it came at a time when all the Wildfire Teams are in place and preparing for a big season, working on maintaining forest in anticipation of the upcoming burns, lots of burn offs come at this time just to lower the risk, doing it as time allows and weather permits. The Duke Fire has 190 wildland firefighters in camp and working on the fire lines, yesterday they were doing backfires along the Harshaw Road north of the ghost town of Duquesne. Today’s Wildland Fire Report said the border fire is 10 percent contained and that firefighters are prepared for a long fight. It appears they plan to burn off the entire area, which will keep them from returning later this summer, clear the land for Homeland Security, and since no housing is endangered, they will keep backfiring and let the brush burn off.

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