Deserts

WELCOME, DESERT DENIZENS!

Our deserts section covers the Anza Borrego Desert State Park and the communities of Borrego Springs, Ocotillo, Ocotillo Wells and Jacumba.


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MEDICAL EXAMINER RELEASES NAMES OF EAST COUNTY CRASH VICTIMS AND BODY FOUND ON HIKING TRAIL

East County News Service
 
Photo: Kiana Taylor's Facebook, SDSU Class of 2020, tossing her graduation hat in May 2020
 
September 17, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – The County Medical Examiner has released the identities of victims who lost their lives in several East County accidents over the past two weeks including two lives lost in a fiery multi-vehicle crash near La Mesa, a pedestrian killed in El Cajon, a missing Lake Morena camper found dead in Hauser Valley, a Borrego pickup truck driver killed in a rollover crash, and a motorcyclist who died at the scene of a crash in rural Alpine.
 
Kiana Taylor, 22, of Poway died September 11, 2020 after a vehicle fire resulting from a collision on Sept. 9 that occurred at the intersection of 70th Street and El Cajon Boulevard in San Diego, on the border of La Mesa.  A vehicle entered the intersection and struck her vehicle, causing it to collide with other vehicles and catch fire. She was transported to UCSD Medical Center, where she died two days later of burns and abdominal blunt force injuries. 
 
Casey Diane Hargis, 22, of San Diego was a passenger in the same vehicle in the accident above when it was struck, pushed into other vehicles and burst into flames. After 911 was called, she was transported by paramedics to UCSD Medical Center and died the next day of vascular injuries from pelvic fractures.

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COMMUNITY CLEANUPS AND GREEN WASTE CHIPPING EVENTS IN POTRERO, JACUMBA AND CAMPO

By Miriam Raftery

September 17, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Community clean-up events are slated in three backcountry communities for residents to bring e-waste, furniture, box springs, appliances, mattress and other oversized trash (but no construction waste) from 8 a.m. until dumpsters are full. Chipping of green waste will also be available from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.  The events are scheduled for:

CAMPO:  Sept. 19 at Homemaker’s Thrift Shop, 987 Custer Rd.

JACUMBA: Oct. 17 at Jacumba Community Park, 44605 Old Highway 80

POTRERO: Nov. 21 at Potrero Community Park, 24800 Potrero Park Dr.


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BORREGO ART INSTITUTE CALLS FOR “FLORA AND FAUNA” ART FOR FALL SHOW

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Kathleen Raftery

September 13, 2020 (Borrego Springs)- - The Borrego Art Institute has issued a call for art with the theme “The Art of Flora and Fauna” celebrating plants and animals through art. Works selected will be shown at an art show Oct. 3-25.

An opening reception will be from 10-4 p.m. on Saturday, October 3, with an outside wine/water bar on the patio and a maximum of 25 people in the gallery at one time, due to COVID-19. Masks must be worn.

Works are accepted in the gallery Sept. 26-27 from 10:30 to 3 p.m.

For info and entry forms, contact gallery@borregoartinstitute.org.

All mediums are acceptable, with a limit of three pieces of art per artist. Work must be professionally finished; wall art must be ready for hanging using the institute’s hook and cable system. Pedestals are available for standing art. There is an entry fee of $10 per work for nonmembers; free for members.


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BORREGO RESIDENT KILLED IN ROLLOVER CRASH

By Miriam Raftery
 
September 4, 2020 (Borrego Springs) – A 52-year-old man from Borrego Springs died at the scene of a single-vehicle crash yesterday.  
 
The victim was driving a 2006 Ford F-150 pickup truck southbound on Borrego Springs Road north of State Route 78 around 4:11 p.m. when the vehicle crossed the center line and drifted across northbound lanes, then off the east edge of the road.  The pickup then struck a sign post and overturned.
 
“It is believed the driver was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the collision. Unfortunately, the driver succumbed to his injuries at the scene,” says Officer Travis Garrow with the California Highway Patrol.  

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SDG&E PLANNED OUTAGES IN TRIPLE-DIGIT HEAT AND STORMS MAY ENDANGER SAFETY OF RESIDENTS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: New power poles in Pine Valley are made of steel, not wood, for fire safety, as part of the upgrades that SDG&E has been installing across inland San Diego County.

Updated August 23, 2020 9:40 a.m. with responses from SDG&E.

August 22, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Amid a record-breaking heat wave with monsoonal thunderstorms, flash floods and lightning-sparked fires forecast as potential added hazards, SDG&E has announced plans to shut off power for hours during the heat of the day on Sunday and Monday across much of San Diego County.  

The outages are to upgrade wood poles to steel, among other equipment upgrades or maintenance planned.

The NWS has warned that the intense heat  this week can be life-threatening for those without air conditioning, yet the power outage will leave any residents who lack generators without access to safe, cool spaces amid the COVID-19 pandemic when many public, air-conditioned places are shut down.

Rural residents with electric well pumps will also be left without water for people or livestock to drink, as well as for fighting fires, as many rural residents equipped with tanks and hoses have done in past brush fires, unless they have invested in generators. Downed communications including internet and in some areas, phone service also leave residents unable to receive emergency alerts despite a high potential for emergencies during the extreme weather conditions.


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WILD WEATHER CONTINUES: THUNDERSTORMS, FLASH FLOODS AND HIGH HEAT

By Miriam Raftery

August 22, 2020 (San Diego’s East County)  -- The monsoon season is here – with mountain thunderstorms expected each afternoon through Monday with brief heavy rain, small hail, lightning and strong erratic winds.  There is also a potential for flash flooding today and tomorrow across our inland region, as this map shows.

While thousands of lightning strikes across northern and central California have caused major wildfires,  Southern California has also had numerous lightning strikes, as the Earth Network image sent by the National Weather Service shows for Friday, Aug. 21:


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HEAT WAVE SMASHES RECORDS

By Miriam Raftery
 
August 20, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Triple digit temperatures are forecast yet again tomorrow across portions of San Diego’s inland region.  This week’s scorching heat wave has shattered some all-time records. On August 17, a temperature of 106 degrees Fahrenheit in Campo broke the old record of 103 set in 2001.  

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JACUMBA HIKERS GROUP BECOMES PART OF IMPERIAL VALLEY DESERT MUSEUM PROGRAMS

By Miriam Raftery

 
August 17, 2020 (Jacumba Hot Springs) – After multiple requests seeking new hiking leaders following the loss of several long-time leaders, the Jacumba Hikers group will now be administered by the Imperial Valley Desert Museum (IVDM).  The museum’s board voted on August 13 to accept the proposal.

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COOL ZONES OPEN ACROSS EAST COUNTY DUE TO HIGH HEAT

East County News Service

August 17, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Cool zones adapted to COVID-19 public health protections have been opened at eight county libraries across San Diego’s inland region during the current extreme heat conditions.  The locations are open from 12 noon to 5 p.m.Mondays through Friday (except the Borrego Springs location, which is also open weekends). 

Masks and social distancing are required by all visitors and staff.  Temperature checks are also required before entering a cool zone and time limits may be imposed due to limited capacity. No animals are permitted, except for service animals. Below is the full list of county cool zones:


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EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING

East County News Service

August 14, 2020 (San Diego's East County) -- The National Weather Service has issued an extreme heat warning in effect this weekend through Monday at 8 p.m. Dangerously hot conditions with temperatures from 98 to 106 degrees Fahrenheit are forecast across San Diego County’s mountains, valleys and desert areas as well as much of Riverside and San Bernadino counties.

Extreme heat will significantly increase the potential for heat related illnesses, particularly for those  working or participating in outdoor activities.

Follow these precautions:


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BRUSH FIRE ON HIGHWAY 94 IN JAMUL NEAR HONEY SPRINGS RD.

UPDATE AS OF 7:12 P.M.:  The forward rate of spread for the Hillside Fire has been stopped.  EB 94 at Rancho Jamul Dr. lanes blocked

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

August 6, 2020 (Jamul) - Cal Fire San Diego is at the scene of a 2 acre vegetation fire in the area of Hwy 94 and Honey Springs Rd in Jamul.  Follow the #SpringsFire hashtag for more updates.  Highway 94 at Honey Springs Rd. lanes are blocked due to fire.  Please avoid area.

Cal Fire is also at the scene of a separate vegetation fire in the area of Hwy 94 and Hillside Dr in Jamul. Please avoid the area and follow the #HillsideFire hashtag for more updates.

Sign up for free East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts at the top right side of our homepage, and you can also receive our free weekly e-newsletter with top local news. You can also follow EastCountyAlert on Twitter for brief text alerts on your mobile phone.


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PHOTO OF THE WEEK: NEOWISE COMET OVER EAST COUNTY

By Miriam Raftery

July 23, 2020 (Borrego Springs) -- Photographer Scott Burnham captured this amazing image of Comet Neowise over Borrego Palm Canyon from the edge of Borrego Springs on Friday evening, July 17.

The icy comet will make its closest approach to Earth tonight, and may be seen through July 25.

Once it’s gone, it won’t return for another 6,800 years. 


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TWO DEAD IN FIERY ROLLOVER ON I-8

By Miriam Raftery
 
July 10, 2020 (Jacumba)  -- A fiery vehicle rollover near the In-Ko-Pah brake check in Jacumba Hot Springs on Interstate 8 yesterday afternoon claimed the life of two patients and injured a third.
 
Cal Fire and the California Highway Patrol responded to the accidents.  First responders rescued two patients from the wreckage, both with major injuries. One was transported via air ambulance to a hospital Cal fire reports, but the other died at the scene, according to Cal Fire. A third victim was found dead in the vehicle.

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EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING ISSUED FOR DESERTS

East County News Service

 

July 9, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – The National Weather Service has issued an extreme heat warning Saturday through Monday for San Diego County’s deserts, where temperatures of 115 to 120 degrees are expected.

 


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READER’S EDITORIAL: BORDER WALL IN JACUMBA WILDERNESS THREATENS GROUNDWATER FOR COMMUNITIES AND AN ENDANGERED SPECIES, THE CRUCIFIXION THORN

By Craig Deutsche

July 5, 2020 (Jacumba) - There have been a number of articles in large newspapers about the border wall and legal challenges. Most probably the story in California is only a detail in the big picture, although there might be several unique concerns here. One concern is that the Congressional designation of the Jacumba Wilderness in 1994 is very explicit and very restrictive in what is permitted within the boundaries.

More recently in 2019, the Department of Homeland Security waived seventeen federal environmental laws where border security was involved in Imperial County. These included the Wilderness Act of 1964, the National Environmental Protection Act, the Clean Waters Act, and the Antiquities Act of 1906. It is under this umbrella that the work proceeds. What is less clear, is whether it is possible to set aside state and county regulations that may otherwise apply.

The pipe shown in the photo runs five or six miles from several wells outside the Jacumba Wilderness Area to the construction area at the border. The pipe is 12 inches in diameter and is intended to provide water for concrete. [Aggregate for the concrete is visible in the second photo beside the equipment.] This water is drawn from a rather limited aquifer underlying several small communities in western Imperial County.


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RENEGADES, ROCK HOUSES, AND RESORTS: NEW BOOK CHRONICLES EAST COUNTY HISTORY

 

By Larry Johnson, President, Mountain Empire Historical Society

July 16, 2020 (San Diego's East County) -- Have you driven down scenic Highway 80 through its eastern stretch of San Diego County and noticed a lone chimney standing like a silent sentinel in a field, or a very old building that appears to date back to a previous era and wondered about their history?

If so, a new book written by historian and author Cherry Diefenbach called Renegades, Rock Houses and Resorts…the Stories of Jacumba Hot Spring and Surrounds may be just the ticket.

This nearly 500-page book provides a comprehensive history of the area using more than 1,200 photos, hundreds of old newspaper articles, and personal accounts from the descendants of early settlers. Many of the photographs have not been published elsewhere.

Finished after nearly five years of research, the book chronicles the colorful history of local mountain and desert comunities including Bankhead Springs, Boulder Park/Desert View Tower, Boulevard/Manzanita, Hipass/Tierra Del Sol, Jacumba Hot Springs, Live Oak Springs, Mountain Springs, and Oasis.

 

 

 


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PHOTOS OF THE MONTH: HORNED LIZARD, A FORMIDABLE FIGHTER

Debbie Ekhaml took these close-ups of a horned lizard (also known as a horned toad) in East County. 

Resembling a miniature dinosaur, the horned lizard has an impressive array of protective features ranging from camouflage to spiked horns to an ability to puff itself up and even squirt blood at an attacker.


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FOURTH OF JULY WEEKEND FORECAST: FIRE WEATHER AND RIP CURRENTS

By Miriam Raftery

June 30, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – The weather will be warming up over the Fourth of July weekend. But before you head to the beach, be aware that elevated surf is forecast to generate strong rip currents that will be hazardous to swimmers this weekend and next week.

On Sunday and Monday,  breezy winds, warmer conditions and low relative humidity will create elevated fire weather conditions, says meteorologist Casey Oswant with the National Weather Service. The conditions are “favorable for fast-moving grass fires,” Oswant cautions.


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A BITTERSWEET REOPENING OF THE ICONIC JACUMBA SPA, NOW FOR SALE

By Daniel Smiechowski

June 19, 2020 (Jacumba Hot Springs) -- The East County Jacumba Resort and Spa has fallen victim to uncertain times. Owned for many years by Dave Landman, an affable character who coincidentally owns most of Jacumba and about 800 acres east to Yuma, Arizona, the Spa is currently listed for sale by Coldwell Banker. 


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VIRTUAL CAMPFIRE CHATS WITH ANZA-BORREGO PARK RANGERS KICK OFF THIS WEEKEND

 

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East County News Service

Photo by Kirtland Smith: Verdin in Ocotillo

June 18, 2020 (Borrego Springs) – The Anza Borrego Foundation is planning five virtual Campfire chats with retired Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Rangers and Superintendents, streamed live from various Park locations.

In 30-minute segments, each ranger will share stories, focused on their favorite park topics such as birding, bighorn sheep, land conservation and military history of the Park.


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SYCUAN SUPPORTS LA MESA BUSINESS COMMUNITY WITH $5,000 DONATION

East County News Service
 
Photo courtesy of the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce
 
June 16, 2020 (La Mesa) — The Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation has donated $5,000 to help La Mesa businesses impacted by civil unrest the night of May 30th.  

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AS WEATHER HEATS UP, COUNTY OPENS COOL ZONES -- AND OFFERS FREE FANS FOR THOSE HOMEBOUND WITHOUT AIR CONDITIONING

By Miriam Raftery

Photo courtesy of County News Service

June 13, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – As summer approaches and temperatures heat up, the County will open several “Cool Zones” starting this week.  The Cool Zones will be open from Monday through Friday between 12 noon and 5 p.m.at the following inland locations:


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AMID PANDEMIC, ANZA BORREGO FOUNDATION ACQUIRES LANDS TO EXPAND STATE PARK

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Ursula Esser courtesy of Anza Borrego Foundation:  Base of Sheep Canyon

June 8, 2020 (Borrego Springs) – California’s largest state park is about to get even bigger. The Anza Borrego Foundation announced that it has closed escrow on several properties it plans to donate to the state to expand Anza Borrego Desert State Park. The land transfer will include 331 parcels totaling 17,598 acres over 25 years of land acquisitions.

“In response to COVID-19, there has been increased land activity. Landowners have called eager to sell, and a couple even wanted to donate their land to ABF,” a newsletter sent by the ABF to its members states.

Grant writing and land acquisition have continued even while the park has been closed off to the public due to the pandemic.


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WIND ADVISORY IN EFFECT NOW; FIRE WEATHER STARTING SUNDAY

By Miriam Raftery

June 5, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – A wind advisory is in effect for East County’s mountain areas and deserts through Sunday morning with gusts up to 60 miles per hour. Light showers are possible west of the mountains through Saturday afternoon. But a warming trend after that will bring elevated fire weather conditions Sunday through Tuesday, the National Weather Service predicts.


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PREDATOR POULSOM TO BE RELEASED JUNE 5 IN EAST COUNTY

East County News Service
 
May 30, 2020 (Jacumba Hot Springs) – Members of the Sheriff’s SAFE Task Force went door to door on Wednesday in Jacumba Hot Springs and Boulevard to inform the community that Michael Poulsom is slated to be released June 5 and move to 45612 Old Highway 80 in Jacumba Hot Springs. Poulsom is registered as a sexually violent predator after felony convictions for lews and lascivious acts against girls under age 14.
 
He served time in prison from 1985 to 1995 and was later sent to Coalinga State Hospital, which approved him for release over the objections of Supervisor Dianne Jacob and community members.

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HEAT WAVE MAY BREAK RECORDS THIS WEEK

By Miriam Raftery
 
May 23, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Memorial Day is going to be toasty, ushering in a heat wave through Friday with temperatures 15 degrees above normal, predicts National Weather Service meteorologist Bruno Rodriguez.

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"DANGEROUS" HEAT WARNING FOR DESERT, HEAT ADVISORY FOR INLAND VALLEYS ALL WEEK

 

East County News Service

May 5, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat waring for San Diego County deserts, where dangerously hot temperatures of 103 to 108 degrees are forecast each afternoon this week. In addition, a  heat advisory is in effect local valleys including the cities of Escondido, El Cajon, San Marcos, La Mesa, Santee, and Poway today through Friday.


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COUNTY REOPENS PARKS AND GOLF COURSES, ALLOWS BOATING

By Miriam Raftery

April 30, 2020 (San Diego) – Starting tomorrow, a new county health order eases many restrictions on recreational facilities. Specifically:

  • All county parks will be reopened, with 50% parking capacity for social distancing.
  • Members of the same household can picnic or participate in sports or other activities in parks, but gatherings are still prohibited.
  • Recreational boating can resume at local lakes, bays and the ocean, however passengers must be in the same household.
  • Golf courses can also reopen, but golf carts are not allowed. Courses must provide physical distancing and conduct temperature screenings on all golfers.


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RESIDENTS URGED TO TAKE PRECAUTIONS DURING HEAT

By Yvette Urrea Moe, County of San Diego Communications Office

April 24, 2020 (San Diego) - With high temperatures forecast over the next several days, County health officials are encouraging San Diegans to take precautions to avoid heat-related illnesses. People should especially pay close attention to children, the elderly and pets.


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