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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TIPS FOR COPING WITH THANKSGIVING IF THE POWER GOES OUT

By Miriam Raftery

November 22, 2021 (San Diego) – With SDG&E warning over 28,000 customers in 38 communities of possible outages Thursday through Saturday due to high fire danger, how can you salvage Thanksgiving dinner plans with your family?  Here are a few ideas:

1. Cook your turkey and side dishes on Wednesday. You can serve sliced turkey and sides cold, or cook or reheat on a covered barbecue or camp stove on your patio outdoors, but keep a water bucket handy if you cook on any open flame.

2. Plan a picnic outside with side dishes that can be served cold. How about a yam potato salad instead of baked yams?  Or a balsamic green bean salad instead of green bean casserole?  Consider ditching traditional turkey for smoked salmon or a gourmet charcuterie board instead.


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SDG&E WARNS OF POWER SHUTOFFS OVER THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY DUE TO FIRE DANGER: OUTAGES COULD LAST DAYS

Update November 24, 2021:  SDG&E has widened its list of possible outage areas to include more than 53,000 customers. See the updated list of impacted communities here:  https://www.sdge.com/psps-dashboard

By Miriam Raftery

November 22, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) -- Before you stock up on turkey and other groceries for a feast, be aware that San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is asking customers in 38 local communities to prepare for potential Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) over the Thanksgiving holiday.


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HOLIDAY POP-UP GIFT SHOW DEC. 4 IN JACUMBA

East County News Service

November 18, 2021 (Jacumba Hot Springs) – If you’re ready for some holiday shopping, the Gilliam Gallery is hosting a holiday pop-up gift show on December 4 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.


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HEALING IN JACUMBA NOV. 21 AT THE DESERT VIEW TOWER

By Miriam Raftery

November 18, 2021 (Jacumba Hot Springs) – The Desert View Tower in Jacumba Hot Springs will host “Healing Jacumba” this Sunday, November 21 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

 

 

The event includes energy healing, massage, yoga, meditation, acupuncture, Reiki, herbcraftersAnushi healing salves, cystal bracelets and more.


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SANDAG APPROVES MILEAGE TAX OVER OBJECTIONS OF UNFAIRNESS TO EAST COUNTY

By Henri Migala and Miriam Raftery

Photo, left, by Henri Migala:  around 200 residents attended a forum in La Mesa organized by Carl DeMaio of Reform California, which opposes the mileage tax

November 4, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) -- The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) on Friday approved a controversial road usage tax, also known as a mileage tax. The measure drew strong opposition from East County residents and political leaders, who argue that its unfair to charge hefty taxes to inland residents who won’t benefit from ambitious transit projects planned in coastal areas.


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ANZA-BORREGO PHOTO CONTEST NOW OPEN

East County News Service

Nov. 2, 2021 (Borrego Springs) – You’re invited to submit your best photos of the unique and natural beauty of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park by December 7. There are six categories to enter your photos – and the Best of Show winner will receive a 2.5 hour private tour for two with California Overland Desert Excursions.

The contest is presented by the Anza Borrego Foundation in partnership with the Borrego Art Institute and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.


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MARINES MAKE FIRST-EVER WATER DROPS IN ANZA-BORREGO DESERT TO SAVE BIGHORN SHEEP DURING DROUGHT

By Miriam Raftery

October 23, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – The drought has dried up watering holes and vegetation that the Anza Borrego Desert’s iconic bighorn sheep rely upon.  Scott Gibson with the Society for the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep told ECM, “Endangered bighorn sheep mortality due to dehydration has been documented recently."

Fortunately, the U.S. Marines came to the rescue – with help from several nonprofit organizations and state agencies. In September, a Marine Corps helicopter crew made the first-ever helicopter water delivery to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Click here view a video by David Owen Hawxhurst, www.hawxhurtst.com and scroll down for details.


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FROST, FREEZING TEMPERATURES TONIGHT IN MOUNTAINS AND DESERTS: SEVERE FIRE WEATHER FRIDAY

By Miriam Raftery

October 13, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – From one extreme to another, San Diego’s mountains and high deserts will have frost and freezing temperatures tonight, followed by Santa Ana winds Thursday and near-critical fire weather on Friday.

Low temperatures tonight and early tomorrow morning could dip into the mid-20s in the mountains and as low as the mid-30s in the high desert.


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HIGH WIND WARNINGS AND ADVISORIES TODAY

East County News Service

October 11, 2021 (San Diego) – The National Weather Service has issued a high wind warning from 11 a.m. today to 3 a.m. Tuesday. Gusts up to 65 miles per hour are forecast in mountain areas including Julian and Pine Valley, with west to northwest winds of 30-40 mph. Gusts up to 45 mph are possible in San Diego County’s deserts, valleys and coastal areas, where a wind advisory is in effect.

These damaging winds can blow down trees and power lines, so power outages are possible.

Secure outdoor objects which may become projectiles in high winds, and close patio umbrellas.


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55TH ANNUAL BORREGO DAYS DESERT FESTIVAL WELCOMES BACK VISITORS OCT. 23-24

East County News Service

August 21, 2021 (Borrego Springs) – The 55th annual Borrego Days Desert Festival is slated to take place October 23 and 24 at Christmas Circle Community Park on Palm Canyon Drive in Borrego Springs. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Admission and parking are free.


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BOIL WATER ORDER IN EFFECT FOR BUTTERFIELD RANCH

Update September 30, 2021 - This order has been lifted.

Source:  San Diego County Emergency Updates

September 25, 2021 (Julian) - The County of San Diego, Department of Environmental Health and Quality has issued a Boil Water Order for the Butterfield Ranch water system located at 14925 Great Southern Overland, Julian, CA 92036, effective immediately. All affected customers are advised to not drink the water without boiling it first.


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OCOTILLO WIND TURBINE COLLAPSES--AGAIN

By Henri Migala and Miriam Raftery

Photos courtesy of Ocotillo Wind Turbine Destruction on Facebook

September 20, 2021 (Ocotillo) – Residents in Ocotillo are voicing concerns after yet another wind turbine collapse at the Ocotillo Wind Energy facility. There were no injuries or damage to other structures when the 300-foot-tall turbine crashed to the desert floor at the trouble-prone facility on Thursday, September 16. But residents are raising serious questions over public safety at the site, which produces energy to SDG&E to power the San Diego region.


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I-8/CRESTWOOD ROAD RAMP SIX-WEEK CLOSURE NEAR GOLDEN ACORN CASINO BEGINS MONDAY

Source: Caltrans

September 17, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) -- Caltrans crews anticipate closures at Interstate 8 (I-8) and Crestwood Road for four to six weeks beginning Monday to replace guardrail systems. The work will require full closures of the westbound I-8/Crestwood Road on-ramp and the eastbound I-8/Crestwood Road off-ramp near the Golden Acorn Casino, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. through early November. Advance notification signs have been placed to inform motorists about the closures. See map below for closure areas.


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GILLIAM GALLERY HOSTS FESTIVAL OF SUNFLOWERS POP-UP ART SHOW OCTOBER 2 IN JACUMBA HOT SPRINGS

Monthly bazaar and street market also set for same datea

By Rebecca Person

September 9, 2021 (Jacumba Hot Springs) -- The Festival of Sunflowers is an annual exhibit featuring the work of a handful of local artists. This year, the event hosted by Gilliam Gallery at 44555 Old Highway 80 in Jacumba Hot Springs will be held October 2 from 12 noon to 6 p.m.


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CAL FIRE HELICOPTER SERVING BACKCOUNTRY IS FIRST IN STATE TO ADD ADVANCED LIFE SUPPORT

By Miriam Raftery

September 6, 2021 (El Cajon) – Effective today, Cal Fire’s hoist rescue helicopter team based in El Cajon has upgraded to an Advanced Life Support (ALS) rescue aircraft.  A Cal-Fire press release states, “This additional capability will allow for simultaneous rescue and ALS care, therefore greatly improving survivability of critical illness. We are very proud San Diego is the first Unit to provide ALS level care on a helicopter in CAL FIRE. We are excited and proud to provide ALS care to those who will need it throughout our County’s backcountry.”

Six firefighter/paramedics & engineer/paramedics had to complete basic helicopter operations and safety training. Cal Fire’s aviation/helicopter program is a joint effort with San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.


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SUPERVISORS APPROVE PUBLIC POWER SAFETY SHUTOFF MITIGATION MEASURES

By Miriam Raftery

Image: Powerlines, creative commons image via Bing

September 6, 2021 (San Diego) -- San Diego County Supervisors held a hearing on August 31st on public safety power shutoffs. Chairman Nathan Fletcher emphasized the importance of this “timely issue” in light of wildfire concerns.


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SUPERVISORS VOTE TO JOIN COMMUNITY CHOICE CLEAN ENERGY PROGRAM; BACKCOUNTRY RESIDENTS TO HAVE ALTERNATIVE TO SDG&E

Action praised by climate activists, criticized by residents fearing increased industrial-scale energy projects in East County to power coastal and urban areas

By Miriam Raftery

September 5, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – By a 3-2 vote, San Diego County Supervisors voted Tuesday to join San Diego Community Power, a community choice energy program (CCE).  East County’s two representatives, Supervisors Joel Anderson and Jim Desmond, both voted no, but for differing reasons.


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ARIZONA MAN DIES AFTER FIERY CRASH ON I-8 AT IN-KO-PAH

By Miriam Raftery

August 31, 2021 (In-Ko-Pah) – James Coe, 63, of Arizona, has died after being rescued from a fiery rollover crash shortly after 3 p.m. yesterday on Interstate 8 eastbound at In-Ko-Pah Road in Jacumba, near the San Diego and Imperial County line.


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PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: DUST STORM IN BORREGO SPRINGS

East County News Service

August 31, 2021 (Borrego Springs) – “Strong thunderstorms east of Borrego and subsequent downdrafts has created a Haboob in Borrego Springs, see progression below over several minutes,” says Bob Kutscher, who sent in these photos. A haboob is an intense dust storm carried on an atmospheric gravity current or weather front; haboobs occur commonly in dry land areas around the world. 

 

Kutscher runs a weather station and is a severe weather spotter for the National Weather Service.


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HEARING ON PREDATOR PLACEMENT IN BORREGO POSTPONED; WAKEFIELD TO RECEIVE SIX MONTHS OF IN-PATIENT TREATMENT BEFORE FEB. HEARING

By Miriam Raftery

August 27, 2021 (Borrego Springs) – A hearing on the proposed placement of sexually violent predator Merle Wakefield has been posted to February 22, after Liberty Healthcare/CONREP withdrew its request to place him at 1575 Yaqui Road in Borrego Springs.


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FIRE WEATHER THIS WEEK

By Miriam Raftery

August 24, 2021 (San Diego) – A rapid warming trend is forecast to bring elevated fire weather conditions Wednesday through Saturday. The National Weather Service warns, “Wildfires could spread rapidly with high heat and low humidity. Diurnal winds in the afternoon present the highest threat.” Dry fuels add to the danger.


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PHOTO OF THE WEEK: SUNRISE AFTER A DESERT STORM

East County News Service

August 20, 2021 (Borrego Springs) – Bob Kutscher snapped this photo on August 11, the morning after a storm dumped three quarters of an inch of rain accompanied by thunder and lightning – all preceded by a Haboob, or dust storm that left particles to intensify the sunrise hues.


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BIDEN-HARRIS ADMINISTRATION INVESTS TO IMPROVE HEALTH IN RURAL COMMUNITIES

East County News Service

August 20, 2021 (Washington D.C.) -- The Biden Administration has announced actions to improve the health of rural communities by making billions of dollars in American Rescue Plan funding available expand telehealth in rural and other under-served communities, help rural hospitals and medical providers meet COVID-19 needs, expand Medicare to include dental, vision and hearing benefits, and expand Veterans’ Administration (VA) training for rural providers, among other key goals.


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MURDER CHARGES FILED OVER DEATH OF BORREGO SPRINGS MAN

By Miriam Raftery

August 9, 2021 (Borrego Springs) -- On February 18, Sheriff's deputies responded to Di Giorgio Road and Palm Canyon Drive in Borrego Springs for a report of a battery. Deputies found Martin Baker, 49,  on the side of the road suffering from head trauma.

He was transported to a local area hospital for treatment. Later that day, deputies arrested Eugene Carl Focarelli, 37, for assault with a deadly weapon, not a firearm. On Feb. 22, Baker’s condition declined and the Borrego Springs resident died at the hospital. 


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THUNDERSTORMS THIS WEEK: HIGH FIRE DANGER AND POTENTIAL FLASH FLOODING

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: National Weather Service

August 9, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – The National Weather Service is warning of elevated fire conditions, with mountain thunderstorms Monday followed by more thunderstorms Tuesday to Saturday in the deserts and mountains.


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HELP SOUGHT TO FIND MISSING MAN IN JACUMBA; CELL PHONE FOUND ON TRAIL

East County News Service

August 5, 2021 (Jacumba Hot Springs) – The Pine Valley Sheriff’ substation is asking for public help to find Derek Barge, 41, who has been missing since Saturday night, July 31. He was last seen at the DeAnza Springs Resort on Carrizo Gorge Road in Jacumba.


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READER’S EDITORIAL: JACUMBA HOT SPRINGS PUTTING OUT SOS: LEARN ABOUT SOLAR PROJECT TRYING TO “SWALLOW THE TOWN” AT ICE CREAM SOCIAL AUG. 7

By Jeffery Osborne

August 5, 2021 (Jacumba Hot Springs) -- The Jacumba Hot Springs community is getting together Saturday, August 7th at 11 a.m. for an Ice Cream Social and swim at Jacumba Lake to raise awareness about the mega solar project that is trying to swallow up the community. Nothing like this project has ever been proposed in San Diego County.


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QUEEN FIRE BURNING NEAR JULIAN AND BANNER

Update: The fire is 75% contained, reports Cal Fire San Diego shortly before 5 p.m.

By Miriam Raftery and Jonathan Goetz

August 1, 2021 (Julian) - The #QueenFire has burned 15 acres near the Desert Queen Mine, approximately 2 miles east of Banner and 5 miles east of Julian near State Route 78.

The fire is burning in difficult terrain for ground crews. Cal Fire reported at approximately 3:18 p.m. that "[f]irefighters continue to make great progress from the air and ground."


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THREE COUNTY PARKS CLOSED IN AUGUST DUE TO SUMMER HEAT

By Gig Conaughton, County of San Diego Communications Office

August 1, 2021 (San Diego's East County) - Three San Diego County parks will be closed for the month of August starting Sunday, a measure taken each year because of the month’s typically high temperatures.

Parks officials announced that El Capitan Preserve near Lakeside, Hellhole Canyon Preserve in Valley Center and Mt. Gower Preserve in Ramona will be closed.


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