Deserts

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: JACUMBA’S BEAUTIFUL BIRDS

 

East County News Service

 

January 29, 2016 (Jacumba) — Eric Kallen, who runs the website www.JacumbaBirding.com has counted over 191 species of birds in Jacumba Hot Springs, a high-desert community in San Diego’s East County.  “I’ve had 124 species in my backyard,” he says.

 

Now is a great time to go bird-watching there, since you can see wintering and year-round species as well as some early spring migratory visitors.  Here are photos taken this January of a Scott’s Oriole, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, and Costa’s Hummingbird, with notes from Kallen on each:  

JACUMBA SOLAR PULLS PLUG ON WATER PURCHASE DEAL

 

By Miriam Raftery

January 28, 2016 (Jacumba Hot Springs) – Jacumba Solar LLC has cancelled its contract with the Jacumba Community Services District to purchase water for a large-scale solar project..  The project would include over 81,000 solar panels on 304 acres near the SDG&E substation.

“I I think it’s for the best,” Eric Kallen, vice chair of the Jacumba Community Services District, told East County Magazine.

The contract called for Jacumba Solar to pay a $100,000 “gift” on signing with an additional $250,000 lump sum payment due January 15th.   The District was to provide 40 acre feet of water with an option for Jacumba Solar to purchase 28 additional acre feet if needed for construction, plus three or four acre feet a year long-term for maintenance after the project was built.  The solar projecrt was proposed by Nextera, a Florida-based company.

COURT IGNORES COMMUNITY SAFETY CONCERNS, PLACES CONVICTED RAPIST AND SEXUAL PREDATOR IN JACUMBA HOT SPRINGS

East County News Service

January 24, 2016 (Jacumba Hot Springs) -- A sexually violent predator with a long history of violent sexual attacks including rape at gunpoint and  a stabbing will be placed in Jacumba Hot Springs for supervised outpatient treatment, Superior  Court Judge David Gill has ordered.  Authorities received 11 emails and five phone calls on Ural Davis’ proposed release, but no one showed up at Friday’s hearing to provide public comment in person. 

JURY RETURNS NEARLY $12 MILLION VERDICT AGAINST CALTRANS FOR VALLEY FEVER EXPOSURE IN CONTRACTOR’S WORKERS

East County News Service

January 22, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) — Residents in San Diego’s East County have raised fears of spreading Valley Fever spores in their arguments against projects ranging from a sand mine in Lakeside to solar projects in Boulevard and Jacumba.  Now a jury in Northern California has shown just how expensive a verdict might be for a government entity or company that ignores such risks.

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’: THE STORY OF MIGRATION & IMMIGRATION TO THE GOLDEN STATE JAN. 29-30

By Miriam Raftery

January 16, 2016 (Borrego Springs) - The non-profit Anza-Borrego Desert History Association (ABDNHA) in Borrego Springs announces a special two day program entitled “California Dreamin’: The Immigration and Migration History of California” to be held in Borrego Springs on January 29 and 30. This two day event will bring together a best-selling author, an anthropologist, a historian, and a genetic anthropologist to tell the full story of movement over time into what is now known as the Golden State.

CIRCLE OF ART CELEBRATES 27TH YEAR IN BORREGO SPRINGS MARCH 12-13

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

January 12, 2016 (Borrego Springs) - The 27th annual Circle of Art Show & Sale will take place March 12th & 13th in beautiful Borrego Springs.  This free outdoor art show is staged at Christmas Circle, in the heart of the village.

JACUMBA HIKERS AND WALKERS ANNOUNCE JANUARY-FEBRUARY OUTINGS

 

East County News Service

January 4, 2016 (Jacumba)--The Jacumba Hikers and Walkers have announced their schedule of hikes for January and February in the high desert region surrounding Jacumba Hot Springs. 

The hikes range from easy to extreme, covering terrain from wilderness to a desert oasis, mountains and canyons.  You’ll also see sites rich in history reflecting the region’s Native Americans, Spanish, and pioneer settlers. Other excursions including a trip to the Chinese Castle, a Garnet Mine, Goat Canyon’s railroad trestle, and a waterfall, plus dips in mineral hot springs at the Jacumba Spa and Resort.

For a full schedule, scroll down, and also be sure to read these hikng safety tips.

SUPERVISORS TO CONSIDER JOINT JURISDICTION OF BORREGO GROUNDWATER

 

East County News Service

January 2, 2016 (Borrego) -On Wednesday January 6th,  San Diego Supervisors’ agenda  includes a public hearing on authorizing the County to become a groundwater sustainability agency, giving it jurisdiction over the Borrego Valley groundwater basin—the sole source of water for the Borrego region, jointly with the Borrego Water District.

The Borrego Valley area uses four times more groundwater than is replenished annually, on average.  As a result, groundwater levels have declined over 100 feet in some parts of the Borrego Valley, due to heavy water use for irrigated agriculture, residential, and commercial users including golf courses and resorts that draw tourists to the region, as well as Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, according to a  U.S. Geological Survey study on the Borrego Valley groundwater basin from 1945-2010, done in cooperation with the Borrego Water District. View study  here.

HEARING JANUARY 22 ON SEXUALLY VIOLENT PREDATOR PLACEMENT IN JACUMBA HOT SPRINGS

 

East County News Service

January 1, 2015 (Jacumba Hot Springs)--The hearing date for the proposed placement of Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) Ural Davis will be held on January 22, 2016 at 9:00 a.m. in San Diego Superior Court,Dept. 28 (220 West Broadway).  

The Department of State Hospitals (DSH) has proposed placement of Davis at 45612 Old Highway 80, Jacumba Hot Springs.  Testimony from the public will be accepted at the hearing. In 1993, Davis was sentenced to serve 27 years in prison for sexually assaulting women in three separate cases between 1984 and 1992.

HIGH WINDS, RAIN AND SNOW TO AFFECT HOLIDAY TRAVEL

 

East County News Service

December 24, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – The National Weather Service has issued a high wind warning in effect from Christmas Eve through Christmas morning in San Diego’s mountain and desert regions.  Winds of 35-40 miles per hour with gusts up to 80 mph are forecast. 

A cold front is also moving across the region, bringing rain and snow down as low as 3,000 feet.

ANZA-BORREGO FOUNDATION OBTAINS FINAL LINK IN WILDLIFE CORRIDOR FROM DESERT TO LAGUNA MOUNTAINS



 

Source: Anza Borrego Foundation

 

December 2, 2015 (Borrego Springs) — Anza-Borrego Foundation (ABF), official partner of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, today announced final elements in conservation of the Lucky 5 Ranch in the Laguna Mountains, northeast of San Diego.

ABF purchased just under 1,130 acres and obtained a conservation easement on 433 acres to fulfill decades-long efforts by California State Parks, ABF, The Nature Conservancy, and others to connect the 4,245-acre ranch to adjacent pieces of federal and state conservation land, creating a major parcel of exceptional natural beauty and biological importance. The acreage will eventually become part of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

BRRR! FREEZE FORECAST FOR HOLIDAY WEEKEND

 

East County News Service

November 26, 2015 (San Diego's East County)--A lingering cold air mass, light winds and mostly clear skies will bring frost and freeze conditions for portions of local valleys and deserts from Friday night through Monday morning. The National Weather Service advises bringing pets in overnight to avoid harm and covering or bringing sensitive plants indoors.

Temperatures could dip into the 20s in desert areas and down to 31 degrees in inland valleys.  Below are forecast details:

 

COMMUNITY -WIDE YARD SALE & CHINESE CASTLE TOUR IN JACUMBA NOV. 14

East County News Service

November 7, 2015 (Jacumba Hot Springa) – The town of Jacumba will host a community-wide yard sale on Saturday, November 14 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. featuring hand-made crafts, art work, household items and other yard sale treasures.  Parking and admittance are free.

In addition, tours will be offered of the Chinese Castle, a historic icon in Jacumba. There is a $5 charge for the castle tour and proceeds benefit the Jacumba-Boulevard Revitalization Alliance, a 501c3.

TISDALE FIRES BACK, DEFENDS NONPROFIT B.A.D.’S EFFORTS TO BATTLE BIG ENERGY PROJECTS

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 6, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – East County Magazine has twice named Donna Tisdale our “Newsmaker of the Year” for her tireless efforts to battle massive energy projects and stand up for rural residents.  She also received the People’s Mic Award from KNSJ  Radio for her advocacy as a backcountry warrior.

But now the warrior is under attack by a series of articles (1) (2) (3) published by Voice of San Diego.  The articles criticize Tisdale and her nonprofit, Backcountry Against Dumps (BAD) for suits filed in Imperial County over desert solar projects. In essence, the series faults cash settlements paid to farmers and claims eight suits yielded no environmental benefits.

But now Tisdale is firing back in a detailed response that contends VOSD’s stories contain false statements  in a “misinformation campaign” she likens to Big Tobacco and Big Oil’s efforts to mislead the public.  “It is no coincidence that San Diego Gas & Electric’s (SDG&E’s) Mitch Mitchell is on the VOSD Board of Directors,” she observes, noting that BAD has challenged numerous SDG&E projects.  She denies personal financial gain alleged by VOSD (which presented zero evidence of such).  While the VOSD article addresses issues in 8 lawsuits not in San Diego County, BAD has filed three times that many (24), many of which did result in big wins for the environment in our region-- or developers backing off projects completely, facts that VOSD failed to report. 

Below is Tisdale’s rebuttal in full:

JACUMBA HIKERS /WALKERS ANNOUNCE NOVEMBER-DECEMBER SCHEDULE

 

East County News Service

October 24, 2015 (Jacumba Hot Springs) – Fall is in the air and it’s a great time to take a hike.  The Jacumba Hikers/Walkers have a series of hikes coming up to intriguing locations, with various levels of difficulties from easy to extreme. 

November’s destinations include Tule Canyon, Round Mountain, the Old Butterfield Stage Coach route, and Amadeo’s Straw bale cabin compound. In December, the group will hit the trail for an ancient waterfall and Davies Valley, wind caves in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, an ancient juniper forest, and the Valley of the Moon. 

DESERT JEWEL: LA CASA DEL ZORRO RESORT SHINES ANEW

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 22, 2015 (Borrego Springs) – Treasure hunters have long been drawn to the Anza-Borrego Desert, seeking gold and precious gemstones. But the real treasure to be found today is La Casa del Zorro Resort, restored to its former splendor with a hospitality that welcomes all—a sparkling oasis amid the desert sands.

Whether you’re heading out for this weekend’s 50th anniversary Borrego Days Desert Festival and parade, or seeking an off-season adventure in summer, spring or fall, La Casa del Zorro provides a delightful haven year-round.

U.C. STUDY FINDS MOST UTILITY SOLAR SITES IN CALIFORNIA ARE INCOMPATIBLE WITH ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 20, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) –  Increasingly, San Diegans are drawing power from large desert solar facilities built in Imperial County, with similar facilities slated for the farthest east portions of our County in Boulevard and Jacumba.  The projects are being pushed forward to help meet California’s ambitious goal to have 40% of electricity from renewables by 2030 under a new law approved by Governor Jerry Brown.

But now a new study by the University of California, Berkeley finds that reliance on remote solar projects creates environmental problems. 

FLASH FLOOD WATCH MONDAY AND TUESDAY FOR MOUNTAINS AND DESERTS

 

East County News Service

File photo: Flooded road in Pine Valley, by Alex Tardy, National Weather Service

September 20, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch, cautioning that heavy rainfall and flash flooding is possible from Monday afternoon through Tuesday in San Diego’s eastern mountains and deserts.

Rainfall could exceed two inches in mountains and could top an inch in the deserts.  Recent wildfire burned areas will be particularly susceptible to flash flooding and debris flows.

50TH ANNIVERSARY BORREGO DAYS DESERT FESTIVAL: “THOSE WERE THE DAYS” OCT. 23-25

 

By Miriam Raftery

September 19, 2015 (Borrego Springs) -- The Borrego Days Desert Festival has a long history of launching the peak season for Southern California’s desert region—welcoming snowbirds and enticing locals to join together after a long summer for a weekend of celebration.

 This year, the festival marks its 50th anniversary with a theme of “Those Were the Days” Oct. 23-25, aiming to create new memories for young and old alike. Live entertainment on the main stage, artists, a children’s fun zone, outdoor shopping, gourmet food trucks, beer and beverage garden, vendors, as well as a Saturday parade featuring flyover, equestrians, marching bands, floats, clowns, dancers, classic cars and more are all planned.

ALERT: HIGHWAY 78 CLOSED DUE TO MUDSLIDES, FLASH FLOODING

 

September 7, 2015 (San Diego's East County)--As remnants of Hurricane Linda hit our high desert and mountain regions, a Sig Alert has been issued for State Route 78.  The highway is closed down from S-2 to Borrego Springs due to mudslides. Flash flooding is also reported on State Route 78 at Yaqui Pass.

There is also heavy rain reported in the southeast portion of the county. Reader Milt Cyphert e-mailed this message: "In Jacumba we had a brief downpour. But, the major storm was Northwest of us. Machine-gun-like lightning strikes and the subsequent thunder claps and booms rattled windows and lungs here. I can only imagine what it must have been like up there where it was happening."

Sign up to receive free East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts via e-mail at the top right side of our homepage and also receive our free weekly newsletter.  We thank the Grossmont Healthcare District for their generous sponsorship of our alerts, helping to keep you safe and informed.

UPDATE ON JACUMBA WATER SALE FOR SOITEC PROJECT

 

East County News Service         

September 6, 2015 (Jacumba Hot Springs)--In an August 21 article, we quoted a former Jacumba Planning Group chair who indicated that the Local Government Formation Commission (LAFCO) has a rule prohibiting water sales outside of Jacumba’s water district.

JUDGE ORDERS SEXUAL PREDATOR IN JACUMBA BACK TO STATE MENTAL HOSPITAL

 

East County News Service

Aug 28, 2015 (San Diego)-- San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis announced today that Gary Snavely, a diagnosed pedophile and sexually-violent predator was ordered by Judge Louis R. Hanoian to return to Coalinga State Hospital, a mental facility, after violating the terms of his release. The violations included misuse of medications, failing to remain appropriately clothed at all times on his property while in public view, and failing to report any and all instances of sexual thoughts and fantasies involving sexual deviance to treatment staff.

MOTHER AND INFANT KILLED IN BORREGO SPRINGS CRASH

 

By Miriam Raftery

August 21, 2015 (Borrego Springs)—A mother and her infant son are dead of injuries sustained in a two-vehicle collision that occurred yesterday shortly before 4 p.m. in Borrego Springs. Three other people were injured, according to the California Highway Patrol.

QUESTIONS RAISED OVER ANZA-BORREGO BURN

 

 

 

East County News Service

File photo by Nadin Abbott:  San Felipe wildfire, a prescribed burn  in San Diego's East County that got out of control in 2013.

August 21, 2015 (Anza-Borrego)—East County residents and a fire official have voiced concerns over a prescribed burn scheduled to be conducted by the California State Parks service today in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

“My opinion, not wise!” says Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna at the Verdugo Fire Academy in Los Angeles. DiGiovanna also author’s the “Chief’s Corner” column on East County Magazine. He questions why a burn would be done in mid-summer amid drought conditions. “I don't have all the facts," he acknowledges, "however, fuel moisture content is the lowest ever. We have bone dry drought conditions. We have over 11,000 firefighters on the west fighting multiple major blazes. Aircraft, resources, personnel are stripped thin. We risk it? What if it gets away?”

PRESCRIBED BURN SET IN ANZA BORREGO DESERT STATE PARK TODAY

 

 

August 21, 2015 (Anza-Borrego)--California State Parks is scheduled to conduct a limited prescribed burn on park lands today, conditions permitting.  This burn will occur in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park at Carrizo Marsh. The burn will impact travel on roadways in the burn area.

JUDGE OVERTURNS COUNTY APPROVALS OF SOITEC BOULEVARD PROJECTS

 

Update, August 21, 2015:  Donna Tisdale notified us that the backcountry "celebration over the death of Soitec's Boulevard projects was a bit premature. Today, County staff informed me that Soitec is going to remove the 160 cargo containers full of potentially toxic batteries from their Rugged Solar project and will resubmit the revised EIR for certification by the Board of Supervisors. (Back in February, Soitec self-terminated their Tierra Del Sol Solar project just 1 month after receiving Board approval due to a lack of buyers.) Staff is trying to docket the revised EIR for the Board agenda by October so they can meet the Court's order to report back by November 2nd on how they plan to comply," adds Tisdale, who concludes, "The battle to save the backcountry continues."

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: A Soitec solar panel in Newbury Springs, California

August 20, 2015 (Boulevard) – The last of four massive solar projects proposed by Soitec Solar in Boulevard may now be officially dead.

On August 7th, Superior Court Judge Joel R. Wohlfeil  overturned County Supervisors’ approvals of Soitec’s Rugged Acres and Tierra del Sol projects,  because the approvals violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)  Soitec and the County failed to file an appeal by the August 14th deadline, says Donna Tisdale, chair of the Boulevard Planning Group and founder of Backcountry Against Dumps, which filed the lawsuit aiming to halt the project. View the court's judgment.

“Soitec’s Boulevard projects, approved for 1,200 acres, are now dead and buried!” Tisdale wrote in an email to project opponents. Any new projects proposed for those sites would need to start all over at step one,” requiring a new environmental impacts review, a lengthy and costly process. “I have asked the County for details on when they will set aside their voided approvals, as mandated by the court,” Tisdale added.

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