Deserts

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: A WILD NIGHT SIGHT

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 25, 2015 (Borrego Springs) -- You just never know what you might see on a warm desert night out in Borrego Springs! 

This shot by our editor, Miriam Raftery, was taken on the summer solstice eve.  The figure at left, a photography student on Dennis Mammana's night sky photography tour, is facing off with a sculpture of a giant sloth (a creature that once roamed the Anza-Borrego Desert). The gigantic metal sculpture is one of many created by artist Richard Breceda that appear tto rise from the desert floor, captivating the imaginations of young and old alike.

The moon, Venus, and Jupiter are faintly visible in the sky above.

HEAT ADVISORY ISSUED FOR EAST COUNTY

 

County News Service; photo via PhotoSpin

June 16, 2015 (San Diego’s East County)--With prolonged high temperatures expected to reach up to 115 in San Diego County deserts over the next few days, County health officials are reminding the public to take precautions to avoid heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses.

The National Weather Service in San Diego has issued a heat advisory in effect now through Sunday at 7 p.m. for the lower desert areas of eastern San Diego County. Temperatures inland will be anywhere from 5 to 10 degrees above average with high temperatures forecast of 112 to 115 degrees. Nighttime temperatures will only drop into the 80s. Mountain and foothill areas in the county are expected to be warm as well with highs in the 90s. Coastal areas will be near-normal temperatures.

The County operates the Cool Zones program and has designated more than 115 air-conditioned buildings as cooling centers. Locations and hours of operation can be found on a new interactive map on CoolZones.org or by calling 2-1-1 San Diego. The sites are identified by a light blue Polar Bear Cool Zone logo.

304-ACRE SOLAR PROJECT PROPOSED IN JACUMBA HOT SPRINGS SPARKS CONTROVERSY

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

 

 “This is a recipe for disaster, potentially putting us in harm’s way AND increasing our already high fire insurance policies…This is a project that could generate dangerous chemical fires that when spread, could cause property damage as well as loss of life.”—Danielle Cook , member, Jacumba-Boulevard Revitalization Committee

June 13, 2015 (Jacumba Hot Springs)—A proposed industrial-scale solar facility near Jacumba is sparking heated controversy, with some residents raising concerns over fire danger and impacts on  local water supplies, wildlife, traffic and public safety.

NextEra Energy, a division of Florida Power and Light, wants to cover 108 acres of a 304 acre site in the Jacumba area with 81,109 solar photovoltaic modules on 2,253 tilting rack panels—along with a collector substation, transmission lines, and lithium battery energy story systems in containers the size of cargo cars.  Ultimately, the project would produce up to 20 megawatts of power, according to a draft environmental impact report prepared by the consulting firm DUDEK.

SUMMER NIGHT SKY TOURS IN ANZA BORREGO DESERT

 

East County News Service

June 12, 2015 (Borrego Springs)--Dazzling sights can be viewed each night in the clear dark skies over Southern California's Anza-Borrego Desert―including colorful stars, stellar clusters, planets, star-forming nebulae, Earth-orbiting satellites, distant galaxies and more. 

Famed astronomer and night sky photographer Dennis Mammana invites you to treat yourself or your family to an inspiring and personalized tour of the cosmos above Borrego Springs—California’s first and only International Dark Sky community – with the power of a large telescope and one of America’s favorite celestial tour guides. The summer 2015 night sky tour schedule is now available at http://www.borregonightskytours.com/.

4.1 QUAKE RATTLES BORREGO

 

East County News Service

May 31, 2015 (Borrego Springs)--If you felt the earth move under your feet Sunday morning at 6:02 a.m., that’s because a 4.1 earthquake centered 7 miles northeast of Borrego Springs rattled our region.  Our news partner, 10 News, reports the quake was felt as far away as Escondido, but the Sheriff’s Department did not receive any reports of damage.

OCOTILLO WIND FAILS TO PRODUCE POWER PROMISED FOR SECOND YEAR IN A ROW

Fraud issue heightened by 2nd year of weak wind energy output. So why isn't the federal government taking action?

By Miriam Raftery

May 29, 2015 (Ocotillo) – Last year, our award-winning investigative story, Was It Fraud?  raised serious questions over why Pattern Energy’s Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility produced only 15% capacity factor in 2013—far less than the 34 percent capacity factor that Pattern promised the federal government in order to obtain lucrative federal subsidies. Even after accounting for time when a fallen blade shut down the project, capacity factor for the remaining months still averaged less than 19 percent.

Now, the figures are in for 2014—and the Ocotillo wind project again under-performed, this time reaching 24 percent capacity factor:

WATER CUTS HIT HARD IN BORREGO SPRINGS

 

East County News Service

May 25, 2015 (Borrego Springs)--An emergency order issued by Governor Jerry Brown is having a harsher impact on some communities than others, since the slash-water-use requirements make no distinction between northern forested communities and places like Borrego Springs, which is located in the Anza-Borrego desert.

BLUES' BREWS AND BARBEQUE THIS SATURDAY IN JACUMBA HOT SPRINGS

East County News Service                                                                                                     

April 29, 2015 (Jacumba Hot Springs)--The Jacumba Arts Council presents the fourth annual Blues Fest this Saturday, May 2nd from 2-7 p.m.  After 7 p.m. there will be a 'monster jam'. The event is sponsored by the Jacumba Hot Springs Spa & Resort and will take place at the Jacumba Hot Springs Spa located on Old Highway 80.  Admission is free, non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks will be available for purchase along with delicious varieties of barbeque.

SANDAG OPENS PUBLIC COMMENTS ON NEW REGIONAL PLAN, ANNOUNCES HEARINGS: SEEKS LOCATIONS IN EAST COUNTY

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

April 25, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) has released a $200 billion, 35-year regional growth plan for the county titled "San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan."   The plan lays out visions for transportation, sustainability and growth through 2050 including higher density land use along transportation corridors.

Several public hearings will be held including a May 13th hearing at 6 p.m. in La Mesa’s community center.  But thus far, no hearings have been schedule in East County’s mountain, desert or rural areas.

East County Magazine asked the County why no hearings are scheduled in those areas. We pointed out that rural, mountain and desert areas lack public transit, making it difficult for residents to travel long distances to attend hearings in San Diego or even La Mesa.  In response, the County indicated it could hold additional workshops potentially if a community group to partner with could be found.

IN-KO-PAH 2: MUSIC UNDER THE STARS AT DESERT VIEW TOWER MAY 2

 

April 6, 2015 (In-Ko-Pah)—The second annual In-Ko-Pah classic desert concert will be held  on May 2nd .   This outdoor high-desert concert will be held at the Desert View Tower, a state historical monument perched on a rocky hillside overlooking the Anza-Borrego Desert. The In-Ko-Pah offers music lovers and naturalists alike a chance to experience an overnight event within our Southwest region.

ASTHMA "DEADLY" FROM "DARK" AIR IN IMPERIAL COUNTY, REPORT FINDS

 

Did researchers miss a key cause: scraping desert soils for renewable energy projects?

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Jim Pelley: Dust from construction at Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility

April 25, 2015 (Imperial Valley) – Just over the San Diego County line in Imperial County, the Center for Investigative Reporting found the air is “dark and asthma is deadly along the Mexico border.”

YUCCA BLOOMS ADD FLOWERING FINISH TO ORGANIC SALAD

 

April 20, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – Greg and Dianne Dunne have submitted this tempting recipe – ideal for hiking enthusiasts and nature lovers in our high desert regions.   Spanish Yucca blossoms are “growing everywhere and in bloom right now,” says Greg Dunne, a produce manager, though the special ingredient here is one you’ll have to harvest yourself.

CONGRESS PASSES MEASURE TO ALLOW SELLING OFF NATIONAL FORESTS AND OTHER PUBLIC LANDS

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Cleveland National Forest, courtesy National Forest Service

April 6, 2015 (San Diego’s East County)—The Republican-controlled House and Senate have passed measures that would allow the sale or outright giveaway of most public lands –including national forests, federal wildernesses and  wildlife preserves and Bureau of Land Management properties.  Only Republicans voted for the language slipped into a non-binding budget resolution—which passed without a single Democratic vote. 

The shocking news is revealed in a New York Times editorial by Will Rogers, president of the Trust for Public Lands, titled “Our Land, Up for Grabs.”  

While it’s unlikely that President Barack Obama would support such an extreme measure, if a Republican president is elected in 2016 and Republicans maintains control of both houses of Congress, losing our cherished public lands such could be a very real possibility.

Here in San Diego County alone, that could mean the demise of:  Cleveland National Forest,  Otay Mountain Wildnerness, Hauser Wilderness, Pine Creek , Carrizo Gorge, Sawtooth Mountains Wilderness , Agua Tibia Wilderness, San Diego National Wildlife Refuge, San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge , Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge, McCain Valley National Recreation Area and more.

WHY IS ROUNDUP, A PROBABLE CARCINOGEN, BEING SPRAYED OVER OCOTILLO'S ONLY WATER SUPPLY?

 

By Miriam Raftery

April 1, 2015 (Ocotillo) – Residents of Ocotillo after discovering in late March that a powerful herbicide was been sprayed on desert soil over a federally protected aquifer – the town’s sole-source water supply.

DESTINATION EAST COUNTY: TOP FESTIVALS AND EVENTS MARCH 21 - APRIL 12

 

By Miriam Raftery

March 17, 2015 (San Diego’s East County)--This week’s Destination East County includes a star party and a free community festival in Lakeside, theater, and musical events. Plus we’ll have a preview of coming attractions including some major music festivals, historical renactments, egg hunt extravaganzas and a family fiddle camp.  Stay tuned for all of these events and much more, from East County Magazine.

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLARS

 

March 12, 2015 (Anza Borrego Desert) -  Kristin Kjaero visited the Anza Borrego desert Tuesday, where she observed "thousands of caterpillars in a feeding frenzy...The roads were dotted with yellow splotches."  Standing still for just a few moments to take a photo, she adds, "I had caterpillars crawl onto each foot."

CATERPILLARS MUNCHING DOWN DESERT WILDFLOWERS

 

Photo: "Hummingbird Moth (9691010084)" by Larry Lamsa - Hummingbird MothUploaded by PDTillman. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

March 10, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) - Anza Borrego’s desert wildflowers are both beautiful and fragile.

COURT THROWS OUT RESTRICTIONS ON SEX OFFENDERS' HOUSING

 

By Miriam Raftery

March 2, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – California’s Supreme Court has invalidated a portion of Jessica’s Law, tossing out as unconstitutional restrictions that prevented sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools, parks or other places with children.

WILDFLOWERS ARE BLOOMING IN ANZA-BORREGO DESERT

 

 

February 28, 2015 (Borrego) - Wildflower season has begun and annual flowers, including purple phacelia and yellow desert dandelion, are blooming at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Visitor Center.

SEARCH UNDERWAY FOR MISSING HIKER WHO LEFT ANZA TWO WEEKS AGO

 

Hikers find belongings 13 miles off Highway 79, north of Warner Springs

East County News Service

February 24, 2015 (San Diego) updated February 26, 2015—San Diego Search and Rescue Crews are hunting for a 28-year-old hiker, Chris Sylvia, who left Anza, California on Thursday, February 12th to hike south on the Pacific Crest Trail for a week or more. He called a friend February 16th to meet him near Warner Springs to pickup supplies on February 17th, but never arrived.   

His friend told authorities he assumed Sylvia had continued his hike without stopping. But when he failed to reach his final destination, Campo, Sylvia’s friend became concerned and contacted the Sheriff on February 24.

Also on the 24th, other hikers found gear including a sleeping bag, sleeping pad and backpack that appear to belong to Sylvia. His identification was also found at this site approximately 13 miles off Highgway 79, north of Warner Springs.

STATE APPROVES FUNDS FOR JACUMBA AIRPORT UPGRADES

 

East County News Service

February 4, 2015 (Jacumba Hot Springs) -- The state has approved funding for construction of infrastructure improvements at the Jacumba Hot Springs airport . Back in 2012, County Supervisors authorized a co-pay with the state to pave the runway and make other upgrades.

DESERT VIEW TOWER: EAST COUNTY'S HISTORIC HIGHWAY STOP

 

 

By Hayden Parsley

January 29, 2015 (Jacumba Hot Springs)—Take a trip into California’s past at the Desert View Tower, a quirky and whimsical relic of the past that is still open to the public in San Diego’s East County.  Located just off Interstate 8 at the In-ko-Pah exit, the tower is poised on a rocky overlook surrounded by desert on all sides.

Built in the 1920s by Bert Vaughn, a real estate tycoon who owned much of Jacumba,  this 70-foot watchtower has become a tourist attraction and a local landmark on the outskirts of the small town today known as Jacumba Hot Springs.

WIND TURBINE BURSTS INTO FLAMES IN OCOTILLO

By Miriam Raftery

January 17, 2015 (Ocotillo) –A wind turbine at the Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility burst into flames on January 15th.  East County Magazine photographer Jim Pelley, an Ocotillo resident, caught the incident on video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGYvHM5KlJs&feature=youtu.be. The Siemens 2.3-108 turbine was a 2.3 megawatt  model with 108 meter blades.  The turbine (#110) is located along a mining road.

“There were no injuries,” Jeff Grappone from Siemens told ECM.  An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the fire, he stated in an e-mail.  The equipment impacted (six turbines on one circuit) has been de-energized, a safe perimeter established and the tower is being monitored continuously, he indicated.

EXPERTS VOICE ALARM OVER SURVIVAL OF LOCAL BIGHORN SHEEP

 

By Miriam Raftery

March 17, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – Could big energy projects proposed in East County lead to the decimation of federally endangered Peninsular Bighorn Sheep? 

From 1972 to the present, the Carrizo Gorge band of these bighorns has plummeted from about 120 sheep to less than 40.  “Off-road vehicles, trespassing cattle, poaching in the 1960s and ‘70s, drought, disease and Mountain Lion predation have worked together to push this population o the edge. We hope we can save this group before it is too late,” Mark Jorgensen, advisor to the Bighorn Institute and former Superintendent of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park wrote in the Desert News.

In his comments submitted on  four solar projects proposed by Soitec in Boulevard, Jorgensen writes that “Construction of yet another group of solar projects will further impede the free movement of wildlife by reducing habitat connectivity and ruining wildlife corridors.”  He further notes that Soitec’s sites are very near lands purchased and set aside specifically to protect species  the endangered bighorn, golden eagles and other species in peril.

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