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By Ken Danielson


Photo, left: Google Earth image of water systems


Photo, right by Miriam Raftery:  Lark campground, before construction of Tule Wind


June 18, 2020 (McCain Valley) -- Many of you have probably visited the Cottonwood campground at the end of McCain Valley road. (Identical conditions exist at the Lark Canyon Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) park midway to Cottonwood). I’ve been camping there for more than 40 years. Even with the industrialization of the valley. it has remained a gem. 

There are brand new, complete water systems at both sites that have been UNUSED AND DISCONNECTED for seven or eight years. These are full six feet deep wells with solar panel systems and DC submersible pumps and motor controllers. They built two massive reinforced concrete tanks just at Cottonwood that have been empty for many years. My educated guess is that $250,000 was spent on these. 


I have been trying for two years through “channels” at the Bureau of Land Management to get them turned on. The fire danger at these campgrounds is off the chart! There are stacks of huge oak logs cut from beetle killed oaks that campers can build fires with- BUT NO WATER. There is no cell connection either so even a small fire could get big fast. It goes without saying that it’s windy out there! 


Photos, right by Ken Danielson: Flowers in McCain Valley, a botanical paradise


There are water tanks along McCain Valley Road with red signs saying “fire suppression water” filled by Cal Fire to protect the windmill area. Why is the campground 1/2 a mile farther along not provided with water? It’s criminal. 


Seeing these full tanks along the route with the campgrounds empty convinced me I had to take more action. Last week I called Diane Jacob’s office and talked to two staffers who never heard of Cottonwood- still no call back. I called the head of the California BLM, no call back. Congressman Juan Vargas, no call back! San Diego Union-Tribune, no call back. 


I’m the kind of person they can ignore but maybe some of you have “connections.

The opinions in this editorial reflect the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. To submit an editorial for consideration, contact

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Nobody Cares

Hi Ken!  My husband and I were involved in trying to stop the Tule Wind Farm from being built in McCain Valley for three years. Cottonwood Campground was our favorite campground for decades. Promises were made in the EIR that apparently haven't been kept according to your account. They were going to put in shade ramadas and BBQs. BBQs if you can believe that!  They also were going to provide patrols for motorcycles that didn't stay where they were supposed to as mitigation. I was moved to write an article at that time for this magazine, like you did now, because nobody cared back then either. Apparently, they still don't. BTW, how ironic that the campground had an old windmill (the remains of it are still there) that used to pump water for the campground before it was replaced with what you mentioned in your article. which we also observed. How sad that nobody cares! We don't camp there anymore.  


Yes. It used to be a

Yes. It used to be a wonderful drive along McCain valley too. Now I have to mentally disassociate until I arrive. It seems obvious to me they wish the campground would just “go away” (burn down, become a wreck, etc) so they could jam a few more windmills in there. The fact that both CalFire and Bureau of Land Management have dedicated staff to protect the windmills but literally deny responsibility for the few hundred acres they inclose is appalling. Who ordered the water turned off? This is intentional- or Incompetent. Take your choice. They could “solve the problem “ in an hour with a water tanker.