I have nothing against someone shutting themselves up in a windowless office in New York City and pounding internet posts about California designed to trap clicks.
Before making any breathtaking declarations, though, I’d appreciate it if you could do a little research based on history, whether it’s relatively recent or 100 years old.
Such declarations range from ridiculous to believable.
Both methods help skew the perspectives of people who are important for building consensus to address various issues and concerns.
An example of absurdity a few years ago was one of a never-ending list of websites cranking out.
In this example, they were the 10 fastest growing cities in California.
Chico was the number one city to watch in 2019.
Chico’s population grew by nearly 20%.
A quick Wikipedia search revealed that Chico is a college town with 2,500 acres of Bidwell Park.
I then used these two facts to write an impassioned text that owes people’s attraction to Chico to the environment and comforts of the university and to the plotless park system.
Little details. Chico took on most of the people evacuated from the campfires the year before when PG&E burned down Paradise, in all he lost 15,000 homes.
This brings us to one of the “fun facts” inserted into the website’s article on American River Cruises, which launched what it called “the first California river cruise” in 80 years.
The cruise itinerary happens to include an excursion up the San Joaquin River to Stockton.
“River cruises are rare in California, an unfortunate consequence of limited waterways and intermittent drought,” the authors write.
Let me excuse myself as Ricky tells Lucy.
And this explanation irritates hardcore environmentalists and those who think that the only good rivers are concrete-covered rivers, whether they’re dams or actual riverbeds like the Los Angeles River. Don’t worry, it’s highly possible.
First, California is neither Midwest nor South nor East Coast.
Much of California is blessed, and sometimes cursed, by the fact that it enjoys a Mediterranean climate.
Most of California, southern and southwestern Australia, central Chile, the Western Cape of South Africa, and the Mediterranean Basin are the five basic Mediterranean climate regions of the world.
A great place to grow fruit and nuts and avoid extreme temperatures almost year-round.
It is also a place where there is basically no rain all year round.
Many of California’s wildest rivers dry up at certain times of the year or become so shallow that you can traverse them ankle-deep.
Then there’s the issue of rivers that flow directly into the Pacific Ocean, whether or not they’ve been turned into monuments to the cement gods.
They are different animals than the rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, much of the East Coast, and even the Great Lakes.
It also doesn’t help that California’s leaders haven’t seen a river they don’t want to put dozens of dams or anything on for the better part of a century.
Furthermore, there are few details, such as the fact that 40% of San Francisco Bay and about 80% of the original tidal flats have been filled in since the 1850s. This is a scale not seen east of the Rocky Mountains.
Much like the Mississippi River, passenger ships and barges made their way to Sacramento and Stockton for decades.
Of course, this was before the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project enabled California to provide most of the nation’s vegetables, most of its fruits, and nearly all of its nuts.
After the construction of the Furianto Dam in 1942, a long stretch of the San Joaquin River, which flows through the watershed of the Central and South Sierra Rivers and is the second longest river in California at 366 miles, runs between the Fresno and Merced Rivers. dried up between confluences with .
It was during this decade that the flow recovered slightly.
From 1864 until the mid-1880s, barges made their way to San Joaquin City at the confluence of the San Joaquin and Stanislaus rivers, until railroads made barley and wheat more efficient and cheaper to move.
The shipment took place during the harvest season from late August through October.
It was bustling enough to support a hotel, two restaurants, two salons, a large warehouse, and scattered homes.
The city of San Joaquin was on the west bank of the river ten miles (10 miles) south of Manteca and Lathrop.
It was located 800 meters (0.5 miles) from today’s Airport Way Bridge. The only thing that reminds the world of what once was is the roadside historic sign less than 20 seconds drive south of Jimmy’s One Stop on Kasson Road.
The San Joaquin River, between the confluence of the Mossdale and Stanislaus rivers at Lathrop, may not have been dredged for at least the last 140 years or so.
This is important for a very big reason.
When the Central Valley Project first began operations,
A “plumbing” on the west side of the valley that sent water diverted there.
Overflow from the irrigation system was returned to the San Joaquin River after passing through the Merced River.
Not only did it upend the ecosystem, it also dumped large amounts of silt from Westside farmlands into rivers.
Longtime farmers, including the late Manteca farmer and engineer Alex Hildebrand, who was considered a shrewd water expert by many in Sacramento, said the silt flow from the West Side had stopped before it stopped. It indicated that the riverbed had been lifted.
They point to anecdotal evidence that it can be as tall as six feet.
Given the reduced capacity of rivers, this means that rivers surrounded by embankments can hold less water during periods of high flow.
Clearly dredging alone will not allow grain-laden barges to leave San Joaquin City again in late summer and early fall.
But California’s river system stresses that it’s not what most people think.
What now passes as “normal” is the result of what humans have done in the last 175 years.
It’s not just embankments and dams. We are talking about diverting water from natural bodies of water to coastal cities.
And we’re talking about hydromining of destructive placer gold that washes down hillsides and scrapes mountains.
In the years during the Gold Rush, the natural erosion timeframe was easily literally accelerated by 100 times the speed of light.
Some rivers, such as Yuba, have been significantly altered by such destructive mining operations.
There are no “limited waterways” per se in California.
And the geological area the state now covers handled an “intermittent drought” that nature had successfully handled before about 40 million people began living their California dream lives.
That was also before the Golden State began producing more than half of the non-meat and non-grain-based foods Americans consume.
Much of what we’re dealing with isn’t climate change per se, but the impact of trying to civilize the wilderness within a century and a half, adding about 40 million people to the mix.
So the solution should reflect that reality.
The destruction and severity of drought cannot be attributed to nature responding to climate change with greenhouse gases.
This is what we have done to California’s waterways, how we have ignored long-term weather patterns for the better part of 175 years.