Birds!

Birds!
Red-shouldered Hawk, Whelen Lake, Oceanside, San Diego County

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Don't fear the reaper

Apologies to Blue Oyster Cult.  But between people being in the thrall of the modern American 'health' care industry, and our unrestrained exultation of youth, the great Oliver Sacks offers some insight into the joys (no kidding!) of old age:
LAST night I dreamed about mercury — huge, shining globules of quicksilver rising and falling. Mercury is element number 80, and my dream is a reminder that on Tuesday, I will be 80 myself.
Elements and birthdays have been intertwined for me since boyhood, when I learned about atomic numbers. At 11, I could say “I am sodium” (Element 11), and now at 79, I am gold. A few years ago, when I gave a friend a bottle of mercury for his 80th birthday — a special bottle that could neither leak nor break — he gave me a peculiar look, but later sent me a charming letter in which he joked, “I take a little every morning for my health.”
Eighty! I can hardly believe it. I often feel that life is about to begin, only to realize it is almost over. My mother was the 16th of 18 children; I was the youngest of her four sons, and almost the youngest of the vast cousinhood on her side of the family. I was always the youngest boy in my class at high school. I have retained this feeling of being the youngest, even though now I am almost the oldest person I know.
I thought I would die at 41, when I had a bad fall and broke a leg while mountaineering alone. I splinted the leg as best I could and started to lever myself down the mountain, clumsily, with my arms. In the long hours that followed, I was assailed by memories, both good and bad. Most were in a mode of gratitude — gratitude for what I had been given by others, gratitude, too, that I had been able to give something back. “Awakenings” had been published the previous year.
At nearly 80, with a scattering of medical and surgical problems, none disabling, I feel glad to be alive — “I’m glad I’m not dead!” sometimes bursts out of me when the weather is perfect. (This is in contrast to a story I heard from a friend who, walking with Samuel Beckett in Paris on a perfect spring morning, said to him, “Doesn’t a day like this make you glad to be alive?” to which Beckett answered, “I wouldn’t go as far as that.”) I am grateful that I have experienced many things — some wonderful, some horrible — and that I have been able to write a dozen books, to receive innumerable letters from friends, colleagues and readers, and to enjoy what Nathaniel Hawthorne called “an intercourse with the world.”
I am sorry I have wasted (and still waste) so much time; I am sorry to be as agonizingly shy at 80 as I was at 20; I am sorry that I speak no languages but my mother tongue and that I have not traveled or experienced other cultures as widely as I should have done.
I feel I should be trying to complete my life, whatever “completing a life” means. Some of my patients in their 90s or 100s say nunc dimittis — “I have had a full life, and now I am ready to go.” For some of them, this means going to heaven — it is always heaven rather than hell, though Samuel Johnson and James Boswell both quaked at the thought of going to hell and got furious with David Hume, who entertained no such beliefs. I have no belief in (or desire for) any post-mortem existence, other than in the memories of friends and the hope that some of my books may still “speak” to people after my death.
W. H. Auden often told me he thought he would live to 80 and then “bugger off” (he lived only to 67). Though it is 40 years since his death, I often dream of him, and of my parents and of former patients — all long gone but loved and important in my life.
At 80, the specter of dementia or stroke looms. A third of one’s contemporaries are dead, and many more, with profound mental or physical damage, are trapped in a tragic and minimal existence. At 80 the marks of decay are all too visible. One’s reactions are a little slower, names more frequently elude one, and one’s energies must be husbanded, but even so, one may often feel full of energy and life and not at all “old.” Perhaps, with luck, I will make it, more or less intact, for another few years and be granted the liberty to continue to love and work, the two most important things, Freud insisted, in life.
When my time comes, I hope I can die in harness, as Francis Crick did. When he was told that his colon cancer had returned, at first he said nothing; he simply looked into the distance for a minute and then resumed his previous train of thought. When pressed about his diagnosis a few weeks later, he said, “Whatever has a beginning must have an ending.” When he died, at 88, he was still fully engaged in his most creative work.
My father, who lived to 94, often said that the 80s had been one of the most enjoyable decades of his life. He felt, as I begin to feel, not a shrinking but an enlargement of mental life and perspective. One has had a long experience of life, not only one’s own life, but others’, too. One has seen triumphs and tragedies, booms and busts, revolutions and wars, great achievements and deep ambiguities, too. One has seen grand theories rise, only to be toppled by stubborn facts. One is more conscious of transience and, perhaps, of beauty. At 80, one can take a long view and have a vivid, lived sense of history not possible at an earlier age. I can imagine, feel in my bones, what a century is like, which I could not do when I was 40 or 60. I do not think of old age as an ever grimmer time that one must somehow endure and make the best of, but as a time of leisure and freedom, freed from the factitious urgencies of earlier days, free to explore whatever I wish, and to bind the thoughts and feelings of a lifetime together.
 I am looking forward to being 80.  
Something to think about between those joyless Sudoki brain exercises and Botox treatments.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Do Eucalyptus trees engage in unfair competetion?

We've already discussed at length the controversy about extrmely successful exotics like Eucalyptus trees. But if you're committed to living with these down-under vegetables, or if you just have no real choice in the matter (they're on the neighbor's property, removal would cost too much, you need the shade as the climate shifts, you actually like them, etc.), what can you do to landscape under them.

A 2007 conversation over at GardenWeb does a pretty good job with the problem. Starting with a post that ponders the widely-held belief that "something" exuded into the soil by Eucalypti kills off competing plants, respondents weigh in with varying degrees of civility (ah, the Internets!) to arrive at some convincing approaches to the problem.
 

First off, that the Eucalyptus is in fact significantly allelopathic seems well-documented. See below for a sampling of papers on the subject.

In addition to engaging in chemical warfare, many species of Eucalyptus have other bad habits.  


While not necessarily phreatophytic, these trees can suck lots of water and nutrients from the surrounding soil ... so much so that new plants have a hard time competing.

Some species (notably Eucalpytus globulus) cast dense shade that can be troublesome for many popular ornamentals and food-bearing plants.

Finally, the shear biomass of a large Euc can mean great quantities of dropped leaves, lost branches, and bark peels that can bury or overwhelm lesser organisms.

What all this suggests is that under Eucs tough, drought-resistant, and shade-resistant plants and shrubs are probably your best best.  In addition, keeping the area clear of Euc droppings may help.

While your results may vary, some folks clam the following choices may fare well under and around Eucs.  Those marked "+" are California natives.  Many of the others listed here are moderately to highly invasive ... which may only make matters worse.  Choose wisely!

Large Shrubs, Small Trees —
Acacia longifolia SYDNEY WATTLE

+Arctostaphylos sp. MANZANITA
Callistemon citrinus LEMON BOTTLEBRUSH

Cotoneaster COTONEASTER

Escallonia ESCALLONIA

+Heteromeles arbutifolia TOYON

Melaleuca nesophila PINK MELALEUCA

Myoporum laetum COAST SANDALWOOD

+Myrica californica PACIFIC WAX MYRTLE

Nerium oleander OLEANDER

Pittosporum undulatum VICTORIAN BOX

+Rhamnus californica COFFEEBERRY

Xylosma congestum SHINEY XYOLOSMA
Medium Shrubs —
Abelia x grandiflora ABELIA

+Arctostaphylos MANZANITA 
Cistus ROCKROSES

Correa AUSTRALIAN FUCHSIAS

Cotoneaster COTONEASTER

Escallonia ESCALLONIA

Fatsia japonica JAPANESE ARALIA

Galvesia speciosa ISLAND SNAPDRAGON

Juniperus JUNIPERS

+Mahonia aquifolium OREGON GRAPE

+Mahonia nevinii NEVIN'S BARBERRY

+Mahonia pinnata Shinyleaf Mahonia/ California Barberry 
Nandina domestica HEAVENLY BAMBOO

Nerium oleander OLEANDER

Pittosporum tobira TOBIRA

Rhaphiolepis umbellata INDIAN HAWTHORNE

Ribes sanguineum glutinosum PINK-FLOWERING CURRANT

Rosmarinus officinalis ROSEMARY

Viburnum tinus LAURUSTINUS

Westringia COAST ROSEMARY
Small Shrubs —
Cistus ROCKROSE

Correa AUSTRALIAN FUCHSIA

Escallonia ESCALLONIA

+Mimulus aurantiacus and hybrids BUSH MONKYFLOWER

Nandina domestica HEAVENLY BAMBOO

Pittosporum tobira sp. Wheeler's Dwarf DWARF TOBIRA

Rhaphiolepis umbellata INDIAN HAWTHORNE

Sollya heterophylla AUSTRALIAN BLUEBELL CREEPER
Large Perennials —
Acanthus mollis BEAR'S BREECH

Dietes vegeta FORTNIGHT LILY

Elymus condensatus BLUE WILDRYE

Phormium tenax NEW ZEALAND FLAX
Small to Medium Perennials —
Agapanthus LILY-OF-THE-NILE

Aristea ecklonii BLUE STAR IRIS

Asparagus (many) ASPARAGUS "FERN"

Bergenia cordifolia PIG'S SQUEAK

Clivia miniata KAFFIR LILY

Dianella tasmanica FLAX LILY

Helleborus lividus corsicus CORSICAN HELLEBORE

Hemerocallis DAYLILIES

Heuchera maxima CORAL BELLS

Liriope LILY TURF

Muhlenbergia rigens DEER GRASS

Nephrolepis cordifolia SOUTHERN SWORD FERN

Pelargonium GERANIUMS

Penstemon BEARDTONGUES

Phormium tenax (dwarf cultivars) NEW ZEALAND FLAX
Ground Covers —
Aptenia cordifolia RED APPLE

+Arctostaphylos TRAILING MANZANITA

Coprosma kirkii TRAILING COPROSMA

Cotoneaster TRAILING COTONEASTERS

Duchesnea indica MOCK STRAWBERRY

Hedera IVIES

Juniperus TRAILING JUNIPERS

+Mahonia repens CREEPING BARBERRY

Myoporum parvifolium TRAILING SANDALWOOD

Ophiopogon japonicus MONDO GRASS

Vinca major TRAILING PERIWINKLE
Vines —
Distictis TRUMPET VINES

x Fatshedera lizei BOTANICAL WONDER

Hardenbergia violacea WINTER WISTERIA
Hedges/Screens —
Acacia longifolia SYDNEY WATTLE

Callistemon citrinus LEMON BOTTLEBRUSH

Hakea suaveolens SWEET HAKEA

Juniperus JUNIPER

Ligustrum japonicum JAPANESE PRIVET

Myoporum laetum COAST SANDALWOOD

+Myrica californica PACIFIC WAX MYRTLE

Nerium oleander OLEANDER

Pittosporum eugenioides WAVY-LEAF PITTOSPORUM

Pittosporum tobira TOBIRA

Prunus ilicifolia HOLLYLEAF CHERRY

Rosmarinus officinalis ROSEMARY

Viburnum tinus LAURUSTINUS

Westringia COAST ROSEMARY

Xylosma congestum SHINEY XYLOSMA

Well, there you have it.  We'll update this post as we experiment with these ideas.  Good luck, and good botonizing.

 

* * *

Papers supporting the proposition that the Eucalyptus is significantly allelopathic:
Allelopathy: How Plants Suppress Other Plants by James J. Ferguson, professor, Bala Rathinasabapathi, associate professor, Horticultural Sciences Department, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida at Gainesville.

Pulmonate gastropod species composition inside and outside eucalyptus forests by Michael J. WalGren and Lisa E. Andreano, California Department of Parks and Recreation, Morro Bay State Park, 1 Lower State Park Road, Morro Bay, CA.

FINAL LAND MANAGEMENTPLAN BURTON MESA ECOLOGICAL RESERVE, State of California, DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME.

California drought is a risk to my beer?!

From Grist ...

As Jeremy Marshall, Lagunitas’ head brewer, tells NPR, the Petaluma-based outfit prides itself on using “that unique, signature, clean Russian River water,” to achieve the deliciousness of their beers. But as Lake Mendocino, the Russian River’s major source, dries up, it could mean they’ll have to resort to a less tasty option: groundwater.

“It would be like brewing with Alka-Seltzer,” Marshall says.

So yes, your beer is under threat. 

Worse yet, mine is too!

Not only will we have to develop drought-hardy barley and contend with price spikes in the face of climate change, shriveling rivers could translate into a shift in water sources that would lend a certain harsh taste to your favorite brews.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Kill your lawn!

Grass lawns are the default for most American yards, but a some folks are starting to realize there are other options such edible landscaping, xeriscaping, or low-maintenance groundcovers.  Better yet, go Native!

The continuing drought emergency in California is also causing some gardeners to rethink their water-, time-, and chemical-guzzling grass landscapes.

History 

Lawns as we know them may have originated as grassed enclosures within early medieval settlements used for communal grazing of livestock, and were probably not all that distinguishable from pasture fields.  

Over time lawns became popular with European landed aristocracy, but before the invention of mowing machines in 1830 they required enormous inputs of cheap manual labor.  Indeed, keeping a large, heavily manicured lawn showed that the owner could afford to opulently own and keep land that was not being used for housing or food production.  

These European aesthetics eventually took root(!) in America, aided by the romantic and transcendentalist movements of the 1800s (and by the Shakers, who in the late 1700s began the first industrial production of high-quality grass seed in North America).  Some experts also point to the rise of war memorials after the Civil War as having increased demand for large manicured lawns.

The geographic expansion of grass lawns was completed when these un-creative anachronisms were imported to the mostly-arid West as pioneers were replaced by suburbanites emigrating from the much wetter Eastern U.S.

How to kill your lawn!

Before starting, you'll want to ensure that your grand plan doesn't run counter to CC&Rs or other  restrictions in your neighborhood.  And while much progress has been made, some communities still view anything other than a lush green lawn as "weeds" which must be "abated" annually.

Once you've determined that you're going to kill your lawn, you'll need to first remove the existing grass.  Experts offer two main approaches: an organic technique that uses no pesticides, or a chemical method that employs an herbicide.

The organic method begins with placing plastic sheeting on top of the grass. "You need something that will totally stop the gas exchange of the atmosphere," Kowalewski said. "You're essentially suffocating the plant." In the heat of summer it could take 2-3 weeks to kill the grass.

The conventional (chemical) method is to spray a non-selective herbicide such as glyphosate on the grass in early morning and away from other plants. Apply again two weeks later to kill any dormant weed seeds that may have germinated.
Caution!  When applying garden chemicals, always wear protective clothing and follow the instructions on the label carefully!
Regardless of which method you choose, experts recommend scalping down the live grass with a mower, then scalping down the dead grass with a mower when it turns brown and aerating the deceased lawn.




 
Since living grass root parts will probably remain underground, it's prudent to completely remove any sod as well. A hand- or gas-powered sod cutter can be rented to separate the sod from the soil. Adjust the blade depth one-half to one-quarter inch. Afterward rake up sod manually with a square shovel or pitchfork.  This material can then be composted by using the 'heap' or 'trench' method, which will over time cook the roots to death.

Now what?

With the old turfgrass successfully removed, you're ready to establish your new landscape.  Good luck, and thanks for helping to conserve our shrinking water supplies!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Anheuser-Busch to buy Blue Point Brewing

The LA Times reports that The North American subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev, maker of Budweiser and Stella Artois, is moving into the craft beer business, announcing Wednesday it will buy Blue Point Brewing Co., a N.Y. craft brewery.

Blue Point first began brewing craft beers 15 years ago in Patchogue, N.Y., and has become popular on the East Coast.

Anheuser-Busch did not disclose terms of the deal, but the move is the latest in efforts to expand AB InBev's footprint.

This move follows in the footsteps of Chicago-based mega-brewer MillerCoors acquiring the once-delightful Blue Moon brand.

Then there's Redhook Brewing, which began as a craft brewery back in the 80s. Since then, however, it has formed the company Craft Beer Alliance Inc. (with Widmer and Kona) and Anheuser-Busch InBev owns about 35 percent of the company.



Or consider Goose Island which was acquired by Anheuser-Busch InBev for $38.8 million in 2011.

Or what about Magic Hat, which had all the makings of a great craft brewery when it opened up shop in the early 90s. But they acquired Pyramid Brewing, then enticed North American Breweries (the company that owns Labatt and a few other imports) to purchase the entire conglomerate.

Nor is Leinenkugel a craft brew. Aside from being owned by SABMiller, it has been reported that Lenkie uses "adjunct ingredients" for flavor enhancement. Scurrilous.

Finally, if you’ve been to Hawaii, you’ve had a Kona. Actually, you can find them all over the place (36 states to be exact). That's because 35 percent of Kona is owned by Anheuser-Busch.

***
Ah, capitalism. If someone figures out a better way than you to do something ... buy and absorb them!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Renewable Energy Could Generate $4 Billion to Aid in Salton Sea Restoration

The Imperial Irrigation District (IID) has released the “Salton Sea Revenue Potential Study” which estimates that development of renewable energy in the Salton Sea area could generated $4 billion in revenues for Salton Sea restoration over a 30 year period. The study considered revenue potential from development of geothermal, solar and biofuels, as well as other revenue sources. Geothermal development alone could produce two gigawatts of power.

The once vibrant Salton Sea ecosystem is under increasing stress from a number of factors, including water transfers to costal California. State and local governments are committed to restoring the Sea, but have yet to identify a feasible funding source. The Salton Sea Authority, a joint governmental agency that includes IID, is currently undertaking a feasibility and funding study in conjunction the State of California to determine potential revenue streams. The Authority is in discussions with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to review and augment the IID study using NREL expertise in long term development and marketing of renewables in the western United States. NREL recently concluded its own study entitled “Beyond Renewable Portfolio Standards: An Assessment of Regional Supply and Demand Conditions Affecting the Future of Renewable Energy in the West.” 


SaltonSea 







Sunday, January 26, 2014

Eucalyptus: Beauty or Beast?

Over at High Country News J. Madeleine Nash has posted an interesting piece on California's non-native Eucalyptus population, and focused on the well-known Blue Gum groves of  Montaña de Oro State Park near Morro Bay.

On one side of the controversy are folks who identify themselves as environmentalists, and who want to remove such non-natives to restore our badly disrupted native ecosystem.  These folks also worry about the pervasive spread of such exotics, and the increased fire hazard they create.

On the other side of the controversy are folks who also identify themselves as environmentalists, and who view these exotic trees as having just as much right to exist as indigenous Redwoods, Sequoias, or Oaks.  Apparently in their view all trees are equally wonderful, and equally huggable.

The money quote comes from environmental historian Jared Farmer, author of "Trees in Paradise: A California History."  Farmer says many see in these immigrant trees an experience that parallels their own.
"There are still a significant number of Californians who are the first generation in the state. They have come to love California. They have come to think of it as home. And they feel this kinship with the eucalyptus. They say to themselves, 'This tree is not from here, but it's beautiful, and it seems to fit'."
Just as these folks can't -- or won't -- see the damage such invasive plants do, neither do they choose to recognize the damage their own presence does here in California.

Our biggest problem isn't the divide between those who do and don't love California.  Our problem is the far too many people who love California so much that they feel they have a need -- and right -- to pile in here to live.  And with them came crowded roads and beaches, relentless habitat destruction, pervasive air and water pollution, and breathtaking increases in the cost of living that have driven many natives far inland, or completely out of the state.

But I suppose that's a massive problem -- a problem of the masses if you will -- that only us pre-1970s California Natives can truly appreciate.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Wind Project "Take" Permits Extended To 30 Years - Eagles Nonplussed

J. Wylie Donald with McCarter & English notes that starting today, Bald and Golden Eagles will sleep less soundly.

 On 8 January 2014 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s new rule revising the regulations for permits for the taking of golden eagles and bald eagles goes into effect. According to the FWS, “This change will facilitate the responsible development of renewable energy and other projects designed to operate for decades, while continuing to protect eagles consistent with our statutory mandates.”

Eagles and other migratory birds are a substantial threat to wind projects.  But not because they will cause turbine blades to fail. Rather, turbine blades (and to a lesser extent, towers, guy wires, transmission lines and other constructions in the air space) can be lethal to birds. This poses a serious problem for wind energy companies as birds are legally protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (16 U.S.C. §§ 703-712), and eagles further protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (16 USC §§ 668-668d).

Duke Energy Renewables, Inc. recently ran afoul of these requirements at its 176 turbine Campbell Hill and Top of the World wind projects in Wyoming, where at least 14 golden eagles died between 2009 and 2013. In November, Duke accepted a plea agreement in “the first ever criminal enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act for unpermitted avian takings at wind projects.” It included:
  • Fines - $400,000
  • Restitution - $100,000 to the State of Wyoming
  • Community Service - $160,000 payment to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for eagle preservation projects
  • Conservation funding - $340,000 to a conservation fund for the purchase of land or conservation easements
  • Probation – five years
  • Compliance Plan – implementation of a plan at a cost of $600,000 per year with “specific measures to avoid and minimize golden eagle and other avian wildlife mortalities at company’s four commercial wind projects in Wyoming.”
  • Permit – required application for a Programmatic Eagle Take Permit.
That last item is directly tied to tomorrow’s rule. “Take” is defined in the regulations as “pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, kill, capture, trap, collect, destroy, molest, or disturb.” 50 CFR § 22.3. “Programmatic take” is “take that is recurring, is not caused solely by indirect effects, and that occurs over the long term or in a location or locations that cannot be specifically identified.” Id. The regulations at 50 CFR § 22.26 provide for permits to take bald eagles and golden eagles when the taking is associated with, but not the purpose of, an otherwise lawful activity. Programmatic permits authorize take that “is unavoidable even though advanced conservation practices are being implemented.” The new rule commentary notes that permits may authorize “lethal take … such as mortalities caused by collisions with wind turbines, powerline electrocutions, and other potential sources of incidental take.”

Under the current rule, a take permit was good for only 5 years, which inserted much uncertainty into wind farm projects. The new rule permits wind energy developers to obtain a take permit that runs for 30 years, 50 CFR § 22.26(i), which “better correspond[s] to the operational timeframe of renewable energy projects.” The risk that a wind project will cause unforeseen harm to eagles during this much longer period is mitigated by a new requirement for 5 year reviews, in which the FWS “will determine if trigger points specified in the permit have been reached that would indicate that additional conservation measures ... should be implemented to potentially reduce eagle mortalities, or if additional mitigation measures are needed.” Id. at § 22.26(h). Additional actions that might be taken as the result of the review could be permit changes, including implementation of additional conservation measures and updating of monitoring requirements. Id. Even suspension or revocation of the permit is possible. Id.

That the FWS is serious about protecting eagles is demonstrated by the enforcement action against entities like Duke (or against individuals like San Diego's own Dave Bittner). But the FWS also recognizes that development is necessary.  Given that tension Mr. Donald argues that the 30 year permit period appears to be a reasonable compromise (unless one is an eagle).

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Ramona's Amazing Pamo Valley

Having been raised in San Diego County's back country, I was pretty surprised when reading accounts of this year's Escondido (California) Christmas Bird Count to learn about a place I'd never heard of before: Pamo Valley.

The excitement for the centered around reports of multiple Lewis's Woodpeckers -- possibly as many as 8 or 10.  That's pretty remarkable for a bird that according to the SD Bird Atlas (Unitt) has only been reported on three of 17 Escondido (California) Christmas Bird Counts (1986 to 2001).

Adding to the allure of Pamo Valley were additional reports of multiple Golden Eagles, many Lark Sparrows, and Western Bluebirds together with Mountain Bluebirds which the Atlas describes as "highly irregular in southern California, usually localized and uncommon").  Once we'd heard all that, it wasn't tough to replace Ramona Grasslands on our 3d Annual New Year's Day Surf-to-Sand Cross-County Bird Trek.

Based on comments from other folks we ran into on New Year's Day, we aren't the only local birders who weren't aware of Pamo Valley.  So what's the story with this fantastic place?

According to a 2011 story in the Manchester Dis-United, most of the valley bottom is owned by the City of San Diego public utilities department’s enterprise water fund.  The city acquired the land in the 1950s as a reservoir site.  Uh oh.

While there are no plans to build a reservoir here now, the story notes that "there are no other good reservoir sites left in San Diego County."  Meanwhile, the city leases the land to a Ramona rancher who caretakes the 3,769 acres while grazing cattle.

The word “Pamo” probably comes from the Diegueno word, “paamuu,” according to “California Place Names” by Erwin G. Gudde and William Bright and citing an Indian rancheria called Pamo in Spanish records as early as 1778.  

The name was later adopted by Rancho Valle de Pamo (also called Rancho Santa María), a 17,709-acre grant given in 1843 by Governor Manuel Micheltorena to José Joaquín Ortega and Edward StokesThe grant occupied the Santa Maria Valley and was centered on present-day Ramona.  

With the cession of California to the United States following the Mexican–American War, the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo provided that such land grants would be honored.  As required by the Land Act of 1851, a claim for Rancho Valle de Pamo was filed with the Public Land Commission and the grant was patented to José Joaquín Ortega and Eduardo Stokes in 1872.



Larger Image
UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library
   
The land changed hands several more times until it was acquired in 1886 by Milton Santee, a Los Angeles civil engineer and land developer. Santee started the Santa Maria Land and Water Company and subdivided what is now the townsite of Ramona.  Thankfully, Pamo Valley was too far off the beaten path to become a target for development.
Pamo Valley is surrounded by 4,052-foot-high Black Mountain to the east, 4,221-foot-high Pine Mountain to the north and Orosco Ridge to the west.  Both Santa Ysabel Creek and Temescal Creek run through the valley, the former being a tributary of the San Dieguito River that runs from Volcan Mountain near Julian to the ocean near Del Mar. Temescal Creek flows into the San Luis Rey River.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

California Energy Commission says no to desert solar plant that could kill birds

Turns out it's not just wind turbines that kill birds. 

The High Country News Goat Blog reports on the threat to birds from high-intensity solar power arrays.