rowanf: (Abi nature)
[personal profile] rowanf
Okay, to break the theme of sad and downward spiraling things... I had a really interesting Equinox weekend. I had gotten an email some months ago about a tour of the Coyote Creek Watershed (my local, the biggest in Santa Clara County and the third largest in the Bay Area). I've heard a little bit about the water history of the area from an hydrologist at a conference almost a decade ago. Over the years I've done a lot of Coyote Creek clean-ups, including via canoe and I feel a pull to my local water spirits. But because of my disability I really haven't done a clean-up in a long time and this seemed like a great way to reconnect and learn some things. But I procrastinated because, well, it was equinox weekend and I wasn't sure if I wanted to forgo magical community events. But then the creek tour was full and I was, like, I WANT TO DO THIS! I got on the waiting list and made the cut for the tour. It *was* my idea of a magical way to spend equinox and it ties in with all the work I've done on water advocacy since the 2004 Barcelona Parliament when I made that commitment.

We started out at 8:30am at the local water district main office. Usually they tell me it is set amongst ponds that are open to the public and have fishing and all that. But being in the throes of a long drought the ponds are totally dry. As were various other pond areas we passed as our bus (and oh what a bus, sponsored by Facebook and from the company that drives the tech busses) down to Morgan Hill to start our tour at the Anderson Dam. This is an earthen dam built in the 1950s... right across the Calaveras Fault. A 7.2 earthquake within two miles would send a huge wall of water down upon Morgan Hill and up to 10-12 feet of water all the way to Gilroy. I had no idea! An engineer told us about the seismic retrofit set to start in the next couple of years. Because of the hydroelectric plant there there are many overlapping County, State & Federal jurisdictions that have to sign off on it.

Whilst at the dam we had a talk about the historical migration for steelhead trout along the creek by a fish biologist. The drought has been very hard on this population, which is a distinct genetic population compared with other Bay Area steelhead populations.

Then we headed down to the Ogier Ponds which are large reed-lined percolation ponds at the site of an old quarry. There we had a talk by a biologist from De Anza College about a study of wildlife (pdf) in the Coyote Valley. They then hiked around the ponds and had two other lectures but I headed back to the bus.

Around 12:30 we arrived at Hellyer Park, a 354-acre county park that the creek flows through. We had lunch and listened to an anthropologist from SJSU talk about the history of the Muwekma Ohlone, the indigenous people of this region. It was as rife with treachery and disenfranchisement as most Native tales seem to be. *sigh* I gave him my card and offered my volunteer services if they need a researcher with some anthro savvy. We shall see. We also heard from a local community group and were given an acorn from their heritage oak tree. Now I have to figure out how to sprout it and where to plant it.

We drove along the nearest streets by which the homeless encampment had been rousted from the Creek in December. The bus parked at the Tully Ballfields and folks headed off for a "long" walk down to see the creek and talk more about the homeless issue. I decided to stay with the bus. I was running out of steam. And several other people got to the slope down to the water and turned back too, so it was probably just as well I didn't try.

We had a variety of other talks along the way and I'm pretty inspired by the work of the Committee for Green Foothills, the main sponsor (with the Water District) of the tour. We arrived back at the Water District offices around 4:30 as planned. It was a long but satisfying day.

A couple river pix in my flickrstream https://www.flickr.com/photos/rowanf/
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