Friday geography answer

As several of our astute readers knew, the photo from Friday was taken on the west coast of the Salton Sea in California.  Specifically, it’s at Salton Sea Beach, a nearly deserted region that I managed to make more picturesque through careful photography.  Here’s another picture of the same beach:

There were few plants at Salton Sea Beach – a palm tree here and there – and only a few waterfowl like these pelicans:

The Salton Sea is really the Salton Sink – it’s a low area that has occasionally and naturally filled with water.  Given the high rate of evaporation in the region, the lakebed became highly saline over the centuries.

So what does this all have to do with a gardening website?  Well, the reason the Sea exists today is because of natural flooding combined with agricultural development.  Initially the Sea was seen as a boon to tourism, so spots like Salton Sea Beach and Salton City (near curiously named Squeaky Springs) became tourist destinations.  But as agricultural runoff began to change the nature of the Sea, fish populations failed and so did the tourism industry.

You can see the algal bloom where runoff meets the sea (check out this Google map here).  These desert valleys have been used for conventional agricultural production for many decades, and the results are seen in a sea full of fertilizers and pesticides.

In any case, a visit to the Salton Sea is both fascinating and depressing.  It’s well worth the effort.

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Linda Chalker-Scott

Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott has a Ph.D. in Horticulture from Oregon State University and is an ISA certified arborist and an ASCA consulting arborist. She is WSU’s Extension Urban Horticulturist and an Associate Professor in the Department of Horticulture, and holds two affiliate associate professor positions at University of Washington. She conducts research in applied plant and soil sciences, publishing the results in scientific articles and university Extension fact sheets. Linda also is the award-winning author of five books: the horticultural myth-busting The Informed Gardener (2008) and The Informed Gardener Blooms Again (2010) from the University of Washington Press and Sustainable Landscapes and Gardens: Good Science – Practical Application (2009) from GFG Publishing, Inc., and How Plants Work: The Science Behind the Amazing Things Plants Do from Timber Press (2015). Her latest effort is an update of Art Kruckeberg’s Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest from UW Press (2019). In 2018 Linda was featured in a video series – The Science of Gardening – produced by The Great Courses. She also is one of the Garden Professors – a group of academic colleagues who educate and entertain through their blog and Facebook pages. Linda’s contribution to gardeners was recognized in 2017 by the Association for Garden Communicators as the first recipient of their Cynthia Westcott Scientific Writing Award. "The Garden Professors" Facebook page - www.facebook.com/TheGardenProfessors "The Garden Professors" Facebook group - www.facebook.com/groups/GardenProfessors Books: http://www.sustainablelandscapesandgardens.com

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