Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Random photos/thoughts from the last 2-3 months

IMHO, this doesn't work as an energy dissipation stucture. One ends up with bale structure material floating downstream for redeposition (and remobilization, and repeat over and over until said bale structure material is either in the ocean or a reservoir).

Mid to late March, looking west at the upper Sangre de Cristos. There was snow down to between 8-9K feet. It's now between 9-10K feet, with bare stone showing on most of the high peaks. Most of the lower snow is now gone, and we've reached, essentially, the early low snow peak runoff. Many of the streams draining the Sangres have reached near bankfull. It's hard to tell what the rest of spring will bring. A hard warm rain on the remaining snowpack will bring a rapid peak; a gradual rise in temp from now til June will slowly melt the remainder. All the folks I talk to prefer the latter. Better for towns with constrained streambanks, better for farmers dependent on acequias to water their fields, better for the riparian habitat to thrive through summer.
Last week, I visited a very overwound meander on El Rito de la Vaca. We all stood around and scratched our heads about what to do, and we included a geologist, stream ecologist/geomorphologist, aeronautical engineer, and local rancher. A fire a few years back resulted in floods that dumped a boatload of sediment in the valley, messing with equilibrium and setting this meander up for an avulsion. This would create some awful problems for the rancher, including wiping out his only access as well as the forest road providing the main valley access. The final result? We said to contact the head of the local watershed group and get recommendations for a good hydrologist skilled in natural channel design work who can carefully evaluate the reach and design an appropriate solution. Maybe the watershed group can come up with a grant project (there's one more overwound meander just like this immediately downstream) to help defray the costs. And yes, it was snowing.
Last, this is the first Persian tulip to flower in my yard this spring. I wasn't in Iran early enough ten years ago to see the native tulips bloom, and haven't had the chance, until this last fall, to plant any. I'm awfully excited that they're blooming and that spring is really, truly finally here.

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