Stories in the Desert

Traveling from the east bay since Wednesday Nik and I were blessed with really great information from a man  Mark Hall-Patton,  the museum administrator of the Clark County Museum system. Some may notice Mark from the cable TV show Pawn Stars which happens to be the number one cable TV show currently in America. I loved how accessible Mark was,the way he flowed with ease on the subject of the Hoover Dam was amazing, I have no doubts as to why he would be a wonderful camera personality.

 Mark started the interview speaking of Elwood Mead, the name sake of Lake Mead, the largest man made lake in the world. It appears Mark also wrote a biography on Mead, an engineer turned water technologies designer who used the Hoover Dam as a social water experiment.  Although some of the information Mark wrote in the biography of Mead escaped his memory, especially since he wrote it so long ago, I really appreciated his ability to network  facts and feelings on the subject of the dam in relationship to the towns people around the time of its development. Their feeling was that water isn’t always in the appropriate place and that they should move it to the appropriate place for their benefit, for their societal benefits that is.

Certainly the Hoover Dam benefited the people of the Las Vegas Valley. With out the dam the town of Boulder City wouldn’t be the same. Actually I don’t think it would have been at all. The town was a place of residence for the workers on the Boulder Dam project. Designers brought in landscape architects and the likes to make Boulder City what it is today.

The Boulder Dam later to be lawfully name changed to the Hoover Dam, was a guaranteed job for the men who traveled to the desert of Nevada from all over the United States for a wage of 50 cents to a $1.25. This was a living wage in those times during the depression. While most towns saw decline the town of Las Vegas got a major start due to the economy at that time and the need to put men to work. This reminds me of the economies now and how the government means to put people to work by instituting ecologically damaging projects for the sake of moving tools around to give them money to feed themselves and their families.

When I looked at the Hoover Dam there can be no mistaken, as a woman who is not a fan of the film Metropolis and machine works, I thought How Ugly! but then again the stone masons of the Dam were actually black men from the south who did most of the art you see other than the commissioned artist/designers themselves. There is something to be said about stone masonry over 75 years old without a crack.

The story Nik and I are collecting and sharing  is of the most precious of the desert. The ones most affected by the change of the Colorado river’s flow. The ecosystems. From the invertebrates to the predators such as the Coyote, Mountain Lion, Black Bear, and Wolves. Recently we heard the stories of the Riparian zone watershed ecosystem. The Riparian Zone is where the interaction of microorganisms, animals, water, soil, and plants are. This is the area where the invertebrates lay their eggs which is the base of the above ground foodweb. This is what was taken away with the flooding and redirection of the Colorado River.

For certain, the Colorado River have had natural flood times and the first nations people would plant along the flood plains. They lived in harmony with the ecosystems. and there was no need for plants to rethink their whole life flow based on their actions. That is what plants and animals do, they adapt, and if they aren’t able to adapt quickly enough they don’t survive. I am calling for their survival and that’s by living in harmony with the ecosystem with long range planning of sustainable energy systems. Short term hurts the long term and it is apparent when you look at the Hoover Dam and the surrounding environment.

The Colorado River is the main water source for the Southwest and Northern Mexico. Going through seven U.S. States and two Mexican States into the Sea of Cortez. That was then, the river doesn’t go all the way to the sea at this time and hasn’t for twenty years. It would be a miracle if it did. One of the reasons the waters don’t flow all the way into the sea is because so many people are using the water. The dam was meant to supply about a million or less people with a hydro-energy source but there are millions upon millions of people using the watershed. Since 1944 The U.S. and Mexico has had a water treaty that is something like the water compact between the states where the Colorado River flows, the only difference is this treaty is between two countries. At one point the U.S. was so disrespectful and negligent of the water source by allowing the river to be so saline it caused damage to Mexican farms along the Mexicali valley. Mexico threatened to sue in international court which finally made the U.S. take notice and clean up it’s act in a timely manner. The treaty is unfair at this point because like mentioned before the Colorado River doesn’t go all the way to the Sea.

I hope the collection of foodweb stories will help people to realize the importance of free flowing water and small scale energy sources. By taking into account the Hoover Dam and it’s affects on the Colorado River Basin, people might take notice that they don’t want short term illusions of grandeur but long term energy solutions that are more viable for community development and potential. Community being not only people but animals and the natural environment, theirs and ours habitat. The entire ecosystem thriving and living vibrantly.

While it seemed the desert is empty it is really teaming with life with several watersheds be it an oasis, river, or hot springs. The desert isn’t empty at all but with short term energy solutions some of the deserts once great predators, birds, plants, and microorganisms have vanished from their natural homelands. If they come back it would be amazing. That will take a miracle. I am hopeful.

Author: Sakari Sun

Sakari of all Trades

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