The Desert Lives Without Water
Outside the buzzing lives of those tucked between the mountains that hug the Palm Desert resides an area that might as well be known as a time capsule. However, this well kept secret of the Southern California region is only a quiet topic to ears around the nation today. In fact, for years, this place was the most popular tourist destination of California, drawing more attention than Yosemite National Park and welcoming frequent visitors such as Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. What used to be pictured across postcards advertising boat clubs and beach resorts is known today as The Salton Sea and, with that time-transformed title, as an ecological disaster nearly 15 miles across. The largest lake in California, this body of water formed as a run-off of the Colorado River and, due to concerns by those in the state, was formed into a lake. This man-made body of water is a true testament to the power of man, as a vacation destination of the rich and famous was quickly polluted with toxic chemicals, such as Agent Orange, and shifted into a disastrous Petri dish of waste, unsafe for any life to encounter. While agencies within the country have taken an interest in this matter and attempted to provide wildlife sanctuaries close by to engage the 420 types of bird species that reside at the sea, there are still many birds that unknowingly resort to these poisonous waters. My experience at the Salton Sea was much the same, in that I expected to find a desert oasis and soon found- based on the black footprints I left in dried sands and millions of small seashells piled around the edges of the water like a graveyard- that these waters were far from any that I wanted to soothe my badland-heat stricken in. Above all else, what I learned in meeting this lake, that looked to belong more to the moon than our own planet, was the extreme effect our human race can have on the lands we share with one another. While we have the power to create something beautiful, we also have the responsibility to ensure that we take care of what this earth has allowed for us to own. I hope that ecology in the following years becomes less of a news article and more of a morality. We owe it this little sphere we rest upon.