Sunday, January 12, 2020

What's Wrong With This Picture? The Problem of a Dam in Del Puerto

What is wrong with this picture?

This is a map of all the historical sightings of Red-tailed Hawks on eBird in a portion of the Diablo Range between the Bay Area and the Central Valley. The Red-tail is a common bird that lives in a wide variety of habitats, ranging from coastal areas to mountains to savannas. So why, except for a single east-west line across the center of the picture, have they never been sighted in the interior of the Diablo Range? Is there a no-hawk zone in the range interior? It turns out that you could do a similar map for any common (or uncommon) bird species and the pattern would be similar. Are there no birds at all in the Diablo Range?
We raptors want to know...
The answer is that of course there are birds all over the range. But there is no public access in the majority of the mountain range. It is largely under private ownership, and the most common sign to be seen anywhere is "No Trespassing". Except for that narrow stripe in the center of map, at Del Puerto Canyon. There is a public route, Del Puerto Canyon Road, that crosses the range and provides a (very slow) connection between Patterson and the Santa Clara Valley.

And that's the problem with the picture. Del Puerto is the only public access to the mountain range in Stanislaus County, and as such is one of very few places where anyone can study the unique geology, biology, botany and archaeology of this intriguing place. And it is the only place that offers year-round recreational opportunities (there are several county parks and a campground in the upper canyon). But now there are plans afoot to eliminate much of that access, and indeed to severely impact the natural environment. There are plans to build a large dam that will inundate five miles of the extraordinarily scenic canyon.

There will be many reasons offered as to why this reservoir is SO necessary, and how there will be SO many benefits. But the question needs to be asked, what is this taking away from all of us? Look to this blog for some answers in coming days. Also, check this blog from several days ago. If you are on Facebook, check out

Read the Environmental Impact Report at this link. If Del Puerto Canyon has significance to you, please respond and be active in the opposition! If you have expertise in any of the areas that will affected, you need to be heard from.

There are several important meetings and deadlines coming up very soon:

1/14 9:00am Board of Supervisors Meeting 1010 10th St Modesto CA
1/15 3:30pm Protest. Corner of Ward and Sperry
1/15 4:00pm Public Meeting. Hammon Senior Center 1033 West Las Palmas, Patterson
1/21 6:30pm City Council Meeting. 1 Plaza Circle. - request they take a stand, voice concerns
1/27 5:00pm Public Comments DUE. OR Anthea Hansen PO Box 1596 Patterson CA 95363
1/28 9:00am Board of Supervisors Meeting 1010 10th St Modesto CA - voice concerns, they have final decision

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That caption of the bird "we raptors want to know" is hilarious. Excellent crossover to your other birding blog.