Jun 15 2010
I have been on the road the last few months and am way behind posting reports and pictures of all my trips so I figured I ought to get this report out the door asap or it seems I never get them done. (picture left: A part of the Colorado Delta from the air. Click on all photos for larger versions)
My first stop on this adventure was Yuma, Arizona where I rondevued with my friend Tom and Luther P. who is the executive director of the Sonoran Institute on a mission to baseline via aerial photos the lower Colorado River/Colorado Delta where the Sonoran Institute is working on several restoration projects . I know Luther and his wife Liz from the non-profit conservation world as well as part of the Jackson Hole summer crowd. About four weeks ago we were all in the Bahamas together chasing bonefish. Tom and I have been talking with Luther about the Sonoran’s restoration efforts in the delta. Luther saw our aerial photo work we have been doing for the Henry’s Fork Foundation based in Idaho over the last few years (If you grab a copy of the Henry’s Fork 2010 calendar all the photos are mine and Tom’s) and asked if we could do some similar work for the Delta. After learning more about the great work Sonoran we agreed. We spent a day in Yuma checking out some restoration projects the city is doing around the river, had the privilege of having dinner with an elder from the Cocopah Indian Tribe to learn about his and the tribes viewpoint of all the water rights issues, and then the next morning awoke early to meet Fred our pilot who would fly us over the Delta and into Mexicali, Mexico. We took off and followed the river down to Mexicali where we landed and dropped off Luther and picked up Francisco who is in charge of the restoration project for Sonoran. As we flew over the delta and followed it to the mouth where it flows into the Gulf of California the only word that came to mind was “vast”. In many ways it’s vastness reminded me of the Chesapeake. An amazing site. After a few hour flight we landed and took a tour of specific restoration sites. We also visited with community that owns a large area of land in the delta which just so happened to have one, if not the best, largemouth bass fishing lake I have ever seen. We only managed to fish for thirty minutes, but I hooked a bunch of largemouth and saw more 7,8,9lb fish I have ever seen in one place. I’m headed back there in the fall for a longer visit .
An interesting thing to note is that just a few months ago Mexicali was hit with a 7+ earthquake and we managed to see some of the damage. The community that we visited that has the bass lake is so terrified of the aftershocks and everything they completely abandoned their village in fear another earthquake would strike and their homes fall on them. The entire village moved about two miles away and now lives in large mobile military tents. When you talk to the people you can see in their face the fear is as real as it gets. This is the type of story that rarely show up in the news once the initial reports and buzz on the story fade, but was a striking reminder to me of the real life struggles that people face after such natural disasters.
After we wrapped up our tours we had dinner in downtown Mexicali, hit the sack at a nice hotel in town and departed via truck back to the US. The car line wait to get back into the US was only 45 min which from my experience coming back into California from Mexico is not too bad. We were told the line can be as many as four hours sometimes….one hot wait in 100+ degree temps.
Once we got back to our place in Yuma I switched bags and started getting things together for the next part of my adventure which would take me to Seattle, WA for two days to stage and then to Yakutat, AK to chase some steelhead for a week.
A part of the Colorado Delta from the air (Gulf of California in the background)
Where the natural Colorado River Stops and the man man-made river begins
On the ground checking out one of the restoration sites. The ditch is where irrigation water comes into the restoration project area
The man-made Colorado River
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