How do you shut down a river?

It boggles the mind to think that the Colorado River has been shut down for rafting. Can you imagine if water delivery was shutdown?

Imagine if the tap was turned off to California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Arizona.  We aren’t there yet, but the situation inched a bit closer in August when the Bureau of Reclamation announced they would be reducing releases from Lake Powell to Lake Mead to historically low levels. Take a look at the astonishing photos on the Weather.Com website, especially photos 14 and 15 in the slide show series, if you want to understand the magnitude of the situation.

We had a severe drought last in 2002; back then researchers were starting to understand that the West has seen mega-droughts before. If you believe that history can illuminate the present, you might want to read Craig Child’s book, House of Rain, as he takes us on a journey through pre-history on the Colorado plateau to explore some possible answers to the fate of the people who lived here before us and how long-term droughts changed their lives forever. It’s a sobering story.

Listening to America about the Great Outdoors, Part I

The feds were here this week to listen to us about America’s Great Outdoors, an initiative of President Obama’s to launch a national dialogue about conservation in American and learn about some of the smart, creative ways American’s are conserving outdoor spaces. The public listening session, originally to be a one day affair in Los Angeles, stretched to two and a half days with events at Compton Creek and Whittier Narrows on July 7, Los Angeles on July 8, and concluding in the Santa Monica Mountains on July 9.

I was honored to be a part of the planning team for the Los Angeles event on July 8, working with some of our great public servants in City of LA government, such as Paula Daniels (Board of Public Works Commissioner) and Romel Pascual (interim Deputy Mayor for the Environment). We developed our messages and strategized on how to deliver them, producing talking points and deploying teams to the breakout sessions. I’m not sure all of our work was needed – everyone was so on-point and articulate – but I appreciated the way we came together in such a short time to put on a good event. I have to say that Occidental College really shined with a thoroughly professional and yet down to earth presentation of the campus and the themes (disclaimer – my husband and I are both Oxy alumni). Oh, and the weather was great too!

This is the first of  several parts on my thoughts and impressions of the day and about America’s Great Outdoors.