Water in a Time of Drought – Siyeh Creek – March 2014 Desktop Calendar

When backpacking the John Muir trail with some great friends I remember how critical water management was for us. We were packing lightly, covering the trail with backpacks weighing in a 40 pounds or so. Included in these weigh savings was reduced water storage capacity. We moved from creek to creek, calculating what we needed to filter, drink or carry for how long. Water defined our journey in a quietly critical way.

Katdahdin stream spout-0754

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February is for the Valley Oak

Both as a photographer and an ecologist I am regularly wowed by valley oaks (Quercus lobata). These comely giants rise up from the driest summer soils and produce a rich refugia for hundreds of plant and animal species avoiding the unrelenting sun. These trees create veritable oases of wildlife and wildflower activity in a desert-like August sun.

 

fernandez oak texturedUnfortunately these giants are perishing with limited replacement. As the parent trees pass on, quality habitat for regeneration also desiccates. The fathers and mothers have seen our land shift from native American management to agro-industrial conversion. Rare trees still grow in large groves with mingling arch-like crowns. Instead they are often solitary sentinels. Listen for echos from a quieter 1800, or even a 1700.

Oak loss QULO from 2012 CEC report Fig 1-4

We as humans can and must metamorphose nostalgia into restorative action. We can start to replant our valley oak spreads, but we must do it while they still have the soil, water and biotic conditions to establish. The figure below from a 2012 CA Energy Commission report models a loss of 2/3 of the extant habitat in light of rising carbon emissions and climate change. These trees are resilient when they are established, but that needs to happen soon, before it’s cost prohibitive and ecologically nearly impossible. We hope to get a small planting going in a historic valley oak area through Golden Hour Restoration Institute. We do need money (about $2000) and partners and I hope we can play a small role in helping maintain the grandiose valley oaks of our fathers grandfathers past.

The following calendar shows star trails behind a massive, silhouetted valley oak in Joseph Grant County Park in Santa Clara County. I hope you enjoy it as a desktop for February. Here’s the full-sized image for download for desktop use.

Valley oak 2-2014 Lech Naumovich Photography

January 2014 Desktop Calendar – Point Pinole, The Bay

Jan2014 calendar Lech Naumovich PhotographyHappy New Year Folks! I decided to continue the calendars as they were fun to do and I liked the monthly check in. Here’s a quick post of the January 2014 desktop image – free to use as a desktop all you’d like. I think I may try to add in non-distracting calendar “elements” at some point but January is so mixed up I’m not sure a calendar with days and things like holidays would help. Here’s the image for download.

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December Desktop Calendar & January 4 DSLR Workshop

I’ll be kicking off this December with a double-decker banana Sunday type blog post thingy… The December desktop calendar – celebrating family and the outdoors AND a formal announcement for a SF photography workshop for 5 people who want to learn how to get really great photos out of their DSLR.

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Blow Hard – Altamont Wind Farms – November 2013 Desktop Calendar

November is such a transitional month in California. I personally feel that this month truly and confidently brings in the winds of fall and winter, as steam rises perceptibly from clenched coffee mugs while waiting for a chilly engine to warm or a bus to come pick you up. This is a month of dramatic change.

With that I’m writing a short post wherein my calendar for the month is a) in black and white and b) opens up the question of the footprint of green technologies on our landscape. Winds of change… hmm. I have a special treat in store as I’m excited to be meeting The Great Texas Wind Rush author Kate Galbraith this weekend to discuss her new book. I guess Texas blows – she’ll be talking about that. Now I’d better get back to that book I should be reading!

A coworker and friend, Jimmy Quenelle, recording wind speeds at Land's End.

A coworker and friend, Jimmy Quenelle, recording wind speeds at Land’s End.

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Yosemite, Access and Funding: October 2013 Desktop Calendar

Kaya at Yose sml-3142

With bittersweet timing, the government has closed its doors on Yosemite’s “birthday” as a national park (which should rightfully be called Ahwahneechee National Park had a historian been involved in determining the proper name of the local native peoples who lived here). This is a place very dear to my heart. A place where we as a family can experience excitement, being humble, and being alive.

The act of designating national parks and protected areas is arguably one of the greatest accomplishments of the US government. That said, these areas do need regular funding to maintain safe access, steward important resources, and provide user experiences that will increase ones interest in the park, its resources, and history. Staff and volunteers are an essential element of any park – whether you see them or not. Continue reading

Managing Destruction and Rebirth: Fire – September 2013 Desktop Calendar

This seasons Rim Fire of the Sierra Nevada has been an extremely destructive wildfire. Now determined to be California’s 3rd largest fire in history, the burn envelop now extends some 237,000 acres (as of Sept 6) which equates to roughly 370 square miles. To put this into perspective – this would have burned more than 7 San Franciscos. Notwithstanding the extent, Cal Fire and other crews have done a phenomenal job protecting life and property. Somehow, only 11 homes have burned and there are no reported fatalities. We owe the men and women on the front line a huge thanks and maybe a hug wouldn’t hurt either.

fuel burn pile shots-5

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The Dammed and the Wild: Rivers – August 2013 Desktop Calendar

Barely one of every 20 rivers found in the Northeast run to the ocean without an artificial dam altering flow patterns. Damming rivers was historically a profitable venture that allowed for control of nature and power generation. Now, many of these structures stand like tombstones. They represent a time when wild rivers were plenty and people were few. We are beyond that point and a greater economic and environmental good is actually derived from liberating these rivers.

Katdahdin stream spout-0754

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Drought, Groundwater and the Joshua Tree – May 2013 Desktop Calendar

While waking transects and looking for rare plants in the dusty Mojave Desert of 2013, I had much time to consider vastness, appropriateness and tenacity. Notably, it was hot, dry, and teetering on spiritual (which isn’t always a good thing when rattlesnakes abound).

The desert is nothing if it is not tenacious. It is an acerbic beast even in it’s kindest moments. Blowing sand, regular temperatures in the hundreds from April through October (in the sun that is). Humbling, and even bending or distorting the idea of life just a bit, since the desert’s signature is withering brown plant skeletons, dry playas and spines. Dessication, opportunity and impermanence are its soul. It is a tribute to both eternal things and the ephemeral. Within that sea, there are pauses of vibrance and life.

Sclerocactus macro-1030732

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