City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

January 1, 2017

January 1st

Filed under: Blacked-Headed Chickadee, Box Elder Tree, Weather — canopus56 @ 8:36 pm

Fading Rime

3:00 p.m. New Year’s Day. The inversion layer has partially lifted, and again I can see some white-blue sky. As I enter the canyon, a single, curious Black-capped chickadee greets me, but the cold has forced chickadees to continue to congregate in the first third of the first mile. The rime has evaporated from trees through milepost 1.5, and on the western canyon wall, the snow is almost gone. At milepost 1.5, the three mule deer seen yesterday are again grazing, but today they feed on the green shoots at the base of bunch grass. On the southern wall that is shielded from sun light, sleeping maples are still covered in rime. As I start down canyon, another bank of fog is rolling in as occurred two days ago. Perhaps tomorrow, white rime will again cover the trees in Pleasant Valley.

In October, the wind had been unsuccessful in pulling the Box Elder helicopter seeds from their catkins (Oct. 15th), and then, when I tried to pull a seed from its catkin, the seed was firmly affixed. It was difficult to remove. After repeated snow storms and cold weather, I again test their resilience, and I find that they separate much more easily. But there is still enough strength in each seed’s attachment that few will blow off in a winter storm.

In Thoreau’s “Journal” on January 1st 1852, Thoreau comments that the winter night sky has a lower limiting magnitude than the summer night sky. Fewer dim stars can seen. The same is seen over the canyon. Fewer faint stars are seen during the winter because there is more atmospheric moisture. On January 1st 1854, Thoreau describes winter snow as “the great betrayer” because it reveals the movements of animals. On January 1st, 1853, he describes how after a winter rain storm, ice encases trees, shrubs and grasses. On January 1st, 1856, he describes surface hoarfrost with large crystals.

On January 1st, 1903, a committee of the Commercial Club presented a plan for a major bond issue to deliver 30 million gallons per day to the City by, among other things, improving springs in City Creek Canyon and building a dam in Parley’s Canyon (Salt Lake Telegram and Deseret Evening News). The City Engineer Fred Hines proposed modest improvements to the existing system to deliver 8 million gallons per day, including replacing wooden reservoir tanks in City Creek with concrete tanks (Salt Lake Tribune).

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