City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

July 30, 2017

Conclusion – End of Blog

Filed under: People — canopus56 @ 7:57 am


The mountains rise into the cool sky, furrowed with canons [sic] almost Yosemtic in grandeur and filled with glorious profusion of flowers and trees. Lovers of science, lovers of wilderness, lovers of pure rest will find here more than they may ever hope for. John Muir. Deseret News July 11, 2017, quoting the Salt Lake Herald, June 27th, 1877 and Muir on his visit to the Salt Lake Valley and on his opinion of its canyons.

This completes a year’s worth of daily journal entries, and is the end of this blog. If you elected to follow this blog, please unsubscribe at this point. This site will be removed in one month. WordPress registered users have an account option to unsubscribe and public email subscribers should have a link at the bottom of the blog emails to unsubscribe. Let me know if you have any difficulties in unsubscribing. I have retained a list of persons who followed this blog. In a few months when I have this completed in epub format, I will offer a copy to the blog followers. Be well – Kurt

Thoreau’s nature experience of the early nineteenth century can be replicated in the contemporary western United States by observing nature on a daily basis for one year. In some respects, nature experience in this present day western United States canyon adjacent to a major urban center exceeds Thoreau’s nature. Species eradicated in the east during Thoreau’s time such as moose, elk, otter, and bear still exist in City Creek Canyon today. The benefits of consistent nature observation are many, and these include daily restoration of attention and executive functions (April 23rd and April 24th). My motivation in observing nature closely every day for one year came from Thoreau. He insisted that daily exposure to natural places was necessary for the maintenance of mental health (July 13th), Thoreau self-prescribed four hours of daily nature exposure (Thoreau 1862, 658), and he noted that “[t]here is a subtile [sic] magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright” (Thoreau 1862, 662). I wondered if I would be set “aright”, if I also focused on experiencing nature. After a year, some things became apparent.

I cannot claim to be set “aright”, but after a year, I am more contented. I like to think that I am a better person because I am kinder and gentler with others. When I go back to the canyon for restoration, I am more connected to the experience because I have a better innate understanding of ecological relationships between the canyon’s organisms. Because the canyon provides me with a stable base, I am better prepared resist the wear of daily life.

The pursuit of a Thoreauian nature experience is not self-absorbed. Nature experience is about sensitivity to the subtle relationships between plants, animals, geology and weather, and there are few better metaphors for preparing oneself to better understand human relationships or to be a more caring, tolerant person (July 13th).

Thoreau’s nature experience can be replicated, but it differs from his nineteenth century encounters in some significant ways. First, the modern landscape has been substantially modified, not by population increase or development, but principally by anthropochory, that is the importation of non-native plants and insects (July 17th). The grasslands of Utah that comprise most of the State’s and much of the Salt Lake salient and canyon’s surface area look nothing like it did before before the Euro-American colonization of 1847 (March 4th, 5th and 6th (pre-colonization state); March 6th and July 7th (extinction of Rocky Mountain locust); March 23rd to March 26th (early lumbering and mining in the canyon); April 23rd (non-native plants); July 7th (livestock grazing and the cheatgrass invasion), July 9th, (hobospider infestation)). The extent of modification of the landscape by non-native plants, animals and insects is far more than the average Utahan is aware off. Even so, the natural residual is substantial and remains inspiring. Second, the modern Thoreauian nature experience also is changed by information technology. That anyone can access vast reservoirs of sensor information about small areas of the Earth’s surface and quickly find and read the newest scientific journal articles about weather, plants, insects and wildlife makes the modern nature experience different from Theoreau’s explorations. But the difference is not in kind – Thoreau also traveled to Cambridge and consulted the leading books, journals and experts of this day. The difference is in degree and the incremental increase in that degree of information access qualitatively and fundamentally changes the modern encounter with nature (July 13th). I do not judge whether that change is on the whole for the better or worse, but simply note that it provides another more deep understanding of the world around us and it is consistent with our time.

This exploration uncovered some cautionary environmental issues that deserve awareness by present and future Salt Lake City residents. On June 16, 1881, J. J. Branch, a former L.D.S. Church member turned evangelist, predicted that God would send a great flood from City Creek Canyon to destroy the City in retribution in retribution for the “wickedness and lying and blasphemy and abomination” of the L.D.S. church (Salt Lake Tribune). While Branch can be disregarded as a lunatic, as is sometimes the case, there is a modern scientific basis for such predictions. In two contemporary policy decisions by Salt Lake City, insufficient weight was given to the potential for catastrophic snowmelt and-or cloudburst floods to again flood the downtown. Those decisions warrant re-examination. A fourth issue involves the potential for the Great Salt Lake to evaporate and become dry lake bed.

First, after the 1983 downtown flood from high snowmelt, the City rebuilt the storm sewers that divert City Creek Canyon stream from its historical delta, on which the modern downtown is constructed, sufficient to handle 210 cublic feet per second flow. That capacity is insufficient to handle future high snowmelt flooding or cloudburst flooding events. The highest recorded flow in City Creek from the 1983 flood was 331 cubic feet per second (March 12th to March 14th). The need for a higher capacity City Creek storm sewer is particularly true in light of recent research that indicates Utah’s climate is regressing to a 500 year mean pattern (id). In that weather pattern, the City’s climate will be drier, but also will punctuated by more severe peak precipitation events. A permanent, higher capacity solution to carry City Creek storm flows proposed in 2007 by the Army Corps of Engineers envisaged moving City Creek along North Temple from 300 West to the Jordan River on a proposed abandoned railway right-of-way (March 13th, Love 2007). But the City decided not to pursue that 20 million USD project, and instead used the proposed above ground route for an interurban railway. A large fire in City Creek Canyon, coupled with a rare cloudburst event could send far more floodwaters down City Creek than the 2,400 cubic feet per second that issued from Perry’s Hollow in 1945 (July 7th). The diversion of City Creek Canyon stream to the west of the downtown was a historical urban planning mistake caused by the Mormon church’s insistence on adherence to a divinely inspired grid plan (March 10th). In light of the current high density residential development of the downtown, that urban planning error made during the City’s foundation must be permanently corrected.

Second, in 2010, the City decided not to pursue a controlled-burn experiment for the oak forest and cheat grass hillsides in City Creek Canyon (April 23rd, July 8th). Such controlled burns should be reconsidered in consultation with national experts (Young and Clements 2009, Monson and Kitchen 1992) in order to restore native Wild bunchgrass. Cheat grass is to susceptible to frequent burns that put the City at risk for subsequent summer cloudburst flooding. At costs around 1,000 USD per acre to treat about 8 square miles (5,120 acres), a rough estimated total cost is 5 million USD.

Third, there are still substantial lands that are privately owned on either side of the first one-half mile above Guardhouse Gate. The city should make acquisition of conservation easements over those lands a priority.

Fourth, the City should aggressively work with the Great Salt Lake Commission to determine the population carrying capacity of the Wasatch Front given the water supply constraint of not drying up lakebed of the Great Salt Lake. If more water is withdrawn for human consumption it is probable, and not a speculative proposition, that the Great Salt Lake will disappear in the next thirty years (May 26th). If the Great Salt Lake disappears like the Aral Sea on the Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan border, great dust haboob-like dust storms may make the City an undesirable, if not uninhabitable, place to live. As in many social and environmental issues, as Utah’s largest city, Salt Lake City needs to take a self-interested lead on this question and not leave the matter to Utah State government. The evaporation of the Great Salt Lake is an existential threat to the City and the health of its human residents. The loss of Great Salt Lake as an transnational continental migratory bird flyway would have inexcusable impacts on Utah’s birds and on northern Utah’s forests. The extinction of the trillions of Rocky Mountain Locust in the west is testament to our ability to induce large scale changes to the west’s and Utah’s environment through simple inattention (July 16th).

With respect to the continuing national debate concerning trade-offs between economic expansion and environmental development, the history of the exploitation of City Creek Canyon and its preservation mirrors the larger debate framed by Thoreau in the nineteenth century. As economic expansion occurs, what should be left alone? Stegner documented the failure of the nation to preserve lands as suggested by Thoreau, and as a representative of his time lobbied for the completion of Thoreau’s worldview. The modern environmental movement expanded that issue by insisting of the preservation of health from the deleterious effects of industrialization. The national consensus in favor of the desire for a healthy urban environment lead to both the improved air quality enjoyed in America today (February 8th, February 26th) and to the offshoring of polluting industries and United States manufacturing jobs to India, Indonesia, and China (February 26th). A consequence of that trade-off has been increased economic inequality in the United States and other countries suffering the adverse effects of our consumption. As I write this, the Air Quality Index in Salt Lake City is 28; in parts of Bejing, the AQI is 216. The cultural and engineering challenge for the United States for the next generation is development of zero-pollution manufacturing techniques in order to return of manufacturing to the United States without the associated ill effects of pollution. This is a matter of national and cultural will.

How do natural areas come to be preserved? A final lesson from a year pursuing a Thoreauian experience is that our modern nature experience with its greatly increased access to scientific information does not change the basic moral quandary identified by Henry David: When do we decide to move out of that gray area between the injustices committed by our communities in our name and the desire to choose the easier course of becoming insensitive to them (Menrod 2012)? The history of City Creek Canyon’s preservation as a natural area is instructive. The decision to remove an area from commerce (April 7th, April 27th) in order to serve the inherent non-economic needs of citizens for recreation and nature (April 19th to April 27th) is the sum of a thousand individual actions. It is not the result of leaders making decisions that benefit citizens. In the nineteenth century, the impetus to preserve City Creek Canyon as a natural area was borne from its residents’ desire to protect their children from waterborne diseases that claimed an estimated 14,000 Salt Lake resident lives between 1870 and 1917 (March 28th, Cater at 94 ftn 5). While modern water treatment technology and antibiotics obviated that concern, in the 1960s, Stegner identified the new motivation to continue to protect and preserve City Creek Canyon and the other Salt Lake Valley canyons is the equally important need to preserve mental well-being (July 13th). Since the 1970s, that has been the driving force that keeps City Creek Canyon a protected natural area. The specific experience recorded here for a small nature area outside this remote western metropolitan center can be illustrative for other citizens elsewhere in the United States who wish to move out the gray area and to preserve one of Stegner’s refuges of sanity in their lives. ve retained the


July 21st, 2016 – End of Cyclical Year, Revised and Reposted

Microorganisms, Moss, Lichens, Glaciers, and Climate Trends

(Revised and expanded after lichen identification completed.)

3:30 p.m. It is another day intense summer heat, and as I pull into the parking lot, I take notice of a large Limber pine (Pinus flexilis at the lot’s end, south of the row of cultivar Horsechestnut trees. The Limber pine, Narrowleaf cottonwoods and the Horsechestnuts are among the largest plant organisms in the canyon, excepting some of the 50 foot diameter copses of Gambel’s oaks that may be one large, genetically identical sister plant. A bizarrely twisted, immature Limber pine hides behind to the east of side of the Guardhouse Gate building, and just past the gate, another conifer, a mature 70 foot tall native Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii). Key taxonomic differences between the two is that round pine needles occur in groups of two and flat fir and spruce needles are single. At mile 1.7 at picnic site no. 12. There a forty foot tall Rocky Mountain juniper (Juniperus scopulorum) is flanked by two taller Engelmann spruce trees. Although native to northern Utah, these three trees have been artificially planted to provide shade for picnic area.

Jogging up canyon about 100 yards up from the gate, I pass a deadly Bittersweet nightshade plant with small 1.5 inch green fruit. Splitting one of the fruit open, it is full of 1 mm bright orange larvae, and testing a few more, they are all infected. Given the number of young children that pass this spot, this is probably not a good place for a poisonous plant.

In the heat, I jog alone through an empty road, except for bicyclists. Near mile 0.3, sounds in the Gambel’s oak forest undergrowth betrays an yearling Mule deer stares back through the leaves. It is waiting for me to pass, so it can reach the stream and water. A bicyclist streaks unaware of its presence. A slight anabatic up-canyon wind provides a brief relief.

Beginning at mile 0.5 and the pond at picnic site 5, I collect the sponges placed in the stream and seeps on July 15th. The sponges have been collecting microorganisms for several days. I have looked at water samples from the stream under a microscope several times since May, but have never seen any microorganisms. That is a testament to how pure City Creek Canyon water is. My microorganism observing guide suggests using the sponges to trap organisms over time. The sponges also provide a protected framework that might appeal to microorganisms by providing shelter. The first sponge was located below the pond at picnic site 5, and it was placed under a cover of rocks such that stream water would continuously flow through the sponge. The first from the stream is a dark brown – a good sign. The second collected from the seep below picnic site 6 and the third is retrieved from the watercress seep also below picnic site 6. All three are a dark brown-grey color; the sponges have worked.

At the seep below picnic site 6, the Horsemint is in full bloom, and I count 32 Cabbage white butterflies feeding on them. A single Central bumble bee (Bombus centralis) collects among the butterflies. These are joined by an orange Mexican queen butterfly. I stand mesmerized by the glade for a few minutes. Nightshade is now also blooms in this glade.

Carpenter bee (Xylocopa californica) reappear after their first spring flight. Uniquely, they fly in a circular pattern closely around me twice, and having rejected me as potential food, they fly off with purposeful intent.

Proceeding again up canyon through the heat, only a few birds are heard at some distance from the stream. I cannot distinguish their calls, except for the nasal cawing of a Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis).

At mile 1.1, I stop where a large rock ledge overhangs the stream and admire a tremendous cottonwood cross, a Populus angustifolia x fremontii S. Wats. This 100 foot tree with a twenty-four inch trunk betrays it hybrid nature through two suckers, each 8 inches in diameter at the base. The parent tree has ovate leaves typical of the cross. Those leaf forms continue on one of the suckers, but at its very tip is one perfectly formed triangular Fremont popular leaf. Mid-way up the second sucker, that is also covered in hybrid leaves, is a bracket of perfectly formed thin Narrowleaf cottonwood leaves. This tree must be at least 100 years old, and perhaps it is older and witnessed the arrival of the Euro-American colonists in 1847. At a few minutes of enjoying this tree, I notice that it is looking back at me. More precisely, another Mule deer is on the rock ledge on the far side of the stream, and it is intently following me. I continue up canyon so it can reach water unmolested.

At mile 1.2, I turn down-canyon on the Pipeline Trial in order to photograph some of the lichens on rocks that line the trail down to where it is perpendicular to the Red Bridge and Chimney Rock. The Gambel’s oaks that border each side of the trail are covered in a ubiquitous dusky orange lichen that is found throughout the canyon. Here the rocks are principally volcanic breccia or limestone conglomerates. The first rock has lichens that are three inch diameter turquoise dollops with raised fruiting centers. The second rock has a large turquoise dollop on one corner and fire yellow bright lichen on one face. This rock also has small dark black lichen circles. The third rock has bright orange circles with darkened brown centers. The fourth has similar bright orange two inch dollops with fruiting orange centers. This same orange rock lichen is common in the canyon. For example, it covers parts of the rock bridge at Weeping Falls near mile 5.2. This bright orange lichen only appears on rocks, and its dusky orange brother keeps to the trees. Near the end of this segment, a gully provides more shade an water. Here, the rocks are covered in complex moss complexes, and unidentified green-black small-onion like moss with fine white hairs.

Continuing up canyon to a western gully near mile 2.3, there is another slope with favored lichen rocks. Here the rocks are sandstone based. In the gully, the first rock is a kaleidoscope of circular lichens colored bright orange, turquoise, and black. The next rock is covered with a bulbous green-black moss with fine white hairs. This is followed by a rock covered in turquoise-green lichen that has a darker brown center. Finally, two foot square areas of an unidentified green-black bulbous lichen attach to a rock ledge’s horizontal surface. Looking over some of my other lichen photographs above milepost 5.0, two prominent upturned limestone ledges stick out next to the road. On these a montane grey-milk lichen that look like delicate leaf petals cling to the stone.

This is all a riot of color mixed with abstract design. Lichen are oldest and, for me, they embody the most alien of terrestrial life. I also hold them in the highest respect because they are all a form of extremophile. They thrive on canyon rocks that both bake to temperatures over 150 degrees during the summer, and they continue to reproduce during the subzero cold of deepest winter. They live on the surface of barren rocks and take all that they need from the passing air and rain. And, what else the need in terms of minerals, they obtain by dissolving the solid rocks to which they attach. Moss are less of an extremophile, but tree moss are one of the few plants that continue photosynthesis through the depths of winter (January 10th).

Returning down-canyon near mile 1.3, ahead, I again here the screeching of a Peregrine falcon. Two falcons are chasing two unidentified hawks away from the sandstone cliffs on the east wall of the canyon near mile 1.0. One falcon easily chases a hawk up canyon and over the ridge. The second hawk begins to climb in lazy, large circles, and the remaining peregrine follows. The peregrine raises higher and then stoops the hawk, all the while screeching loudly. This continues for about 15 minutes. At times I loose sight of the pair as they circle overhead with the Sun behind them. The spring sky is a deep blue, but today, the summer sun makes the atmosphere a white turquoise.

Continuing down-canyon, at picnic site 5 where I collected one sponge, an innovative young couple using long lengths of climbing webbing, have suspended two bright Central American woven hammocks over the stream. They lay side-by-side enjoying the stream-cooled air.

At Guardhouse Gate, there are the cut fireplace-sized remains of a large tree. A quick count of its rings indicates the tree is over one-hundred years old. As the the city cuts down infirm trees in the canyon, they leave the carcasses here as free firewood. The cause of this tree’s demise can be seen in one segment of log – it is riddled to the inner pith with boring beetle tunnels. To supplement my gathering of water borne small life, I also collect from the logs’ surfaces, samples of Green tree moss (probably Orthotrichum sp.) and of orange, black and turquoise lichens.

The lower flood retention pond is full of algae mats. A family of mallards graze on the greenery. The chicks, who a few weeks ago where only four inches long, are now twice that size.

At home, I examine water from the three sponges in under a microscope at 60 power of magnification in order to see some of the smallest plants and animals of the canyon. All of the samples consist mostly of bits of algae, some of which are strung on the ends of mold filament, pulverized bits of plant, and specks of silica. No moving protists are seen. A few rectangular-celled with diatoms with well-defined glass-like walls of the genus Fragellaria are found. Two circular diatoms of the genus Stephanodiscus are seen. Finally, a single, transparent perfectly formed leg of an insect exactly fills the eyepiece and then floats away. This is clean City Creek water.

At home and through the hand-lens, the leaves of the moss, which are present both on trees and on rocks in the stream, reveal their earlier evolution as compared to the leaves of the surrounding trees. They are thin and transparent sheets of green cells, and they lack any vascular features found in true leaves.

Under the hand-lens, where the black lichens interface with the tree’s bark, a separate white hyphae through which digestion occurs. Lichens are composite organisms of algae or green bacteria living symbiotically with fungi. Through the hand-lens, one can see two colors, representing the two organisms in the turquoise and orange lichens. The turquoise portion of the turquoise lichen is also surrounded by white hyphae. The second color is green, and through the lens, these resolve as small bits of algae. That lichens exist on almost all of the trees in the first two miles of road is a good sign. Lichen are sensitive to air pollution and will disappear if Salt Lake’s air quality severely deteriorates over a long period.

The length of the day have changed noticeable from June 20th’s summer solstice. Sunset comes an hour earlier around 9 p.m.

* * * *

St. Clair, Newberry and Nebeker (1991 and 1995) provide a comprehensive list of Utah lichens. They and Flowers (1954) describe which species of lichen are common in various northern Utah habitats, including for the scrub oak forest of Gambel’s oaks, the higher subalpine habitat of Quaking aspens, and the montane habitat of conifers. Brodo of the Canadian Nature Museum and Sharnoff and Sharnoff of the Missouri Botanical Gardens published the definite photographic identification guide for lichens: their massive 2001 “Lichens of North America”. They note common lichen species for the Gambel’s oak forest include Lecanora hageni, Phaeoplzyscia orbicu/aris, Physcia adscendens, Physcia dubia, Physcia stellaris, Plzysconia grisea, Xanthoria fallax, and Xanthoria polycarpa. Using these sources, my descriptions and photographs match with the following scientific names:

List of Lichens

• Hooded sunburst lichen (Xanthoria fallax): This is the dusky-orange lichen that covers most of the Gambel’s oak trees in the canyon (Brodo, Sharnoff and Sharnoff, 744).

• Pin-cushion sunburst lichen (Xanthoria polycarpa): This is the bright orange lichen that covers many rocks in the canyon, including the stone bridge at mile 5.2 (Brodo, Sharnoff and Sharnoff, 746).

• Stonewall rim-lichen (Lecanora muralis): This lichen was the even-toned yellow-green (turquoise) circles on rocks along the Pipeline Trail (Brodo, Sharnoff and Sharnoff, 383)

• Sagebrush rim-lichen (Lecanora garovaglii). This is the yellow-green (turquoise) lichen with a darker green center on a rock along the Pipeline Trail (Brodo, Sharnoff and Sharnoff, 380).

• New Mexico rim-lichen ( Lecanora novomexicana): This darker yellow-greenish lichen with yellow fringes was found in the gully near mile 2.2 (Brodo, Sharnoff and Sharnoff, 384).

• Gold cobblestone lichen (Pleopsidium flavum): This is the bright yellow lichen on one rock along the Pipeline Trail. (Brodo, Sharnoff and Sharnoff, 578).

• Powder-tipped rosette lichen (Physcia dubia): This is the delicate leaf-shaped lichen on the limestone vertical fins near mile 5.0 (Brodo, Sharnoff and Sharnoff, 554).

Like today’s Great Salt Lake (May 26th), ancient Lake Bonneville’s water levels and glaciation of the Salt Lake’s canyons at the end of the last ice age gives clues as to the climate of the Salt Lake valley and the canyon. That record is hidden within the valley’s rocks and trees. In 2015 and updating a prior study from 1997, Oviatt at the University of Kansas reconstructed date ranges in which ancient lake rose and fell by radiocarbon dating organic material in tufa deposits along the lake’s former shorelines. He concluded that Lake Bonneville began its rise about 30,000 years ago (id., Table 1). Between 15,000 and 18,000 years ago, Lake Bonneville reached its maximum height at about 5,100 feet, or near the northern end of Pleasant Valley in the canyon near mile 1.7. Following the failure of the Red Rock ice dam in Idaho, the Lake drained to the Provo Shoreline, which is Bonneville Drive and 11th Avenue in the City. Other the next 15,000 years, the lake gradually declined to the current level of the Great Salt Lake (id).

In 2011, Laabs, Marchetti, and Munroe and colleagues used residual Beryllium 10 isotopes in rocks, taken from the glacial moraines in Little Cottonwood Canyon in Salt Lake valley and American Fork Canyon in Utah valley, in order to date when glaciers retreated up from the ancient lake’s shores. An ongoing question existed amongst geologists, based on conflicting earlier studies, concerning whether the Salt Lake glaciers receded before, coincident with or after the end of the last Ice Age and-or before, coincident with or after the end of the peak level of Lake Bonneville. Figure 1 of their study shows the area of glaciation stretching from American Fork to the south and Farmington, Utah in the north, thus, including City Creek Canyon. They concluded that glaciers covering the Salt Lake valley canyons started to retreat 15,700 plus or minus 1,300 years before the present, either during or shortly after the maximum 5,100 foot shoreline height of ancient Lake Bonneville. Their confidence interval overlaps the 15,000 to 18,000 years before the present found by Oviatt for the maximum height of Lake Bonneville. Deglaciation started about 4,000 years after the end of the continental Ice Age at 18,000 years ago. Because the lake reached its maximum and retreat of the local glaciers started after the end of the Ice Age, Laabs, Marchetti, and Munroe et al concluded that the local climate between 18,000 and 15,000 years ago was wetter than thought by prior geologists.

That there were glaciers in City Creek Canyon below Grandview Peak and at the canyon’s final hanging valley (September 8th) seems evident from an examination of any terrain map and hiking the canyon. But to my knowledge, there are no studies dating the glacial deposits in City Creek Canyon. Van Horn and Crittenden’s geologic map shows no surficial glacier features (Van Horn and Crittenden, 1987, U.S.G.S. I-1762). Perhaps there was a lighter ice sheet over the canyon 15,000 years ago, but it was insufficient to crave the bedrock.

The Engelmann spruces and other pine trees that live in association with the spruces, tell the history of Salt Lake valley’s and the canyon’s climate for the last 13,000 years before the present. In Little Cottonwood Canyon, Engelmann spruce share the glacial scoured hillsides with Limber pine (Pinus flexilis). Engelmann spruce is more tolerant of wet earth and colder soil temperatures, and Limber pine is more tolerant of dry earth and warmer soil temperatures. Thus, as climate changes occur over thousands of years, the relative amount of pollen left in soil layers beneath their canopy gives a general indication of weather in the distant past. In 1979, Madsen and Currey at the University of Utah used a bog in Gad Valley near Snowbird Ski Resort to reconstruct Utah’s late Holocene climate (Madsen and Currey 1979). Based on moraine deposits, the maximum extent of glaciation that extruded glaciers into the Salt Lake valley floor occurred about 25,000 years ago. After a period of warming, a second smaller glacial period ensued and Madsen and Currey, using the bog at Gad Valley places that around 12,500 years ago. Then glaciers within Little Cottonwood Canyon retreated and disappeared. A similar bog in Albion Basin at the top of Little Cottonwood is dated at 9,500 years (id, 258). Using the ratio of Engelmann spruce and Limber pine in the Gad Valley bog, Madsen and Currey were able to reconstruct the relative climate of the canyon, and by extension the Salt Lake Valley and City Creek Canyon, for the past 12,500 years. Between 13,000 and 8,000 years before the present, the valley’s climate was cooler and wetter than today. Between 8,000 and 5,000 before the present, advancing Limber pines indicate a warmer and drier climate than today. Then there was a brief period in which temperatures greatly declined, followed by a quick warming and a gradual decline to today’s cooler temperatures with respect to the 13,000 year mean (id, at Fig. 6 and 265). In contrast, precipitation has been on a gradual decline for the last 6,500 years and is currently near the 13,000 year mean (id). These are consistent with Grayson’s climate divisions for the Great Basin Holocene generally: 10,000 to 7,500 years before the present (early), 7,500 to 4,500 years before the present (middle), and 4,500 years before the present until today (late) (Grayson, Chap. 8).

Over the last 4,500 years, a picture of trends in Salt Lake City’s local climate can be developed from tree ring, Gad Valley bog pollen, and other climate research. Since 4,500 years before the present, there was a brief period in which temperatures greatly declined, followed by a quick warming and a gradual decline to today’s cooler temperatures with respect to the 13,000 year mean (Madsen and Currey, Fig. 6 and 265). It is now colder than average than over the last 13,000 years. The Little Ice lasted from about 1300 C.E. to 1850 B.C. There were highly variable swings in temperature during this time, but those changes were not global, but regional (Solomon et al 2007; Houghton et al 2001). In Utah, the Little Ice Age ended in 1850 and was followed by the most severe winter in Utah history, the winter of 1855-1856.

Since 4,500 years before the present, precipitation has been on a gradual decline for the last 6,500 years and is currently near the 13,000 year mean (Madsen and Currey). From 1492 to the present, the tree rings show that persistent, severe droughts were far more prevalent in the distant past than in the 150 years of Euro-American presence in northern Utah (Bekker et al 2014). Variability in Salt Lake City precipitation since the 1960s, including severe drought in the 1960s and peak flooding in the 1980s, is tied to the Pacific Quasi-Decadal Oscillation, an 11 year cycle of drought and heavy precipitation tied to ocean temperatures off the coast of California and Japan. The level of the Great Salt Lake acts as a recorder of climate, and the Lake’s level has been recorded continuously since 1875 (USGS, 2017a, USGS, 2017b). In the summer of 2016, it dropped to a new historical low of 4,190.1 feet (id).

In 2010, Wang and colleagues at the Utah State University associated the Pacific Quasi-Decadal Oscillation (PQDO) with a northern Utah three-year leading precipitation and a six year leading level of the Great Salt Lake (Wang, Fig. 4 at 2166). In the association with the level of the Great Salt Lake, PQDO warm phase peaks are associated with the lowest lake levels and PQDO cool phase troughs are associated with the highest lake levels. In 2013, DeRose, Wang and colleagues used tree rings to reconstruct the level of the Great Salt Lake back to 1429, and they associated the lake’s level to the pacific oscillation back to 1700 (DeRose 2013). In recent years, the PQDO has been good for Utah. While California has suffered severe drought, the PQDO has kept annual precipitation relatively higher in Utah (IWWA Project).

The PQDO has not had a phase change since 1997 and the change to a heavy precipitation pattern is overdue. Despite heavy winter snowfall in the high mountains during the winter of 2016-2107, Utah remains in an extended drought with unseasonably warm summers.

Future uncertainty is added by the effect of global warming. Has global warming disrupted the Pacific Quasi-Decadal Oscillation? What will its future impact be? However, even excluding global warming, Salt Lake City and Utah are on a path towards relatively hotter weather and declining water supplies as compared to the past.

* * * *

On July 21st, 1942, the City banned the entire north bench of Salt Lake City to entry due to fire hazard, but access to City Creek Canyon would remain open (Salt Lake Telegram). On July 21st, 1906, the Deseret Evening News published a picture of a 10 foot snow bridge across City Creek Canyon about nine miles up the canyon. On July 21st, prize fighter Tommy Reilly trained by taking a long run up City Creek Canyon (Salt Lake Telegram). On July 21st, 1903, about 100 Ute Tribe members gathered for an annual celebration at the mouth of City Creek Canyon (Salt Lake Herald). (In the present, the Ute Tribe holds an annual meet at Liberty Park.)

July 27, 2017

July 24th Revised, Reposted

Filed under: History, People — canopus56 @ 10:17 pm


External Link to Image

Brigadier General Philippe Régis Denis de Keredern de Trobriand circa 1860 to 1870. United States Library of Congress.

5 p.m. Near milepost 0.6, someone has made a small memorial on the passing of a local pastor. It is a simple affair. A poem with his photo that was clipped from the newspaper has been inconspicuously pinned at the base of a small tree. It would go completely unnoticed but the bereaved also scattered a trail of white blue rose petals for a couple of hundred yards leading to the monument. At its base, four or five each of now faded white and red rose petals below the newspaper clipping. He was a clinical pastor and also on the board of directors of Saint Mark’s Hospital. His obituary hints at an even more complex personality. His undergraduate degree was in chemistry but then he switched and obtained a masters in divinity studies. He must have resolved the modern dichotomy between science and religion. This shows another use of the canyon: as scared and memorial space.

Sept. 26th. 5:30 p.m. New flower blooms have been placed at the base of this memorial tree.

November 14th, 4:30 p.m. The flower memorial has blown away and no trace of it can be found.

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On July 4th, 1871, Fort Douglas commander Brigadier General Philippe Régis Denis de Keredern de Trobriand averted a massacre by refusing to open fire on a July 4th parade led by Brigham Young. As part of preparations for the July 4th parade of 1871, Salt Lake City officials planned to have the City parade led by the Navuoo Legion and Brigham Young (Grandstaff 1996, Deseret News and Van Leer, Nov. 19th, 1996). At that time, Salt Lake City’s mayor was Daniel Wells who also an apostle of the LDS Church and a lieutenant general in the Navuoo Legion. The then federally-appointed Utah Territorial Secretary George A. Black had previously issued a proclamation prohibiting any local militia from mustering, drilling, or parading (Grandstaff at 217). In context, 1871 was still a few short years after the end of the Civil War, and during the era of Reconstruction, such proclamations were used in the South to prevent a return of the Confederacy. Black and Utah’s Territorial Governor George L. Woods desired to prevent the Mormon Legion from marching in the parade. de Trobiand refused to enforce the proclamation and requested to guidance from his supervising officer, Brevet Brigadier General Christopher Augur, of the Army’s Platte Department in Omaha, Nebraska. Auger directed de Trobriand to prevent the Legion from marching and to use force if needed (Grandstaff at 218). On the critical date of July 3rd, 1871, Black was the acting-Territorial Governor.

Woods was an Oregon attorney during the early 1860s and did not serve in the Civil War, and Black’s Civil War service is unknown. General deTrobriand was a French aristocrat who had served in the Civil War at the Battles of Williamsburg and Gettysburg, including at the bloody battle of the Wheatfield. Civil War photographer Timothy O’Sullivan, after whom O’Sullivan Peak in Big Cottonwood Canyon is named, gained national recognition for his photograph of war dead entitled the “Harvest of Death” taken at Gettysburg’s Wheatfield battleground.

Around July 3rd, Black met with de Trobriand (Grandstaff at 218). de Trobriand refused acting governor Black’s order to fire on any armed Navuoo Legion members in the parade, but stated that Black was free to personally issue the order to de Trobriand’s troops. On July 3rd, de Trobriand deployed armed troops carrying 40 rounds each of ammunition along the parade route near the existing Alta Club and on the delta of City Creek Canyon stream. Next, de Trobriand met with Brigham Young. Young took the position that the Navuoo Legion would march and stated that the Legion could easily defeat the federal troops if necessary. de Trobriand’s replied that, “[it] would not inconvenience the United States in the least, but would ensure the prompt and thorough destruction of Mormonism” (Grandstaff at 219).

The next day as the federal troops waited for the start of the July 4th parade, Brigham Young exited the parade marshalling area in what is now Memory Grove leading a group of young teen women crowned with flowers. The Legion did not march. de Trobriand deftly navigated a difficult domestic peace-keeping dispute between two opposing sets of civilian authorities and averted a public massacre in the streets of Salt Lake City.

Brigadier General de Trobriand is memorialized at Fort Douglas with De Trobriand Street, the street that runs in front of the Fort Douglas Commander’s House at 1965 De Tobriand St., University of Utah, Fort Douglas, Salt Lake City, Utah. The Commander’s House is now a reception and meeting center run by the University of Utah Guest House.

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On July 24th, 2006, the Deseret News reported on the history of the Lone Cedar Tree monument at 300 South and 500 East. The Lone Cedar Tree originally grew at a corner store at the intersection. In 1933, the dead tree was placed in its monument. In 1958, vandals cut the tree down. In 1960, the stump of the tree was installed in the monument, and then the stump was stolen. It was replaced with the present stone monument. On July 24th, 1905, Thomas Homer, the owner of new automobile, bet Dr. W. F. Beer, the owner of a horse drawn carriage, that Homer could take his car anywhere that Beer’s carriage could go (Salt Lake Telegram). On July 24th, 1897, the Salt Lake Tribune profiled four of the twenty-eight still living pioneers of 1847, and the paper reported that the first Euro-American death in the valley was the death of three-year old child of George Therikill. The child wandered off from the pioneer camp on August 11th and drown in City Creek Canyon (Salt Lake Tribune). The Tribune reported that it procured 91 photographs of the original 168 advance party pioneers. On July 24th, 1894, boys camping in City Creek Canyon set off a small brush fire (Salt Lake Tribune). On July 24th, 1886, the Salt Lake Herald endorsed a proposal to build a twenty-five mile road from Morgan County down City Creek Canyon so perishable dairy products could reach Salt Lake without longer trip through Parley’s Canyon (Salt Lake Herald).

July 16, 2017

July 15th

The Homeless and the Canyon

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Bluets on Bulrush in City Creek Canyon at Seep (Lat. 40.8014929, Long. -111.8749328). Author taken July 2017.

3:30 p.m. True summer heat near 100 degrees Fahrenheit returns and the canyon air takes on oven-like qualities of later in the season. While I was born in the cold of the northeast, part of my adolescence was spent under the blazing sun of southern California deserts. My now heated adapted summer body takes the high temperatures easily. The pulse slows; veins and arteries expand; blood flows and cools in hands and legs. Limbs become flexible; muscles relax; and toxins escape through open pores. The mind becomes lethargic and meditative, but with exercise in heat, thinking remains clear.

The heat has emptied the first mile of road, and only a few joggers are present. The road becomes as empty as in the opposite side of the temperature scale, that is in the depth of winter (December 27th). As in winter, I no longer recognize in myself the person who ran through five degree temperatures.

The heat also affects mammals and insects. Counter-intuitively, it makes Rock squirrels active, and I count three in the first mile. Insects begin to succumb. On the road’s surface, Grasshopper (Melanoplus sp.) lays dead, baking on the road, and that carcass is followed by a Giant western crane fly. Next, I find a spent Cabbage white butterfly. This allows me to examine one this usually hyperactive insect with my hand lens. As their name implies, the Cabbage whites are white in color, but close-up their abdomens are jet black. Numerous white hairs cover that segment and make the butterfly appear all-white.

The earth has dried out, and turns the rare cases of stationary surface water in the canyon into oases. The oasis at the seep about 100 yards below picnic site no. 6 (Lat. 40.8014929, Long. -111.8749328) has reached an idyllic peak of diversity. In an ellipsis of sixty by twenty feet, Circumpolar bluets rest on Bulrushes surrounded by Indian ricegrass and fronted by Kentucky bluegrass. These grasses surrounds a water rivulet in which Western Yellowjacket wasps and White Admiral butterflies stop and rest for a drink. Giant cattails are flanked on one side by six foot tall Horsemint (Agastache urticifolia (Benth.) Kuntze), a.k.a. Nettleleaf Giant Hyssop or Nettleleaf Giant Horsemint, covered in Cabbage white butterflies. On the other stands five foot tall blue Chicory. Stands of Starry solomon’s seal are backed by a large grove of Western poison ivy and are intermixed and are intermixed with Common California aster. A cultivar Weeping willow (Salix babylonica) shades the up-canyon end of the glade.

A short-distance downcanyon, three rare butterfly visitors are seen with orange wings, a black circumferential band and white wing spots. These are Mexican queen butterflies (Danaus gilippus strigosus), and they are usually restricted to New Mexico.

Up-canyon, this season’s teasels (Dipsacus sylvestris) have risen to four feet in height below the Red Bridge. For some weeks, the great two foot triangular leaves of the Burdock (Arctium minus Berhn) invasive weeds that line the canyon road have been raising two and three foot vertical stalks, but their purple flower heads have yet to open.

Today, I place three sponges in the lower canyon. The first is in the stream below the pond at picnic site 5. The second is in the seep 100 yards below picnic site 6, described above, and the third in at the watercress stand at the tunnel seep 50 yards below picnic site 6. I will retrieve these in a few days to see what mirco-life has become trapped or grown in the sponge’s cavities.

The intense Sun has boiled huge summer cumulus clouds from the reservoirs that line the eastern side of the Wasatch Front Mountain Range, and the clouds frame the north and eastern ridgelines of the canyon as I reach the Gate. Those reservoirs provide the valley with most of its drinking water. In the parking lot, an elderly gentleman, who each day leaves a homeless concentration zone at 500 West and 200 South in the City to seek the canyon’s cool breezes, sits on a bench eating a sandwich.

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The homeless have long had a relationship with City Creek Canyon. In addition to the homeless person who spends the day at a picnic parking lot, another homeless individual frequents the canyon during the winter, but spends cold nights in a local supermarket. Sometimes in the depths of winter, I have taken the homeless who come to the canyon with the intention of camping overnight back to the city and advise them that they have underestimated the sub-zero temperatures of canyon winter nights. Some are obviously mentally ill. They talk to themselves and their mental illness is either the result of the stress of becoming homeless or an effect of their pre-existing mental illness. For many years, there was a small homeless tent city near the parking lot gate off the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, but in recent years, the County and the City cleared the camp out. Now the watershed patrol vigorously patrols the canyon and takes any homeless citizens back to the concentration zone on the valley floor citing the fear that persons in a homeless camp might set the canyon’s grasslands on fire. While that is a legitimate concern, I suspect the City also quickly acts to remove any homeless from the canyon in part because middle-income citizens simply do not want the homeless there. They fear the homeless as potentially violent and secretly they fear becoming homeless themselves in an uncertain economy.

Salt Lake citizens struggle with the moral ambiguities created by their city’s homeless concentration zone. City residents have long resisted building sufficient facilities to house the homeless on the unsupported theory that building more beds will attract more homeless, and residents, like most other major United States cities, have long avoided building enough affordable housing. The City also struggles with the practice of surrounding communities and hospitals shipping their destitute and ill residents to into the City’s concentration zone. In the 1980s, Salt Lake City took the lead on homelessness by opening Utah’s first homeless shelters. Rather than expending monies addressing their own homeless problem by building their own shelters, for years, neighboring cities have shipped their destitute to the concentration zone citing that Salt Lake City was the only municipality with facilities to house them. Although the concentration zone has become a state and national embarrassment, city residents prefer to keep the homeless out-of-sight and away from other areas of the city, including out of the canyon.

The homeless’ relationship with the canyon goes back farther than this: the homeless built the canyon’s infrastructure. In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, the City dealt with its homelessness problem by shipping the destitute to the canyon. An early Utah statute permitted cities to impress the destitute and mentally ill convicted of the crime of vagrancy into road work gangs (Utah Code Ann. 10-8-85). In the early 1900s, when the City wanted to build a wider, graded road up City Creek Canyon to promote the new automobile tourism, it began systematic sweeps of the city, arresting the homeless for vagrancy as needed to supply laborer for building the canyon’s road (e.g., Salt Lake Herald, Sept. 26, 1910; Salt Lake Telegram, Nov. 11th, 1913). The city police were sophisticated in their sweeps. For example, in 1908, the road gang needed an experienced “dynamite man” to handle explosives used to break up rock ledges along the canyon road’s path. The Police Department did a sweep of vagrants seeking to arrest one with necessary skill (Deseret Evening News, April 24th, 1908). Unemployed miners got wind of the scheme and fled the city. A particularly racist cartoon, by modern standards, in the August 14th, 1904 Salt Lake Tribune shows who was working on road gangs and what residents’ attitudes were towards the poor. The gangs consisted of elderly unemployed men, persons with alcohol addiction, and minorities. On April 28th, 1908, Mark Aaron, a prisoner serving a 90 day sentence for vagrancy, was shot to death in the canyon will attempting to escape the road gang (Deseret Evening News). The officer claimed that he was aiming for Aaron’s legs, but missed and instead the bullet entered Aaron’s head. In 1972, the United States Supreme Court declared vagrancy laws unconstitutional.

This darker era in Salt Lake’s past provides some instruction for the City’s modern homeless problem. What the destitute need to restore their dignity is a roof over their heads and paying employment, even if that means government provided make work. If at night there are any ghosts wandering the canyon, they are probably of homeless men rattling their work gang chains.

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On July 15th, 2015, Mayor Ralph Becker proposes a “Connecting to Nature” plan in which $125 million USD bond would fund park renovations and new land acquisition (Deseret News). On July 15th, 1938, hard oil surfacing of the scenic drive along Bonneville Drive and 11th Avenue was nearly complete (Salt Lake Telegram). On July 17th, 1915, the U.S. Weather Bureau installed an advanced stream flow measuring gauge at the High Line Water Tanks in Pleasant Valley (Salt Lake Herald). On July 15th, 1891, the Red Bird Mine reports opening a four foot wide vein that may contain 1,000 ounces of silver (Salt Lake Times). Fifteen men are working at various prospects in City Creek Canyon (id).

July 11, 2017

July 7th

The Cheat Grass Sea and Floods

(Continuation from July 6th). Before me at the Dry Fork pass are two miles of Cheat grass covered foothills that is two feet tall in some places. The cheat grass zone extends for a mile on either side of the ridge, crosses the salient’s ridgeline into City Creek and descends for another one-half mile. It is broken by the City Creek stream. On the western salient, the cheat grass begins again between a few hundred feet and one-half mile from the stream. Here, it is broken by the Gambel’s oak forest and chaparral. Then the cheat grass lands continue continues up and over the ridge to North Salt Lake beyond the west facing slope. For twenty-five minutes, I travel along the Bonneville Shoreline Trail as it winds around gullies and “noses”, and the Cheat grass sea is occasionally interrupted by remnants of native Wild bunchgrass, native Bluebunch wheatgrass and imported Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis). Eventually, the trail reaches the head of Perry’s Hollow, a small one and one-half mile canyon that empties near 11th Avenue above the City Cemetery. Although the heat is pounding, the clear air above the intensifying air pollution of a summer inversion layer clears the soul, and the views of the city and the lake beyond clears the mind.

Naturalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Wallace Stegner grew up in part in Salt Lake City. Checking old City Polk’s directories some years ago, I determined that he lived across from Liberty Park on 700 East Street and in his semi-autobiographical “Recapitulation”, he later resided in the Avenues not far from where I live. In his “Sound of Mountain Water,” he recounts his boyhood exploits in Big Cottonwood Canyon eight miles to the south of this pass. I like to imagine that Stegner also wandered the foothills that I jog through today. Although to my knowledge, Stegner never specifically wrote about Cheat grass, he grew up in Salt Lake City as this invasive arrived and took over the foothills. Cheat grass was not introduced into Utah until 1890, and by 1932, dominated in Salt Lake County (June 10th). In his youth, Stegner must have witnessed the cheat grass transformation of these foothills, and at times, I wonder if such experiences forged Stegner’s later resolve to preserve the outdoors.

From the 1920s through the 1960s, a core of Utah botanists and ecologists, including C. L. Forsling at the U.S. Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station in Logan and botany Professor Walter Cottam at University of Utah along with Stegner and Utah’s Bernard DeVoto dedicated themselves to creating a record of this western environmental catastrophe (Flores, 173). The Cheat grass invasion was not limited to Utah and included the other Intermountain states, like Arizona. In the 1960s, Stegner went on to write his famous “Wilderness Letter”, and Stegner and Arizonia Senator Stewart Udall’s key roles in the passage of the 1964 Wilderness Act are well known. Both of their youths corresponded with the demise of the western rangelands to the Cheat grass invasion, and this must have been part of their motivation to preserve pockets of pristine lands through the passage of the 1964 Wilderness Act. Thus, it may be because of the Cheat grass that infests City Creek Canyon and the ridgeline above the Avenues, that we enjoy the national system of wilderness areas throughout today’s western United States.

Sometime in the future, these Cheat grass lands above the Avenues will burn, and floods will again threaten the homes below, as they have in the past, e.g. – the 1945 Avenues flood (see August 19th, 1945) – in which a three foot wall of water mixed with 300 lb boulders came through the cemetery and down “M” Street in front of my residence (Craddock 1945, Salt Lake Telegram, August 8, 1945). Damage to the City was estimated at 300,000 USD in 1945, or about 4 million USD today. Depending on which part of the ridgeline burns, those cloudburst floods may not have this devastating effect of the 1945. After the 1945 flood, the city erected a flood dam across lower Perry’s Hollow to catch such future flood. An old quarry at 11th Avenue and North Terrace Hills Street was converted into a park, and a sunken soccer field doubles as flood retention basin.

Where did the Cheat grass come from? As discussed below, Utah’s early grazing resource exploitation era of the early 1900s brought the invasive Cheat grass to the state, and as a consequence, the livestock grazing industry bequeathed an annual, perpetual cost of between 20 to 40 million USD to Utah taxpayers in order to fight Cheat grass wildfires. Southern Utah ranchers are a core constituency group of Utah’s Sagebrush Rebellion, a movement that seeks to turn over all federal lands in Utah to state government. By taking title to federal lands, Utah grazing and other resource dependent industries hope to return to an era of higher extraction rates. Their political rhetoric of individualism and free-market economy principles harkens back to their nineteenth century roots. When I hear their arguments in media reports, I can only think of the Cheat grass fields on the ridgelines above City Creek Canyon stream and the 20 to 40 million USD of annual corporate welfare that ranchers receive in free fire suppression services. Through their cattle operator ancestors’ careless thoughtlessness that cost has been moved to Utah taxpayers. In order to understand the western Sagebrush Rebellion, one needs some historical knowledge to put their arguments into perspective. They and their ancestors have already ruined the Utah’s grass lands once before.

Notwithstanding the Cheat grass invasion of the western States, pockets of pristine grasslands remain. “Then and now” matched photographs made by University of Utah graduate student Gary Rogers in 1982 compared with geologist Karl Grove Gilbert’s 1901 photographs show many outlying areas in Utah’s west deserts, including the House Mountains (Rogers, Plate 12), at Fish Springs (Plate 9), in the Dugway Mountains (Plate 8) and east of Grantsville (Plate 5), escaped the Cheat grass invasion (Rogers 1982). The comparison photographs of these outlying areas show unchanged vegetation over an eighty-year period.

* * * *

Per Thoreau’s “Journal” on July 7th, 1851, he notes a pause in the blooming of flowering plants and that birds are singing less. He notes how the Moon causes shadows under elms. On July 7th, 1852, he notes loud bird song at 4 a.m. He describes morning dew in a fog and notes many cobwebs on grass. He describes many flowering plants of the summer season.

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Cheat grass on the ridgeline above the City may have played a central role in the Utah’s history and, in part, motivated the passage of of the 1964 Wilderness Act (1985). As explained during the spring on June 10th, cheat grass was not introduced into Utah until 1890, and by 1932, this invasive weed was present in all Utah counties, but was only dominate in Salt Lake County (id). What happened over those forty years to so widely distribute this weed? University of Utah biologist Cottam noted that in the 1940s, there were about 650,000 head of cattle and 3,800,000 head of sheep grazing on Utah rangelands (Cottam 1947, Fig. 1). Retired USDA ecologist Hull summarized the history of Utah ranching. From a maximum of about 9,000 grazing permittees in 1918, livestock grazing permit holders declined to about 5,000 in 1939 following years of extreme drought, and only three permittees had more than 600 head (Hull 1976 at 5). In 1936, the United States Department of Agriculture released its seminal “Western Range Letter” report announcing the virtual collapse of western rangelands from overgrazing in the western United States, including Utah (United States Forest Service 1936). The Report provided the factual basis justifying the passage of the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 that provided for the regulation of grazing on federal lands. But overgrazing since the turn of the century had already led to a cycle of grass fires that allowed the aggressive cheat grass invader to rapidly replace native grasses (Pickford, 1932; Monson and Kitchen, 24). Cheat grass re-burns at a higher frequency (Monson and Kitchen), and this created a feedback loop in which cattle would overgraze, cheat grass would be established and quickly burn, cattle would be driven to other allotments, and cheat grass completely replaces native grasses in expanding burn areas (Rogers 1982). The consequence today is that cheat grass dominates much of the state’s grasslands, including the ridgelines of the Salt Lake salient and its slopes leading down to City Creek Canyon’s stream.

Where Cheat grass overruns foothills and lowlands and then burns, rainfall runoff can increase by 9 to 100 percent, and this transports great mount of sediments to the valley floors that settle into sheets three feet deep (Nicoli and Lundeen 2016, Craddock 1945). Where overgrazing and invasive grasses occurred at the headwaters of the Wasatch Front Mountain Range canyons, fires are followed by similar increases in run-off that historically have sent great waves of flood waters and mud flows into cities at a canyon’s base (Hull 1976, Cottam 1947, Honker 1994, Honker 1999). Early Mormon settlers did not understand these relationship between overgrazing, fire, and floods, and by 1930, thirteen early Mormon towns were destroyed and may have been abandoned due to such overgrazing and fire induced flooding (Flores 1985 at 171). Utah overgrazing also caused desertification. Over 7,000 cattle were grazed in the Tooele valley during the early 1900s, within a few years, the valley was quickly denuded, and in the 1930s, after Tooele valley turned into the nation’s only dustbowl west of the midwest, the Soil Conservation Service speculated that the town of Grantsville would have to be abandoned (Flores, 172). After a large 2008 grass fire in Skull Valley west of Salt Lake City, created at 3 foot high alluvial fan (Nicoli and Lundeen). The greatest economic impact of the Cheat grass invasion has been on the sheep industry. Sheep stocks are presently only 10 percent of their peak in the 1930, and although cattle levels remain at historic levels, available permitted lands are greatly restricted. The cycle of historical overgrazing, Cheat grass invasion, Cheat grass fire, and subsequent flood also damages Salt Lake City.

The August 7th, 1945 cloudburst flood that ran down Perry’s Hollow and through the Avenues is exemplar of a western fire and cloudburst flood. Such floods caused by the concurrence of two two rare events – an earlier Cheat grass fire that denudes the foothills followed by an unusually severe summer cloudburst rain storm over the denuded area. The first element is fire. There have been many fires over 100 acres in size over the last 100 years either in City Creek or on the Avenues ridgeline. On July 29, 2008, 180 acres burned in lower City Creek Canyon (Salt Lake Tribune and KSL, July 31st, 2008). On July 22nd, 1992, 150 acres burned on the Avenues-City Creek ridge near Tomahawk Drive (Salt Lake Tribune, July 23, 1992). A series of July 7, 1953 photographs at the University of Utah Digital Archives collection shows a fire in the 50 acre range under Ensign Peak. On July 2nd, 1951, a forest fire “covering a wide area” raged in City Creek Canyon for three to four miles above the Salt Capitol building (Salt Lake Telegram). In 1944, the near 400 acre grass fire in Perry’s Hollow preceded the 1945 flood. On July 13th, 1912 Salt Lake Tribune reported a large fire burned between City Creek and Dry Fork Canyons. The August 20, 1898, Salt Lake Tribune reported a fifteen square mile fire that swept up City Creek towards Bountiful. Craddock described state of Perry’s Hollow after the 1945 grass fire and flood, citing the historical pattern of overgrazing that led to the Cheat grass invasion of Salt Lake’s foothills (Craddock at 58):

Inspection of the flood-producing watersheds revealed the plant cover to be in a seriously deteriorated condition notwithstanding many years of protection from livestock grazing and conscientious attempts to control fires. Three stages of impairment were observed.

* * * *

Roughly 10 percent of the watershed – including extensive slopes in the lower portion of the basins and parts of the ridge tops, roads, and mined areas – are virtually devoid of vegetation and litter as a result of grazing abuse in earlier years, old and new mining activity, and both old and recent fires.

* * * *

Fully 80 percent of the area, including all but patches of headwater slopes and portions of lower benchlands, was burned last fall. This fire killed many of the native bunchgrasses which had reinvaded the area since its closure to grazing (Craddock at 58).

The second element is cloudburst rain: With respect to Perry’s Hollow and the fall of 1944, USDA forester George Craddock estimated that about 300 acres of 388 acres in Perry’s Hollow burned (Craddock 1945, Salt Lake Telegram Aug. 8, 1945), and when coupled with a severe cloudburst storm that deposited 3.5 inches of rain in 15 minutes in the summer of 1945 (Craddock 1945), a three foot wall of water came down M Street (Salt Lake City Telegram, August 8, 1945). An incredible 2,400 cubic feet per second came out of Perry’s Hollow in 1945 (Craddock). In comparison, the 1983 snowmelt flood of City Creek peaked at 331 cubic feet per second. Craddock estimated that in 1945, runoff from East and West Valley View Canyons (at the top of North Terrace Drive) that did not burn did not show any increased runoff.

In a 1946 report on northern Utah cloudburst floods issued in response to the Perry’s Hollow flood, Wooley listed numerous cloudbursts that flooded the City through the Avenues, from City Creek Canyon, and along the west-facing Salt Lake salient north of the City (Wooley 1946). Summer cloudburst floods included: June 13th, 1854 (city streets flooded), September 11th, 1864 (heavy flooding of North Temple from City Creek), August 25th, 1872 (downtown flooded), July 23, 1874 (downtown flooded from City Creek), August 1, 1874 (Lindsey Gardens areas flooded as in 1945), August 8, 1884 (North Temple flooded from City Creek), July 26, 1893 (cloudburst flooded basements in city), July 19, 1912 (1 inch feel in 1 hour filling South Temple with sand and mud from above), July 25, 1916 (cloudburst sent 10 foot wall of water into city along with mud, boulders and cattle), July 30, 1930 (cloudburst over Emigration, Red Butte, and Parley’s Canyons washes out highway north of Salt Lake and washes away three homes with damages of $500,000), August 13, 1931 (Four to 12 inches of water swept through streets and 12 feet of debris washed over road near Beck Hot Springs).

Once established, it is almost impossible to restore Cheat grass infested lands to their original state (Monson and Kitchen 1992). Partial restoration can be achieved with great effort and expense (Monson and Kitchen 1992, Pellant 1996). The land must be burned, disced to twelve inches in depth, chemically treated, and then reseeded with native grasses (Pellant 1996, Young and Clements 2009 at Chaps. 10-12). Remediation is generally restricted to flat lands where disc equipped tractors can be run, but the discing operation has been done experimentally on slopes of thirty degrees in inclination (Monson and Kitchen 1992). Retired USDA researcher Hull complains that conversation groups do not understand the economic value of grasslands and the need to restore grasslands using chemicals (Hull 1976 at 19). Professional land managers Young and Clements assert that herbicides and reseeding have successfully resorted western Cheat grass infested lands, but they claim that Congress refuses to expend funds necessary to chemically restore the rangelands due to pressure from environmental groups (Young and Clements at 178).

In 2015, there were about 780,000 cattle and 285,000 sheep in Utah, or about one-fourth the level reported by Cottam in 1947 (Utah Department of Agriculture and Food 2016 at 46). In 2012, Utah had 3,412 cattle operators and 2,838 beef operators, although the overlap between these two groups is not known (id, 45). In 2014, Utah’s agriculture production and processing sectors directly and indirectly contribute about 15 percent of the state’s gross state product, or 21 billion USD out of a total gross state product of 140 billion USD (Ward 2016). Direct cash receipts from raising cattle was about 750 million USD (id), and the manner in which sector analysis is reported prevents allocating a portion of related direct and indirect economic activity from that cattle production annual sales of 750 million USD (less than 0.5 percent of state GSP) to the 21 billion USD of activity for the entire sector. Prorating total direct and indirect economic impact to the 21,000 directly or indirectly employed in beef production (Ward) suggests that approximately 6,300 persons (750M/21B x 21,000) are directly or indirectly employed in cattle and beef production, again a small fraction of Utah’s total laborers.

With respect to the public costs of Cheat grass, based on a 2013 estimate, the State of Utah and the federal government spend 83 million USD per year fighting wildfires in Utah (see June 10th; Stambro et al, 2014, Chap. 9). Although the percentage of those expenditures that could be avoided if native grasses had not been supplanted by fast-cycling and hot-burning Cheat grass, fifty percent seems a reasonable working estimate. Utah’s grazing resource exploitation era of the early twentieth bequeathed an annual and perpetual legacy of, for first-order discussion purposes, of between 20 to 40 million USD.

There was another unexpected environmental change, which might be counted as either a public cost or benefit, depending on one’s point-of-view. On their 1847 arrival in Utah, the Euro-American colonists found massive populations of now extinct Rocky Mountain locusts (Melanoplus spretus) (March 6th). The locust infestations continuing until the turn of the century, but the locust’s population’s disappearance coincides with the massive cattle grazing operations begun in the 1870s. The modification of Utah’s rangeland habitat is a likely causal factor in the locust’s extinction.

Cattle operators have disproportionate political power in the state. As part of gerrymandering in Utah in 1980s, pie-shaped districts were created that radiate from the urban core in downtown Salt Lake City to rural ranching areas in southern Utah (Daley 2016). The United States congressional district that I reside in encompasses cattle operators in Blanding the southeast corner of the state, but my neighbors who live a few miles away, share another congressional district that includes ranchers outside of St. George, Utah in the southwest corner of the state. The purpose of this gerrymandering was to dilute Democratic voters and assure that ultra-conservative, hyper free-market views dominate Utah’s political power (see Daley). Southern Utah ranchers have long been a vocal minority behind the “Sagebrush Rebellion” that seeks to transfer all federal lands in Utah to state control (Flores, 173 and n. 49), and legislation to affect that transfer periodically resurfaces, e.g. – Utah Senator Orin Hatch in 1980 and the state’s 2012 Utah Transfer of Public Lands Act (Utah Code Ann. Secs. 63L-6-101 et seq., Deseret News, March 6th, 2017). Elite Utah urban politicians often rely on southern Utah ranchers and their complaints about grazing regulations as a cultural symbol of some supposed past golden-age in which markets and individual rights operated free of alleged over-reaching governmental rules.

In response to ranchers’ needs to continually expand operations and the increasing expense of fighting rural fires, the State has adopted a catastrophic wildfire reduction strategy (Utah Department of Agriculture and Food 2013). Utah’s Department of Natural Resources funds demonstration projects to rehabilitate grazing lands with natives when invasive grass caused range fires occur. Typically, rehabilitation occurs in southwestern Utah fire-burned areas and at the interface between the cheat grass ocean and newly expanding residential subdivisions.

For Brian Head, Utah, wildfire abatement came to late. In 2013, the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands and Iron County submitted a 10 million USD proposal to treat 8,875 acres (approx. 1,125 USD per acre) to the Department of Agriculture and Food, and thus, to create a one-half mile wildfire-protection buffer around that ski town (Utah Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands and Iron County, 2013). In June 2017, a homeowner, who attempted to clear fire prone grasses around his cabin using a private burn, started a fire that consumed 72,000 acres (Cedar City Spectrum, July 11th, 2017).

* * * *

On July 7, 1953, the west side of Ensign Peak burned in a grass fire covering approximately 20 acres (Porschatis 1953). In an editorial dated July 7, 1889, the Salt Lake Herald opposed an order by the District Court compelling the City to dispose of surplus land on the dry North Bench, the present day Avenues, even though the land will not include water rights (Salt Lake Herald).

July 7, 2017

June 28th

Filed under: People — canopus56 @ 3:23 pm

The Lady on the Bicycle

5:30 p.m. Today, a woman rides past me going uphill as I descend down canyon. She is a racing bicyclist, one of thousands that come to the canyon each year to exercise on the canyon’s uphill grade. She wears brightly color stretch fabrics covered in advertisements and rides a polycarbonate framed machine. Her legs are well-defined and her back ripples with muscles.

* * * *

Per Thoreau’s “Journal” on June 28th, 1851, he notes that white clover is in heavy bloom and that mulleins are growing. Swamp pink is in its first bloom. He observes that when the air is heavy with moisture, the outlines of distant ridges are indistinct. He hears bobolinks. He observes that crickets during the summer, make noise during the daytime and also at night.

* * * *

Today’s female bicycle rider is representative of the social distance that women have traveled over the last century. An entertaining article on the development of mass cycling in Utah by Salt Lake Community College history professor Thomas Moore contains a historical photograph of a Salt Lake female rider from the 1890s (Moore 2011, 272). The rider stands behind her heavy steel safety bicycle in a long floor length overcoat. The machine of today’s rider is far more technologically advanced than the models of the 1890s. An 1894 advertisement, that records the sales of bicycles and wheels with wooden rims to women, noted models weighed in a 21.5 lbs (Salt Lake Tribune, June 28th, 1894). Moore notes that the popularization of the mass produced bicycle in Utah beginning around 1890 coincided with the rise of Salt Lake’s new industrial manufacturing middle class. The new bicycles quickly became a necessity for that new laboring class who needed an inexpensive way to travel longer distances to work (Moore, 270). The new disruptive technology also challenged established social values by giving lower classes better freedom of movement (id., 265-266). Women took advantage of this by using the bicycle for both work and recreation. The new bicycles also provided a justification for women to purchase and wear clothing that was less restrictive than Victorian norms. Moore records one bicycling club, the “It” club, that in 1899 and 1900, consisted of single men and women, who made unescorted recreational rides up City Creek Canyon (id., 272). The new bicycle technology of the 1890s provided one of the many starting points for advancement of United States women’s social and political rights (Stone, Chap. 21; Moore).

The new urban bicyclists also clashed with existing horses and horse drawn carriages owned by the City’s wealthier residents (Moore, 274-277). Since the streets were unpaved, the new bicyclists preferred to ride on the sidewalks where they conflicted with pedestrians. This generated more conflict between the social classes (id). In 1893, City Council President Loofbourow proposed banning all bicycles from the City. He stated that, “I would not only abolish them from the city all together, but I would encourage a movement to send them [all the bicyclists] to the head of City Creek canyon and keep them there, as they are an intolerable nuisance” (Deseret Evening News, June 7th, 1893).

* * * *

On June 28th, 2006, the Huntsman Cancer Institute plans a sarcoma awareness run up City Creek Canyon (Salt Lake Tribune). On June 28th, 1925, annual road work on the City Creek Canyon Road up to Rotary Park several miles up the canyon has been completed by the City prison crew (Salt Lake Telegram). One June 28th, 1918, City Waterworks Commission Nelsen ordered the closure of City Creek Canyon after a brushfire broke out in the early morning (Salt Lake Telegram). On June 28th, 1905, the new boulevard scenic route up City Creek Canyon and around the bench was nearly complete and will be inspected by a committee including former Governor Heber M. Wells (Salt Lake Herald). On June 28th, 1894, the Salt Lake Tribune ran a story-advertisement extolling the resilience of Stearns bicycles during a road race up City Creek Canyon Road.

June 23, 2017

June 22nd

Day of the Butterflies

Day of the Butterflies

1:30 p.m. In the heat of the afternoon, the first mile canyon road is lined with butterflies, and in total there are about thirty in the first mile. A large Red Admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta), a black butterfly with contrasting red-orange chevrons, slowly moves up canyon. The Red Admiral is hawk of butterflies. Unlike most butterflies, that frenetically flap and change direction, the Red Admiral moves it wings in great, slow soaring motions. Cabbage white butterflies (Pieris rapae) play in the hot sun as western tiger swallowtail (Papilio rutulus) also pass by. Two Common sulphur butterflies (Colias philodice eriphyle) chase each other. Two unidentified butterflies fly by. One is the bright yellow with a trailing black wingbar. The second is a small orange.

Large Common whitetail dragonflies patrol overhead. In the Yellow sweet clover (Melilotus officinalis) weeds that lines both sides of the road, Western Yellowjacket wasps (Vespula penslvanica) feast.

At Pleasant Valley, city watershed crews are mowing the sides of the Pipeline Trail.

* * * *

Per Thoreau’s “Journal” on June 22nd, 1851, he sees blooms of yellow loose strife and bladderwort. On June 22nd, 1852, he sees a rainbow after a thunderstorm. He observes that fireflies are numerous. On June 22nd, 1853, he notes that even night air is warm. During an evening walk, he notes that blueberries are coming in.

* * * *

On June 22nd, 2014, Nathan Peters set a new course record in the 35th annual Wasatch Steeple Chase, an annual running race that goes for 17 miles up City Creek Canyon, that gains 4,000 feet while going over Black Mountain, and end back down at Memory Grove (Deseret News). Two-hundred and forty runners participated. Peters finishes in two hours and eleven minutes (id). On June 22nd, 1996, Mayor Deedee Corradini temporarily ordered suspension of construction of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail due to complaints from Avenues’ residents (Salt Lake Tribune). Planning Commission Chairman Ralph Becker noted that that a controversial trail alignment near Ensign Peak was a condition of the developer receiving approval for a luxury subdivsion (id). On June 22nd, 1906, an Intermountain Republican editorial accused the Salt Lake Tribune of spreading lurid lies about Mormon culture in eastern newspapers, including that “Utah is steeped In lawlessness; that depravity runs riot; that the waters of City Creek canyon going down our gutters [are] tinted with the ruddy flow from blood atonement; that all Mormons are polygamist; and that a presentable woman is in peril of than her life . . .”

June 17th

Filed under: Douglas Fir, Gambel's Oak, Lodgepole pine, Maple tree, People, Runners, Wild bunchgrass — canopus56 @ 4:25 am

Masters of the Wasatch Steeplechase

8:00 a.m. It is Saturday, and in the cool morning air, birds are active. Black-headed grosbeaks and Song sparrows are the most common. This morning is also the 39th running of the Wasatch Steeplechase (Adams 2017). The Wasatch Steeplechase is purist running event whose 17 mile path goes up the south part of the Salt Lake salient, over the limestone knife edge at the top of Little Black Mountain, down Smuggler’s Gap, and then out the City Creek Canyon Road. Over the course, about 3,000 feet in elevation is gained and lost. Unlike other Salt Lake City running events, there is no registration packet, no inflated air start and finish line blasting loud rock music, and no prize money. About 200 runners just show up at Memory Grove Park at 6:00 a.m. and start. Participants tend to be lean ectomorphs between the ages of 25 to 50 years old, and the best finish the race in about two hours and fifteen minutes. Last place finishes in about six hours. The purist ethic of the race is reflected in its liability waiver agreement:

“Whereas, participation in the annual Wahsatch Steeplechase is a privilege and sacred ritual in celebration of the Summer Solstice and, whereafter, the undersigned acknowledges the uniquely and hazardous nature of the race course, including raging streams at full flood, wicked sagebrush, poisonous snakes, and precipitous crags, and has inspected the course or in the alternative freely assumes the risk or failure to inspect the course” (Adams 2017).

I am a stocky American football player-like endomorph. Although I have solo-run the track (in reverse direction) about nine times in the last forty years, my best jogging time was somewhat more than six hours, but each time the route was both an inspirational and mystical experience. First, the route goes up seven miles along the City Creek Canyon Road to the end of the paved road through both the Gambel’s oak and maple forest. Then a near vertical trail leads 2,000 feet through an upper montane forest of Douglas firs and Lodgepole pine trees that is thick with Stellar jays. Then the route goes along a knife-edge ridgeline for one-half mile along the top of Little Black Mountain. Here, one must boulder back and forth along limestone ledges that tilt downhill and away from the direction of travel. In most places, a slip means a fall of ten to twenty feet onto a sixty degree slope. Survivable, but something to be avoided given the difficulty of extraction from this high mountain. Next is a about ten miles stretch under the watchful eyes of hawks and eagles that descends back through a Pinyon Juniper forest, along the Wild bunchgrass southern salient past the Little Twin Peaks, and then back through the Gambel’s oak forest to the canyon bottom. Along the summit and south salient, expansive views of the urbanized Wasatch Front cities, the Great Salt Lake, and the Bonneville flats extend at most one-hundred and fifty miles. In some years, dramatic summer storms flow across the Great Salt Lake dropping streamers of lightening from gray and black clouds. The route is a tour-de-force of the many of the Great Basin’s habitats. The Steeplechase is less of a run and more of a spiritual experience brought on by fatigue, dehydration, strong summer sunlight, and exertion at altitude. After each traverse of the route, I fall into a meditative, contented state for one, and if I am lucky, two days.

In September, another extreme race, the Wasatch 100, goes from 100 miles from Farmington, north of City Creek Canyon, along the upper headwaters of the canyon, and onto Park City, Utah, a mining town turned upper income ski-resort. The maximum allowed finishing time is 36 hours. Unlike the Steeplechase, the Wasatch 100, which is beyond my physical capabilities, has a more tradition competitive road-race feel, and by disposition, I have always favored the Steeplechase.

* * * *

Per Thoreau’s “Journal” on June 17th, 1852, he notes that crickets sing loudly in the morning after hot summer nights. He sees or hears a brown thrasher, a red-eye, an oven-bird, and a wood thrush. Citus are blooming. He notes how a boulder has made a micro-habitat in which several tree seedlings have taken root. On June 17th, 1853, he notes that pogonias, adder’s tongue, blue-eyed grass, lambkill and mountain laurel are at their peak. He records an egg in a night-hawk nest has hatched. On the morning of June 17th, 1854, he feels dew covered grasses and sees cobwebs hanging across the grass.

* * * *

On June 17th, 2000, the First Congregational Church planned to hold its annual outdoor service in City Creek Canyon. On June 17th, 1915, P. J. Moran was awarded the contract to build the reservoir at Pleasant Valley for the sum of $18,209.59 (Salt Lake Telegram). On June 17th, 1915, a locomotive was hauled to the capitol grounds along newly constructed track along the west side of City Creek (now East Capitol Street) to begin grading for the new state capitol building (Salt Lake Herald). On June 17th, 1894, the City changed from having a staff of full-time water tankmen (who clean water tank filters) to a part-time staff of day and night patrols (Salt Lake Herald).

June 16th

Partial Success in Treating Starthistle

3:00 p.m. The field at lower Pleasant Valley (mile 1.2) where the Utah Conservation Corps and the city watershed officials have done Starthistle abatement (May 17th, May 21st, October 16th) has both succeeded and failed. The horizontal field at Pleasant Valley has filled in with new native grass, Wild bunchgrass (Poa secunda), many smaller wildflowers and also the invasive Western salisfy. The lower field is an idyllic scene, but because the field has been sprayed with Milestone herbicide (Aminopyralid), the Peregrine falcons are not hunting here for Rocky Mountain deer mice as in prior years.

The green of the lower field climbs up the hillside, and this is also an area where the Utah Conservation Corps manually pulled starthistle weeds. I cross the field to the slope to take a better look, and to my surprise, the treated vertical slopes have three or four times the density of starthistle plants as compared to the slope’s pre-treatment state last year. Other treated steep slopes to the west of Pleasant Valley are in a similar condition. Limited to steep slopes, the abatement project is a failure. Probably only a burning with reseeding can rehabilitate such slopes, but citizens in nearby residential areas rejected a burn control approach proposed in 2010 (see Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities 2010). Conversely, expensive manual pulling in conjunction with Aminopyralid spraying worked on horizontal fields (see Utah Watershed Restoration Initiative at May 21st).

I am also concerned that the use of Aminopyralid might be detrimental to the Peregrine falcons, Cooper’s hawks or Western screech-owls that utilize this field. Earlier this year, while with the Tracey Aviary bird count team (May 6th), I saw a Peregrine falcon hunting above this area, and in spring of 2015, a pair of peregrines would regularly sit on the power line wires above the field. One afternoon, one of the pair dived on the field, and then slowly rose beating its wings while grasping a fat deer mouse in its talons. The second falcon left its perch, swooped up from below of the first falcon and extended its talons. This startled the upper falcon and caused it to release its catch. The lower falcon, while flying inverted, expertly caught the mouse and flew off with its prize. Research later in this evening locates a 2007 United States Forest Service sponsored assessment of the effect of this herbicide on birds, principally by literature review (Durkin 2007). Since birds have a short-life span (Peregrines and Cooper’s hawks both live about twelve years), testing consists of applying a variety of doses of the chemical to test species. In the instant of Durkin’s review, a 2003 prior study force fed quail with a 50 percent lethal dose of Aminopyralid (id, pp. 96-97 and 4-1 to 4-6). The quail grew disoriented in the short term, but survived. In another study using high doses on hatchlings, success to viability declined up to 30 percent. Other lower dose studies did not find any significant effects. The consultant recommended exposure levels for humans, birds, and mammals based on prior works. Based on this limited study, my concern about using Aminopyralid around Peregrines and Cooper’s hawks were assuaged. Aminopyralid is not another DDT.

* * * *

Per Thoreau’s “Journal” on June 16th, 1852, he records a morning fog with singing birds, and he remarks on how evening mornings are now hot. In the night, he sees an aurora borealis to the north. On the morning of Per Thoreau’s “Journal” on June 16th, 1853, he hears robins, birds, other birds, and crickets. He sees sunlight reflecting off a stream that makes the stream appear as silver metal (compare Dec. 26th, in main text, above). He extracts a red squirrel from its underground nest. Per Thoreau’s “Journal” on June 16th, 1854, he sees fleabane. The Utah version is Utah fleabane, Eigeron utahensis. He sees white lily and two variants of wild rose. He hears a cherry bird. Per Thoreau’s “Journal” on June 16th, 1855, he sees young squirrels. Per Thoreau’s “Journal” on June 16th, 1858, he smells blackberry blossoms, and on June 16th, 1860, he notes summer thunderstorms are now a common occurrence.

* * * *

On June 16th, 1997, the U.S. Forest Service revives the Anschutz Ranch East Pipeline Environmental Impact Analysis after a consultation disputes Chevron’s claim that an existing pipeline has sufficient capacity to handle all loads for the next fifty years (Salt Lake Tribune). On June 16th, 1919, there was a large grass fire in City Creek Canyon (Salt Lake Herald). On June 16th, 1915, bids were opened for the construction of the reservoir at Pleasant Valley (Salt Lake Telegram). On June 16, 1910, the Little Giant Mine petitioned the City council to open a mine in City Creek Canyon (Salt Lake Herald). On June 16, 1904, a bear destroyed a camp at the forks in City Creek Canyon, and Ben D. Luce and party hunted the bear (Salt Lake Telegram). On June 16, 1881, J.J. Branch, a former L.D.S. Church member who was present at Joseph Smith’s death, now turned evangelist, held a revival at a tent in Salt Lake City, at which he predicted that God would send a great flood from City Creek Canyon and destroy the City in retribution in retribution for the “wickedness and lying and blasphemy and abomination” of the L.D.S. church (Salt Lake Tribune). On June 16, 1897, George Crimson, a still living 1847 pioneer, relates his biography (Salt Lake Herald). In the spring of 1848, Crimson and his father built the first grist mill in City Creek Canyon, and sold the same to Brigham Young (id). He left for the California gold rush in 1849.

June 14, 2017

June 13th

Filed under: Black Mountain, Ensign Peak, Grandview Peak, Little Twin Peaks, People, Weather — canopus56 @ 4:55 pm

Artists’ Eyes

2:00 p.m. A cold front races into northern Utah, temperatures drop to the fifties overnight and sixties during the day. Cold rain falls beginning at night and into the afternoon. Today, I have not gone to the canyon, but rather have gone to State Capitol to see an exhibition of maps about Utah and Salt Lake City called “Utah Drawn”. Bird’s eye views of cities were popular forms of city maps during the nineteenth century. In such maps, an artist renders a three-dimensional view of a city map and the surrounding country-side as if the city were seen from an airplane. Today’s exhibition has three. Ever focused on the notion of Mormons as an exceptional people, the curator’s notes focuses on how the Mormon Temple is rendered in each map. I am more interested in what the artist’s rendering of City Creek Canyon and Little Black Mountain in the background of each map says about how City residents’ viewed their closest canyon.

Between this exhibition and those on file with the Library of Congress, there are four such bird’s eye view maps:

A Bird’s Eye View of Salt Lake City, Utah Territory, 1870, by Augustus Koch. The Koch 1870 maps renders lower City Creek Canyon in great detail with each mill house shown individually. The south Salt Lake salient with Little Twin Peaks and Little Black Mountain are rendered in realistic proportions. The detail of the lower canyon reflects its significance as water source and location of industry. The mountains and canyons are not shown as distant, inaccessible places.

A Bird’s Eye View of Salt Lake City, Utah, 1875, by Eli Sheldon Glover. Glover’s view of the City looks from Ensign Peak to the south west and does not show City Creek Canyon. An irrigation ditch is drawn that takes water from the canyon down to 400 East and First Avenue, then called Fruit Street. The canyon is unimportant in this image.

• Salt Lake City, Utah, 1887, attributed to Augustus Gast. The 1887 view, probably also done by Augustus Koch and incorrectly attributed to Augustus Gast, is my favorite. City Creek Canyon and Little Black Mountain are done in a style evocative of a Chinese ink painting. Little Black Mountain is shown disproportionately as high mountain peak. The mountains and canyon are mysterious, inaccessible places. This map is on display at State Capitol.

Salt Lake City, Utah, 1891, by Henry Wellge. Wellge’s painting is unique in that it is the only bird’s eye view that also includes the Great Salt Lake and Antelope Island in the background. Lower City Creek Canyon is again shown in great detail, reflecting its relative importance. Ensign Peak and Little Twin Peaks on the southern Salt Lake salient at shown in great alpine peaks. Little Black Mountain is wholly missing, and Grandview Peak looks more like the Grand Teton. Here, the mountains are rendered as grand imaginary lands. The State Capitol exhibition curator attributes this map to the Salt Lake Real Estate Association, and notes that its purpose was attract buyers to the City’s then real estate boom.

* * * *

In Thoreau’s “Journal” on June 13th, 1851, he describes a moonlit walk, sees fireflies, and hears a whippoorwill. On June 13th, 1852, on notes several flowering plants along a river including blue bead lilies, red osier dogwood, and a carrion flower that emits a strong scent that attracts gnats. He hears bluebirds and robins. On June 13th, 1853, he describes two young hawks and their nests. He notes violets have past peak bloom and wild rose is blooming. He sees a rose-breasted grossbeak. On June 13th, 1854, he describes colorful yellow and red blooming plants. He sees minnows in a stream and hears crickets. On June 13th, 1860, he notes sycamore trees are losing their leaves.

* * * *

On June 13th, 2013, the City reported on a new enforcement push to remove homeless tent camps in City Creek Canyon (Salt Lake Tribune). On June 13th, 1914, City Commissioner W. H. Shearman, Water Supply Charles F. Barrett, and City Engineer Sylverster Q. Cannon planned to the headwaters of upper City Creek in order to determine if a reservoir could be built at the site of an existing natural lake, that in 2017 does not exist (Salt Lake Tribune). The Tribune described the lake in City Creek as:

“The lake in City Creek Canyon is located in a land-locked basin near the head of the canyon. It has no natural outlet, and the water seeps out through the bottom, rising again several miles down canyon in great springs which form the City Creek Creek stream. A glacial moraine blocks the lake from a natural outlet and caused the lake to form. The lake assumes large dimensions at this time of the year, although it shrinks to a mere swamp later in the summer.”

On June 13, 1908, City Water Superintendent J. R. Raleigh described how his crews were raising 18 inch embankments along City Creek for about three-quarters of a block through the city in order to contain flood waters (Salt Lake Herald). Raleigh recommended constructing a 36 inch aqueduct pipe to remedy the problem. On June 13, 1908, Ben Jones drank five pints of whiskey at a saloon on Second South, passed out in the street, and was sentenced to work on the prison road gang working on boulevard in City Creek Canyon (Salt Lake Telegram). On June 13, 1899, high waters in City Creek prevented closing of irrigation diversion gates out of fear that the city would be flooded (Salt Lake Herald). On June 13, 1898, the Utah National Guard held practice battles in City Creek Canyon (Salt Lake Tribune). On June 13th, 1883, a petition to support a waterpowered marble polishing plant in City Creek Canyon was presented to the City Council (Salt Lake Herald). On June 13th, 1883, the Salt Lake Herald reviewed the manufacturing of silk at waterpowered looms in City Creek Canyon (Salt Lake Herald).

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