City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

May 19, 2017

May 18th

Filed under: Lookout Peak, Stream, Weather — canopus56 @ 1:38 am

High Elevation Snowmelt

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Snotel Snow Pack at Lookout Peak. (Water Equivalent Inches). Source: Natural Resources Conservation Service. (May 18, 2017).

1:00 p.m. Cool weather remains, but the stream remains a raging serpent. The water runs cleaner than the last week and I fill a small bottle it. The life-giving water contains no obvious impurities. The SNOTEL station for the high canyon on Lookout Peak shows the snowpack reducing at a prodigious rate. Between May 1st and today, the inches of water in the snowpack has dropped from about 35 inches to 20 inches. Its graph over time shows a near vertical descent, and the rate indicates the high snow pack will be gone around June 3rd. Then the stream have to depend only meager rainfall and underground recharge from the surrounding hills.

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On May 18th, 1994, 190 people participated in a running race through lower City Creek Canyon to raise money for disabled children (Salt Lake Tribune). On May 18th, 1918, employees of the County Treasurer’s Office went for a picnic in City Creek Canyon (Salt Lake Tribune). On May 18th, 1908, Salt Lake Tribune reported that “thousands of people” spent the day strolling in City Creek Canyon. On May 18th, 1893, City Engineer reported that he had constructed two dams in the City Creek to arrest gravel coming down the stream (and into drinking water) during high stream flows (Salt Lake Herald).

September 20, 2016

August 24th

Filed under: Fire, Gambel's Oak, Lookout Peak, Plants — canopus56 @ 11:20 pm

Drought, Fire and Lignotubers

7 p.m. This evening cool weather has drawn picnickers back into the canyon, but after 12 years of extended drought, the number has dwindled. Typically, these are company parties or family events like wedding receptions. Water is not available at most picnic sites due to the city not funding repair of the water system built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. This and the the drought has caused the city to post no “fires signs” in the metal fire pits at each picnic site. Nonetheless, at picnic site 11 today, a company party is holding a barbecue with an open fire. I am reminded that Gambek’s Oak is the dominant tree species at that location because it is fire resistant. Gambel’s Oak survives fires by its lignotuber at its base. I look at the roots of a few of the Gambel Oak’s along the roadside and do not find bulbous face that is the classic sign of a lignotuber. Over the next 20 or 30 years the canyon will be subjected to a major fire. A similar event occurred in the late 1980s below Lookout Peak in the Killyan’s branch of upper Emigration Canyon. That area is still recovering.

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