• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Carla Burke
  • John F Dean
  • r ranson
  • Nancy Reading
  • Anne Miller
  • Jay Angler
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Nicole Alderman
master gardeners:
  • Christopher Weeks
  • Timothy Norton
gardeners:
  • Matt McSpadden
  • Rachel Lindsay
  • Jeremy VanGelder

Greening the Desert - Salton Sea area

 
pollinator
Posts: 166
16
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Within the next 12 months, I'll be buying land by the Salton Sea (to the east of Palm Desert, Coachella Valley area in Southern California)

Has anyone else done any permaculture projects in that area?

Anyone else want to join in on this project and/or buy land? I have to go down there and take a good look at the land but I've found some deals for 200+ acres for $15,000.

 
pollinator
Posts: 4715
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
492
3
hugelkultur forest garden fungi books bee greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
200 acres for $15,000 !! Where did you find that deal?
 
Sheri Menelli
pollinator
Posts: 166
16
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Well, online but I'm wondering myself if that is for real. I really need to go down there and talk to a realtor or someone selling it by owner.

 
pollinator
Posts: 521
Location: Salt Lake Valley, Utah, hardiness zone 6b/7a
6
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Does it have water rights? That is very, very hot, very, very dry desert. Greening techniques are unlikely to have a significant impact there without supplemental water.

I was in the area last year at this time and it was in the 90's -- a cool day. Land fraud is a hallowed tradition in the desert. Check the paperwork. I wouldn't pay a dime until I had spent some time on the specific land considered for purchase. Double check if there are any land use, development or reselling restrictions for the land. Those restrictions can come from every level of government, so be thorough.

Keeping all that in mind, it could be a great adventure.

Good luck but be careful.
 
steward
Posts: 7926
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
349
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Go into that area with eyes wide open!
The lake is below sea level, and is very salty - saltier than the Pacific ocean.
There was tremendous land fraud done there decades ago.
Most of the development has turned into ghost towns.

I would be extremely hesitant to invest one penny in the region.
The lake will be going down in level every year, leaving 1,000's of acres of land that is way to salty to grow even the worst weeds.
Perhaps you could start a kelp/seaweed business.

 
Sheri Menelli
pollinator
Posts: 166
16
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi,

Thanks for the advice. Yes, I'm too careful to go into that without researching it more. I wouldn't buy without the help of an agent or attorney who could make sure I
owed rights but also I would want to make sure I owed all the water, mineral, oil or whatever other rights there are

Very little rain so I might do it the way Neal Spackman did which is to only use the water you get from rain

Salty but is it any worse than what Geoff ran into by the Red Sea?
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 7926
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
349
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Salty but is it any worse than what Geoff ran into by the Red Sea?


The world's oceans have 35 grams/liter salt. The Salton Sea has 54 g/l.

The water situation is about to get worse. The Colorado River water board is about to cut off much of the water to the entire Imperial Valley:

In 2017 a massive water transfer will take place, diverting millions of gallons of water that would normally go to farmers in the imperial valley, that eventually supplies the sea to keep the level what it is today. This will expose thousands of acres of Playa, which contain toxic silt , and when air borne will cause harmful effects on all inhabitants near the lake and afar, depending on prevailing winds. Doing nothing is not an option, its our responsibility to fix the problem. And speaking to that, the federal government caused most of this problem and they should pick up most of the bill. Shame on them for pretending not to realize the magnitude of the problem for the last thirty years.





 
Posts: 108
Location: around
36
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Sherri you need to understand that if you're hoping to turn it green, you have to have a significant source of runoff whereby you are capturing rain from higher up in your watershed, or you have to have money to put in extensive earthworks so that all rainfall is being directed in an organized way to very hardy plants. I don't know that area at all, but if it has mountains then there is a chance. The land may be cheap, but the earthworks won't be.

Look into "Challenge of the Desert" about reconstructing traditional methods in the Negev, and take a look at Lanzarote in the canary islands as well.

 
Posts: 45
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hey Sheri - any update on your land purchase? are you living in the Coachelia Valley now?
 
Sheri Menelli
pollinator
Posts: 166
16
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Update: I never did buy land by the Salton Sea.

It has remained an interest of mine to do something for / about the area. It has gotten much worse in the past few years.

Still wonder if anyone has done a permaculture project out there.
 
Posts: 125
Location: Elk Grove, CA
19
homeschooling kids cooking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Sorry to say this, but the Salton Sea and surrounding area is a massive agricultural nightmare level disaster... It's a dead zone, a very highly toxic dust bowl, and it is killing people who just happen to live in the general area. Be very happy that you didn't buy that land. It's going to be centuries before anyone can consider greening that part of our planet. You definitely dodged a bullet on that one Sheri.

https://www.theverge.com/2018/6/6/17433294/salton-sea-crisis-drying-up-asthma-toxic-dust-pictures

https://thefern.org/2020/01/as-the-salton-sea-shrinks-it-leaves-behind-a-toxic-reminder-of-the-cost-of-making-a-desert-bloom/

 
Sheri Menelli
pollinator
Posts: 166
16
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm not interested in buying a few acres of land to live there. I actually have no interest in living there. My desire is to be involved with getting something to happen to restore it. I don't think we can wait centuries for someone to decide to do something.

How can we just ignore this when the air quality affects us on the coast of Southern California?

I don't personally have to have the money or personally know how to do it yet. I just need to help facilitate those in power to start looking at solutions.
 
Paul Eusey
Posts: 125
Location: Elk Grove, CA
19
homeschooling kids cooking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Sheri Menelli wrote: My desire is to be involved with getting something to happen to restore it. I don't think we can wait centuries for someone to decide to do something.



Thank you for the clarification... I totally understand your desire to help fix this, I’m right there with you. Soil remediation is what is needed, but extreme levels of heavy metals, insane levels of salts, and very toxic poisons make that impossible (and incredibly dangerous considering that would kick up a lot more dust).


So, by my best guess, the fix (“if” the public outrage reaches the ears of the politicians), will be to scrape the topsoil from 350 square miles and dispose of it all in a toxic waste dump/landfill (where it can’t leach into the water table). (That’s the real fix which most likely won’t happen).


Sometimes (in less toxic cases) natural soil remediations are possible (plants that are really good at absorbing heavy metals from contaminated soil such as sunflowers and pumpkins (a very good reason to never consume non organic pumpkins or sunflower). I suspect the natural plant remediation could be deployed for some of the perimeter areas with lower levels of salts (I think the Salton sea was originally 600 square miles). But in this case, natural soil remediation in the main area of that highly toxic and incredibly salty soil is not even a remote possibility. Nothing will grow there.

(Interesting side note: I read that sunflowers were used to help remediate soils surrounding Chernobyl and that they were very successful in lowering heavy metals enough to be abandoned without requiring containment shields or concrete entombment).


With current technology and equipment, the fossil fuels needed for a project like this are insane. It would be a whole lot cheaper (and better for the planet and everyone else) to simply abandon the area for many centuries. We might be able to bury it with soil scraped from the surrounding area (insane amounts of fossil fuels needed for that too). I suspect that some scientist might propose spraying it with something to seal the surface and bind it (to stop the toxic dust clouds), but I think that is a bad idea but quite possibly the only bandaid cheap enough to consider. But I’m not sure it would survive seasonal rains and overall conditions (we are talking about a dry salty lake bed).

Overall, it’s really really sad, but I hope it might become a catalyst in the near future for some real change to enact better safety and control over our current toxic agriculture... But I’m not gonna hold my breath on that one... But if you hear of anything being done or any updates, I would like to hear about it. It doesn’t seem like the media is giving it anywhere near the attention it deserves (much like Hanford (right on the banks of the Columbia River in the PNW) and several other global disasters).
 
Sheri Menelli
pollinator
Posts: 166
16
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi All,

A bit of an update on the Salton Sea area.

I recorded something with Rodger Savory the other day. I thought I'd share it with you all.

Filename: May10-2022-RodgerSavoryPodcast1edited.mp3
File size: 46 megabytes
 
Posts: 152
Location: Southern Colorado, 6300', zone 6a, 16" precipitation
32
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Not even a tamarisk could survive there.
 
gardener
Posts: 882
Location: Proebstel, Washington, USDA Zone 6B
482
2
wheelbarrows and trailers kids trees earthworks woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks, Sherri. That was a very encouraging podcast. Maybe, if the project gets off the ground, I could harvest several hundred grass seeds and mail them to you in hopes of diversifying your seed stock.
 
pollinator
Posts: 156
25
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Neal Spackman wrote:Sherri you need to understand that if you're hoping to turn it green, you have to have a significant source of runoff whereby you are capturing rain from higher up in your watershed, or you have to have money to put in extensive earthworks so that all rainfall is being directed in an organized way to very hardy plants.  I don't know that area at all, but if it has mountains then there is a chance.  The land may be cheap, but the earthworks won't be.  

Look into "Challenge of the Desert" about reconstructing traditional methods in the Negev, and take a look at Lanzarote in the canary islands as well.  



Oh wow I just watched one of Neal's videos
 
Sheri Menelli
pollinator
Posts: 166
16
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi All,

A bit of an update. I started working with Rodger Savory (His dad is Allan Savory - Holistic Management). Rodger is
working on a project in the Salton Sea / Imperial Valley area.

We have 5 podcasts up now and a video at www.fixdesert.com that further describe the project.

We almost have the land that we want for the project.

Sheri
 
Jeremy VanGelder
gardener
Posts: 882
Location: Proebstel, Washington, USDA Zone 6B
482
2
wheelbarrows and trailers kids trees earthworks woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hey Shari, I have listened through the podcasts and this project sounds really exciting! The possibility of cooling LA and bringing rain fall into the interior of California brings a lot of promise. Do you have any updates on how things have gone since the last podcast was published?
 
Sheri Menelli
pollinator
Posts: 166
16
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Richard Vasquez is doing a webinar right now with Rodger Savory and others.

I don't seem to have a link for non panelists. I'll try to remember to ask them to post here - it is being recorded.

Sheri Menelli
 
Jeremy VanGelder
gardener
Posts: 882
Location: Proebstel, Washington, USDA Zone 6B
482
2
wheelbarrows and trailers kids trees earthworks woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Is it this one on Waterstories? Desert to Grassland
Staff note (Jeremy VanGelder) :

Yes, it is. I am listening now.

 
Posts: 3
2
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hello All - I was part of the team that hosted the webinar. We are working on the post-webinar materials now and should have the link for the recording available in about a week. I will post it here as soon as it's available, as well as in the Water Stories community on Mighty Networks.
 
Jeremy VanGelder
gardener
Posts: 882
Location: Proebstel, Washington, USDA Zone 6B
482
2
wheelbarrows and trailers kids trees earthworks woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Julia, welcome to Permies! I took a look at your Squatchberry site after the webinar and you have a lot of cool projects going on! Maybe you would like to introduce yourself over in the Introductions forum?
 
Julia Eden
Posts: 3
2
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hello All -

As promised, here is the link to the webinar:

Passcode: tv&Rh43n

Deserts to Grasslands Webinar Recording (Zoom)

Be gentle please! It's our first for our newly born advocacy group/company...stayed tuned for more!
 
Sheri Menelli
pollinator
Posts: 166
16
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
HI Julie, This is awesome. Thanks for posting this recording!

 
Jeremy VanGelder
gardener
Posts: 882
Location: Proebstel, Washington, USDA Zone 6B
482
2
wheelbarrows and trailers kids trees earthworks woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think the quick summary of that webinar would be, "We've got our ducks in a row. Now we are looking for investors to help us make this a reality." Is that about right?
 
gardener
Posts: 5265
Location: Southern Illinois
1373
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Shari,

I am very curious to see how this project turns out.  Kudos for buying land not for cultivation but for restoration.  The Salton Sea will be a true challenge as it sits in an endorheic basin, or a depression of the topography that leaves no way for a river to flow out to sea.  Any water that flows in stays in.  Unfortunately, as the Salton Sea sits in the highly industrially farmed Imperial Valley, all the agricultural gick that ran off of local farms concentrated in the Salton Sea.  

I wish you the best of luck and I am very curious as to what actions you end up taking.

Good luck!

Eric
 
Jeremy VanGelder
gardener
Posts: 882
Location: Proebstel, Washington, USDA Zone 6B
482
2
wheelbarrows and trailers kids trees earthworks woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Episodes 7 and 8 of the www.fixdeserts.com podcast are out. They are about Feeding the Future and Restoring the Water Cycle.
 
steward
Posts: 3666
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
944
12
hugelkultur urban chicken food preservation bike bee
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This is a fascinating project and I hope it gets off the ground, or onto the ground, more like!



I'm listening and it seems the key technique is to feed the cattle while they are bunched together, so that the ground is evenly covered with dung that's been flattened by their hooves and "watered" with their urine. The ground has to be totally covered - not cow patties scattered with bare dry sand inbetween - for the moisture to be retained underneath that layer of cow poop.

He's been doing this for years, so when he sees the ground is covered properly (apparently too much won't work) then he moves the cattle to new bare ground. I don't think he plants any seeds, I think this technique is waking up seeds that are already sleeping in the soil.
 
Julia Winter
steward
Posts: 3666
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
944
12
hugelkultur urban chicken food preservation bike bee
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Oh look, it's a podcast by Sheri Menelli who was posting here on this thread years ago!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JiIxiOktSEk
 
What are your superhero powers? Go ahead and try them on this tiny ad:
Green University by Thomas Elpel
https://permies.com/t/243115/Green-University-Thomas-Elpel
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic