Today marks day one of what is expected to be a six-day walk for one Inland Empire man traveling on foot around the perimeter of the Salton Sea, that enormous, saltwater lake that was once a playground for the yacht set and is now a largely abandoned, sometimes stinky environmental disaster happening in slow motion. Randy Brown is hoping that his hike—along the unshaded shores of the lake in the summer, when temperatures usually hit the hundreds—will draw attention to the worsening conditions at California's largest lake, says the Daily Bulletin.
The Salton Sea exists because of an accident (a Colorado River canal overflowed in 1905), but was kept up over the last century through human intervention, namely via agricultural water runoff. Now, it's drying up due to a combination of lower rainfall levels and a reduction in that runoff. California's in a high-profile drought for about four years now, but the decrease in excess water has been an issue since 2003, says KCET, when the local water district, Imperial Irrigation District, sold most of its Colorado River water (previously passing through the Imperial Valley and the Salton Sea) to San Diego. Less water coming to the Imperial Valley meant less water coming to the sea.
To help counteract the drop in runoff, the water district agreed to give the Salton Sea "mitigation water," but only until 2017. A report released last year found that when the agricultural runoff is totally cut off from the lake in 2017, "the lake will rapidly become too saline to support most aquatic life, and the sea's exposed lakebed will contribute thousands of tons of alkaline dust to what's already some of the most polluted air in the country," according to KCET. The shrinking lake is also a problem for the more than 400 of species of migratory birds who use the location as a rest stop on their way to the Pacific Ocean.
Brown's walk began at the North Shore Beach and Yacht Club Community Center, designed by noted desert Modernist Albert Frey. From there, he'll walk around the entire perimeter of the lake, through thick mud, dead fish, the tiny bleached bones of birds and wildlife, and empty barnacle shells, back to the Yacht Club. Brown is being accompanied by a film crew that will ultimately be producing a documentary about the trip, and he'll be doing some live broadcasts to his Twitter, Facebook, and a website, "depending on reception or if 'I'm bored,'" he tells the Bulletin.
· Rancho Cucamonga man's 116-mile walk around Salton Sea begins [Daily Bulletin]
· Report: Inaction Way More Expensive Than Fixing Salton Sea [KCET]
· 9 Apocalyptic Scenes From the Decaying Salton Sea [Curbed LA]