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Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Creek Comes Through

Rain and snow in the uplands finally brought Kelsey Creek back to life.

The riparian corridor wends its way through the pear orchards and vinyards of Big Valley providing the last best wildlife habitat for miles. The banks of silt are written over with the tracks of quail, raccoon, weasle, jackrabbit, cat, and canine.

The town was founded by pragmatists on the banks of the creek because of the wealth of water, fish, oak trees, soil depth and fertility. Early photographs show acres carpeted with millions of fish (the edemic hitch), the result of sudden, man-made fluctuations in water level. There may well have been aesthetic reasons for siting the town here as well, because the place resembled picture books of Eden. The spot marks the transition where the mountain creek changes character as it meets the
flat bed of the ancient lake. The lake had long since retreated to its present boundaries leaving Big Valley in its wake as oak studded savanna.

Kelsey Creek, as with nearby Adobe Creek, has served as the working plumbing of the valley. It has been worked hard.
It has been heavily exploited for water, fish, timber and gravel, yet it remains a zone of beauty.

If you are anywhere near the creek most days lately, the whine and roar of off-road vehicles shreds the air. If you walk or ride your horse along the creek, as my neighbors and I do, you might well be spooked by the sudden skidding of tires and the spray of gravel. You might be amazed at the extent of the ORV-caused erosion of the banks and the destruction of the creekside forest. You might ask yourself, "To what purpose is this happening?" You might wonder, "Are the citizens of this town and county unaware of what is happening to their creek, their land, their valley, their country?"

A piece of broken mirror in the creekbed sent an inquiring eye to the sky.

Some guys got their pick up bogged down in the creek.