Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge

We arrived at the Sonny Bono Wildlife Refuge in the Imperial Valley, about two hours from San Diego. This is the last stop on our trip before we arrive in San Diego. The refuge is surprising to say the least. There are ten power plants surrounding the refuge, such as the one in the picture below. After our initial dismay, thinking we were seeing major pollution, we found out that they are geothermal electric plants, an environmentally sustainable and clean way to produce electricity from the heat of the earth. They are making the Imperial Valley a renewable energy hub in the state. Turns out, though, power might not be the only thing these plants are producing. A paper published in the online journal Science found that geothermal production in the Imperial Valley inadvertently increased seismic activities around the San Andreas fault, which runs under the area. The Los Angeles Times reports that between 1981 and 2012, some 10,000 earthquakes over a 1.75 magnitude were registered in the area. Is this energy solution something we should rethink?

Situated along the Pacific Flyway, the refuge is a major north-south  flyway for migratory birds in America, extending from Alaska to Patagonia. Every year, migratory birds travel some or all of this distance both in spring and in fall, following food sources, heading to breeding grounds, or traveling to overwintering sites. The refuge is the ony one of its kind, located 227 feet below sea level. (Wikipedia)

We saw big flocks of snow geese, along with various kinds of ducks and some Great Egrets. Before the Salton Sea was formed, waterfowl in this area were mostly found along the marshes and delta of the Colorado River (primarily in Mexico). During the 1920s, as water was increasingly diverted from the Colorado River for agriculture, marshes were inadvertently created. These marshes, at the edges of the then-smaller Salton Sea, resulted from agricultural water runoff. Waterfowl were attracted to the marshes from their former winter home in the drying Colorado River Delta.

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