Saturday, 16 November 2013

Why Clean ups are so important - in Pictures

I want to thank each and everyone that came out to the clean up in Salton City on the 9th of November as part of the annual California Coastal Commission beach clean-up efforts. 

George Mohoff, Ed Hoffman, Jeff Church, Jim Jones, Katianne Herbert, Kalila Herbert, Alita Romanishan, Janet Davis, Junior Ramirez, Maryanne Marttila, Jennifer Spitzer, Bruce Wilcox, Ivan Soto, Jessica Ayres, Frances Castillo and Ben Castro - you are all amazing. 

The volunteers came from Salton City and other Salton Sea towns, from El Centro, Indio, Palm Desert and Long Beach to spend their Saturday morning cleaning up other people's messes along the shoreline of the Salton Sea. 

That is pretty cool. 

The illegal dumpsite in the wash, which I had previously written about is CLEAN. As is all the other items we found along the shore, including the dumped newspapers, a couch and a huge variety of other items.   


Alita, Kalila and Ben

We hauled off about 0.3 tonnes of trash. We did this by using two personal trailers, as unfortunately we did not have the use of roll-off dumpsters.

Photo by Ivan Soto

Some pretty neat things were found!



Photo by Kalila Herbert - Jennifer

And it was a great morning of camaderie. 


Photo by Kalila Herbert


Jim, Jeff and Ben

Maryanne and Ed

Frances, Jessica, Ivan

Photo by Jessica Ayres - Ivan

Photo by Ivan Soto - Jessica

3 generations! Janet, Kalila and Katianne

I did recently write an article about illegal dumping and my thoughts on it, so please feel free to visit and read it:

Next clean-up is in January. Location tbc. If in the meantime you hear of any new illegal dumpsites near the waterline, or up washes or anything really, please get in touch!!!!

Thank you so much to everybody that came out!!!!! You guys rock!


Talk doesn't cook rice. - Chinese Proverb

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Holy Shock! Where did all the water go?? With UPDATE!!

So, back in town. And it is good to be back, with many things to look forward to, and lots of exciting events happening - one of the first events is the community beach clean-up as part of the official California Coastal Commission's annual efforts happening on the 9th of November in Salton City from 9am to Noon.  Turn onto SEA ELF St from South Marina Dr and head towards the Sea.


What happened over the last few months while I was gone?

The shoreline has become a whole new landscape. Almost unrecognisable. In fact, as I trusted my instincts as to where I believed the shoreline would be safe to tread on, it turns out I was wrong... but  I only realised this only as I was KNEE deep in the mucky bit.

where i fell in...

So I went and cleaned my shoes and jeans.

the water was nice! Photo G.Mohoff

Here are some before and after summer shots. The before were taken between January and May 2013. The after were taken today, the 5th of October and the 30th of September.

What a summer of devilish heat and blinding sun can do to a body of water 35 miles long and about 15 miles wide (or at least that's what it was roughly before summer) is astounding. Let's remember how fast this lake is drying up. You guys? In the government??? You have to act quick.

Same area from another angle, Jan 2013

Right nearby....

the water came up to the wall...

And here, a just because image.

The level of the water used to come up to the top of the concrete wall, which is about four feet high four years ago. I cannot find this image that I took of this same wall with approximately the same angle about two years ago. I will keep on looking to give a visual.

Look closely The Herons are STANDING. The water is low.

On a different note. We also found an illegal dump site. Makes me want to slap the illegal dumper upside the head. Good thing was there were letters with the address, so that went straight to the local police department and, well I know it is low on their priority list - but I hope they at least talk to the owner of the house. Let them know that they have been found out.

Some of it has already been washed down the wash during the summer rains. I am sure some of it is already in the sea. 

One good piece of news. The Sea was really clean. No dead fish.

UPDATE! AL Kalin, a farmer in Imperial County, who I also interviewed for my book, emailed me with some recent facts surrounding the Salton Sea. Yes, it is declining. Due to evaporation. Which has been the problem for a long time. But, this year's evaporation has been abnormal, in that it has been accelerated. And the IID (Imperial Irrigtion District) is responsible for adding 35,000 acre feet of water by January. Please read on:

What you are seeing is normal. The Salton Sea will fluctuate in elevation annually 1 foot to 1 1/2 feet with the low around the first part of November and high sometime in June or July. However, it has steadily been receding about 0.4 feet per year for the past 10 years.

As you can see on the attached October 3, 2013 graph 
it fluctuated 1.05' in 2012 and 1.3' so far in 2013. IID
still has to put another 35,000 acre feet of mitigation water in the Sea by January so that may stop the abnormal decline seen this year which measures .77 feet so far.

The Sea has been continually declining for the past ten years as a result of the drought. Short of a major hurricane it will never come up again and will continue to decline for at least another 25 years. The decline has very little to do with the QSA (Quantification Settlement Agreement) so far. For every two acre feet transferred to San Diego, IID must put one acre foot of mitigation water in the sea. This year they have to provide 70,000 acre feet of mitigation water for the Salton Sea. 35,000 acre feet has already been put in. The important thing to remember is that the Salton Sea evaporates six feet every year. If all water stopped going into the Sea it would decline at a rate of six feet per year.

The farmers must do conservation to create this water. And yes, the required conservation has been accomplished that will allow IID to add the remaining 35,000 acre feet. Putting mitigation water in the Sea stops in 2017 so from then on you will see a quicker decline in the sea level."

Thank you for reading this.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Summer Daze: The Rocky Mountains and NEW INTERVIEW: Dayglo-ing the Salton Sea

Autumn is coming upon us. Soon, I will be leaving the Rocky Mountain areas where I have been working all summer traveling with a Wild West themed play park to several county and state fairs called the Young Guns Wild West Fun Park.

We started in Darby, Montana and worked from all the way near the Canadian border in Chinook, Montana, on the Hi-Line and made it down as far as Cheyenne, in Southeastern Wyoming. We also stopped in Idaho and Utah. At the moment, I am writing from Salt Lake City.I have been photographing the fairs and posting them onto my skitterskattered blog. As it has been pretty hectic down these parts, I have not finished posting these to my blog. I did add some more photos to my facebook page so please feel free to visit and like my page. 

Copyright C. Cichocki
Please find a recent addition to The Salton Sea Speaks to the Voices and Portraits section. Meet Cris Cichocki, artist. Currently he is artist-in-resident at the Palm Springs Art Museum. Please visit the page to read about his Salton Sea inspired art. He currently has a large scale exhibit up at the Museum!

My return to the desert is imminent, where autumn will be seemingly passing us by. Current temperatures will be still in the upper 90's, if not hotter... I will be organising clean-ups again, first one will be on the 9th November, 2013, writing articles for the Coachella Valley Independent, and organising an array of different events. Lots of exciting things to come!

Lastly. Please visit Amazon to find copies of my book "Portraits and Voices of the Salton Sea" available to purchase. This is the first book to capture the intimacy of those who live with the Sea. The Salton Sea is not just the environmental disaster we read about occasionally in the paper or catch a whiff of on a hot and humid day. This is a community to families, elderly, singles, couples, businesses and 400,000 migratory birds.

Happy daze to you. Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Salton City to Darby

Sure enough, away from the desk at the Salton Sea, but by no means less busy.

To start Palm Springs Life Online magazine got in touch with me and wrote about the current exhibition that is hanging in La Quinta Museum.

The exhibition also features old photographs from its heyday as well as artifacts and is free! Open Tuesday until Saturday from 10am-4pm. As it is on average more than 100 degrees fahrenheit in the desert, certainly a good place to drop in! They also carry my book "Portraits and Voices of the Salton Sea"  in their giftshop.

We left the Salton Sea area for a small town in Montana, Darby in the Southern end of the Bitterroot Valley. On the way, I continued a project I had started a couple of years back.


Sometimes painfully obvious, sometimes leaching into the landscape, litter is everywhere. Mindlessly tossed. Forgotten. Deliberately placed. This is the second part to a project I started in October, 2011 This time, the trip was from Salton City, CA through the Mojave, to South-Eastern Utah to the Great Basin, Nevada via Idaho Darby, Montana. Pack it in, pack it out?

And since we have been here, I could not help but photograph the local flora and fauna, mainly Beargrass and Birds. Outside the house under the porch roof, a Robin couple had made a nest and so I witnessed the chicks grow up. They should launch any day now. I hope to be there to photograph it.

While you are on the facebook page, click 'like' to receive updates in your newsfeed. 

On the 27th of June, I will be giving a presentation on the Salton Sea project and my book at the small, but wonderful public library in Darby, Montana. It starts at 5.30pm. If you know anyone in the Bitterroot Valley, please let them know to come along. It is free. 

As a last note, I am always looking for new Voices for The Salton Sea Speaks. Please get in touch if you would like to get involved. 

Monday, 1 April 2013

In Honour of Leonard Knight - Creator of Salvation Mountain

Leonard Knight, 2008
One of the best places to visit at the Salton Sea is Salvation Mountain, hand made by Leonard Knight. That is right, hand made. By himself. Every single line of paint, every added limb to the tree, every tile in the hogans, every hand made flower on the walls, every Jesus written on the side of the mountain. Using Adobe clay, hay, water, found objects such as tires and car , and according to Leonard, a lot of faith, he built this gigantic tribute to God, epitomised by the words "God is Love" standing out underneath a giant cross at the top of the hill beneath the azure desert skies.  

It is amazing how both religious and non-religious people's faces light up when they have had the chance to visit his creation out here in the Adobe desert by Niland and even more so when they have had the chance to meet this man. Everyone remembers the time "When I got to meet Leonard...". He has received visitors from all over the world, from all over the US, to Chinese, to Russians, Europeans, South Americans, you name a country, chances are someone from there will have been to see this site. After the film "Into the Wild" came out, the numbers of visitors increased also, as the hero of this true story, Chris McCandless, spent some time with him.

Sad to say, Leonard Knight is no longer onsite. He is turning 81 this year and living in a home in El Cajon. Living out in the desert is certainly no easy task, even with all the modern amenities. But if you don't have those and you sleep in a small trailer with no heating or air conditioning, not much in the way of medical access, it can take a toll on your health over time. He has been there since 1984.

Currently he is waiting for an operation on his cataracts so he can see again. A couple have stepped forward and are donating the money for this operation. Leonard is one of those unique and rare individuals that is just so filled with love, hope, creativity and a sense of wonder. Without a doubt he is loved by all who have met him and or seen his mountain. May he have a super quick recovery! And get better soon to be able to come out to his mountain again.

Please enjoy the photos I have taken at Salvation Mountain over the last five years.

With young fan

In 2008, this section was in better shape

Nothing Untouched

Inside the Hogan

Meeting at the start of the Yellow Brick Road

 Please visit the following websites for more information

The Official website of Salvation  Mountain and FB page:

And the Salvation Mountain, Inc, 501(c)3 non-profit group who are overseeing the mountain and legacy:

Please also visit my other blog on other nearby Desert Public Art spaces: