There are several beaches on the California Central coast named after the Salinas river.
We visit these beaches often, but I did not think about the name, or about the Salinas River or its source, until the blogging challenge for Earth-Friendly Friday on the topic “Water – What’s Your Watershed?”.
The challenges this month will focus on WATER — and coincides with water related events during March (International Day of Actions for Rivers and the United Nations World Water Day).
To get started for the first week in March, the challenge is to think about rivers and streams, and to post photos. and take a look at watershed rivers/streams near us — and to tell a little about them.
This challenge is interesting because I did not know very much about watersheds — and in participating in this challenge, I learned something new!
The Salinas River Watershed
The watershed for our area is the Salinas river watershed and covers 4,600 square miles. It turns out that the Salinas river originates in San Luis Obispo county (south of Monterey County) before emptying into the Monterey Bay — and merging with the Pacific ocean.
Information from the Sustainable Conservation website:
- The Salinas River flows northwesterly through the Salinas valley (the valley lies in the Coast Ranges and is defined to the west by the Sierra de Salinas and east by the Gabilan Range).
- It is 10 miles wide and 155 miles long
- Primary land uses in the Salinas River watershed are row crops, vineyards, pasture and grazing lands, as well as urban areas, military bases and public open space
Problems Facing the Watershed
I’ve posted several articles on my blog about Monterey County’s mild weather, rich soils, and its multi-billion dollar agricultural industry. The agricultural industry is a major source of jobs for many in this county, but is also a source of environmental problems.
Again, from the Sustainable Conservation website:
- The intense agricultural production has created a variety of problems for the area’s natural resources.
- Rainfall and irrigation produce runoff that carries soils and associated pesticides and pollutants into the watercourses and down to the ocean.
- Clearing stream banks of vegetation has reduced and degraded habitat for avian and aquatic species.
- Erosion has filled the streams and reduced their natural functioning.
- The degradation of habitat and water quality has contributed to the steep decline in steelhead (fish) populations, and generally reduces the diversity of species and natural productivity of the area.
- Unabated, this continuing loss of natural functioning contributes to the overall decline of California’s native plant and animal species and lowers the quality of life for our communities as well.
The Salinas River Watershed is the 4th largest watershed in California. Interestingly, the Salinas river is also known as the “The Upside Down River” because unlike most California rivers that flow west or south, it flows northward and has one of the largest subsurface flows in the nation. From the Conservation Consulting website:
- The river flows into one of the worlds most diverse marine ecosystems, the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
- The river is designated by the California State Water Resources Control Board as one of the most critical watersheds in California (more on California water resources, here)
I’m planning on visiting some river areas farther up our county this year and learning more about the Salinas river, including about the 20 wineries along Monterey County’s “River Road Wine Trail”. I wonder…do these river road wineries follow the Salinas river or its tributaries?
Photo below from another California State Park beach area related to the Salinas river, near the town of Moss Landing, California.
To take part in this challenge and to see responses.. click here.
This new blogging event is inspired by prophetic words written in 1971 by Dr. Seuss in his book – The Lorax …” UNLESS . . . someone like youcares a whole awful lot,nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
Related: Oldtown Salinas photos and post about author John Steinbeck for WordPress Photo Challenge.
The Salinas River is mentioned in many of Steinbeck’s novels.
Quote below from his 1952 novel, East of Eden…
“The Salinas was only a part-time river. The summer sun drove it underground. It was not a fine river at all, but it was the only one we had so we boasted about it –how dangerous it was in a wet winter and how dry it was in a dry summer.”