Pat Shingleton: "The Great Central Valley and Brad Washburn..."
Possibly some of our viewers/readers have watched some re-runs of the television western, The Big Valley. The show focuses on the Barkley family and their multitude of business interests that include ranching, mining and agriculture. Ed Darack’s article in “weatherscapes” showcased California’s Great Central Valley that defines much of the state’s interior. The Great Central Valley stretches 400 miles in length with an average width of 45 miles with the Sacramento Valley to the north and the San Joaquin Valley to the south. This area replicates a Mediterranean climate and harvests billions of dollars of crops each year. Nearly 40% the United State's produce grows and is harvested in this region. Massive dam projects on the slope of the Sierra Nevada and Coastal Ranges compliment an intricate irrigation system. A natural grass, Tule, is accompanied by Tule fog that repeatedly reduces visibilities in the region. In closing, Mountain explorer Brad Washburn was the ultimate naturalist and made art from nature and the primary focus of his art was the convergence of ice, water and rock. In 1947, Washburn photographed Alaska’s Heney Glacier Field. In 2007, environmentalist David Arnold returned to this area to match Washburn’s earlier work. The first stop was the Mendenhall Glacier, visited by 350,000 tourists each year and the comparative photos noted the 100 foot high glacier, shrinking at an alarming rate. The photographs also noted that the colossal Guyot Glacier, once ten miles wide and stretching as far as the eye can see has melted and retreated 23 miles since Washburn flew above it.