I did it. I packed the car, managed to get both children inside, shut the doors, and started driving. I made my way through a haze filled LA while the kids remained transfixed on The Jungle Book. I cruised over the Grapevine as Lady and the Tramp managed to find true love once again. And then I grumbled as I watched the thermometer climb up into the high nineties. I grumbled a bit more as I started to be surrounded by melon, tomatoes, grape vines, and orchards, knowing it would be all I saw for hours upon hours. I know the drive up I5 all to well. I made it countless times when I trekked back in forth between Sacramento and Southern California during my 12 years as a Northern California resident. I know which fast food joints are at which exit. I know when to close the vents because a large cattle feed lot is just ahead and you don't want to be smelling that. But I don't know smelt. And until today I didn't know about the "Congress Created Dust Bowl".
(Photo courtesy of http://www.highwayhags.com )
I knew something seemed weird. There seemed to be alot more barren land than usual. I didn't remember there being so many acres along I5 without crops planted on them. And then it clicked. For some reason, the farmers were out of business and they were obviously blaming congress. The vastness of the area effected was staggering. It was eery to see so many acres with nothing but the skeletons of what used to be vibrant orchards. I figured it had to do with water. California has always seemed to have it battles with water. But tonight I began to research the issue and came to find out it had to do with more than just water. It had to do with smelt. Smelt are tiny little fish that live in the delta and have recently been put on the endangered species list. Their designation as an endangered species has made it much harder for farmers to get water due to regulations surrounding the newly protected smelt. Now I am no expert on smelt and do not know enough about this issue to take a stand on either side but I do know this. There is alot less land being farmed which means there are less people employed and less food going to market which in turn means produce will cost more for the consumer. I certainly hope the smelt are worth it.