A couple of weeks ago we were back on the road for a more local info-gathering outing, this time for a CA-based desert day trip. Hollis and I drove out to the Desert Research and Extension Center in Holtville, CA. There we learned about the common crops in the Imperial Valley (sudan grass, melons, alfalfa, wheat, etc.) and some of their management strategies and questions being addressed at the REC. The desert poses some obvious challenges to growing crops (water, obvs), but the energetic and physiological constraints placed on crops and their pollinators by the dry landscape are still unexamined in a lot of systems. This is something I’m mulling over, and hope to revisit.
Also, there are burrowing owls at the REC!
After our tour of the Desert REC we headed over to Borrego Springs to check out the Steele/Burnand Anza-Borrego Desert Research Center, co-operated by UC Irvine and Anza Borrego Desert State Park (http://anzaborrego.ucnrs.org). This place is POSH. A former country club turned art gallery restored and turned into a research center, it is likely the only center in the UC system with a sunken bar and such fab architecture. While it no longer has the country club pool, the property abuts Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the largest state park in California, making it a great base for desert research in this corner of the Coloradan (Sonoran) Desert. (Anza-Borrego DSP link)
With such great resources just a couple hours away, we’re definitely hoping to take advantage of these sites in the future.