The Desert Dawg Blawg

All things California desert: Travel, politics, environment, adventure, offbeat experiences, local hotspots, insider's tips, people and commentary about life in Palm Springs, the Coachella Valley and the California desert region.

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The Grooviest Hotel Bars in the Desert, Baby

Posted by Morgan Miles Craft On 6:06 PM 0 comments

From Sleek Motifs to Designer Aperitifs, the Desert’s Resort Lounge Scene Has Never Been More Spirited
By Morgan Craft

   Palm Springs hotels are distinctly not like Vegas, and we like it that way. The Coachella Valley resorts are more laid back and quietly sophisticated, but they still cater to the hipster LA crowd. Those of us who live here make it a habit to go to only the grooviest hotel bars in town, so here’s the best bets whether you’re a local or coming in for the weekend.
   Our Desert communities have been home to many legendary hotel bar haunts, and even through real estate turnovers and renovations they retained their spirit and allure. At the famous Racquet Club, four barstools still have “Reserved” plaques for Clark Gable, Charles Farrell, William Powell and Spencer Tracy. Numerous celebrities were known to have cooled off with a libation or several at the La Quinta Resort. And the recently reopened Colony Palms Hotel was once a private speakeasy and brothel owned by Purple Gang mobster Al Wertheimer. (Click to read on...)
by Morgan Craft
  For five years, I’ve been scouring the San Jacinto Mountains behind my Palm Springs home with high-powered binoculars hoping to catch a glimpse of our famous cliff-dwelling neighbors, the endangered Peninsular Bighorn Sheep. This week, the Department of Fish and Game, which monitors the dwindling herd, brought them to me.
   The chop-chop of a helicopter here usually means the search is on for a lost hiker on the notorious Skyline trail. This one, however, was clearly ferrying a four-legged passenger. A short hike into Tacheva Canyon revealed a well-coordinated capture operation of sheep brought down from the towering cliffs above by the chopper, which are loaded into a pickup and brought to the examination site.
   Six adult bighorn sheep were captured from the helicopter, using a net-gun, and then fitted with radio-collars. They were then examined by a veterinarian, health tested, collared and released at the site, or flown back to their place of capture. The capture was part of an on-going, long-term research project and was conducted by the California Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and nonprofit Bighorn Institute, whose biologists have been monitoring the bighorn sheep in the San Jacinto Mountains since 1992. (Click to read on...)
by Morgan Craft
In a 2007 survey by the California Department of Water Resources, eighty percent of respondents in Southern California believed that their water comes from area wells, despite the fact that the region imports more water than any other place in the world.

The Coachella Valley averages only three inches of rainfall each year, yet we boast more golf courses per square mile that anyplace else in the country. Retail centers, home developments and hotels boast lakes and rivers, and green grass grows wherever you cast an eye. Water supports a $500 million agriculture industry in the valley, with over 60,000 acres under cultivation. Despite the economic downturn, the valley is projected to increase to six hundred thousand residents by 2020, or 75,000 additional households, and water access and usage is going to be an increasingly difficult issue. (Click to read on...)

Inhabitat reports that as the world moves to cleaner energy, demand for Lithium has been steadily increasing. The element has widespread application in batteries and is widely used in consumer products and electric cars. Since the demand for Lithium is likely to only go up in the future, as the number of electric cars and gadgets steadily increases, there is a scare about insufficient sources, which may not even last very long into the future. Moreover, the conventional process of sourcing lithium is very water intensive, and that of course isn’t a good thing. The situation though, may be quite different with the new process developed by Simbol Mining.

Simbol intends to source lithium from water extracted for geothermal energy. The water is mostly discarded, but a lot of sources may have lithium rich water, and Simbol intends to use the same to produce the element. The company has planned a pilot project for California’s lithium-rich underground Salton Sea. It is already used for geothermal energy, and nearly a ton of lithium could be extracted from the water every month.
Heat from the water greatly helps the process, making it less water intensive. If all goes well, Simbol has big plans that include supplying nearly a quarter of the world’s demand of Lithium Carbonate within the decade.

Big Geothermal Plan for the Salton Sea

Posted by Morgan Miles Craft On 2:57 PM 0 comments

   The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has signed a lease for exploring geothermal potential on 2950 acres in Imperial County near the Salton Sea as part of meeting its state-mandated deadline to produce 40% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
   It is offering to lease the land for 5 years of exploration and study at $295,000 annually - representing $100 per acre per year - while it determines the feasibility of geothermal production there.
   The Salton Sea lies directly above the southern end of the San Andreas Fault, and super-heated steam lies just below its surface. Already, six existing geothermal plants there produce enough electricity for 220,000 homes. (Click to read on...)

California Grabbing Money To Pay Its Bills

Posted by Morgan Miles Craft On 10:08 AM 0 comments
by Morgan Craft

California’s cash crisis is being mitigated by borrowing $19.7 billion from state emergency funds, those for fighting fires, oil spills, and disaster recovery, according to State Controller John Chiang, the state’s top accountant. The state’s November cash deficit was $23 billion, up from $11.9 billion in July, forcing the funds grab.

For too long, Chiang said, the Governor and Assembly have been playing politics merely to create short-term solutions in passing a budget that doesn’t look at the future.

Let’s hope we don’t experience a natural disaster. But facing another potential financial tsunami remains a distinct possibility. “The state is at the bottom, facing incredible difficulties,” he said. Chiang, who oversees the handling of over $100 billion in funds, was in the valley recently to discuss the state’s budget situation with local civic leaders, and I attended the meeting. (Click to read on...)