Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Water; Madrone Lake, and Miller Creek

At Selah we are now seeing the effects of low fall and spring rainfall. During 2007 we were thoroughly spoiled by the abundant rainfall, when we had a total of 44 inches.

Miller Creek along the Bromfield Trail in July 2007 when the creek had a constant flow of water downstream.

However, during the last quarter of '07 we only had 2.46 inches, so from October 1, through December 31 was really quite dry. From January 1 to May 14 of 2008 our rainfall has been 5.38 inches. There have been 12 rain events, and all were less than an inch. Following each shower, there were high winds and warm temperatures which evaporated much of the water. We saw no runoff, and doubt that any was able to reach the groundwater reserves.

J David and I went on a walk Sunday, May 18, which was a wonderful cool day. We decided to walk the Bromfield Trail which starts near Hes' Country Store, follows Miller Creek downstream, and ends at Jacob's Ladder, a tank with a cement dam and low water crossing that J David built in 1971 and '72. Most of the pictures were taken then, except as noted.

When we entered the trail we noticed that the amount of water in the creek was low, and the water flow had slowed down in the past few months, and I decided that a blog on that portion of Miller Creek would be a good subject. I took pictures and transferred them to iPhoto, and started to write. Then on May 22nd I had a chemo treatment, and put off finishing this blog until I was feeling better. Yesterday I took some pictures around Madrone Lake, which are included.

Water is so important! It is essential for plants, livestock, wildlife and us, is beautiful to look at, and the sound of falling water soothes our spirits. Last summer, Jacob's Ladder dam featured the waterfall you see in this photograph taken 7/21/07.

One of the small creeks that flows down the canyon behind Hes' Country Story carries water from a spring high in the canyon. In spite of low rainfall, the spring there is still flowing. You can see a small amount of water on this low water crossing taken 5/26/08.

Near the beginning of the Bromfield Trail is a dam which has water flowing across it when we have enough rainfall. At this time there is very little water flowing over it.

Standing on the dam looking downstream is this nice view of Miller Creek.

As I sat on a rock for a short break David took my picture. It is hard to believe during this week of high 90's, that I actually needed a long sleeve shirt 8 days ago.

One of my favorite plants along creeks is Southern Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum Capillus Veneris). If conditions get too dry it turns brown. When water is available again new fronds emerge. It needs wet limestone walls and limy water to be happy. We find it commonly here at Selah, where all of our rocks and soils are of limestone origin.

A close up of the delicate shiny dark stalks of Southern Maidenhair Fern with the leaflets of their mostly twice compound leaves.

A healthy young Texas Madrone tree grows beside the trail.

Not much water is flowing down the creek, but there is enough water to catch a nice reflection of trees.

The dam at Jacob's Ladder has very little water flowing over it now. There is still enough moisture to keep the water loving plants growing on the front of the dam happy. 

Last summer there was a time that the amount of water flowing into Madrone Lake exceeded the ability of the overflow/constant level device to move it downstream, and the water was up on the grass for a while. There is a valve that can be opened, which we did, to move the water quickly. Photo was taken July 23, 2007.

The water level now is down from its constant level by about 5 inches. Unless we get some serious rain, the level will continue to fall. Several years ago the water level dropped to below the bottom step. By then the temperature of the water was as warm as a bathtub. Photo taken 5/26/08.

A walk up the Nature Trail toward the center shows a dry creek-bed at Juniper Crossing. There may be a small amount of water flowing below the surface, but not enough to keep the lake level up. Photo taken 5/26/08.

As I walked the trail the red of the Scarlet Leather-flower (Clematis Texensis) caught my eye. Their seeds are quite eye catching too. Photo taken 5/26/08.

If you find yourself outdoors, and feel like dancing, try doing a rain dance. Who knows, it might actually help bring rain!

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