At first glance, the area looks desolate, hardly a place for a wildlife refuge. But myriad tracks in the soft sand reveal the complex relationships of its native species: kangaroo rats, cactus wrens and an array of predators including great horned owls, coyotes and rattlesnakes.
A successful 90-year history, including the completion of several collaborative projects, have made the most of local water recharge capabilities, with more work planned for enhanced storage in the future.
Record-breaking rainfall on Dec. 14 brought a rush of water into the Wash, flowing at a rate of 350 cubic feet per second through the Plunge Creek Conservation Project. More than 350 million gallons of water (1,295 acre feet) was recharged from that storm -- enough to serve 9,100 people for an entire year. The high flows also resulted in significant restoration at Plunge Creek as the water covered overgrown, weedy areas with sand -- a natural process critical to the health and survival of native and endangered species.
At a time when communities throughout the state are jostling for water resilience and independence, the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District today marks its 90th year of supporting local groundwater to serve surrounding communities.
The San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District works closely with the Bureau of Land Management and City of Redlands to minimize fire hazards within the Wash. A fire in November destroyed a homeless encampment in the Wash, but the residents there kept the blaze from spreading to adjacent habitat land. Ash and charred debris from wildfires can take a toll on local watersheds. Nature removes nitrates and sediment caused from fire through plant absorption and filtration as water seeps underground, but the impacts on wetland habitat can still be devastating.