California Against the Sea is a Way to Think Forward

If there’s one takeaway from the Deer Creek Watershed study project, it is that all watersheds are interconnected parts of Earth’s circulatory system.

In her book, California Against the Sea: Visions for Our Vanishing Coastline, Rosanna Xia travels along California’s coastal towns interviewing city, county, and state land policy managers, as well as Native People, Black communities, activists, and private homeowners as she investigates how people think about coastal erosion and property defense tactics.

This subject applies to all places where people live. Do we adapt to change or fight it?

How do we develop governing policies that encourage desired behaviors?

So many people still seem to be estranged from nature – unaware, or unwilling to see, how much we’re holding onto land meant to burn or drown. ‘We love what we have, and we always want it to be the same forever, but it’s just not going to be.’

As I read about high-priced sea walls, diminishing sand, and underserved communities, I couldn’t help but think about home insurers pulling out of California, ongoing Nevada County fire-hardening work, and our Nisenan Tribe.

“I exist because my ancestors resisted multiple and sustained sate and church sponsored efforts to eradicate us physically, culturally, and spiritually,” she said. “They resisted, and they continued – continued to love, laugh, speak their language, sing their songs, build and sustain their communities through all the violence.”

The book takes a while to get through; it is information-dense. It might seem like the subject would be depressing, but it’s not. Xia leaves readers feeling hopeful.

The sooner we arrive at a consensus about ecosystem-specific environmental adaptation, and set plans in motion for forward movement, the less loss of life, housing, commerce, and investment there will be.

Rosanna Xia is an environmental reporter for the Los Angeles Times, where she specializes in stories about the coast and ocean. She was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2020 for explanatory reporting, and her work has been anthologized in the Best American Science and Nature Writing series.

Deer Creek Film & the January Circle

We’re approaching mid-January, the time of year when the Following Deer Creek (FDC) Project first came into being (2017).  Like the Earth circling around the Sun and the planetary water cycle, we’ve completed a journey.

I set out to tell the story of the Deer Creek watershed from its tectonic and cultural origins to the people and animals who live in it today. Working backward, I posted blog articles as I researched in preparation to compile the film.

Aerial Views & History
of the Deer Creek Watershed:
Journey from Headwaters to Confluence 
a thirty-minute fly-over film

In early January of 2021, the film was complete. Like the FDC blog posts, it’s a birds-eye view of the watershed that hints at depths.

I smile when I think back to the initial idea seed. Of course, there is no one story, there are more than can ever be told.

FDC and the Aerial Views film is a decent outline, but it also illustrates how much more remains for investigation and study.

I hope this journey inspires yours!

 

 

 

 

Drone Filming Behind the Scenes with Titus Davis

In the fall of 2019, Titus Davis of Lodestone Drone Productions, joined me to help tell more of the Deer Creek Watershed story. With his drone and special flying license, we met at several locations to film. Titus is a longtime Nevada County resident. Taking him hiking through the Black Swan Preserve was a pleasure because he enjoyed the new scenery and was thinking about other people he could share it with.  The old Cotton Brothers bridge near Bitney Springs Road was another first.

As we went through the filming and set-up process and sorted out how to transfer data, he explained some of the intricacies of drone operation. He generously shares these below.

Drone Operation Considerations from Titus Davis:

[While filming the Cotton Brothers Bridge, the drone had a little difficulty staying on course. This was caused by…]

Ferromagnetism is a phenomenon that occurs in some metals, most notably iron, cobalt, and nickel, that over time causes the metal to become magnetic. This is a natural process that can be caused by electrolysis, which is part of the corrosion process. Ferromagnetism can also be increased by the earth’s magnetic field, vehicles passing over, vibration, etc.

Most drones used for photography have a sensitive compass to help orientate the drone, allowing it to fly in a straight line. The drone I use has two compasses to ensure it has an accurate reading on the earths magnetic field. If the iron bridge has a magnetic field that is different than the earths field, the compass will be affected. This effect can be seen when the drone has difficulty flying in a straight line near the bridge.

Another challenge to flying is the drone’s GPS system feature which helps stabilize it and hold a position in the wind. Anything that affects the GPS signals will cause the drone to drift. Flying near iron objects or under them can cause a loss of the GPS signal. This will cause the drone to drift and not accurately hold altitude.

Drone Filming Precautions

Flying under the Boulder Street Bridge.

When we met at Lefty’s Grill (on a day the restaurant was closed) to film dusk over the creek and Nevada City, Titus had already communicated with Lefty’s management asking if it was OK to film there and notified the Nevada City Police Department. (If they received calls from concerned citizens, they’d already know what was going on.)

When we were at the turtle ponds on the Black Swan Preserve, he was watching for hunting birds after explaining that birds of prey sometimes attack drones. (Drone color may affect bird attraction.)

Deer Creek Bridge Films

Click here to watch Titus’s drone footage – Deer Creek Bridges – Elevations & History.

Davis Drone Footage to Appear in Deer Creek Flyover Film

Lisa is currently producing a flyover film she plans to submit to the 2021 SYRCL Wild and Scenic Film Festival. It’s taken a year to collect the footage for the project; Davis’s drone footage will highlight key features along Deer Creek. 

Resources:

 

Titus Davis Lodestone Drone Productions lodestonedrone.com lodestonedrone@gmail.com

 

*Fortunately, we had no attack bird skirmishes, but after we were done, I had to research what a confrontation would have looked like. See the video below. 

Flying Over & Filming the Creek – Behind-the-Scenes

After weeks of route planning and equipment experimentation, Roger Harris was ready to fly over Deer Creek.

GoPro’s, attached to the plane, filmed the journey.

Roger Harris attaching a GoPro to the Cessna 180.

In the video below, Roger explains many factors that went into trip planning.

Additional Observations:

Houses are built close to creek banks. – Roger Harris, Pilot

The color difference between Scotts Flat Lake and Lake Wildwood. – Bonnie McKeegan, Ground Film Crew

Viewing the Deer Creek Watershed inside the greater Yuba Watershed makes one appreciate the sculpting power of water on the land. – Lisa Redfern, Producer

In an upcoming FDC behind-the-scenes look post, Howard Pincus, Pilot of the Cessna 180, will be featured.

If you liked this post, you might also like, Deer Creek Water Origins, Resouce Management & Recreation

World Water Day – 22 March – Science & Beauty

In honor of World World Water Day, FDC is going global. The water flowing through Deer Creek isn’t just ‘in your backyard,’ it’s part of a shape-shifting planetary system.

Today, we’re celebrating science and the ability to gather mass data. We’re also admiring the stunning beauty of water, an element all life needs to grow.

Resources:

11:21 – Central California Aquafir

Jet Propulsion Laboratory – GRACE Mission: 15 Years of Water on Earth

United Nations – World Water Day 22 March

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