Editors Letter

Beautiful Decay at the Salton Sea



Steven Biller

One of the first Sunday drives I took after moving to the Coachella Valley nine years ago was to the Salton Sea, the state’s largest lake and a perennial point of contention among preservationists, politicians, and residents — especially when gusts of foul air blow across the desert.

And the first thing my friends and I noticed as we walked toward the beach at the old North Shore Yacht Club was that no one was on the water. Not a single boat. Only a few people along the shoreline fishing for tilapia. Yet the sea appeared as beautiful and fascinating as it was troublesome.

The modern history of the Salton Sea traces back more than 100 years, when the Colorado River burst out of an irrigation canal and created the lake. Since then, agricultural runoff has fed the sea, preventing it from evaporating under the desert sun. But the waters that have sustained the endorheic Salton Sea have also poisoned it. Its salinity now exceeds that of the Pacific Ocean, inhibiting fish reproduction and diminishing the food supply for millions of fish-eating birds.

Nearly a decade since my first visit to the sea, I still wonder what will happen if evaporation continues and dried salt sediments give way to alkali clouds that could travel across the Coachella Valley, potentially destroying agricultural crops and golf courses and causing a pandemic of respiratory problems among residents and visitors.

While various authorities grapple with the future of the Salton Sea, artists continue painting and photographing around the yacht club and former shoreline resort towns such as Bombay Beach, Salton City, Salton Sea Beach, and Desert Shores.

In April, the new Salton Sea History Museum, located in the restored North Shore Yacht Club, opened its inaugural exhibition, Valley of the Ancient Lake: Works Inspired by the Salton Sea. The artwork, says Ann Japenga (“The New Sublime”), showcases the traditional, apocalyptic, and everything in between.

We hope the exhibition raises awareness of the threats and opportunities at the Salton Sea and inspires a sense of urgency for the health of the Coachella Valley.

Comments to this website are moderated by staff. While all comments are welcome, we encourage all to be polite and please do use this system for advertising or business promotions. Any complaint towards a business or service should be directed directly to that business and not posted here. If anyone has a complaint that a comment is defamatory, please contact me at tmay@palmspringslife.com and I will take appropriate action promptly. Thank You

Add your comment:
Palm Springs Life

Related Articles

40 Under Forty: Kenneth Ebner

Kenneth Ebner's Rock Your Resolution program is designed to make fitness goals come true and help change the way people feel about the gym.

40 Under Forty: David Woods

Golf professional David Woods refers to his position as PGA director of golf at The Vintage Club in Indian Wells as his dream job.

40 Under Forty: Ashlee Ciora

Ashlee Ciora has traveled to Europe 33 times, has been to 34 U.S. states, and visited 30 countries on four continents, with a goal of ultimately traveling to six of the seven continents.

Connect With the Great Outdoors on Coachella Valley Trails

Whether on foot or on horseback, the Greater Palm Springs offers scenic escapes hiking or horseback riding by the hour or by the day.

Keeping it Wild

When Esquire or The New York Times list features that make Palm Springs sexy and cool, they routinely omit one important item: “Wilderness Boundary."

Promotions + Contests

Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.
Enter to Win A Celebrate Dance Experience!

Enter to Win A Celebrate Dance Experience!

Enter just once for a chance to win tickets to one of the second annual Palm Desert International Dance Festival performances.