On homestead shacks

The road from Joshua Tree to Kelso is littered with homestead shacks in various states of ruin. A few are boarded up neatly, merely missing a door splayed nearby, paint blistering on the desert floor. Others stand sentinel with their skeletal beams silhouetted against the sky. A few have melted into the ground, with only an explosion of shingles and splintered plywood marking their existence.

The Homestead Act of 1862 granted 160 acre tracts of undeveloped land west of the Mississippi to those who built a dwelling and grew crops within five years of staking a claim. By 1934, over one and half million homesteads had been granted. In the West, nearly half a million acres remained unclaimed, but most of this land did not have the water resources to support agricultural use. While this desert land had limited productive value, there was a growing belief in the convalescent value of the dry, arid climate.  The Small Tract Act allowed US citizens to claim up to five acres of vacant public land by building a dwelling within three years. Under the belief that the desert climate would alleviate war-induced respiratory ailments, veterans were given special priority in the Small Tract Act. Over forty years, the Small Tract Act transferred a over a third of federal desert to private hands. With local media romanticizing the ease and allure of homesteading, the Los Angeles regional land office processed over a thousand claims per year for the Morongo desert. Many of these mid-century homesteads were eventually abandoned due to the harshness of desert living. Today, a surreal collection of half-ruined shacks dots the Morongo desert.

u.s. border issues

and consider this, in arizona/new mexico (just south of our planned route)


PORTAL, Ariz. — It is a dramatic tale: that illegal immigrants being pursued by the Border Patrol started one of the nation’s largest wildfires, which has burned up more than 70,000 acres of national forest along Arizona’s border with Mexico since it began almost four weeks ago. But the authorities say that despite the tale’s being repeated often by some residents of the rugged countryside here, they do not know for sure if it is true. read more

fyi: land use after graduate school

think about it
Living Large, Off the Land

KELLY COYNE and Erik Knutzen do not subsist on a diet of lentils and gloom. Yes, the Los Angeles couple proselytize for a more self-reliant household in their new book, “Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World,” just published by Rodale. And to that end, they include in it illustrated directions for making things like homemade dog food and washable sanitary napkins. Continuer la lecture de fyi: land use after graduate school

v big dude v big horn (christo)

Christo’s Colorado Project May Hinge on Sheep, By JOHN COLLINS RUDOLF, Published: May 17, 2011

Nearly 20 years after the artist Christo and his wife, Jeanne-Claude, proposed draping a river canyon in southern Colorado in miles of translucent fabric, a federal thumbs up or down on the project may hinge on one factor above all others: the happiness of several hundred bighorn sheep.

A drawing of a proposed art project would suspend 5.9 miles of silvery, translucent fabric above parts of the Arkansas River in southern Colorado.More Photos »

Continuer la lecture de v big dude v big horn (christo)