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Hi everyone! If you haven’t, you should probably skim my posts about Day 1 and Day 2 of the Caltech Y Owens Valley Alternative Spring Break trip!

Today, Mike picked us up at 9. After driving to the hills, we hiked to this really big arch!

Mike is the awesome guy in black in the first row. Without him, we wouldn’t have learned or done nearly as much as we did!

Greg, our group leader, successfully climbed the arch – so of course I decided I would too! Awesome picture, right? Well, I climbed up about half way and decided that I didn’t want to have to climb down more than that (up is always easy, right?).*

We met up with David again to do some more vertical mulching. Today, I even have some better pictures:

at the bottom, it even begins to blend in with the natural scenery!

Jonas, Yang, Tony, Hunterand I decided to do some climbing. Look closely at the rock way on top:

We took a bunch of pictures and climbed back down.


After lunch, we drove to Manzanar. Manzanar was a Japanese Internment Camp during WWII. It was a very sombering experience after spending the morning out in the sunshine enjoying the nature of the hills. The people, mostly Americans, interned at the Manzanar "War Relocation Camp" were living between two beautiful mountain ranges – but they couldn’t wander the hills as we had. Instead, they had withstand the strong winds and plentiful dust (this was before the dust mitigation project) in the area in cabins so shabby that, according to one visitor, there was no difference between being inside and outside.Worst, many survivors wrote, wasn’t the camp but the principle. Most of these people appericiated America for its principles as laid out in our constition – yet they were not treated with the principles of the Constitution.

quote on one of the posters in the museum

The museum also had quotes of those who hadactively resisted the internment of 10,000 Japanese in Manzanar throughout the war. One story that really stuck with me was a quote from Big Pine High School’s student body president Mickey Duffy in a letter to Manzanar students after his school board canceled a football game against the Manzanar youth team. "We did ourutmost to change the School Board’s decision through a petition signed by the entire student body," Duffysaid. The community, or the school board, or some mixture – these kids’ parents -didn’t want their children playing at Manzanar, and the students resisted.As Mike said, America has made mistakes and we aren’t perfect – but we keep trying to get better. The trip to Manzanar reinforced howimportant it is, not to take our liberties for granted, and how important it is, to make sure that these libertiesexistfor all people in the world.

Anther story that hit home was a story from a teen who left Manzanar after the war. Originally, the Japanese were not allowed to return to California. This teenager had gone to Wisconsin. On a bus there, he was told by a stranger to go home. He would love to go home, he responded. He wanted to go back to California.

I could write a lot more about Manzanar – but I think those are things you have to find for yourself. If any of you are ever in the Owens Valley area, I highly recommend visiting the museum and grounds.

After returning from Manzanar, we had pizza and a presentation from Mike.

I promised I would tell you more about Mike a few days ago, so: Mike is a retired school teacher, bird watcher and active environmentalist.He taught in Death Valley for eight years with his wife. In his 30s, he got involved in the "Second Water War" of Owens Valley.

The Second Water War started in the 1970s. For a pretty detailed description (from LA – Mike’s version was slightly different) see https://wsoweb.ladwp.com/Aqueduct/historyoflaa/sharedresource.htm. Basically, in the early1970s LA decided it wanted a new aqueduct to start pumping groundwater. Inyo County, the county of Owens Valley where Lone Pine is located, was extremely worried about the environmental impact of this.They sued LA, and eventually, were able to show that extensive groundwater pumping caused huge environmental damages in the Owens Valley region.

In their battle against LA DWP, paying for legal battles wasn’t always possible. In their last case, which they won, their lawyers fees came to eight-hundred thousand dollars.Though lawyer’s fees can be recompensated after winning a case, during the case, this money needs to be on hand. It is raisedthrough donations.

Today, LA is letting some water run through Owens River thanks to the efforts of Mike and other concerned citizens. The river is already supporting a lot of wildlife, and many people hope thatas willows and other good habitats grow around its shores, even more species that left with the river will again be attracted to the region.

Mike ended by talking about his current work with the DWP. The DWP, Mike says, won’t compromise unless it saves them water. Any water they don’t get from the valley, they have to buy at higher prices – mostly from the delta. Currently, they are using the water required for 200-300,000 households in the dust mitigation project.LA DWP and the groups Mike works withare trying to find a compromise which will save water and create more habitat for wildlife, especiallly birds. Mike thinks that, with the third environment type which I described earlier, this will be possible. I hope this project is successful!

Though I have a lotleftto say, I thinkI’ll leave it to you to come on future ASB Owens Valley trips andlearn about the water wars from Mike yourself! But, if you absolutly can’t wait to read more, check outhttp://wsoweb.ladwp.com/Aqueduct/historyoflaa/index.htm. Granted, this is the LADWP website, so there are certainly other viewpoints, but… I couldn’t find as clear of websites for them. If you have questions, feel free to leave a comment – I’ll do my best to respond (I think this is really interesting and important!!).

After thanking Mike, some people headed back to their rooms. Those of us who stayed in the lounge, though, had a very interesting conversation with Doug. Doug Thompson, the owner of the Mt. Whitney Hostel where we were staying (it was a great hostel!), is a hiker, author, and worked in the energy sector for years. We were talking about water and poweruse in LA (and the nuclear "crisis" in Japan), and Doug kept coming back to one theme: it isn’t the LA DWP that regulates water and power. It’s us, the consumer.

LA is trying to encourage people to reuse water, recycle, reduce waste, ect., but it’s not LA that can do this: it’s us. Obvious as that sounds,I think many consumers don’t respect that. They’re just one person, or one household – but the need of LA is the sum of those individuals. It’s always bothered me when people don’t respect that. It’s impossible to expect that people never cause any waste or use any water or electricity. But we should at least expect that they try to use only as much as they need, not as much as they want. Q: how do we convince people to do that?

Soln: You should watchA Convienient Truth. It’s a really interesting and pretty short documentary about a Brazilian city which was able to become cleaner, nicer, and help its poorer population way before other cities began similar recycling, housing and urban planning programs. And then, we should think of new policies to make LA into a new revolutionary city (in environmental terms, of course :)).

FUN FACT: After our group chat with Doug, he gave everyone in the group a copy of his book (one of five): Mount Whitney: Mountain Lore from the Whitney Stone. We were paging through it after, and read that "Dehydration compounded by low vapor pressure of oxygen results in changes in blood chemistry, making it more acidic and harder to absorb what oxygen is available." After some googling, we figured out why it is harder to absorb "what oxygen is available" when the blood is more acidic. So, hemoglobin has two forms, the taut form and the relaxed form. A more acidic environment favors the taut form. The taut form doesn’t bind to (i.e. "hold") oxygen as well as the relaxed form. This is why, for example, oxygen is released in muscles during the regular flow of blood – they have a higher CO2 content and so the area is more acidic. So, when blood is already more acidic in the lungs, present oxygen won’t be bonded to (i.e. "absorbed") in the first place! {Chemistry has an explination for everything! Almost…}

I hope you guys enjoyed the post! And for you just-accepted students, I hope to meet you during pre-frosh weekend.

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