The Whitewater Preserve

Way back in the day, I used to go fishing with my granddad. I tell you, it was the high point of my summer to go hang out with Granddad for a few weeks, and he'd always thought up a bunch of fun stuff for us to do. Now as I mentioned before, he and Grandma lived in Desert Hot Springs, so you'd think fishing in the desert would be right out, but not so. There was a fish farm just far enough away to make the trip seem like an adventure.

Now there's a lot of stuff I want to tell you about the history of Whitewater: it was a year-'round source of water (although ya gotta dig for it in the summer) for the Cahuilla Indians. In 1884 Judge John McCallum piped that water down to Palm Springs to grow the first orchards down thataways. There's another story about the Whitewater stage stop on the old Bradshaw trail being robbed by bandits who hid the strongbox in a "cave" somewhere up that canyon – somehow they got themselves killed before their gold was discovered… And then there's the story of Willie Boy, who ran up this canyon with his girl, headed for the Pipes… Lotta history happened in this valley, but I didn't arrive on the scene until the '60s, when there was a trout farm up here. It was old then – established in 1939 and it went on long after granddad and I stopped coming – 2006.

I also have to admit, it wasn't exactly deluxe when Granddad and I came here. It was a real guy's kinda place – fishin', drinkin' beer, cleanin' fish. There was no daycare facility or ladies' lounge. And yet, drivin' up here I kept thinkin' "Man, I sure hope they haven't ruined it." I have fond, fond memories of Granddad helping me bait my hook and all, and if I got up there and found a golf course – well, I don't know what I'd do.

Fortunately, the new management, the Wildlands Conservancy has made it better than it ever was. To start with, one of the things they've "preserved" is the trout hatchery aspect. OK, in a state of nature, and to the best of my knowledge, trout don't come this far down the Whitewater River, mostly 'cause water doesn't come this far down the Whitewater River. The Whitewater River. is created by snowmelt coming off the San Bernardino Mts, specifically San Gorgornio, the highest peak in SoCal. So most of the

year, the river is underground. When Willie Boy and Carlotta were running here 100 years ago, it was October and there was no beautiful powdered sugar snow on the mountains – and not much to drink either. San Jacinto, the more famous peak, is in the south and you get a great view up both sides of the wash.

The Wildlife Preserve has only been going for two years, but they've accomplished a whole lot. The picnic areas don't allow bbqs (gas is ok) and it's day-use except for special things like the full-moon hike, which I can't wait to check out. But the wildlife is coming back – they've got a promising herd of bighorn and have felt the need to put warning signs up for cougars and blackbears.

And then there's the trout. Turns out that every species of western trout is either threatened or endangered. I don't mean to be selfish, but as a species, I don't think we humans can afford to lose

even one tasty co-member of the environment. And these fish are down to about 5% of their historic range. No one will ever know if the yellowfin or the Alvord cutthroat are better with just a squeeze of lemon, 'cause their both extinct. So let's make "help trout" a New Year's Resolution for 2009.


In the meantime, the Whitewater Preserve is a great place to spend the day – they didn't "ruin it" as I'd feared. They've got some great public information campaigns going on – like protecting the watersheds.The log cabin visitor center looks just like a hunting lodge, the ranger cabin is solar-powered. And I know Granddad would've liked it too.




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~ by ravenjake on January 1, 2009.

One Response to “The Whitewater Preserve”

  1. Looks like a great place to visit..thanks or the tour!

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