Daily Archives: 02/15/2006

Restoration Efforts Underway At Johnson’s Shut-Ins

Here’s a page from Ameren/UE about their efforts restoring the flood damage to Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park. Ameren’s reservoir atop Proffit Mountain collapsed on December 14th, flooding the state park and destroying the campgrounds. Ameren employees are working full time at the state park on the clean up, removing trees and clearing debris. The power utility is footing the bill for the entire cost of the restoration.

For a detailed description of the recovery, check out Shelley Power’s post with plenty of pictures of the park both before and after the flood. She was part of a media tour of the facility on February 9th and took detailed photos of the damage and the crews rebuilding the park. Shelley writes a great blog, full of photos around St. Louis and the neighborhood where I grew up. Check out here post about Lone Elk Park, one of my favorite places to visit when I was a kid.

Ruh Roh, Shaggy

So, GovGuam has stepped into the 20th century and put out a site for online Guam income tax submissions. Why do I think this is a bad idea? Perhaps because Rev & Tax has no money to pay refunds, and nobody seems to care anymore. I got this sinking feeling this website will be hacked soon too, but by all means, go ahead and file your 1040EZ online with GovGuam, you’ll make their job easier and it won’t back a lick of difference in getting your refund – ever.

Spectacle On Ice

The 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin are going full swing, and NBC is offering video on their website. Did anybody else watch that little wisp of a Chinese figure skater slam into the ice last night, then rise up to capture the silver? I’m not a big fan of figure skating, but that was pretty cool. It was gutsy stuff, a point brought home by the cutaway shots of the other other skaters grimacing and averting their eyes as she did her routine.

Silk Road Oasis In Peril

The ancient city of Dunhuang, in the remote wastes of western China, is facing a threat greater than all the battles fought in this Silk Road outpost. Dunhuang is running out of water.

For thousands of years, Dunhuang served as the Chinese border city along the Silk Road and attracted more than its fair share of artists, monks, and adventurers. Among the city’s World Heritage attractions are the mythical Crescent Lake, a narrow sliver of water outside the city, and the Mogao Caves, decorated with murals by the monks and artisans who brought Buddhism to China.

A booming tourism trade in the Silk Road sites has swelled the city to almost twice its traditional size, and increased agricultural production has brought much of the desert into bloom. The Chinese government dammed the Dang River in the 1970’s and encouraged farmers to plant more fields.

But this prosperity has a price. Water is a precious commodity, especially in the Gobi Desert. The city is under peril. Irrigated farming in the region has depleted the water table to dangerously low levels. Crescent Lake has dropped 25 feet and is a third of its size 30 years ago, while the water table elsewhere in Dunhuang has subsided 35 feet or more.

While farmers were once encouraged to plant more fields using irrigation, new prohibitions ban any new farmland, no new wells are allowed, and new emigration into the city is forbidden. Hopefully these measures will stabilize the water table and recharge Crescent Lake. It would be a tragedy for the sands of the Taklamakan Desert to swallow up over 2,000 years of history.