MAGNOLIA THUNDERPUSSY, JUDY CHICAGO, AND MARGOT ST. JAMES: SAN FRANCISCO 1970’S

In all the time I worked in the music industry in San Francisco (!967-1980), I was never groped, kissed, patted on the butt or forced upon without explicit permission. And neither were the women singer/songwriters that I managed, two of whom were extraordinarily beautiful.

In the late nineteen sixties and seventies, free love reigned in the music business and among the hippies that moved into San Francisco’s Haight district. It did seem to me, that everyone was shagging everyone, talking about it, celebrating it, in the most outrageous manner possible. And maybe that kept lewd and lascivious behavior, at least in this business, confined to the bedroom.

Magnolia Thunderpussy

After one of my first Fillmore West shows, my boyfriend took me for dessert at Magnolia Thunderpussy’s near Haight and Ashbury. I burst out laughing at the menu of erotic deserts. My boyfriend ordered up a “Pineapple Pussy” (hollowed out pineapple filled with strawberry ice cream, whipped cream, topped with chocolate shavings and a cherry). I ordered up “The Montana Banana,” a salacious version of the banana split: upright peeled banana, two scoops of ice cream, artfully placed at the bottom of the banana, surrounded by a little shredded coconut, and a dollop of whipped cream at the discretely split end of the banana.

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Herb Caen, famed San Francisco Chronicle columnist was an ardent fan of Magnlia’s and so were rock bands and hippies. I went there often for Magnolias’s concoctions and her free-wheeling, rambunctious sense of humor.

http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Magnolia-Thunderpussy-60s-Restaurateur-2981471.php

http://happyhouseofhaas.blogspot.com/2008/07/magnolia-thunderpussy.html

Margot St. James; Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics

Margot St. James was arguably San Francisco’s most outspoken and famous hooker, I met her when graphic designer David Wills and I were hatching up the magazine Music Works: a Manual for Musicians. Margot had an office next to ours: I knew her then only as a licensed private investigator that gave her access to women imprisoned for sex crimes. She wanted these women to be given equal treatment under the law as their male counterparts, including access to therapists, medicines and doctors.

Margot hired me to be the producer of the first Coyote Hooker’s Masquerade Ball in San Francisco at Longshoreman’s Hall in 1974, just around Halloween. The profits would fund legal fees for the women arrested for sex crimes.

Margo-Bikini-Crop

Margot St. James wasn’t pretty in a conventional sense, but she had a vitality and energy that drew people to her causes.

My job was to hire the bands, the sound and light crew, write the press releases, and on the night of the dance, hold a street parade, and make sure no one got out of hand. No big deal, I figured.

Margot thought I could do this because I had just quit working as an artist’s manager for legendary rock ‘n roll concert producer Bill Graham. I struck out of my own to teach busness to musicians and was called a revolutionary by a well-known Bay Area rag. Who would have thought that empowerment for musicians was revolutionary?

But empowerment for hookers and for women jailed for sex crimes—that was much more revolutionary. I had great respect for Margot’s cause, as I did (and still do) for anyone that stuck out their neck for disenfranchised people.

That ball was one wild rockin’ San Francisco event, in a city known for them. It’s theme on all the posters: “Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics.”

It began with me watching the Marin County firemen that Margot talked into helping rig Longshoreman’s Hall, while I helped a bevy of gorgeous hookers assemble mailings and lick stamps.

Just before the ball, there was a pre ‘get-it-up’ fund-raising party with the same bevy of women serving canapés to many of San Francisco’s politicos, rumored to be their clients. Sally Stanford was there—she ran one of the city’s most notorious brothels, and so was Linda Lovelace, the famous porn star.

The dance itself was a huge costume party of San Francisco’s gay men and women, bisexuals, transgenders, queens, and cross dressers. The mayor and police chief came, and the only incident was a lavishly dressed clown with a cane who had climbed on top of one of the speaker stacks and was trying to ‘hook’ the chandelier. I don’t remember how one of my crew talked him safely down.2449034427

I went on to produce the next four ‘balls,’ which became among the largest of Bay Area’s fundraisers—and the wildest. The one I loved the most was the fourth, which took place at what is now called the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. In the entry hall were tables laden with marijuana (illegal then). Inside the ceiling was hung with balloons made of condoms that were donated by manufactuers. Margo rode into the hall on an elephant to announce her candidacy of Presidency of the U.S. I wish I had a copy of the press release I wrote.

Margot raised a lot of money; and she spent in on the causes she espoused,

https://diva.sfsu.edu/collections/sfbatv/bundles/191566

Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party

“The Dinner Party” was held in 1979 at San Francisco’s Modern Museum of Art. A triangular table was lavishly set with thirty-nine place settings, each celebrating a famous woman of mythology and history, such as Sappho or Joan of Arc.010_the_dinner_party_installation

What was served up was an art installation that drew more people than any other art show up to that time. Each setting had the motif of the era lived in by each woman that was honored.

Other rooms in that installation honored women’s home arts: crochet, lace, china painting, weavings—some of the finest I have ever seen.

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The ‘draw’ of that show, however, which had people waiting in line for many blocks and for many months, were Judy Chicago’s fourteen-inch china-painted sculptured plates that were modeled on women’s vaginas.

The Dinner Party has a permanent home at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Musuem, New York.

Judychicago.com

Stella Resnick

My friend Stella, who lived in San Francisco in the nineteen seventies, was just beginning her career as a clinical psychologist specializing in sexual enrichment in relationships.

When she moved to Los Angeles, she grew a large private practice and wrote two ground-breaking books: The Heart of Desire: Keys to the Pleasures of Love and The Pleasure Zone: Why We Resist Good Feelingswww.drstellaresnick.com

Stella and I often talked about those free-wheeling days in San Francisco, often in her outdoor redwood hot tub. I credit her for saying, “We had ten years of free love,”

That was before the tragic aids epidemic that hit so many cities like an out of control freight train.

And perhaps before the lewd behavior of men and sexual harassment of women that has crept into all walks of life and dominates media news.

I applaud the women speaking out. It can’t be easy.

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Naked, Kickass Katie Lee

Much publicity has been garnered from the beautiful black and white photos of Katie Lee nude in Glen Canyon in the 1950s that were taken by photographer Martin D, Koehler and printed for a special fine arts edition by master printer Richard Jackson of Flagstaff, AZ.

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The photos are now part of the Katie Lee archives at Cline Library, Northern Arizona University, in Flagstaff, Arizona, in the special collection “Colorado Plateau.”

At no level did I ever see these photos of Katie as being ‘sexy.’ Katie was as natural in the wilderness as any wild animal, completely unselfconscious, in a manner that very few people are when they are naked.

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“The Nymph,” photo by Martin D. Koehler, is part of a poster sold by Glen Canyon Institute. www.glencanyon.org

Yes, she was a remarkably beautiful woman when the photos were taken, but when she was in those canyons, she was part of the sandstone that she said she was born with in her veins. It was as though these canyons were part of her body.

In Katie’s comments about the photos, she said, “When I met Glen Canyon it was love at first sight—a place far from the inbred taboos of our society— closer to a dreamland than to reality. I have never posed as a model and am not doing so here…only doing what I always did in Glen Canyon—climbing, dancing, walking, touching, talking to the stone, swimming in the river, lying in the shallows, sliding down the falls, crawling through ruins, inching up crevasses, hanging from tree limbs, covering myself with mud, playing, singing, living with the canyon. I can always tell when a model is photographed in a place she’s never seen or experienced before; it’s in body language that can’t be hidden.”

Hiking and Boating with Katie

Anyone who has ever hiked or boated with Katie in the wilderness knows she will shed her clothes as quickly as she possibly can and not put them on again until she gets close to her car.

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Although this photo was taken when she was able to boat down Glen Canyon I had the pleasure of hearing her play her guitar in Gravel Canyon when we backpacked there together many years ago. She was singing in harmony with the coyotes.

Wasn’t she afraid of getting ‘scratched’ someone once asked. I remembered walking naked with Katie and Joey in an absolutely fabulous cactus forest in Southern Baja California. You just had to pay attention, a perfect lesson in ‘being present’ in that silent, but very vibrant world.

 

The second of Katie Lee's trilogy about a lost eden

The second book of Katie Lee’s trilogy of a lost eden., Cover art by Serena Supplee. http://www.serenasupplee.com

In her book Sandstone Seduction: Rivers and Lovers, Canyons and Friends, Katie wrote: “When I suggested to someone that reveling in that nude world was like taking a bath in awareness, they asked, “Of yourself?”

“Oh no,” Katie said. “Awareness of the earth, the elements, that blue roof up there, the old stone dune with its birthmarks, that fitting hollow, the sound that sometimes comes from the tone when I put my ear to it.” For her, it was the canyons that were sexy: “The luscious sandstones of Glen Canyon began their beckoning call to me after my first year in these sequestered erogenous zones—those deep sinuous paths between Mother Earth’s labia, so private, so impermissible, I’d back away. Should we even be allowed to see such things?” (page 162)
Dandy Crossing

The cover of Katie’s book, Ghosts of Dandy Crossing, featured herself nude, =grinning and pointing a Ruger at her friend and lover, the cowboy-miner Buck.

Book cover of Katie Lee's latest book.

Dandy Crossing was a ferry crossing on the old Colorado River between Hite Village and White Canyon, about three miles downstream from what is now Hite Marina.  The book is still available from her website www.katydoodit.com

Perhaps more than any other book about Glen Canyon that Katie wrote, this one is about the people that lived and worked there before the canyon was dammed—the miners, cowboys, the ferryman, people who explored and settled the west. She felt at home with them and vice versa, whether or not she was nude. Their lives were upended with the building of Glen Canyon reservoir, a sadness some did not recover from, including Katie, who made her life’s work getting rid of the dam and restoring the flow of the Colorado River.

She had no airs in the company of those folk. She always said that the life she led as a performer was only to make money to get her back to her friends in Glen Canyon, exploring its labyrinths and byways.

KT 2 at The Gate

Katie Lee, the glamorous folk singer in the nineteen fifties.

And in those days, that meant performing in places like the Gate of Horn in Chicago or the Hungry Eye in New York.

Perhaps one of the more poignant passages in that book is when Jason, one of her river companions, goes to visit a glamorous Katie when she was singing in Chicago, an awkwardness between them that can’t be bridged, both unable to reach the easy communication with each other that was part of their river journeys, where she was always totally naked.

Do Any Famous Artists Live in Jerome?

Katie was comfortable with her nudity throughout her old age, when her body was full of sags and crinkles, freckles and liver spots. She just didn’t care. Sometimes you’d go to her house, and she’d meet you nude at the door.

I was once asked by a tourist visiting Jerome, “Do any famous artists live in Jerome.” I thought about this and answered, “Katie Lee.” “Oh, isn’t she the woman that rode naked through town on her bike?”

Katie told me she’s likely to be more famous in Jerome for her ride than for her books and music. Sadly, she was right. No stores in Jerome carry her books and music. During the last couple of years, a few Katie-come-lately’s (as my friend Richard Martin put it) laid claim to knowing her, but few have read her books or listened to her music.

An exception is the song written by Katie’s friend Kate Wolf called “Old Jerome, which Wolf wrote while staying at Katie’ house. The song was adopted as the official town song by the Jerome Town Council in the 1990s and is often played and sung by Jerome’s Ukilele Orchestra.

And yes, Katie is famous in Jerome for riding her bike through town naked except for a helmet and boots when she was seventy-seven years old. She howled with laughter as she sailed the mile downhill from Main Street to her house. It was her way to shed the glum, sad feelings she had after a close Jerome friend died.

Katie on her bike

Jane Moore, one of the owners of Made in Jerome, made this plate for Katie for her 93rd birthday commemorating her famous ride

The day she decided to do it was the kind of sticky and hot it gets just before a summer monsoon. “Friends were snapping at each other like loony birds in a tank of toxins and the humidity was a wet, down comforter under a 110-degree heating pad.” (Sandstone Seduction, “The Ride”)

She streaked past bar owner Paul Vojnic as he talked with Ray, the town cop. Paul said, “Well, aren’t you going to arrest her?” “What am I going to arrest her for” Ray said. “Floppy tits?”

Even before Katie reached her house, people who saw her started shaking the phone calls with their laughter. “Do you know what Katie Lee just did?”

Years later, friends put together a memorial to that ride on Katie’s maybe 87th birthday, where they rode their bikes, dressed up in fake big balloon boobs and padded bras over their clothes, before congregating on the steps opposite Paul and Jerry’s Bar. Only Katie and I showed up bare-breasted.

Foul-Mouth, Kick Ass Katie Lee

Maybe more than the nude photos, Katie was known for her foul-mouth. “It took me almost 20 years to get used to her saying the word ‘F. . . .K’, a close friend recently told me. The word would just roll out of her mouth—in conversation, but especially at lectures on the loss of Glen Canyon and the bottled up Colorado River.

Although most of our friends knew that Katie in the nude was her natural self, Katie in front of an audience put clothes and words together for shock and awe, including swear words. She was trained as an actress and used that training when she sang and lectured or was being filmed. Her appearances were not only unforgettable, but often brought audiences to tears. She was a fabulous performer. Then, she was happy to be known as a bad ass or a kick ass. It’s what she was going for. (The phrase ‘Kickass Katie Lee’comes from a short film by the same name that is produced by Beth and George Gage and shown at the 2016 Mountainfilm Festival in Telluride. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vf7eaeY36tE

The only time I saw Katie embarrassed was when she delivered a commencement address at Prescott College to graduating teachers sometime in the 1990’s. It was laced with swear words and rants. Many graduates were Navaho women who were hugely offended. Afterwards Katie said to me, “This is the first time I’ve ever given a speech when absolutely NO ONE came back to tell me how great it was.” “Well, Katie,” I said, “look at your audience, young Navaho women, who had never heard another woman swear like that.“ First time I ever saw her blush.

Katie wouldn’t back off when I suggested she rename her book Ten Thousand Goddam Cattle, A History of the American Cowboy I Song, Story and Verse. She instantly hit red-line anger and screamed at me, “It’s a famous f….king cowboy song, goddammit.” That book might have been a classic hit among ranchers were it not for the title. The famed Western Folklife Center in Elko, Nevada wouldn’t carry the book; and many cowboy poetry festivals wouldn’t hire Katie either.

One of the best histories ever written about cowboys.

“A beautiful job, exact, comprehensive and witty. Should remain a basic history of the subject for many year to come.”  Edward Abbey

I sure hope the University of Arizona Press, current publishers of the book, will continue to reprint it and keep it alive. Some copies are still available at Katie’s website: Katydoodit.com (The odd website name, by the way comes from a conflation of the word Katydid, one of Katie’s favorite insects, and the phrase ‘doo dit.’ She couldn’t call the website by her real name because there was a cookbook author and chef by the same name who had taken the website name for herself.

The word tact was not in Katie’s vocabulary. Whatever she said or felt, she told you. I once chided her: “Katie, sometimes it might pay to be more tactful.” Again, full redline scream: “Tact is a f…..king waste of time.” She said that to me when she was just about the same age as I am now (78) and I try to say exactly what I mean, just not using the swear words.

I was fortunate to know most aspects of Katie— at home sewing, making beads, hiking nude, driving, performing—a giant kaleidoscope. And wherever I landed, what I saw is what I got. Inimitable Kick Ass Katie Lee.  I am still immensely sad at her passing on November 1, 2017.

If you want to read more about Katie: My personal tribute: https://homesweetjeromedrapaport.wordpress.com/2017/11/01/katie-lee-death-the-grande-dam-of-dam-busting/

And a great obituary in The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/10/obituaries/katie-lee-folk-singer-who-fought-to-protect-a-canyon-dies-at-98.html?module=WatchingPortal&region=c-column-middle-span-region&pgType=Homepage&action=click&mediaId=thumb_square&state=standard&contentPlacement=2&version=internal&contentCollection=www.nytimes.com&contentId=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2017%2F11%2F10%2Fobituaries%2Fkatie-lee-folk-singer-who-fought-to-protect-a-canyon-dies-at-98.html&eventName=Watching-article-click

Copyright 2017 Diane Sward Rapaport

Joey van Leeuwen: The Singing Coyote

Copyright 2017 by Diane Sward Rapaport

Joey van Leeuwen died on November 2 by his own hand in Jerome, AZ. Katie Lee, his partner for 36 years, died peacefully the night before. Joey was 85 years old.J&K Home 2011

Among friends, it was always Katie and Joey, never one without the other. They had increasing disabilities, and for many years, told each other that they could not live without the help of the other. It’s how it is when people age and need to rely on one another.

Joey loved birds, painted portraits of them, carved them, and wrote and illustrated a little gem of a book called The Birds of Jerome. Anyone who walked into Katie and Joey’s home immediately saw a virtual aviary: hawks, eagles and ravens that Joey had carved hanging from the ceiling; doves, ducks, hummingbirds, owls, swallows, and finches perched on window sills and bookcases, a blue heron for the backporch.

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Joey planted an arboretum in his backyard, eighty-six trees, almost as many as there are birds in his book, including chokecherry, hackberry, mulberry, elderberry, squawbush, California buckthorn, walnut, peach, and apricot, eight species of pine and many Gambel oaks. He grew three different types of cherries on one tree. In the evening, he and Katie would sit on the back porch with binoculars and watch the birds feast on a smorgasbord of fruits, berries and nuts.

It gave Katie much pleasure, until some of the trees grew so tall they obscured some of the incredible views of the Verde Valley and red rock canyons beyond. Joey trimmed the trees best he could.

I had the pleasure of hiking with Katie and Joey, not only in the remote Utah canyons, but on a camping trip to Western Australia in 1986. He was a gentle, tall, canny and modest man, as steadfast a friend as I could ever want, with a sweetness that balanced Katie’s more caustic aspects.

Friends and I nicknamed him Hawkeye. He could name a bird at the flick of a color, the shape of a tail, the nest it wove, or from a feather lodged in a prickly pear cactus. He could imitate their songs. Once he told me he watched long-tailed grass finches in Western Australia become drunk on termites. In the spring, the termites secrete some kind of acid that makes the birds so drunk they can hardly fly.

A child’s curiosity and an adult’s skepticism about certain so-called ‘facts’ once led Joey to painting a dozen aluminum cans with a wild bouquet of colors. He filled them with sugar water and sat back to observe which color hummingbirds preferred. “Which ones, Joey,” I asked. “Red. They like red.” He had to find out for himself.

He was born in Holland, emigrated to Australia where he worked on a sheep station in Western Australia for many years, before moving to Jerome, AZ in 1978 to live with Katie. In Australia, Joey was a member of many bird clubs and was sought after for his expertise on aviaries. He fell in love with Katie Lee and moved to Jerome too soon to finish his book of Australian bird lore, “The ABCs of Bird Keeping.”

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It takes a gentle person to observe their quirky habits and make them companions. Joey’s reward was pure pleasure, a quenching of curiosity and a deepening of knowledge for its own sake. Joey had those traits, as well as the capacity to love without aggression.

Before he died, Joey meticulously labeled which of his carvings were to be gifted to friends. He gifted me one called “Singing Coyote.” I’d like to think he read my tribute to Katie, where I mentioned some of the most magical moments in the canyons, where she played her beat-up guitar (which Joey carried in his backpack) and sang, with the coyotes adding their wild harmonies. I’d like to think Joey and Katie are somewhere in the wild canyons, hand-in-hand singing along with those wild coyote yips.

https://homesweetjeromedrapaport.wordpress.com/2017/11/01/katie-lee-death-the-grande-dam-of-dam-busting/

Joey is survived by two brothers, three children in Australia, Stephen, Elizabeth and Joanne,  five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Katie Lee: I Will Return

Copyright 2017 by Diane Sward Rapaport

My close friend Katie Lee died peacefully in her home in Jerome on November 1, 2017. She was 98 years old. I am immensely sad.

Activist Katie Lee

Katie Lee was a vibrant, energetic, and eloquent singer, author and activist never stopped fighting to drain it and return the natural flow of the Colorado River.

Katie lit a wildfire in her heart about the loss of Glen Canyon when it was drowned to become Lake Powell Reservoir. She called it Loch Latrine or Rez Foul. Often called the “Grand Dame of Dam Busting,” she never stopped fighting to drain it and return the natural flow of the Colorado River.

She left a torch that won’t be extinguished. She knew how to scorch with her words, whether in her books, stories, songs, or lectures. I seldom met an audience of hers that didn’t shed tears and give her a standing ovation.

I once asked Katie why she was so attached to Glen Canyon. She replied,It’s as if my feet are still stuck in the sand at the edge of the river. It’s where I live. This other life I walk around in all day—well, that’s a passing thing. And in many ways it’s my defense against the sadder mechanisms of life around us. And God knows we all need those mechanisms from keeping ourselves from going crazy in this mad world.”

Although she leaves a potent legacy, one she was fortunate to realize in her lifetime, I offer here a few personal memories.

Driving

The last time I saw Katie was two years ago when I took her to lunch in Cottonwood, Arizona on her birthday. She cussed at me all the way down the mountain from Jerome for my atrocious driving.You’re f****g braking too often, you need to learn to downshift around these curves; you’re too jerky.” And of course, the more she cussed and yelled, the more nervous and jerky I got. By the time we reached the restaurant, Katie was carsick, and I was mortified.

Then I remembered her acknowledgments about me in her book Sandstone Seduction under the heading, Category Indefinable: “I can teach her only two things: where to hike and how to drive.”

Katie learned to drive from her third husband, Brandy, who was a racecar driver. She became superb at driving fast and smooth, cursing and honking at anybody in her way.

She just never managed to teach me.

Hiking

Katie did teach me where to hike. Her topo maps showed me how to choose the places where there was virtually no possibility of seeing anyone else. (Hikes she has taken are highlighted with yellow or orange markers on topo maps, which will be archived at Northern Arizona University’s Cline Library).

At 42 years old, I was a backpacking neophyte; a city slicker newly arrived in Jerome, AZ, who had made some waves in the music industry. I had never before spent a night that was not in a national park with groomed trails and signs telling me where to take a photo. Katie took her mate Joey, my husband Walter and I, and her friend Merlin on a ten-day trip into Gravel Canyon, in Utah’s White Canyon area—possibly not traveled by anyone (including the cows) since the Native Americans left in the fourteenth century. We accessed it from the top. Katie drove up some scraggy, scarred dirt road, which scared the piss out of me, one of my first experiences with Katie behind the wheel.

We started down canyon over many large tree trunks and refrigerator size boulders left by years of flash floods, sending Merlin ahead, sometimes for many hours, to see whether the canyon would continue to “go” or would box us out. He was training for some Chilean snowbound mountain backpacking and carrying 70–80 pounds.

Katie is her most natural self in these wild places—funny, easy to be around, and helpful. She is a gifted storyteller and those wonderful canyon amphitheaters inspired her and turned anybody with her into a rapt audience. The most magical moments were when she played her beat-up guitar and sang, with the coyotes adding their wild harmonies.

We found side canyons full of untrammeled ruins, whole pots, areas strewn with corncobs and grinding stones, and other remnants of lives long gone.

After we rappelled down a forty-foot cliff to walk out, Katie broke one of her two steadfast rules: Never tell anybody where you went. (The other was Don’t go down something you can’t get back up). We found a mauled and looted grave at the end of the rappel, human bones scattered everywhere, and it made Katie furious. We stopped at the Kane Gulch ranger station and told the ranger about it. “How did you happen to find it?” asked the ranger. “We came down canyon,” Katie blurted out. “Oh,” said the ranger, “I didn’t know you could come down that canyon.” Two years later, Outside Magazine did a story on it.

Hikes with Katie taught me to appreciate why those lonesome places are shelters for our emotional upheavals and havens for spiritual growth.

Je Reviendral

Katie loved making bead necklaces for her friends. A few weeks before she died, she told me she was making a necklace for her friend Candace of natural green polished stones and four tiny silver charms: a snake (“because I love them”); a pen (“because I’m a writer”); and a ladder (“of success”); the fourth was a tiny disk engraved with the words Je reviendral (“I will return”).

I’d like to think that maybe, just maybe, Katie never left. The wildfires that she set in my heart continue to spread.

More info: katydoodit.com

A lovely video of Katie singing “Song of the Boatman,” accompanied by Peter McLaughlin, at a birthday party about a week before she died. Lyrics by Katie Lee. Music adapted from the song “Cry of the Wild Goose,”by Terry Gilkyson. Katie gifted the guitar she played for so many years to him. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLTsnbPgXw1HDbfLoQs8R4YTAITkdoBOhH Video by Michael.

An elegant obituary in The New York Times on November 10 written by Robert Sandomir. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/10/obituaries/katie-lee-folk-singer-who-fought-to-protect-a-canyon-dies-at-98.html?module=WatchingPortal&region=c-column-middle-span-region&pgType=Homepage&action=click&mediaId=thumb_square&state=standard&contentPlacement=2&version=internal&contentCollection=www.nytimes.com&contentId=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2017%2F11%2F10%2Fobituaries%2Fkatie-lee-folk-singer-who-fought-to-protect-a-canyon-dies-at-98.html&eventName=Watching-article-click

 

In case you missed the NBC special on its Today show: https://www.today.com/video/life-well-lived-katie-lee-beloved-goddess-of-glen-canyon-dies-at-98-1088937539539

 

The Future of Harney County’s Water: ConservationTakes Front and Center

 

About 40 people attended a Harney County Community-planning water meeting on June 28. Two informational talks were presented: one on remote pivot controls and magnetic flow meters; the second on some of the knowns and unknowns about water availability and use in the Harney basin. These augmented presentations on May 17 comparing different sprinkler irrigation systems.

Afterwards the meeting broke up into small discussion groups to discuss the implications of Harney County farmers adopting water saving irrigation conservation technologies.

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An alfalfa field in Harney County .The vibrant side was irrigated with about 2/3 of the water using drip lines. Each drip line is around 50’ long with small holes punched about every six inches. Water penetration in the soil was dramatically better. The other side remains unchanged MESA sprinkler irrigation with evaporation, etc. Drip lines are a third alternative to conserving water with more efficient technologies that lead to higher yields. Photo used with permission.

Math Jui Jitsu

Mark Owens was the first hay farmer in Harney County to convert 6 pivots to low elevation spray application (LESA) systems.

During this meeting, he presented a calculation of the savings that could occur if all pivot irrigation systems currently in use in Harney County converted to LESA.

According to Harmony Burright from the Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD), the department has approved 610 permits for Harney County farmers for developing a total of 93,936 acres (281,808 acre-feet) of groundwater. However, farmers are only irrigating 64,000 acres (192,000 acre-fee), which means that some permits have not been developed.

Owens calculated that the average water savings for converting MESA to LESA systems was approximately 20%. Since 80% of the irrigation systems in Harney County are from sprinkler pivots, at 100% conversion, the savings would be at least 16%, or a savings of 45,000 acre feet—(15,000 acres).

A worthy goal.

The question is whether some or all of these savings can be achieved?

Incentives and barriers to conservation will be discussed in the fifth Future of Water article.

Remote Pivot Controls

Presenters were Josh Egan from the Lindsay Corporation, the manufacturer of FieldNET™ Pivot Control systems, and Matt Nonnenmacher from Clearwater Pump and Irrigation from Burns, Oregon, a company that installs them.

FieldNET™ Pivot Controls are mounted on irrigation pivots, whatever their type, and enable pivots to be remotely controlled from a smart phone or computer. The simplest versions provide on-off capabilities and check equipment status. More sophisticated versions provide GPS positioning, variable rate irrigation controls within many designated sectors within fields, and can be programmed for real-time field conditions, such as pressure, soil moisture, and weather, and to designate irrigation zones that may need different flow rates or even none at all.

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The purpose of pivot controls is to manage how much water is going into the ground and to alert field managers to potential problems, such as high water flow, hardware faults, low pressure, high voltage, etc. and decrease the need for daily visual inspection of crops.

Use of pivot controls reduce labor cost and improve efficiency and yield, which can lead to greater profits.

Magnetic Flow Meters

Growsmart™ magnetic flow meters are mounted at well sources. Used as stand-alone or combined with remote pivot controls, these meters calculate how much water is flowing through the pipe. Knowing how much fields are under or overwatered can be critical during periods of drought or scarcity; and are useful for managing yield and efficiency.

Information is sent to a smartphone or computer. Meters can be interfaced with pivot controls for more effective management.

For further information on FieldNET pivot controls or Growsmart magnetic flow meters contact Matt, at Clearwater Pump & Irrigation, nonnenm@acwinc.net Phone: (541) 573-1260

Future Groundwater Meetings:

Groundwater issues are being addressed in two separate meetings scheduled on July 18 and 19. Everyone who is interested in the future of water in Harney County is welcome and encouraged to attend.

First, The Harney County Groundwater Study Advisory Committee is meeting at the Harney County Community Center on Tuesday, July 18 from 10 a. m to 3 p.m. The meeting will include a presentation from USGS summarizing existing studies, data, and information and how they are being for a major groundwater study being conducted in the Harney Basin by USGS and OWRD. Later there will be an update on current quarterly groundwater measurements and monitoring efforts .The greater part of lunch and the afternoon will be devoted to discussions among people attending, including a discussion on water use estimates and data gaps.

Groundwater study area Chris copy.jpg

On Wednesday, July 19. a Community Based Planning meeting was held at the Harney County Community Center from 5:00-8:00 p.m. Allison Aldous of the Nature Consevancy shows an updated conceptual model conceptual model to aid in the understanding of how water flows into the basin affect groundwater and surface water. The discussion followed by how changes in management strategy, such as conservation, could affect agricultural and other uses.

The need for local, collaborative water planning was identified in the statewide Integrated Water Resources Strategy and is being supported by a grant from the Oregon Water Resources Department.

For more information, contact Project Manager, Gretchen Bates: Gretchen@hcwatershedcouncil.com or 541-589-9915

More information is located at www.hcwatershedcouncil.com. Other “Future of Water” articles are located at links provided in the HW watershed council section: Community-Based Water Planning.

Harney County’s Water Future: MESA and LESA Irrigation Systems

Uncertainties about water sustainability in Harney County are causing some ranchers to examine more efficient ways to irrigate alfalfa and hay crops.

Mark Owens went further. Mark is a hay farmer in Crane and one of the county’s three elected commissioners. In 2015, Mark attended a workshop on low elevation spray application (LESA) systems. Half-way through the presentation, Mark got on his cell phone and canceled an order for nozzles that would be used in his mid-elevation spray application (MESA) systems, the standard sprinkler system used in Harney County.

In March 2016, Owens converted 6 pivots to LESA. “It made total sense to me,” he said. “The savings in water and energy the first year were almost 25%. Using LESA, I was achieving almost 92% efficiency against the 75-80% efficiencies of MESA—with no reduction in yield.” For sure, both systems are better than water sprayed from wheel lines, which have about 65% efficiency.

Today, there are 42 more LESA systems in Harney County (48 counting Mark’s).

On May 17, 2017, Mark made a presentation to county ranchers at the ESD facility in Burns, where he compared new and old systems. People then drove out people out to Mark’s ranch for a demo.

LESA systems spray water from nozzles placed 12 inches above the ground or lower and spaced about 5 feet apart. As crops grow, the nozzles become less and less visible because they are under the canopy, further reducing water drift and evaporative loss, percolating water into the ground faster and saturating root zones more effectively. LESA works best on level fields.

LESA systems

LESA web image.jpg

Here is Mark’s comparison of MESA and LESA systems. The average water right allocation in Harney County is 3 acre-feet or 325,850 gallons per acre foot or 966,550 gallons per 3 acre-feet. This is typically the amount producers will utilize for optimal growth using MESA systems.

MESA                                                                        LESA

7.5 gallons per minute per acre                        5,8-6 gallons per minute

450 gallons per hour per acre                            348 gallons per hour per acre

10,800 gallons per day per acre foot                 8,352 gallons per day per acre foot

30 days to apply 325, 850 gallons                      39 days to apply 325,850 gallons

90 days uses 3 acre feet (97,200 gal)                90 days uses 2.3 acre foot (752,690 gal)

During his presentation, Mark made clear that reaching the high efficiencies of LESA systems depended on designing them to meet crop needs according to the type of soil and climate conditions. “Most importantly, you have to manage the system,” he said. “You have to go out and look at the fields. You can’t manage them from a pickup. It’s easy to over water.” LESA was so efficient, Mark had to shut down the system for five days last summer. “An efficiently designed system can be managed inefficiently,” Mark added.

Other Savings

LESA systems require less operating pressures. Mark reduced his horsepower requirements with a new pump design by eight horsepower, which saved approximately $10 a day in power costs.

If you have further questions about MESA and LESA, please contact Mark Owens.

Mark Owens

Harney County Commissioner

Cell:      541-589-2379

Office: 541-573-6356

mark.owens@co.harney.or.us

Retrofitting MESA to LESA

Harney County irrigation dealers are knowledgeable about conversions and costs. Basically conversion entails doubling the existing drops on the pivot lines, retrofitting them with double goosenecks and the correct types of sprinkler nozzles, and replacing regulators.

Cost and Financial Assistance

According to Mark, ‘If our results stay consistent during the second year, we will be able to recoup our out of pocket expenses within two years.

However, financial assistance is available for producers.

Harney Electric Cooperative customers can receive rebates on irrigation hardware upgrades and irrigation pumping improvements. Harney Electric has contracted with Harney Soil and Water Conservation District to deliver the program. Contact Bill Andersen, Energy Efficiency Analyst Harney SWCD, 541-573-5010, billhswcd@gmail.com

Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative OTCC) has a similar program, but funding is not currently in place. However, producers can fill out the paperwork and have it in place, when funding does become available. Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative 541-573-2666

The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) provides up to 75% of the cost of projects that conserve natural resources and improve watershed health. Individuals are eligible to apply, but are encouraged to work with organizations such as the Harney County Watershed Council or the Harney Soil and Water Conservation District. Contacts: Karen Moon, Harney County Watershed Council 541-573-8199; Karen.moon!oregonstate.edu; or Marty Suter-Goold, Harney SWCD, 541-573-5010; marty.suter@or.nacdnet.net

In addition, The National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)—formerly Soil Conservation Service—has other programs to help producers identify ways to conserve energy, programs to help organic farmers selling less than $5000 of organic products per year, as well as for improvements to irrigation efficiency. For information on these and other programs, contact Zola Ryan, District Conservationist NRCS Hines Field Office, 541-573-6446 ext. 107; zola.ryan@or.usda.gov

Attend the June 28 Meeting

The fourth meeting of one the Water Availability sub-group is set for June 28, 2-5 p.m. at the ESD Building, 25 Fairview Loop.

Short presentations include:

2: 15 p.m. Irrigation Technology: Computer Management for Pivots (Matt Nonnenmacher, Clearwater Pump & Irrigation)

3 p.m. Groundwater Rights and Use (Harmony Burright, OWRD)

3:30 Review Water cycle concepts; discussion of social, environmental and economic impacts of adopting different irrigation technologies and other conservation practices?

The meetings are open to the public. Those who have a stake and interest in our water issues are encouraged to attend.  Hope to see you there.

Other posts

Other articles about the future of Harney County’s water.

 

https://homesweetjeromedrapaport.wordpress.com/2017/05/01/the-future-of-harney-countys-water/

Well complaints)

https://homesweetjeromedrapaport.wordpress.com/2017/05/16/the-future-of-harney-county-water-well-complaints/

 

Note:  I am a member of the Harney County Watershed Council; these are my views and do not necessarily refect those of council members.

 

The Future of Harney County Water: Injured Well Complaints

by Diane Rapaport

At meetings of the Groundwater Study Advisory Committee, Harney County Watershed Council, and the collaborative Community Based Planning sessions, domestic well and other users have been reporting drops in water levels. Both the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the Oregon Water Resources Deparment are conducting a formal groundwater study; OWRD is in charge of the observation wells for formal data; the Harney County Watershed Council is, with permission of owners, collecting water data as well that is shared with OWRD.

However,  some users whose wells are not part of the study, want to know how to report and register well complaints.

Reporting Decreases of Water

Fiie an injured “Well Complaint” about decreases in water levels with JR Johnson, Harney County Watermaster. Make an appointment to see her: 541-573-2591. She is extraordinarily busy; do not just ‘drop in.’

Bring your contact info (name/address/phone/ etc.) and whatever information you have about your wells (well location, any well logs—not necessary if you haven’t kept them)—when you first started noticing the decreases, decreases over time, what steps you have taken to mitigate the problem (such as digging deeper or digging a new wells), and so on.

If there are decreases over time, try to provide specific information, such as the dates when you started noticing decreases and what you feel might be contributing to them.

The Watermaster will then log in to the official Oregon Water Ressources Departyment (OWRD) site and fill in the information you have given.

That information is not shared publicly. However, it does create a record over time for them and for you and is also part of any water decreases in observation and other wells that are part of the formal groundwater study.

Complaints can be made by holders of junior or senior water rights, as well as owners of domestic wells.

Complaints about Water Quality

Information about contaminants that degrade water quality, (such as arsenic and salts) that are found in water wells, quantity and at what levels IS NOT a part of the groundwater study being conducted by USGS, Nor does the HC Watermaster or OWRD necessarily collect data about water quality.

The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in Oregon does not have an official reporting form for the public to file complaints about well-to-well interference concerns about water quality or complaints about contamination in individual wells.

The procedure is for the complainant to contact the local Watermaster office, and the staff there will collect the necessary information from the complainant to make a preliminary determination about the situation. If the preliminary determination suggests that additional investigation is required, the Watermaster or their staff may visit the site to collect additional information.

Michael Campana, whose presentation in 2016 about water flow in and out of the Basin was made in a meeting of the collaborative community planning process, included information about an arsenic study that was conducted for Lauren Smitherman’s thesis on the site: http://bit.ly/2nRfxSF

DEQ Offers to Test Wells for Water Quality for Free

During an October 18, 2017 meeting of the community planning collaborative, officials from DEQ announced they have the funds to conduct tests of water quality for Harney County well owners that request them.  For further information: Paige Evans, Natural Resoure Specialist 2: 503-693-5738.  Email: evans.paige@deq.state.or.us.

Domestic Well Users Subcommittee

At a meeting of the full community planning collaborative held on October 18, 2017, it was announced that a new subommittee was formed for domestic well users in our cities and out in the rural areas of Harney County.  If you want to participate in this group, or tell us your story, please attend a meeting of this sub-committee on November 15, from 5 p.m. to 8 at the Chamber of Commerce community center.

One of the goals of the new subcommitte is to find out more about contaminants present in domestic and irrigation wells by collecting informal, anecdotal data from well permittees that have decreasing water levels or have some form of contamination in their wells. This is part of trying to figure out more about “what we don’t know” about water availability and water quality in the basin. This may or may not be the same information that is filed in “Well Complaints” with the OWRD by JR Johnson.

 

Undue Interference: Senior and Junior Users 

OWRD is unable to limit the use of junior groundwater users to address interference with complaints from one or more specific senior users until it can establish that the senior user requesting relief has fully developed the groundwater resource.

Specifically, Division 8 rules provide the following definition of Substantial or Undue Interference: OAR 690-080(8) “Substantial or Undue Interference” means the spreading of the cone of depression of a well to intersect a surface water body or another well, or the reduction of the ground water gradient and flow as a result of pumping, which contributes to:

(a) A reduction in surface water availability to an extent that:

(A) One or more senior surface water appropriators are unable to use either their permitted or customary quantity of water, whichever is less; or

(B) An adopted minimum streamflow or instream water right with an effective date senior to the causative ground water appropriation(s) cannot be satisfied.

(b) The ground water level being drawn down to the economic level of the senior appropriator(s); or

(c) One or more of the senior ground water appropriators being unable to obtain either the permitted or the customary quantity of ground water, whichever is less, from a reasonably efficient well that fully penetrates the aquifer where the aquifer is relatively uniformly permeable. However, in aquifers where flow is predominantly through fractures, full penetration may not be required as a condition of substantial or undue interference.

Note:  Diane Rapaport is a member of the Harney County Watershed Council; these are my views and do not necessarily refect those of council members.