Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Oh the wonders of Summer

The months have been flying by it seems. It’s almost August and I have yet to complete my farmer tan and uber freckle. April and May were spent in the office for the most part producing the report that I did all that field work for in Taft last year *shudders*. Mind you this was only the draft report. We now have to wait for responses from the client and the governing agency which is the Bureau of Land Management. It ended up being over 8,000 pages long with over 570 archaeological sites, 270 of which were newly identified by us. However most of those “sites” are quite boring, having to do with the oil industry. The client (who will remain nameless) were complaining about all the stuff we were finding. My answer is this: Well, if you had only picked up after yourselves to begin with, we wouldn’t be here right now spending all your precious money. I didn’t dare say that though. But it is true. Leaving a trail of trash and oozing contaminated soils seems to be a theme in the oil industry. These archaeological sites are trash dumps and left over debris from oil workers and abandoned wells dating back to the late 19th century. If these people had, I don’t know, thrown their used sardine tins in the trash instead of out in the field, well then, a dump of tin cans in the middle of an oil field in the middle of a desert would be non-existent. Unfortunately, it seems that everyone dumps their garbage out there. I do not understand the logic of loading up your pick-up truck full of couches, baby toys, and used car parts and driving it miles and miles and miles only to dump it illegally on public lands (lands we tax payers pay to keep public) when the city dump is only 2 miles outside of town and has FREE dump days! While I’m on the subject, I also hate people who throw their trash into the back of their trucks and then proceed to drive down the freeway oblivious to the fact that their trash is now hitting my windshield. Those people have no right to complain about how “dirty” our highways are.
I spent a few months (January, February and March) down in Lancaster and Los Angeles doing survey work. Now I am working on that same project, only doing the anal OCD nightmare of the “records search”. And I volunteered for this! All of the California Archaeological Sites and other related reports and data (such as the National Historical Landmarks, buildings, places, maps, land grants, etc) are housed in 12 Information Centers spread across the state. A regular Joe Shmoe cannot walk into one and look at stuff. Well you can walk into one, but they will politely kick you back out. There are also “info centers” at each U.S. Forest run by the USDA (so that’s Tahoe National Forest, Sierra National Forest, etc) Some of these are quite large and are broken up into districts. And guess what, that’s right, each district has its own “info center”. Basically any governing agency that owns and manages land… and sea in California will have such a place. Whether they keep it current is another story. All that said, I get to go to 3 of the State run Info centers, the Angeles National Forest, and the clients very own house to do the records search I am tasked with. That means I will be going to Bakersfield, Fullerton, Rosemead, San Bernardino, and the 4 districts making up the Angeles National Forest (three of which are Saugus, San Fernando, and Glendora). Road trip!! I’m actually glad I get to do this, because I have the chance to really organize and streamline this huge project. And I mean huge. This is 11 transmission lines (steal towers) running from the Tehachapi Mountains down into LA and over to San Bernardino. That’s about… eh… 300+ square miles as the crow flies. On the ground, on foot, it is over ……… a lot.