Extreme Measures

A couple times a year I visit California’s Central Coast to spend time with family and enjoy the area in which I grew up. As most know, California has been struggling with one of its most severe droughts on record, and dwindling water supplies are forcing radical actions from many quarters. I observed one such action on my latest visit that was really striking—acres and acres of “stumped” avocado trees.

"Stumped" avocado trees along Morro Creek on the Central Coast of California.

“Stumping” is a last resort to keep trees from dying when water is no longer locally available and too costly to truck in. Apparently, this allows the trees to stay alive for several months without water, and if they live they will grow back to a fruit-harvestable condition in three years. The trees above are part of the Morro Creek Ranch mentioned in the link and are a stark expression of some of the measures being taken to deal with the critical water shortage.

The good news is that it rained while I was there—up to 2 inches in places near the coast—and gave a much needed drink to a severely parched countryside. Hopefully more rain will come during the normal “wet” period between now and April and relieve the pressure on all water consumers, including creatures in the wild.

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