By: Wendy Langhans
Over the years, I’ve learned a number of things the hard
way. Let me share one such lesson with
you by introducing the three principles of toddler-generated Cheerio spills.
The first is rather obvious, milk flows downhill.
The second one, which is not as obvious, is that faster flowing
milk contains more Cheerios. Therefore,
the number of Cheerios spilled depends both on volume of milk and also on the speed
at which the milk leaves the bowl.
The third principle is that when the flow of milk slows down
(like when it hits the floor) the larger Cheerios are deposited first, while
the lighter crumbs are carried further away from the point of impact.
So what does this have to do with the natural world? Well, consider what happens when the winter
rains fall on the area around Piru Creek, part of the Santa
watershed. The water flows down out of
the mountains and into the floodplain below.
When it reaches the flatlands, it slows down. And as it slows down, the sediment (rocks and
smaller particles of soil) settles out and is deposited in the marshy wetlands. We can see the results in this photo – notice
the streamside features like gravel bars and braided streams.
We see the results of preserving riparian open space –
cattails and cottonwood trees, not flooded homes.
I want to share two lessons from my experience with toddler-generated
Cheerio spills: (1) feed the toddler in
the kitchen and (2) do not install carpeting in the kitchen. Because, when the inevitable heavy winter
rains drench the Piru creek watershed, we ought to preserve a spot for the
sediment to settle, rather than be stuck cleaning what remains of peoples’
homes after the flood. So I smiled to
myself when I heard that Rep. McKeon had included lower Piru Creek in
his wilderness protection bill, H.R. 6156, the Eastern Sierra and San Gabriel Wild Heritage
He must have had experience feeding Cheerios to a toddler.
Upcoming Outdoor Events:
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You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on "The Hike Report",
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Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.