The Guadalupe River, which runs through one of the largest cities in the United States, has begun to dry up, leaving several species of beavers, salmon, trout and other local wildlife in imminent danger.
According to reports, the ongoing drought in California has left large sections of the Guadalupe's riverbed to crack and turn arid. Many of the river's endemic fish and wildlife populations have also become either dead or missing in the past two months.
Executive director Leslee Hamilton of the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy said that she is heartbroken because of the current state of the river. The nonprofit conservancy group is responsible for providing various community and educational programs along the Guadalupe.
Hamilton explained that timing of the drought is devastating as they have recently observed a significant increase in local bird and wildlife populations in the area.
While the Guadalupe River may not be a large or storied compared to other prominent rivers in the country, its shares a long history in the San Jose area.
In 1776, the Spanish conquistador Juan Bautista de Anza named the California river after the Virgin of Guadalupe when he and his companions camped along the riverbanks on their way to San Francisco from Monterrey in Mexico.
The river traces its beginnings from small tributaries located in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. These small creeks merge to form the river south of San Jose's Almaden area.
The Guadalupe typically flows through the city's downtown area and neighborhoods in the north and along the Mineta San Jose International Airport before it empties into the Alviso portion of the San Francisco Bay.
Despite facing issues with homeless encampments along its riverside, the Guadalupe has become a popular destination for bicyclists who prefer the river's network of trails. Various community groups have also monitored the resurgence of the Guadalupe River's local fish and wildlife.
The state law in California requires dam operators to replenish river systems with water to benefit fish populations, but officials from the Santa Clara Valley Water District said that the low water storage available in the 10 reservoirs in the country would not be able to revitalize the Guadalupe River.
They said that the water would only be absorbed by the bone-dry riverbed and the river would be dried up again within a month.
The reduction in the amount of water being released to the river has left eight miles of the 14-mile river completely dried up.
Photo: Audrey Covey | Flickr