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No more lawns

June 5, 2013

Every spring, we continually scratch our heads when we see residents tend to their lawns after the snow melts away.

Can someone remind us why lawns exist?

We’d be lying if we said we don’t give the stink eye to those we see standing with a hose in hand, watering that pathetic patch of grass.

You can’t eat the stuff. Taking fertile soil and putting grass over it is giving the earth a hysterectomy.

This editorial, however, will not go into why lawns are pointless. Highlighting all the useful things people could spend time and money on (a garden!) is already the subject of much writing, so we shan’t repeat it.

If you are looking for a series of arguments about the harmful effects of synthetic fertilizers and various poisons, may we suggest the Internet?

This editorial is dedicated to the use of water and how wasteful it is on things like lawns.

California’s history is rich with water wars—and it’s likely to never go away as the population increases.

We don’t understand why politicians, policy makers, and the general public tolerate lawns—and yet limit water use to farmers and contractors.

Some farmers and contractors in California will see their water supply cut this year because of the dry winter, which followed a dry winter the year before.

Following a wet start to the water year in November and December 2012, the January to March period is tracking to be much of California’s driest on record, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The Bureau of Reclamation recently announced agricultural contractors on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley will only receive 20 percent of requested water deliveries, a 5 percent decrease from the allocation announced last month. Municipal and industrial water contractors will also see a 5 percent decrease, receiving a water allocation of 70 percent.

Some 51 percent of the continental U.S.—primarily in the central and western regions—is already experiencing moderate to exceptional drought, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The agency expects drought conditions to persist throughout the spring, with new drought development in California, the Southwest, the southern Rockies, Texas, and Florida.

This drought and decrease in water allocations is hitting ranchers in California especially hard.

Do we need to remind you that cattle and calves are the state’s fifth leading commodity?

So here we are, limiting water to those who feed us, yet people with pointless lawns are still allowed to water them?

We might (key word: might) sympathize with those who live in more metropolitan areas. Finding wilderness or greenery every day might be more challenging there, but here? In the Eastern Sierra? Do you really need a lawn?

What a waste.

In response to a dry year in the Eastern Sierra, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is planning to reduce the water it uses for irrigation.

The department is also renegotiating its leases with the Mt. Whitney and Bishop golf courses, and encouraging both country clubs to look at ways to conserve water while maintaining the green fairways.

We never thought we would say this, but LADWP is actually doing something we can support.

The LADWP and the Inyo-Mono Master Gardeners Program announced this month that they are partnering to implement a series of xeriscape garden beds at the LADWP’s Administrative Office on Mandich Street in Bishop.

Xeriscaping and xerogardening refer to landscaping and gardening in ways that reduce or eliminate the need for supplemental water from irrigation. It is promoted in regions that do not have easily accessible, plentiful, or reliable supplies of fresh water—California, in other words, and the arid Eastern Sierra in particular.

According to the two groups, over the next few months they will transform the landscaping around the LADWP office from “water-intensive lawn and hedges to attractive and water-saving gardens featuring native drought-tolerant species.”

Although we applaud this effort to slowly divorce our society’s affinity for lawns and find alternative ways of satisfying people’s expectations of green grass and water conservation, we would have gone a step further:

Ban lawns altogether.

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