Cultivated Ecologies is an in-progress interdisciplinary video and essay project that examines the extensively reconfigured network of wetland refuges scattered across California’s great Central Valley. Though now drastically diminished and mostly disconnected, these wetlands remain extremely ecologically significant, and have been carefully designed to more-or-less successfully coexist amid one of our planet’s most intensively cultivated and astonishingly productive agricultural regions.
The refuges of the Tulare Lake Basin (including the Mendota Wildlife Area, the Kern National Wildlife Refuge, and Pixley National Wildlife Refuge) inhabit the Central Valley’s most southerly, most arid, and most intensively cultivated geographical region. These sites constitute less than 1% of the original wetlands and riparian habitat that once blanketed this enclosed hydrological basin. Though greatly reduced in historical ecological capacity and often faced with insufficient water supplies, this region and its refuges nevertheless remain critically important for local and migratory wildlife, and for local subsistence and recreational hunting and fishing as well.
© 2017: Cynthia Hooper (2-minute excerpt of a 10-minute in-progress video)