Sunday, November 3, 2013
Moab Dust Bowl
I took this picture on 10/28/2013 from Sand Flats on a day when the wind was blowing out of the SE around 15 mph with gusts over 20 mph. Looks pretty dusty to me.
My wife and I moved to Moab in 2007. When the wind blew there wasn't noticeable dust, but over the last few years the blowing dust keeps getting worse. The more the south end of Moab Valley is developed the worse the dust is when the wind blows. What's in the picture above is pretty tame compared to a day with wind over 30 mph when dust can make the air very dirty. I think the increase in blowing dust lowers the quality of life here and it is only going to get worse.
The unfortunate thing for continued development around Moab is the soil is very sensitive to disturbance. This paper is one of many on the effect of soil disturbance on arid and semi-arid soil. One of the visible effects of more disturbance is more blowing dust.
Moab has a bit of a conundrum. The quality of the environment is what brings tourists to Moab and much of the development in the Moab Valley is damaging the environment. At some point environmental degradation will drive tourists elsewhere. With tourism being ~75% of the area's gross domestic product there is a lot at risk. It will be interesting to see how much more development it will take to tip the scale.