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Marty Graham and the Reader

Monument Road, shark researchers chum with a whale, Battery Gathchell, golden eagle survey, drug smuggler married at border

Looking east from Monument Mesa, the flooded road is left of center.
Looking east from Monument Mesa, the flooded road is left of center.

How Graham cam to write for the Reader:

As dementia began to take my mom, she confided that her big brother wanted to be a journalist when he came home from the war. Instead, he was killed in the Battle of the Bulge and never got to see a byline.

I helped her assemble a story for the Reader and she was delighted. She and I wrote stories for the Reader until she no longer enjoyed the bylines.

I stayed on.

Graham's favorite stories she wrote for the Reader:

  • Rough country's rewards

  • There should be a sign, I say to myself every time I park at the end of Monument Road to go hike the Tijuana River Valley. Like the “welcome to our habitat” signs for rattlesnakes and the mountain lions and on the beach where endangered birds breed. But this sign should say: “You are entering a border enforcement area.” (April 9, 2015)
  • Mammal clean-up costs $12,000

  • A respected though sometimes controversial crew of shark researchers who wanted to use a dead whale to chum great white sharks for tagging discover they won’t be allowed to, because another shark-protection group triggered severe limits on tagging by trying to get white sharks on the state endangered-species list. (July 9, 2014)
The fin whale that washed up in Imperial Beach on May 24 after an unsuccessful tow out to sea
  • Burrowing owl feels the squeeze in Otay Mesa

  • San Diego fireman Ed Cormode knows a lot about burrowing owls — as do the other firefighters who work out of Station 43, at the east end of the Brown Field airport. They have a telescope they set up just to watch the small, leggy owls pop in and out of squirrel burrows north of the fire station. (May 2, 2016)
  • Historic houses still for sale — assembly required

  • Though they have been deconstructed into enormous puzzle pieces and are partly wrapped in tarps with the windows boarded up, the two stucco houses on the back lot at the city's Chollas Operations Center remain distinctively handsome. (Sept. 20, 2016)
One of the historic houses...beyond the lamp parts yonder, at the city's Chollas Operations Center
  • Why rains result in U.S. pollution from Tijuana River

  • Since September 15th — the record-setting rainy Tuesday when San Diegans were crashing cars at three times normal rate — the CILA pump station has been offline, allowing an estimated 12,000 liters per second of rainwater, urban runoff, and raw sewage to flow through the Tijuana River channel, into the U.S. ( Sept. 18, 2015)
  • Where time, nature, and rush hour collide

  • As dangerous as Highway 67 is for drivers, it is even trickier for the wildlife that live in the rich habitat on either side, so when Caltrans looked at placing barriers down the middle for vehicle safety, the agency started talking with Dr. Megan Jennings. (July 17, 2015)
Megan Jennings and a bobcat
  • Fortress with a view

  • The only high point on the coast between Monument Mesa at the border and Point Loma is about to come down. But it won't be easy, says Jim Nible, the U.S. Navy contractor in charge of site safety. "There's a 6-foot slab of concrete under about 10 feet of dirt and then 10 more feet of dirt and then 16 feet of concrete." (Feb. 8, 2016)
  • They haul meat

  • Since three local scientists studying golden eagles started trying to catch the birds in October — to swab them for DNA and pathogens and release them with a GPS transmitter attached — they've gone through 6800 pounds of bait meat. ( Jan. 15, 2015)
  • Border wedding included drug-smuggling groom

  • While local, national and international media delighted in the cross-border marriage through the open border gate at Friendship Park last month, federal agents with the U.S. Border Patrol were less than delighted. ( Dec. 17, 2017)
The wedding of Brian Houston and Evelia Reyes took only a couple minutes.
  • Film shoot in Tijuana River Valley

  • (Wrote this with my mom, Lucy D. Barker)
  • The Tijuana River Valley rancher sits in his truck, off a side road to a backroad north of Monument Road, a mile from the border and a mile from the ocean. He's been here 24 years, he says, in a cluster of small ranches with chickens and horses. ( Sept. 6, 2013)
  • Will Monument Road finally get improved?

  • The State Legislature has earmarked $5.9 million for a road to the southwest corner of the United States, where the Pacific Ocean meets the border between Mexico and the U.S., Border Field State Park and county officials say. But it won't be done any time soon, according to Tijuana National Estuary Research Reserve Refuge manager Chris Peregrin, who is a state parks employee. ( Aug. 7, 2015)
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Looking east from Monument Mesa, the flooded road is left of center.
Looking east from Monument Mesa, the flooded road is left of center.

How Graham cam to write for the Reader:

As dementia began to take my mom, she confided that her big brother wanted to be a journalist when he came home from the war. Instead, he was killed in the Battle of the Bulge and never got to see a byline.

I helped her assemble a story for the Reader and she was delighted. She and I wrote stories for the Reader until she no longer enjoyed the bylines.

I stayed on.

Graham's favorite stories she wrote for the Reader:

  • Rough country's rewards

  • There should be a sign, I say to myself every time I park at the end of Monument Road to go hike the Tijuana River Valley. Like the “welcome to our habitat” signs for rattlesnakes and the mountain lions and on the beach where endangered birds breed. But this sign should say: “You are entering a border enforcement area.” (April 9, 2015)
  • Mammal clean-up costs $12,000

  • A respected though sometimes controversial crew of shark researchers who wanted to use a dead whale to chum great white sharks for tagging discover they won’t be allowed to, because another shark-protection group triggered severe limits on tagging by trying to get white sharks on the state endangered-species list. (July 9, 2014)
The fin whale that washed up in Imperial Beach on May 24 after an unsuccessful tow out to sea
  • Burrowing owl feels the squeeze in Otay Mesa

  • San Diego fireman Ed Cormode knows a lot about burrowing owls — as do the other firefighters who work out of Station 43, at the east end of the Brown Field airport. They have a telescope they set up just to watch the small, leggy owls pop in and out of squirrel burrows north of the fire station. (May 2, 2016)
  • Historic houses still for sale — assembly required

  • Though they have been deconstructed into enormous puzzle pieces and are partly wrapped in tarps with the windows boarded up, the two stucco houses on the back lot at the city's Chollas Operations Center remain distinctively handsome. (Sept. 20, 2016)
One of the historic houses...beyond the lamp parts yonder, at the city's Chollas Operations Center
  • Why rains result in U.S. pollution from Tijuana River

  • Since September 15th — the record-setting rainy Tuesday when San Diegans were crashing cars at three times normal rate — the CILA pump station has been offline, allowing an estimated 12,000 liters per second of rainwater, urban runoff, and raw sewage to flow through the Tijuana River channel, into the U.S. ( Sept. 18, 2015)
  • Where time, nature, and rush hour collide

  • As dangerous as Highway 67 is for drivers, it is even trickier for the wildlife that live in the rich habitat on either side, so when Caltrans looked at placing barriers down the middle for vehicle safety, the agency started talking with Dr. Megan Jennings. (July 17, 2015)
Megan Jennings and a bobcat
  • Fortress with a view

  • The only high point on the coast between Monument Mesa at the border and Point Loma is about to come down. But it won't be easy, says Jim Nible, the U.S. Navy contractor in charge of site safety. "There's a 6-foot slab of concrete under about 10 feet of dirt and then 10 more feet of dirt and then 16 feet of concrete." (Feb. 8, 2016)
  • They haul meat

  • Since three local scientists studying golden eagles started trying to catch the birds in October — to swab them for DNA and pathogens and release them with a GPS transmitter attached — they've gone through 6800 pounds of bait meat. ( Jan. 15, 2015)
  • Border wedding included drug-smuggling groom

  • While local, national and international media delighted in the cross-border marriage through the open border gate at Friendship Park last month, federal agents with the U.S. Border Patrol were less than delighted. ( Dec. 17, 2017)
The wedding of Brian Houston and Evelia Reyes took only a couple minutes.
  • Film shoot in Tijuana River Valley

  • (Wrote this with my mom, Lucy D. Barker)
  • The Tijuana River Valley rancher sits in his truck, off a side road to a backroad north of Monument Road, a mile from the border and a mile from the ocean. He's been here 24 years, he says, in a cluster of small ranches with chickens and horses. ( Sept. 6, 2013)
  • Will Monument Road finally get improved?

  • The State Legislature has earmarked $5.9 million for a road to the southwest corner of the United States, where the Pacific Ocean meets the border between Mexico and the U.S., Border Field State Park and county officials say. But it won't be done any time soon, according to Tijuana National Estuary Research Reserve Refuge manager Chris Peregrin, who is a state parks employee. ( Aug. 7, 2015)
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