Environment

California’s Smith River is 7th most endangered in America

California’s Smith River is 7th most endangered in America

Strip mining threatens clean water, drinking water, wild salmon and steelhead runs in Rogue-Smith watersheds North Fork of the Smith River. Photo by Nate Wilson Photography. American Rivers named the Smith River in California and southern Oregon’s Illinois and Rogue Rivers among America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2015, shining a national spotlight on nickel mining proposals that threaten a wonderland of wild rivers, clean water, rare plants, and outdoor recreation. “The America’s Most Endangered Rivers report is a call to action to save rivers that are facing a critical tipping point, including these in Oregon and northern California,” said David Moryc of American Rivers. “We are faced with a stark choice between clean drinking water, wild salmon, and Wild and Scenic Rivers on the one hand and toxic polluting strip mines on the other.” The Wild and Scenic Illinois, Rogue, and Smith rivers are known for their healthy salmon runs,...
Santa Cruz Redwoods National Monument Kick Off

Santa Cruz Redwoods National Monument Kick Off

Learn about and support efforts to designate Coast Dairies as a national monument at this February 12, 2015 event Photo courtesy Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz (MBoSC). Join the Santa Cruz Redwoods National Monument campaign coalition for their kickoff event on February 12, 2015 from 6-8pm at the Kaiser Permanente Arena. The focus of this campaign is on 5,800 acres of redwood forests, coastal prairies, canyons, grazing lands and watersheds, locally known as “Coast Dairies,” located on the Santa Cruz coast inland of Highway 1 just north of Wilder Ranch State Park and south of Swanton Pacific Ranch. Owned by the federal Bureau of Land Management, Coast Dairies is an integral piece of the protected lands in Santa Cruz County, which include state and local parks, private nature preserves, a National Marine Sanctuary, agricultural lands, public beaches, and more. The Santa Cruz Redwoods National Monument campaign is dedicated to gaining...
MTB rules for rainy season riding

MTB rules for rainy season riding

How to be a force for good when mountain biking after rain Photo by Bruce Dorman Reprinted with permission from Hilltromper The mountain bikers, they like the tacky. A little moisture on the trails makes for stickier, softer riding and fun times. But the rainy season can leave trails an ecological mess, with deep puddles flanked by improvised side trails, eroded routes and loose dirt cascading down steep hillsides. And that is so not hot. We asked Drew Perkins, Trails Officer for Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz and architect of the Emma McCrary Trail and Soquel Demonstration State Forest Flow Trail, for some best practices as well as things to avoid when hitting the trails around here in winter. Hilltromper: How long after rain should mountain bikers wait to ride? Drew Perkins: It depends on how much rain there was, how dry conditions were, and what the weather has...
NorCal super storm linked to changing climate

NorCal super storm linked to changing climate

Climate Nexus explains the connection between climate change and atmospheric rivers in California earthtimes.org With the drought-causing high-pressure zone dubbed the “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge” pushed aside for now, a powerful storm associated with what are called atmospheric rivers recently drenched the California Bay Area. Atmospheric rivers are relatively narrow, long streams of clouds and atmospheric water vapor that are associated with major storms in the Pacific. These streams, many of which originate from Hawaii or beyond and are known as the “Pineapple Express” bring moisture from the Tropics into the West Coast. “It’s essentially a fire hose of water brought up from the tropics that comes up and crashes into the West Coast,” said Michael Dettinger, an atmospheric scientist with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla. Atmospheric river storms are responsible for 30-50 percent of all the precipitation in California and are also responsible for over...
EPiC: Inspired Leadership

EPiC: Inspired Leadership

Through the decades, Ecology Action has shown that meaningful change is possible By Charong Chow Ecology Action employees at a Fun Friday parking lot BBQ. A typical weekday morning at the Ecology Action office in downtown Santa Cruz, California begins with the arrival of a swarm of incoming bicycle commuters, a few carpooling motorists plugging in their electric vehicles, and a few others arriving from a morning surf session a short walk away from one of the city’s best surf breaks. Once inside the organization’s LEED Gold-certified office building, workers plug in their laptops, settle down their dogs and turn their conversation to issues ranging from climate change politics to the best local mountain biking trails. The scene is a far cry from that of the organization’s first office, located along a residential street in Berkeley in the turbulent late 1960s, and the strategies the organization uses to promote environmental...
EarthTalk: Palm Oil Production and Rainforest Destruction

EarthTalk: Palm Oil Production and Rainforest Destruction

Dear EarthTalk: How is it that some food purveyors are contributing to the destruction of tropical rainforests by ditching unhealthy “trans fats?” — Billy S., Salem, OR The explosion in palm oil use, largely to replace unhealthy trans fats in food, has wreaked havoc on tropical rainforest ecosystems across Southeast Asia, pushing some endangered species — including orangutans like the one pictured here — to the brink. Credit: Orangutan: Roger Smith; Clearcut: Greenpeace Most public health advocates applaud efforts by processed food producers, restaurants and fast food chains to get rid of so-called “trans fats”—partially hydrogenated oils added to foods to improve texture and extend shelf life but which can aggravate heart disease. In 2013 the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) proposed eliminating trans fats altogether, but it is unclear if and when such a change will take effect. In anticipation, many big trans fat buyers have switched...
Low water levels won’t stop cleanup efforts

Low water levels won’t stop cleanup efforts

Great Sierra River Cleanup event set for September 20th  (Auburn) – Low water levels due to the drought won’t stop an estimated 4,000 volunteers from heading out on Saturday, September 20, to clean up Sierra rivers, lakes, and streams as part of the sixth annual Great Sierra River Cleanup sponsored by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC). Record low snowpack and the resulting low water levels throughout the Sierra won’t deter community groups across the 22-county Sierra Nevada Region from removing appliances, beverage cans, baby diapers, tires, furniture, shopping carts, and plastic items from the rivers and streams that supply more than 60 percent of California’s water. California’s water future has been a major topic of discussion for many California leaders this year, and sixteen members of the state Legislature have signed on as co-chairs of the Great Sierra River Cleanup to demonstrate their support for clean water. “The Great Sierra...
Save the Date

Save the Date

Great Sierra River Cleanup Photo courtesy of Sierra Nevada Conservancy. For five years running, the third Saturday of September has drawn thousands of volunteers to the Sierra Nevada for the largest volunteer event in the region—the Great Sierra River Cleanup, sponsored by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy. This year, organizations across the region will coordinate local cleanups and spend 9 a.m. to noon on September 20th pulling trash out of our Sierra rivers, lakes, and streams— sources of drinking water for 23 million people in the state. If you would like to join this volunteer event that has collected nearly 600 tons of trash since its initiation in 2009, visit www.sierranevada.ca.gov and click on the Great Sierra River Cleanup link for more information!   Photo courtesy of Sierra Nevada Conservancy. Photo courtesy of Sierra Nevada Conservancy.    ...
Ear to the Ground

Ear to the Ground

Outdoor News and Notes for the California Region Desalination on the Rise The California Water Resources Control Board’s recently released draft of the Ocean Plan Amendment will set the standards for seawater desalination facilities in the state. Facilities already exist along California’s Coast and other cities have approved construction of desal plants thanks in part to the drought. A press release from the Surfrider Foundation and the California Coastkeeper Alliance said many of the proposed desalination facilities plan to use open ocean intakes. The California Water Board has determined that open intakes can result in marine life mortality and cause disruption to aquatic life, which is why the two organizations want the state to adopt a desalination policy. Chad Nelson, environmental director of the Surfrider Foundation, said in the press release that the current drought has intensified a knee-jerk reaction to build the plants, which will take several years to...
One Arm For The Planet

One Arm For The Planet

Patagonia athlete Jeff Denholm lost his arm and became a force for good Words by Neil Pearlberg • Photos Tim Davis Gearing up in the boat at Mavericks. Known as one of the most dangerous ocean passages in the world, the Bering Sea challenges mariners with a volatile mix of harsh conditions. The bitter cold air and sea temperatures combine with massive waves rising up from shallow depths during frequent storms. It was July 1993, 100 miles off the tiny island of St. Paul, Alaska, and an exhausted twenty-four year old Jeff Denholm was holding on for dear life in the engine room of an Alaskan dragger that was being tossed around like a rag doll in thirty foot seas. In a mere split second, his life was turned upside down. A sudden rogue wave slammed into the starboard side of the fishing trawler, throwing Denholm across the engine...
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