ECONEWS Arcata, California
Vol. 41, No. 4
A Publication of the Northcoast Environmental Center Since 1971
Final Revised Recovery Plan for the
Northern Spotted Owl
Pacific Northwest populations still in decline. Will eliminating rivals help?
All Species Ball | Bidder 70 | Battle Creek | Keystone Pipeline | HR 1837 Cover photo: ÂŠ Alan Justice
Northcoast Environmental Center
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Old, Worn — and Valuable! A 28-year-old, slightly used, red and black leather jacket just got sold at auction. The price? $1.8 million. Why? The jacket was worn in the 1983 video “Thriller” by the late Michael Jackson. Now the buyer—who also collects Corvettes, Ferraris and once paid $150,000 for a Jimi Hendrix guitar—wants to leverage the outfit for children’s charities. He will send the jacket out on tour, making appearances to raise what he hopes will “be millions for little kids” through such charities as the Make-A-Wish Foundation and ChildHelp. Here at the NEC, we have what we’re told is Michael Jackson’s other glove (but we have grave, grave doubts about that). No one has yet to make an offer. So we, yet again, have to rely on you, our loyal readers. We also will have tours. But instead of a jacket, we will be bringing the word—about rivers and dams, trees and clearcuts, mountains and mining, oceans and pollution—just as we have done for 40 years. If a jacket is worth millions, how much can North Coast scenery be worth—and how much will you pay to protect it? A family membership in the NEC only costs $50 a year. A rock star’s haberdashery can’t “beat it.” Thank you.
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Mark Your Calendar! September 16th The NEC’s Fabulous
* All Spe cies Ball * is Friday, September 16th!
Start planning your costume now! Come dressed as your favorite plant or animal, or just come as you are! Food, Music, and a lot of Fun.. Details coming soon!
Reporting on Environmental Issues Since 1971
Future of the Spotted Owl May Depend on Elimination of its Barred Cousin
Bond of AFWO. Spotted owls are relatively longpopulations, but we do know that many thinning projects will in fact cause short term lived and exhibit intense parental investment in their offspring. harm to the owls.” The long-awaited Final Revised Spotted Riparian areas are also important to The spotted owl occupies a relatively Owl Recovery Plan was recently released by the spotted owls in terms of providing beneficial narrow overall optimal habitat niche, but uses U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). They expect natural edge habitat where food and water are a range of forest types for different purposes, to release the accompanying new designation of plentiful and the temperature is milder. The such as foraging and reproductive habitats. critical habitat by years end. Recovery plans are spotted owl is a shy species that will not cross Studies have revealed the juxtaposition of not regulatory documents, but provide guidance open lakes, fields or clearcuts, making riparian nesting and roosting habitats with non-nesting to achieve recovery. habitats as important to the birds’ The northern spotted owl (Strix survival and success. occidentalis caurina) was listed as threatened Additionally, the recovery under the Endangered Species Act in 1990 due to plan focuses heavily on interspecific loss and modification of habitat—primarily from competition between the locally timber harvesting and land use conversions—and non-native barred owl and the the inadequacy of existing measures to conserve endemic northern spotted owl. the owl. The listing was followed by designations The presence of barred owls has of critical habitat in 1992, and an initial recovery been reported to reduce spotted plan was drafted in 1997. This draft has been owl detectability, site occupancy, modified over the years, with the release of the reproduction, and survival, and final plan this June. is now considered a much more As stated on the FWS website, the Revised significant threat than was suspected Recovery Plan recommends achieving recovery when the spotted owl was originally of the spotted owl through 1) the retention listed as threatened. of more occupied and high-quality habitat, 2) Barred owls are native to active management using ecological forestry the eastern U.S. but expanded techniques, both inside and outside of reserves, west to the Rocky Mountains, 3) increased conservation of spotted owls on north into Canada and finally to State and private lands, and 4) the removal of the West Coast. Scientists are barred owls in areas with spotted owls. uncertain what caused the barred Unfortunately, in the now almost two owls’ move west, but according decades that have passed since the listing of the threatened northern spotted owl perches with young. to Randy Brown of the Arcata APhoto: spotted owl, increases in the population have U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Fish and Wildlife Office (AFWO), not been observed. One problem is that much ”One theory is that the planting of windrows corridors and forests the only available dispersal of the spotted owl range is encompassed by pathways, because they are enclosed by canopy. and ornamental trees created a patchwork or mosaic private lands and it is significantly harder for However, according to the AFWO staff, “Riparian habitat that the barred owls used to move west. ” agencies to manage the populations and land-use areas are not sufficient in place of large late The result of this westward expansion conservation priorities on privately owned lands. successional reserves, but they are essential to is direct competition between the barred owl In addition, there have been inadequate the owls in addition to these core reserve areas.” and the spotted owl for nesting and foraging and misdirected protections on federal lands The recovery plan suggests that the habitats, prey, and mating territory. Barred owls in many of the physiographic provinces. For owls do best in mixed old growth and shrubby are larger, more aggressive and opportunistic in example, thinning is often justified as a method forests where natural disturbance creates their habitat requirements and prey selections. for protecting the species from mortality They are also aggressive towards spotted owls, habitat heterogeneity and diversity in age related to forest fires. However, Steve Holmer structure and stand type, to support both nesting even occasionally attacking them. of the American Bird Conservancy notes that and foraging needs. “The spotted owls are not doing well in “to date there is no convincing evidence that The paradigm shift from evaluating Redwood National Park because the barred owls suggests that thinning forests benefits owl spotted owl habitat at the stand level to have movedin . . . The barred owls are literallypushing the landscape level is a vast improvement. the spotted owl out of the remaining protected Adaptive management measures will ensure habitats that are suitable to the owls,” states Brown. that future research will contribute to and Due to the continued rapid expansion of evolve recovery strategies. The recovery plan the barred owl, the effectiveness of addressing the stresses that spotted owl recovery and delisting threat depends on immediate action. Therefore, cannot be determined from habitat assessment the plan calls for prompt experimental removal alone, but must include population and or euthanization of competing barred owls to distribution criteria. determine if this approach significantly improves According to Holmer, one of the biggest the fecundity, mortality and breeding stability of problems with the recovery plan is whether the protection will be in the form of “inviolate the spotted owl. Additionally, Kathleen Brubaker reserves, or discretionary”, creating concern that of AFWO states that if barred owls are present “there will no longer be areas where the species’ in spotted owl territories, spotted owls will protection is guaranteed.” not mate or demonstrate their breeding calls, The two regions that are still possibly because they are wary of the barred demonstrating high timber harvest losses are owls’ aggressive nature. the Oregon Klamath Province and the California This further complicates another problem Cascades Province. Together, these regions facing the spotted owls—low fecundity. Their represent one of the most important blocks of reproductive rates are relatively low compared northern spotted owl habitat in the southernto their life span, age at sexual maturity and central extent of their range. mortality rates. Although they are reproductively However, according to Brown, this revised mature at the age of two, “many do not begin plan is an improvement “because private lands A barred owl photographed in Maryland. Note the breeding until they are five and they also do not striking plumage resemblance to the spotted owl. are included in the recovery process for the first Photo: jeffsmallwood, Flickr Creative Commons. breed every season,” according to James “J.B.” time. . . What we need from the public is their involvement; it is a public process and we want people to comment.” Fragmentation of forests is an issue affecting all species and ecosystems Battle for Battle Creek..............................3 The Importance of Seeds.........................8 and is something that can be prevented by cooperation between land owners and state and Clearcutting in the Sierras. Cure your seed amnesia. federal agencies. All Species Ball is Coming!......................3 Good News..............................................14 Costumes! Food! Music! Kids Area! Auction! Richardson Grove, Usal Forest, Styrofoam ban. Rain Ananael is the Executive Director of the NEC. HR 1837: Bad for Northern CA..............4 EcoMania.................................................15 Morgan Corviday is the EcoNews editor.
Rain Ananael and Morgan Corviday
Inside This Issue
Good for Westlands.
Keystone Pipeline and Tar Sands...........4 Feeding a Dirty Addiction.
A Melange of Salient Sillies.
Legislation to Watch..............................16 HR 1581, HR 2584, SB 567, SB 568.
Kin to the Earth........................................6 Creature Feature.....................................18 Tim DeChristopher - Bidder 70 and Civil Disobedience.
Contia spp., the sharp-tailed snake.
White Nose Syndome spreading across continent.
Seals and Sea Lions.
Bats Threatened by Deadly Fungus........7 For Kids...................................................19
If you have questions or comments about the Spotted Owl Recovery Plan, please contact Randy Brown, AFWO Deputy Field Supervisor, at 707-822-7201, or write to 1655 Heindon Rd, Arcata CA 95521, or email email@example.com.
ECONEWS 791 Eighth Street Arcata, CA 95521 707- 822-6918 Fax 707-822-6980
EcoNews is the official bi-monthly publication of the Northcoast Environmental Center, a non-profit organization. Third class postage paid in Arcata. ISSN No. 0885-7237. ECONEWS is mailed free to our members and distributed free throughout the Northern California/ Southern Oregon bioregion. The subscription rate is $35 per year. Editor/Layout: Morgan Corviday, firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising: NEC Staff, email@example.com Proofreaders: Karen Schatz, Midge Brown Writers: Abe Walston, Sid Dominitz, Morgan Corviday, Sarah O’Leary, Chris Wright, Tom Stokely, Rain Ananael, Kurt St Amant, Jared Zystro, Steve Elias, Juliette Beck, Michael Best, and Sarah Marnick. Artists: Terry Torgerson Cover: Photo: © Alan Justice
To promote understanding of the relations between people and the biosphere and to conserve, protect and celebrate terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecosystems of northern California and southern Oregon.
Executive Director: Rain Ananael, firstname.lastname@example.org Office Manager: Ruthie Schafer, email@example.com
NEC Board Of Directors
Humboldt Baykeeper Pete Nichols (President) firstname.lastname@example.org At-Large, Bob Morris (Vice-President, Trinity County Representive) email@example.com California Native Plant Society Jen Kalt (Secretary) firstname.lastname@example.org At-Large, Martin Swett (Treasurer) email@example.com Safe Alternatives For Our Forest Environment Larry Glass firstname.lastname@example.org Redwood Region Audubon Society CJ Ralph email@example.com Sierra Club North Group, Redwood Chapter Diane Fairchild Beck firstname.lastname@example.org Lynn Ryan
NEC Affiliate Groups
Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC), North Group/Redwood Chapter of the Sierra Club, Redwood Region Audubon Society, North Coast Chapter of the California Native Plant Society, Humboldt Baykeeper, Safe Alternatives for Our Forest Environment, and Friends of Del Norte. Volunteer submissions are welcome! Full articles of 500-800 words or fewer may be submitted, preferably by email. Please pitch your idea to the editor prior to submitting a draft. Include your phone number and email with all submissions, to email@example.com The ideas and views expressed in EcoNews are not necessarily those of the NEC.
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Bouquets Carol Whitehurst: Thank you so much for coming to our 40th anniversary mixer, and for all your support and guidance of the NEC through the years. We we honor you! Colleen Kelly Marks: Thank you for your kindness, your support and for your wise advise on the future of the NEC. Chris Beresford: There is so much to say, how can we thank you for all you’ve done for Tim and the countless hours you spent working to build the NEC. Alan Justice: We treasure your photograph of the spotted owl hanging in our office, and want to express our gratitude for allowing us to reprint it on our cover. Thank you.
News From the Center
NEC’s 40th Anniversary Mixer a Wonderful Exchange of Ideas and History
First, the NEC staff would like to thank our members and supporters for making our NEC 40th anniversary mixer a wonderful success. We had an inspired time meeting you and hearing about your history with the NEC. We also want to thank those who wanted to attend but were unable to. We have heard from many of you and we appreciate you staying in touch. For future note, if you have physical or transportation limitations and need assistance or carpooling, we would be happy to make arrangements so you can attend. We would also like to thank Abruzzi Catering and Bill Chino for providing us with a place to gather and celebrate!
NEC Membership Renewal and Fund Appeal
We are happy to announce that we recently sent out our summer
fund appeal and membership renewal letter. Included with the letter is a survey that we very much hope our members and supporters will take the time to fill out and get back to us. The survey is a starting point for us to get a read on the interests of our members. We are also asking for address corrections, email and phone updates, as well as corrections to any information regarding your membership. We intend to do everything we can to keep in touch with you and rebuild our NEC community! Please take a moment to fill out the survey and contact info and we promise that we will keep you informed about events, happenings and do our best to make sure you always get your EcoNews!
NEC Board Restructuring
The NEC is currently in the process of restructuring the board of directors to include a conservation advisory board, a fiscal board and
Northcoast Environmental Center presents the
Coastal Cleanup Day
an executive board comprised of members from the conservation and fiscal board. We are very excited about these changes and will let you all know when we have finalized the process, which may take some time.
Upcoming NEC Events
Our 27th Annual Coastal Cleanup is coming up on September 17th, and our All Species Ball, Friday the 16th. We are currently taking donations for our auction to be held as part of the All Species Ball at the Arcata Vet’s Hall on Friday evening, the 16th of September. Please feel free to bring donations by the center, on the plaza level of the Jacoby Storehouse, or give us a call. Please join us for the All Species Ball and enjoy great food and spirits and live music for the entire family! We will have a space for children to play and hope that the event will inspire the community to get involved with species conservation locally and elsewhere.
Since 1978, the NEC has helped to keep our beaches, coast, and waterways clean. With your help, we have picked up thousands of pounds of trash and recycling each year!
Saturday September 17th 9am - noon
To sign up to clean a beach, river, creek, marsh or slough, call the NEC at 707-822-6918.
Editorial: Understanding Heterogeneity as an Ecological Aesthetic Rain Ananael
Habitat heterogeneity is a concept that includes many important ecological principles essential to healthy, functioning ecosystems. The overarching idea is that diversity produces the greatest chance of success for the most organisms. When we think of diversity, we often limit ourselves to the concept of species diversity or biodiversity. What is equally important is the concept of structural and temporal diversity. As humans, we prefer to manage our lands by clearing them or planting them in neat, homogenous rows or stands because this allows us easier access and appears “clean” to our eyes. But, in general, natural Marie Escher: Impossible to sum up a more unique and dedicated individual. Thank you Marie for coming out and helping us with every Arts Arcata and for your infamous salmon mousse. It wouldn’t be a party without you! Beth Deibert: Thank you so much for your recent and very generous legacy gift. We hope that you will come out and celebrate with us soon and allow us to honor you. Robert Arena (Bug Press): We are so appreciative of all your help with our fund appeal and membership renewal and for all your support of the NEC going back years and years. We also want to thank you for your warmth and personality. The “Gals” at Scrapper’s Edge: Thanks for all you did for us these last months and for your timeliness, diligence and “yes we can” attitude.
systems flow, shift, transform and emerge as they move through various stages of disturbance— they are messy. Oddly enough, community stability increases with habitat heterogeneity. And habitat heterogeneity often increases with natural cycles of disturbance. Disturbance can take many forms: peak flows in a river, seasonal fires, disease, and catastrophic events (tsunamis, earthquakes, droughts, storms, floods or landscape scale fires). Disturbance events can also be seen to encompass such benign occurrences as predation, grazing, browsing, competition and species proliferation, such as the human population explosion. We also experience a whole host of human
John Woolley: We want to recognize your long support of the NEC and all your advice, support and warm energy. Thank you for being at our NEC 40th anniversary mixer and for always speaking out on behalf of the environment. Tom Weseloh: Thank you for representing the environment and our community in your work and in your personal ethics and commitment. We want to thank you for your long support of the NEC and for coming out to our mixer. Mike Fuller and Western Web: Thank you! Thank you for all your service to the NEC over the years, and your recent inkind donation. Also, best of luck to Mike Fuller in this next phase of your life!
induced disturbance regimes as well, not least of which is the intentional homogenization of heterogenous habitats. Globally, the human trend is toward monocultures in agriculture, ranching, timber harvest, urbanization and land-use planning for cities and towns. In general, one of the greatest challenges we face in restoration and conservation is in allowing our ecosystems to become heterogenous or structurally and biologically diverse. In California, grazing occurs on private and public lands throughout the state where oaks proliferate. As a result of continual grazing, young oaks cannot grow because they are browsed by cattle as soon as the acorns emerge. The result is homogenous stands of old oaks with no diversity in age and size; this is an example of structural and temporal homogeny. Because different species utilize niche space associated with different sizes of oaks, this decreases the amount of available habitat and decreases the diversity of microhabitat types in these ecosystems. Scientific studies in Yellowstone National Park found that the thinning and decline of riparian corridors in Yellowstone occurred as a result of the extirpation of wolves. Deer and elk populations went unchecked with the removal of their primary natural predators, and as a result, the deer and elk over browsed the riparian stands. This resulted in diminishment of important riparian corridors in Yellowstone. Upon reintroduction of wolves to the ecosystem, the -Continued on Page 16
August/September 2011 ECONEWS
The Battle for Battle Creek: Stop Clear Cutting the Sierra Steve Elias and Juliette Beck
for salmon and steelhead, but for all animal and plant species Battle Creek, a major throughout the watershed,” said tributary of the Sacramento Woodhouse. ”We are losing our River, has its origins on the public trust resources.” slopes of Mount Lassen in an The Battle Creek area that some people consider Alliance has been monitoring the southern end of the Cascade water quality in Battle Creek range and that others consider for the past year and a half. the northernmost part of the Woodhouse has noted that the Sierra Nevada. But regardless once-clear water is now cloudy, of where you place it in terms and when it rains, the streams of geographical nomenclature, are muddy with silt from runoff. the Battle Creek watershed has Biologist Pat Higgins found that turned into a battleground. the pools needed for salmon Battle Creek is one of to spawn are rapidly filling up the few remaining streams for with sediment from “upstream wild run Chinook salmon. The disturbance.” Clearcutting, which site was chosen for an extensive removes the vegetation needed fish restoration project—which to trap sediment, and the many includes the removal of five dams miles of logging roads in the owned by PG&E—because the area are conduits for erosion. stream is fed by springs that run As reported by The Sacramento cold and clear year-round, and Bee, Higgins’ research was The Battle Creek watershed, illustrating patchwork of logging in Shasta and Tehema Counties. thus provides critical spawning omitted from a 2004 watershed Photo: http://www.sierraforest.org habitat. Watershed experts, assessment after pressure by SPI. however, fear this is changing. and shrubs. In the past decade, according to Since 1998, the Department for Forestry On June 19, of this year The California Department of Pesticide Regulation and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) has approved Sacramento Bee ran a front page investigative data, over 107,000 pounds of herbicides were sixteen different timber harvest plans in the story revealing that Battle Creek’s $128 applied in the Battle Creek watershed, almost Battle Creek watershed, totaling about 20,000 million taxpayer funded salmon and steelhead a third of it sprayed aerially. acres. Woodhouse is currently challenging restoration project, the largest of its kind in three of SPI’s timber harvest plans in court, the nation, is being jeopardized by Sierra claiming that SPI has not adequately assessed Pacific Industries’ (SPI) industrial logging. the cumulative impact of the numerous, On the slopes directly above Battle contiguous clearcuts in the watershed, as Creek, SPI, the largest private landowner required by the California Environmental in California (with over 1.7 million acres of Quality Act (CEQA). mostly forestland throughout the state) and Marily Woodhouse, a twenty-two year Instead of treating all the tributary the nation’s second largest timber company, resident of the small town of Manton, founded streams as part of the same watershed, SPI has is rapidly clearcutting nearly 20,000 acres of the Battle Creek Alliance in response to local submitted separate plans considering them— diverse forest, home to Tehama deer, migratory changes she has witnessed since SPI began for the purpose of their environmental review— songbirds and other wildlife. clearcutting in 1998. “The consequences of as separate, independent watersheds. Cal Fire, SPI replants the clearcut areas with pine SPI’s aggressive clearcutting practices, coupled lead agency in the CEQA-equivalent process, seedlings and then routinely sprays herbicides with their massive herbicide applications, continues to accept this dubious approach and to suppress competition by native grasses are an environmental nightmare not only -Continued on Page 5
“Very little is going to change unless the people of California demand that it happen.”
Get Your Costumes Ready!! It’s almost time for the
* All Spe cies Ball Friday, September 16th, the NEC hosts its fabulous All Species Ball! It’s time to to choose your favorite critter or plant and start thinking about your costumes! The All Species Ball is an important fundraiser for the NEC, and provides a great opportunity to raise awareness for issues affecting species and the environment. It’s a fun way to get the community celebrating the beauty and diversity of our bioregion. There will great music, impressive costumes, delicious food and spirits, a special supervised kids area, and a fabulous auction! We will have a dedicated supervised room for kids to play games and learn about ecological roles of species, and a kids costume contest. Best costume prizes will also be awarded to the best male and female grownup costumes as well! (You are, however, welcome to attend the Ball dressed in your human costume, if you prefer!) There will be many fabulous items auctioned off at the event, original artwork, crafts, rare books, and many other surprises. For your musical entertainment, we are proud to present local favorites the Singing Nettles (an all-female string band featuring our EcoNews editor, Morgan Corviday), top-shelf Grateful Dead tribute band the Miracle Show, and more!!
ECONEWS August/September 2011
Come out and support the NEC and the wonderful work of rebuilding a community of dedicated ecological advocates, naturalists and
activists, new and seasoned, young and old. This event is for you, our members and supporters because it’s Your NEC! We hope you will come out and celebrate with us!
Also, don’t forget our 27th Annual Coastal Cleanup the following day!
Over a thousand Humboldt County residents will gather, as we have for 27 years, along our coast and river banks to demonstrate our great respect for these pristine and sacred areas where land meets water. Help us celebrate our coasts and show how much you care by cleaning them up! Begun by the NEC in 1978, this amazing event is now global! Locally, over 1000 volunteers gathered over eight tons of trash and one ton of recyclables last year! Statewide, over 82,500 volunteers turned out to clean more than 2,600 miles of beaches and streams, for a total of over 1,200,000 pounds of debris. This year we are shooting for 1,400 local volunteers to keep our gorgeous coastline and waterways clean and free from wildlife snares, toxins, and garbage. Help us show the world that we value our wild, liminal spaces, ecosystem integrity, and our wildlife. Join us Saturday, September 17th from 9-12ish. Afterwards, join us at our booth at the North Country Fair on the Arcata Plaza! To sign up for a beach, river, bay or slough near you, or for more information please contact Rain or Ruthie at 707-822-6918, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
HR 1837: Good for Westlands, Bad for Northern California Water Tom Stokely
surface and groundwater though the SacramentoSan Joaquin Delta would be basically eliminated, making it easier to deplete Shasta, Trinity and other northern reservoirs and transfer Sacramento Valley groundwater south, especially during times of drought when we need it most, locally. The bill would also gut the landmark 1992 Central Valley Project Improvement Act that provides restoration funding and authorization for the dedication of water to rivers and wildlife refuges in the Trinity River and the Central Valley basins. Funds would be turned over to a secret committee of Central Valley irrigators who are exempt from a federal law requiring transparency and accountability. The bill would also eliminate a court ordered, congressionally authorized settlement on restoration of the San
Joaquin River, and would eliminate the 960-acre limitation on delivery of subsidized federal water The Westlands Water District and its to massive corporate farms such as those found corporate agribusiness political allies are at it in Westlands. again to wring the last drops of water from the The bill’s backers claim these permanent Trinity, Sacramento, American, Feather and San water allocations are needed because of high Joaquin Rivers, as well as the Delta. Westlands is unemployment in the San Joaquin Valley. Mr. an agency that provides agricultural water to the Nunes claims this high unemployment is the western parts of Fresno and Kings Counties. result of bureaucrats out to take away “their” Representative Devin Nunes’ bill, The water because of legal restrictions designed to San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act (HR protect Northern California’s senior water rights 1837), was introduced on June 2 in the Water and heritage salmon runs. Economists’ have & Power Subcommittee of the U.S. House debunked this false claim. Natural Resources Committee. The bill is bad for Claims such as these are part of a longNorthern California’s groundwater, farms, cities, standing disinformation campaign by certain reservoirs, fish wildlife and rivers. irrigators to rewrite history and move their current Most of the California Democratic junior water contacts to the front of the line. The Congressional delegation—including local unemployment, incorrectly blamed on water for Congressman Mike Thompson and fisheries and fishermen, is actually the Senators Boxer and Feinstein— result of two things: the housing and vigorously oppose the bill. The Yurok construction crisis, and 100,000 acres Tribe, the Modoc Nation and the on the West side, fallowed due to salt, Winnemem Wintu are also all in boron and selenium poisoned land and opposition to the bill. Even Northern groundwater. A recent report shows California Republican politicians, that these poisoned acres—retired including Representatives Wally with government funds—were falsely Herger, Dan Lungren and Tom claimed to have been fallowed due to McClintock—who all represent senior environmental water restrictions. upstream agricultural water right More water won’t produce more holders—have expressed concerns jobs in the San Joaquin Valley, but it will about the bill, creating a headache for produce unemployment in Northern House Speaker John Boehner and the California from the Bay-Delta to the bill’s authors. Trinity River. In fact, San Joaquin HR 1837 will permanently Valley agricultural unemployment has take water from senior water right increased since 2009 despite increased holders in the Sacramento Valley and water supplies in 2010 and 2011. the Delta who represent many small There is plenty of water this year. farming operations. This bill will All Central Valley Project (CVP) largely benefit junior federal water irrigators north of the Delta—and contractors—especially Westlands most south of the Delta—received a Water District—by giving them 100% allocation. Only the more junior permanent contracts for water paid for West side farmers such as Westlands by huge tax subsidies. Restrictions on The northern part of Trinity Lake, showing large dry areas in August 2008. Photo: Daniel got an 80% contract allocation, which the pumping of Northern California Ramirez , Flickr Creative Commons. -Continued on Page 17
Tar Sands: A Dirty Way to Feed Oil Addiction Morgan Corviday
Following the devastating Gulf Oil catastrophe last year, the recent pipeline rupture in the pristine Yellowstone River, and numerous other oil disasters, one would think our national energy policy would be more inclined to pursue more sustainable energy sources. It would seem, however, that the opposite is still true. People suffering from destructive substance addictions, like heroin or meth, often reach a point at which the addiction calls the shots. Choices are made to feed short-term needs and stave off unpleasant withdrawl symptoms, without due consideration of their actual best interests. America’s addiction to oil isn’t much different. Choices are being made to feed our hungry energy needs that will likely not serve our best interests, or those of the planet, in the long term. The desire to secure domestic oil and reduce our dependence on foreign sources isn’t in and of itself a bad idea. Domestic oil advocates insist tar sands development is an opportunity to ease our reliance on oil from the Middle East. Likewise, importing tar sands oil from Canada feeds our addiction from our friendly neighbor, rather than from a far away, war-torn region. The cost, however, of extracting certain sources of oil, such as tar sands and oil shale, far outweighs potential benefits, according to some, and would negatively affect necessary efforts to curb climate change. The Athabasca Tar Sands in Alberta, Canada, widely recognized to be the dirtiest oil and the most destructive project on Earth, has plans to expand, causing great concern to scientists and climate activists. Tar sands extraction produces three times the carbon emissions of conventional oil production, and requires three barrels of water to produce a single barrel of oil.
to an additional 900,000 bpd of bitumen across 1900 miles, the $7 billion project would threaten sensitive wildlife and endangered species habitat, farmland soils and drinking water sources for over 80 percent of the population of the Great Plains. To date, Canada has not approved dedicated tar sands pipelines to its East or West coasts. State Department reports regarding the project have repeatedly been found to be inadequate by the EPA, lacking sufficient consideration or analyses of potential environmental and cultural impacts, or greenhouse emmissions. The House of Representatives passed a bill this summer requiring the President to make a decision on whether the Keystone XL is in our national energy intersts by December 2011, circumventing important environmental protections by rushing regulatory approval before full reviews can be made.
Lush and Rainforest Action Network protest expansion of the Tar Sands on Parliament Hill, Ottowa, Ontario, Canada. Photo: Ben Powless, Flickr Creative Commons.
The project is already so vast it can be seen from space, and since June 2010, 590,000 barrels per day (bpd) of thick, toxic Athabascan butimen have been pumped across the border to the heart of the U.S. via the Keystone pipeline. Bitumen is a highly acidic, corrosive and particularly toxic fossil fuel extracted from tar sands, which requires considerable refining to create useable oil. With the consistency of beach sand mixed with roofing tar, it must be heated to a thinner viscosity so it can move through the pipes, which increases its corrosive properties. Bitumen is much more toxic than common crude oil, and is suspected to quickly degrade pipes. The proposed second phase of the project, the Keystone XL, would traverse six states (from Canada to the Gulf Coast), at least six major rivers, and the Ogallala Aquifer. Pumping up
“Trying to talk to Congress about these issues is like trying to talk to your cat.”- Bill McKibben
Nineteen scientists and researchers from some of the U.S.’s most prestigious educational and research institutions signed a letter to President Obama, stating, “We are writing to add our voices to the indigenous leaders, religious leaders and environmentalists calling on you to block the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Canada’s tar sands.” Unfortunately, the Keystone XL isn’t the only tar sands project under consideration in the U.S. Thousands of acres of federal land in eastern Utah’s Uintah Basin may also soon be opened to tar sands mining. The proposed Book Cliffs tar sands mine would be the first of its kind in the United States, and would also be the first commercial tar sands extraction effort by Earth Energy Resources, Inc., the Canadian company that will operate the mine. -Continued on Page 16
August/September 2011 ECONEWS
Pardee Dam Expansion Threatens Moke River in the Range of Light Chris Wright Famed naturalist John Muir devoted his life to the protection of the Sierra Nevada, a spectacular, wild and scenic region that captured his heart. Today, however, much of the region is still threatened by destructive logging and riverdestroying dams. Throughout the â€œRange of Lightâ€?, a name coined by Muir, nearly every river is choked by multiple dams that have nearly destroyed salmon populations that formerly numbered in the millions. The concrete curtain of dams have denied salmon access to 90 percent of their original spawning habitat in the region. Fortunately, there are people and groups fighting to save the last of the salmon and restore their rivers. North Fork of the Mokelumne River. Photo: Amit Patel , Flickr Creative Commons. At the same time, there are still water districts and individuals that want to build more destroy several more miles of the already heavily and larger dams on those same streams. The altered Mokelumne River. In an unprecedented Mokelumne watershed is one such area. show of unity, the ultra-conservative Amador The Mokelumne River, or â€œMokeâ€? for County Board of Supervisors and conservative short, is a central Sierra river flowing from high Congressman Dan Lungren (R-Gold River) in Alpine County to form the boundary between agreed with the environmental community Amador and Calaveras counties before it joins and nearly everyone else in Amador and the Delta. This beautiful river has tremendous Calaveras counties that the plan was flawed. environmental, recreational, historical, and The very progressive Berkeley City Council and Native American cultural importance. It many others not only opposed the destructive also provides 90 percent of the water supply plan, but also supported National Wild and for the East Bay Municipal Utility District Scenic designation for the Moke, which would (EBMUD), from a massive dam, reservoir protect the river in perpetuity from new and pipeline system akin to the better known dams and diversions. Hetch Hetchy. EBMUD serves the cities of Unfortunately, this did not stop a oneOakland, Richmond, Berkeley and much of the vote majority of the seven-member EBMUD East Bay with water from the Moke watershed. Board from voting to approve the plan to flood Unfortunately, EBMUD is not satisfied more of the Mokelumne. After EBMUDâ€™s with the amount of water they receive and narrow vote, the Foothill Conservancy, Friends still want more. of the River, and California Sportfishing In 2009, EBMUD released a longProtection Alliance filedâ€”and later wonâ€”a term master water plan, the Water Supply lawsuit to halt the plan. Management Program 2040. It called for the In April 2011, Sacramento Superior construction of a new Pardee Dam that would Court Judge Timothy J. Frawley found that
Continued from page 3
approve these plans. This spring, SPI began clearcutting three areas that are still being contested in court, making a mockery of the legal system. Woodhouse and other forest protection advocates statewide point out that Battle Creek is a microcosm of what is occurring throughout the Sierra. SPI plans to clearcut and convert up to 70% of their land to industrial, â€œeven8@CP L@;<; -I@GJ +8=K "EÂ‘ 8K89C< $8P8B +<EK8CJ CC ><J 0<C:FD< !@>?N8P @E 0@CCFN I<<B NNN9@>=FFKI8=K@E>:FD
ECONEWS August/September 2011
agedâ€? pine plantations that lack the benefits and biodiversity provided by natural forests. Since 1990 SPI has already received Cal Fire permission to clearcut over a quarter million Sierra acres. SPI, owned by timber billionaire A.A. â€œRedâ€? Emmersonâ€”named by Forbes as one of the worldâ€™s 500 wealthiest people, is also known for its generous political contributions. According to campaign contribution records filed with the Secretary of State, SPI donated about $890,000 to California political candidates and ballot measures over the past five years, including $46,000 to Governor Brownâ€™s election campaign. Brown pledged during this campaign â€œto take reasonable steps to ensure a healthier habitat for Californiaâ€™s unique fish species by limiting sediment and other runoff entering streams.â€? Now Governor Brown has promised to assess the situation in Battle Creekâ€”but will it be too little too late? The Sierra Nevada, home to 24 major watersheds, provides 65% of Californiaâ€™s developed water supply, and almost all of Northern Nevadaâ€™s. Under climate change scenarios, the Sierra snowpack is predicted to decline by 25-40% by mid-century, putting this water supply at even greater risk. Clearcutting exacerbates the problem by removing the root systems of large trees that assist with trapping runoff and allowing the water to percolate slowly through the soil, gradually recharging streams and aquifers over the dry months. Katherine Evatt, President of the Foothill Conservancy in the Mokelumne watershed calls SPIâ€™s pracitices â€œforest liquidationâ€? and says they have a â€œlate 19th century robber-baron approach to resource management.â€? In light of this crisis and SPIâ€™s aggressive clear-cutting operations, a new statewide
EBMUD did not adequately analyze impacts to the river and failed to look at a full range of alternatives before deciding to move forward on an expanded Pardee Reservoir. Since then, EBMUD has decided not to appeal the legal decision, but to fix their inadequate Environmental Impact Report (EIR). As EBMUD begins the process, itâ€™s up to everyone who loves free-flowing rivers to send a message to EBMUD that it needs to â€œDump Pardee Nowâ€? and seek other less-costly and lessdamaging water supply solutions. Fortunately, EBMUD doesnâ€™t need to resort to river-destroying, 20th century dam-building technology to meet its water needs. It has a number of other options. First and foremost, EBMUD can implement higher drought rationing levels, additional conservation methods, and more wastewater recycling. It could also lower its inflated and unrealistic demand projection numbers to better reflect the facts. Finally, EBMUD can partner with other Bay Area water districts that have existing offstream reservoirs to meet additional potential future demand. The Sierra is a place of legendary beauty. Thanks to John Muir and others, many of its wonders are protected today. But not far from Yosemite and Calaveras Big Trees, the Mokelumne River and other threatened Sierra rivers need a million John Muirs to act to protect and restore the rivers and the forest that Muir knew and loved. It is our turn to step up for the Range of Light. Chris Wright is the Executive Director of the Foothill Conservancy.
Want to Learn More?
For more information on the effort to save the Mokelumne River, see the Foothill Conservancyâ€™s website, http://www.foothillconservancy.org. For specific information on the proposed Pardee Expansion http://www.savethemoke.com/pardee.
coalition of forest conservation groups and fishermenâ€™s associations are joining The Sacramento Bee in urging Governor Brown and his Secretary of Resources John Laird to adequately protect Battle Creek. The coalition aims to end the out-moded logging practice of widespread clear-cutting on private lands in the Sierra.
A â€œlate 19th century robber-baron approach to resource management.â€? â€œSPIâ€™s clearcutting is at total odds with state, federal and local conservation efforts and investment. While communities and agencies work to reduce the risk of damaging fires, SPI is logging large, fire-resistant trees and replacing them with highly flammable pine plantations. While PG&E, conservation groups, and wildlife agencies invest millions to restore rivers, fish habitat, and frog populations, SPI is dumping millions of gallons of herbicide in the watersheds and creating huge erosion risks. While the state works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, SPI is releasing huge amounts of carbon by deep-ripping forest soils,â€? said Evatt. Many veterans of forest protection are beginning to draw parallels between Battle Creek as a rallying point in a wider campaign to end clear-cutting and the importance that the Headwaters grove played in the fight to protect some of the last old-growth redwood forests in Californiaâ€™s North Coast. Doug Bevington, author of The Rebirth of Environmentalism, points out that, â€œThe campaign against Maxaam/Pacific Lumberâ€™s runaway logging in the late 1980â€™s and 1990â€™s -Continued on Page 17
Kin to the Earth
Bidder 70 and the Tradition of Civil Disobedience Morgan Corviday
Tim DeChristopher addresses an audience in Santa Fe, NM in 2011. Photo: Jennifer Esperanza
Tim DeChristopher never intended to be a folk hero. But to an increasing number of activists, analysts, and concerned citizens, that is exactly what he has become. On December 19, 2008, undergraduate economics student Tim DeChristopher headed to a BLM auction in Salt Lake City after completing an exam at the University of Utah. He and about 100 other climate activists were there to protest the illegitimate auction, part of outgoing President Bush’s last minute move to auction off oil and gas exploration rights on vast swaths of public lands in southern Utah, without the required environmental review. When Tim decided to go inside and observe the auction, instead of standing outside in the cold with the other protesters, he was expecting to get thrown out. To his surprise, he was asked if he wanted to be a bidder. Intrigued by the idea, and eager to stall the auction by any means possible, he filled out a short form with basic identification information, and became Bidder 70. His hope was to give the incoming Obama administration time to “reconsider” and conduct a full review of the parcels on the block. “I sat there watching one parcel after another going into the hands of oil developers,
Close Encounters of the Whale Kind Morgan Corviday
This summer, northern Humboldt was treated to an unexpected close encounter with one of the world’s largest mammals—a mother gray whale and her baby. The whales apparently took a detour along their migratory route from southern California to Alaska. Gray whales bear their young in the warmer southern waters, and typically fast on the journey to their rich northern feeding grounds. The whales swam 3 miles up the Klamath River, staying within about a mile stretch of river near the 101 bridge for more than a month. They were clearly viewable from the bridge, and from the banks of the river, providing considerable interest and delight from locals and visitors alike. The unexpected appearance of the mother and baby (45’ and 15’ long, respectively) in the river initially did not cause concern among scientists. While it is unusual, whales have been known to spend time in coastal bays, estuaries, and rivers on occasion. In the summer of 1989, the Klamath River was visited by a mother and baby Gray, but eventually the whales returned to the ocean on their own. On Saturday, July 23rd, the baby whale left it’s mother’s side and swam back to the Pacific ocean. For unknown reasons, the mother did not follow, prompting researchers and HSU and Yurok volunteers to attempt to encourage the mother to head downriver the following day, using power boats, kayaks and noisemakers. Whales are acoustically sensitive animals, and loud sounds typically turn them away. The hope was to make “upriver less desirable than down river,” as stated by Sarah Wilkin, stranding coordinator for NOAA.
Mother and baby Gray whale, photographed July 20th from the Klamath River bridge on Highway 101. Photo: Mo Hollis.
The attempt was unsuccessful however, and the mother remains circling in the same area of the river. Concern is growing, however, that she is not getting enough to eat. In addition, prolonged stays in freshwater can have detrimental effects on the whale’s skin.
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and I knew the land would be pretty much ruined,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 2009. “I got to the point where I couldn’t sit there and watch anymore.”
“Action is risky, but . . . the consequences of inaction are far greater.” He spontaneously decided that in order to protect these lands, most of which were located in close proximity to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, he had to win them. He won a total of 22,000 acres—to the tune of $1.8 million— before the auction was halted and he was arrested for bidding without intent to pay. Though he ultimately raised enough money to cover the initial payment for the parcels (which the BLM refused to accept), and the auction was later to be found fraudulent by Interior Secretary Salazar and most of the leases cancelled, Tim was still held accountable and sentenced on July 26, 2011 to two years in federal prison and a $10,000 fine. The prosecution had explicitly pushed for stiff punishment to deter others from activism. Instead, however, many are inspired by Tim’s actions and see these events as a call to action. Political analyst Naomi Klein, writer Terry Tempest Williams, actor Robert Redford, climate activist Bill McKibben, and the world’s leading climatologist Dr. James Hansen wrote a letter in support of Tim that was widely circulated on the internet, stating that Tim “pulled off one of the most creative protests against our runaway energy policy in years . . . a noble act, profound gesture made on behalf of all of us and of the future.” Williams put the situation clearly in perspective: “To think that a young man in an act of conscience might [do any amount of time] in a federal prison for raising a paddle in an already illegal sale of oil and gas leases, compared to the CEO of BP or the financial wizards on Wall Street who have pocketed millions of dollars at our expense—and who will never step into a court of law to even get their hands slapped, let alone go to jail, is an assault on democracy.” Tim studied economics to better understand the ways in which oil and gas companies privatize profits from resource extraction, but externalize the costs—pollution and the cleanup. His background is steeped in the coal mining controversies of West Virginia (his mother, in fact, was a life-long anti-coal activist). The issue, still very dear to his heart, has prompted him to be very outspoken against mountaintop removal and Massey Energy. He co-founded the group Peaceful Uprising, whose goal is to defend a livable future through empowering nonviolent action, and was a Keynote speaker at this year’s PowerShift conference in Washington, D.C.
“Tim is a hero to me. . . Tim’s act of civil disobedience grew out of a long American tradition of conscience.” -Peter Yarrow
Peter Yarrow, of folk legends Peter, Paul and Mary, and others have drawn comparison’s between Tim’s bravery to Rosa Parks and other civil rights activists who used techniques of civil disobedience to effectively bring about change. Climate activist and founder of 350.org, Bill McKibben, stated that there comes a time when we need to “jump . . . [the power structures in place are] designed to make you turn back from that edge. Tim took that leap.” As Tim stated before the judge at his sentencing, “At this point of unimaginable threats on the horizon, this is what hope looks like. In these times of a morally bankrupt government that has sold out its principles, this is what patriotism looks like. With countless lives on the line, this is what love looks like, and it will only grow. The choice you are making today is what side are you on.”
August/September 2011 ECONEWS
European Bat Fungus a Deadly Threat
Bats have, over the course of history, been horribly misunderstood and a source of fear and repulsion. Bats have been killed and demonized because of superstition and the prevalence of vampire myths. The truth is, however, that bats are invaluable for vector control and pollination. Bats are one of the most diverse species of mammals on the planet; they represent 20% of the mammalian diversity and are wonders of evolution, having developed very different evolutionary strategies to survive in varied ecosystems. The United Nations proclaimed 2011-2012 as the International year of the Bat. We would do well to understand why. Insectivorous bats are incredibly important to agriculture worldwide as voracious consumers of insect pests. A recent study revealed that bats in the U.S. consume between 3.7 and 53 billion insects per year. In addition, bats are crucial vector control agents, keeping mosquitoes in check. Fruit bats may be frugivorous or nectarivorous—i.e., they eat fruits or lick nectar and pollen from flowers—and are significant pollinators and seed dispersal agents as a result. Some fruit bats are responsible for regenerating countless acres of forest ecosystems. They have been known to regenerate up to 90% of cleared forest gaps in the tropics according to Nina Fascione, Executive Director of Bat Conservation International (BCI). Bats are responsible for giving us tequila and agave nectar through their co-evolved symbiotic pollination of the agave plants in Mexico and the southern U.S. However, bats in much of the US and portions of Canada are in serious trouble. A fungal disease called White-nose Syndrome (WNS) has become a lethal plague to many species of cave roosting bats. Over a million bats have died since the first case was discovered in New York in 2006. White-nose Syndrome is a disease caused by a European-native fungus, Geomyces destructans, which causes a white fuzzy fungal growth on the noses and faces of infected bats. North American bats have difficulty responding to this invasive non-native because they have
Little brown bat with white-nose syndrome in Greeley Mine, Vermont, March 26, 2009. Photo: Marvin Moriarty/USFWS
not evolved with exposure to the fungus. While bats in bats in Europe do not develop WNS, it is deadly to North American bats. The disease is now present in 19 states and four Canadian provinces according to BCI—from Canada, south to Tennessee, and as far west as Oklahoma. A total of nine species have been affected by WNS and many more are in danger of infection: the big brown bat, the eastern small-footed myotis, the little brown myotis, the northern myotis, The Indiana myotis, the tri-colored bat, the gray myotis, the cave myotis, and the southeastern myotis. Four of the six endangered species and subspecies of bats in the U.S. are already at risk from WNS according to a recent press release by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. WNS is a cold loving fungus that attacks bats in cave and mine roosts while they hibernate during the winter months. Twentyfive of the forty-seven U.S. bat species hibernate in caves and mines, which makes them susceptible to WNS. Mortality rates for WNS
infected cave and mine sites is 90-100% and 100% mortality is predicted at multi-year infected sites. The fungus is similar to a yeast infection, which irritates the bats and causes them to arouse frequently during winter hibernation. Bats have a highly evolved metabolism and physiology, in the colder habitats of North America, bats must conserve their energy during the winter when insect prey is not widely available. They accomplish this through the process of torpor, during which the bat slows down its very high metabolic rate to expend as little energy as possible, often exhibiting exchange of respiratory and metabolic gases through their skin. When the bats are aroused, their metabolic rates increase dramatically and they expend a lot of metabolic energy, using up their winter reserves. “Frequent arousals during hibernation result in the bats starving and freezing to death,” states Fascione. According to Winnifred Frick, a Boston University post-doc researcher, “This is one of the worst wildlife crises we’ve faced in North America,” in part because of the severity of the mortality and the rapid spread of the disease. The research team has projected that the little brown myotis, North America’s most common bat species—known to eat 100% of its body weight in insects every night—may be functionally extinct within 20 years due to WNS. Because bats provide so many important ecosystem services, such as insect population control, seed dispersal and pollination, this disease not only affects the ecological functioning of entire ecosystems but also the economic well-being of the U.S. and Canada. Bat Conservation International along with 60 other conservation organizations and dozens of scientists from across the country, have urged Congress to provide 5 million dollars to fund research and management of WNS.
What You Can Do
You can get involved by contacting your representatives and asking them to fund research that will help treat or prevent the loss of these ecologically and economically important species. To learn more about White Nose Syndrome or get involved, visit http://www.batcon.org.
Swimming With Fishes: the 23rd Annual Smith River Fish Count
Kurt St Amant Every summer the Smith River Alliance (SRA) sponsors a fish count in the pristine Smith River. This year’s count covered over 31 miles, and over fifty volunteers and staff enjoyed a great snorkeling adventure down this incredible river.
ECONEWS August/September 2011
Friday was reserved for newcomers to learn the basic techniques and skills required to participate in this event. Participants have a blast learning fish identification, size calibration, swiftwater safety, team interaction and good old scientific protocol while river diving. Full wetsuits, hoods and fins were required in the 60-degree water. Event organizer Rachel McCain of Redwood National and State Parks assigned the leaders and different reaches of the river to the 11 teams. The teams set out on Saturday morning to conduct the surveys. The snorkel fish count method was first used in 1988 by the U.S. Forest Service and the California Deptartment of Fish and Game, and was later expanded in 2000 to include volunteers. This year’s group included: Martin Anderson, age 17, a Del Norte High School student from Crescent City who has a strong interest in river ecology and science; Francene and Jim Rizza of Fortuna; and 17 other firsttimers. Some attendees have been participating since its inception, finding the event to be an addictive way to network and discuss current issues affecting watershed management. Compiling consistent data over a long period of time is vital to the agencies that monitor the health of the watershed and set policy. These annual fish counts provide valuable information. This summers’ count produced numbers consistent with past studies. The event was hosted by SRA and held at Rock Creek Ranch. An open long house with a beautiful kitchen and education facilities
provided participants easy river access and a great camping spot. The site also promotes sustainability through the use of solar and hydroelectric power, and composting toilets. The SRA has been working to protect, restore and monitor this important habitat through land purchases, working with government agencies, and offering educational programs. During the Saturday evening potluck, SRA Executive Director Grant Werschkull, the event coordinator, conveyed the importance of the volunteers and participating agencies in the creation of policies affecting the river and fish species that depend on it.
USFS biologist Mike McCain gets team ready to swim. Photo: Darell Warnock.
Women’s Herbal Conference Focuses on Sustainability Sarah O’Leary Long before the term “zero waste event” became popular, the Northern California Women’s Herb Symposium came close to achieving that goal. Back in 1991, when the first symposium kicked off at its original location in Sonoma County, participants were asked to furnish their own plates, cups and utensils to enjoy the gourmet vegetarian meals they would be served. Paper plates simply were not available. If you didn’t bring a plate you had to share with a friend or get really creative! Although the 4-day Symposium has described itself as “A Gathering for Women Who Love Plants,” this outdoor conference encompasses much more than simply teaching and sharing the knowledge of herbalists. Organizers Terri Jensen and Karen Aguiar strive to create and maintain a gathering that has a minimal impact on the land where it is held. “Everything we do is with environmental sustainability in mind,” said Jensen. “I mean, how can we do anything but that? We are such lovers of the plants and the natural world that it is in our nature to be as gentle as we can.” In addition to buying and using environmentally friendly products, Jensen said they source as much product as they can from local farmers and producers. “We minimize the use of disposable products as much as possible,” she added. “We use what we have or can find, we reuse and reuse and reuse.” Reusable dishes are just a start. Women searching for a trash can at the Symposium have to look pretty hard. Except for one small can behind the kitchen, intended for kitchen waste only, nary a wastebasket is to be found—not even in the bathroom stalls. The result? Each attendee gets a little environmental life lesson that slipped into this long weekend of learning, in having to think about exactly what they were intending to
throw out, why they were going to throw it out, and what throwing something “out” really means. At the Symposium, just as on Planet Earth, there is no ‘out’.
“By having attendees be responsible for their own trash, we have seen how it has brought a lot of environmental awareness about the use of disposable products,” Aguiar said. “Really there is very little that we send to the landfill. Usually we have one or two of those home plastic trash containers for the landfill per weekend, and that’s for about 400 folks.” Participants camp beneath the beautiful, ancient oak trees, either in their own tents or in
one of 16 community teepees. Along with three delicious, nutritious meals each day and plentiful herbal teas, they have the opportunity to expand their knowledge of plants and herbs through numerous classes and intensives offered throughout the day. The Symposium is primarily focused on herbs, offering instruction in the basics of herb use, hands-on workshops on making herbal vinegars and syrups, classes on Chinese Herbal Medicine, and much more. However, a variety of other classes are also offered, including: seaweed gathering excursions, plant identification walks, gardening, healthy lifestyle, permaculture, craft workshops, ritual creation, natural burial, raising dairy goats, dance, solar energy, environmental practices, and spinning hemp fiber by hand. In addition, Sunday evening the women and girls may participate in menarche and crone ceremonies, and drumming and dancing under the stars. “The vast majority of our teachers are from the local area and working in the field,” said Jensen. “We are interested in bringing together women in our local communities, as teachers and as students. We bring in women whose work we admire, yet whose voices may not be often heard.” This summer’s Symposium takes place over Labor Day weekend, September 2-5, at Black Oak Ranch in Laytonville, giving women of all ages and from all walks of life a chance for an inspiring, educational, low-cost nature retreat. Children are welcome, but register early to ensure there is space. Work exchange is also still available for the event, but those spots are filling up fast. Find out more, and download registration materials, at www. womensherbsymposium.org But remember – you’ll need to bring your own dishes and think carefully about what you bring. You’ll be packing out all your own trash! Sarah O’Leary is an Arcata-based freelance writer and a former editor of EcoNews.
Seed Monopolies Threaten Seed Diversity Jared Zystro
Seed saving has been part of human culture since the beginning of agriculture. When our ancestors began saving seed from wild plants, we began a co-evolutionary relationship with plants that is central to our culture. But today, however, seed industry consolidation and the loss of seed knowledge threaten to sever our relationship to seeds, the fundamental basis of our global food supply.
In the last 40 years, seed companies have rapidly consolidated as they have become absorbed by transnational firms with chemical and biotechnology interests. This concentration of market power is a consequence of weak antitrust law enforcement and Supreme Court decisions which have allowed plant products to be patented, resulting in concentrated ownership of plant genetic resources. These two factors have resulted in less choice in the marketplace and a lack of genetic diversity in available seed. At least 200 independent seed companies have been acquired or gone out of business in the last thirteen years, including companies interested in providing for the organic and non-GMO seed market.
Some of the worst concentration exists in major field crops. Three firms—Monsanto, Pioneer/DuPont, and Syngenta—account for 75 percent of corn seed sales nationwide. The development and control of genetically engineered traits, namely RoundUp Ready® and Bt, has facilitated concentration in the seed industry and patented ownership of seed genetics. Nearly all conventional U.S. corn, soybean, and cotton acreage is planted with genetically engineered varieties that include genes patented by Monsanto. Genetic engineering threatens us in other ways as well. As a result of the wide adoption of herbicide-tolerant crops—more than 60% of GE crops planted worldwide are engineered to tolerate herbicides—farmers have applied 318 million more pounds of pesticides over the last 13 years. GE crops have also led to incredible weed resistance that many agricultural specialists now deem the largest threat to production agriculture. The threat of GMO contamination to organic and other non-GE seed and crops also risks compromising livelihoods, genetic integrity, and faith in the organic label.
In addition to the loss in crop variety diversity brought about by industry concentration, ...working with clients to improve the social, economic and environmental performance of their organizations and projects.
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Bean seed ready for harvest, being held by Tinker Cavallaro, Port Townsend, WA. Photo: Organic Seed Alliance.
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there has been a concurrent loss in the base of knowledge and skills necessary to steward and improve seeds in an ecologically and ethically sound manner. If you talk with most people who lived or worked on a farm prior to 1950, they might describe for you the area of their house devoted to seed storage and organization. They might also describe their process for selecting the best seed from the best plants. They understood that plant varieties were not static, but instead were changeable and needed constant care to maintain them. -Continued on Page 17
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August/September 2011 ECONEWS
Hungry, Hungry Salamanders: Dynamic Regulators of the Forest Floor Michael Best Salamanders are quite possibly the most abundant vertebrate predators in North American forests. A study in the Hubbard Brooke experimental forest in New Hampshire found the biomass of salamanders to be greater than that of breeding seasonal birds during their peak and equal to that of mice and shrews. Roughly 95% of the salamanders were terrestrial salamanders in the family Plethodontidae. Plethodontid salamanders are lungless (they breathe directly through their skin) and lack an aquatic larval stage. Instead of laying eggs under, or adjacent to the water like most other salamanders, direct developing terrestrial salamanders lay their eggs on moist soil under wood or in a burrow where they will hatch fully developed young. As a result, terrestrial Ensatina salamander, Ensatina eschscholtzii eschscholtzii. salamanders spend their entire lives preying Also, the salamander body is very low on invertebrates on the forest floor. maintenance by design. Because they are In Northwestern California forests, ectothermic—they heat and cool their bodies terrestrial salamanders are common and diverse. from the environment, rather than from the The species most likely to be encountered inside—very little energy is used to regulate are the Ensatina (Ensatina eschscholtzii; body temperature. If conditions are not favorable various subspecies) and the California slender (too hot, too cold, too dry) they just stay within salamander (Batrachoseps attenuatus). With their cool, moist home, in sleep mode, until the enough luck and patience, one may also observe weather changes. When the air is cool and moist the wandering salamander (Aneides vagrans), and desiccation is not a high risk, salamanders clouded salamander (Aneides ferreus), black spend most of their time hunting. Most of this salamander (aneides flavipunctatus), and arboreal caloric intake is used to build protein and fat salamander (Aneides lugubris). reserves, 50-80% of which is transformed into Terrestrial salamanders are voracious biomass; for an endothermic animal this may be predators that are critical to the forested more like 5% or less. ecosystems of Northwestern California. They consume nearly every kind of invertebrate including: spring-tails, beetles, flies, wasps, spiders, mites, pill bugs, millipedes, centipedes, crickets, earwigs, worms, pseudoscorpians, etc. Consumption of prey from each trophic level (detrivore, herbivore, predator) serves to regulate each group in the invertebrate community. Because salamanders may spend a great The cost of living is not very high for deal of time under ground and cover vast areas salamanders. All they need is a good cover of the forest floor over the course of their lives, object, ideally one not already occupied by a longevity is difficult to measure. One exhaustive predator. When it is moist and cool, they sit and study documented Ensatinas of 6-8 years of age wait by the edge of an invertebrate highway and and suggested they may live much longer. Their snatch whatever walks by, wham! If the location longevity, coupled with a relatively high rate is productive, the salamander may sit there all of reproduction and a discrete nature, allows night long; if not it will wander on until deciding salamanders to represent a dependable and long to stop elsewhere. There is no venom, no chase, term source of high quality nutrition for the first no big show; no wasted energy.
The salamander is the unbiased vigilante of the invertebrate community, maintaining order and balance in the undergrowth.
and second order predators of the forest: mammals, birds, snakes, etc. In this way, terrestrial salamanders stabilize ecosystem processes and dampen random changes to the rate of energy flow through the food web. From the top down, the terrestrial salamander is a lion, king of the invertebrate world, maintaining balance on the forest floor. From the bottom up, the terrestrial salamander is a lamb, providing nourishment for the carnivorous food chain, keeping other vertebrates in check. But the dynamic role of the salamander does not stop there. Standing forests are the greatest terrestrial sink of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Trees continue to capture and store CO2 from the atmosphere throughout their long lives; old growth forests store the most. Vegetative biomass composed largely of carbon continuously accumulates on the forest floor as dead woody material, fallen leaves, and discarded roots. The invertebrate detrital food web breaks these materials down into finer components where the microscopic bacteria, fungi, and nematodes consume it, releasing CO2 into the atmosphere. Terrestrial salamanders like the Ensatina consume myriads of the invertebrates involved in this detrital food web and thus influence the break down and release of forest floor carbon in a dynamic way. These dynamics may be ameliorated by environmental conditions including moisture and leaf litter depth. One study demonstrated an 11-17% decrease in CO2 release from leaf litter where terrestrial salamanders were present when compared to sites experimentally void of salamanders. I am currently conducting similar work locally with our very own Ensatina salamander with evidence that they may have a similar carbon retention effect in our forested systems. If terrestrial salamanders can in fact foster carbon sequestration throughout the very productive temperate forests here and elsewhere, they may represent a significant component in maintaining global carbon balances. As you walk through the woods, tread lightly, for beneath your feet life is thriving. Michael Best is an MS candidate at Humboldt State University.
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Mike Keneally Band with special guest Bryan Beller Band
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Saturday, Oct. 15 • 8 p.m. Humboldt Brews • 856 10th St. Admission $20
Tickets available at Humbrews.com, People’s Records, The Works, and The Arcata Eye
ECONEWS August/September 2011
8th Street on the Plaza, Arcata 825-7596
Growing Concern About Ocean Acidification Jennifer Kalt
Although scientists have been predicting changes in temperature, rainfall, and wildfire frequency for decades, ocean acidification is a more recently recognized result of the Earth’s changing climate. The world’s oceans have become about 30 percent more acidic since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, while the temperature of the ocean along the Northern California coast has increased 2.5 F since 1960. The world’s oceans absorb about onethird of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted into the atmosphere. Though this has lessened the impacts of increasing atmospheric CO2 levels, we now know that as CO2 dissolves in seawater, it forms carbonic acid, lowering the pH levels of ocean waters and making them more acidic. Scientists are just beginning to understand the effects of decreasing pH levels on shellfish, coral, plankton, and other marine organisms that use calcium and carbonate to construct their shells or skeletons. In short, as pH decreases, carbonate becomes less available, which makes it more difficult for organisms to secrete calcium carbonate (CaCO3) to form shells and skeletal material. This in turn will impact the creatures that depend on shellfish and plankton for food, including salmonids, sharks, marine mammals— and us. The combination of warmer, more acidic waters with decreased carbonate concentration has implications for numerous functions of marine organisms, many of which are not yet fully understood. Acidic waters are associated with upwelling along the Pacific Coast, which brings CO2-rich waters closer to the surface during spring and summer. The Pacific Northwest is already feeling the effects of ocean acidification: Pacific oysters in Puget Sound have failed to reproduce in the wild since 2004 due to high levels of acidity. Beginning in 2005, production at some Pacific Northwest oyster hatcheries began declining at an alarming rate. Today, hatcheries in Puget Sound can only succeed by monitoring pH in seawater so they can close their intake valves in time to protect the oyster larvae. Estuarine ecosystems such as Puget Sound and Humboldt Bay may be especially vulnerable to acidification because shallower waters, reduced salinity, and naturally lower pH make them less resilient to changes in pH than the open ocean. Baseline data is rarely available in many areas, and though high-latitude waters are considered especially susceptible, the first monitoring buoys in Alaska were deployed early this year by NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL). In August, PMEL scientists will be collecting data on ocean conditions along the Pacific Coast to compare with data collected in 2007. While research continues, what can be done to protect marine ecosystems? Limiting further impacts from water pollution, coastal degradation, and algae blooms will lessen the effects of ocean acidification. But, clearly, reducing global and local carbon emissions is a top priority for slowing the acidification of our oceans.
California Proposes Ban on Shark Finning
Our state legislature is considering a bill (AB 376) that would ban the sale of shark fins. The bill was recently approved by the Assembly and is moving forward to the State Senate’s Natural Resources and Water Committee. The proposed ban comes at a crucial time, as scientists have documented tragic declines in shark populations around the world. The business of selling shark fins, along with environmental degradation and depletion of prey fish populations, is estimated to have decreased global shark populations by nearly 90%. Last year, Hawaii banned the possession, sale or distribution of shark fins, and Taiwan is set to become the first Asian Dried shark fin for sale in an Asian market in San Francisco. nation to ban fisherman from bringing in Photo: Jaume Bonet, Flickr Creative Commons dismembered sharks next year. The Bahamas, creating imbalances in ecosystems. Eliminating Honduras, Maldives and Palau have already top predators allows their prey, such as seals and declared their borders to be shark sanctuaries. sea lions, to flourish. The increased population The process of harvesting shark fins of seals and sea lions then deplete populations of is particularly controversial. Once the sharks mid-size fish, unraveling ecological relationships are caught and their fins are removed, they are throughout the ecosystem. dumped back into the ocean to drown. The Sharks also play an important role in the number of sharks taken is also controversial. food chain by eating weaker and smaller seals, sea Currently, an estimated 26 to 73 million sharks lions, and fish, which will ensure the that fittest are killed each year for their fins. of their populations survive. In this role, sharks Chinese Americans have been a focus have kept our waters flourishing with healthy of interest in the debate because of the cultural populations of other prey and other predators to significance of shark fin soup. The bill was keep ecosystems healthy. introduced by Assemblymember Paul Fong, The fate of the shark population a Chinese American who has been criticized worldwide depends on educating the public, for being culturally offensive. However, many sustainable fishing practices, and progressive Chinese Americans have also taken a stand legislation like California’s proposed ban. against shark finning, and support the bill. With only six people killed by sharks last year The decrease in shark populations has worldwide and millions of sharks killed for the been found to negatively impact ecosystem fin industry last year, it begs the question— functions. Sharks play an important role as the shouldn’t we fear the loss of sharks more than top predator in the food chain, and this void is sharks themselves? Humboldt Baykeeper offers a warm welcome to its newest staff member, Vanessa Vasquez, office and outreach coordinator. Born and raised in Paradise, California, Vanessa graduated from CSU Chico with dual degrees in Spanish and Latin American Studies. A long-time water lover, many of Vanessa’s fondest childhood memories are spending family outings swimming in the Feather River and sea kayaking in the Monterrey Bay. Vanessa moved to Humboldt County to pursue a Master’s degree in Humboldt State’s Environment and Community Program and quickly fell in love with the striking coastal views and abundant greenery. Vanessa’s interest in studying the intersections between people, place and natural resource management is a great fit for Baykeeper’s mission to safeguard coastal resources for the health, enjoyment and economic strength of the community. Her previous work includes anti-pesticide advocacy with Californians for Alternatives to Toxics and community outreach with local land trust Siskiyou Land Conservancy. When not coordinating Bay Exploration boat tours or working in the Baykeeper old town office, Vanessa enjoys bicycle commuting around the bay, foraging for foods on the banks of the Mad River and cooking with loved ones. Vanessa would love to hear from you and may be reached at Vanessa@ humboldtbaykeeper.org or by stopping by 217 E Street, Eureka, next to Ramone’s Café.
New World Water “Community not Corporations”
NEW WORLD WATER
778 18th Street, Arcata
August/September 2011 ECONEWS
Redwood Region Audubon Society Every Saturday: Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary. These are our famous rain-or-shine, docentled ﬁeld trips at the marsh; take your binocular(s) and have a great morning birding! Meet in the parking lot at the south end of I Street in Arcata at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, August 13: King Salmon. On this trip, we’ll look for water-birds typical of the bay in late summer, including Brown Pelican, Parasitic Jaeger, Elegant Tern, and Marbled Murrelet. Note that some of these birds may be mere specks, even through a scope. Meet at 8 a.m. at the hairpin curve at the gate. Dress warmly. For more information, call Matt Wachs (707-476-9349). Saturday, August 13: Waterdog Lake. Plant, Butterﬂy, and Bird Day Hike. Cosponsored by the North Coast Chapter of California Native Plant Society. Famous for their butterﬂy diversity, tiny Waterdog Lakes and adjacent North Trinity Mountain are our destination on a 2-mile trail through diverse mountain habitats: white ﬁr and Sadler oak; shrubby regeneration from the 1999 Megram Fire; creekside mountain alder thicket; gravelly bald; wet, rocky hillside; red ﬁr; and a small, sedgy meadow (with gentians) around the land-locked pond. The trail gains about 1,000 ft elevation, starting at 5,300 ft., but is not steep. Bring lunch, snack, at least 2 quarts water, and many layers of clothing. Meet at 8 a.m. at Paciﬁc Union School (3001 Janes Rd., Arcata) on Saturday, or call to arrange another place. It’s a 2-hour drive to the trailhead northeast of Hoopa. Return by 6 p.m., or join an optional camp-out near the trailhead Saturday (and Friday?) night. Call Carol Ralph (707-822-2015) or Gary (707-476-9238). Sunday, August 14: Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge. This is a wonderful 2- to 3-hour trip for people wanting to learn the birds of the Humboldt Bay area. It takes a leisurely pace with emphasis on enjoying the birds! Beginners are more than welcome. Meet at the Refuge Visitor Center at 9 a.m. Call Jude Power (707-822-3613) or David Fix (707-825-1195) for more information.
Saturday, August 20: eBird Site Survey—Shay Park. This monthly trip sounds more formal than it really is! Join Rob Fowler (707-839-3493; migratoriusfwlr@ gmail.com) to survey the extent of Shay Park in Arcata for 1-3 hours and count every species present. Rob does the counting, and you do the enjoying of some of the 130+ species that have been recorded at this small but bird-rich urban location! For more info on the eBird site survey, visit ebird.org/content/ebird/about/eBird_Site_Survey. Meet at 8 a.m. at the Shay Park parking lot at the eastern end of Foster Avenue. Sunday, August 21: Southern Humboldt Community Park. Robert Sutherland (707-986-1112), Jay Sooter, and/ or John Gafﬁn will lead this monthly walk. All ages and experience levels are encouraged to participate and revel in the beauty of the park and its avian inhabitants on this easy 2- to 3-hour walk. Binoculars are not provided, and dogs are not allowed; ﬁeld guides are usually available, but provide your own if possible. Steady rain cancels. Meet at 8 a.m. in the parking lot on Kimtu Road in Garberville. Saturday, August 27: Pelagic Trip. Rob Fowler and David Fix will head up a foray onto the open ocean to Trinidad canyon aboard the Shenandoah in search of tubenoses, jaegers, alcids, cetaceans, and other pelagic specialties. Meet at 7 a.m. at the Trinidad wharf to depart at 7:30 and return by 4:30 p.m. To reserve 1 of 12 spaces available, call or e-mail Rob (migratoriusfwlr@gmail. com). Cost is $95. Saturday, September 10: Pelagic Trip. Rob Fowler and Gary Lester will lead a foray onto the open ocean to Trinidad canyon aboard the Shenandoah in search of tubenoses, jaegers, alcids, cetaceans, and other pelagic specialties. Meet at 7 a.m. at the Trinidad wharf to depart at 7:30 and return by 4:30 p.m. To reserve 1 of 12 spaces available, call or e-mail Rob. Cost is $95. Sunday, September 11: Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge. See August 14 listing. Sunday, September 18: Southern Humboldt Community Park. See August 21 listing. Saturday, September 24: eBird Site Survey—Shay Park. See August 20 listing.
RRAS Field Trip to Horse Mountain,18 June 2011 Photo by Nancy Spruance
Del Norte Meeting,
Potluck, and Field Trip
RRAS is holding its once-a-year Del Norte County board meeting on Friday, September 16, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Lake Earl Wildlife Area Information Center, 2591 Old Mill Road, Crescent City. All bird lovers who would like to learn about upcoming Audubon programs and conservation projects are welcome to attend. A potluck supper will precede the meeting, starting at 6 p.m. Those wishing to come early, meet other birders, and socialize are invited to bring a side dish, salad, drinks, or a dessert to share. Please RSVP to Sue Calla at (707) 4656191. The following morning (Saturday, September 17), all levels of birders are encouraged to join RRAS board members at 8:30 a.m. for a morning's excursion to scout Del Norte’s migratory and resident birds. Meet at the Lake Earl Wildlife Area Information Center to form carpools to caravan to several locations; some walking required. Bring viewing optics, binoculars, snacks, and drinking water.
Picnic with the Sierra Club
A Thousand Tongues, a Thousand Birds: a Naturalist in New Guinea David Price, a New Zealand-born specialist in amphibians and bioacoustics, will give an overview of New Guinea’s birds, geography, geology, and history. He will expound on the diversity of birds, peoples, languages, and cultures, including an account of how his family came to be there and work on sustainable development projects involving
coral reefs and mangrove forests. Come hear about the ﬂora and fauna, including the incredible diversity of birds, such as 45 species of pigeons and doves, 46 of parrots, 22 of kingﬁshers, and, of course, birds of paradise. Price will show evocative images of the diversity of people and birds in New Guinea.
The program will be held at the Humboldt County Office of Education at Myrtle and West Avenues in Eureka,
on Friday, September 9, starting at 7:30 p.m. Bring a mug to enjoy shade-grown coffee and come fragrance free.
Hungry picnickers enjoy a potluck meal at Patricks Point event in 2007. Photo by Sue Leskiw.
RRAS members are cordially invited to attend a picnic organized by the local Sierra Club entity, North Group. The event will be held on Saturday, August 27, at Patricks Point State Park in Trinidad. It will kick off at 10 a.m. with a bird walk led by Tom Leskiw, followed by a potluck picnic at noon. Bring a dish to share; North Group will provide place settings and drinks. The site rental includes 25 dayuse entries to the park, so please rideshare to the event. Call Sue Leskiw at 707-442-5444 to obtain the information needed to get in at no charge. Sierra Club looks forward to networking with Audubon.
CHAPTER LEADERS OFFICERS President— Jim Clark …..........................… 445-8311 Vice President — Chet Ogan …................… 442-9353 Immediate Past-President— Kerry Ross......496-0764 Secretary—Adam Brown................firstname.lastname@example.org Treasurer—Susan Calla..................................465-6191 DIRECTORS AT LARGE Jan Andersen...................................................616-3888 Rob Fowler ………………..............……….. 839-3493 Lew & Judie Norton.......................................445-1791 Syn-dee Noel …...............................................442-8862 Chet Ogan ………………..............………… 442-9353 C.J. Ralph .......................................................822-2015 Josée Rousseau................................................839-5763 OTHER CHAPTER LEADERS Conservation — Chet Ogan ...........................442-9353 Education — Syn-dee Noel …........................442-8862 eBird Liaison — Rob Fowler …………..….. 839-3493 Field Notes — Daryl Coldren..................916-384-8089 Field Trips— Rob Fowler ………......…..….. 839-3493 Historian — John Hewston ............................822-5288 Membership — Lew & Judie Norton.............445-1791 NEC Representative — C.J. Ralph.................822-2015 Nominating – Kerry Ross................................496-0764 Programs — C.J. Ralph...................................822-2015 Publications --- Vacant Publicity — Sue Leskiw....................................442-5444 Sandpiper (editorial) — Tom & Sue Leskiw......442-5444 —Jan Andersen ………616-3888 Sandpiper (layout) — Gary Bloomfield..........822-0210 Volunteer Coordinator — Josée Rousseau.....839-5763 Website Gatekeeper — Sue Leskiw ...............442-5444 Lake Earl Branch — Sue Calla.......................465-6191 RRAS Web Page......................................www.rras.org Arcata Bird Alert .....................822-LOON (822-5666) The Sandpiper is published six times each year by Redwood Region Audubon Society P.O. Box 1054, Eureka, CA 95502.
President’s Column Positively Audubon by Jim Clark Conservation organizations often share their newsletters and journals. These items can be valuable reading for chapter leaders. Although each organization emphasizes different aspects of conservation, we tend to share many ideals. I recently reviewed the journal of an organization that calls our region home. I started by reading an article about a regional subject and began to feel uncomfortable as I continued to peruse it. The author went on at great length not only about why various proposals and practices were wrong, but also to vilify those who were involved and the agencies responsible for regulating their implementation. The author even demonized the machinery used in some of the projects. The further I read, the more the informative article turned into a manifesto, pointing out malefactors and their conspiracies. As I finished reading, I thought how sad it was that the author was compelled to tear down his adversaries in an attempt to build a case. Apparently he did not realize that such tactics demean his own position. The article represented page after page of negativity and probably hours of wasted effort, unless the purpose was to make new enemies. Another consequence of this kind of effort is polarization of the issue and making the “cause” appear desperate. Even worse, such negative manifestos have the potential to alienate those who believe in the cause but
can’t accept the means. I am happy to report that my experience with Audubon over the last 36 years has been the opposite. When I connect with Audubon— from local members to national-level people—I don’t recall ever finding the type of negativism described above. Apparently being positive works. Audubon chapters and state and national levels have achieved significant goals in bird habitat conservation and have stopped inappropriate projects. While Audubon stresses the positive, we also know to hold our representatives and regulators’ feet to the fire when required. In the 1980s, our chapter reached a settlement with Humboldt County as a result of litigation for illegal development of a wetland. The planning department’s wetland review process was found to be inadequate. Under the terms of the settlement, the department was required to consult with our chapter on wetland reviews for 5 years, while money from the settlement has more than doubled to a sanctuary fund of over $120,000. Our chapter made no enemies, gained respect, and has used the fund to assist other organizations and agencies in conservation. Cooperation and persuasion have produced long-term positive results. By using the 3-legged stool of science, education, and law, we can implement new and costeffective methods of bird conservation. Visit www. ca.audubon.org/ to discover how Audubon California and state chapters are making positive progress for bird conservation.
RRAS Cosponsors Arcata Camp Bailey. Former board member Bob Rasmussen joined Elliott and Melinda to help the students operate the microscopes and identify what they had collected. A highlight was Elliott’s dissection of a clam. FOAM board member George Ziminsky helped set up and clean up the
Thinking of Joining the National Audubon Society?
If so, please use the coupon below. By sending in your membership on this form, rather than replying to solicitations from National Audubon, $20 is sent directly to RRAS. This is how NAS rewards local chapters for recruiting national members. (Otherwise, the RRAS dues share per new member is only a couple of dollars.) Thank you.
Chapter Membership Application
Yes, I’d like to join.
Please enroll me as a member of the National Audubon Society and of my local chapter. Please send AUDUBON magazine and my membership card to the address below. My check for $20 is enclosed. (Introductory offer)
NAME_______________________________ ADDRESS___________________________ CITY ______________________________ STATE____________ZIP______________ email ______________________________ Local Chapter Code: C1ZC240Z Please make checks to the National Audubon Society. Send this application and your check to:
National Audubon Society P.O. Box 422250 Palm Coast, FL 32142-2250
REDWOOD REGION AUDUBON SOCIETY P.O. BOX 1054 EUREKA, CA 95502
Chet Ogan helps a camper find a species on the bird checklist. Photo by Sue Leskiw.
by Sue Leskiw On June 29, RRAS joined with Friends of the Arcata Marsh (FOAM) to host a day-long camp for children age 9-12 at the Arcata Marsh. The session was part of the Wildlife Biology Week of the Arcata Recreation Department’s Natural Resources Science Camp. This is the fourth year that RRAS and FOAM have collaborated on the camp. Seventeen kids arrived at the Interpretive Center to start with a low-tide critter collection “Mud Walk.” Leaders were FOAM vice president Elliott Dabill and former board member Melinda George Ziminsky birds the treatment ponds with campers. Photo by Sue Leskiw.
viewing stations, while FOAM president Sue Leskiw was responsible for putting together the schedule, lining up volunteers, making lunch, and taking photos. The day was capped off by a bird walk led by RRAS volunteers Tom Leskiw and Chet Ogan, plus George. Highlights were an American Bittern that ran across vegetation, a female Mallard with 7 or 8 ducklings preening on a stream bank, 2 Peregrine Falcons, and close-up views of an American Robin feeding 2 nestlings.
Redwood Region Audubon Society welcomes the following new members and subscribers: Arcata – Barney Bartelle, Jayme Bartz, Lilyan Haigh Bayside – Christine Keil Crescent City – Debra Myers Eureka – Brenda Morgan, Lena Macan Ferndale – Marybeth Volk Garberville – Sue Thomas Petrolia – Kathryn Radke Redway – Kendra Akselsen Trinidad – Susan Marelich We look forward to seeing you on field trips and at our monthly programs.
George Ziminsky leads campers to view a Bullock’s Oriole nest off South I Street. Photo by Sue Leskiw.
Northern Saw-whet Owls at Lanphere Dunes
by Josée Rousseau, Humboldt Bay Bird Observatory Program Director
Northern Saw-whet Owl. Photo by Adam Beeler.
Humboldt Bay Bird Observatory (HBBO) tentatively surveyed for small owls last fall to discover that numerous Northern Saw-whet Owls are using Humboldt County for their migration. This charismatic owl is well known and surveyed in the eastern US (http://www.projectowlnet.org/), but very little is known about its movement, habitat, and life history in the western states. 2010 HBBO Survey: Night 1 The small owls’ audio lure can be faintly heard in the distance from the barn apartment. A team of 4
banders secure their head lamps and head outside, appearing white under the black light. Birds without anxious to see if they caught an owl. It is their lucky a molt limit are young birds born that summer; birds day: a Northern Saw-whet Owl lay patiently in the with a molt limit (with pink and whiter feathers, such mist net, waiting to be extracted. This will be the first as in photo) are at least 1 year old. Some males and females can be told apart by using a combination of saw-whet of the season. wing length and weight information. With limited Night 5 A saw-whet is heard up in the trees. Maybe next time effort, HBBO captured 10 birds last fall: 9 young and it will be in the nets. An hour later, the team of 3 walk 1 second-year bird, most of them females. We would like to increase our survey effort to the net lane to find 2 saw-whets: new individuals, this coming fall, opening our nets several times per both young females. week from mid-October to the end of November. Night 10 The banders know to expect at least 1 owl again We are looking for owl enthusiasts willing to stay tonight; it has been the trend since the beginning up from sunset to the wee hours of the morning of the fall season. Who knew they were migrating (1-2 a.m.). To volunteer, contact Kim Hollinger so close to the ocean? As with all other owls, this (email@example.com, 707-616-4787) and/or Josée one will get a uniquely numbered aluminum band; Rousseau (firstname.lastname@example.org, 707-825-2918). To its age, sex, weight, and other measurements will be become a member, e-mail HBBO@klamathbird.org meticulously recorded; and the owl will be released or visit klamathbird.org/contribute.html and mention HBBO in the designation section. back into nature safe and sound. This species is characterized by white streaks on its crown and nape and small size: measuring about 8 inches long and weighing around 2.8 oz. Young and adults are easily distinguished by looking at the molt limits—or lack of— on their wings. Molt limits in Northern Saw-whet Owls readily appear with the use of a black light under the wing. The dark pink feathers are newly grown feathers naturally filled with an organic compound called porphyrin. Older feathers lose the pink pigmentation, Pink underwing molt limit. Photo by Vitek Jirinec.
Pitfalls to Counting Heard-Only Birds, Part II “On the whole, sir, I can not help expressing a wish that every member would … with me, on this occasion, doubt a little of his own infallibility.” --Ben Franklin, 1787 Surely you remember the first time you went birding with an accomplished ear birder whose knowledge of songs and calls blew the roof off your quaint notion of “bird watching?” You instantly realized that your companion cast a net of finer mesh than yours— one capable of seining in furtive squeaks, sibilant warbles. The experience engendered a paradigm shift in how you viewed the sport of birding. “Now I understand why the term ‘birding’ superseded bird watching,” you thought. For the latter term implies a more passive search for birds, limited to what could be detected with the eye, whereas the knowledgeable ear birder is much more active in his quest. “Heard-only” birds form the backbone of many data collection protocols that range from Breeding Bird Surveys (BBSs) and point counts to rooftop programs that record the nocturnal flight calls of migrants. The ability to detect birds without having to see them is a boon for data collection. However, some caution is in order. Although Franklin’s words refer to the U.S. Constitution, they apply equally to our common practice of counting heard-only birds. A misidentified call or song is no big deal if the tallied bird is merely an addition to a day list. However, if the species would constitute a first county or state record or a grossly out-of-habitat bird, accumulating more convincing evidence is prudent. In Part I of this essay (www.rras.org; JanFeb 2000; archive of my columns), I discussed the
hazards of counting heard-only birds at popular birding destinations. How can we be sure that the Chuck-will’s-widow or other nocturnal bird we’re hearing isn’t just a song being broadcast by another person or group across the meadow/hillside/canyon? The short answer, based on my own experience and stories that many of us have heard, is that …we can’t. Complicating matters further is the plethora of non-avian sources that are capable of sounding— when one really wants to hear a target bird—like the subject bird. The back-up buzzer of heavy equipment, mechanical or tree-limb squeaks, even the subtle tinkle of a windbreaker’s metal zipper clasp can sound like a bird. It would be different if the sounds we heard in the field were laboratory-clean: just us listening to examples of bird song without wind, rippling waters, or the shush of tree needle or leaf. But they’re not. And when we consider the number of bird species that are accomplished or occasional mimics, the waters turn very muddy indeed. The following is just a sampling of real-life, cautionary tales: About six years ago, Sue and I had some business to attend to in Clear Lake. We decided to visit Rodman Slough, a migrant trap at the northwest corner of the lake that has hosted several noteworthy birds. The wind was howling and it was difficult to hear birds. We’d reached the lakeshore and were returning to our car when I first heard it: a distant, blowing-across-the-top-of-a-bottle sound like an Old World cuckoo. Although it really didn’t sound like a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, I talked myself into thinking—and reporting—it as such. A day or two later, I received an e-mail from John Sterling, diplomatically inquiring if the subject bird might not have been a Least Bittern. Oops. After checking my CDs for examples of its song, I realized that John was right. Retracing my steps on the factors that led to my ID gaffe, I realized that, although I’d seen the species on several occasions, I’d probably never heard it sing. If only I’d heeded Ben... Of course, birds don’t play fair—their
ability to mimic other species should prompt us all to doubt a little of our own infallibility. Consider the following: at the mouth of Willow Creek, I saw and heard a Yellow-breasted Chat doing a perfect Steller’s Jay “shaaack” call. While I was searching for Rock Wren east of Garberville with Gjon Hazard, Rob Hewitt, and John Hunter, we played a CD of a Rock Wren, receiving a response that all of us were certain was the wren. Nope. We subsequently viewed a Western Meadowlark on a power line giving the response. While leading a bird walk for school kids, a European Starling turned the tables, with a pitchperfect imitation of a Western Meadowlark. And the 1994 BBS newsletter noted that one observer saw and heard a Nashville Warbler imitating a MacGillivray’s. The following is from Ken Burton via a 3/25/09 e-mail: “A year or more ago I reported hearing what I thought was a White-breasted Nuthatch call note in Cutten. Today in Blue Lake I heard/saw a Lesser Goldfinch incorporating such call notes into its song and think it’s quite likely that’s what I heard in Cutten. It’s interesting to speculate on where our LEGOs might be picking up those notes.” ABA’s Birding (Feb 1988) contained a letter to the editor from Mary Gustafson that discussed a female Common Yellowthroat mimicking a Prairie Warbler and a Chipping Sparrow. She added that she’s seen a male Common Yellowthroat mimic Song Sparrow and Rufous-sided Towhee and a Louisiana Waterthrush singing Yellow-throated Warbler songs. Respondents to her letter (Oct 1988) relate stories of a Common Yellowthroat mimicking a Swamp Sparrow, a Fox Sparrow mimicking an Olive-sided Flycatcher, a Blackburnian Warbler imitating a Black-throated Green Warbler, and a Black-throated Blue Warbler imitating a Prairie Warbler. Whew! So many pitfalls… so little time. Tom Leskiw July 5, 2011
By Daryl Coldren
S U M M A RY O F N O R T H W E S T E R N C A L I F O R N I A B I R D R E P O R T S
1 June-15 July 2011 Field Notes is a compilation of bird sighting reports for Del Norte, Humboldt, northern Mendocino, Trinity, and western Siskiyou counties. Sources include the RRAS bird alert (707/822-LOON), the online northwestern California birding and information exchange (email@example.com), the Mendocino County birders’ listserv (firstname.lastname@example.org), eBird (http://ebird.org/content/klamath-siskiyou), and reports submitted directly to the compiler. Future reports may be submitted to any of the sources mentioned above or to Daryl Coldren: 916-384-8089; QuiAvisPetit@aol.com. FOS = first of season; LR = last report; HO = holdover from previous period; MOb = many observers; NC = not confirmed/documented; NWR = National Wildlife Refuge.
Greater White-fronted Goose: 1, Humboldt Bay NWR, 1-15 Jul (RH, MOb) • Brant: 6, Elk River Mouth, 10 Apr (TK, RH, JS, KR) • Aleutian Cackling Goose: 18, Ferndale Bottoms, 4 Jun (MW, LN, JN), 1, Humboldt Bay NWR, 15 Jul (RH) • Blue-winged Teal: 2, Arcata Marsh, 1 Jun (GC, RB, MOb) • Harlequin Duck: 1, Luffenholtz Beach, 9 Jun (TL) • Black Scoter: 1, King Salmon, 4 Jun (MW) • Long-tailed Duck: 1, Crescent City, 8 Jun (AB, JS) • Green Heron: 1, Arcata Marsh, 1 Jun (KR) • Bald Eagle: many reports of 1-2, Arcata Marsh, Trinidad, Humboldt Bay NWR, Blue Lake, Big Lagoon, Willow Creek, Orleans, Jun 1- Jul 15 • Crested Caracara: 1, Smith River Bottoms, HO-6 Jul (AB, MOb) • American Golden-Plover: 1, Lake Tolowa, 10 Jun (LB) • Pacific GoldenPlover: 1, Lake Tolowa, 10 Jun (LB) • Ruddy Turnstone: 1, MacKerricher State Park, 13 Jul (BB) • Semipalmated Sandpiper: 1, Lake Tolowa, 24 Jun (LB); 1-3, Alexandre Dairy, 7-8 Jul (LB, RH MOb) •
Little Stint, 7 July 2011, © Alan D. Barron Alexandre Dairy, Fort Dick, Del Norte County, CA
LITTLE STINT! (Del Norte’s 1st): 1 adult, Alexandre Dairy, 7-8 Jul (LB, AB, MOb) • Heermann’s Gull: 1 (FOS), Lake Tolowa, 16 Jun (TK) • Mew Gull: 1, Mad River Mouth, 4 Jul (KB) • Common Tern: 1, Mad River Mouth, 2 Jul (GL) • Elegant Tern: 263!, Crescent City Harbor, 6 Jul (AB); 80, Elk River Mouth, 13 Jul (RF) • Pomarine Jaeger: 1, Mattole River Mouth, 8 Jun (DCo) • Marbled Murrelet: many reports of 1-15, Prairie Creek State Park, Patrick’s Point State Park , Gold Bluffs Beach, Redwood Creek Mouth, Centerville Beach, Jun 1-Jul 15 (MOb) • Thick-billed Murre: 1, Crescent City Harbor, 10 Jul (LB) • Cassin’s Auklet: 2, Turtle Rocks, 1 Jul (DCz) • Rhinoceros
Auklet: 2, Patrick’s Point, 3 Jun (TK); “several,” Crescent City, 2 Jul (LB); 2, North Jetty, 26 Jun (KR); 2, Turtle Rocks, 30 Jun-1 Jul (DCz) • Tufted Puffin: 2, Wedding Rock, 29 Jun (DCz) • Flammulated Owl: 2, Larabee Valley, 7 Jun (RH); 5, Dinsmore, 15 Jun (RH) • Common Nighthawk: 1, Mattole River Mouth, 10 Jun (DCo); 1, Blue Lake, 15 Jun (PL); 1, Korbel, 21 Jun (RH) • Black Swift: 1, Arcata Marsh, 1 Jun (DF, JP); 2, Arcata, 2 Jun (GB), 2, Capetown, 24 Jun (DCo) • White-throated Swift: 2, Blue Lake, HO-13 Jul (MOb); several reports of 2-6, Benbow Bridge, HO-3 Jul (MOb), 2 reports of 2-4, Southern Humboldt Community Park, 19 Jun3 Jul (JG, RH, TK) • Costa’s Hummingbird: 1, Shay Park, 21-22 Jun (RF) • Calliope Hummingbird: 1, Ant Point, Trinity Co, 3 Jul (SM) • White-headed Woodpecker: 2, Big Hill, 26 Jun (JS, RH, TK); 3 reports of 1-2, Titlow Hill Rd, 18-24 Jun (RF, RB, CO) • White-breasted Nuthatch: 4, Dyerville Loop, 12 Jun (JG); 1, Bald Hills Rd, 3 Jul (DCz) • Willow Flycatcher: 1, Shelter Cove, 4 Jun (RH, TK, GC), 1, Arcata Marsh, 1-2 Jun (RF); 1, Blue Lake Hatchery, 17 Jun-13 Jul (RH, MOb); 3, Blue Lake, 1 Jun (PL); 1, Blue Lake Cottonwoods, 11-26 Jun (MM); 1, Mad River, 13-22 Jun (RH) • Bank Swallow: 1, Arcata Marsh, 14 Jun (DF); new colony found!, Smith River, 10 Jun (CO) • California Thrasher: 1, Red Mountain, Trinity Co, 3 Jul (SM) • Horned Lark: 2, Bear River Ridge, 2 Jul (TK, RH) • Northern Parula: 1, Fort Dick, 14 Jun (LB) • American Redstart: 1, Smith River, 14 Jun (LB) • Scarlet Tanager: 1 (NC), Eureka, 2 Jun (BS) • Green-tailed Towhee: 1, Big Hill Rd, 26 Jun (RH, TK, JS); 5, Titlow Hill Rd, 18 Jun (RF, MOb); 2, Titlow Hill Rd, 23 Jun (RB) • Black-chinned Sparrow: 6, Red Mountain, Trinity, 3 Jul (SM) • Lark Sparrow: 12, Dyerville Loop, 12 Jun (JG); 9, Dyerville Loop, 27 Jun (JG) • Grasshopper Sparrow: 5, Garberville, 3 Jul (JSo); 3, Southern Humboldt Community Park, 19 Jun (JG) • Rose-breasted Grosbeak: 1, Cutten, 24 Jun (LK) • Indigo Bunting: 1, Arcata Marsh, HO-2 Jun (GZ, DF, JP, RF, MOb); 1, Crescent City, 27 Jun (AB) • Bobolink: 1, Arcata Bottoms, 5 Jun (CJR) • Yellow-headed Blackbird: 1, Shelter Cove, 4 Jun (TK, RH, GC) • Great-tailed Grackle: 3, Alexandre Dairy, 28 Jun-8 Jul (AB, LB, MOb) • Hooded Oriole: 1, Cooper Gulch, 12 Jun (RF) • Cassin’s Finch: 2, Horse Mountain, 18 Jun (CO, MOb); 3, Titlow Hill Rd, 24 Jun (CO); 2, Titlow Hill Rd, 9 Jul (CO); 1, Long Ridge Rd, 26 Jun (TK, RH, JS).
Thanks to all who have submitted sightings! Alan Barron, Gary Bloomfield, Becky Bowen, Lucas Brug, Ralph Bucher, Ken Burton, Greg Chapman, Daryl Coldren, Dave Czaplak, David Fix, Rob Fowler, John Gaffin, Rob Hewitt, Larry Karstedt, Tony Kurz, Tom Leskiw, Gary Lester, Paul Lohse, Mark Magnuson, Sean McAllister, Judie Norton, Lew Norton, Chet Ogan, Jude Power, C.J. Ralph, Kerry Ross, Jesse Sargent (JS), Barry Sauppe, Jay Sooter (JSo), Matt Wachs, George Ziminsky.
Leucistic Purple Finch, 5 July, 2011, © Gary Bloomfield Arcata, Humboldt County
Lapland Longspur at Lanphere Dunes. Photo by Alan J. Ralph
Lapland Longspur at the Lanphere Dunes By Alan J. Ralph Editors’ Note: This 14-year-old author from San Leandro, California, submitted this report last winter, but its publication was inadvertently delayed. According to Stan Harris’ unpublished notes, this bird is not new to Lanphere Dunes, as a flock of five was detected there during December 1976 by Ken Irwin. We hope Alan also reported it to eBird (eBird.org) and that other young birders follow his example of careful description and reporting. At about12:30 p.m., November 24, 2010, while out for an afternoon walk, I spotted what is likely a new species to the Lanphere Dunes of the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge. We were walking through the foredunes about 50 yards inland from the beach. As I was lagging behind the group, taking pictures, I stopped for a moment and saw an unfamiliar bird. It looked out of place, being that it was alone and wasn’t hopping but walking through the short dune mat vegetation. I quickly called to the others, and everything came to a halt. As we all stood with our binoculars in hand, the bird was very tame, coming within 10 yards. I brought my camera up and took several shots while the bird was also being examined by my aunt and uncle (Carol and C.J.). I saw a long white streak down its back and a dark outline around the face. Its belly was white towards the back and buffy on the breast. There are also 2 broad rufous-edged wing feathers (greater coverts) and one narrower one that was harder to see. If you look even closer, you can spot broad rufous edges to the feathers in the middle of the wing. I compared my pictures with those in Sibley’s Birds of North America and decided the new species for me was a Lapland Longspur. It was a nonbreeding adult and is an uncommon winter visitant in northwestern California, according to Harris’ Northwestern California Birds.
Community Wheel greenwheels
A PUBLICATION OF Humboldt’s Advocate for Transportation Choices
Arcata Wetlands - by Bike! by Emily Sinkhorn
There is so much to see by bike in Arcata! On a sunny June day, Green Wheels, the City of Arcata and the Friends of the Arcata Marsh sponsored a community bike tour of Arcata’s premier spots of restored wetlands and streams. Thrity-five riders–including kids on tag-alongs and cyclists on recumbent bikes–wheeled along Arcata Marsh paths and city streets, seeing first hand where and how the City of Arcata is improving our watershed. The tour meandered around the Arcata Marsh and upstream to several spots along Janes Creek. The bike tour demonstrated how the City’s watershed approach protects and improves in-stream and riparian habitat, which also provides flood control and creates open space in our neighborhoods. It also showed how bikeable Arcata is!
Riders take a breif interlude to admire the Arcata Marsh’s natural surroundings while Julie Neander reveals all that it has to offer. Photo: Green Wheels
greenwheels • As a member, you will receive the Community Wheel by mail and then Humboldt Bay Area Bike Map. • Members receive 10% off bike accessories at Revolution Bikes and Adventure’s Edge in Arcata. • Your membership contribution is tax deductable.
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ECONEWS August/September 2011
LET’S BE REASONABLE!
Local Governments Assessing Weekend Transit Service Each year, the Humboldt County Association of Governments (HCAOG), in its role as the Regional Transportation Planning Agency (RTPA), asks the public if they have “unmet transit needs.” Based on public comments and adopted definitions and criteria, the HCAOG Board must decide what, if any, unmet transit needs qualify as “reasonable to meet.” The genesis of this process is the Transportation Development Act (TDA) of 1970. The TDA establishes where most of the region’s transit funding comes from, and how it is spent. The TDA requires an annual unmet transit need public process. If an RTPA finds that there is an “unmet transit need that is reasonable to meet,” then certain TDA funds must be spent on transit, to try to meet those needs, before being diverted to fund streets and roads. The TDA also requires RTPAs to create a Social Services Transportation Advisory Council (SSTAC), who is responsible for recommending a finding to the Board. In July, HCAOG’s SSTAC recommended that three potential transit services met criteria for being reasonable to meet: service on Saturdays to Willow Creek and Garberville; service on Sundays on the mainline Redwood Transit Service; and Sunday bus service in Arcata and Eureka. Neither the recommendation nor a finding, by itself, would require a jurisdiction to begin these potential transit services. It would require a jurisdiction to spend TDA funds on transit, if applicable, before
spending it on streets and roads. If, however, a jurisdiction already spends all their TDA money on transit, then no change is required. The cities of Arcata and Eureka, for example, already expend all of their TDA money on transit. The Board discussed the SSTAC’s recommendations on July 28, 2011. Board members expressed concerns about making the finding that there are “unmet transit needs that are reasonable to meet” while being unsure that current finances would support new services. Members of the public commented that people urgently need Sunday bus service, especially people who have disabilities and/or low incomes. The SSTAC will meet again to review new data, and the HCAOG Board will review the item again at their meeting on Thursday, August 25, 2011 (4 p.m. at Eureka City Hall). Green Wheels encourages transit supporters to contact their Board representative* and attend the meeting. These potential services could greatly improve mobility for many in Humboldt County—come speak up for more transportation options in Humboldt! *The HCAOG Board includes the mayor of each incorporated city and a County supervisor (currently Clif Clendenen). HCAOG can be contacted at: info@hcaog. net or (707) 444-8208.
Bike Lanes as Traffic
Calming in Eureka by Emily Sinkhorn
Have you ever tried to bike east or west through Eureka? A direct, safe route can be a challenge as few bikeways traverse the heart of Eureka. City of Eureka engineering staff saw an opportunity to improve bicycling conditions on Harris Street when funding became available for maintenance. Harris Street connects key east-west destinations, including Henderson Center, Myrtletown, and Sequoia Park. Harris Street has a bike lane from Fairfield Street (near the Eureka Mall) to I Street. Recently, Humboldt County Public Works narrowed travel lanes and added a bike lane on Harris Street between Harrison Avenue and Hubbard Lane, near Redwood Acres. In the City’s jurisdiction, however, there remains a gap between I Street and Harrison Avenue. City of Eureka staff drafted a project to fill the bike lane gap by removing some onstreet parking, but neighborhood residents opposed it. Staff got more input from the Transportation Safety and Parking Place Commissions, cycling advocates, and residents, and drafted an alternative proposal. The new design adds bike lanes by narrowing the travel lanes, thereby retaining parking. The proposed bike lane can increase the feeling of safety, which makes bicycling more appealing to residents and commuters. It can improve the walking environment, too, as narrower lanes encourage slower driving, which makes it safer for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists alike. The bicycling community spoke up in favor of the traffic calming alternative, and we encourage your support when this item reaches the Eureka City Council later this summer. Stay tuned to www.green-wheels.org for updates.
Layout design by Katie Alford
The Environmental Protection Information Center 145 G Street, Suite A, Arcata, CA 95521
State Park Closures:
Jerry Brown Adds Insult to Injury
The stewardship crisis in the California State Parks System continues unabated. There has been an outpouring of concern about the economic and environmental impacts that would arise from closing parks such as the Benbow Lake State Recreation Area, the Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park, and the Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, to name a few. Despite serious legal compromises apparent in the proposal, and the devastating impact the closures will have on the North Coast economy, the California state government appears to be blundering ahead with it’s plan to permanently close up to 70 parks statewide over the next year. At the same time, threats of degradation of parks from cattle grazing, highway development, unregulated use of off-road vehicles, vandalism, marijuana cultivation, and even timber theft, continue to plague our state parks. These are acute problems even in parks not listed for closure. There is little question that this is a watershed moment for the future of California State Parks, considered one of the most important protected area systems in the world. How our state responds to this crisis will forever mark the environmental legacy of Governor Jerry Brown. The Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) has been fighting to protect the integrity of our state parks as crucial ecological and economic assets for many years. It is important to place our challenge to the Caltrans proposal for widening Highway 101 through Richardson Grove State Park in the context of the parks crisis. EPIC has taken action
on the Richardson rare Silverspot needs restored Grove issue in order for its recovery. to protect the ancient Governor Jerry Brown can redwoods immediately reverse this deterioration and adjacent to the highway dismantling of the California from harm, and to State Parks system. A first step draw attention on a is to appoint new leadership statewide, nationwide, to the California Department and worldwide level to of Parks and Recreation. This the precarious state of is one path of action that will the globally treasured allow the Governor to begin redwood parks in to chart a new course for Northwest California. the globally important parks For instance, system in California. To fail Grizzly Creek to do so is to take ownership Redwoods is to be of the last 10 years of park closed, perhaps as soon management that has led as January 2012. What us to this crisis situation. will happen to this Another step is to abandon critically important the plans for parks closure remnant of the ancient that his administration has redwood forest, or proposed. Is a reputation as to the critical salmon Pondering the future of Grizzly Creek State Park. the “man who shut down our and steelhead habitat that the park protects state parks” the environmental legacy for which in the midst of a heavily impaired Van Duzen Governor Brown wants to be remembered? watershed? The way that questions such as As the state stumbles along with its plan to these are answered will be the signature of the close parks, there is no question that this environmental legacy of Jerry Brown. game of brinkmanship has potentially horrible Another question that faces Jerry Brown consequences. is the fate of the Oregon Silverspot Butterfly, The environmental legacy of Jerry Brown a federally listed endangered species. One of will fully depend on whether he defends our state the very few places in the world that this rare parks for future generations, or on whether he butterfly still survives is in Tolowa Dunes State sacrifices these global jewels for nothing more Park and the adjacent Lake Earl State Wildlife than budget dust blowing about on the altar of Area. Unfortunately, the state continues to allow political expediency. grazing and hay cutting in the very areas that the
Coho Salmon Threatened by Mendocino Logging Rob DiPerna
Logging on private lands in California has had a devastating effect on Coho salmon populations and viability. According to the National Marine Fisheries Service, the vast majority of Coho habitat remaining in California exists on private timber lands. In watersheds such as the Ten Mile River in Mendocino County, past—and to a lesser extent, recent—logging has devastated habitat for these fish. In the Ten Mile River example, 85 percent of the watershed is under the industrial timber management of Hawthorne Timber Company/ Campbell Timber Management Company. The Ten Mile drains to the Pacific Ocean about 10 miles north of Fort Bragg. The Ten Mile has Coho Salmon. Photo Courtesy of NOAA. been listed as impaired due to excessive sediment It is in this context that we consider and temperature under the Federal Clean Water potential threats to Coho from individual logging Act. The Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) plans. Once again taking the example of the Ten for the Ten Mile River identifies timber harvest Mile River, we reference two pending logging plans as the primary stressing factor for the primary that threaten Coho and Coho habitat. beneficial use in the watershed, cold water fisheries, These logging plans called “Starvation Red” particularly Coho salmon. and “Davis Yellow” are set in the Bald Hill Creek Coho salmon were upgraded from watershed in the North Fork of the Ten Mile River. “threatened” to “endangered” under the Federal The Bald Hill Creek watershed has been identified ESA in the Central California Coast Evolutionary by the California Department of Fish and Game Significant Unit in 2005. Coho are being extirpated (DFG) as having a high rate and intensity of harvest from scores of streams that once supported them. over the last 15 years, which has contributed to According to one National Marine Fisheries Service existing habitat destruction, modification, and employee, the Coho are going the way of the Condor. simplification. Here, the DFG has recommended Although the National Marine Fisheries Service’s changes in logging from clearcutting to selection 2011 Central California Coast Coho Status Review in several units, but Hawthorne Timber Company/ determined that there was not enough information Campbell Timber Management Company has not to rate the risk of extinction in the Ten Mile River, agreed, and Cal Fire, for its part, is showing no all indicators show that Coho habitat is impaired inclination to support the DFG. in the Ten Mile, and that Coho numbers are Also at issue in these two plans is the declining locally. accuracy of watercourse classification according
to the methods described in the California Forest Practice Rules. The DFG has indicated that watercourses were misclassified and that an inappropriate classification method not supported by the rules was used. Once again, Hawthorne Timber Company/Campbell Timber Management Company have disagreed with the DFG, and Cal Fire has shown no inclination to support the DFG. Without implementation of the recommendations made by the DFG field inspector, both these logging plans run a high risk of harming Coho. Pervasive in these debates is Cal Fire’s refusal to support DFG field recommendations to modify these logging plans so that they do not harm critically endangered Coho. Cal Fire has a long and sorted history of siding with the industry rather than its sister agencies, and has subsequently created a culture of inadequate regulatory enforcement of applicable laws, including the Forest Practice Rules themselves. These Hawthorne Timber Company/ Campbell Timber Management Company logging plans represent a few examples of why the recently enacted Anadromous Salmonid Protection Rules are not adequate to prevent harm to Coho. The National Marine Fisheries Service has summarily decried these rules, and reminded both Cal Fire and private industrial landowners that approval of THPs does not shield the company from take prohibitions. Thus failure to include the DFG’s recommendations and heed the their concerns about rate and intensity of harvest and its implications for Coho leave these logging plans in danger of causing harm to Coho and their habitat. EPIC will continue to monitor these and other logging plans with the potential to damage Coho and Coho habitat, particularly in the Central California Coast where the situation is dire.
August/September 2011 ECONEWS
News and Events from the North Coast Chapter of the California Native Plant Society Beginners and experts, non-members and members are all welcome at our programs and on our outings. Almost all of our events are free. All of our events are made possible by volunteer effort. EVENING PROGRAMS Second Wednesday evening, September through May. Refreshments at 7 p.m.; program at 7:30 p.m. at the Six Rivers Masonic Lodge, 251 Bayside Road, near 7th and Union, Arcata. Botanical FAQ’s: At 7:15 p.m. Pete Haggard (or another presenter) shares a brief, hands-on demonstration and discussion of a variety of botanical topics. (Previously advertised as “Botanical Prelude.”) Wednesday, September 14, 7:30 p.m. “The Nightshade Family—Friend and Foe.” Lively lecturer and esteemed botanist Dr. James P. Smith will introduce the family of tomatoes, potatoes, nightshades, and tobacco. We will look
CNPS Horse Mountain Hike November 2010, rain or shine. Photo: Ron Johnson
at the root crop that was once suspect because it was not mentioned in the Hebrew Bible; the herb that was thought to cause insanity; the plant that may explain why witches thought they were capable of flying; the foul-smelling plant that has sent many of us to the emergency room; and of course, tobacco. FIELD TRIPS AND PLANT WALKS Outings are open to everyone, not just members. All levels of expertise, from beginners to experienced botanizers, are welcome. Address questions about physical ability requirements to the leader. Saturday (optional Sunday), August 13 (-14). Waterdog Lake: Plant, Butterfly, and Bird Day Hike. A CNPS-Audubon event. Famous for their butterfly diversity, tiny Waterdog Lake and adjacent North Trinity Mountain are our destination on a two-mile trail through diverse mountain habitats. Elevation, starting at 5,300 ft., but is not steep. Bring lunch, snack, at least 2 quarts water, and many layers of clothing. Meet at 8:00 a.m. sharp at Pacific Union School (3001 Janes Rd., Arcata) or arrange another place. It’s a two-hour drive to the trailhead northeast of Hoopa. Return by 6 p.m., or join an optional camp-out near the trailhead Saturday (and Friday?) night. Call Carol 707-822-2015. Sunday, September 11. Horse Mountain Day Hike. A day among Jeffrey pine and huckleberry oak looking for a late lily or angelica— you never know!—in Six Rivers National Forest along Titlow Hill Rd. Explore a new trail, 2-4 miles on gravel roads and uneven ground, with some ups and downs. Bring lunch and plenty of water. Dress in layers for all kinds of weather— summer to winter (yes, even gloves). At 4-5,000
ft. it can be any kind. Meet at 8:30 a.m. at Pacific Union School (3001 Janes Rd., Arcata ) or arrange otherwise. Return by 5 p.m. Call Carol 707-822-2015. October 2, Sunday. Chapter Picnic at Big Lagoon. An afternoon of good food and good company, among the sand plants, wetland plants, bog plants, and spruce forest plants in Big Lagoon County Park (Turn left off 101, 7 miles north of Trinidad). Bring a dish to share, your own item to BBQ, your own beverage, eating gear, and any friends or relations you want. Fire will be ready for cooking at 1:00 p.m. We will eat 1:00-2:30; then explore by foot or boat. Bring a canoe or kayak if it’s not too windy. Camp chairs, tables, and canopies will be useful too. Plan on a cool sea breeze. $2 day use fee. In case of rotten weather, call Carol to find out where we will be instead. 707-822-2015 November 5, Saturday. Save the date for a field trip. If you know a fun place for a day trip in November, tell Carol. State Park Ivy Bash. September 10, Saturday, 9 a.m.-12 noon. Ivy Bash at Patrick’s Point State Park. Pulling English ivy off the ground and away from trees is great for relieving daily tensions and fostering the satisfaction of a job well done. Doing it in one of our State Parks is socially rewarding as well. Join novice and experienced ivy pullers in rescuing a patch of this wonderful state park from this invasive plant. Then share an appreciation picnic lunch provided by the park. Staff will tell how to become an official volunteer ivy basher, empowered to work in the park at any time, and thank current volunteers. Bring work gloves if you have them. For information: 707-677-3109; email@example.com.
NORTH GROUP NEWS
Events & Conservation Updates From the North Group Redwood Chapter Sierra Club Picnic with Audubon All are invited to attend a picnic on Saturday, Aug. 27, at Patricks Point State Park in Trinidad. Kicks off at 10 a.m. with a bird walk, followed by a potluck picnic at noon. Bring a dish to share; NG will provide place settings and drinks. We have invited Redwood Region Audubon Society members to join us. The site rental includes 25 day-use entries to the park, so please rideshare. Call Sue, (707) 442-5444, to find out how to get in at no charge. Slot Now Open on ExCom We said goodbye to Jennifer Wood in June, so are looking for a member to step up and try to fill her shoes. With over members in our geographic area, there must be someone to help us out. The Executive Committee meets the second Tuesday of each month in Eureka from 7-9 p.m. Why not attend the August 13 meeting and see what we’re about? Info: Gregg, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Sue, sueleskiw@ suddenlink.net. Meeting with Australian Environmentalist On May 25, Lucille Vinyard, Diane Beck, and Sue Leskiw enjoyed a picnic lunch with Geoff Law and his family at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Geoff is an Australian forest conservationist who has spent 30 years campaigning to protect wilderness and forests in Tasmania. He was awarded a Churchill Fellowship “to explore challenges facing temperate forests in World Heritage Areas (US, Japan, Slovakia).” He selected Redwood National Park (RNP) as one of four sites to visit, as the fight to protect our old-growth from logging was akin to saving the eucalypt giants in Tasmania. Lucille related stories of efforts in the 1960s and 70s to create and expand RNP, including instances of intimidation and harassment by those opposed to the plan. Healthy Humboldt Rep Sought North Group is a member of the Healthy Humboldt Coalition (HHC), which has been
ECONEWS August/September 2011
following the progress of and providing comment on the multi-year Humboldt County’s General Plan Update. We need someone to serve as our group’s liaison to the HHC. This involves occasional meetings, close interfacing with HHC staff, and preparing comments and/ or giving statements at Planning Commission meetings (usually Thursday evenings in Eureka). If you could help out with this important task, contact Sue at 707-442-5444. OUTINGS AND MEETINGS Tuesday, August 9. Executive Committee Meeting. Discuss local conservation issues from 8-9 p.m. or come for NG business meeting starting at 7p.m. Adorni Center, Eureka Waterfront. Info: Gregg, 707-826-3740. Saturday, August 13. Coastal Trail to Klamath River Overlook. 8-mile ocean-view hike past Lagoon Creek Pond and tidepools of Hidden Beach to bluffs above Klamath. Return same route. Bring water, lunch, sturdy shoes. No dogs. Carpools: Meet 9:30 a.m. McKinleyville Safeway parking lot or 11 a.m. Lagoon Creek Picnic Area north of Klamath. Leader Bill, 707- 839-5971. Rain cancels.
Saturday, August 20. Fay Slough Wildlife Area Parent & Child Walk. Bring your child(ren) 1.5 miles on level CA Fish & Game wetlands trail 2 miles north of Eureka. Jogging strollers and friendly dogs OK. Optional loop adds half mile. Bring snacks and water; wear sturdy shoes. Meet Fay Slough Wildlife Area trailhead 10 a.m. Exit Hwy 101 at Harper Ford, make immediate left onto gravel road into parking lot. Leader Allison 707-268-8767. Rain cancels. Wednesday, August 24. Stone Lagoon. Begin at Dry Lagoon, walk north up beach, along trail winding over wooded hillside enclosing Stone Lagoon. 6-mile trip includes two side trails: one to boat-in camp and one, via informal path through brushy growth, to spectacular Sharp Point. Bring lunch, liquids, sunscreen, insect repellent, layers, hiking boots. No dogs. Carpools: Meet 10 a.m. SW corner Valley West Shopping Center parking lot or 10:45 a.m. Dry Lagoon Parking Lot (turn west off Hwy 101, just south and across from Red Schoolhouse). Leader Melinda, 707-668-4275; email@example.com. Saturday, September 10. Humboldt Redwoods State Park, Bull Creek Loop. 8-mile hike begins Rockefeller Loop Parking Area, follows trail to bridge to Bull Creek Trail South, upstream. Opposite Big Trees Day Use Area, cross creek, return Bull Creek Trail North. Bring liquids; lunch; layers; comfortable, sturdy footwear. No dogs. Must registration in advance. Leader Melinda, 707-668-4275; firstname.lastname@example.org. Tuesday, September 13. ExCom Meeting. [See August 9 listing.]
Amanda, Diane, Geoff, Lucille, and Elliott discuss old-growth forest conservation in California and Tasmania. Photo: Sue Leskiw.
Sunday, September 25. Scenic Trinidad Hike. Loop around Elk Head, Trinidad Head, and Indian (Tsurai) Beach for 7 miles. Bring water and lunch. No dogs. Meet noon Trinidad State Beach parking lot on Stagecoach Road beside school. Leader Bill, 707-839-5971. Rain cancels.
And Now for Some Good News.. Richardson Grove Injunction Granted The contentious Richardson Grove highway realignment project proposed by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), came to a grinding halt in July, after continued fierce opposition and a lawsuit from concerned citizens and environmental organizations. The suit, filed last year by the Environmental Protection Information Center, the Center for Biological Diversity, Californians for Alternatives to Toxics, and several individuals, alleged that Caltrans failed to adequately evaluate potential impacts, and had a high likelihood of harming old growth redwoods, and violated the environmental review process and environmental laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act. U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup granted a preliminary injunction, stopping Caltrans from performing any construction or making or awarding bids to contractors for the proposed widening of U.S. Highway 101, which winds through oldgrowth redwood stands in the park, stating that the plaintiffs “demonstrated that irreparable harm is likely” if the project moved forward while the court was weighing the merits of the case. Some of these ancient trees stand on the very edge of the existing road, and claims by Caltrans that they would not be harmed by the intended cut and fill techniques does not hold up to scientific scrutiny. Although no old-growth redwoods would be removed for the project, critics of the project have said the agency’s current plan would damage old-growth redwood roots. In his decision, Alsup wrote, “Exposing and cutting the roots of these trees makes them prone to infection and drying out. Weakening the roots of redwoods adjacent to the road affects the complex symbiotic root structure of the entire grove.”
One of the many large trucks already already able to navigate the tight sections of highway 101 through Richardson Grove. Photo: California Department of Transportation, http://www.dot.ca.gov.
The intent of the realignment project is to allow for passage of STAA trucks. The Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982 and the Federal Highway Administration requires that highways in the National Network, which includes the interstate system and other designated highways, be accessible to these large commercial vehicles. Access to other state highways is optional, but highly encouraged. Opponents feel opening an extension to the interstate highway system, however, through an old-growth redwood state park and one of the last undeveloped areas in California is unnacceptable. This injunction provides hope to many interested in preserving the relative isolation of the North Coast, and the integrity of our remaining old growth forests.
Portland Bans Plastic Bags
Bag Monsters protest in Portland City Council Chambers, June 14, 2010. Photo: Andrew Ferguson, Flickr Creative Commons.
In July, Portland, Oregon became the latest U.S. city to ban free single-use plastic bags.
Portland’s city council unanimously approved an ordinance that bans plastic bags from major grocery stores and some big box retailers, joining the 39 cities and counties in the U.S.—including 12 in California—that have banned plastic bags. In 2007, San Francicisco became the first U.S. city to ban large supermarkets and pharmacies from distributing free plastic bags to customers. Several countries around the world have also banned free plastic shopping bags, including Ireland, Germany, India, China, and Italy. Four to five trillion nondegradable plastic bags are used worldwide annually. In the U.S. only 2 percent of plastic bags are successfully recycled, partly due to the type of plastic used, which cannot be recycled with other plastics. Portland’s new rules will take effect October 15th.
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California Moves to Ban Styrofoam
A California Senate bill that would prohibit the distribution and use of polystyrene foam (styrofoam) food containers passed the Senate Floor with a 21-15 vote in June. Styrofoam, used for decades as common material for to-go food containers, is actually a lightweight plastic that releases chemicals when it gets wet. It is not degradeable, but does break down into smaller styrene particles, which then enter the food chain. As early as 1986, styrene was found in 100 percent of human fat tissue samples in an EPA study. Studies have also found styrene to be carcinogenic in mice. SB 568 requires that restaurants and shops use sustainable, or preferably, reuseable containers to distribute food and drink to customers, beginning January 1, 2014. If passed by the Assembly, California will be the first state in the country to implement a polystyrene ban. About 50 municipalities in the state already have a polystyrene ban in place. An Assembly vote is due by late August.
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The Redwood Forest Foundation Inc. (RFFI), a non-profit community benefit organization, announced that California’s Wildlife Conservation Board approved $19,500,000 in funding for the Conservation Easement on Usal Redwood Forest at its July 26, 2011 meeting. The funding was awarded to The Conservation Fund, which will purchase and oversee the terms of the easement. The three year process had been stalled numerous times under pressure from its single major opponent, the Mendocino Redwood Company (MRC). MRC, a Forestry Stewardship Council certified harvester, had been very vocal in its opposition to the project. The Usal Redwood Forest Conservation Easement encompasses more than 50,000 acres of forestland stretching along the coastal mountains from south of Leggett, along U.S. 101 to north of Piercy. The easement will create a contiguous protected area from Standish Hickey State Recreation Area to the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council and Sinkyone Wilderness State Park on the coast. Though legally owned as private land, RFFI would manage the land as a working community forest. This would allow for recreational uses as well as sustainable timber harvesting and traditional gathering practices for local tribes. The creeks and rivers are also refuges for Coho salmon and Steelhead trout. One of the goals for the easement would be to establish access points along the 101 corridor with trailheads leading through the forest to the beach. Hiking, kayaking and packing tours are all possibilities being discussed for the property.
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August/September 2011 ECONEWS
NO GROWTH HORMONE: When New York Yankee pitcher Bartolo Colon had stem cell treatment for an elbow and shoulder injury, it wasn’t a performance-enhancing drug, according to an investigation by New Scientist magazine. Instead the treatment was restorative and didn’t include a dose of human growth hormone, which is banned in baseball. Colon won the Cy Young award in 2005 as best pitcher, but then partially tore the rotator cuff in his pitching arm and didn’t play at all last year. Now, having grown a new tendon thanks to injections of his own stem cells, Colon, 38, is pitching like a young man again.
A Melange of Salient Sillies..
iKINI: That’s the name a New York-based designer has given to his invention: a solarpowered bikini so wearers can charge their iPod or camera as they lie in the sun. Andrew Schneider, 30, sewed together 40 paperthin photo-voltaic panels together with soft conductive thread to produce his iKini, which comes complete with USB ports sewn into the fabric. They sell for a minimum of $500.
POPLAR IS POPULAR: Scientist are reporting that leaf buds of poplar trees are an excellent source of antioxidants, the anti-aging ingredients in skin creams. Xavier Vitrac and colleagues noted in an American Chemical Society pamphlet that there’s a long history of using poplar buds to treat colds, sinusitis, sunburn and arthritis. They found that the buds also demonstrated anti-aging effects on cells in the laboratory, sufficient to be utilized in cosmetic formulations.
SWINGING FOR THE TREES: A Swedish pressure group is publicizing global deforestation by having sex in the most outlandish places in public, the latest being in front of the altar in the middle of a service at Oslo Cathedral. Furious parishioners pulled the couple apart and held them until police arrived, and the couple chose to pay a fine rather than spend 16 days in jail because “we didn’t want to spend so long without having sex.”
WHO ELECTED HIM? Nebraska state Senator Mark Christensen introduced a bill that classified the murder of abortion providers as “justifiable homicide” and another requiring candidates in the state’s presidential primary to prove that their parents and both sets of grandparents were born in the United States. Luckily neither got much traction. SUBSTITUTE: New Zealand police will issue prisoners with carrot sticks to help them cope when smoking is banned in jails this summer. A national directive has been drawn up to issue each inmate with two carrot sticks a day. One jumbo carrot can provide 16 carrot sticks. LOVER OR SPY: About 1 in 3 female students questioned in a survey said they had broken into their partner’s email. Fewer men did this—but were more likely than women to use hidden cameras, spyware and GPS tracking to monitor their partner’s activities. The survey also found that women were more likely than men to check their partner’s Facebook activity and cellphone histories, while a few men admitted hiding a camera in their lover’s room. SEX-MAD DOLPHINS: Random acts of violence by bottlenose dolphins on porpoises could be explained as sexual frustration among young males. Observations of bottlenose dolphins attacking harbor porpoises in the Pacific Ocean show for the first time that the attackers are young males who cannot get access to females because of competition from older males. “They are taking out their frustrations,” says Mark Cotter, an observer at Moss Landing. CHOICES: If we didn’t enrich big oil companies by giving them $3.5 billion in tax breaks this year, we could have increased Pell grants for each college student by $360—and $655,000 for each college, on average.
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ECONEWS August/September 2011
MOST INSIPID POLL: The Germans have been voted the world’s least funny nationality and the American the most funny in a global but stupid poll conducted by a British firm. Just 30,000 people across 15 countries were polled—and not one spoke all the languages that might make for hilarity. Americans were voted the world’s funniest nationality, ahead of the Spanish and Italians (second and third place, respectively). The Germans were way ahead in the ‘least funny’ category, with the Russians second and Turks third.
ONE GOOD TURN: An Englishwoman kept a motherless lamb alive through a variety of childhood diseases—and now the sheep, age five, returned the favor by spotting her breast cancer. Emma Turner, 41, had no idea she had a tumor when the Cotswold sheep, named Alfie, suddenly began butting her in the stomach—and she then discovered a lump in the middle of it, which a biopsy revealed was the early stages of breast cancer. “The doctors and nurses at the hospital is convinced that Alfie saved my life,” she said.
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NON-HUMAN ADVERTISING: As if billboards aren’t bad enough for humans, they are now trying them on monkeys. The monkey ad campaign is aimed at trying to make capuchin monkeys change their behavior by creating two kinds of Jello, one supported by billboards hanging outside their enclosure and the other not. If they tend toward one and not the other, it’s called preference shifting due to advertising. Under the idea that sex sells, one billboard has a graphic shot of a female monkey with her genitals exposed since studies have shown the monkeys love shots of genitals. “This will drive their purchasing habits,” the study’s authors say.
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Legislation to Watch
Continued from page 2
stands came back. In this example, interspecific diversity affected structural diversity of an ecosystem. Tree snags and tree falls provide another example of the importance of structural diversity, in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Fallen or standing dead trees provide nesting space, roosting sites and fodder for decomposition which benefits soil organisms, fungi, frogs and salamanders. Tree snags—standing dead trees— also provide habitat for species such as spotted owls and eagles. In aquatic ecosystems, tree falls shore up banks and create areas where water scours out the earth to create deeper pools and bank undercuts, providing places where salmon, macroinvertebrates and amphibians can hide from predation. Natural variations in soil structure and type, overland water flows and alluvial deposits create variability in the topography of the wetlands and vernal pools allowing water to pool at different depths. This in turn creates habitat niche space and microclimates that benefit a diversity of species. The variable flow of water in streams provides another example of temporal diversity. If we managed water for a constant rate of flow, we would not have intensive seasonal flows which stir up in-stream cobble, move large and small woody debris, and deposit sediment throughout the channel. As a result, the gravel and fine sediments of the stream floor would become compacted and we would lose valuable salmon spawning habitat as well as niche space for macroinvertebrates and other aquatic organisms. Fire is another important example of a seasonal process by which habitat heterogeneity is achieved. Fire consumes underbrush and other forest fuel loads. The resulting opening of forest stands allows for the germination of new trees, shrubs and grasses, thereby encouraging diversity of age structure and allowing for early colonizing species to proliferate for a time. Many of these early colonizing species represent important food sources. Some of these species have specifically evolved to germinate in response to fire, such as the lodgepole pine.
U.S. Congressional Bills
California State Bills
HR 1581 and S 1087 - The Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act. “Releases” Wilderness Study Areas administered by the Bureau of Land Management and inventoried Roadless Areas within the National Forest System that are potentially worthy of wilderness designation from the land use restrictions and continued management as defacto wilderness areas. Potentially opens about 55 million acres of wilderness-quality public land to oil and gas leasing and development. Strongly opposed by President Obama. Bills have been referred to Natural Resources committees.
SB 567 - Truthful Environmental Advertising in Plastics. “Biodegradable” is an inherently deceptive claim for plastic products as “biodegradable” denotes that a product will completely break down in a short time period. Plastic products do not meet that threshold. SB 567 restricts the labeling of plastics as “biodegradable”, regardless of plastic type, and allows only verifiable claims that do not deceive consumers, and expands the scope of current California law by prohibiting the labeling of plastic bags and food packaging as “biodegradable” from just bags and food packaging to all plastics products. SB 567 passed in Assembly Appropriations in July and now heads to the Assembly floor for a vote.
HR 2584 - Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012. Appropriations bill for the Department of the Interior, environment, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2012. HR 2584 contains 38 antienvironmental riders, and more may be added. Blocks Endangered Species designations, grants benefits for mountaintop removal coal companies, limits the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse emissions, waives clean air requirements for oil companies, opens the Grand Canyon to uranium mining, and eliminates permit requirement for pesticide discharge into waterways, and more. Currently left in the House as unfinished business.
The method by which we can learn to mimic these natural processes or events is called bio-mimicry. In general, what we want to achieve is a landscape that is structurally and temporally diverse as well as bio-diverse. Clearing and grading land, curtailing the overland flows of water and penning rivers will not foster the improvement of habitat or water quality. Soil is key to providing nutrients to plants and purifying water as it sinks into groundwater recharge basins, but without structural and temporal diversity rainwater often cannot be absorbed by the soil, instead flowing overland, down drains and into streams, eroding the soil and river banks and inundating our water supplies with excess nutrient loads, resulting in poor water quality and loss of top soil. Soil is like a bank account for water and nutrients, one that our entire livelihood depends upon. Thus,
SB 568 - Polystyrene Food Containers SB 568 would prohibit the distribution and use of polystyrene foam containers by food vendors for prepared food to reduce the amount of polystyrene foam in the food waste stream. It includes definitions for customers, food vendors, polystyrene foam food containers, and prepared food. foam in the waste stream and environment. SB 568 passed the Senate Foor and from the Assembly Committee of Natural Resources in July. It will be heard in Assembly Appropriations on 8/17.
structural and temporal diversity are essential to healthy biogeochemical cycles and water quality. One thing that land owners can do is to understand and value tree falls and snags and incorporate them into their landscaping. When planting, include some topographical diversity in the landscape. If you are a homeowner, pull the grass and plant natives if you are able. A monoculture lawn is not habitat friendly. More methods of achieving structural diversity include mulching with organic matter and compost, soil building, creating depressions and hummocks and loving your native plants!! If you are a gardener or grower you may want to read up on permaculture and water farming for the small home or homestead. Another way is to make sure that young saplings are given a chance to reach maturity and letting natural processes lead your landscape where possible.
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Earth Energy, which holds 7,200 acres of tar sands extraction leases in Utah’s Colorado River watershed, states the project’s citrus-based solvents will leave the sand as “clean as beach sand.” Opponents, however, are not convinced, arguing that the mine would devastate the Uintah basin, waste precious water resources, pollute groundwater and the Colorado River, and harm Utah’s recreation economy—a $7.1 billion industry. Climate activist Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, has stated that expansion of Canada’s tar sands and approval of the Keystone XL could well be “game over” for climate change mitigation.
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McKibben, leading NASA climatologist Dr. James Hansen, actor Danny Glover, writer Wendell Berry and many others have planned an organized act of non-violent protest for three weeks outside the White House. Thousands of Americans will join them August 20th-September 3rd, in what may be the biggest act of civil disobedience in the climate movement’s history.
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was greatly helped by local activists that publicized Headwaters forest and made it the ‘posterchild’ for showing the threat by Maxaam to Humboldt forests. One challenge for us has been that SPI’s clear cutting has been so widespread across the Sierra Nevada, Cascade and Trinity mountains. But now Battle Creek may be our Headwaters.” “Very little is going to change unless the people of California demand that it happen. For many years, money runs the decisionmaking process in state government, and SPI has some of the deepest pockets around. We need to mobilize across the state and join forces to protect what’s left of California’s forests,” said Sarah Matsumoto, an organizer with the Sierra Club’s Resilient Habitat Campaign.
is still their largest allocation since 1998. Despite claims to the contrary, Delta pumping restrictions currently allow more water to be pumped from the Delta than was pumped prior to 1997. The amount of water this year, and the fishery protections of the past 3 years, have resulted in reopening of California salmon sport and commercial fisheries and the return of jobs along the Sacramento River, as well as up and down the West Coast. The National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies of Science performed an exhaustive review of the Delta pumping restrictions, concluding that protections for salmon, steelhead and sturgeon were “scientifically justified”. The bill also removes significant barriers to water transfers from the Sacramento Valley, part of a plan to raid the Tuscan Aquifer of its groundwater. Butte, Colusa, Glenn, and Tehama counties are located above this underground aquifer that is central to all state and federal plans to provide more water for users south of the Bay Delta. If HR 1837 is passed, we could see a repeat of 1994 when groundwater sales brokered by the Department of Water Resources (under the so-called Drought Water Bank) coincided with drastic water level drops and pump strandings in numerous irrigation, domestic and municipal wells in Butte County. Streams such as Butte Creek, with the last Central Valley spring Chinook, would likely go dry during critical periods for the fish. HR 1837 will not solve California’s water crisis. This ill-conceived legislation would have disastrous impacts on the Trinity and Klamath
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JOIN THE EFFORT! For more information and to join the effort to protect Battle Creek and stop clearcutting throughout the Sierra Nevada please visit: http://www.thebattlecreekalliance.org or contact Sarah Matsumoto at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Continued from page 4
rivers by removing all restrictions on the delivery of clean cold Trinity Lake water to the toxic Westlands Water District. The historic 2002 fish kill on the Lower Klamath River could have been avoided, had Westlands not obtained a 1837court injunction prohibiting release of additional Trinity Lake water for fisheries. The Bureau of Reclamation did release approximately 10 billion gallons of water from Trinity Lake in 2003 and 2004 to successfully prevent additional fish kills. Passage of HR 1837 would doom restoration efforts by draining Trinity Lake in all but wet years, leaving only a warm mud puddle to sustain salmon and steelhead in the Trinity River and the Lower Klamath River. HR 1837 would also be disastrous for the Bay-Delta, the Sacramento River salmon fishery, reservoir recreation, Sacramento Valley and Delta farms, and the prospects of making peace in California’s “Water Wars”. It would increase water deliveries to Westlands at the expense of Sacramento Valley CVP agricultural service water contractors such as the Tehama Colusa Canal Authority, which recently filed an area of origin lawsuit against the Bureau of Reclamation for similar reasons. Water for Westlands was always intended to be limited to surplus supplies only. It is also important to note that the bill could still be rewritten as a broader gutting of environmental law in California, and could pass through the Republican controlled House to be added as an appropriations or budget bill rider. By attaching unpopular or anti-environmental policy to economic legislation, the public scrutiny and debate process can be circumvented. Tom Stokely is Water Policy Coordinator with California Water Impact Network.
TAKE ACTION! Please write to as many Congressmen and Senators as possible requesting their opposition to HR 1837. For more information on the bill, archives of opposition letters and a video about HR 1837, you can go to the blog of Doug Obegi of the Natural Resources Defense Council at http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/dobegi/why_we_work_to_protect_califor.html
Continued from page 8 These farmers and gardeners, once the primary seed stewards around the globe, now rarely participate in plant breeding or conservation. University and private sector seed specialists have replaced farmers and gardeners as the managers of the world’s crop genetics, and only a handful of these specialists work to address the specific needs of sustainable and organic farmers. Efforts to confront seed monopolies must be coupled with efforts to create an environment in which innovators such as the farmers, private breeders, and public breeders interested in organic and sustainable seed systems have an opportunity to thrive.
Organic Seed Alliance
One organization working toward these ends is Organic Seed Alliance (OSA). OSA works to ensure that farmers and gardeners have the knowledge and right to control the seed they use through education, research, technical assistance, and advocacy programs. OSA partners with and teaches farmers to develop healthy seed systems as an essential component of sustainable organic agriculture and vibrant regional foodsheds, including the use and development of seed that produces best in their locale, and seed saving for on-farm use and commercial production. OSA also partners with other organizations to
ECONEWS August/September 2011
advocate preservation of genetic seed diversity and prevent production of GMO crops in the US.
What you can do:
The first step is to realize the importance of seeds. When you open your seed catalogs in the winter, ask yourself: Where does this seed come from? Is it organic? Are your seed purchases supporting small independent seed companies, or contributing to industry consolidation? When you shop at the farmer’s market, ask your farmers the same questions. Many farmers in Humboldt County produce at least some of their own seed, including Jacque and Amy Neukom at Neukom Family Farms and Paul Giuntoli of Warren Creek Farm. The second step is to increase your own seed knowledge. OSA regularly teaches seed saving classes in Humboldt County. Sign up for OSA’s newsletter at www.seedalliance.org or contact Jared Zystro, OSA’s California Research and Education Specialist, at email@example.com to find out when the next classes will be offered. Organic Seed Alliance’s website also offers a banquet of free publications on seed saving. Download some of them and lose your seed amnesia. Finally, it takes a dedicated community to actively resist the push of the giants of the seed industry. You can help maintain a good seed system, so that we can pass on the seeds that our children will plant. Jared Zystrow is Organic Seed Alliance’s California Research and Education Specialist..
Creature Feature SHARP-TAILED SNAKE Contia spp.
This variation also bears witness to the last “ice age”, a period roughly 15,000 years ago in which most of North America was inhospitable to reptiles. Reptiles are ectothermic, or “coldblooded”, and are intolerant of significant cold. As the climate warmed, different reptile species spread north and adapted to different localities. These populations become isolated from each other and developed unique physical and genetic characteristics. So arises the question: How
As I was walking down my driveway on a mild, dry evening a few weeks ago, I saw what appeared an enormous earthworm stretched out across the gravel. Not exactly earthworm weather, I thought, so I wasn’t surprised when the longitudinal lounger turned out to be no worm at all but a small snake, pinkish brown above with small white stripes across the belly. What kind of snake is this? A few minutes through the trusty reptile guide provides the answer: the sharp-tailed snake, Contia tenuis. This compact serpent is the smallest hereabouts, averaging from 8-12 inches long, with some individuals up to 18 inches, and newly hatched young coming in at a mere 3 inches! The common name in this case provides an accurate diagnostic, as the tail comes to an abrupt point, a feature unique to Contia snakes. They also prefer cooler, wetter conditions than other snakes and are most active from November through April. Sharp-tailed snakes can be found from San Luis Obispo north to British Columbia, and on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada south to Tulare county. Aside from their diminutive stature and pointed posterior, sharp-tails are most renowned for their diet, which consist chiefly of slugs. While other snakes will feed on these slimy gastropods, most notably garter snakes and ringneck, none so exclusively as the sharp-tailed. Relatively long teeth aid in penetrating and securing Sharp-tailed snake, Contia spp. Photo: Gary Nafis, http://www.californiaherps.com their viscous victuals. Any gardener who uses many species are there? Does each population water knows what a population of hungry slugs deserve taxonomic status, or should they be can do to a garden, and thus a sharp-tailed snake “lumped” into larger groups? Often a population can be an effective natural control. In this way must be recognized as a species before special a garden which is tended gently and organically protection is awarded. Recent advances in DNA can provide a mutually beneficial link to nature. sequencing allow for more precise recognition of Those who classify living creatures are genetic markers, and greater ability to distinguish known as taxonomists, and can be loosely divided between populations. into two camps, the “lumpers” and the “splitters”, In 2010 a study detailed morphological who believe in more or less taxonomic distinction, and genetic differences between Contia snakes respectively. Often species exhibit considerable in various parts of their range, and this resulted geographic variation, especially in California in the recognition of another species: C. and other parts of the Western U.S. where longicaudae, the Forest Sharp-tailed snake,. The many different ecosystems and environmental two species are difficult to distinguish in the field; conditions exist in close proximity. C. longicaudae appears more brownish above and
has a longer tail. This species inhabits the western part of the range and prefers wetter habitat with denser cover. The species are seldom found at the same localities, which is surprising given the long boundary between their ranges. One location where both snakes are sometimes encountered is along the Humboldt-Trinity county line. I walked back outside, guidebook in hand to confirm my sighting, where the snake was still supine. Although snakes are secretive in nature, this specimen agreed to a brief interview: AW: So, I guess what’s probably first on everyone’s mind is. . .why slugs? STS: Well, like you I suppose, we get hungry. . .just not as often. AW: No, I mean, why slugs instead of other prey? STS: Can you think of anything easier to catch than a slug? As long as you know where to find ‘em, it’s simpler than shooting fish in a barrel, which actually sounds kind of hard. AW: Yes, good point, but. . . the swallowing part? STS: Delicious! The smaller ones are tender and tasty, and when you need a real meal, there’s nothing like a fat Banana. AW: I just can’t imagine eating something that slimy. STS: Hmmm. Seems to me I heard about a huge party in Arcata where humans gather to ingest slimy gastropods. AW: You mean Oysterfest? STS: Oysters? Perfect! Slugs should be no problem, they’re like oysters with a better diet— your garden! AW: Uh, no thanks, I’ll pass, but please take as many as you like, and bring some friends next time. STS: Thanksssssssss. (Slithers away).
Helping Buyers and Sellers make “Green” Decisions about Humboldt County Real Estate. CALL TO LEARN MORE TODAY! Karen Orsolics, Broker/Owner 707-834-1818 655 F Street, Arcata, CA www.arcataproperty.com
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August/September 2011 ECONEWS
the Kids’ Page SEALS AND SEA LIONS Do you know how to tell the difference between sea lions and seals? Sea lions have ear flaps that look like little ears, can walk on land, and have smooth whiskers. Seals have ear holes, cannot walk on land, and have bumpy whiskers. Both belong to a group of animals called pinnipeds (fipperfooted animals such as sea lions, seals, and walruses). The species of sea lions and seals that are most commonly found on the North Coast are: Western Pacific harbor seal, California sea lion and Steller sea lion. Harbor seals have spots and ear holes. The males weigh up to 300 pounds and get up to 5-6 feet long. California sea lions have ear flaps, are chocolate to tan in color and are much bigger than Pacific harbor seals. Male California sea lions can get up to 850 pounds and 7 feel long. The Steller sea lion is similar in color to the California sea lion but the males get much bigger, weighing up to 2,500 pounds and can get up to 11 feet long. Harbor seals and California sea lions have their babies (called pups) in the spring-early summer on rocky areas on the coast called rookeries. The Steller sea lions have their babies on islands off the coast. The pups stay on the rocks while the mom hunts for food. She eats fish, squid, and octopus. It is important for humans to not bother the pups or moms while they are on the rookeries because if the mom gets scared she may abandon her pup. Sometimes people think the pups are abandoned when people see the pups alone on the rookeries. Don’t worry, the mom is probably just out hunting for food and the pups should be left alone. By Sarah Marnick
California sea lion and Harbor seal. Illustration credit: http://www. dolphinencounters.com
Closeup of a California sea lion (left), showing its ear flap, and a Harbor seal (right), with its ear hole. Photos: (left) Minette Layne, Flickr Creative Commons, and (right) Mike Baird, Flickr Creative Commons.
Harbor seals lounge on rocks near Trinidad, CA. Photo: Minette Layne, Flickr Creative Commons.
BLUBBER CALIFORNIA FISH
HARBOR OCEAN PINNIPED ROOKERIE
SEAL SEA LION STELLER
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ECONEWS August/September 2011