Indexed News on:

--the California "Mega-Park" Project

Tracking measurable success on preserving and connecting California's Parks & Wildlife Corridors


Thursday, December 31, 2009

Growth does not pay for itself...

Can we build our way out of traffic jams?

CalTrans official doesn't think so.

From story on the next 4-year widening project on L.A.'s 405 Freeway:

excerpted from,0,6125839.story


Officials also say this will probably be the last major widening of the 405 Freeway, because the cost of such projects begins to outweigh the benefits of adding lanes.

That's because the freeway loses some of its capacity as drivers enter the freeway and weave from lane to lane.

"Really, the 405 is approaching the maximum number of lanes that you can do in a continuous segment," Failing said. "There becomes a point of diminishing returns," he said....

nature is taking back the the rust belt

Investors see farms as way to grow Detroit

Acres of vacant land are eyed for urban agriculture under an ambitious plan that aims to turn the struggling Rust Belt city into a green mecca.....

excerpted from:,0,7336715.story


Large gardens and small farms -- usually 10 acres or less -- have cropped up in thriving cities such as Berkeley, where land is tough to come by, and struggling Rust Belt communities such as Flint, Mich., which hopes to encourage green space development and residents to eat locally grown foods....

But local officials put the number far higher: Mayor Dave Bing recently said that nearly half of the city's workers are either unemployed or underemployed. These officials support the effort to redevelop the estimated one-third of Detroit's 376,000 parcels that are either vacant or abandoned.

And in a city where there are no major grocery store chains, and more than three-fourths of the residents buy their food at convenience stores or gas stations, the idea of having easy access to fresh produce is appealing...

anything for a buck--Nucular in Fresno?

Nuclear plant near Fresno planned,0,493029.story


A French company and a group of Central Valley investors announced Tuesday that they had signed a letter of intent to build one or two nuclear power plants near Fresno....

Environmentalists were skeptical that the agreement would go anywhere. They point out that California has a 3-decade-old law that bans the construction of nuclear power plants unless the state can certify that the federal government has come up with a plan for the permanent storage of spent nuclear fuel, which is highly radioactive. No such facility exists in the country, and plans to open one at Yucca Mountain in Nevada have been put on hold by the Obama administration.

The California ban doesn't trouble the California investors.

"The law is archaic and will fall by the wayside on its own, in our opinion," Hutson said....

"I would not invest or bet money on nuclear plants being permitted and having a source of financing two years from now," said Jim Metropulos, a senior advocate in Sacramento with the Sierra Club.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Yolo County--Road 41 and trail updates...


An Update on 2009 Land Preservation in Yolo County


Date: Tue, 29 Dec 2009

Hello folks,
Hope everyone had a great holiday, and had a chance to get
outdoors. A couple of nice updates to report on the hiking front….
First, the Napa County Planning Commission has issued the Use Permit
for the Berryessa Peak Trail. So we expect to be building that trail
during 2010! Finally, unrestricted public access to Berryessa Peak!
Second, I did some re-flagging of the Pope Creek to Putah Creek trail,
so expect to hear about trail building dates for that Lake Berryessa
trail. We'll also be getting some dates out there for the trail
building on Yolo County's Otis Ranch. So it's been a busy month.

Lastly, I am happy to report that the application to abandon Road 41
has been rescinded by the applicant! Thank you all for your letters
and emails! All the Yolo County committees that heard the request
rejected it, and the Planning Commission rejected it unanimously. So
the dirt hiking route that is the road is still public.

On that note, I thought I'd pass along this information on your rights
when parking in rural areas. On Road 41, a landowner has been
approaching hikers parked along the side of the road and telling them
to leave, and that the property is private under the road. He has no
right to do this. The way things are in Yolo County, almost all the
County roads are public rights-of-way over private parcels. You can
park on County roads up to 72 hours, per Yolo County Code section
4-3.103. So be polite, be let him know he is wrong per that section
of County Code. This is a common occurrence in the County. We've had
County staff getting told they were trespassing while walking on Road
107 in the bypass, and folks told they were on private property while
hiking on the public road 53. All landowners backed off when they
realized that the hiker knew the law and that they were on public
roads. It's unfortunate but it is a common occurrence out there in
the Country, so know you rights, stay on public roads and land, and
you'll be fine. You want to stop and take a picture on the side of a
Country road, go right ahead!

See you on the trail!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

5630 Acre Sonoma Coast Ranch is finally public!

Sonoma Land Trust acquires iconic coastal property

12/2009--After a five-year quest, and in spite of significant hurdles related to California’s economic crisis, the Sonoma Land Trust closed escrow December 17, 2009 and acquired the stunning 5,630-acre Jenner Headlands — a nationally significant project and the single largest conservation land acquisition in Sonoma County. This $36 million purchase was completed due to the extraordinary efforts and collaboration of 10 public and private funding partners.
“This is an example of what can be achieved, even in these challenging times, when we work together,” said Amy Chesnut, Sonoma Land Trust acquisitions director and manager of this project from the outset. “We’ve been fortunate to have conservation-minded landowners and enthusiastic partners all willing to do what was necessary to make this deal succeed. It’s been an outstanding collaboration on behalf of the public and future generations.”
Located north of the town of Jenner where the Russian River meets the Pacific Ocean, and extending two-and-a-half miles along Highway 1 and inland toward Cazadero, this one-of-a-kind coastal treasure has it all — rich habitat for fish and wildlife, dramatic views, extensive opportunities for future recreation and a spectacular segment of the California Coastal Trail. ...

For maps and photos, see our previous post on this purchase:

Working to save east SF Bay open spaces...

Save Mount Diablo Added 165 Acres to the Park in 2009

When most people look at Mount Diablo they assume that the entire mountain has been preserved and is part of the State Park - not by a long shot. The 165 acres outlined in the photo above were still in private hands until this Spring when Save Mount Diablo signed the purchase agreement to permanently protect this parcel: Viera-North Peak. It is one of three highest elevation and most visible properties in the county that was still in private hands. Now, when the state is unable to purchase land, Save Mount Diablo has stepped up and is raising the funds to protect this extraordinary property forever.
We all care deeply about protecting the majestic landscapes of Mount Diablo. That's why we are asking for your help today. Your support makes our land saving work possible. For the past 38 years Save Mount Diablo and its allies have increased preserved lands from less than 7,000 acres to nearly 100,000 acres on and around the mountain. Our work is far from being finished.
The acquisition of Viera-North Peak is one example of the need to save the mountain. Click here to read about other mountain-saving projects we are currently involved in.

trail map

For twenty years Save Mount Diablo and its allies have defended the Tassajara Valley and hills. These beautiful grasslands stretch east from Danville and San Ramon, north of Dublin and Livermore. It is an agricultural and open space buffer between preserved open spaces in every direction, linked by Camino Tassajara Road and Tassajara Creek, with headwaters to the north in Mount Diablo State Park and Morgan Territory Regional Preserve. County residents voted to place the Tassajara Valley outside of the urban growth boundaries in 2006. Now, a new development plan is being proposed in the valley. The “New Farm” project is an attempt to break the urban growth boundaries. If they’re successful, other development proposals in the valley will follow. We continue to defend voter-approved urban growth boundaries.

When Los Vaqueros Reservoir was completed, Contra Costa Water District was required to permanently protect over 4,000 acres of land with conservation easements to balance the reservoir’s impacts on endangered species and other resources. A current proposal to expand the reservoir would flood hundreds of acres of this protected land, wipe out recreational trails, and would destroy a wildlife corridor west of the reservoir. Water policy is a state wide issue, but Save Mount Diablo is advocating for protection of thousands of acres of additional land if this previously protected land is allowed to be flooded.

Mt. Diablo--12/7/2009

Land Trust in our State's capitol needs $$$...

Sacramento Valley Conservancy Wishes You and Your Family A Prosperous New Year

12/2009--Help us Protect Life at Deer Creek Hills

Deer Creek Hills Oak Woodland Preserve and Working Ranch ranks as one of the most special places I have ever seen—the nature of the place makes it virtually magic. But it is real. You now can help it grow by adding a linear mile of Deer Creek and 375 acres, providing precious water and refuge for wildlife, new vistas and trails for future generations to discover and explore, and more stunning beauty for all of us to enjoy—so close to home.

Together, we must raise $3.7M over three years to save this critical link to connect Deer Creek Hills to the American River. Without it, the link will be broken. Opportunities to protect precious land come once in a lifetime. The time is now.

We know we can do it with your help, since you already helped us accomplish what many considered impossible. Together, we already raised $11.4 million in three years to protect 4,062 acres, building lasting partnerships with over 1,000 local individual donors, 100 docent volunteers and over 16 institutional funders. Total Acreage Protected by our organization: 10,915. Without your help, the opportunity to save our legacy land and water will be lost.

Help us today by making the most generous year-end donation possible for you in these challenging times.

Thank you so much! Aimee B. Rutledge, Executive Director

Read the Winter 2009-2010 issue of Terrain magazine...

Empty Houses Filling our wetlands?

The Latest issue of Northern California's premier Environmental magazine is out:

...For homes built since 2000—the beginning of the boom—the vacancy rate is nearly ten percent.
What to do with these empty spaces? And who should be in charge of doing it? The sheer scale of the task makes it a daunting problem. To try to sort it out, I talked to Allison Arieff, editor-at-large for Menlo Park-based Sunset magazine and author of the New York Times’ “By Design” blog...

Cutting Off the North Coast
Economic downturn makes remote wild areas harder to protect. --on the Coastal Commission's lack of funding to protect wetlands on the North Coast, like the Pacific Shores subdivision in Del Norte County.

and more,

Anza-Borrego State Park grows again...

1200 Acres added to Desert Park


With your support plus grants from the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, The San Diego Foundation and others, Anza-Borrego Foundation has acquired more than 1,200 acres of inholdings so far this year that will become part of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (ABDSP) in the future. These lands provide valuable open space and protected habitat for endangered species such as the Peninsular bighorn sheep, flat-tailed horned lizard and Quino checkerspot butterfly.

40 acres added to San Diego River preserve...

El Capitan Highlands Preserve grows

Update: Nov. 12, 2009

Great News

We have acquired a 40 acre property! Thanks to a wonderful owner who has been working with us for some time we have negotiated and completed the acquisition of this property. This is part of a $1.1 million grant the River Park Foundation has been awarded. Thanks to the generosity of so many in the community we have been able to move forward on this acquisition as part of a larger acquisition program. Thank you! We have almost reached our fundraising requirement for this grant. Learn More


Mildred Falls is Flowing!

At 300 feet, Mildred Falls is perhaps the tallest waterfall in San Diego County. With the recent rains, this incredible landmark is now flowing. Visible from San Diego Country Estates as well as the Cedar Creek Falls Trailhead on Eagle Peak Road, this is something not to miss.
Much of this waterfall is on private property. It is adjacent to the River Park Foundation's Eagle Peak Preserve. The waterfall is actually on Ritchie Creek just upstream of where it enters the San Diego River.

More protected wilderness proposed in north San Diego...

Wilderness area expansion near Mount Palomar introduced in congress bill

On December 14, 2009 Representative Darrell Issa (Republican, Vista), who represents northern San Diego County, introduced the "Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia Wilderness Act of 2009" (HR 4304). CWC and local residents strongly support this bill because it would protect two of southern California's most important areas of open space as wilderness.
The Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia Wilderness Act of 2009 would add over 7,796 acres to the existing Agua Tibia Wilderness and would expand the Beauty Mountain Wilderness by an additional 13,635 acres. Representative Issa's bill would build on successful legislation sponsored earlier this year by Senator Barbara Boxer (Democrat, California) and Representative Mary Bono Mack (Republican, Palm Springs) whose "California Desert and Mountain Heritage Act" established the Beauty Mountain Wilderness and enlarged the Agua Tibia Wilderness that was established in 1975. ...

At 14,249 acres, the Beauty Mountain Proposed Wilderness Addition is a scenic jewel draped in chaparral, fascinating rock formations and oak woodlands. The area is a transition zone between Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to the east and the endangered coastal sage scrub of the Coast Range to the west. The California Riding and Hiking Trail crosses the area. On warm spring days, visitors are greeted with the heady scents of sage, manzanita, and California lilac while hill after misty hill rises in the distance, presenting an unbroken view of wild country.

for more:


Proposed Beauty Mountain Legislation (Draft)

Map of Agua Tibia Proposed Wilderness Additions

Map of Beauty Mountain Wilderness Additions

Beauty mountain—San Diego—cleanup of newly bought BLM property

Revised Desert Protection Act map released...

(Photo: proposed additions to the Golden Valley Wildernesss)

Senator Feinstein Refines Plan to Protect California Desert Wilderness

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:Monday, December 21, 2009

Senator Feinstein Introduces Legislation to Balance Conservation, Recreation and Renewable Energy Development in the Mojave Desert
-Measure would designate new desert conservation lands; streamline and improve permitting process for large-scale wind and solar development on suitable desert lands; and enhance recreational opportunities-
Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the author of the 1994 California Desert Protection Act, today introduced a comprehensive bill to designate new lands in the Mojave Desert for conservation, enhance recreational opportunities, and streamline and improve the federal permitting process to advance large-scale wind and solar development on suitable lands. The carefully crafted legislation, titled the California Desert Protection Act of 2010, is the product of discussions with key stakeholders in Southern California.
The bill builds upon the legacy of the 1994 California Desert Protection Act – sponsored by Senator Feinstein – which protected more than 7 million acres of pristine desert in Southern California, and established Death Valley National Park, Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave National Preserve.

“I strongly believe that conservation, renewable energy development and recreation can and must co-exist in the California Desert,” Senator Feinstein said. “This legislation strikes a careful balance between these sometimes competing concerns.”
“Earlier this year, I learned that Bureau of Land Management had accepted numerous applications to build vast solar and wind energy projects on former railroad lands previously owned by the Catellus Corporation that had been donated to the federal government or acquired with taxpayer funds for conservation.

I believe the development of these new cleaner energy sources is vital to addressing climate change, yet we must be careful about selecting where these facilities are located.
Approximately $45 million of private donations, including a $5 million land discount from Catellus, and $18 million in federal Land and Water Conservation funds were spent to purchase these lands, with the intent of conserving them in perpetuity.
We have an obligation to honor our commitment to conserve these lands – and I believe we can still accomplish that goal while also fulfilling California’s commitment to develop a clean energy portfolio. There are many places in the California desert where development and employment are essential and appropriate. But there are also places that future generations will thank us for setting aside.
Over the course of the past year, we have worked painstakingly to ensure that this legislation balances the needs of all stakeholders. This bill, if enacted, will have a positive and enduring impact on the landscape of the Southern California desert, and I hope it will stand as a model for how to balance renewable energy development and conservation. I would urge my colleagues in the Senate and the House to support this legislation, so that we can get it enacted as quickly as possible.”

As of today, the legislation has the support of:

The California Wilderness Coalition
The Wildlands Conservancy
The Wilderness Society
The National Parks Conservation Association
Friends of the River
Campaign for America's Wilderness
Cogentrix Energy
Edison International (parent company of Southern California Edison)
Friends of Big Morongo Canyon Preserve
Friends of the Desert Mountains
Mojave Desert Land Trust
Desert Protective Council
Amargosa Conservancy
Death Valley Conservancy
Cities of Barstow, Desert Hot Springs, Hesperia, Indio, Palm Springs, San Bernardino and Yucaipa
Riverside County Supervisor Marion Ashley
San Bernardino County Supervisor Neil Derry
Imperial County Supervisor Wally Leimgruber
Coachella Valley Association of Governments
SummerTree Institute
Route 66 Preservation Foundation

for the map

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Press does its job-- tries to save us from drowning...

While the Polar Ice Caps melt and sea level rises, the AP debunks the latest attack on Science

excerpted from

AP IMPACT: Science not faked, but not pretty

LONDON — E-mails stolen from climate scientists show they stonewalled skeptics and discussed hiding data — but the messages don't support claims that the science of global warming was faked, according to an exhaustive review by The Associated Press.

The 1,073 e-mails examined by the AP show that scientists harbored private doubts, however slight and fleeting, even as they told the world they were certain about climate change. However, the exchanges don't undercut the vast body of evidence showing the world is warming because of man-made greenhouse gas emissions.

The scientists were keenly aware of how their work would be viewed and used, and, just like politicians, went to great pains to shape their message. Sometimes, they sounded more like schoolyard taunts than scientific tenets.

The scientists were so convinced by their own science and so driven by a cause "that unless you're with them, you're against them," said Mark Frankel, director of scientific freedom, responsibility and law at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He also reviewed the communications.

Frankel saw "no evidence of falsification or fabrication of data, although concerns could be raised about some instances of very 'generous interpretations.'"

Some e-mails expressed doubts about the quality of individual temperature records or why models and data didn't quite match. Part of this is the normal give-and-take of research, but skeptics challenged how reliable certain data was.

The e-mails were stolen from the computer network server of the climate research unit at the University of East Anglia in southeast England, an influential source of climate science, and were posted online last month. The university shut down the server and contacted the police.

The AP studied all the e-mails for context, with five reporters reading and rereading them — about 1 million words in total...

Friday, December 11, 2009

Free digital maps of local hike spots from the feds...

Feds launch excellent free topo maps website

This site is powered by google, and after you click on the spot on the map you are seeking, (and you must click repeatedly to zoom in) you can choose between standard maps, aerial photos or topographic contour maps, or a hybrid.

You can also download the maps so you can play with them or customize them as you like.

a Great SF bay area nature magazine...

Check out Bay Nature magazine, in print and on-line

for a guide to "Exploring nature in the San Francisco Bay area"

--75 Years and Counting for East Bay Parks

--Lightning and Landscape at Big Sur

--A Marsh is Born at Point Reyes

and others...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Strawberry fields not forever?

Oxnard May Grow into wetlands and ag-lands on city's south border

12/7/2009 from EDC

Help Protect Ormond Beach Wetlands:

Attend Planning Commission Hearing this Thursday December 10th

Like many of our dwindling Southern California wetlands, Ormond Beach has been severely degraded and fragmented by human development, but it remains vitally important habitat for many rare native plants and over 200 species of migratory birds, including the endangered California least tern and the western snowy plover.

The California State Coastal Conservancy has invested millions of dollars, and is poised to invest even more, to permanently protect and restore Ormond Beach. If successful, this could be one of the largest coastal wetland areas in Southern California - a destination for local residents and visitors from afar. However, decisions will be made soon by the City of Oxnard about the Ormond Beach Specific Plan, and they will directly impact whether this restoration vision will be achieved. New development proposed in the Ormond Beach Specific Plan would thwart restoration plans and promote land uses in Ormond Beach that are incompatible with wetland protection and with the public's connection to this natural open space area.

Please attend a Special Meeting of the Oxnard Planning Commission for a public hearing on the Final Environmental Impact Report for the Ormond Beach Specific Plan. Check
for 1.6 megabyte staff report

for more information about the agenda (click on "view agenda" and locate Item F.)

WHEN: Thursday, December 10, at 7 PM

WHERE: City Council Chambers
305 West Third Street, Oxnard

Let the Planning Commission know:

You support the Ormond Beach Specific Plan Project Objective of protecting coastal resources, including potential wetland restoration areas;
The Final EIR does not adequately address or mitigate impacts to the Ormond wetlands, consider sea level rise impacts, or consider how new development in the area will interfere with the State Coastal Conservancy's restoration plans.
The Final EIR does not adequately address and mitigate other project impacts, such as the loss of prime agricultural land and the considerable water demand that will be generated by the new residential and industrial development.
For these reasons, the Commission should not recommend certification of the EIR to the City Council.
Even if you do not testify, your presence at the Planning Commission Hearing makes a difference. Please try to join us in person. If you cannot be there, you can also send written comments to (SUBJECT: Planning Commission 12/10 Meeting - Item F - Ormond Beach Specific Plan) by Wednesday December 9.



The North Ormond Beach/SouthShore project is generally located on the north side of Hueneme Road, east of Edison Drive, west of Olds Road, and south of the Tierra Vista and Villa Capri Neighborhoods. This area (approximately 322 acres) proposes a mix of uses including up to 1,283 residential dwelling units of varying types and densities; an elementary school; a high school; a community park; neighborhood parks; an 18-acre lake; a mixed-use commercial marketplace; light industrial uses; and open spaces and trails. The South Ormond Beach project is generally located on the south side of Hueneme Road, east of Edison Drive, west of Arnold Road, and north of coastal dunes and beach areas. This area (approximately 595 acres) proposes a 366 acre business park, including a business/research campus, light industrial facilities and harbor-related uses. The remaining 228 acres would continue in agricultural use and would not be annexed to the City as part of this project. This property may be sold to the California Coastal Conservancy or partner organization for use as part of the larger Ormond Beach wetland restoration project.

ventura county’s Ormond wetlands

Ormond Beach—Halaco cleanup—1.8 megabyte file
on Ormond Beach wetlands

one proposal

Monday, December 7, 2009

Read this book on eco-laws!!!

A Must-Read guide for fighting development

This book is written for people who care about their community, their city, their country, their planet, but who have found through bitter experience that their local elected officials (city council members and county supervisors), along with most staff members, are in the pockets of developers; they couldn’t care less about their community, their city, their country, or their planet.

The author is not a lawyer, but has successfully sued cities and counties, stopping or modifying several developments local government had approved. The purpose of this book is to share his experiences in doing this with others so inclined, but not to give legal advice. It will show you how to influence governmental decisions about development most effectively, while simultaneously preparing for a lawsuit, should you later decide to file one. This book can also help you decide whether to file a lawsuit, considering the costs, the risks, and the possible benefits...

City Trash next to National Park is a no-no...


11/10/2009--The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Environmental Impact Report for the proposed landfill provided by Kaiser Ventures LLC insufficiently addressed the potential introduction of chemical nutrients into the ecosystem of Eagle Mountain near Joshua Tree National Park.

Ninth Circuit panel halts Eagle Mountain landfill Nov. 10, 2009 | Molly Peterson | KPCC

A controversial land swap that would locate the world's largest landfill near Joshua Tree National Monument has again been stopped after a new appeals court ruling.

For the last 20 years, the Kaiser Corporation’s tried to develop a landfill on property at Eagle Mountain. Not just any landfill – Eagle Mountain would take in 20,000 tons of garbage a day, 6 days a week, 16 hours a day at its peak.

Kaiser sought to swap land with the federal Bureau of Land Management to amass enough property for its dumping needs. The mining company obtained permits and cleared state court challenges.

But the National Parks Conservation Association and a desert-area couple challenged the swap deal in federal court, and a judge blocked it. Now an appeals court has upheld that ruling.

Judges determined that the federal land agency focused too much on the company's goals for the land, and not enough on the public interest. The court also found fault with the agency's scrutiny of environmental effects.

Kaiser Ventures and the BLM could still appeal the decision. Conservation groups and desert dwellers call the ruling a major victory in a 20-year dispute over the fate of the Eagle Mountain project.

To see the full court ruling, visit:

For background information, visit:

Eagle mountain dump loses suit at 9th circuit

Pinnacles Park may grow...

Rep. Farr Introduces Bill For Los Padres National Forest


Earlier this month, Rep. Sam Farr (D-17) introduced H.R. 4040, a bill that would designate areas in the northern portion of Los Padres National Forest as wilderness. The bill also designates stretches of Arroyo Seco, the Carmel River, and the San Antonio River as Wild & Scenic. Finally, the bill would also establish the area as a separately funded unit of the forest. Los Padres National Forest stretches from Big Sur all the way into Los Angeles County, and the issues faced in the north can be quite different from those farther south, so the bill makes sense in that regard. Rep. Farr has posted more details about the bill on his website. In other news from Rep. Farr’s district: As we reported in our August-September Update, Rep. Farr had introduced a bill, H.R. 3444, that would make Pinnacles National Monument a unit of the National Park System.

At a Congressional hearing the National Park Service spoke out in opposition to the legislation. Steve Whitesell, associate director for park planning, testified, “The term 'national park' has generally been reserved for units that contain a variety of resources and encompasses large land or water areas to help provide adequate protection of the resources. Pinnacles National Monument does not include the full range of resources usually found in national parks.” Mr. Whitesell also requested that committee delay renaming any units until the National Parks Second Century Commission has made its recommendations regarding simplifying the naming of units. NPS is hoping to reduce the number of titles for the lands that it manages. I

n support of his proposal, Rep. Farr testified to the uniqueness of Pinnacles: “It is one of the few regions in the world that boasts a Mediterranean climate; it serves as home for dozens of federally protected species; it has a long, rich cultural history; it serves as a center for geological science, it's an area of unspoiled beauty; and opening this summer thanks to the use of Land and Water Conservation Fund to purchase the Pinnacles Ranch the Pinnacles Campground is now within the boundaries of Pinnacles National Monument, and is managed by a concessionaire." He also said that an adjacent landowner might be willing to sell 18,000 acres, bringing the monument’s size to 44,000 acres total.

another bite at Bay area agricultural land...

Tassajara Valley near Mt. Diablo threatened

Hidden Valley Open Space (HVOS) is an amazing 1,000 acre grassland bowl at the northeast corner of San Ramon's Windemere development. Almost entirely circled by exposed ridges; in just a few minutes' walk you can reach world class views of the urban Tri-Valley, Mt. Diablo and vast expanses of agricultural land and open space to the east. Development pressures are re-kindling in the adjacent Tassajara Valley

For twenty years Save Mount Diablo and others have been defending the Tassajara Valley and hills, sensual grasslands stretching east of Danville’s Blackhawk and San Ramon’s Dougherty Valley, to the north of Dublin and Livermore. Tassajara Valley is just east of the county Urban Limit Line and San Ramon’s Urban Growth Boundary. It is an agricultural and open space buffer between preserved open spaces in every direction, linked by Camino Tassajara Road and Tassajara Creek, with headwaters to the north in Mt. Diablo State Park and Morgan Territory Regional Preserve. It is beautiful and endangered species habitat. County voters, including majorities in Danville and San Ramon, voted to place the Tassajara Valley outside of the urban growth boundaries in 2006. The “New Farm” project is a cynical attempt to break the urban growth boundaries and its developers are in the middle of a three-pronged approach aimed at gaining approval. If they’re successful, other parcels in the valley will follow and urban growth boundaries will be at risk throughout the county. Growth management will be destroyed. ..

Bear-Yuba Partneship launched to save land north of Sacto...

At least 3000 acres saved is their first goal in the north Sierras

By: Placer Land Trust
Date: November 14, 2009

Wilderness trails, water quality and scenic open space are just a few of the reasons that three conservation groups have joined forces with willing landowners to preserve land along the Bear River.

Placer Land Trust (PLT) and the Nevada County Land Trust (NCLT) have joined with the internationally known Trust for Public Land (TPL) to form the Bear-Yuba Partnership, a new initiative designed to encourage public and private investment in protection of the Sierra Nevada foothills in the Bear River and Yuba River watersheds....

train, train, go away, leave wildlands alone we say...

Court Rules Against Super-train Route

From the PCL: On Thursday 12/3/2009, the California High Speed Rail Authority rescinded its poor route choice for the Central Valley-Bay Area segment of the state's proposed high-speed train network. This decision means that the Authority will re-evaluate other potential routes into the Bay Area that would have fewer negative environmental effects and less impact on nearby communities. Last year the Planning and Conservation League, along with BayRail Alliance, California Rail Foundation, Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund, and the cities of Atherton and Menlo Park filed a lawsuit challenging the Authority's decision to route the train through the Pacheco Pass and along the Peninsula to San Francisco . The group noted that the Authority had not adequately reviewed the project and failed to sufficiently consider other routes for the Central Valley-Bay Area segment. The courts agreed and sent the Authority back to the drawing board to do it right. Today's decision is good news for high speed rail. First, by building the train to ensure minimal impacts to the environment and local communities, the Authority can stem the growing tide of opposition - increasing the chances that the project will actually be built. Second, by exploring the full range of alternative approaches at the outset, the Authority will save substantial time and money in the long run - again improving the project's likelihood of success. However, Thursday's decision will only be meaningful if the Authority conducts a real review and commits to choosing the most effective route. To date, the Authority's leadership has been more motivated by political pressure than sound public policy. We hope yesterday's announcement finally puts high speed rail development on the right track.

(12-04) 04:00 PST Sacramento - -- Efforts to link the Bay Area and the Central Valley by high-speed rail pulled onto a bureaucratic siding Thursday as the High Speed Rail Authority rescinded its approval of an environmental study for that section of the bullet train.
The unanimous rescission of the 2008 approval, which identified the Pacheco Pass as the preferred route, was in response to an August court ruling that the environmental document was partially inadequate. Parts of it will need to be redone. But how long it will take to fix the study, and move forward with the choice of an alignment between San Jose and Merced, is a matter of controversy. Rail authority officials say it should take a few months - at most. But an attorney representing an environmental group, which joined with Atherton and Menlo Park in filing the suit, says the study shouldn't be rushed. "It's very clear to us that you need to understand that there may be environmental impacts, impacts on habitat and growth impacts that could be avoided if you did things differently," said Gary Patton, special counsel for the Planning and Conservation League, which joined in filing the suit. Patton estimated it could take as long as a year to reconsider the study properly; and any rushed study, he said, would likely lead the sides back to court. The groups involved in the lawsuit objected to the authority's selection of Pacheco Pass over Altamont Pass as the gateway to the Bay Area, and still consider it a superior choice, Patton said outside the meeting. He said the groups want the authority to completely reconsider their decision, which could steer them toward Altamont.

mentions Tejon Ranch--in relation to the Super-train project
How The Nature Conservancy Works in Las Californias

Give $$ this holiday season to save land in California!

With a strong network of partners — including landowners, ranchers, wine industry leaders and developers — The Nature Conservancy is working to conserve Las Californias. We are doing this in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Creating 600,000 acres of new protected areas
  • Establishing a network wildlife corridors
  • Working with the wine industry to develop innovative and sustainable vineyard designs

Miles of mountainous coastline, beautiful sandy beaches and ancient redwood forests — few places in the world contain such stunning landscapes and seascapes. Boasting sunny, dry summers and mild, wet winters, Las Californias shares its unique and desirable climate with the Mediterranean Basin, and is one of only five Mediterranean habitat zones on Earth.

Taking up a mere 2.2 percent of the Earth's land area, these five Mediterranean habitats harbor 20 percent of the world's plants species — thousands of which are found nowhere else on Earth. Within Las Californias alone, chaparral, grasslands, oak woodlands and coastal forests support 1,500 plant species found only here.

Unprecedented Growth

The region's stunning natural beauty and highly sought-after climate draw people from the world over. Experts predict that by 2020, California's population will have soared to 43 million. This rapid growth threatens the region's remaining natural areas, farms and ranchlands. Approximately 40,000 acres of working farms and ranchlands are lost to development and urbanization every year. In Northern Baja California, coastal wetlands and other delicate habitats face similar threats from an increase in both population and tourism.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Note to developers: good luck getting State water...

Holy Cow!!! Is California Dry!!

The California Department of Water Resources on Tuesday announced an initial allocation of 5 percent of total contracted water deliveries to State Water Project contractors for 2010. Five percent is the lowest initial allocation percentage since the SWP began delivering water in 1967...

...The Department of Fish and Game’s most recent survey indexes indicate that all four Delta pelagic fish species (Delta smelt, Longfin smelt, Striped bass and Threadfin shad) are at their lowest-ever population levels....

DWR on Monday released its latest drought bulletin. You can find it here. Http://
It provides an update to California’s water conditions. As we near the beginning of winter, reservoirs have typically reached their lowest levels after summer demands. An unseasonably early wet October did not significantly reduce our water supply deficit. As of Nov. 23, rainfall in the northern Sierra was only 29 percent of the average for November. During the same period, precipitation in the San Joaquin basin was 13 percent of the average for November.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

San Joaquin River is wet once again!

A Thanksgiving Message from the Friends of the River

Photo by Josh Uecker

Sometimes in the frenetic rough and tumble of our river conservation campaigns we forget to give thanks. So we thought it appropriate for Thanksgiving 2009 to give thanks for a particularly important event that was more than 20 years in the making. Water creeps down the dry riverbed of the San Joaquin.

A few months ago, some switches were flipped and valves opened on the Friant Dam, releasing more water into the San Joaquin River. As a result, water slowly creeped down a portion of the river west of Fresno that in most years is completely dry. It took decades of litigation, settlement negotiations, and federal legislation, but a portion of the San Joaquin River will soon be permanently re-watered. And eventually, one of the largest salmon runs in the state, which was wiped out by the completion of the Friant Dam in 1942, may be restored. Scientists are now examining the “interim” flow releases over the past few months to determine what kind of riverbed restoration is needed for when permanent flows are reestablished. Friends of the River was one of 13 plaintiffs in the original lawsuit that successfully proved that Friant Dam’s dewatering of the San Joaquin violated the Endangered Species Act and California’s public trust policies. It took years of litigation, contentious negotiations, and hardball lobbying to make the rewatering of the formerly dry San Joaquin River a reality. It will take several more years to fully restore the riverbed, its riparian vegetation, and fisheries. And threats remain. Opponents to the restoration continue to snipe at the effort by lobbying for legislative riders that would bring it to a halt. Challenges to the Endangered Species Act are pending in court. California has passed complex water policy legislation and is proposing a budget-busting $11 billion water bond that may or may not affect the river’s restoration (most notably by building a new dam on the San Joaquin River in an attempt to capture the last two percent of the river that remains undiverted). But it is appropriate this Thanksgiving to step back, take a deep breath, and appreciate what has been achieved, and give thanks for the river.

Click here to read news reports about San Joaquin River restoration featured on FORs Blog.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

2 new lawsuits to save S.F. Bay-delta smelt

By Bob Egelko
San Francisco Chronicle, November 15, 2009

Two environmental groups sued the federal government Friday seeking greater habitat protections for two San Francisco Bay-delta fish species, one of them the delta smelt, a small but important creature in California's water wars.

One lawsuit asks a federal judge in Sacramento to require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to respond to the groups' March 2006 request to change the delta smelt's status from "threatened" to "endangered." That action would somewhat tighten federal standards for development or water-use permits.

A second suit, filed in San Francisco, challenges the federal agency's decision in April to deny protected status to the bay-delta population of the longfin smelt. The agency said the local population is not a distinct group entitled to protection because some of the fish migrate up the coast to breed with other longfin, a conclusion the environmental groups called a reversal of the government's longtime position.

"Formerly abundant fish at the base of the food chain in the San Francisco estuary are being driven to near extinction," said Jeff Miller of the Center for Biological Diversity, which filed the suits along with the Bay Institute....

for the rest of the story:

Monday, November 23, 2009

Astoturf Groups and water "reform"...

Politics of Water Splits Environmental Organizations


If you want to know more about what we should really be doing regarding water in California, you need to read Mato Ska here. here, here, or here. I want to talk about the politics. That is beginning to splinter over more than North / South, Valley / Coast or even the widening gap between Democrats and Republicans.

Let me call your attention to two things that happened today. One is the fact that the California League of Conservation Voters sent a floor alert to the members of the California Assembly giving strong support to the Steinberg proposal. In this, they join three other environmental organizations that have already taken this position: Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense and the Nature Conservancy. Each of the latter has strong ties to corporate funding and seem to be taking the corporate position. There is strong evidence that staff for Natural Resources Defense Council have been meeting behind closed doors with the water districts who have the most to gain were the the Steinberg legislation legislation enacted.

Dan Bacher, Ed. Fishsniffer magazine, has harsh words for the CLCV. NRDC, Environmental Defense, the Nature Conservancy and now the California League of Conservation Voters are giving "green" cover to policies that will lead to the death of the Delta and the extinction of Central Valley salmon and Delta fish populations. We must expose these corporate greenwashers for the frauds that they are!

On the other side of this issue are the Sierra Club, Planning and Conservation League, Environmental Justice,Clean Water Action, Green LA, Heal the Bay, Restore the Delta and others. Together, they have fashioned the basis of a new plan, one that is both equitable and sustainable, but it is not what the legislature is delivering....

for rest of story:

Friends of the Delta:Astroturfing Group Launches In-Delta Media Campaign

Restore the Delta staff have been busy working on many field projects presently requiring us to be away from our computers. During this time, numerous articles and opinion pieces regarding the inadequate water legislation and pork barrel water bond recently passed by the state legislature have been published by smart water thinkers including Dr. Peter Gleick (Pacific Institute), Steve Evans (Friends of the River), and Jonas Minton(Planning and Conservation League), while wonderful quotes have been attributed to Bill Jennings (California Sportfishing Protection Alliance), and Jim Metropulos (Sierra Club California) Thus, Restore the Delta has little to add and is thankful to those who have been able to speak with sensitivity and intelligence as to what is truly not happening for the Delta as a result of this poor legislative package.

But today, we had to return from the Delta fields to our computers when we saw the four-page ad placed by Families Protecting the Valley in the Stockton Record. The ad refers to The Great Delta Toilet Bowl. First, before we work our way through the content, let's make it clear who are the groups sponsoring and paying for the ad.

The ad was paid for by Friends of the Delta out of Newport Beach, California. When we called their office, the phone was answered by the Sheldon Group, a public relations firm, representing Southern California water interests and developers. In other words, Friends of the Delta is an astroturfing group, much like the Latino Water Coalition - an organization without any real members, but rather a website with a pr firm who may on occasion pay people to attend events. They do not have staff like Restore the Delta staff, who take numerous calls from supporters with ideas and concerns about the Delta, or who hold public events, rallies, etc....

for rest of story:

SMMC-MRCA 11/23/2009

U2's Guitarist has plans for Malibu Hillside; City of Santa Clarita wants to take control of large area from the County

From the agenda of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, 11/23/2009

Consideration of resolution authorizing a comment letter to Los Angeles County on Notice of Consultation for 2745 Beacontree Lane, Stokes and Cold Creek Canyon, unincorporated Los Angeles County. [Resolution] [Map] [Attachment 1] [Attachment 2] [Comment Letter] [Map 2]

Consideration of resolution authorizing a comment letter to the City of Santa Clarita on Revised Notice of Preparation of Draft Environmental Impact Report for Vista Canyon and Ancillary Annexation Areas, Santa Clara River adjacent, unincorporated Los Angeles County. [Resolution] [Attachment 1] [Map] [Attachment 2] [Attachment 3] [Comment Letter]

Consideration of resolution authorizing a comment letter(s) to the California Coastal Commission on the following five related projects and lot line adjustment in the Sweetwater Mesa Road area in the unincorporated Malibu area: (a). Application No. 4-07-067 Lunch Properties lllp; (b) Application No. 4-07-068 Vera Properties lllp; (c) Application No. 4-07-146 Mulryan Properties lllp; (d) Application No. 4-07-147 Morleigh Properties lllp; (e) Application No. 4-07-148 Mulryan Properties lllp and Morleigh Properties lllp, and (f) Application No. 4-08-043 Ronan Properties lllp. [Map 1] [Map 2] [Map 3] [Resolution] [Comment Letter] [Map 4]

Consideration of resolution approving Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Annual Report 2008. [Staff Report] [Resolution] [Map 1] [Map 2] [Map 3] [Map 4] [Map 5] [Map 6] [Map 7] [Annual Report]

Park Saves Views from the Ocean to Mount Lassen

Lake County finally owns Mount Konocti

$2.5 million purchases completes acquisition


After a century in private hands, Mount Konocti's tallest peak and more than 1,300 acres of surrounding land became public property on Friday.
"We just bought a mountain," Lake County Public Services Director Kim Clymire said shortly after the final papers were signed."It's a dream come true," said Lake County Administrative Officer Kelly Cox. The $2.6 million purchase will preserve Clear Lake's most recognizable backdrop and open the land and its spectacular views to hikers."On a clear day, you can see Mount Lassen," Clymire said.The purchase completes a two-part deal struck between Lake County officials and the Fowler Family Trust. It includes 4,400 foot-tall Wright Peak, the tallest of four major peaks on Mount Konocti, and two lesser summits, South and Howard peaks.Last year, the county purchased the second-tallest peak — Buckingham — along with 176 acres for $1.2 million.That purchase included a cell tower facility whose operator pays the county about $100,000 a year, money that will be used to improve and maintain the property.The county's new acquisition is adjacent to 821 acres of land owned by the Bureau of Land Management.Between the county and state, all but about 1,000 acres of Mount Konocti is now in public ownership, Clymire said.An access road to the Mount Konocti property, located near Kelseyville, needs to be altered before the land can be opened to the public, Cox said.Use of the property also must be decided. Motorized vehicles and hunting will be prohibited, a condition of the purchase agreement. Public access also will be limited to day use, with some possible exceptions, Clymire said. The county has been holding public hearings to determine the best use of the property. Officials also are working out public access agreements for Wright Peak, which offers Mount Konocti's best views, including of Lake Berryessa, Mount Lassen and the Sutter Buttes. The peak's top five acres and a fire lookout belong to CalFire, Clymire said.The county also wants to extend public access from its property on Mount Konocti to Clear Lake State Park. Only a few land parcels stand in the way, Cox said. Federal and state officials are interested in helping the county link the two parks, he said."We all have the same goal," Cox said.


Lake County News | California - Konocti Regional Trails system takes shape

8/3/2008--great photo of Mt. Konocti

9/23/2007--Lake county north shore ridgeline trail system

9/15/2009--Mt. Konocti purchase goes into escrow—great photo

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Adopt a baby redwood tree--Lumber Companies don't need 'em now...

11/22/2009--the Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Thousands of foot-tall orphaned baby redwood trees sit in rows in a Humboldt County greenhouse, products of the ongoing economic slump and changes in forestry practices.

They were grown for replanting commercial timberland then abandoned when they were no longer needed.

"One of the problems is the markets are so bad, we can't afford to log," said Art Harwood, executive director of the nonprofit Redwood Forest Foundation, which owns 50,000 acres of timberland in Mendocino County. When existing trees aren't harvested, the need and financial resources to plant new trees declines, he said. The foundation is relocating about 70,000 orphaned trees through a fundraising adopt-a-tree program.

The last few years have been tough on the timber industry, which saw demand and prices for its products drop dramatically...

for full story:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Land Swap over Long Beach wetland drags on...

Toxins and Fighting over what to swap to a developer for South L.A. County's Largest coastal wetland slows 20 years of progress to save 175 acres

(NOTE: we covered this land swap more extensively here:

11/17/2009--L.A. Times by Louis Sahagun--Toxins found in wetlands threaten to quash land swap-- EPA requires more study of the area after tests find 2,000 times the recommended level of carcinogenic PCBs in Los Cerritos Wetlands. The deal to preserve the marsh area could founder in the meantime.

Few environmental issues in Long Beach have caused more controversy than the land swap trumpeted a year ago as a way to preserve the 175-acre core of the urban wetlands bordered by Pacific Coast Highway, Studebaker Road and Los Cerritos Channel.

Under the terms of the deal, 52 acres of city-owned land were to be traded to local developer LCW Partners, which owns the wetlands. The city then planned to sell the marsh to the Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority for $25 million.

But it didn't turn out that way. After a year of battles with low-income residents who complained the proposal would benefit the city's wealthier eastern half and intense scrutiny from elected officials and nearby homeowners, it was whittled down to nearly 38 acres of wetlands in return for a 12 acre downtown service yard....

for rest of story:,0,2947994.story

To read more details:

swap deal with the City of Long Beach for approximately 12.1 acres of the public service
yard for approximately 34.77 acres within the Los Cerritos Wetlands Complex south of
Second Street.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mega lawsuit against Mega-Tejon paving project...

New Groups Join Fight to Save Tejon Ranch
--Suit Filed to Stop Luxury Sprawl Megadevelopment

11/12/2009--BAKERSFIELD, Calif.— A coalition of endangered species advocates, Native Americans, environmental justice advocates, and local residents filed suit today to overturn Kern County’s approval of the controversial Tejon Mountain Village resort development on Tejon Ranch, California. The growing opposition is drawn together by concern for the California condor, the sacred sites of the Chumash people, air quality degredation, and decreased quality of life for current residents if the sprawl complex is built.

The development of luxury homes, golf courses, and hotels would destroy critical habitat of the iconic and severely endangered California condor and would potentially derail the most expensive species-recovery effort ever attempted. The project would add significant air pollutants and greenhouse gases to an area that already suffers from the worst air pollution in the country. It would rely entirely on water unsustainably imported from the State Water Project, and is sited on top of two of the largest earthquake faults in the country – as well as in an area known for catastrophic and deadly wildfires.

The suit was filed under the California Environmental Quality Act in Kern County Superior Court in Bakersfield by the Center for Biological Diversity, Wishtoyo Foundation, TriCounty Watchdogs, and the Center on Race, Poverty, & the Environment. Final environmental-review documents were approved by the Kern County Board of Supervisors on October 5, 2009.

“All of California will suffer if this project gets built – more water will be stolen, the bird that graces our quarter will be doomed, our air will get dirtier, and thousands of people will be placed in harm’s way because of earthquakes and wildfires that will inevitably follow – all so Wall Street can make another quick buck,” said Adam Keats, director of the Urban Wildlands Program at the Center for Biological Diversity.

Tejon Ranch Company is heavily invested in by Third Avenue Real Estate Investments (TAREX), a firm that specializes in speculative real estate in environmentally sensitive areas (TAREX is a primary owner of St. Joe in Florida, another hotly contested and destructive development project).

Tejon Ranch, including the area Tejon Mountain Village is planned for, was historically occupied by three different Native American tribes whose land was stolen by the original owner of Tejon Ranch. The condor is one of the most important spiritual symbols to the region’s Native Americans.

“Tejon Mountain Village threatens Chumash village sites and sacred places, which is devastating to Chumash people,” said Mati Waiya, Chumash ceremonial elder and executive director of the Wishtoyo Foundation and its Ventura Coastkeeper Program. “It also threatens our sacred and cultural relationship with the California condor that is depicted in our ancient cave paintings and told in our stories, which have been passed down from generation to generation for more than 10,000 years. It is important that we as Chumash people protect our sacred grounds and our ancestors’ burial sites, and continue our elders’ work from the early ’80s to help bring back the California condor population, from 22 left in the wild to a still-scarce population of more than 140. The cultural impact of this proposed development and the accompanying proposed desecration of Chumash cultural resources and our sacred California condor is, once again, a demonstration of greed and disregard for Native American people and cultures.”

The project, located in the rugged Tehachapi Mountains along the “Grapevine” pass of Interstate 5, would add tremendously to the already overburdened highway – the only road off the mountain in either direction.

“This highway is already maxed out with thousands of cars and trucks – it can’t handle a project of this scale, which would more than double the population of the area,” said Jan de Leeuw of the TriCounty Watchdogs, a local citizen group based in nearby Frazier Park. “If this project goes forward, we’re looking at a traffic nightmare getting even worse, with sprawl development filling in everything from Los Angeles to Bakersfield.”

“Tejon Mountain Village straddles the two worst-performing air districts in the country,” said Brent Newell of the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment. “Thousands of car trips going in and out of this resort – which we all know will include daily commuters, given its proximity to Los Angeles – will further dirty the air and increase pollution-related health problems of the people who live here.”

Preserving Tejon Ranch as a new national or state park would protect a bounty of native plant and animal communities, cultural and historic features, and scenic vistas. See


Latest Tejon news stories


“That brings reliability down to more like 50 percent, according to some local water district folks I've spoken with.

That's not good enough to base a housing development on, not matter how water-wise it is.”





the Kern Board of Supervisors is for sale






“Master Builders and Development Poker”


photos of condors

pretty wildflower picture


text and maps of wind power’s impacts on condors


11/7/2009—is there an Indian tribe working with Tejon Ranch company to open a casino?

more on one Tejon tribe seeking a casino

tribe challenges Tejon Ranch’s ownership of the Ranch



for a video on this



Schwarzenegger pats Tejon Ranch corp. on the back


Good aerial photo

more on the goobernator

America needs more 'crown jewels'--Tejon should be a national park



on the original ranchwide agreement



Kern Planning commission limits size of Frazier Park Estates to 188 homes; they had sought 662 homes


blow-by-blow coverage of the hearing


Balderdash!, Jack.

3500 lots means nothing to speculators without the water and roads and geology studies and endangered species act exemptions etc that they'd need to get away with anything on the land. Those speculators would go broke against the lawsuits that would be thrown against them.

You underestimate the anger of the grassroots environmental community in California. We are going to rain hellfire on this project in the courts. The sellout groups mean absolutely zip. As a veteran of taking on battles termed a lost cause by the corporate eco groups and bankrupting our opponents (at the Ballona Wetlands in L.A.), I know how much difference the real environmentalists can make.

This battle is only just beginning....



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