Indexed News on:

--the California "Mega-Park" Project

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


Monday, June 29, 2009

How to Deal with L.A.'s future without landfills...

What Should California's largest city do with its trash?

(L.A. City's leaders are seeking to increase the amount of trash that is diverted from going into a landfill from the current 62% recycling/diversion rate to between 72 to 81% or even up to 100% with more futuristic trash processing technologies that are used in other countries.)


For the first time in the history of solid waste planning within the City, Los Angeles is developing the Solid Waste Integrated Resources Plan, also known as “SWIRP”.

This plan seeks input from stakeholders representing a broad section of the community, from diverse cultural backgrounds and income levels, and will result in the development and implementation of a 20 year master plan for the City’s solid waste and recycling programs.

SWIRP will outline the City’s objectives to provide sustainability, resource conservation, source reduction, recycling, renewable energy, maximum material recovery, public health and environmental protection for solid waste management planning through 2030 — leading Los Angeles towards being a “zero waste” city.

Achieving zero waste will require radical changes in three areas: product creation (manufacturing and packaging), product use (use of sustainable, recycled and recyclable products), and product disposal (resource recovery or landfilling). Change in these areas will impact how we live, work and interact with the environment. Stakeholders will be instrumental in guiding this visionary twenty year solid waste management plan.

Riverfront land saved on Calif-Ariz Border...

290 Acres Saved along the Colorado River

from TPL's Land & People Spring 2009 issue

In another year-end (2008) transaction, TPL acquired 290 acres along the lower Colorado River near Blythe. California. The land could have become a waterfront subdivision, but the California Department of Fish and Game wanted to restore it as part of a multistate habitat conservation effort along the river. The slumping real estate market forced the developers to shelve their plans, and TPL was able to negotiate a purchase for half the original asking price.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hawk Habitat in east San Diego expands to 4400 acres...

Saving the Grasslands of San Diego County Piece by Piece

An endangered species, the humble seed-eating Stephen's kangaroo rat, saved the Ramona Grasslands from total devastation.

Today, at least 4440 acres have been saved as hawk habitat at the Grasslands by the government and the Wildlife Research Institute and their partners.

To read a history of purchases at the preserve:


San Diego County, CA — September 19, 2008 — The County of San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation has partnered with The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state to add more than 3,000 acres of high-quality habitat to the Ramona Grasslands Preserve. The acquisition increases the County’s ownership within the preserve to 3,470 acres, more than seven times its current size. The new acreage includes the areas of Gildred Ranch, Davis-Eagle Ranch and Oak Country, and was purchased with county, federal and state grant funds for $30.4 million....


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fixing Sierra foothills highway could bring more sprawl...

Some El Dorado County Residents Wary of Route for Highway 49

excerpted from
Sacramento Bee, By: Cathy Locke
Date: May 3, 2009

A new route for Highway 49 in El Dorado County might improve safety and traffic flow, but some residents fear it also would increase pressure to develop rural lands.

Built to link California's Gold Rush towns, Highway 49 between Coloma and Placerville follows an old wagon road alignment. It also winds through Placerville's narrow residential streets and bisects Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park in Coloma.

Although it provides a scenic route for leisurely travel, transportation officials say the highway is not adequate to handle increasing traffic loads. A study was recently launched to identify alternative alignments for an approximately 13-mile stretch between Coloma and the town of El Dorado. "If you drive through the city of Placerville, you understand why it would be key to get alternatives," said Carl Hagen, the El Dorado County Transportation Commission chairman and a Placerville city councilman. Officials stress that the realignment study is part of a long-range planning process. Construction of a new road or designation of a new route using existing roads won't occur for several years...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Restored Marsh opens in south L.A. County...

July 17th is the grand opening of the restored Bixby Marsh

invite flyer:

Location: City of Carson, at intersection of Figueroa and Sepulveda Blvds.
Date: July 17, 2009

The Bixby Marshland is a remnant of a formerly extensive, natural freshwater wetland known as Bixby Slough. Due to various development projects, such as the construction of the Harbor Freeway, housing projects, and storm water control projects, Bixby Slough was reduced in size until only the 17-acre Bixby Marshland and the Machado Lake area in the Ken Malloy Harbor Regional Park remain.

To maintain Bixby Marshland, a pump was installed to lift storm water and urban runoff from Wilmington Drain into the marshland. After going through the marshland, the water exits through an overflow structure back into Wilmington Drain.

Elevated rail gets boost from L.A. School Board...

Citing student safety, L.A. school board opposes Expo Line rail route

June 24, 2009

Citing safety concerns for students, the board of the Los Angeles Unified School District unanimously decided to oppose the design of the Expo Light Rail Line, which would pass at street level near Overland Avenue and Charnock Road elementary schools.

Board members said they would not support the Expo Line unless the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority could eliminate all the safety hazards of operating light-rail trains near schools. They also directed the district's superintendent to exhaust all legal options while trying to resolve the Expo Line's safety issues.

The board resolution relates to the second phase of the project, which would run from Culver City to Santa Monica. Phase 1 from downtown Los Angeles to Culver City has already generated considerable controversy about street-level crossings near schools. That segment is under construction.

The resolution notes that MTA's Blue Line from Long Beach to Los Angeles, which has street-level crossings, has become the nation's deadliest light-rail line. It also states that the Expo Line should not be built near the two schools because it could violate the district's 128-foot distance requirement for active rail lines.

Schwarzennegger budget proposal threatens SF Bay Protection...

State Budget Proposal Slashes Bay Conservation Agency: Take Action!

6/4/2009--Take Action

Help rescue the vital and effective San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) from the Governor's chopping block. BCDC was created in 1965 by the hard work of Save The Bay supporters appalled at unregulated development that had already filled in and diked off one-third of the Bay. Today, BCDC helps protect the Bay from shoreline development and ensures public access for recreation. But Governor Schwarzenegger's proposed budget would eliminate BCDC as a state agency. Contact your legislator today to preserve this important agency.

BCDC's work over the last four decades has made the Bay cleaner and healthier, provided millions of dollars in economic benefits annually from tourism and commerce, and preserved recreation and beauty for the region.

BCDC has: Supported wetland restoration and prevented landfill, making the Bay thousands of acres larger. Authorized over $16.4 billion in shoreline development. Opened up new public access for trails, parks and water recreation along the Bay shoreline. Established a Bay Plan to encourage commerce and recreation while protecting sensitive areas. Become an international leader in addressing sea level rise impacts caused by global climate change.

A history of Bay protection

More than four decades ago, Save The Bay led the effort to create BCDC as the first coastal zone management agency in the nation. In 1965, the state enacted a moratorium on the devastating practice of massive Bay filling that had already reduced the Bay's size by one-third. We stopped the Bay from being narrowed to a river by convincing the legislature and governor to make BCDC a permanent regulatory agency in 1969.

Los Padres Forestwatch Honored...

A Tough Fighter for Central Coast National Forests


Lawsuit Filed by Coalition of Conservation Organizations, Including ForestWatch

6/8/2009--In a landmark decision, a federal judge today ruled that two federal wildlife agencies and the U.S. Forest Service violated the Endangered Species Act by approving plans for four national forests without adequately addressing impacts to endangered plants and animals. The judge’s order affects the Los Padres National Forest and three other forests in southern California that together comprise more than 3.5 million acres of wildlife habitat...


excerpted from

ForestWatch Recognized for Top Achievement

Our legal victory last year protected fragile burn areas on Alamo Mountain and Grade Valley from a commercial logging operation, and now it’s being hailed as one of the top five environmental achievements in southern California. The 5th Annual Top Achievements of the Environmental Community in Southern California report (from or see recognizes ForestWatch for setting an important legal precedent that extends to national forests throughout the state and the West, fundamentally changing how the Forest Service responds to the post-fire landscape...

Santa Cruz county wetlands trail map...

Watsonville Wetlands Watch's Summer 2009 newsletter is on-line...

Finishing the American River Trail...

Final piece added to Trail east of Sacramento

excerpted from

6/21/2009--...This is the prized final piece to what will likely become a recreational wonderland along some of Northern California's most dazzling river canyons, and it's something the BLM and the American River Conservancy have been working on for 20 years.When this chunk of trail is completed and opened – maybe in 2010, maybe 2011, depending on whether you're talking to the optimists or the pessimists in the process – there will be a hiking, biking and equestrian (in spots) path from Coloma and the place gold was discovered all the way to Old Sacramento.

The last riverfront parcel was bought by the nonprofit ARC in February, and that allowed the BLM crew to build a bit more than five miles of new trail. The group raised and spent $23 million on this effort over the years, and donated 3,600 of the 5,600 acres that hold the 20-mile network called the South Fork of the American River Trails System. ("We like the name," Horn said. "We're not thrilled with the acronym.") (SFARTS...tee hee...)

When it's done, these trails will travel from Highway 49 in the east, through the existing Cronan Ranch Park and these newly trailblazed foothill meadows. Then it will hug the river canyon above the American River and then snake down to Salmon Falls Bridge at the top of Folsom Lake. From there, it will connect to the lake's 20,000-acre recreation area, then to the bike and foot trails of the American River Parkway beyond....

Oak destruction with no EIR rejected by Calavera County...

Illegally Built Trinitas Golf Resort Rejected

from California Oak Report,

On a 3-2 vote on May 12th, the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors denied approval of amenities for the Trinitas golf course, illegally built on 116 acres of oak woodlands. Calaveras County followed this action with a cease-and-desist letter warning golf course developer Mike Nemee that the county's decision means that use of the property for any form of golf is now illegal.

California Oak Foundation will continue to vigorously support the endeavors of local groups to restore the property to pre-golf course conditions. Then the Trinitas golf course will become only a bad memory of the project that thought it could scam the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

for more:

Sunday, June 21, 2009

SMMC-MRCA 6/1/2009-6/3/2009

Parks Purchases and Development Activity in L.A.’s Rim of the Valley parks trail corridor
For June 2009
From agendas of the MRCA, June 3, 2009, and the SMMC, June 1, 2009


FUTURE LAND PURCHASES--Consideration of resolution adopting FY 09/10 MRCA Workprogram. [Staff Report] [Resolution] [Map]
Parcels in blue are potential purchases by the parks agencies;
Green shading shows existing public lands
--click on map to enlarge--
Santa Monica Mountains:

5/2009--updated report on SM Mtns. proposed purchases in L.A. City-east of the 405 freeway


Consideration of resolution authorizing acceptance of the following offers to dedicate open space or scenic easements: [Staff Report] [Resolution]]
Corral canyon --Caldwell/5-83-591-A; Sternberg/5-88-148; [Map 2
Point Dume --Kilbane/5-88-191; [Map 3]
Cold Creek-Monte Nido area --Ben Johnson’s Western Estates/P-81-7701 [Map 1]
Saddle Peak --Sisson/5-87-197, [Map 4]


MALIBU—TRANCAS CANYON--Consideration of resolution authorizing acceptance of a trail easement or offer to dedicate a trail easement (Coastal Development Permit No. 08-032, Landis) at 5820 Trancas Canyon Road, City of Malibu. [Staff Report] [Resolution] [Map]

TOPANGA CANYON--Consideration of resolution authorizing the expenditure of Coastal Habitat Impact Mitigation Funds to acquire APNs 4444-024-010 and 4444-026-020, unincorporated Topanga Canyon. [Map] [Staff Report] [Resolution]

MALIBU CREEK—INLAND--Consideration of resolution authorizing a comment letter to Los Angeles County on Triunfo Creek crossing and road project, 3052 Triunfo Canyon Road, Santa Monica Mountains, unincorporated Los Angeles County. [Resolution] [Map] [Attach] [Comment Letter]

MALIBU—SWEETWATER MESA—OWNED BY “THE EDGE”—GUITARIST IN U2--Consideration of resolution authorizing a comment letter to California Coastal Commission on proposed five residences, access road, and associated improvements (Application Nos. 4-07-067, 4-07-068, 4-07-146, 4-07-147, and 4-08-043) and proposed lot line adjustment between two vacant 40-acre parcels to site future residential development proposed in permits 4-07-146 and 4-07-147 (Application No. 4-07-148), near Sweetwater Mesa Road, County of Los Angeles. [Resolution] [Attachment] [Map] [Staff Report]

Santa Clarita Valley and Santa Susana Mountains:

AGUA DULCE--Consideration of resolution authorizing use of in-lieu-fee mitigation funds, and acceptance and repayment of private loans, to acquire up to four parcels totaling 83.75 acres, contained in Los Angeles County Chapter 8 Agreement 2592, Soledad Canyon, unincorporated Los Angeles County. [Map 1] [Map 2] [Map 3] [Staff Report] [Resolution]

SANTA CLARITA—ELSMERE CREEK--Consideration of resolution authorizing a comment letter to the City of Santa Clarita on Master Case 08-033, 23300 Newhall Avenue, confluence of Elsmere Creek and south fork of the Santa Clara River. [Resolution] [Map] [Attachment 1] [Attachment 2] [Comment Letter]

NEWHALL RANCH--Consideration of resolution authorizing a comment letter to the Army Corps of Engineers and the California Department of Fish and Game on the Draft Joint Environmental Impact Statement and Environmental Impact Report for Newhall Ranch Resource Management and Development Plan and Spineflower Conservation Plan, unincorporated Santa Clarita area. [Resolution] [Attachment 1] [Attachment 2] [Attachment 3] [Attachment 4] [Comment Letter]

SANTA SUSANA MOUNTAINS—5 FREEWAY WIDENING--Consideration of resolution authorizing (1) adoption of Section 4(f) de minimus findings for impacts of proposed Interstate 5 hov/Truck Lane Project on a Conservancy-owned corner of the Santa Clarita Woodlands park; (2) transfer of jurisdiction to Caltrans of approximately 0.026 acre area, and (3)acceptance of mitigation funding and property interests, unincorporated Newhall Area. [Staff Report] [Resolution] [Attachment] [Map 2] [Map 1]

SANTA SUSANA MOUNTAINS—BROWNS CANYON RESTORATION--Consideration of resolution authorizing a technical grant amendment to allow for advance payment: (a) smm-0815; (b) smm-0816; (c) smm CF-907, and (d) smm-05054. [Attachment 14c 1] [Attachment 14c 2] [Attachment 14c 3] [Map 14c] [Staff Report] [Resolution] [Attachment 4] [Attachment 5] [Attachment 6]


Friday, June 19, 2009

Bye Bye Condors, Bye Bye Castac Lake?...

Natural Lake next to I-5 Disappears in Tejon Development plan EIR?

from 6/18/2009 edition: A series of promotional "concept" drawings for Tejon Mountain Village that once showed happy people frolicking around a lake with restaurants in the background were revised this month to show people surrounded by dry fields, gazing at horses on brown hills and golfers on yellowed roughs—no lake in sight. What's up?

The newly released Kern County draft Environmental Impact Report says that Castac/Tejon Lake is no longer part of Tejon Mountain Village.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Where the wild cats are in L.A...

Map: Where the Mountain Lions Live in the Santa Monica Mountains

from the Mountain Lion Foundation

6/16/2009--For the dozen or so lions living in the Santa Monica Mountains in southern California, life is dangerous and appears to have all the drama of a dark soap opera. Spouses fighting, children being chased off by a violent father, and mystery bachelors moving into the area just scratches the surface of all the information gathered by the National Park Service since 2002. Many of the collared lions have been killed in recent years but the NPS continues to track and monitor the lions in this range as well as their shrinking habitat.

Read the actual news story...

North of Sacramento trail nearly done...

American River Conservancy Breaks Ground on Last Salmon Falls Trail Segment

6/2009--Construction on the last segment of the South Fork American River Trail, connecting Highway 49 (Coloma) with the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area (Salmon Falls) began yesterday, May 26th.

The American River Conservancy, the Bureau of Land Management, and Cal Fire's Growlersberg Camp Crew began brushing a trail path along the ridge above Surprise Rapid and about 2 miles upstream of the Salmon Falls Bridge.

"It took four months to complete the environmental documentation for the trail", stated ARC director Alan Ehrgott. "We're excited about beginning trail construction and we're hopeful we can get complete construction of the trail within a year. We still have several hundred thousand dollars to raise for the construction of a 60 ft. redwood bridge crossing Acorn Creek (at Salmon Falls) and to complete the purchase of a 40 acre trail corridor parcel."

Groups Appeal Court Loss over Placer County's Clover Valley

Clover Valley Decision Appealed, --from California Oak Report

The Clover Valley Foundation and Sierra Club have filed a "Notice of Appeal" to petition the 3rd District Court of Appeals for a rehearing of a February lower court decision. After thorough deliberation and research, both organizations are convinced that the Sacramento Superior Court decision was erroneous and the proposed Placer County project does indeed violate the California Environmental Quality Act.

Conservationists contend that the lower court decision was seriously flawed in the following areas: (1) encroachment into required stream setback buffers; (2) evaluation of significant growth-inducing impacts for the "oversized" sewer line expansion; (3) impact mitigation for removal of over 7,000 oaks at the project site; (4) reliance on unfinished federal review processes with regard to the historic and prehistoric sites; (5) deferred mitigation for a threatened species found on the site.

The ten-year grassroots effort to save the 622-acre Clover Valley is far from over. Background information regarding the Clover Valley conservation campaign can be found at the Clover Valley Foundation website.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Six feet of reports come out for scary Tejon project...

2 Tejon Ranch area Projects get quickie review deadlines by Kern County

excerpts of various stories:

For Immediate Release, June 11, 2009

Gag Order Remains as Tejon Project Moves Forward;
Group Vows Lawsuit to Force Disclosure of Secret Condor Documents

LOS ANGELES— The Center for Biological Diversity today informed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of its intention to go to court over the agency's failure to make public important documents related to Tejon Ranch. The lawsuit, believed to be the first of its kind, will be filed under the Endangered Species Act, which requires the release of documents related to proposed Habitat Conservation Plans. Tejon Ranch has proposed such a plan for its Tejon Mountain Village project to obtain protection from the harm it will cause the California condor…

In 1997, just as officials with the Condor Recovery Team were starting to release captive-reared California condors to the wild, Tejon Ranch sued the Fish and Wildlife Service to curtail the condor recovery program and relegate the condors to a special status without protection under the Endangered Species Act. Tejon's legal arguments, although arguably specious and at best very weak, were not seriously opposed by the government, which instead settled the case for what is believed to be a sweetheart deal that has resulted in the current plan and take permit application.

In 1999, at Tejon's request, the entire record for the lawsuit was sealed by court order and the case indefinitely stayed, leaving the case (and the order) active for the past 10 years. The terms of the order are not limited to just court-filed documents, though, as the order includes all documents "related" to the settlement in any way, apparently including documents related to subject of the settlement: the proposed plan, condors, and Tejon's development plans. The Service has since demonstrated its willingness to give this language as expansive a definition as possible.


Tejon Mountain Village Impact Report Review Clock Ticking Down

It's Here: Tejon Ranch's Leaning Tower of DEIR

By Patric Hedlund

If it were a blind date—or a new neighbor ringing the doorbell—you'd find a six-foot stranger on the front porch, gawky and inscrutable, standing there for your consideration. Quickly. If you can pay the price.

In fact, it is plans for a major addition to the neighborhood that the Mountain Communities have been invited to speed-read thoroughly, analyze and critically evaluate in writing before July 13. The Tejon Mountain Village draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) is 15 notebooks, 13 of them 5.5 inches thick, two others adding four more inches, plus two rolls of large maps. They add up to a tower nearly six feet tall, about 21,000 pages long. Kern County will charge citizens who seek to access the full report $2,833, Planning Department Project Manager Craig Murphy said Tuesday, June 2.

"The county has been given only three full copies," Murphy said, and they are all in Bakersfield, restricted to county offices. Instead, for public review, the county has a set of four CDs and is placing what they call an abbreviated "hybrid" report in the local library, (a petite 2.5 foot stack available during limited hours).

The review process appears to have been put on a fast track by the Kern County Planning Department, even as the public is still considering the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 5,200-page habitat plan for the 27 endangered and threatened species (including the California Condor) that may be killed or disrupted by the building and operation of Tejon Mountain Village. Public comments for that are due by July 7. Meanwhile, the DEIR of another major development, Frazier Park Estates, is scheduled to be released for public comment on June 5…

…The URL for the DEIR is It works for Windows.

Keats also wrote in his June 3 email, "Oh, and on the TMV DEIR and [the Frazier Parks Estates] DEIR [and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service habitat conservation plan]—it's worth everybody individually submitting requests for extensions on these deadlines as soon as possible, based on the size of the documents and the three different but near-simultaneous deadlines."


Richard, Beene, editor of the Bakersfield Californian thinks Tejon Ranch is a good deal….


Overlay of Centennial, Tejon Ranch Development


Even the Injuns done sold out: Ritter Ranch breaks ground.


Up Above: The Geography of Suburban Sprawl
in Southern California's Antelope Valley

Matt Jalbert, 1995


Tejon Mountain Village, Frazier Park Estates projects up for comment


Details of two master-planned communities proposed near Frazier Park are about to undergo public scrutiny.

The county Planning Department on Wednesday released a draft environmental impact review of Tejon Mountain Village, a project spread over 26,417 acres that would include up to 3,450 homes, 750 hotel and resort units and 160,000 square feet of commercial space, as well as two golf courses and open space.

Sometime next week the department plans to circulate a draft environmental review of Frazier Park Estates, an 846-acre development that has been scaled back to contain 662 homes, a 41-unit housing complex and 104,475 square feet of commercial space…

2200 Acres of Forest in Mendo gets no bidders...

Fate of Mendocino redwood forest unknown

Tuesday, June 2, 2009
The fate of a 2,020-acre forest in the heart of Mendocino County's redwood country remained unknown Tuesday, five days after the deadline for bids in a silent auction for the property.

"We got bids in and we're getting back to people," said John Rosenthal, president of Realty Marketing/Northwest, which conducted the auction.

Rosenthal expects the auction to result in a sale but would give no further details. The minimum bid on the property was $4.79 million.

The auction company does not divulge sales results until they've closed escrow, which could take two months, Rosenthal said.

The property, Redwood Creek Tree Farm, is located northwest of Willits. It is owned by Chicago-based Congaree River LLC, which purchased the land from the Masonite Corp. about 25 years ago.

North Sonoma--Sprawl OK'd on ex-Lumber co. land...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Cloverdale's desire to lure free-spending tourists has taken a step forward with preliminary approval of a hotel, golf course and residential project.

Alexander Valley Resort, proposed in 2002 at the city's southern edge, received City Council approval last week for pre-zoning, annexation and environmental studies. "It will help Cloverdale become a destination point," said Mayor Joe Palla.

The 254-acre proposal on the former Louisiana-Pacific lumber mill site has been revised since its unveiling in 2002. It now includes a four-star hotel of 100 to 150 rooms, a full-service spa, an 18-hole, semi-public golf course and driving range, 105 single-family houses, 25 estate residential dwellings, 40 fractional ownership "casitas" and a restaurant and wine tasting complex on a 2-acre commercial site.

Still to be negotiated are costs such as roadways and utilities. And the timing of construction remains elusive.

Tyris Corporation, the Concord-based developer, is seeking financing and partners to build the hotel-resort and homes. Tyris President Robert Sexton said Friday it probably will take two years or so before construction can start. "I don't want to be overly optimistic, but the timing may be great, coming on line when the economy is recovering and things are getting back to a little more normal," he said.

The City Council approval requires that hotel/spa and at least nine holes of the golf course be built prior to construction of the residences.

The site is south of Santana Drive, between Asti Road and the Russian River, and north of the Cloverdale airport.

The project had been delayed until completion of toxic cleanup of the mill property.

Availability of water has been another issue. By using reclaimed water from the city wastewater plant to irrigate the golf course and expanding the number of wells, there will be enough water for community expansion for 20 years, according to a consultants' report.

Alameda County Quarries agree to limits...

Historic Conservation Agreement Signed for Bay Area Quarries

5/28/2009--Last week, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Alameda Creek Alliance announced a landmark agreement with a mining company to help protect species and habitat around two quarry projects -- the Apperson Ridge Quarry and the Sunol Valley Quarry -- in the Sunol area near California's San Francisco Bay. The agreement, signed last December, will dramatically change the Apperson Quarry project; protect and enhance more than 600 acres of habitat for endangered species like the California red-legged frog and steelhead trout; fund monitoring, reintroduction, and a much-needed habitat upgrade for tule elk; and address greenhouse gas emissions head on."The Apperson agreement is a model for cooperative conservation planning between environmental groups and private companies," said Peter Galvin, conservation director at the Center. "It's a good deal for wildlife and a boon for conservation and restoration projects in the area for the next half-century."Read more in the East Bay Express.

McCloud River defenders sue the Feds...

Winnemem Sue the Feds

Following a night-long war dance on April 19, 2009, members of the Winnemem Wintu tribe marched from a camp on the American River to the California State Capitol to announce a lawsuit against six federal agencies. The lawsuit claims that the agencies have caused destruction or damage to sacred and cultural sites in the McCloud River watershed above Shasta Dam. The lawsuit details village sites, ceremonial rocks and other sacred places that have been damaged or are threatened.

"We hope this lawsuit and war dance will protect our basic quality of life and ensure our freedom to maintain our traditions and culture," said Caleen Sisk-Franco, the Winnemem Wintu Tribe's spiritual leader.

There was good media coverage of the war dance and lawsuit filing, including:

Redding Record: Winnemem Wintus sue federal agencies over Shasta Dam, other issues

Capital Public Radio: Native American Community Files Lawsuit Against Federal Government In Sacramento
(Aired 4/20/2009 on NPR's All Things Considered; Aired 4/21/2009 on NPR's Morning Edition)

Rare frogs to lose out in SF dam deal...

Frogs find home on dam spillway, in San Mateo County

SAN MATEO COUNTY - A vital reservoir near San Mateo that stores billions of gallons from the Hetch Hetchy water system will soon boost its capacity by as much as 10 percent.

The restoration of the Lower Crystal Springs Reservoir comes 26 years after the state ordered the water level lowered 8 feet until safety concerns were addressed. Engineers at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which owns the dam, started considering how to address those concerns and return it to previous capacity.

Enter the frogs.

With water no longer flowing regularly over the spillway, the 119-year-old dam's knobby top provided a perfect place for water to collect and for the red-legged frog, a threatened species protected by the state, to take up residence. A nearby spring flows onto the south end of the dam, perpetually feeding the pools of water, and the raised road on top shades the puddles, slowing their evaporation.

The frogs thrived, leaving the state, county and water agency stymied.

"We find red-legged frogs all over the county. This time we just happened to find them on top of the dam," said Public Works Director Jim Porter, who added that his department worked for 15 years to find a solution to the problem.

It appears water will start flowing over the dam again within a few years, according to Public Utilities Commission project manager Tasso Mavroudis.

The county, which must replace the raised portion of Skyline Boulevard because it is seismically unstable, will be moving the frogs from the top of the dam to a new wetland area on land owned by the commission.

The road and the columns supporting it will be removed, perhaps as soon as October 2010, Mavroudis said.

Once the demolition is complete, the San Francisco water agency will begin its work to improve the spillway and the basin below it that water flows into. The spillway is a lowered portion of the dam that catches excess water. When that's finished - perhaps by early 2012 - San Mateo County will complete work on the road.

The water agency considers the project important - and will invest an estimated $32 million into it - because the additional 8 feet mean some 3 billion more gallons of Sierra Nevada water that could be stored in the reservoir. That increase comes on top of the 22.1 billion gallons the reservoir currently holds.

Storage is becoming an increasingly important matter as the state becomes more concerned about droughts, Mavroudis said.

One of the project's goals will be to improve drainage on top of the dam, so the monolithic concrete structure never becomes an ecosystem for threatened frogs again, he said.

"A lot of the maintenance has been deferred for years because of the frogs," he said. "It's been a problem since Day One."

UC Merced wetlands permit approved...

UC Merced Receives Key Federal Permit for Long-Term Development Plans ( - MERCED - The University of California, Merced has been granted a key federal permit it needs to move ahead with future development of its planned 25,000-student campus and associated university community.

(the UC Merced campus is 5 miles north of Merced and just east of Lake Yosemite)

May 1, 2009--The university's permit application was approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) under Section 404 of the U.S. Clean Water Act. The permit was required because a portion of the university's campus and northern portion of the adjoining university community involves federally protected wetlands (approximately 85 acres).

The university's permit application was approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ( USACE ) under Section 404 of the U.S. Clean Water Act. The permit was required because a portion of the university's campus and northern portion of the adjoining university community involves federally protected wetlands ( approximately 85 acres ). The initial application was filed in 2002 and resubmitted in 2008 after the university modified the proposed footprint for its campus and the adjacent university community.

As part of this process, university officials – through a special collaboration with the Packard Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, the Nature Conservancy and the State of California – have set aside 25,000 acres of grassland habitat for permanent conservation.

Hocus Pocus, these homes need no water?...

Californians, Imagine New Homes That Need No New Water

A bill in California's legislature seeks to take the strain off the water supply and alleviate the housing slump.

By: Doug Linney

Date: May 29, 2009,_imagine_new_homes_that_need_no_new_water/

In February, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a drought emergency in California, citing two successive years of below-average rainfall and dangerously low runoff from the Sierra Nevada snowpack.

Since then, the water-supply crisis has only deepened, and now it coincides with a recession that has severely damaged the state economy. Few sectors of the economy have been as hard hit as the home builders and construction companies.

Enter Assembly Bill 1408, authored by Democratic Assemblyman Paul Krekorian. This unique bill would offer significant dual benefits for improving our water supply and alleviating the housing slump. Imagine new homes that require no additional water supplies but have the same, or better, amenities than the current housing stock. Imagine builders being able to construct these new homes in areas where, without AB 1408, the lack of water would preclude new development.

Should Humboldt become another L.A.?...

Humboldt County Drawing up future plans: infill or sprawl into the forests?

excerpted from May 2009 issue of Eco News:

How Will Timberlands Fare In GPU? By Jen Kalt

What’s A General Plan Update?
The General Plan provides long-term direction for the growth and development of the unincorporated areas of the county, and state law requires that it be reviewed and revised about every 20 years.

The current General Plan Update will shape the future of Humboldt County for years to come. Three different options are currently under consideration:

Alternative A is identified as the “environmentally superior” option, and its consideration is required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). This option emphasizes resource land protections by meeting housing needs through infill development in existing communities.

Alternative B is the county’s current preferred alternative and, among other things, is designed to allow some residential development through focused development in currently served areas and some urbanization expansion.

Alternative C would allow residential expansion in resource lands and would recognize existing large lot entitlements.
For more detailed information, visit


Exploding Myths About Ag Land Zoning

Extra Protection for North Coast to Cascades Land Bridge...

Campaigning for a National Monument on the Calif-Oregon Border

KS Wild proposes the creation of the Siskiyou Crest National Monument to preserve this ecological and recreational centerpiece of the Klamath-Siskiyou bioregion. To view the map image larger, click here.

from May 2009 issue of Eco News:

Kern County Fossil Hill is for sale...

Scientists fear sale of Sharktooth Hill will stop research

excerpted from

6/13/2009--BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- Last week, scientists said they solved an enduring mystery about the origins of a prehistoric boneyard of gigantic marine creatures in the desolate desert here.But another mystery has arisen: Will the looming sale of the land mean the end of research into the one of the largest finds of mid-Miocene fossils?...

Two years ago, Robert Ernst, the amateur paleontologist who owned the property, died unexpectedly and without a will.Since then his widow, Mary, 53, has suffered through heartache, probate and a back injury, which is forcing her early retirement next month from the Bakersfield Parks and Recreation Department. She said she is selling the site on Sharktooth Hill to pay her husband's loans, taxes and legal fees."To the right person, it could really be special. Like it was to Bob," said Ernst, who with her attorney, Stephen Boyle, sent out 35 prospectuses to potential buyers, including some of the nation's top paleontology museums. They decline to say how much they are seeking for the 342-acre site, appraised at roughly $132,000 as marginal grazing land. The land--which has yielded priceless intact specimens, such as the ancient sea lion Allodesmus--is slated to go July 17 to the highest bidder...

excerpted from:

Imagine you've sailed through the narrow waterway south of present-day San Francisco, leaving the Pacific Ocean and entering the Temblor Sea. You caught a rising tide and effortlessly rode the current eastward. You've sailed for hundreds of miles southeast across this huge body of water. Occasionally you were accompanied by a whale or pod of dolphin. All the while, you knew that just below the surface lurked the largest predator that ever lived - the Megalodon shark. You've just reached the southeastern shore, not far from present-day Bakersfield, California. It is a lush tropical location, with reefs, lagoons, palm trees - plants and animals as far as you can see. Along the shore there is a rookery of sea lions and a strange hippopotamus-like animal. In the shallows is something that looks like a sea cow. The water is alive, with all types of fish and aquatic mammals. "Snap" - you're back to the present. The photo to the right shows the way that shoreline looks today. It's not so lush and tropical anymore. In fact the surface is significantly different, with hills and valleys where there was once sea floor. If you go there today, be sure to bring plenty of water with you. Fossil adventures in this semi-arid region, are not for the faint hearted.

What's so special about Sharktooth Hill?

First, why is it called "Sharktooth Hill"? Some say it refers to the shape of a mountain in the area. Some say it's because of the fossil shark teeth that are found there. It actually refers to a small hill where fossil shark teeth had been excavated many years ago. Among all the other hills in the area, it's not likely it would impress you much, if you saw it. These days, the term "Sharktooth Hill" has grown to refer to the general area, which is more precisely called the Round Mountain Silt portion of the Temblor Fossil Formation. Much of the land is owned by Oil Companies, as evidenced by the prolific oil wells in the area. Some of the most fossil productive areas are owned by private individuals, who obviously don't want just anyone coming out and digging up their land. In the surrounding area though, are a shrinking number of other locations where the fossil layer is still exposed and accessible to the public (don't ask). It's a small area and likely to be developed soon, so those of us who know about it don't advertise it's location.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Monterey Co. says Whoa! to federal oil leases...

Monterey County seeks delay of leases for oil, gas exploration

excerpted from Monterey County Herald, June 10, 2009

Agency to auction off oil, gas on private land
By Larry Parsons

Just delay, baby, delay. That was the message from Monterey County supervisors to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management over the pending auction of oil and gas exploration leases on about 35,000 acres in South County. The proposed lease sale, which is part of a 2007 management plan for BLM holdings on the Central Coast and in the Southern Diablo Mountain Range, is scheduled for June 23 in Sacramento. County supervisors voted unanimously Monday to ask the federal agency to hold off the lease sale for at least three months to give county planners time to weigh the possible impacts. Most of the proposed oil and gas leases are on private land for which the federal government owns the mineral rights. County planners said they only became aware of this month's scheduled lease sale on June 1. A three-month delay would allow "property owners, responsible agencies and other concerned parties time to understand and properly respond to the proposed lease sales," supervisors said in a letter sent to Jim Abbott, acting state director for the BLM. A BLM spokeswoman said Tuesday that Abbott has the authority to delay the sale and would weigh Monterey County's request very carefully. County planner John Ford said leases on private lands "raise some interesting questions we haven't had a chance to look into." Several groups, including the Ventana Wilderness Land Trust, Center for Biodiversity and Las Padres National Forest Association, joined the county in seeking to delay the lease sale. Rep. Sam Farr, D-Carmel, also has asked for the delay, said county Assistant Planning Director Carl Holm. This would be the first BLM oil and gas lease sale in at least a decade in Monterey County. And past ones have usually been for leases on publicly owned lands, Holm said...

Bush's So-Cal Natl. Forest Plan dumped by court...

So-Calif. Forest plans didn't consider endangered species, Court rules

excerpted from

Ventura County Star, June 10, 2009
A coalition of environmental organizations won a lawsuit on Monday after a judge ruled that federal agencies violated the Endangered Species Act when they reviewed plans on how to manage Los Padres National Forest and three other Southern California forests. The judge ruled that both the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not do an adequate biological opinion that quantifies how decisions in the forests affect threatened and endangered species. “Today’s ruling recognizes the important role that our national forests play in the survival and recovery of endangered plants and animals, giving them the attention they so desperately deserve,” said Jeff Kuyper, executive director of Los Padres ForestWatch, which brought the suit along with the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife...

San Diego River Fundraising Appeal...

El Cap is At Risk

6/2009: Our beloved El Cap which towers over El Monte Valley and the San Diego River is on the market for sale.

Can you imagine this landmark with a cell phone or other structure on it?

We can't either! Join us as we work to purchase 385 acres that are for sale. The owner has given us until the end of the year to raise the money to buy this land. We have negotiated a terrific price of just $1300 per acre.

Not only is this landmark visible from many communities, but it is also an important wildlife area. Golden eagles are known to nest in the area. A well known trail also provides access to a stunning view of the San Diego River and El Capitan Reservoir.

Join us in this race against time. Please consider making a donation today of $10, $100 or more.

If you can do more, please consider adopting one acre. $1300 saves an entire acre of El Cap. Either make a donation or pledge to raise the money by December 1, 2009. Send us an email to let us know of your pledge. Get your friends, co-workers and family to join you. Make this your personal cause! Together we can save El Cap!

Priority Acquisition Areas:

1) Santa Ysabel
2) Eagle Peak Preserve
3) Highlands
4) El Cap Mtn.
5) Chocolate Creek

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

State Lands Commission rejects more Santa Barbara coast oil drilling...

Thumbs down again for PXP Santa Barbara Oil Plan

excerpted from:,0,2849193.story

6/2/2009 --The State Lands Commission on Monday lashed out at an attempt by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to allow the first new oil drilling in California waters since 1969.

Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, chairman of the three-member panel, called the governor's effort "a naked power grab." At a contentious hearing in Santa Monica, the commission passed a resolution urging legislators not to go along with the plan, which would revive a drilling proposal off the Santa Barbara County coast that the commission killed in January.

At issue is a complex arrangement crafted by Plains Exploration & Production, a Texas oil company, and a coalition of Santa Barbara environmental groups. Under the plan, the oil company would drill into the state's seafloor from a platform it owns in federal waters, just beyond the three-mile limit. In return, the company would agree to shut down that platform and three others by 2022 and to donate 4,000 acres of land for public use....

Even the environmentalists behind the Tranquillon Ridge compromise criticized the governor's eagerness to get it done. Linda Krop, an attorney for the Environmental Defense Center, told the panel her group has "grave concerns" about the precedent that would be set in bypassing the commission.

In January, the commission concluded that it would be impossible to enforce the part of the deal that would require the oil company to end its drilling. Some environmentalists and legislators also feared it would encourage U.S. officials to allow further drilling in federal waters off California.

But the plan can be modified, Krop said, and it should be the Lands Commission that reconsiders it....

more on this story:

"Even the land donation was in question. Company lawyers told Lands Commission staff that some of the parcels had title problems that made their transfer uncertain."

Monday, June 1, 2009

Desert Land Rush by energy companies...

Too Hot and Distant for tract houses...But Seems Like Everyone wants a piece of the Mojave Desert...

excerpted from,0,6845540.story

6/1/2009--A rush to stake claims for renewable energy projects in the California desert has triggered a federal investigation and prompted calls for reforms to prevent public lands from being exposed to private profiteering and environmental degradation.

Officials said last week that the inspector general's office of the Department of the Interior was investigating Tempe, Ariz.-based First Solar Inc.'s recent acquisition of Hayward, Calif.-based OptiSolar, and its unfinished renewable energy projects, for $400 million. The deal gave First Solar control of what the company described as OptiSolar's "strategic land rights" to 136,000 acres of public land in San Bernardino, Riverside and Kern counties.

Bureau of Land Management officials, however, said First Solar acquired OptiSolar's applications to develop that land.

"There is no value associated with a mere application, which could be rejected by us for a variety of reasons," said Greg Miller, renewable energy program manager for the BLM office in Moreno Valley...

...Three years ago, the bureau had six applications for solar energy projects on file. Over the last year, it has received 130 additional applications from 50 companies, covering about 600,000 acres -- much of it in one of the sunniest regions on Earth, the Mojave Desert.

Some applicants are asking for parcels as small as 250 acres. Then there is Cogentrix Solar Investments, which is seeking more than 300,000 acres...

...A coalition of a dozen environmental groups led by the Wildlands Conservancy has identified 137,000 acres of public and private agricultural and degraded desert lands -- all near existing transmission lines -- that could be used for solar energy farms.

"On these alternative lands we can unite what otherwise would be conflicting environmental interests," said David Myers, executive director of the Wildlands Conservancy.

"It would be a real shame if the public policy for our new green economy was driven haphazardly by speculators," he said.

Save it for a while...then pave it?

Deals to Save Forests Temporarily Using Carbon Credits Worries Some
; others like it

excerpted from,0,3122894.story?page=1

June 1, 2009

...This 2,200-acre spread in Humboldt County does well by doing good. For the last four years, Van Eck's foresters restricted logging, allowing trees to do what trees do: absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The conservation foundation that oversees the forest then calculated that carbon bonus and sold it for $2 million to individuals and companies trying to offset some 185,000 metric tons of their greenhouse gas emissions.

"Forests can be managed like a long-term carbon bank," said Laurie Wayburn, president of the Pacific Forest Trust, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that oversees Van Eck. Selling offsets, she said, is like "writing checks on the account."...

..."California leads the world with regard to the role of forests in combating climate change," said Chris Kelly, California director for the Conservation Fund, a Virginia-based nonprofit that has sold offsets from Mendocino County preserves. "I just had an inquiry from a Canadian buyer who's expecting Canada to move in the direction set by California."

But so far, big timber operators, including Sierra Pacific Industries and Green Diamond Resource Co., have yet to enroll in California's offsets program. Current standards require owners to agree to a permanent conservation easement, a legal agreement that would guarantee carbon-storage measures in perpetuity. Companies have found that too onerous, and as a result only a handful of woodlands have registered, mainly those managed by conservation groups.

For the last 18 months, members of a task force of environmentalists, timber operators and state officials have been locked in contentious negotiations to revise the rules. The new draft, to go before the Air Resources Board next month, substitutes a 100-year contract for the easement, thus allowing development after a century. It also clarifies rules for companies to quantify and verify carbon.

At least one environmental group is uncomfortable with the changes. "By removing the easement, you leave the system open to gaming," said Brian Nowicki, a forest specialist with the Center for Biological Diversity.

"The timber industry wants 'business as usual' practices, like clear-cutting, to qualify for carbon credit."

But groups represented on the task force, including the Environmental Defense Fund, the Nature Conservancy and Pacific Forest Trust, say that century-long contracts and strict accounting rules will guarantee that offsets will be granted only if additional carbon is stored above and beyond conventional forest practices.

David Bischel, president of the California Forestry Assn., the industry trade group, said he expects more landowners to sign up but cautions, "It is an opportunity in its infancy: When you add up the numbers, it is not a huge source of revenue."...


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