Indexed News on:

--the California "Mega-Park" Project

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


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Corporate Enviros get press's ear on water wars...

Do California Environmentalists Want another Mega-Pipe to Send more Northern Calif. Water to So-Cal?

The L.A. Times' Sacramento correspondent thinks so:
"There's a growing consensus among farm, urban and many environmental interests -- but still not delta farmers who rely on fresh Sacramento River water -- that some peripheral canal is needed. Or perhaps a peripheral tunnel. Or a combo of both. Or both combined with a more secure water route through the delta -- a route that could devastate one of the estuary's most scenic boating areas.",0,5395588.column


Dear Editor, L.A. Times,

Columnist George Skelton (8/25/09) never said which "environmental interests" support the governor's hair-brained and fake save-the-fish and send-more-water-to-L.A.-developers plan for Northern California's rivers. That's because none of them are based here.

The fact is that no California-based environmental groups support Schwarzenegger's plan. There are some corporate out-of-state groups that have cut deals, but they always cut deals and sell out the locals. They are irrelevant.

California has only a finite supply of freshwater and it's all being used by someone or something, be it fish, agriculture or people. If you ration it to the fish, they die. If you cut off agriculture's supply, we get less food. And in L.A., adding insult to injury, when we let our lawns go brown, our planning department and city council hands that water to a developer.

Building new and expensive ways to distribute the water ignores the basic fact that there's only so much to go around, and California has reached its limit. We can let Wall Street control our precious environment, or we Californians can refuse to spend our tax dollars to fund another wave of urban sprawl and traffic jams that this fake new water supply will bring. Let's adapt to the limit. We can't build our way out of it.

Rex Frankel

Friday, August 14, 2009

Developer-sponsored parking war in Venice Beach...

Victimized Venice Developer Lobbyist Sues State for not forcing the public to park in his boss's lots

Here's a funny story about an astro-turf effort to limit parking at Venice Beach. The press never mentions that this guy has been a lobbyist for the local beachfront parking lot owners that would benefit mightily from a beach area preferential-parking district...

Tank training expansion threatens desert turtles...

Act Now to Save Desert Tortoises

from the Center for Biological Diversity

8/10/2009--Last year, more than 250 desert tortoises died after a disastrous attempt by the Army to relocate 600 of the imperiled tortoises to make way for a tank-warfare training area in the California desert. Now, the Army and the Bureau of Land Management are rushing forward with a plan to move over 1,100 more tortoises -- and have given the public a tiny, 15-day window of opportunity to express itself on this lethal proposal. We need your help now.

A screw the environment plan for the Delta?...

Plans to "make everyone happy" in Calif's water wars ignore the math--there is only so much freshwater, and it's all being used for Ag, Urban or nature. To send more water south for more So-Cal sprawl will result in
richer land barons, but fish extinction and parched farms. What will we do--eat our money?

Special by Jane Wagner-Tyack

The Delta Plan bill by Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael (formerly AB 39), is schizophrenic in both the clinical and the common senses of the word: it is both delusional and internally contradictory.

The delusion arises from the bill's acceptance of the notion of coequal goals for the Delta, adopted by both Delta Vision and the BDCP as a way to make as many people as possible happy. This notion has always been flawed because it is not possible to guarantee water supplies for people and agriculture and at the same time guarantee water for the ecosystem.
Huffman's bill has to include the BDCP; otherwise, the governor will never sign it. But the BDCP is being presented as a Habitat Conservation Plan. According to state and federal law, a HCP should focus on habitat improvement. Since the main objective is to find adaptive management strategies that will enable endangered species to recover, levels of exports cannot be determined in advance.

Having set itself the task of guaranteeing contradictory goals, this bill establishing the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Reform Act of 2009 cannot help being contradictory in trying to devise a plan.

Some sections of the bill are eloquent in describing existing Delta communities and values and the Delta economy ("existing developed uses . . . are essential to the economic and social well-being of the people of this state"). There is even a proposal for making the Delta a National Heritage Area. But elsewhere, the bill makes it clear that maintaining the Delta in its present form is not the business of the state. Several times, it refers to the Delta as "evolving." All human and natural communities evolve, but they change faster if they are made to change with strategies like refocusing "the economic and public values of Delta agriculture."

Similarly, the bill includes a detailed discussion of flood control, but mostly for the state and federal water projects; local flood protection plans may be incorporated, and the plan will "promote" emergency preparedness, appropriate land uses, and strategic levee investments. At the outset, the bill says that landowners are not entitled to state funding to maintain or repair private levees, suggesting an end to the subvention program for levee maintenance. There appears to be no commitment to protecting the Delta as a common pool, although it is "the hub of the California water system." And even more apparent is a lack of knowledge regarding levee protection in the Delta - private levees must be maintained so as to keep stress off of the state and federal levees that protect hundreds of thousands of urban residents in the Delta.

In one small section, the bill calls for regional self- reliance and says that it is the policy of the state to reduce long-term dependence on water from the Delta watershed. Then it spends pages describing a plan to enable continued dependence.

The bill claims that the Delta Plan Act would not affect area of origin rights protections under the law. Then it refers specifically to sections of the Water Code that have consistently been violated when water needed in the Sacramento Valley has been exported and when storing and releasing water for use outside the Delta has not met objectives for salinity control, an adequate Delta water supply, and maintenance of the common pool.

Early actions under the Act can proceed with just a quorum of the Delta Stewardship Council. (Neither the Council itself nor a quorum are defined in this bill.) One early action is to be the appointment of an Independent Science Board. Apparently recognizing that the science applied so far to this issue has not been good, the bill repeatedly calls for using "the best available scientific information."

One early action of the council will be coming up with a finance strategy for developing the Delta Plan. Coming up with a strategy is all this bill says about how the plan will be paid for.

The council will get DFG started on some identified near-term restoration projects in the Delta. DFG is also supposed to submit information and recommendations that it "deems reliable" regarding the Delta's instream flow needs, something DFG has not so far been able to do.

The bill uses "department" and "board" without defining them, but context makes it clear that the board is the SWRCB. The board is supposed to charge the department for the costs of instream flow needs analysis "pursuant to the board's authority to regulate the water rights of the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Projects." It appears that the State Water Contractors, through DWR, would pay for this analysis of instream flow needs-a clear case of conflict of interest.

The bill includes reference to a "special master" (a water master) to help decide whether board's determinations of instream flow needs "were arbitrary or capricious."

The bill gives control of the BDCP process to the Delta Stewardship Council and incorporates the BDCP into the Delta Plan. It requires analysis of different conveyance alternatives but does not consider a no- conveyance alternative. The Independent Science Board is supposed to review data and hypotheses on which the BDCP's adaptive management is based. Apparently the whole process will go forward more or less as the BDCP intends, but under the Delta Plan. Alternative conveyance requires no further legislative approval. It is here that we find Assembly Member Huffman's implicit approval for construction of the peripheral canal.

But except for "the board" charging "the department" for instream flow needs analysis, this bill doesn't suggest how any activities or projects associated with the Delta Plan (apparently including both conveyance and storage-a canal and dams) will be paid for. Tomorrow, we will discuss funding as it is laid out in the other bills.

Nevada Co. Land Trust news...

Stopping Sprawl in the Foothills North of Sacramento

excerpts from their Summer 2009 newsletter

Nevada County is endowed with a mosaic of beautiful landscapes, healthy forests, historical treasures, and small towns. These towns comfort us with timeless charm. Our farms and ranches feed our communities. Ninety-five percent of locals, according to a 2003 research study, report they came to the area primarily because of the landscape—its scenery, environmental qualities, and open space. Unlike many rapidly growing counties, Nevada County’s expansion is primarily driven by quality-of-life values rather than economic opportunities*....

On June 23 the Land Trust held its first board meeting on the Garden Bar property, its most recent acquisition. We are all hoping to garner the funding to gain final title to those 653 acres of vitally important open space....
... this open space together with that of the adjoining Wild Rock and Quail Ranches, whose owners have contributed conservation easements to protect them from development.
These three properties represent over 3,000 acres of protected land in the vicinity of Perimeter Road – probably the next major arterial to the Sacramento Valley, and prime areas for new subdivisions...

772 Acres saved from urbanization in Marin Co...

Spaletta Dairy Protected by

Marin Agricultural Land Trust Easement

8/13/2009-Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) is pleased to announced that it has purchased an agricultural conservation easement on the Spaletta family's 772-acre Cypress Lane Ranch. Some of the Bay Area's most highly acclaimed dairy products and organic crops are produced on farmland protected by MALT conservation easements, which now total more than 41,500 acres on 64 family farms and ranches.

To learn more about Marin's family farms and the food they produce, visit

The Spaletta ranch is prominently located on Point Reyes-Petaluma Road at its intersection with Novato Boulevard. It becomes part of a greenbelt of protected historic farmland on the road leading to Petaluma. Seventy-five percent of the property is grasslands, providing extensive pastures while silage is grown for feed on the southwestern part of the ranch.

Members of the Spaletta family have owned the ranch since 1932. Two of them, Charles Spaletta and his son Tony, currently live there and run a Grade A Holstein dairy cow operation, producing fluid milk. The dairy is of one of only 27 remaining in Marin County, down from 100 dairies in the 1970s. The Spaletta family corporation's sale of an easement to MALT will allow Charles and Tony, the dairy ranchers, to continue producing milk for the Bay Area.

Located short commute distances from Petaluma and central Marin, Cypress Lane Ranch might have been targeted by a developer for estate ranchettes which are in high demand in western Marin County. Under the Marin Agricultural Land Trust conservation easement, the development rights have been extinguished, and the land can never be subdivided; the ranch is permanently protected for agricultural use.

"Protecting the land so this productive dairy can continue operation is an example of how MALT works with ranching families to find a conservation alternative to the sale or development of the land," said Robert Berner, Executive Director of Marin Agricultural Land Trust.

MALT made the purchase with financial assistance from the Department of Conservation's California Farmland Conservancy Program and the United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Conservation Service (NRCS), paying the appraised value of $2,495,000 for the easement. The Department of Conservation and NRCS provided grants to MALT of $831,667 each for the project. The remaining third of the funds was raised from MALT members and supporters.

"The Department of Conservation is pleased to support local efforts to preserve farmland," said DOC Director Bridgett Luther. "We congratulate both MALT and the Spaletta family on the completion of this project, and encourage other Marin County landowners to consider the agricultural conservation easement option for their properties."

Marin Agricultural Land Trust is a member-supported, nonprofit organization created in 1980 by a coalition of ranchers and environmentalists to permanently preserve Marin County farmland.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

756 Acres in Lassen Co. are saved...


Lassen County lands donated to public ownership; Fed's BLM will manage for habitat

(BLM-California news release, 7/22/09)--

Lassen Gold Mining, a subsidiary of Kinross Gold, has transferred into public ownership 756 acres near Hayden Hill in northwest Lassen County. The area will be managed by the Bureau of Land Management’s Alturas Field Office as wildlife habitat. “The donated sagebrush grasslands are home to sage-grouse and mule deer and include over 18 acres of constructed wetlands that mitigate the impacts of mining,” said BLM Alturas Field Manager Tim Burke.

SLO Coast Power Plant will shut down...

Owner of Morro Bay-Polluting Power Plant to Pull the Plug

excerpted from:

"7-31-2009--After years of sharply-reduced use and partial retirement, the 54-year-old Morro Bay Power Plant will be shut down for good in a few years, and no new replacement plant can be built, under just-revealed plans of the owner and a proposed new state policy prohibiting the plant’s continued use of water from the Morro Bay National Estuary, which has killed countless billions of small fish and other marine life over its lifetime...."

New Sections of Bay Ridge trail are open....


Another 5 Miles of the SF Bay Ridge Trail are Finished

7/24/2009 from

Trail Dedications
Celebrate with us as we dedicate 4.8 miles of Ridge Trail in August!

August 15 – 3.6 more miles at the north end of the Coyote Creek Trail in San José will be opened, creating a continuous 19-mile stretch extending south to Anderson Lake County Park. Cyclists can sign up to ride all 19 miles one-way (shuttle provided). Families can come early with the kids for a FREE bicycle helmet fitting and give away! Festivities begin at 8:30 AM near the Tully Community Branch Library & Ball Fields.

August 29 – celebratory opening of 1.2 mile path of Ridge Trail and Bay Trail on the Benicia-Martinez Bridge, across the Carquinez Strait. Ceremonies start at 10:00 AM at Vista Point in Benicia, followed by fun family activities. Meet at the Camel Barn parking lot.

Please follow the links above for complete details and directions.

Battle over cell towers on east SF Bay peak...



8/2009--Join us for a hike to the peak of Lime Ridge to enjoy the beauty of the natural world and enjoy the spectacular views while learning about a threat to this wonderful resource.

The City of Walnut Creek is currently considering a proposal to grant a lease to Nextel to allow then to use the peak of Lime Ridge for expanded communications facilities, even though their lease expired two years ago.

This is the City’s opportunity to end this inappropriate use of the open space and to return the area to its natural setting by requiring the removal of the existing facilities.

Learn more about this proposal by joining us on one of our guided hikes through Lime Ridge, taking a self guided hike on your own, or by reading our comment letter to the City. Send a letter to the City to let them know that you support Save Mount Diablo’s position to return the open space to its natural setting.

Saturday August 22, 9am. Co-led by Troy Bristol, SMD’s Land Conservation Associate, and George Phillips, intern for SMD

Sunday September 13, 9am. Co-led by Troy Bristol, SMD’s Land Conservation Associate, and George Phillips, intern for SMD

Saturday September 26, 9am. Led by Seth Adams, SMD’s Director of Land Programs

All Hikes Begin at: the staging area at the eastern end of Valley Vista Road in Walnut Creek next to the Boundary Oaks Club House. Bring water, layers, sunscreen and a snack, No dogs are allowed in this section of Lime Ridge

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Clean-up Promised at SF Bay's Mt. Umunhum

Congress to Fund South SF Bay Mountain Clean-up

excerpted from:

7/24/2009--In a breakthrough toward creating a new mountaintop park overlooking Silicon Valley, a key committee in Congress has approved spending $4 million to remove old buildings and toxic materials atop Mount Umunhum, a former Cold War radar station in the hills south of San Jose.

"I'm pretty elated," said U.S. Rep. Mike Honda, D-Campbell, who pushed for the money. "This is a prime spot where you can see 360-degree views of the valley, Monterey Bay, almost the entire Bay Area."

On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee OK'd the funding as part of the 2010 defense budget. A vote in the full House is expected next week, with the Senate slated to take up the bill in September.

Despite previous efforts by Honda, this week's vote represents the first time Congress has approved cleanup money for the aging military site since it closed nearly 30 years ago. "I have all the expectations that it will come through now," Honda said. "This was the big hurdle."

The 3,486-foot mountain, whose name comes from the Ohlone Indian word for hummingbird, towers above South San Jose and Los Gatos on the chaparral ridges between Lexington Reservoir and Almaden Quicksilver County Park


Given the complicated situation surrounding Mount Umunhum, this site is purely for the sole purpose of showing the public simply what this place is all about. I do not condone trespassing in any way, and do not give descriptive explanations on how to get to the summit of Mount Umunhum. I share my personal experiences on this peak so that the good people of the South Bay Area who look up to this mountain wondering about it may have a better understanding of the place. If you post here, please do so discretely.

Wine Country Developers at it again...

the Latest Development Pressures in Napa County

Syar seeks quarry expansion into Skyline Park

Excepted from

"Syar Industries is seeking to expand its aggregate mining operations by 291 acres in a project that will include areas of Skyline Park that are Syar property. The proposed project would relocate two park trails, the Buckeye Trail and the Skyline Trail, that were originally constructed on the quarry property, back onto Skyline Park lands. According to a Notice of Preparation of an Environmental Impact:...


Old hay farm to be restored to tidal marsh
"A plan to restore a former hay farm to tidal salt marsh on the Napa River delta may get the go-ahead this summer. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Game expect to issue a decision on a plan to restore the 1,500-acre Cullinan Ranch, a former hayfield farm..."


Lake Luciana project rejected by supervisors, in Pope Valley l-countys-findings/

Developers threaten to sue because 2 County Supervisers are members of the Sierra CLub, which also opposed the project

Oregon Promises $$ to Help Klamath River...


Kulongoski signs bill to pay for removal of 4 Klamath River dams


excerpted from

GRANTS PASS, Ore.—The state of Oregon will finance most of the cost of removing four Klamath River dams to help salmon under a bill signed by Gov. Ted Kulongoski Tuesday.

Meanwhile, federal officials met in Klamath Falls with representatives of Pacificorp and the states of California and Oregon. The parties must have a binding agreement by September to restore 300 miles of spawning habitat on what was once the third biggest salmon producer on the West Coast…

…Long an opponent of dam removal, PacifiCorp shifted after it became clear the idea had strong public support and the utility could end up paying far more to continue trying to relicense the aged dams…

Sonoma Ranch saved...

Sonoma County to spend $1.6 million for conservation easement on 396 acre Gilardi ranch near Bodega.

“The action prevents development of four estate homes on the ranch that would have been allowed under rural residential zoning and maintains the single residence that stands on the ranch…. With the Gilardi ranch conservation easement, nearly 10,000 acres of dairy and ranch lands from Petaluma to the ocean that have come under open space district protection. Funding comes from the quarter-cent sales tax reauthorized by voters in 2006.”

Thursday, August 6, 2009

SMMC-MRCA 7/1/2009 to 8/5/2009

Negotiating over key Angeles Forest linkage...L.A. Mountains Update for July-August 2009

400 acres north of Sylmar
18 acres in Arroyo Las Posas in Ventura County
5.6 acres in Agoura Hills, near liberty Canyon
3.9 acres in Carbon Canyon in Malibu
1.2 acres in Escondido Canyon in west Malibu

Verdugo Hills Golf Course—conversion to 200 homes
Malibu Canyon, just north of Hughes Research Center


7/1/2009 MRCA
Proposed purchase of 400 acres at the site of the formerly proposed Elsmere Canyon Landfill, located in Bull Creek and Grapevine canyon watersheds north of Sylmar
Consideration of resolution authorizing submission of Proposition K application to the City of Los Angeles for the acquisition of property in the south western corner of the San Gabriel Mountains. [Staff Report] [Resolution] [Map]

Consideration of resolution adopting Engineer's Report, confirming the annual levy of maintenance assessment for fiscal year 2009-2010 and directing related actions for the Santa Monica Mountains Open Space Preservation Assessment District No. 1, Los Angeles. [Staff Report] [Resolution] [Attachment]

Consideration of resolution adopting Engineer's Report, confirming the annual levy of maintenance assessment for fiscal year 2009-2010 and directing related actions for the Santa Monica Mountains Open Space Preservation Assessment District No. 2, Los Angeles. [Staff Report] [Resolution] [Attachment]


8/5/2009 MRCA
Consideration of resolution authorizing acceptance of a conservation easement over a portion of APN 2385-022-002, Coldwater Canyon Lane, Studio City. [Staff Report] [Resolution] [Map]

Consideration of resolution authorizing acceptance of an approximately 18-acre mitigation project conservation easement along Arroyo Las Posas on APN 163-0-020-785 and processing fee, Calleguas Creek watershed, Ventura County. [Map] [Map 2] [Map 3] [Staff Report] [Resolution] [Attachment]

Runyan Canyon Park--Consideration of resolution authorizing the extension of two promissory notes in the amounts of $3,000,000 and $1,000,000; and further ratifying the sale and purchase back of APN’s 5571-025-903, 904, 5571-026-903, 904, 5571-027-902, 903, 5571-031-909, 910, 911, 912, 913, and certain related actions. [Staff Report]

Consideration of resolution authorizing entering into a grant agreement with the State Coastal Conservancy and acceptance of the grant funds for the Malibu Road Public Access project. [Staff Report] [Resolution]

5.6 acre Riopharm property, in Agoura Hills--Consideration of resolution authorizing acceptance of open space dedication of an approximately 5.6-acre portion of Lot C, Tract 48312 (APN 2061-015-008), and signing of a covenant and agreement by offsite property owner regarding drainage acceptance from Tract 48312 and release of liability, Liberty Canyon, City of Agoura Hills. [Staff Report] [Resolution] [Attachment 1] [Attachment 2] [Map]

Consideration of resolution authorizing the use of Proposition A funds including the acceptance of a Third Supervisorial District 2009 Competitive Natural Land for Trails Grant Program grant for the acquisition of a conservation and trail easement over an approximately 3.9 acre portion of APN 4453-027-004 in Carbon Canyon, unincorporated Malibu. [Map] [Staff Report] [Resolution]

1.2 acres in Excondido Canyon--Consideration of resolution authorizing the use Proposition A funds to acquire APN 4460-014-008 in Escondido Canyon for the Coastal Slope Trail, City of Malibu. [Map] [Staff Report]


SMMC 7/27/2009:

Consideration of resolution authorizing a comment letter to the City of Los Angeles on Draft Environmental Impact Report for Verdugo Hills Golf Course project, 6433 La Tuna Canyon Road, Tujunga. [Resolution] [Attachment 1] [Attachment 2] [Map 1] [Map 2] [Map 3] [Map 4] [Map 5] [Map 6] [Map 7] [Map 8] [Map 9] [Comment Letter]

Consideration of resolution authorizing a comment letter to Los Angeles County on Notice of Consultation for 2919 Malibu Canyon Road (Francisco Ranch Road), Malibu Canyon Significant Ecological Area. [Resolution] [Attachment 1] [Attachment 2] [Attachment 3] [Map] [Comment Letter]

Consideration of resolution authorizing the addition of Coastal Slope Trail – Carbon to Las Flores to the acquisition Workprogram. [Map 1] [Map 2] [Staff Report] [Resolution]



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