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--the California "Mega-Park" Project

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


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Wet Winter hiking season is here!

Now is the time to check out the SM Mountains' Waterfalls

I took my hiking group to see 6 waterfalls near Point Mugu State park on 12/27. If you want to join in, membership in the group is free. The one below is in a room under a giant boulder.


I also put together a website that features an automatically-generated calendar of nature hikes in the L.A. area:



Trail Notes: Hike the Grotto Trail from Circle X Ranch

Mishe Mokwa to Sandstone Peak--photos

Ray Miller trail map, photo of La Jolla falls, why Ray Miller was built—to keep horses off the Chumash trail

photos of hike in Santa Inez canyon

photos of hike to Santa Inez falls

Solstice canyon after Dec 2010 storms



SMM NPS map of trails in SM and Simi hills

and another SM Mtns map--All trails are in yellow



Photos and map of Ladyface mountain hike


photos of Nicholas Flat---

their twitter page




Showdown over Malibu Lagoon

10/13/2010--Malibu Lagoon Dredging War Erupts Between Heal the Bay and Wetlands Defense Fund as Coastal Commission Decides Fate

review of Malibu Lagoon project
AND aerial before and after photo


Overnight Camping May Now Be Non-Issue
• Conservancy Plan Critics No Longer Pack Council Chambers
While the original plan proposed campsites at five parks, the current plan calls for the bulk of proposed campsites in one Pacific Coast Highway cluster at Corral Canyon Park and in two clusters at the SMMC-owned Bluffs Park. Two Americans-with-Disabilities-accessible campsites were retained at Ramirez Canyon Park, but the current plan eliminates all the campsites at the Latigo property and Escondido Canyon Park.


140 ACRES IS BOUGHT To the west of the sign. The sign and the mountain it sits on have been part of Griffith Park for many years!



Topanga fire lookout

The lookout tower is not there anymore; it has been replaced with 2 sofas.

1961 Bel air wildfire

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Eco highlights for 2010 in Ventura County...

A Year-End Wrap-up for VENTURA COUNTY:


--88 acres were saved in the Ventura River area

--While Ventura City Council considers more sprawl

--Feds and State agree to do their part to clean up Rocketdyne's mess in the Simi Hills

--Logging proposed at Frazier Mountain by feds

--Lockwood Valley mine shuts down


Lower Ventura River Parkway---
12/23/2010--The California Coastal Conservancy, in partnership with the Ventura Hillsides Conservancy, was awarded $1 million by the federal government to help acquire and permanently protect 52 acres of property in the upper Ventura River Estuary in the City of Ventura, California. The total project cost is $1,604,500.

From Ventura citizens for hillside Preservation blog

10/12/2010--Despite stiff opposition, the Ventura City Council on Monday decided to include some 800 privately owned acres in the Cañada Larga area for possible annexation and open the largely undeveloped valley to large equestrian ranches or executive homes.
It was a narrow decision, with the council members splitting 4-3 in favor of adding the proposal to the city’s General Plan after more than two hours of public testimony, with a vast majority of speakers urging the council to avoid altering the picturesque canyon four miles north of town.
Ventura, CA (October 1, 2010). The Ventura Hillsides Conservancy will be the beneficiary of up to twenty-five acres of Ventura River bottomland to be held for conservation purposes. The final transfer of title is expected by year’s end. Through an April 28, 2010 judgment of Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten, Mr. Shull Bonsall agreed to donate the acreage to the Conservancy. Bonsall was accused by California Department of Fish and Game of altering a part of the Ventura River watershed on his Cañada Larga property without a permit. Instead of paying civil penalties and admitting wrongdoing, he acceded to donating some of his nearby land to the Conservancy.


36 acres were saved:
12/28/2009--The Ojai Valley Land Conservancy is pleased to announce the permanent protection of 36 acres of ecologically important and stunningly beautiful land in Ojai. Long time Ojai residents generously entered into a land preservation agreement called a conservation easement with the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy.




Ozena Mine Shutting Down
Closure hailed by citizens group 'Stop The Trucks'

12/9/2010--The Ventura County Planning Division was informed in late November by Alliance Ready Mix, a Santa Maria concrete company that operates the Ozena mine in Lockwood Valley, that it was withdrawing its application for a new county permit. Considering Ozena no longer has a valid permit the mine is required to close, effective immediately.

Los Padres ForestWatch has been monitoring the mine since their attempt to expand in 2006 without preparing the neccessary environmental studies, and we also provided data and comments at a Santa Barbara County Planning Commission in support of 'Stop The Trucks' and putting an end to gravel truck traffic on Highway 33 - a National Forest Scenic Byway and State Scenic Highway.

Now that its permit is expired, the property owners must proceed with reclamation. They will remove all of the equipment and a trailer at the site, as well as return it to a condition where it can be used for agriculture again.

More info:

Frazier Mountain Logging Proposal
On the Los Padres in northern Ventura County

12/9/2010--In September, the U.S. Forest Service announced a commercial logging project on Frazier Mountain. In addition to the timber sale, the project also includes removal of other vegetation totaling a combined 2,386 acres from the summit to a campground at the base of the mountain.

In response to the announcement, ForestWatch submitted comments urging forest officials to carefully evaluate all impacts from the project in an Environmental Impact Statement, and to consider other alternatives that do not rely on commercial logging. Frazier Mountain is one of the highest peaks in the Los Padres National Forest and contains large, old-growth trees as well as harbors a diverse array of plant and animal life, many of which are considered rare.

Map of the project


Lockwood Animal Rescue Center

Quatal canyon jeep trails
cowhead potrero aerial
photos of Quatal canyon cliffs



9/2010--ROCKETDYNE Santa Susana Cleanup Agreement

After decades of hard work by community activists and countless hours of meetings and negotiations with state and federal authorities, I'm thrilled to announce that a historic proposed settlement agreement has been reached to clean up the Santa Susana Field Lab (SSFL) by 2017. The plan would remove soil contaminated with carcinogenic dioxins, heavy metals and radioactive materials from the former nuclear research facility, considered one of the most contaminated sites in the United States.

The 2,849-acre field laboratory located in the Simi Hills, the site of America's first partial nuclear meltdown in July of 1959, has been the focus of a comprehensive environmental investigation and cleanup program, conducted by Boeing, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and overseen by the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).

I want to thank the community members who fought tirelessly for this cleanup as well as Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, Cal-EPA Secretary Linda Adams, Governor Schwarzenegger, U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, my policy staff consultant Bill Craven who has worked on this issue for years, and many others at the Department of Toxics Substances Control for the years of work they have put into this clean-up. Special thanks go to U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer who has been very forceful on behalf of the public health protections that should be in place and who worked very hard with the federal agencies to make sure this agreement adhered to state law, which was authored by former District 23 Senator Sheila Kuehl.

These agreements in principle between the state, the U.S. Department of Energy and NASA must be finalized formally before they become effective. DTSC invites public review and comment until October 1, 2010. To access the proposed settlement, click here. It's now time for Boeing to clean up the land they own at SSFL.
Santa Susana Field Laboratory Agreements


thousand oaks lizard survey


Video on the search for the rumored Manson Family "Hideout CAVE and Waterfalls" Hidden Spahn Ranch Chatsworth California 11/27/09

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Tribe seeks to buy 47,000 acres along the Klamath River from timber giant...

Yurok Tribe seeks big land deal along the Redwood Coast, at the mouth of the Klamath River

excerpted from:,0,3593074.story


...The tribe is asking Rep. Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) to introduce legislation that would transfer 1,200 acres of a woody knob of Redwood Park and 1,200 acres of redwood stands in the Six Rivers National Forest to the tribe. The Yurok are also seeking control of Redding Rock, an offshore sea stack that is part of the California Coastal National Monument.

...An early draft of the proposed legislation authorized a $50-million allocation to the Yurok to purchase 47,000 acres of commercial timber land. The tribe later withdrew the provision, saying that the appropriation was politically untenable and that the Yurok leadership never signed off on it.

But the tribe has other resources to which it can turn. The Yurok's seven-year land-acquisition project is driven by a sophisticated campaign that has yielded million of dollars in loans and grants from federal, state and private sources. The Western Rivers Conservancy is helping the Yurok raise the estimated $73 million required to purchase the timber land. Earlier this month the state water board awarded the tribe an $18.7 million loan to purchase a portion of the timber property...

Saturday, December 25, 2010


A Wrap-up of 2010


Thanks to supporters like you – we dedicated over 10 new miles of trail in 2010, planned new trail all around the Bay region, launched a new web site with printable maps for all 330 miles of dedicated trail, and expanded our events and outings. With your help, 2011 will be our best year yet.


The Nation's Largest Urban Trail System Is Right Here



It is an oversight the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council is working to change.

11/24/2010--The Bay Area Ridge Trail is 400 consecutive miles of trails for hiking, biking and equestrian use created two decades ago to expose residents to the Bay in all surrounding counties. But the highest point of The City’s seven-mile portion of the trail misses the mark.
According to Bern Smith, South Bay trail director with the council, when the trail was created, organizers decided to avoid the peaks, which would have offered a 360-degree view but also a steeper climb.
“You’re walking right on the side,” he said, “not one or two blocks from Twin Peaks.”

Sixth Annual Peak to Peak Walk
Saturday, October 16, 2010
8:30 AM to 4:00 PM



There were 2 Ridge Trail dedications in Solano County:
McGary Road (Thurs, Sep 30) and the I-780 overcrossing (Sat, Oct 2).

Details below.
A 3.2-mile bikeway on McGary Road is opening, creating 9 miles of continuous Ridge Trail between Hiddenbrooke and Lynch Canyon Open Space. The link also completes the Solano County bikeway from Vallejo to Fairfield.

Where: McGary Road at Lynch Canyon Road. Enter from Red Top Road. Click here for a map.

Vallejo Times-Herald
The new roadway also will also add 3.2 miles to the 26.5 miles of the Bay Ridge Trail in Solano County. Funding for the McGary Road reconstruction work and bike lanes ...

Also opened: the Rose Drive Bicycle/Pedestrian Bridge Path
The new multi-use bridge path provides a safe crossing over I-780 at the Columbus Parkway Interchange, replacing a very narrow lane and cement curb.
 It’s just a two-mile stroll or easy bike ride from downtown Benicia to the new path, which will provide great community connections in the area, linking neighborhoods north of I-780, the Vallejo Benicia Buffer and Blue Rock Springs Park, with Benicia State Recreation Area, Carquinez bluffs, and more along the Carquinez Strait. Smooth pedestrian connections are in place and final improvements for cyclists are being reviewed.

Benicia portion of ridgetrail—I-780 overcrossing



To learn about some of the wonderful opportuntities that we have to preserve habitats, wildlife corridors and recreational prospects, please read Dennis Cuff's article in the Contra Costa Times and view the slideshow for lovely sneek peaks of new lands.

East Bay park and conservation groups in recession land rush

By the end of the year, the East Bay Regional Park District will have bought 9,274 acres during 2009 and 2010 for  $45 million, park officials said. That amounts to 14.5 square miles, nearly a third the size of San Francisco. The shopping spree has increased park district holdings by about 10 percent, to 108,000 acres.

The park district isn't the only group snapping up land:

The Contra Costa Water District this year bought the first 600 acres of the thousands of acres it plans to acquire for open space to offset the environmental effects of expanding Los Vaqueros Reservoir.

Save Mount Diablo, a nonprofit land preservation group based in Walnut Creek, is buying six small parcels along Marsh Creek and elsewhere on the east side of Mount Diablo this year. It usually buys a one property every year or two.

The Muir Heritage Land Trust has acquired 506 acres in areas east of Hercules and in Lafayette in the past two years.

…The East Bay Regional Park District often buys much larger parcels from third- or fourth-generation ranch families to expand parks such as Black Diamond Mines near Antioch, Pleasanton Ridge and Vasco Caves near Byron.
In September, the regional park board approved an agreement to pay $6.4 million for the first 640 acres of a new park to open in Dublin's Doolan Canyon.



A Park is Born in Dublin--the 650 acre Dublin Hills Regional Park

by Dan Rademacher
The newest addition to the East Bay Regional Park District rides high on the Calaveras Ridge, with views from San Francisco and the Bay all the way around to Sunol, Brushy Peak, and Mount Diablo.
From the Oct-Dec 2010 issue
Published October 01, 2010

11/2010—Save Mount Diablo e-news

Fall 2010 issue--Dry Creek, Save Mount Diablo’s most recent acquisition property—we closed escrow in September—is only 5.18 acres but it is a spectacular and strategic purchase, with magnificent oaks near Cowell Ranch State Park in Brentwood and within a half mile of Brentwood subdivisions.

Since 1971 Save Mount Diablo has helped increase open space on and around the mountain from 6,788 acres to more than 100,000 acres - with your support we can save the next 80,000 acres. Read a letter from Art Bonwell, SMD founder.

With the help of our allies we have increased open space to over 100,000 acres since 1971. However, over 80,000 acres of Mount Diablo and its foothills are still at risk of being lost to development forever.





San Ramon in Contra Costa County—72% no


Santa Rosa, Petaluma and Cloverdale in Sonoma County (56 to 66% yes)

11/4/2010-Dear supporter of Greenbelt Alliance, Thank you.
Because of your support, we can proudly announce that after the votes were counted Tuesday night, all five of our endorsed local measures were victorious. It looks like Bay Area voters are truly embracing the Grow Smart Bay Area vision for the region through choices at the ballot box:

In Contra Costa County, San Ramon residents overwhelmingly defeated Measure W ( 71.91%), a measure that would have expanded the city's urban growth boundary to allow development in the Tassajara Valley, a critical wildlife habitat and agricultural area.
In Sonoma County, Measure O passed by 66.9%, renewing Santa Rosa’s urban growth boundary until 2035. Measure T won with 64.5%, renewing Petaluma's urban growth boundary through 2025. And in Cloverdale, Measure Q, which establishes the city's first urban growth boundary, passed by 56.7%.
Berkeley residents passed Measure R ( 64.21%). Now the city council has direction from the voters to put in place a plan for a sustainable downtown -- a plan that will put homes near transit and jobs and in the process reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Of those five, we’re particularly pleased that two Greenbelt Alliance-led campaigns, Measure W in San Ramon and Measure O in Santa Rosa, won with over 2/3 voter approval.



10/6/2010—from Greenbelt Alliance:

Who benefits from Measure W?
Measure W in San Ramon will destroy the Tassajara Valley and the Western Hills, and for what?  Who benefits?
Watch this 60-second video that identifies exactly who will capitalize on Measure W.
 For more on Measure W in San Ramon, visit, or read the endorsement from the Contra Costa Times (spoiler alert: the Times says vote it down.)



stories on Urban Growth Boundary attacks in Brentwood and San Ramon


IN SONOMA COUNTY: Setting good boundaries

Sonoma County's sense of place -- and its deserved reputation as a vacation destination -- has been preserved in large part by urban growth boundaries. In Sonoma, eight of our nine cities established urban growth boundaries between 1996 and 2000. Now, on November 2, voters can renew the lines in Santa Rosa and Petaluma and approve the first one in Cloverdale.

We give an enthusiastic "Yes!" vote to all three urban growth boundary ballot measures, but read our analysis of these measures to learn a bit more about each policy.
 And read our Ballot Guide for a full roundup of where Greenbelt Alliance stands on crucial open space and urban places ballot initiatives.




Your support last year allowed us to continue our legacy of advocacy, education and grassroots action on several fronts:
-- Opposing growth inducing land use actions in Morgan Hill and Gilroy,
--Participating in review of, and opposing, the proposed Redwood City Saltworks bay development project,
--Opposing the proposed Big Wave development in Pillar Marsh,
--Working with the City of San Jose to establish appropriate riparian protection policies.
-- For more 2010 accomplishments please see our latest newsletter, Green Footnotes, pages 10 & 11!



from greenbelt alliance:
The Concord Reuse Project Area Plan Book 1 and Book 2 was created for this purpose.

--The Community Coalition for a Sustainable Concord, of which Greenbelt Alliance is a member, is still analyzing the document ( download Books 1 & 2 from the website), but so far the Coalition likes the clustering of homes and services near the North Concord BART station and that more open space has been set aside than what was planned in February.



Since 1980, MALT has permanently protected nearly half of the working farm  and ranch land in Marin County. I am deeply grateful to all our supporters who have allowed us to carry out this important work over the last 30 years.

But there is still more work to do...60,000 acres of irreplaceable farmland are still at risk. If you haven't yet made a 2010 contribution, you can help us reach our goal by donating to MALT today!




In this season of giving, a wonderfully generous Sebastopol family, which has asked to remain anonymous, has come forward with an inspiring and challenging gift — a $300,000 pledge to be matched dollar for dollar. Every gift we receive by December 31 will be matched by their extraordinary generosity. We hope you will consider making a year-end donation to help ensure that these and other projects are completed: adding 255 acres of protected redwood forest along the Sonoma Coast; restoring 1,000 acres of wetlands along San Pablo Bay, protecting wildlife corridors in the Sonoma Valley, and expanding our hikes and recreational activities at the Jenner Headlands.

Plan may save forest east of Eureka...

In Humboldt, New McKay Tract plan hatched: Green Diamond, land trust put forward timber conservation, community forest proposal

excerpted from:

John Driscoll/The Eureka Times-Standard, 12/15/2010

The Green Diamond Resource Co. is working with the Trust for Public Land to craft a plan to protect the 7,500-acre McKay Tract next to Cutten and virtually the entire Ryan Creek watershed from development.
The timber company and the land trust -- which has worked on the Arcata Community Forest's Sunny Brae expansion -- have agreed in concept to use conservation easements that would restrict use of the land east of Ryan Creek to timber harvest and potentially set up a community forest on the west side of the creek. A small portion of the land, 256 acres already out of timber production zoning, could remain available for development...

...Green Diamond -- then Simpson Timber Co. -- bought the tract from Louisiana-Pacific in 1998, when that company sold off its land in California. Green Diamond owns all of the tract aside from Security National Corp.'s 83 acres at the north end of the area, which is zoned for high-density development in the Eureka Community Development Plan, and is listed for sale.
In 2008, Green Diamond had proposed development on nearly 1,000 acres of the tract, and considered a county request to allow a road to run through the property as a means of easing traffic congestion. The plans never got off the ground...

...The trust and Green Diamond expect to present a more detailed plan in the spring.




The two logging plans Green Diamond is operating on in the Jacoby Creek Watershed provide a small example of the systemic clear cutting Green Diamond is engaged in, across their entire 430,000 acre ownership in northern California. In 2004, the century old logging company changed its name from Simpson Timber to Green Diamond, in a strategic greenwashing move. Kamilche Group, a Washington-state based conglomerate and parent company to both Simpson and Green Diamond, also owns California Redwood Company.

Solar power plans for CA Desert from the feds and L.A....

Feds Target 1.7% of the land in California for Solar Power facilities (OK, 1.7 million acres), but say much less than that will be used

From the Fed's notice:
In California,  1,766,543 acres of land would be available under the solar energy development program alternative. Four SEZs would be identified: Imperial East (5,722 acres), Iron Mountain (106,522 acres), Pisgah (23,950 acres), and Riverside East (202,896 acres).

Public Comment on the Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Report (PEIS):

The Draft Solar PEIS is now available for public review, as detailed in the “Notice of Availability for the PEIS” published in the Federal Register on December 17, 2010 ( The Notice provides information on dates, times, and locations of public meetings on the PEIS, and solicits public comments. Comments can be submitted using the Public Comment Form on the Solar PEIS website (

For More Information Information about the Solar PEIS is available on the Public Information website (



This press release says "reasonably foreseeable solar energy development is anticipated on only about 214,000 acres of the suitable and appropriate BLM lands in 6 western states."


12/16/2010--The Wilderness Society studied the 24 areas initially suggested by the BLM and this month and identified two that aren’t suitable for development, said Alex Daue, a spokesman for the society.
One is the 110,000-acre Iron Mountain zone in California, located between the Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave Desert National Preserve.
“A couple of the zones are inappropriate for large-scale solar development,” Daue said in a telephone interview. “Iron Mountain should be taken off their map.”
The Wilderness Society plans to work with other environmental groups and the Interior Department to promote development at the solar zones it considers best suited for large-scale energy plants, Daue said. It will do so during a 90- day comment period that begins when the document is published in the federal register, he said.
“We support solar development on most of the zones and we want the BLM to ensure projects are built within those zones,” Daue said.


Solar Project near Ridgecrest opposed by Fed's advisory committee:
6/29/2010--Steering committee opposes solar project

Ridgecrest, Calif. —
The Bureau of Land Management Steering Committee, at its meeting Thursday, voted 12-1 to approve a letter stating its opposition to Solar Millennium's proposed solar-power-plant project. Committee Member Dave Matthews cast the dissenting vote.
…He said the committee members represent certain entities in the Indian Wells Valley. “We represent their beliefs of what they would like to see or what they wouldn't like to see.”
The committee's letter states the project would use approximately 600,000 gallons of water a day during construction, 200,000 gallons a day during operations and 191,000 gallons of propane a year.
The letter also stated a concern the project would disturb 2,000 acres of top soil known to contain spores that cause valley fever and the proximity of the disturbed soil to human population that includes children and the elderly.
…The committee's letter stated the draft EIS does not comply with CEQA and NEPA regarding full and frank discussion of alternative sites.
“Preference is to be given to land that has already had disturbance,” it said.
According to the letter, the Garlock alternative has such a disturbance and is not located nearly as close to communities and individuals as the proposed site.
“DEIS discussion of the site does not indicate it has the wildlife issues (ground squirrel, tortoise) that the RSPP has,” said the letter.
It also states the draft document does not comply with the state and national acts regarding full and frank discussion of alternative energy sources, and the southern project area sits squarely within the northern gateway to the El Paso Mountains — one of the most popular recreational destinations in the Desert District.


Plus--L.A. Plans Solar "Ranch" in Owens Valley
FROM Eastern Sierra Land Trust-10/14/2010:

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power announces plans for 3000 acre Owens Valley "Solar Ranch"

LADWP is preparing an Environmental Impact Report for the proposed Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch, which would provide 200 megawatts of energy from photovoltaic solar panels. Two potential sites are being considered for this 3000 acre development. The northern site is located northeast of Lone Pine, east of the Owens River. The second site is just east of HWY 395 and north of Owens Lake. More info about the upcoming scoping meeting and where to send comments can be found here: Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch.


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