Indexed News on:

--the California "Mega-Park" Project

Tracking measurable success on efforts across California to preserve and connect our Parks & Wildlife Corridors



WE POST NEWS THREE WAYS:
1. long detailed stories on blogspot (here!)
2. short messages on Twitter
3. automated news feeds from CA enviro websites in the right-hand column which change frequently and are not archived by our website (that's why we now have a twitter account to permanently capture the memorable feeds)

Friday, February 27, 2009

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Watch out for pro-logging provision in Federal Wilderness Protection Bill!


An Alert from http://sequoiaforestkeeper.org/

Hello Friends of the Forest,

2/25/2009--So many different environmental organizations have been touting the passage of S 22, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, which would create 200 million acres of new wilderness in nine states and 1,000 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers. While this bill looks great on the surface, if you read the fine print, particularly Title IV, it is easy to see that in reality, this bill would cause more logging under the guise of "fuels reduction" and "biomass removal" than is currently allowed on our National Forests. The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (S.22) would allow ten biomass removal and fuel break creation experiments on half a million acres of public lands each year for ten years for a total of a MINIMUM of five million acres, supposedly to protect public lands and homes from wildfires. It would allow removal of all small diameter trees from more than 5,000,000 acres of public forests when the science on the issue is inconclusive.

Please call President Obama and your Representatives today and tell them to remove biomass removal from S. 22!
http://hq-org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5822/getLocal.jsp

Here is the text of Title IV of Senate Bill 22:

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s111-22

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Settlement Protects Sierra County Forest Lands from Premature Development

(The Case involved Sierra Pacific Industries' Lands around 15 miles northwest of the town of Truckee which are part of the "checkerboard" of lands given to the railroads in the 1800's, with the federal government retaining every other square mile)


February 27, 2009, Sierra City--The High Sierra Rural Alliance announced the successful settlement of a lawsuit the group brought against the County of Sierra and Sierra Pacific Industries. HSRA had challenged the County's approval to rezone over 7000 acres of forested lands from a zone which limited development to a zone which would encourage development. Under the agreement the property owned by SPI in a remote and environmentally sensitive area within the checkerboard of the Tahoe National Forest will remain protected from premature development.

Under the settlement the County has agreed to rescind the disputed approval. Sierra Pacific Industries has agreed to cover all of HSRA's attorney's fees and court costs, and HSRA has agreed not to pursue the litigation in court.

The HSRA contended the rezone was not consistent with the County's General Plan; and, the exemption from environmental analysis the project received was inappropriate. "The suit challenged the legality of the rezone. The settlement was the most cost effective solution for SPI, if they believed their legal position lacked merit," said Michael Graf, attorney for HSRA. With the intent of expanding into the real estate business, the rezone was one in a series of rezones totaling more than 40,000 acres SPI has sought across Sierra Nevada counties in California. The HSRA argued such a vast project by the largest landowner in the state required environmental review. The project was approved with an exemption from analysis under the California Environmental Quality Act.

HSRA spokeswoman, Stevee Duber, stated," the settlement is great news for the integrity of the Tahoe National Forest. It doesn't make sense to convert remote forested lands for development in view of the environmental challenges we are facing due to climate change and the critical role forests play in enhancing watershed and habitat health,."

"Sierra County's General Plan is very specific about encouraging development around existing communities and discouraging development in areas remote from existing services. It's a Smart Growth principle which is widely accepted and supported by a diverse group of organizations, industries, local governments and most recently the State of California in Senate Bill 375" continued Duber, "When these sorts of policies are easily overcome, land speculation and escalating prices result, which in turn creates more pressure for random, unconstructive development."

The rezone, along Henness Pass Road between Perazzo Meadows and Jackson Reservoir would have opened the Tahoe National Forest to significant environmental impacts, as well as alter the rural qualities of Sierra County. Not only would it have removed valuable timberland from production, it would have compromised the commercial use and the forest health of the remaining productive timberlands by introducing incompatible uses. Development on private in-holdings within the National Forest alters the forest structure, can interrupt ecological processes; increase the potential for invasive species, disease and insect infestations; increase fire danger and promote rural sprawl.

Just a few weeks ago it was reported that the Northern Sierra Partnership acquired Perazzo Meadows, a 932 acre parcel, bordering the 7000 acres saved from rezoning by the HSRA. The acquisition is part of a broader plan to permanently protect the forest by purchasing as much as 200,000 acres of private in-holdings within the National Forest. The parcels, which had been slated for rezoning, are shown in red on the map below.

For the past three years the HSRA has been watch-dogging Sierra and Plumas County land-use decisions. The organization is a nonprofit based in Sierra City committed to preserving the rural qualities of the area. They believe rural values provide a balance between human, economic and environmental wellbeing. For more information, visit http://www.highsierrarural.org/.

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Check Out A Newly-Published Guide on Conservation Groups in the Sierra Nevada Region:


The newly published Sierra Nevada Grassroots Directory is very similar to our own work (published two years ago) posted at http://connectingcalifornia.org. You can click on a list of counties and see who is doing conservation work there. (YEAHHH! We did it first!!)

http://pclfoundation.org/publications/sierranevada/index.html

http://pclfoundation.org/publications/sierranevada/pdfs/Sierra-Nevada-Grassroots-Directory.pdf
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Website Maps out the Deficit of Parks in California


"ParkScore maps interactive park and health-related information to help advocates make the case for increasing park and open space investments in their communities. "

Parkscore is a website set up by the Trust for Public Land to show areas of California severely in need of new parkland. The website uses the standard of a minimum of 3 acres per thousand residents. By this standard, MOST of California has a shortfall of parkland.

http://www.parkscore.org/


THE CONTROVERSY:

There is another part of the website, titled "park equity", that is likely to arouse controversy however. Unlike the findings of the "park deficit" page, in the first county for which "park equity" data is shown, which is San Mateo County, only a few areas are rated "high priority". Areas that are rated as "low priority" however also fall below the minimum standard of 3 acres per thousand people. So the use of this data can be rather subjective depending on the motives of the user. In Los Angeles, I have seen data like this used to pit one area of the city against another in a battle to see who gets park funding.

For example, the L.A. Times reported on a study by the University of Southern California Center for Sustainable Cities,

http://greenvisionsplan.net/html/welcome.html

http://greenvisionsplan.net/html/documents/17_access_parks_and_park_facilities_in_the_green_visions_plan_region_081508.pdf

which concluded that 85% of the population of L.A. County has inadequate access to parks, defined as the nearest park being more than 1/4 mile away. The study then attempted to show that by ethnic makeup, white-dominated neighborhoods have 20 times as much park space as Latino-dominated neighborhoods. The problem with the methodology of this study, which has been cited frequently by the press, is that it doesn't differentiate between active, usable parkland and steep mountainsides. Most of the parkland in predominantly white neighborhoods of Los Angeles are the mountain parks in the Santa Monica mountains and the Angeles National Forest. In most cases, the only "usable" part of these mountain parks is the trails. Unlike the typical park in a residential neighborhood, most mountain parks do not contain ballfields, picnic areas or any flat land suitable for active recreation except for the avid hikers out there. So the claim that some parts of Los Angeles have vast amounts of usable parkland compared to other neighborhoods is like comparing apples to oranges. In fact, organizations that track the parkland deficit in the USA draw a line between "active" park acres and the more generic term of "open space" which can include ballfields but also wetlands, lagoons, lakes, rivers, mountains and beaches, much of which cannot be used for active recreation.

see this chart from the L.A. Times, and then read the fine print at the bottom of the chart:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/cityprojectca/1333092487/in/set-72157601195589320/

The facts are that the entire city is below the standard for active parkland, as the "park deficit" page on the ParkScore website shows. The urban areas of California are all in desperate need for more parkland, and so we support saving it whenever and wherever it is available.
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One Major Threat to L.A.-Orange Co. Wildlife Corridor is in Limbo; another appears


Hills for Everyone newsletter
February 25, 2009

http://hillsforeveryone.org

Shell-Aera Stalled

Most of you have provided your email address to Hills For Everyone because of your concern over the proposed 3,600 unit Shell-Aera project proposed on the hills between Brea and Diamond Bar. At this point this project is stalled dead in its tracks.

You may recall Shell-Aera first took its project to Los Angeles County since its land is in unincorporated territory. Three years later (in spring 2006) L.A. County Planning told Shell-Aera to redesign its project because it had too many negative impacts that could not be mitigated. Unwilling to compromise, Shell-Aera took the same project to the City of Diamond Bar in hopes of annexing its land into that city.

A public meeting in May 2007 exposed substantial opposition to the massive project particularly when the traffic projections revealed that 50,000 additional cars would join local streets and freeways. In addition, Diamond Bar would need to amend its General Plan with regard to grading since the Aera project required 57 million yards of dirt be moved to create housing pads.

The project proceeded to be reviewed by Diamond Bar staff. In May 2008, the City told Shell-Aera to redesign the project to make it less impactful, more cutting edge and "greener." The City also stopped any further review until a redesigned project was submitted. Nothing has occurred since then.


New Threat to Diamond Bar Quality of Life
We have been asked by residents of Diamond Bar who oppose the NFL Stadium to send this information to our email list.

Majestic Realty plans to build a 75,000 seat NFL stadium with practice fields, training facilities, restaurants, and entertainment venues on Grand Avenue (where the 60 and 57 freeways meet).

Learn more about the NFL Stadium project at: http://NoNFLStadium.com

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Tax $$ Fund the Permanent Preservation of 2700 Acres of Oak Trees in Santa Barbara Co.



A conservation easement funded with $4.1 million of State funds has been acquired on the Midland School site north of Solvang in Santa Barbara County. The easement means no development can occur on 2,727 acres of the 2,860-acre property

to read the full story:
http://www.midland-school.org/Conservation.Easement.final.pdf


from February 2009 newsletter from http://californiaoaks.org

Nearly 2,800 acres of largely oak woodlands in the San Rafael Wilderness Area foothills will be protected permanently with the finalization of a conservation easement on the Midland School property, Santa Ynez Valley. The Trust for Public Land, Land Trust for Santa Barbara County and Midland have been seeking state grants and local donations to establish an enduring conservation strategy for the school property. Midland School is a coeducational, college preparatory boarding school for grades 9-12 which combines rigorous academics with intensive immersion in the environment. "Placing a conservation easement on Midland's property is consistent with the original precepts on which the school was founded back in 1932, including environmental protection and education," said Nick Alexander, President of the Midland Board of Trustees." At Midland, we teach our students the value of scholarship, self-reliance, simplicity and environmental stewardship, all of which instill a sense of responsibility to self, to others, and to our world," he added. The conservation easement was purchased with contributions from the Wildlife Conservation Board’s Oak Woodland Conservation Fund and the California Transportation Commission's Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program (EEMP). Approximately 80 percent of the land being preserved through the conservation easement are blue, coast live and valley oak woodlands. The EEMP funds were approved to help mitigate oak removals that occurred when the Highway 101/154 Interchange was constructed in 2000.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

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Groups Sue To Protect North Coast Rivers and Fisheries

State and regional water boards failing to comply with clean water laws


2/4/2009:--SAN FRANCISCO – A coalition of conservation and fishermen’s groups have filed a lawsuit today in state Superior Court challenging the failure by the state and regional water boards toimplement clean water laws that protect wild rivers and streams in California’s North Coast region.

The coalition -- which includes the Redwood Chapter of Sierra Club, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, Institute for Fisheries Resources, Friends of the Eel River, Friends of the Navarro Watershed, Environmental Protection Information Center, Northcoast Environmental Center, and Klamath Riverkeeper -- is urging the agencies to adopt clean-up plans required by state law that will meet pollution limits set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“Regional and state officials have failed to develop realistic, workable action plans that protect water quality and provide habitat for endangered salmon that need cool, clean water to survive,” said George Torgun of Earthjustice, who is representing the coalition in court. “Without such plans, water quality in North Coast rivers and streams will not meet the standards that the state is obligated to achieve.”

Full press release is here:

http://redwood.sierraclub.org/Committees/Water/NorthCoast%20TMDL%20PR%20FINAL.pdf

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Sonoma Mountain Ranch protected!

1/2009--Our year ended on a high note with escrow closing on Sonoma Mountain Ranch on December 30. This spectacular mountaintop property became available in September and Land Trust and Open Space District staff pulled out all the stops to pull the purchase together in record time. As SLT conservation director Wendy Eliot said, “People can hike to the tops of Mt. Tam, Mt. St. Helena, Mt. Diablo and San Bruno Mountain, and now they’ll be able to hike to the top of Sonoma Mountain, too.” The purchase cost was $9.95 million; the Land Trust put up the initial $125,000 to secure the contract, the Open Space District contributed $8.45 million and the Coastal Conservancy supplied $1.5 million. Special thanks to our real estate broker, Kirsten Lindquist of Sotheby’s, who donated $50,000 of her commission to the Sonoma Land Trust so that we can move just as quickly on the next prime opportunity that comes our way.

Read news coverage. http://www.sonomalandtrust.org/News/PressCoverage.html

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Up in the "Big Trees" Area of the Sierra Nevada, a Proposal for the Arnold Rim Trail


excerpted from:
http://www.brushwoodinstitute.com/arnoldrimtrail.htm

Arnold is ringed by some truly magnificent public lands—the 8,000 acre Urban Interface (which is Forest Service land), spectacular Big Trees State Park, and the scenic Stanislaus River canyon. There is only one thing standing between an unbroken 30-mile trail encircling the community—a trail that could be accessed easily from each of Arnold’s subdivisions—and that’s Sierra Pacific Industry (SPI) land. On roughly the northeast corner of this currently imaginary loop is SPI’s 3,500-acre holding in the Upper San Antonio Creek watershed. On roughly the southwest corner is a 1,200-acre strip (also owned by SPI) that stretches from the Stanislaus River to the upper portion of the Interface between Love Creek and Moran roads. These currently separate pieces, if connected, would form an Arnold Rim Trail (ART), a breathtaking 20,000-acre community recreation resource to rival anything in the West. In addition to boosting property values and adding immeasurably to the quality of life of residents and second home owners, it would make Arnold (currently perceived as the gateway to the Big Trees, Bear Valley, and the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness) a superb recreation destination in its own right. That’s the vision. And it’s not unrealistic. ...

The 4,700 acres in question comprise three tenths of one percent of SPI’s holdings in California, and about six percent of their 75,000 acres in Calaveras County...


Monday, February 23, 2009

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Delta "Peripheral Pipeline" Gets Nature Conservancy Support



Governor’s Delta Plan Gains Support from Nature Conservancy

excerpted from:
http://www.californiaprogressreport.com/2009/01/governors_delta.html

1/9/2009--The Nature Conservancy, a group infamous in conservation circles for trading environmental principles for the acquisition of land throughout the world, on Wednesday joined Governor Arnold Schwarzeneger's campaign to build a peripheral canal to divert water from the Sacramento River around the California Delta to subsidized corporate agribusiness in the San Joaquin Valley. The organization's announcement came five days after the Governor's hand picked Delta Vision Committee released its plan to break ground on a peripheral canal by 2011 - without the approval of the Legislature or voters. In spite of the fact that the state of California is facing a huge deficit and the Legislature and Governor have failed to reach an accord on the state budget, Schwarzenegger continues to push for the canal and two new reservoirs as part of a water bond that would cost an estimated $12 billion to $24 billion. The Conservancy is supporting the Governor's ecologically devastating plan, with a few conditions included.

The Nature Conservancy's backing for the canal is featured in its "Sacramento San Joaquin Delta Conservation Strategy," a report that supposedly "provides recommendations for restoring key habitats and species in the Delta." The organization, in the atrocious eco-babble that normally accompanies its green- washing schemes, touted the canal as part of "strategy" to "restore" the Delta when in fact it would do the opposite, diverting water badly needed for imperiled populations of Chinook salmon, steelhead, delta smelt, longfin smelt, threadfin shad and juvenile striped bass, away from the estuary.

"The Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast, is widely acknowledged to be on the verge of collapse, with through-Delta conveyance being a key contributor to the systems decline," according to the Conservancy. "The Conservancy’s plan calls for restoration of more natural water flows in the Delta. It recognizes that a peripheral canal, designed and operated to promote a healthy Delta ecosystem, must be part of a comprehensive Delta solution. The plan also recommends improving governance to manage the Deltas resources in an ecologically sustainable manner."…

http://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/california/press/delta010709.html

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Calif. facing worst drought in modern history - 1/30/2009-USA-TODAY.com California officials reported a smaller Sierra Nevada snowpack than normal on Thursday and said the state may be at the beginning of its worst drought in modern history. Residents were immediately urged to conserve water.
http://www.usatoday.com/weather/drought/2009-01-30-california-drought_N.htm

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A Commentary on the Tejon Ranch "Habitat" Conservation Plan

2/23/2009 --excerpted from:

http://www.swans.com/library/art15/murie65.html

"The report goes on to outline outrageous components of the pact that was agreed to by the Sierra Club and California Audubon, two of the groups that gave a green light to the project. Those who signed on would be forever after prohibited from future opposition to moves by development forces. A "conservancy" will be set up to protect endangered species and habitats, but its funding will depend on sales and leases on lands owned by the Tejon Ranch Company. These and other obstacles are giant concessions to the Company Store. It's a sell-out. Developers simply do not understand habitats. That's the job of biologists and ecologists in the employ of Fish and Wildlife. Where are these people when we need them?

There is an attitude of surrender and excessive compromise on the part of what seems, and might be, a majority of conservation and environmental organizations. Surrender is not the way to protect habitats. It is not the spirit that animated the first wave of conservationists. Their attitude was to conserve and share with The Others. Those days are gone. We have to reclaim that heritage. ..."

For more commentary on environmental group compromises with corporate interests:

http://www.swans.com/library/art15/barker12.html
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More Trails and Several Development Battles Near the Blueridge-Berryessa Natural Area


2/22/2009 Update from http://yolohiker.org

New trail project!

I know lots of people have noticed the lack of hikes this year. This is because I was working on starting up a new trail building project, and am pleased to announce that Tuleyome (http://tuleyome.org) is now working with Yolo County to build the first multi-use trail on the
Otis Ranch Open Space Park. The park is located across from Camp Haswell County Park, upstream from Rumsey. I’ve wanted to build trails up in this area for a while, and this
segment will eventually give access to the Blue Ridge trail from a new location. In light of the current economic downturn, money for trails and other park features will surely become scarcer, so it’s up to us, the trail users, to help improve our public lands! Dates for volunteer trail building days have been posted on the Hikes, Trips, and Events calendar on the Yolohiker webpage, and a description of the project can be found on a new Trailbuilding link on http://yolohiker.org. Be sure to come out and help build trails on our County Open Space!


Blue Ridge Trail update

A ranching family in Napa County donated a half-mile trail easement to the Napa Open Space District, which will connect the DFG Knoxville State Wildlife Area with the BLM Berryessa Peak public lands. This will bring an almost 32-mile corridor down the Blue Ridge into the public right of way, and allow for first-ever non-docent led hikes onto the 9,100-acre Berryessa Peak public lands! Tuleyome will be helping construct the trail using volunteers (that means you guys!).
Before construction can begin we need to complete the environmental review, and I am looking for a Botanist and an Ornithologist who would be willing to do some pro bono work, inventorying the route for the CEQA document. If you would love to be one of the first to see the new trail easement, and are willing to donate a day to do the field work with me, drop me an email!

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"Trust key to rangeland partnership, rancher says"(Capital Press, 1/22/09)
"Where Yolo, Colusa and Lake counties meet, a 10,000-acre patch of U.S. Bureau of Land Management-owned grassland (Payne Ranch) is the site of a special grazing project. Historically a forage ground for elk, cattle and sheep, the parcel began showing signs of over-grazing by the 1960s, but grazing continued into the 1990s. That's when the land's previous owner contacted the BLM about a sale of the property. The sale was completed about three years ago, and the BLM's original goal was to restore habitat for the bald eagle and other species and to preserve the land's cultural values ... But as a result of a noxious weed problem, grazing is back on the grassy plot under a partnership between the BLM, Elk Creek rancher Chet Vogt and a local environmental group called Tuleyome."

http://www.tuleyome.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=40&Itemid=27

http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/ukiah/grazing.html

http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/ukiah/cachecreek.html

http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/ca/pdf/pdfs/ukiah_pdfs.Par.70383.File.dat/cachecreek_wilderness.pdf
for map

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Environmentalists push for massive north-state conservation area—Berryessa Snow Mountain National Conservation Area—1/27/2009
http://www.sacbee.com/ourregion/story/1575533.html?mi_rss=Our%2520Region

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California: Will 600 homes and a golf course destroy rare Cache Creek Oak woodlands ? http://forestpolicyresearch.org/2009/01/09/california-600-homes-golf-course-destroy-rare-cache-creek-oak-woodlands/ Economic forces put into play long ago spelled certain doom for these parcels below that are marked in red…
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SOLANO COUNTY / Lawsuit opposes development / Critics say project violates plan for scenic Lagoon Valley
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/04/08/BAGFJC53N31.DTL

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Big vineyard plans for east side of valley Five sites totaling more than 1,000 acres in planning stages
http://www.napavalleyregister.com/articles/2009/02/09/news/local/doc498fd0973e09a333248868.txt

Saturday, February 21, 2009

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Tejon Ranch Insists their Housing Tracts won't be bad for condors; scientists disagree

photo from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dugm2/2978750165/


http://mountainenterprise.com/atf.php?sid=4430&current_edition=2009-02-20

7 Condors Fell Ill Near or on Tejon Ranch in 2008

2/20/2009--“California condors have rediscovered the Tejon,” Dr. Noel Snyder said this week…

USFWS Condor Recovery Program Coordinator Jesse Grantham said in an interview, Tuesday, Feb. 18:

“We had GPS units on 13 condors at that time and 11 had been on Tejon Ranch in April and May. We had quite a few birds using Tejon Ranch in April, and that is when we started trapping the birds and found elevated lead levels. We didn’t see any [location] hits for any area other than Bitter Creek refuge which is clean of any lead. We notified Tejon and said we have a spike in bird use of their area and that some had fallen ill. They responded by shutting down the hunting program. We had only 11 birds wearing GPS units on Tejon. We have 20 birds that don’t have GPS units, and you don’t know where they are, but where you find some of these birds, you’ll find more. They are very social.”

…(Tejon Ranch’s spokesman Barry) Zoeller said: “Tejon Ranch is not a principal foraging area for the condor. According to USFWS GPS data covering an eight-year period, from 2000 to 2008, less than 1% of all condor GPS “hits” occurred within the area of Tejon Mountain Village. Those “hits” represent a condor either perched, foraging or flying over the area.”…

Snyder says that the highest elevations above the site proposed for Tejon Mountain Village, designated as critical condor habitat in the 1970s, is “the hub” for condors to be able to live as wild birds again.

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Feds Give public more time to comment on Tejon Ranch wildlife-killing plan


2/3/2009--The documents—a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act and a draft Tehachapi Uplands Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP)—are available for public review and comment until May 5, 2009. The previous public comment period had extended until April 22, 2009. The draft EIS and draft MSHCP were initially made available for public review and comment on January 23, 2009.

The Draft EIS and associated documents, including Tejon Ranch Company’s Tehachapi Uplands MSHCP, can be viewed and downloaded at the Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office’s web site at:

http://www.fws.gov/ventura/endangered/hconservation/hcp/hcfiles/TehachapiUpland/index.html


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http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-greenspace30-2009jan30,0,2363931.story?track=rss

1/29/2009--The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a long-awaited environmental impact statement last week that gives high marks to the Tejon Ranch Co.'s controversial habitat conservation plan for building a master-planned resort complex in federally designated critical habitat for the endangered California condor.


http://www.mountainenterprise.com/atf.php?sid=4317

1/30/2009—USFWS staffer Lois Grunwald said repeatedly that the USFWS draft “does not make conclusions.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service will be evaluating the impact to critical habitat after the USFWS has reviewed public comments (after the public comment period has closed April 22) and prior to the FWS decision on whether to issue an incidental take permit to Tejon Ranch Company.”

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http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2009/tejon-ranch-02-18-2009.html

2/18/2009--Tejon Ranch Development Permit Request Tainted by Poor Environmental
Review, Should Be Withdrawn to Avoid Harm to Condors

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http://ecobarons.wordpress.com/excerpt/

excerpt:

On paper, this scruffy outfit with the tree frog logo and the borrowed Tucson gem shop for a headquarters shouldn’t have a prayer against the nearly limitless political, economic and legal resources behind SimCity, except for the fact that the Center for Biological Diversity has won close to ninety percent of its five hundred cases in the past twenty years. This unprecedented success rate has quietly transformed the American landscape, safeguarding hundreds of species from extinction and preserving millions of acres of wilderness. They have taken down off-roaders and off-shore oil drillers, developers and Detroit automakers, wolf haters and condor killers, and an entire alphabet soup of government agencies from Washington state to Washington D.C. and as far away as Okinawa. The Center for Biological Diversity has fashioned itself into the most effective environmental operation you’ve never heard of, routinely outperforming the better known and more moneyed conservation organizations in exposing corruption and official law breaking…

On paper, this scruffy outfit with the tree frog logo and the borrowed Tucson gem shop for a headquarters shouldn’t have a prayer against the nearly limitless political, economic and legal resources behind SimCity, except for the fact that the Center for Biological Diversity has won close to ninety percent of its five hundred cases in the past twenty years. This unprecedented success rate has quietly transformed the American landscape, safeguarding hundreds of species from extinction and preserving millions of acres of wilderness. They have taken down off-roaders and off-shore oil drillers, developers and Detroit automakers, wolf haters and condor killers, and an entire alphabet soup of government agencies from Washington state to Washington D.C. and as far away as Okinawa. The Center for Biological Diversity has fashioned itself into the most effective environmental operation you’ve never heard of, routinely outperforming the better known and more moneyed conservation organizations in exposing corruption and official law breaking…

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http://www.bakersfield.com/opinion/columnists/steve_merlo/story/690241.html

angry hunter upset over lead bullet ban in TejonRanch

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34 mil sf proposed at tejon ranch

http://angeles.sierraclub.org/pressroom/2006releases/cbd.htm


http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-topa11-2009jan11,0,3334123.story

1/11/2009--He was found dazed in a mountain bush in 1967, hanging upside down with an injured wing and smelling like rotten fish -- a rare male California condor, a fledgling member of a nearly extinct species…


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Debate Over L.A.'s Newest Light Rail Line Shows Need for Elevated Instead of Street Level Design



To our readers:
One of the shortsighted decisions our local (Los Angeles County) transportation agency has made over the years is to buy up a few hundred miles of unused railroad tracks, and then spend most of itsr budget on building a subway. With most of the money spent underground, the MTA then pleads poverty when it designs the the other rail lines, and sticks to ground-level rail. What's wrong with that, you may ask? With the latest proposal for West L.A., called the Exposition Line, we'll have trains coming every five minutes, crossing a system of heavily gridlocked streets and creating even more gridlock for cars and danger for cars and pedestrians. This problem could be solved if the MTA simply spent a little more money and elevated the rail line. The benefit of this is we could use the several miles long by 100 foot wide strip for a linear park, we wouldn't have the added surface traffic gridlock from street blockage by trains, and we wouldn't have to worry about children getting hit by passing trains.

An EIR was released this month for the western portion of the Exposition light rail project:

http://buildexpo.org/phase2_overview.php

Please right comment letters demanding an all elevated project! Friday March 13th is the deadline to submit comments.

Elevated Rail works great in the SF Bay area! It can work here, too.

Apparently, a lot of the canidates for the City Council seat for this area agree...
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http://www.latimes.com/news/local/politics/cal/la-me-expo-candidates20-2009feb20,0,770358.story

2/20/2009 L.A. Times

The main difference is how strongly they view the need for the train to avoid street crossings along the right-of-way. Each said they believe money can be found to build underpasses, but none could identify a particular funding source.

Here is a summary of their views:

--Adeena Bleich: The fiscal conservative in her believes that the existing right-of-way should be used, but she would want to look at the costs closely to see if Venice-Sepulveda might make more sense. Bleich said that if the train uses the right-of-way, she could support street-level crossings only if "they can show the traffic impacts were low enough but, more importantly, if they can ensure that there's absolutely no way someone would be injured."

--Ron Galperin: His preference would be to use the existing right-of-way because the route appears to be the most cost-effective alternative that he believes would get the most people out of their cars. Galperin said he believes the train may have to go under or over some streets. "What I plan to do is walk each and every one of these intersections with neighbors," he said. "I think when you're on the ground . . . you get a better sense of how to do it and how to do it right."

--Paul Koretz: He prefers the Venice-Sepulveda route and could support the use of the right-of-way only if the train goes under key north-south arteries such as Overland Avenue and Sepulveda. "I would fight the line itself if all the crossings are at-grade -- I think that would be too dangerous and disruptive to traffic," Koretz said. "I would be happy to see it below grade all the way through, but the key is the crossings."

--Robert Schwartz: Unless other numbers surface, he agrees with a recent environmental impact report that says building the train on the right-of-way would cost less, require less construction and have a lesser effect on traffic. Schwartz said he would want to review safety issues before deciding whether street-level crossings could be built along the right-of-way. "I would certainly voice my opinion if I thought it was a mistake," he said. "We don't want to tragically lose people."

--Robyn Ritter Simon: She supports the use of the existing right-of-way, most notably because it would cost less and result in fewer parcels having to be purchased than building along Venice and Sepulveda. "Just because I want it to go down the right-of-way, there are conditions that I have," Ritter Simon said. In her view, the street crossings at Sepulveda and Overland absolutely must be separated because of traffic and safety concerns.

--David Vahedi: He believes that the Venice-Sepulveda route would put the train closer to more residents and potential passengers. If the right-of-way is used, Vahedi said, the train must go under Overland and Sepulveda and probably Westwood Boulevard.
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Plastics Industry Lawsuit Halts Bag Ban--for now

To our Readers: plastic bags and other plastic trash are a huge problem for our oceans, beaches, creeks, storm drains and bulging landfills. The more we can mandate the elimination of plastic with renewable products, the better.

--the editor

2/21/2009, excerpted from:
http://www.dailybreeze.com/ci_11754190

A Superior Court judge Friday rejected Manhattan Beach's ban on plastic carryout bags, ruling that the city should have first fully studied its potential environmental consequences.

Judge David Yaffe decided that the city must consider that a proliferation of paper bags, a likely result of banning plastic carriers, could harm the environment.

Believing a full environmental analysis was unnecessary, the city conducted an initial study and found no significant threat to the environment from the ban.

Opponents, however, argued that eliminating the option of plastic bags in stores would only lead to the proliferation and littering of paper bags, and pointed to studies showing that paper sacks require more energy to produce, consume more space in landfills and emit more methane gases during decomposition.

Yaffe ruled Friday that an environmental impact report would settle the paper vs. plastic debate, Wadden said...

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Urge the House to pass the Omnibus Public Land Management Act!


from http://forestsforever.org

2/20/2009--In California alone, the bill would protect more than 750,000 acres of wilderness and 105 miles of wild and scenic rivers.


Now that President Barack Obama has signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
into law, the U.S. Congress is turning its attention to other pressing matters.

When the Congress convenes on Feb. 23 a top priority for the House of Representatives is taking up the matter of S. 22, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. That sweeping package of wilderness-protection bills enjoys strong bi-partisan support. It was passed overwhelmingly (73 yea, 21 nay) by the Senate on Jan. 15 and now awaits House action.

TO TAKE ACTION:

Make a call: Dial your Representative at (202) 224-3121 (the Capitol Hill switchboard will direct you) and let him or her know you urge passage of this legislation – without amendments! Amendments would send the bill back to the Senate for further negotiations that could take months.

IN DEPTH:

California landmarks that could be protected under the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 include 115,000 acres within Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park; 200,000 acres in Riverside County, including additions to Joshua Tree National Park and the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa Mountains National Monument; and more than 500,000 acres in Inyo, Mono, and northern Los Angeles counties, including additions to the Hoover Wilderness in the Sierra Nevada, and protection for the White Mountains, America’s highest desert mountain range.

The Act also would establish the 26-million-acre National Landscape Conservation System which will help to protect the crown jewels of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) holdings, including more than 800 individual units: 15 National Monuments, 13 National Conservation Areas, the Headwaters Forest Reserve in northern California, 38 Wild and Scenic Rivers, 183 Wilderness Areas, and more than 5,100 miles of National Scenic and Historic Trails.

California lands in the package include:

* HOOVER WILDERNESS ADDITIONS (some 79,820 acres in the Humboldt-Toiyabe and Inyo
National Forests, identified as “Hoover East Wilderness Addition,” “Hoover West
Wilderness Addition,” and “Bighorn Proposed Wilderness Addition.”

* JOHN MUIR WILDERNESS ADDITIONS (some 70,411 acres in the Inyo National Forest as well
as BLM lands in Inyo County);

* ANSEL ADAMS WILDERNESS ADDITION (some 528 acres in the Inyo National Forest);

* WHITE MOUNTAINS WILDERNESS (about 230,000 acres in the Inyo National Forest as well as
BLM land in Mono County);

* GRANITE MOUNTAIN WILDERNESS (some 34,342 acres in the Inyo National Forest as well as
BLM lands in Mono County).

* MAGIC MOUNTAIN WILDERNESS (some 12, 282 acres in the Angeles National Forest);

* PLEASANT VIEW RIDGE WILDERNESS (nearly 27,000 acres in the Angeles National Forest).

-------------------

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/vote.xpd?vote=s2009-1

HOW THE SENATE VOTED ON the Omnibus Public Lands and wilderness bill to break filibuster

http://www.leaveitwild.org/news/releases/1330

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A New News-source for Saving Land in the Eastern Sierras


http://easternsierralandlines.wordpress.com/

Happy Birthday to the Eastern Sierra Land Trust community! This is a slightly belated birthday wish, as the ESLT was officially incorporated on January 29, 2001. It has been quite an eight-year journey that has taken us to some of the most beautiful places in the incredible Eastern Sierra, introduced us to amazing landowners, and given us the thrill of being integral to the permanent preservation of over 6000 acres in our region. Through this new blog, LandLines, I want to invite you to ride shotgun with us as our exciting journey continues. We’ll share our vision of a thriving and productive Eastern Sierra, with its beautiful working ranches, teeming wildlife areas, and the unmatched scenic vistas found in this “outback” of California. As we go, we’ll share news, interesting facts, epiphanies, and other tidbits from the daily life of a small-town nonprofit trying to make a difference.

Friday, February 20, 2009

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Feds to Shut Off Water Flow to Calif. Farms for Two Weeks Due to Severe Drought

excerpted from:
http://www.usatoday.com/weather/drought/2009-02-20-california-drought_N.htm?csp=24&RM_Exclude=Juno

2/20/2009--SACRAMENTO — Federal water managers said Friday they plan to cut off water, at least temporarily, to thousands of California farms as a result of the deepening drought gripping the state.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials said parched reservoirs and patchy rainfall this year were forcing forcing them to completely stop surface water deliveries for at least a two-week period beginning on March 1. Authorities said they haven't had to take such a drastic move for more than 15 years.

FOR DROUGHT MAP: California
http://www.drought.unl.edu/dm/DM_state.htm?CA,W

The situation could improve slightly if more rain falls over the next few weeks, and officials will know by mid-March if they can update their projections to release more irrigation supplies to growers from behind the mountain dams where water is stored...
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Must Every Plan to Fix the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta Involve Another Aqueduct and Shipping More Water to the South?

A Bold Direction: The People's Vision for the Delta
February 28, 2009, 8 a.m to 4:45 p.m.
Wine and Roses Hotel, Lodi, California

$40 for all-day conference

http://www.restorethedelta.org/symposium.php

Lectures will be on:

--Regional Self Sufficiency is the key to making other regions in the state less dependent on the Delta to meet their water needs. One component includes restoring historic floodplains, another component is urban water efficiency and promoting technology to these ends.

--Lawsuits

--A Delta Conservancy
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Northeast SF Bay--Concord Naval Base Redevelopment-Preservation Proposal Approved by City Council

NOTE: The Council chose the less-open space proposal of two, but, still substantially over half of the site will be preserved as natural open spaces or parks
-------------------------

2/20/2009 from http://savemountdiablo.org

Planning for the reuse of the 5,028 acre Concord Naval Weapons Station (Inland Area) will take many years. On January 11th, however we reached an important milestone. The Concord City Council chose a preferred project and forwarded it to the Navy. Environmental analysis of the project can now be completed.

The plan includes:
- 3,200 acres of public parks and open space (including a 2,400 acre Regional Park and several 4-mile long linear parks)
- protection of the ridgeline
- protected riparian corridor along Mt. Diablo creek
- protection of endangered species habitat
- completion of major recreational trails and facilities
- a Cal State campus
- affordable housing and homeless housing facilities
- and more... You can read more about our progress in our next Diablo Watch newsletter.

Thanks to all of you who showed support at the City Council meetings or wrote letters - you helped convince the council to choose this alternative reuse plan. We are very pleased to be working together with many partners and will continue to work with them to ensure the implementation of the plan includes something for everyone.

more info:

http://www.savemountdiablo.org/ConcordNavalWeaponStation.htm

http://www.ebparks.org/cnws


to read the staff report comparing the two proposals which were the Council-chosen 12,000 home "Clustered Villages" alternative with 3200 acres of open space, and the 10,000 home "Concentration and Conservation" alternative with 3700 acres of open space out of the 5028 acre base property:

http://www.cityofconcord.org/citygov/agendas/council/2008/11-17-08/SS.pdf

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Fundraising Continues for San Diego River Park


2/2009--Do you use Facebook? If so, please join our "Save El Cajon Mountain cause"

We have entered escrow to acquire 385 acres at the top of El Cajon Mountain, an east county landmark. Thanks to the owners, we have one year to complete the acquisition. We have set a goal of 1000 supporters for this effort. By joining this Facebook cause you can make a difference and help acquire this mountain. Thanks!

http://sandiegoriver.org/eagle_acq.php


Thursday, February 19, 2009

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Lawsuit Filed: Prime Agricultural Land Could be Paved by Sierra Foothills County



From 2/2009 Sierra Nevada Alliance Land Use newsletter

The Sierra Club filed a lawsuit challenging Placer County’s approval of the Regional University Specific Plan – part of large development proposal in Placer County. The issues here are numerous: a wealthy well-known developer with a lot of land, a growing county in need of a University, a Blueprint hailed by many as a model for other Blueprint processes, a county with a terrible history of land use planning and a fast growing population. I highly recommend reading these three article below, one by a reporter at the Bee, one by an opponent of the project, and one by a proponent for the project.

More than half of the Regional University project would consist of a 3,232 unit subdivision and 22 acres of shopping centers. The remainder of the project would be reserved as a site for a university, but the latest university to show interest, Drexel, has not yet committed to a campus there.

Placer County university plans are caught in opposing schools of thought, http://www.sacbee.com/740/story/1587610.html

The regional university plan creates a long peninsula of development; guess what will happen around it, http://www.sacbee.com/740/story/1587614.html

“The project's distinctive long and narrow shape is no accident. The 1,157-acre project was pieced together from portions of many parcels that in aggregate total 3,026 acres. The result is to stretch development from east to west away from Roseville, knifing deeply into agricultural land, with a uniquely sprawl-inducing effect. It is not hard to anticipate what's in store for the land adjacent to this urban peninsula.”
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Northern Sierra preservation Partnership Makes First Purchase

excerpted from:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/02/02/MN9015FKLA.DTL

2/2/2009--The valley known as Perazzo Meadows is a stunning landscape of woods and watershed habitat surrounded by glimmering Sierra Nevada peaks, but there is more to the high-country Shangri-La than sheer beauty.

The 982-acre meadow northwest of Truckee is an integral piece of an unusual land grant made almost 150 years ago that left pristine forests, rivers and valuable wildlife habitat in the northern Sierra in a checkerboard pattern of alternating public and private ownership.

Bisected by a meandering section of the Little Truckee River, the remote, snow-covered meadow was in imminent danger of being sold to developers or parceled out for vacation homes until a conservation coalition purchased it and two other private properties from Siller Brothers Inc. for $6 million.

The Dec. 30 deal is the first major success of the Northern Sierra Partnership, formed in 2007 as part of an unprecedented campaign to take out of private hands 65,000 acres of land over the next three to five years through a combination of purchases, conservation easements and management agreements.

The $130 million effort is part of a broader plan, started in 1991 by the Trust for Public Land of San Francisco, to permanently protect as much as 200,000 acres of private checkerboard property in the region, which stretches from South Lake Tahoe to Lassen Volcanic National Park.

"Protecting these High Sierra meadows with creeks running through them are huge priorities," said David Sutton, the Northern California and Nevada director for the Trust for Public Land. "Perazzo has been a major priority for us since the mid-1990s. Buying it means 2 1/2 miles of the lower Truckee River are protected and the threat of land conversion is ended."

The Trust for Public Land formed the partnership with the Truckee Donner Land Trust, the Nature Conservancy, the Sierra Business Council and the Feather River Land Trust in an effort to save the Sierra's most unspoiled forest and wildlife habitat.

The alternating one-square-mile parcels known as the Sierra checkerboard cover a total of 1.5 million acres - an area roughly 80 miles long and 40 miles wide. On maps, it looks like a checkerboard.

The board-game pattern is the result of an 1862 scheme by the federal government to extend the Transcontinental Railroad over Donner Summit, the infamous site of the cannibalistic travails of the Donner Party 15 years earlier. The Central Pacific Railroad Co. was granted every other square mile of property along the mountainous route as an incentive to build the tracks.

The idea was to allow for enough room for the railroad to meander through the mountains. It also supplied the railroad with property in virtually every location where future towns might pop up, a strong inducement given the money-making possibilities.

Parcels not used were sold to timber and mining companies to help fund construction and, over time, it was all sold. About 40 percent of the railroad land was eventually acquired by Sierra Pacific Industries, a logging company based in Redding that is now the largest private land owner in California. Most of the public squares have since become National Forest lands.

Over the past two decades, the Trust for Public Land has negotiated the acquisition of about 25,000 acres of former railroad property. But Sierra Pacific and other lumber companies, along with ranchers and private investment management companies, still hold some of the most spectacular parcels....

The partnership plans to use foundation grants, state bond money, private donations and philanthropic contributions to protect 40 percent of the approximately 500,000 acres of private lands in the checkerboard, including important watersheds and wildlife corridors.

The idea is to create a conifer zone to the crest of the Sierra and protect watersheds on nine major forks of the American, Yuba, Bear and Little Truckee river systems...

A 400-acre parcel northwest of Castle Peak at the edge of the Paradise Valley was also acquired from Siller. A third property near Collins Lake, in Yuba County, was part of the deal, but it is not part of the checkerboard. It will eventually be transferred to the state Department of Fish and Game.

The Perazzo and Paradise properties will be turned over to the Tahoe National Forest. They are the ninth and 10th squares to be acquired near Castle Peak since the Trust for Public Land began buying property 18 years ago. Four other parcels are still under negotiation, but Perazzo is the most valuable, Sutton said, because it includes high-mountain meadow habitat, a river and wetlands....

View a 1924 map of the Sierra checkerboard lands at http://www.cprr.org/Museum/Maps/CP_Land_Map_1924.ht

-----------------------------------

http://yubanet.com/regional/1-400-Acres-in-Northern-Sierra-Protected.php

Feb. 2, 2009 - Three properties totaling almost 2,000 acres are being permanently protected in the northern Sierra Nevada and in Yuba County, The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and Truckee Donner Land Trust (TDLT) announced today.

The properties were purchased from Siller Brothers, Inc, a Marysville-based family company on Dec. 30. Money to finance the purchases came from a variety of state funds and private partners, TPL and TLDT announced. Two of the properties are near the proposed Castle Peak Wilderness Area north of Donner Summit, and the third is next to the Daugherty Hills Wildlife Area in the Collins Lake Recreation Area of Yuba County. The two mountain properties are also high priorities for the Northern Sierra Partnership, formed in 2007 by TPL, TDLT, the Feather River Land Trust, Sierra Business Council and The Nature Conservancy to insure the environmental and economic sustainability of the northern Sierra….

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/object/article?f=/c/a/2009/02/02/MN9015FKLA.DTL&o=3

for map

http://www.tpl.org/content_documents/NS_Priorities_email080519.final.pdf

Northern Sierra Partnership map--2.8 megabytes--large file


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Feds Consider Alternatives for San Mateo County Coast Parkland



Rancho Corral de Tierra was purchased by the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) in 2002 to preserve one of the signature, world class landscapes of the San Mateo County coast, and with the intention to transfer the property to the National Park Service for long-term management. POST and the National Park Service are working together to complete the transfer and open the Rancho to public visitation as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA). A similar endeavor involved the Phleger Estate, in Woodside, which is now a popular park. The transfer does not have a specific timetable; however, GGNRA is planning for the Rancho in its 20-year general management plan - the park's master plan which creates a broad vision for the next 20 years.

In 2008, the GGNRA developed two alternatives for management of the Rancho.

Click here http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=303&projectId=15075&documentID=23015

to learn more about the alternatives. These generated a good deal of interest in the Coastside community, particularly from equestrians who were concerned that one of the alternatives would close the popular stables. The Park Service has responded by creating a preferred alternative that keeps the equestrian centers, and by initiating a series of public workshops where the future of the Rancho can be further explored in an open format.

This first meeting includes time to discuss comments the Park Service received about the general management plan, and to discuss the evolving preferred alternative. Ideas shared at this meeting will help refine the preferred alternative. A synopsis of the preferred alternative is included below. It will not be finalized until the Draft General Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement is published next winter, when the public will again have an opportunity to comment. The park anticipates publishing the Final GMP/EIS and receiving authorization to implement the plan in 2011.

Preferred Alternative - as revised January 2009
The Rancho would be managed as two distinct zones. The upland areas and land outside the existing equestrian centers would be treated as a Natural Zone. It would be managed to preserve the wild, open character of the landscape and offer trail-based recreation that is light on the land, which would include walking, hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding. Natural habitats and processes in the zone, which includes four creek corridors, would be restored to the greatest extent possible with the help of community stewards.

Approximately 300 acres of the Rancho are not included in the park. Those acres encompass farmland of "Local Significance" as designated by the State of California Department of Conservation and will remain in agricultural use. The park would connect people to the agriculture history of the Rancho through interpretation of its cultural landscape and adjacent working farms, while not impinging on their operations.

------------------

http://parkplanning.nps.gov/documentsList.cfm?parkId=303&projectId=15075

Step 5. Fall 2008 to Spring 2009: Prepare and Distribute a Draft General Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement *

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Congress Could Fix Bush-Era Court Attack on the Clean Water Act


excerpted from:
http://unearthed.earthjustice.org/2009/02/clean-water-act-is-broken.html

2/17/2009--The Clean Water Act, despite being one of our nation's most potent environmental protection laws for three decades, has an Achilles' heel -- a one-word weakness that the U.S. Supreme Court has expanded into an enormous loophole.

In decisions handed down in 2001 and 2006, the Supreme Court seized on that word -- "navigable" -- to make rulings that neither friend nor foe of the Act could predict, and none of us can live with. Effectively, the Supreme Court broke the Clean Water Act by saying Congress meant that the Act's protections apply only to "navigable" waters when it passed the Act to eliminate water pollution back in 1972. Therefore, only an act of Congress can mend this potentially fatal injury.

Fortunately, just such a bill is before Congress, called the "Clean Water Restoration Act." Introduced under an unfriendly administration, this proposed law is much more likely to be passed now. It will eliminate the word "navigable" from the Clean Water Act and replace it with the more familiar legal phrase, "waters of the United States," so that all waters -- not just those that are navigable -- are protected...

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$30 Million in New Federal Stimulus Bill Goes to Calif. Wetland Restoration Projects through the Coastal Conservancy

excerpted from http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/center/articles/2009/san-jose-mercury-news-02-12-2009.html

2/12/2009--The conservancy's wish list included five major ongoing wetlands restoration projects totaling nearly 4,000 acres, said civil engineer Steve Ritchie, a Coastal Conservancy staff member who helped draw it up. And the federal Army Corps of Engineers included all five projects on its own list of possible ways to spend stimulus money.

The projects, which range from Napa County to Silicon Valley, involve moving levees, creating islands and converting former industrial salt ponds back to marshes. Each could begin by year's end and would benefit dozens of species, including salmon, steelhead trout, ducks, egrets, and yes, the endangered mouse, Ritchie said...

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Failed Toll Road Experiment in Orange County is Subject of New Blog's Investigative Series


http://www.ocprogressive.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=11

1/27/2009--The private Orange County Toll Road experiment now has enough history to be deemed a failure. An examination of the quasi-private toll roads in Orange County shows that toll roads are not a cost-effective way of delivering roads to the Orange County driving public.

Of the four authorized toll road projects, one was never built, one was bought out by the government, one cannot be completed, and the worst one is now insolvent and headed for bankruptcy...

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160 More Acres are Saved by Anza-Borrego Foundation


http://theabf.org/


2/19/2009--Did you know Anza-Borrego Foundation and Institute has protected more than 43,000 acres of land in Anza-Borrego? This preserved land provides homes for endangered animals and beautiful scenery for people to enjoy. In just a week or so the wildflowers will be here! And good timing too, because ABFI has just preserved 160 acres of prime wildflower property near Borrego Springs. I hope you get a chance to visit the wildflowers over the next few weeks and that you feel a sense of pride at what you and ABFI have been able to accomplish.

to donate:
http://theabf.org/support


Wildflowers in Henderson Canyon, site of newly preserved land
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Delta Water Exporters Want to End the Endangered Species Act


By Dan Bacher

for full story, http://www.californiaprogressreport.com/2009/02/water_exporters.html

2/11/2009--Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, campaign director of Restore the Delta, today issued an urgent action alert today in response to the introduction of legislation to temporarily suspend the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as it applies to the California Delta pumping facilities during times of drought.

The bill will also establish a Delta Smelt conservation hatchery, a bad idea that was defeated in the State Legislature last year, due to opposition by a coalition of environmental organizations, fishing groups and Delta residents.

Congressman George Radanovich (R-Mariposa) on February 4 introduced H.R. 856, the California Drought Alleviation Act, to bypass the ESA so exports of Delta water to corporate agribusiness in the Central Valley can be increased during this period of drought, a drought that has been largely engineeered by the draining of northern California reservoirs over the past two years by the state and federal governments. He claimed that California agriculture is a "victim" of economic "eco-terrorism" caused by the ESA.

"By allowing the Delta Pumps to operate at increased capacity, the CDAA allows available water to flow to Valley farmers and provides a stimulus to the California economy without costing the taxpayer a dime, Radanovich said in a statement. We cannot allow California agriculture to wither and die because our precious resources are being hijacked by what amounts to economic eco-terrorism in the form of the ESA and the entities that support this damaging law."

"Of course, Congressman Radanovich has forgotten the economic eco-terrorism that has been inflicted on commercial fisheries, the Delta sportsfishing economy, and Delta agriculture as a result of years of excessive water exports to support Central Valley agri- business," countered Parrilla.

"Even more disturbing is that Congressman Dennis Cardoza (D-Merced), one of the bill's co-sponsors, has forgotten that he represents people who live in the secondary zone of the Delta and that the people he represents in central Stockton are alarmed over the condition of Delta fisheries and what water exports have done to our local Delta economy," said Parrilla.

So, here's how you can help. First, call the eight sponsors of H.R. 856 to express your outrage at their disregard for the economic eco-interests of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Tell them that the business as usual regarding California water policy must end.

Direct them to the Restore the Delta website (http://www.restorethedelta.org) and tell them that Regional Water Self- Sufficiency, rather than moving water from Northern California to Southern California, is the best way to meet California's water needs. Tell them that they need to focus on breaking dependence on the Delta to meet the state's water needs. It is the cost effective way, in these difficult economic times, to address our water problems....

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Fresno: To Urbanize or Not: That is the Question


excerpted from http://www.californiaprogressreport.com/2009/02/to_urbanize_or.html

By Alan Kandel, 2/18/2009

In the “Modern Farmland Conservation Program For Fresno County,” a “Report to the Council of Fresno County Governments by American Farmland Trust, December 2008,” reveals that “One-sixth of Fresno’s most strategic farmland is located inside or within one-half mile of city spheres of influence, highlighting the central challenge of minimizing the loss of this land by increasing the efficiency of urban development.”...

“Based on computerized mapping of these characteristics, 559,000 acres of Fresno’s 2.2 million acres of agricultural land were identified as the most strategic, i.e., the land that should receive the highest priority for conservation, and the lowest priority for non-farm development as part of a broad strategy to sustain Fresno County agriculture.”...

“Between 1990 and 2004, about 21,500 acres of Fresno County land were developed, one-fifth of all the land developed since the City of Fresno was founded more than 130 years ago. Because most development took place on the edges of existing cities, 69 percent of all the land developed was prime or unique farmland, or farmland of statewide importance.

An acre of land was developed for every 9.4 new residents, which was somewhat more efficient than the 8.1 people per acre in the San Joaquin Valley as a whole. But it was far less efficient than development in other regions of the state, even those that are more suburban than urban, demonstrating that developing less land per capita is entirely possible and that much of the farmland being lost in Fresno County is unnecessary,” according to information in the report.

Here’s the kicker. “If no change in current development patterns occurs, another 97,600 acres of land will be urbanized in Fresno County by 2050, roughly doubling the current urbanized area. Of this, 67,350 acres (105 square miles) is likely to be prime, unique or statewide important farmland and most, if not all of that will be ‘strategic’ farmland.

Moreover, if rural residential development, which now occupies roughly one-quarter of all developed land in the county, continues apace, another 55,000 acres could be removed from agriculture.” If this isn’t telling and doesn’t paint a foreboding picture of possible things to come, honestly, I don’t know what does.

That definitive answer I referred to above? That seems obvious. In case there is still a question, does smart growth developmental patterns mean anything?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

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Public Hearings on Habitat Conservation /Water Supply "Reliability" (aka Export) Plan for Sacramento River Delta Will be Around State in March 2009


from: http://resources.ca.gov/bdcp/

What is the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP)?


The Bay Delta Conservation Plan is a planning and environmental permitting process to restore habitat for Delta fisheries in a way that reliably delivers water supplies to 25 million Californians. Federal and state agencies, environmental organizations, fishery agencies, water agencies, and other organizations are all working together to develop the Plan.

The BDCP is:

  • Identifying conservation strategies to improve the overall ecological health of the Delta
  • Identifying ecologically friendly ways to move fresh water through and/or around the Delta
  • Addressing toxic pollutants, invasive species, and impairments to water quality
  • Providing a framework and funding to implement the plan over time

The BDCP is being developed under the Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the California Natural Community Conservation Planning Act (NCCPA) and will undergo extensive environmental analysis that will include opportunities for public review and comment. As the BDCP evaluates alternatives necessary to restore the Delta ecosystem while providing water supply reliability, state and federal agencies are developing a joint Environmental Impact Report/Statement (EIR/S) to determine the environmental impacts of the BDCP. The draft EIR/EIS is expected to be ready for public review and comment by early 2010.

(Here is the latest version (2008) of the Peripheral Canal which voters rejected in 1982 over fears it was a water grab to send more supplies to Southern California developers. This map uses the phrase "conveyance" meaning potential routes to take fresh water out of the Delta and bring it down to the So-Cal aqueduct pumping intake site at Clifton Court.)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

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Extreme Water Shortage Grips Los Angeles as City Continues Push for More Developments

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090218/ts_nm/us_water_california

2/17/2009

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – With a recent flurry of winter storms doing little to dampen California's latest drought, the nation's biggest public utility voted on Tuesday to impose water rationing in Los Angeles for the first time in nearly two decades.

Under the plan adopted in principle by the governing board of the L.A. Department of Water and Power, homes and businesses would pay a penalty rate -- nearly double normal prices -- for any water they use in excess of a reduced monthly allowance.

The five-member board plans to formally vote on details of the measure next month.

The rationing scheme is expected to take effect in May unless the City Council acts before then to reject it -- a move seen as unlikely since Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called for the measure under a water-shortage plan last week.

The only other time such penalty pricing was imposed to force conservation in the nation's second biggest city was a rationing system put into effect for a year starting in March 1991, at the height of California's last statewide drought.

That measure cut citywide water use by about 25 percent, DWP spokesman Joseph Ramallo said....

...The snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, one of the state's chief sources of fresh surface water, is far below normal, and reservoirs fed by Sierra runoff are badly depleted as well, due to a statewide drought now in its third year.

State water managers have said the current dry spell could prove to be the worst ever in California, owing to rising demands from steady population growth.

Recent heavy rains, and mountain snowfall, have provided a welcome respite from California's driest January on record, but "this latest set of storms did not get us out of the woods by any means," water manager James McDaniel told the DWP board.

Complicating matters are federal court restrictions on water that can be pumped from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in northern California, which furnishes much of the state's irrigation and drinking supplies, in order to protect endangered fish species.

As a result, state water managers have cut the amount of delta water they provide to irrigation districts and cities around the state to 15 percent of their usual contracted allotment for the year and may curb those deliveries further.

Another major source of imported water to Southern California, the Colorado River basin, is emerging from an eight-year drought, but its reservoirs remain low.

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