7.5 Miles of New Bay Ridge Trail Opening This Saturday
Join the Council and the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) this Saturday November 3rd to celebrate this addition to the Ridge Trail. The trail offers a moderately challenging route through the beautiful Pinole Watershed with spectacular views of the East Bay hills and the Carquinez Strait. Saturday's weather outlook is for sunny skies, so come out to enjoy the longest section of trail we'll dedicate this year.
Arrive for bagels, juice, and coffee at 8:30 a.m. A dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony at 9 a.m. will be followed by optional long and short hikes and equestrian rides to inaugurate the new trail.
The Pinole Watershed Ridge Trail is the culmination of years of dedicated effort by local planners, district staff, and trail advocates. Volunteers worked on National Trails Day this spring in a project sponsored by the Council, REI, and EBMUD to prepare the trail, plant trees, and install specially-designed cattle fences crafted on-site from local eucalyptus. The new trail connects to existing Ridge Trail in Sobrante Ridge Regional Preserve, creating a nearly 10-mile continuous stretch.
The Pinole Watershed Ridge Trail will be open to hikers and equestrians. Generally access to the watershed will require an EBMUD trail permit, though this requirement has been waived for the dedication.
Directions: The dedication (and parking) is at the Bar X Corral, just west of the intersection of Alhambra Valley Road with Pereira and Bear Creek Roads, east of Pinole. From Highway 80, take Pinole Valley Road east about 5 miles--Pinole Valley Road becomes Alhambra Valley Road--and turn left at Bar X Corral. Watch for event signs. Download a map from our website.
Thanks to our co-sponsors: EBMUD and REI.
--the California "Mega-Park" Project
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)
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Here's a thought: California law requires every residential development to have a guaranteed water source. Since climate-change is not only cutting our water supply but making wildfires more likely and more damaging, doesn't it make sense to require that every sprawling development on fire-prone hillsides have a supplemental water supply so that fires can be fought? And maybe this would encourage more infill development in existing flat urban areas or even encourage developers to leave California for wetter climates?
Living in California means paying the premium
By George Skelton, L.A. Times
October 25, 2007
SACRAMENTO — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently vetoed a dozen bills that the California Chamber of Commerce alleged were anti-business "job-killers." In the chamber's view, the governor's action will create jobs.
Fine. How is this deficit-plagued state going to pay for the jobs?
Yes, of course, they're private-enterprise jobs, not government.
But who's going to pay for the roads and transit to get these people to work? To educate their kids? To provide police protection?
And as we've been uncomfortably reminded, somebody will have to foot the bill for fighting any fires that threaten these workers' homes. Especially when houses keep being built snug up against tinder-dry chaparral or in forests.
Who's going to pay? All of us taxpayers....
WASHINGTON - As wildfires continued to rage in Southern California on Wednesday, water officials warned that the blazes may threaten the state's long-term supply.
"We are rapidly draining our reservoirs," Jeff Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, told congressional aides and lobbyists at a Capitol Hill briefing.He and others said unequivocally that California has more than enough water to combat the fires, which have raged across the state for four days.
But, Kightlinger noted, "The question is, how do we replace it? Everyone is out there with a hose trying to blanket everything with water. We are watching our reservoirs just plummeting right now."
The Metropolitan Water District serves 18 million people in six counties throughout the Los Angeles region, but droughts and growth are placing a growing strain on the state's water supply.
Problems with the ailing Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the hub of the state's water supply, are worsening. A low snowfall year in the Sierra left many reservoirs below normal. And now, water officials said, firefighters are pumping out hundreds of thousands of gallons a day.
"Our first priority is lives. But we've got all kinds of implications that can emanate from this disastrous fire," said Brad Hiltscher, the water district's representative in Washington, D.C.
Earlier this month, state lawmakers missed a deadline to strike a compromise on a $9 billion bond measure to fix the state's water system.
The governor and some lawmakers want to put the measure on the Feb. 5 presidential primary ballot, arguing that problems with the state's water supply are urgent.
Republicans and Democrats have sparred, however, on whether reservoirs or a mix of conservation and underground storage represent the best method of saving the supply.
Kightlinger called the gridlock "unfortunate" but said he remains hopeful that the Legislature will resolve its differences.
In the meantime, he and others urged Congress to continue funding desalination and other water-recycling projects.
A spokesman for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declined to comment Wednesday on concerns that the wildfires are affecting the state's water reservoirs.
"California's short- and long-term water supply is critical and a top priority for the governor," Bill Maile said. "Right now he is focused on the aggressive response effort."
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
A ceremony marks the transfer from private to public ownership of the 20-acre Piedras Blancas Resort
By Kathe Tanner, 10/20/2007
Local residents and dignitaries gathered Friday on a spectacular bluff by the ocean to mark the transfer of a former private resort into public ownership.
The Trust for Public Land acquired the aging Piedras Blancas Resort in a $4.5 million transaction in May 2005. The 20-acre property, used for decades as a motel, recreational vehicle parking lot, coffee shop and gas station, had been listed for sale. The national non-profit’s temporary takeover prevented further commercial development of the blufftop terrace and beach between Highway 1 and the ocean, about 15 miles north of Cambria.
The nonprofit made some repairs, obtained grants and donations to pay off a loan and, in March, transferred the property to State Parks.
Ruth Coleman, director of the California Department of Parks and Recreation, urged the 125 or so people attending Friday’s ceremony to help determine the park’s future by attending a pair of meetings Nov. 14.
They should bring “a child to this place…bring someone who hasn’t been here before,” Coleman said. “We have to make sure our children know these places and love them as we do, so they will fight to protect them” in the future.
Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee, R-Bakersfield, called the site one of the “most beautiful stretches of coastline in the U.S.”
Tim Wirth of the trust called the Piedras acquisition “the missing puzzle piece in the 13 miles of the Hearst property,” oceanfront property that’s also a state park now.
The area’s scenic value was obvious under warm sunshine Friday. As waves dashed against dramatic bluffs and white-frosted rocks that give the area its name, the beacon of the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse blinked in the background.
The resort site offers safe and easy access to the beach, a rare commodity along the often-rugged terrain between Ragged Point and San Simeon. And the new park will provide another link in the California Coastal Trail.
After the dedication, Nick Franco mined the crowd for ideas.
The superintendent of the park district that includes Hearst Castle and much of the North Coast shoreline gathered suggestions for the future of the circa-1950s motel and the land around it.
Suggestions to date include primitive campsites, a hostel, parking area, trails, restrooms and picnic sites.
BLM sells city of Taft land for $10 per acre
Published: Friday, October 19, 2007
Taft Midway Driller Editor
The Federal Bureau of Land Management made the city an offer it can't refuse - land for just $10 per acre.
So the Taft City Council jumped at the chance to by 454 acres of vacant land between Gardner Field Road and Petroleum Club Road with an eye towards using it for everything from Rails to Trails paths to drilling islands for the oil industry.
The land is being sold through a BLM program that makes land available to cities at the low price through its Recreation Public Purposes Act.
The act specifies that the land only be purchased by public entities for recreational purposes only and not be sold.
City Grants Administrator Lucille Holt and other city officials have been working on plans for the L-shaped parcel which spans an area from Gardner Field Road south to Petroleum Club Road just west of Gas Company Road.
The council has already approved seeking grant funding to pay for the improvements.
When the plans come to fruition, it will extend the city's Rails to Trails jogging path over Highway 33 and east for more than a mile.
The proposed recreation area would have approximately 90 acres set aside for trails and the rest would remain vacant or be used for other recreational purposes.
The plan to take $4,540 out of the city's capitol reserves was approved by a 3-0 vote at Tuesday's council meeting.
The only concerns came from a representative of Occidental of Elk Hills, which owns the deep rights to the oil under the land the city is buying.
Byron Pugh, a land negotiator for the oil firm, said it supports the city's proposal but it is concerned that its rights to the oil are not affected.
City officials assured him they would work with Oxy to ensure access.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Creditors knock Pacific Lumber Bankruptcy Reorganization Plan
Development Plan "has no realistic possibility of ever being completed"
The Pacific Lumber Co.'s largest creditor has weighed in on the company's reorganization plan, calling it fatally flawed and infeasible.
The Bank of New York, representing the holders of $714 million in timber-secured notes, on Monday filed its take on the plan with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Corpus Christi, Texas. The proposal hinges on the sale of thousands of acres for preserves and another 22,000 acres to be split into 160-acre estates called the Redwood Ranch Development, pursuits the bank called highly speculative and unlikely.
”The Redwood Ranch residential development, proposed to be in the middle of the debtors' timberlands, has no realistic possibility of ever being completed,” the bank writes. “Existing federal, state and local environmental regulations, endangered species protections and land use restrictions, and the debtors' antagonistic history with each of the decision making bodies, prevent any realistic possibility of obtaining the necessary permits and approvals to realize this speculative venture.”
It cites a recent decision by the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors to place a temporary moratorium on building on land zoned for timber production.
A letter sent to Judge Richard Schmidt by the county on Friday draws attention to the ordinance, and says the county does not believe the ranch development would be consistent under the general plan in progress. The company's reorganization plan, the bank's attorneys write, aims to allow Palco and parent company Maxxam Inc. to retain control of operations even though Palco's debt far outweighs its assets. It also puts the noteholders at risk by putting new debt that could be acquired as part of the proposal in a more senior position than their own, they write. Palco will come out of the planned restructuring with more debt that it already has, the bank's attorneys write. In order for the plan to work, the noteholders write, Palco must sell 6,600 acres of marbled murrelet reserves for more than $300 million within three years, and sell the Redwood Ranch parcels for more than $700 million within seven years, a prospect they doubt will be realized. The noteholders' own plan, which they want to submit to the court to gain equal footing, is based on asset values determined by the market, and won't need months of expensive litigation to be confirmed by the court, they write. Schmidt will hear arguments on Oct. 23 to determine whether to allow Palco's plan to go forward exclusively, or allow creditors to submit their own plans.
The company's reorganization plan, the bank's attorneys write, aims to allow Palco and parent company Maxxam Inc. to retain control of operations even though Palco's debt far outweighs its assets. It also puts the noteholders at risk by putting new debt that could be acquired as part of the proposal in a more senior position than their own, they write.
Palco will come out of the planned restructuring with more debt that it already has, the bank's attorneys write. In order for the plan to work, the noteholders write, Palco must sell 6,600 acres of marbled murrelet reserves for more than $300 million within three years, and sell the Redwood Ranch parcels for more than $700 million within seven years, a prospect they doubt will be realized.
The noteholders' own plan, which they want to submit to the court to gain equal footing, is based on asset values determined by the market, and won't need months of expensive litigation to be confirmed by the court, they write.
Schmidt will hear arguments on Oct. 23 to determine whether to allow Palco's plan to go forward exclusively, or allow creditors to submit their own plans.
After more than 12 years in the planning stages, the Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan is ready to be adopted. Approval means smart development and land conservation can commence without confusion - everyone will be on the same page.
Unfortunately, Desert Hot Springs did not join in time and will not be included in the plan before its scheduled adoption. The plan, however, can be amended to include DHS later. City leaders should work vigorously to ensure DHS is included in the overall plan.
"This is important for habitat and will focus development on the valley floor," said John Wohlmuth, executive director of the Coachella Valley Association of Governments. "It will assist in planning our community for a long time."
We couldn't agree more. The $1.8 billion plan increases the amount of land set aside for conservation, expedites road projects for better transportation and allows enough development for the population of the valley to triple to 1.1 million people, effectively allowing us to control how we grow.
In addition, the plan outlines a fee structure, so developers will have certainty on their side before starting a project. They'll pay the fee and get their permits.
The development impact fee is $5,370 per acre for commercial and industrial projects. The residential fee is based on a sliding scale related to density, which could work out to about $1,200 per new single-family home.
Development impact fee money will provide about 50 percent of the money needed to purchase more land for conservation.
The other half will come from state and federal contributions.
Over the next 30 years, the Coachella Valley Conservation Commission will buy 180,000 acres at fair market value from private owners whose property falls within protected multispecies habitat. The property surrounds the valley floor, for the most part, and includes hillsides and some unforgiving desolate areas, as well as areas along fault lines. (Private owners do not have to sell, but can only develop 10 percent of their land under the plan.)
That land, plus 60,000 acres of conservation habitat that has already been purchased will ensure 240,000 acres of protected land.
Development can still increase three fold because more than 180,000 acres remain for new development in the Coachella Valley.
Ultimately, the reserve system will amount to a total of 745,000 acres, which includes purchased land and land already owned by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
Although some cities were initially skeptical and opponents viewed the plan as a "land grab," it appears compromise and common sense has won. This plan, which keeps control on the local level, saves developers from the nightmare of wading through bureaucratic red tape from the state and feds in relation to the endangered species act, and that goes for road projects as well.
It also protects our beautiful valley and the special heritage of the desert.------------------
A response from one reader:
How uninformed can any editor be? Either you are uninformed or a puppet for the building industry. Just last week, the D.C. Court decision in Spirit of the Sage Council et al v. U.S. Secretary Kempthorne said that across the board Habitat Conservation Plans do not conserve or promote recovery of the species. However, the conditions of the HCP can be legally challenged. The San Diego District Court, in Center for Biological Diversity v. Bartel, decided that the Habitat Conservation Plan itself must provide for conservation and can not give No Surprises assurance to developers without causing harm to the endangered species. Surely, this Habitat Con Plan will also be litigated! The text of the Endangered Species Act, states that the permit applicant must pay for the plan and its implementation. Why should the state or federal government use taxpayers money subsidize a development plan that only leads to the majority of endangered species to be killed and habitat destroyed?
For more information on the Coachella Valley plan, go to http://www.cvmshcp.org/
Turner Creek Ranch Project Helps Safeguard the Sierra Valley
| 725-Acre Working Forest Conservation Easement Nears Completion |
PFT is pleased to announce our latest working forest conservation easement - the Turner Creek Ranch Project - is set to close by year's end.
Turner Creek Ranch is a 725-acre working landscape that supports cattle grazing, hay farming and sustainable timber harvests. The Ranch has been owned by the Turner family for more than 150 years and is currently stewarded by Russell and Elva Turner.
Because of its scenic location in the Sierra Valley near the Feather River, the Turners and other neighboring landowners have been under intense pressure to sell their lands for development. The working forest conservation easement about to be finalized on the property will ensure the Ranch stays in family ownership and remains a productive, working landscape.
Russell and Elva will be generously donating a portion of their easement proceeds in a bargain sale, allowing PFT to secure the easement at a price below market value.
The California Resources Agency has awarded PFT a $4 million Sierra Nevada-Cascade Conservation Grant. The grant will go toward securing a working forest conservation easement on the Ranch that will protect water quality and wildlife habitat. The 725-acre Turner Creek Ranch is located in the southwestern region of Sierra County.
Look for more information about the Turner Creek Ranch Project and our other conservation efforts in the Sierras in the forthcoming issue of our ForestLife newsletter.
Bush Administration to Slash Half of Protected Habitat for Endangered Peninsular Bighorn Sheep
October 10, 2007
PALM SPRINGS— A new proposal from the Bush administration’s Fish and Wildlife Service will drive endangered sheep further down the path to extinction. The proposal would severely restrict critical habitat for the endangered Peninsular Ranges population of desert bighorn sheep, reducing by nearly 55 percent the area that the agency determined in 2001 was essential for the survival and recovery of this highly endangered animal.
The Fish and Wildlife Service proposal would remove protection for more than half a million acres of Peninsular bighorn habitat. Protections would be vastly reduced on private and tribal lands in and around the Coachella Valley, where much of the alluvial fan and canyon bottom land would be cut. More than 4,500 acres in the San Jacinto Mountains and up to 20,000 acres overall would be excluded for economic reasons — despite the agency’s admission that these areas are critical to the survival of endangered Peninsular bighorn.
“It looks like the Bush administration set Jack the Ripper loose to slash protections,” said Kieran Suckling, policy director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “This plan will further the decline of the bighorn by eliminating connectivity between ewe groups and stripping key habitat of protections. It will end protections for the very habitat type that bighorn sheep have already lost most of: essential alluvial fan and canyon bottom habitat.”
“This proposal is a huge blow to Peninsular bighorn recovery,” said Joan Taylor, conservation chair for the local Sierra Club group in the Coachella Valley, which has long been embroiled in the controversy surrounding hillside development in the mountains and canyons around Palm Springs. “Nothing is different about bighorn biology since the original critical habitat determination, but the politics have changed. What the administration has basically done is to cave to special development interests, and the bighorn have taken the shaft in the process.”
The re-designation was compelled by a lawsuit brought by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and industry groups who challenged the 2001 critical habitat designation. As a result, the Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to re-designate all critical habitat for the species by September, 2008.
The Fish and Wildlife Service recovery plan for Peninsular bighorn sheep, approved in 2000, says that access to the rich forage in canyon areas provides bighorn ewes with the nutrients needed for nursing their lambs at a crucial time for the baby sheep’s development. Canyon areas are also important for bighorn movement. The proposed reduction in critical habitat would severely fragment habitat needed for endangered bighorn survival and recovery.
Peninsular bighorn are known for the characteristic large, spiral horns of the males and for their ability to survive in the dry, rugged mountains dividing the desert and coastal regions of California. They range from the San Gorgonio Pass south through the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto National Monument and Anza Borrego State Park to the Mexican border and into Baja California. Gaining state status as rare and threatened in 1971, the species was only listed by the federal government as an endangered population in 1998. In 2001, in response to efforts by the Center for Biological Diversity and Desert Survivors, the Fish and Wildlife Service designated more than 840,000 acres of mountainous and canyon habitat as critical habitat.
The current U.S. population of the species was estimated at 400 individuals at the time of listing. With protections in place, that number has risen to more than 700 in 2006, which still represents only a fraction of the historic population of a species once considered the most numerous of desert bighorn sheep.
The Fish and Wildlife Service is accepting public comments on the new proposal until December 10, 2007. You can submit your comments regarding the severe restriction of Peninsular Ranges bighorn sheep critical habitat by sending an email to email@example.com.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Staff Recommendation: That the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy adopt the attached resolution authorizing a grant of Proposition 84 funds in the amount of $4,015,000 to the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority for the acquisition of approximately 850 acres.
The property owner is a willing seller, and the Trust for Public Land has already negotiated a
purchase agreement. The appraisal has been approved by DGS. Additional funds for the
acquisition will be contributed by the State Coastal Conservancy, the Wildlife Conservation
Board, California State Parks, the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, and the Los
Angeles County Regional Park and Open Space District. The MRCA requests that the term of
agreement begin October 22, 2007 and end no earlier than December 31, 2008.
Corral Canyon is the last remaining coastal canyon in the Los Angeles County portion of the
Santa Monica Mountains with a contiguous band of natural land from the ocean to the crest of the range. This unique canyon encompasses Malibu Creek State Park in its headwaters and
Dan Blocker State Beach at the mouth of Corral Creek. The upper watershed supports dense
chaparral vegetation that transitions into a less woody coastal sage scrub closer to the ocean.
A mixed riparian woodland with white alders, California sycamores, willows, and coastal live
oak thrive around Corral Creek. Near Pacific Coast Highway, the creek broadens into a
gravelly flood plain with an open scattered mix of willow, mulefat and other riparian species
that adapt well to flooding. The last hundred feet of the creek upstream from the Pacific Coast
Highway bridge is subjected to tidal influence. The result is a small salt marsh characterized
by low growing salt tolerant plants. Many sections of Corral Creek retain year-round surface
water. A broad coastal bench located just east of the Corral Canyon trailhead supports some
of the best remaining coastal bluff native grasslands in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
MINUTES OF MEETING:
998 acres to be Purchased in
Western Riverside expansions 1 & 2, 172+ acres located along the Interstate 15 corridor
Santa Rosa Mountains expansion 8, 100 acres located in the Santa Rosa Mountains area south of the city of La Quinta, in Riverside County
Santa Rosa Plateau, Tenaja Corridor, 30 acres
Triple Creeks expansion 2, 6 acres north of the city of
Edom Hill expansion 30, a 320 acre addition to Coachella Valley Ecological Reserve located southeast of the city of
Elkhorn Slough expansion 16, 7.47 acres of land as an addition to the Elkhorn Slough Ecological Reserve, located in the town of
Iron Mountain/Monte Vista: acquisition of a 4,056+ acre property referred to as Monte Vista Ranch. The property is located south of the community of Ramona in central San Diego County
Bluebird Preserve expansion 1, 262+ acres in the city of
Pine Hill/Salmon Falls expansion 5: acquisition of 80+ acres of vacant land in
Truckee River Wildlife Area, Gray Creek Canyon Unit in Nevada County:
donation of three parcels of land, totaling 1,343+ acres, by the Truckee Donner Land Trust to the Department of Fish and Game;
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Boeing to clean Valley site
Staff Writer, L.A. Daily News/Daily Breeze
SACRAMENTO - In a landmark deal cheered by local environmental activists, Boeing Co. has agreed to donate its contaminated Santa Susana Field Laboratory site in the San Fernando Valley to the state of California for use as open space after cleaning it up to state standards.
The deal, negotiated by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration, also calls for the company to contribute $22.5 million over 30 years to an endowment fund to maintain the property as parkland.
Neighbors and environmental activists previously had been worried that the company would inadequately clean the property and then sell it to a residential developer, creating homes on contaminated land and stirring up toxic dust with construction.
But under pressure from legislation authored by Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Los Angeles, that would force a very strict standard of cleanup, the company decided to donate the land in exchange for a standard that is seen as slightly less restrictive, but still tougher than the current cleanup effort.
"I think Boeing, frankly, saw the writing on the wall," Kuehl said.
Kuehl's bill, which the governor also said he intends to sign as part of the package, prohibits the sale or transfer of the 2,850-acre property until it is cleaned up to state standards, which are seen as much stricter than the current cleanup under federal regulations.
Now that Boeing has agreed to turn over its property for open space, Kuehl said she will introduce new legislation that will allow the company and the state to negotiate a new standard that will supersede the one in her bill.
Boeing owns about 2,400 acres of the property, and NASA owns the rest. The company said it will work with NASA to acquire its land and also clean it up.
Soil and water contamination from the property, used in the 1940s for rocket tests and nuclear-energy research, has long been seen as a cause of health problems in the community, including higher-than-usual rates of cancer. The property is in the hills above Simi Valley and Chatsworth.
Schwarzenegger said the new deal should help protect the community.
"I am pleased to announce this historic agreement will benefit the environment, nearby residents in Ventura County and the people of California," Schwarzenegger said in a written statement. "I would like to applaud Senator Kuehl for her leadership on this issue and commend the Boeing Company for working with officials to come up with this solution that will protect the health of residents in adjacent communities."
Kuehl has been working for more than a decade to strengthen cleanup efforts at the facility and has introduced a handful of bills over the years that failed, in part due to heavy lobbying by Boeing.
Kuehl credited freshman Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, D-Santa Monica, for helping to "strong-arm" colleagues in the Assembly, where Kuehl has in the past had trouble getting legislation through.
In addition, support from two Republicans whose districts border the property, Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, R-Santa Clarita, and Audra Strickland, R-Camarillo, were seen as helping the bill pass and gain support from Schwarzenegger.
Boeing officials said the company was trying to be a good corporate citizen in agreeing to the deal. Spokeswoman Blythe Jameson estimated it will take at least 10 years to clean up the property.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Developer's campaign to get citizens to rescind their signatures fails.
9/28/2007 ROCKLIN, CA. -- It's official. Earlier this week, the Rocklin City Clerk and the Placer County Elections Division certified that the Save Clover Valley Coalition submitted enough valid signatures to qualify a referendum to overturn a recent decision by the Rocklin City Council to amend the city's general plan and move forward with the controversial
(Editor's note: The Clover Valley development would construct 558 homes in a 622 acre canyon that lies between the gated housing tracts of Rocklin and the rural community of Loomis. The developer promises to leave about half of the site as open space but will have to remove over 7000 oak trees and construct roads dividing the remaining open space into islands in order to get cars to the home sites. To see the developer's misleading aerial photo of the completed project, in which the entire site appears to be preserved, go to http://www.clovervalleypartners.com/open_space.php.
Note that the aerial photo caption says "after replanted trees are grown". Below is the actual map of "open space", with homes and roads in red shading, showing how the preserved land would be islands in a a sea of concrete. Click on it to enlarge.)
Rocklin City Clerk Barbara Ivanovich will submit the certification to the City Council for review at its regular meeting Oct. 9. At that time, the Council can either rescind its earlier decision, or it can put the referendum to the Rocklin voters to decide.
“We certainly hope that the City Council finally sees that the voters of Rocklin want
To qualify the referendum, the Save Clover Valley Coalition needed 2,706 signatures of registered Rocklin Voters (10 percent of the registered voters), and easily surpassed that figure, turning in nearly 5,000 signatures. The signatures were turned in some 10 days prior to the 30-day deadline, despite a heavily financed blocking campaign on the part of the developers, Clover Valley Partners. A recent poll taken by the Clover Valley Foundation showed that voters almost 3 to 1 would vote in favor of a referendum to
“No one can question now that the citizens of Rocklin have proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that saving
Hall called on the City Council to support Rocklin voters on this issue. “As elected officials -- put in office to represent the will of the people -- I think the City Council members have a duty to take another look at this issue and do the right thing by the people of Rocklin and rescind their decision and save this valley,” she said.
The Sierra Club Reports:
Because the owners/partnership/developers have indicated a willingness to sell, we have been working with state agencies, land trusts, conservancies, and any other entities that may be able to help purchase the valley. As environmentalists, the negotiations and talks are way beyond our areas of expertise, but we believe the preliminary meetings with professionals are proceeding cautiously, but positively.
Thousands of Years of Archeological Resources Will Be Wiped Out...
State Historic Preservation Officer, Appointed by the Governor of
"The FEIR does not meet CEQA’s fundamental basic disclosure requirement, the law’s intent to provide information for meaningful public comment."
"The RDEIR and the FEIR have not complied with the requirement of CEQA to provide the information required by the public including this office under CEQA to offer meaningful comment."
"The withholding of salient information renders the CEQA process inadequate."
"OHP has had an opportunity to visit
"My office has the following serious concerns: project mitigation is a non-existent Historic Properties Management Plan (HPMP); the Cultural Resources survey is inadequate; and implementing any action prior to conclusion of Section 106 may threaten a 404 permit."
From : http://saveclovervalley.org/
Beaver dams create a succession of waterfalls along the length of Clover Valley Creek. Deer and newborn fawn graze undisturbed on the tall grasses. Birds are thick in the trees. The steep hillsides are blanketed with ancient oaks. Most importantly, from the valley floor the eye finds no reference to the present day. Enter
It was recently discovered that a 1998 archaeological study of the valley found some 34 Native American cultural sites dating back to 5000 B.C. Clover Valley was a hub of regional Native American activity. Individual home sites, village lodge sites, cooking areas, ceremonial art and even a "ballfield" are there as they were left. The complete historic record is intact, wholly undisturbed in the top meter of earth, as it was created during 7,000 years of continuous Native American occupation.
So significant is the site that it qualifies as a historic district and for registry with the National Registry of Historic Places. However, at this time no trespassing is permitted and it's strictly enforced.
CHINO HILLS NEWS FROM http://hillsforeveryone.org
October 4, 2007
There is a new organization in town working to preserve the quality of life for the residents. This newsletter covers upcoming local events with Diamond Bar CARD.
Diamond Bar CARD (Citizens Advocating Responsible Development) will be hosting a Candidate's Forum on Tuesday October 9th at 7:30 PM. The event will be held at the United Church of Christ at
Following the questions, residents will have a chance to speak individually with the candidates and learn the latest on the Shell-Aera project.
The hardy souls of Diamond Bar CARD continue to circulate a petition and gather signatures to oppose both the development of the hills along the 57 freeway as well as the relocation of the Diamond Bar Golf Course. They could use all the help they can get with more signature gatherers. These petitions are available to be downloaded online at: www.DiamondBarCARD.com or you can pick up both petitions and new bumper stickers at the forum.
One measure of their rising presence is the fact that Shell-Aera's Public Relations consultant, Laer Pearce, has been attacking the accuracy of their website.
SHELL-AERA PROJECT UPDATE:
Supposedly the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) will be released this winter. Once released, the public, agencies and jurisdictions will have a 45-60 day time frame in which to comment on the DEIR.
These comments will then be responded to in a Final EIR. The public will then have another chance to comment on that document. Then the hearings begin - first before the Diamond Bar Planning Commission and next before the Diamond Bar City Council.
Residents of the unincorporated community of
Because Shell-Aera's land west of the 57 freeway is within the Planning Area and existing Community Standards District of Rowland Heights, this drive toward city hood could doom the City of Diamond Bar's effort to annex this portion of Shell-Aera's holdings.
Organizers of city hood are receiving the pro bono (free) services from an attorney firm, an engineering firm and a human resources firm. These are all indications of the confidence of these businesses that the city hood effort will be successful.
The city hood effort by residents of
Palm Springs-Chino Canyon Battle News
NO on C Campaign Update October 5, 2007
Only one month to go on our campaign to protect Chino Canyon by overturning an extension to the outdated and flawed development agreement with Shadowrock LLC.
The Shadowrock people are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to undermine our efforts with the worn out tactic of the lie campaign. What else can they say? The truth is not on their side.
We stand by every statement we’ve made and have the documents to support them - including a recent report from the City Attorney that validates what we’re saying about the flaws and loopholes in the 1993 Development Agreement that are big enough to drive a bulldozer through. Go to saveourmountains.com to read this report.
Our job is simply to get the truth out. Here’s how you can help:
1. Donate to the cause – it’s very expensive to get our message in front of voters, especially competing against deep pocketed developers who are inundating voters with their messages
2. Forward this email on to all your friends and colleagues to help spread the word about the NO on C campaign
3. Put up a NO on C yard sign (they'll be ready on Monday for distribution)
4. Write a letter to the editor (mydesert.com) stating why you're voting NO on C
5. Volunteer – there’s much to do!
- Host a house party! If you can get 8-10 people together at your house, give us a call at 832-6695. We'll be happy to come and speak about the Referendum and show a short film on the Chino Canyon that was screened at the Palm Springs International Festival of Short Films (for more information see 7. below.)
- Yard sign assembly and delivery people needed! Call 832-6695 to arrange to help.
This film was produced by Friends of Palm Springs Mountains and Juniper Tree Studios. Tell the world to watch this film!
7. Go to saveourmountains.com
a. to learn more about the campaign so you can share this information with others
b. download a NO on C window poster to hang in a visible place
c. to donate, volunteer and sign up for a yard sign
8. And MOST IMPORTANTLY.... V O T E!! NO on Measure C.
You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 861-5365
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Showdown This Week Between Schwarzennegger's Dam(n) Bill and Democrats' Water Conservation Plans
October 8, 2007: This week, the California Legislature will decide the future of our rivers and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Will your voice be heard? Only if you email your State Senator TODAY!
In an extraordinary session called by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the California Legislature will vote as early as this week on two bills that provide funding for water resource projects in California.
The Bad Plan:
The Governor’s vision of building more river-destroying dams and diverting more freshwater from the already failing Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is embodied in SBX2 3, introduced by Senator Cogdill. This misguided and devious bill places on the February 2008 statewide ballot a budget-busting $9 billion bond measure that will provide $5.6 billion to build three new, costly, and destructive dams in California (for more information about these dams, click here).
The Schwarzenegger-Cogdill bill also allocates nearly $2 billion to increase pumping of freshwater from the Delta, which has already been decimated by freshwater diversions.
The Good Plan:
The President of the State Senate, Don Perata, has introduced an alternative vision for California rivers and the Delta. SBX2 2 would place on the February 2008 ballot a $6.8 billion bond measure that provides $2 billion for local integrated water planning efforts focusing on water use efficiency, recycling, and groundwater clean-up strategies to allow regions to become more self-sufficient in terms of water supply. The bill also provides $2.4 billion to improve Delta sustainability. Senator Perata’s bill specifically prohibits expenditures that would construct new Delta pumping or water transfer facilities. Another $1 billion is provided in the bond for the restoration of the Klamath, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Los Angeles, San Gabriel, Santa Ana, and other rivers in the state.
Email your State Senator TODAY urging “Nay” on SBX2 3 (Cogdill) and “Aye” on SBX2 2 (Perata), The State Senate could vote on these water bond bills as early as Wednesday, October 10, 2007. So write a letter TODAY! For more information, click here or contact Soren Jespersen (x204) or Steve Evans (x221) at (916) 442-3155, or via email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
North San Diego County's Margarita Peak is Saved!
In August of 2007, the Fallbrook Land Conservancy acquired the 1206-acre Margarita Peak property northwest of Fallbrook. This acquisition involved a partnership between the Department of Defense, the California Wildlife Conservation Board, the Trust for Public Land, and the Fallbrook Land Conservancy (FLC), and is part of the Marine Corps Camp Pendleton buffer and open space connectivity program. The purpose of this program is to use Department of Defense funds to purchase conservation easements on land near the marine base to ensure compatible uses of properties, and to maintain open-space corridors for wildlife movement. The funds from this grant will be used to (1) prepare a baseline document describing the geographic, geologic, and biologic properties of the 1206-acre Margarita Peak property, and (2) develop a stewardship plan that will satisfy the goals of the Camp Pendleton buffer zone program, preserve the biologic values of the land and allow for compatible passive use by the public. In preparing the baseline documentation and developing the stewardship plan, we hope to draw upon the mapping resources, when possible, of Camp Pendleton's office of environmental Security, the Fallbrook Public Utility District, and the Cleveland National Forest. Benefit to the Organization and the Local Community This is the major first step of a regional program involving the members of the South Coast Conservation Forum, including the Department of Defense, the California Wildlife Conservation Board, the Trust for Public Land, The Nature Conservancy, the Fallbrook Land Conservancy and others in what is anticipated to be a series of openspace purchases in the vicinity of Camp Pendleton and possibly other military bases in the area. As such, it is important to set standards for the stewardship of the land that will ensure compatible use, while protecting the biologic values of the land, and allowing for passive use by the public. These standards may then be used as a guide for future lands acquired in this and similar programs.
For more info, see http://www.sdlcc.org/flc/
SDCRN is a service organization that supports 25 other conservation NGOs working throughout San Diego County.
Our mission is to support the network of citizen resource conservancies involved in the preservation and stewardship of the natural and cultural resources of the San Diego Region and to promote public understanding of conservation issues.
You can learn more about us at our website -- http://sdcrn.org
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
A barely muted battle between most county supervisors and the Pacific Lumber Co. played out Tuesday, with dozens of timberland owners begging not to be caught in the middle by a temporary ordinance restricting building.
After hours of testimony, supervisors modified the 45-day ordinance to leave out landowners who already have building applications submitted. But in a 4-1 vote, they approved the ordinance for timber production zone, or TPZ, lands.
All but 2nd District Supervisor Roger Rodoni voted to approve the interim ordinance that was brought by supervisors Jill Geist and Bonnie Neely over concerns about a 22,000-acre development Palco has pitched as part of its bankruptcy restructuring plan. Most landowners said they weren't opposed to the county taking a stand against the company, but not at the risk of their property values or ability to develop their land.
The full effects of the interim ordinance -- which will allow hardship exemptions -- are unclear, and supervisors supporting the measure said they need time to pour over existing statutes. A hearing on whether to continue the ordinance is expected to be held in the next four weeks.
Forest land owners nervous over ordinance
A temporary building moratorium for timberland parcels being considered by county supervisors today has some landowners sweating over possible damage to the value of their property and their ability to sell it.
Humboldt County supervisors will weigh the adoption of an interim ordinance that would be in place for 45 days with extensions possible out to 22 months, 15 days. It's aimed at a proposal by the Pacific Lumber Co., which has pitched an exclusive development of more than 130, 160-acre “kingdoms” linked together with amenities like a golf course and a club house.
The change from timber production to ultra high-end residential development on 22,000 acres may not be compatible with policies being considered as part of the general plan in progress, according to a county staff report.
But owners of far smaller parcels of timber production zone -- TPZ -- lands are afraid of being caught up in the ordinance.
Lee Ulansey bought 100 acres of timberland on Greenwood Heights Road about six years ago with the intention of building a home. He said the county assured him that would be possible. Now he's worried that won't be possible, and that any temporary ordinance might be strung out longer than two years -- and seriously affect the value of his property. "I'm guessing there's thousands of people with TPZ parcels in similar situations,” Ulansey said.
The upscale development being proposed by Palco is part of its reorganization plan submitted in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Corpus Christi, Texas. Palco believes it can raise $700 million by selling the parcels in the so-called Redwood Ranch Development for $5.6 million each.
Eureka forester and real estate appraiser Frank Mileham said even a temporary ordinance on all TPZ land could put a cloud over the properties. While the ordinance may be aimed at large timberland owners, he said, it's inherently going to include owners of smaller properties.
”It could have a huge impact on value,” Mileham said.
People interested in investing in land may shy away from the uncertainty, he said.
The county staff report says the ordinance is necessary to the “health, safety and welfare” of the community, and adds that if Palco's development were allowed to go forward under existing codes, it could prompt other large timberland owners to convert lands to residential development. Some alternatives being considered in the general plan could significantly limit residential development on timber land.
Barnum Timber Co. owns about 36,000 acres in Humboldt County. While it currently has no land for sale, said Barnum forester Steve Horner, it has always expected that some of its land could be developed.
If the company has to sell land again, as it has in recent years to weather market and regulatory conditions, it would have to sell more acreage than it would if developable parcels were available for sale, Horner said.
”That's literally our only liquid asset,” Horner said. He added, “They've just wiped away that value.”
The measure requires a 4/5ths vote to pass. Any extension of the ordinance would have to go through a public hearing before the first 45-day period expires.
The meeting starts at 9 a.m. at the Humboldt County Courthouse.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Nature Conservancy transfers “Pinnacles Gateway” to National Park Service
Ranch popular with condors and campers now officially part of National Monumenthttp://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/california/press/pinnacles042506.html
Pinnacles, Calif.—April 18, 2006—The Nature Conservancy announced today the transfer of 1,967-acres of prime California condor habitat to the National Park Service for incorporation into Pinnacles National Monument. The Pinnacles Ranch provides the only access point on the Monument’s eastern side and the only campground servicing the now 26,425-acre park. The property supports a wide array of wildlife such as deer, bobcats, mountain lions, foxes and an estimated 148 species of birds, including 13 California condors.
Located just 40 minutes south of Hollister, a fast-growing Silicon Valley “bedroom” community, the ranch was vulnerable to ranchette-style development. The Nature Conservancy purchased the land for $5.3 million in February 2005 to safeguard it while the National Park Service sought funding through Congress. The agency secured the money through the Land Water Conservation Fund in fall 2005 and took possession of the ranch in March 2006.
“The support of Senators Feinstein and Boxer and Representative Farr was essential to achieving this win-win outcome,” said Peggy McNutt, regional director for The Nature Conservancy. “Representative Farr took up the cause of Pinnacles Ranch many years ago. His commitment constituted the turning point in a years-long effort to protect this important habitat for the California condor. As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Feinstein was uniquely positioned to secure funding for Pinnacles and we are thrilled that she did so.”
While Pinnacles National Monument is comprised mostly of the distinctive volcanic rock formations for which it is named, the ranch brings diverse natural communities within the boundary, including native grasslands and valley oak woodlands, two increasingly rare habitat types in California.
The National Park Service and Ventana Wilderness Society, partners in a major condor reintroduction effort, have released condors from the Monument since December 2003. The release pen is located directly adjacent to the Pinnacles Ranch and biologists quickly discovered that the condors favor the property’s open fields and oak-dotted hills for forage and roosting.
“The Nature Conservancy applauds the landowners for choosing to make the ranch available for addition to Pinnacles National Monument,” said Christina Fischer, project director for The Nature Conservancy. “We are delighted to have played a part in ensuring that this land will remain natural and protected for the benefit of condors and people alike.”
A Look at the Nature Conservancy's Mount Hamilton Projecthttp://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/california/preserves/art6323.html
San Antonio Valley.
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Location: East of San Jose and the San Francisco Bay, between Highway 101 and Interstate 5, in the southern Diablo Range.
Size: 1.2 million acres.
At Stake: Streamside forests, oak and sycamore woodlands, vast grasslands and seasonal wetlands that support migrating birds, bobcats, mountain lions, endangered San Joaquin kit foxes, tule elk, red-legged frogs, western pond turtles, steelhead and endangered bay checkerspot butterflies.
Threats: Expanding development, incompatible agricultural practices, proposed infrastructure projects.
Results: 81,000 acres in acquisitions and easements for a total of 300,000 acres protected by the Conservancy and its partners.
Hikers in Mount Hamilton.
Photo © Grant Johnson
Encroaching development and proposed infrastructure projects threaten to fragment the last significant expanse of open space between the San Francisco Bay Area and the Great Central Valley.
Time stands still on the southeastern edge of the San Francisco Bay Area, where the wild west of Old California quietly unfolds toward the Great Central Valley. Tule elk graze in secluded valleys among colossal oaks. Rainbow trout and red-legged frogs navigate canyon streams. Cougars prowl the high ridges of the Diablo mountain range, and kit foxes scamper across open grasslands.
Straddling six counties and 1.2 million acres, The Nature Conservancy’s Mount Hamilton project supports a wide variety of natural communities that have graced Central California for centuries. But this last significant expanse of wilderness between Silicon Valley and the Central Valley is feeling the pinch of a growing population. New housing developments creep toward the project’s outer rims every year, and proposed infrastructure projects for rail lines, freeways and water projects threaten to carve the expansive wilderness into pieces. The Nature Conservancy is pursuing a number of strategies to protect Mount Hamilton and preserve its biological richness for future generations.
Ring of Conservation
The Conservancy launched its Mount Hamilton project in 1998 with the acquisition of two large ranches totaling 61,000 acres. Since then, we have worked cooperatively with landowners to acquire land or restrict development on key private properties situated among the region’s many public parks. As these private and public parcels merge into larger, contiguously conserved landscapes, they will eventually form a ring of protection around Mount Hamilton. This will allow ranchers to preserve their way of life and give native plants and animals the open space they need to survive. Protection of Mount Hamilton’s watersheds provides the additional benefit of keeping the region’s water supply clean.
Lifeline for Wildlife
The Nature Conservancy is also working with partners to preserve the upper Pajaro River floodplain. Located between Gilroy and Hollister, this 20,000-acre spread of agricultural lands, perennial streams and seasonal wetlands is the most defensible, undeveloped wildlife corridor remaining between the inland Diablo Mountains and the coastal Santa Cruz mountain range. Preserving it will allow animals to travel safely between the two ranges, giving large mammals the territory they need to maintain a genetically diverse population.
Here, the Conservancy’s strategy is two-fold: to protect the immediate banks of the upper Pajaro River, and to create an additional buffer by limiting the use of adjacent lands to wildlife-friendly agriculture.
As California’s population grows, demands for new public works projects increase as well. Three such projects — proposals for new reservoir, a new freeway and a new high-speed rail line — threaten to fragment the Mount Hamilton wilderness and undermine the long-term health of its native plants and animals. The Nature Conservancy is working with many organizations and to ensure that the environmental impacts of these proposed projects are scientifically rigorously studied, and that the projects — should they go forward — be sited along existing transportation corridors or in already-developed areas.
With your help, The Nature Conservancy can preserve a vital part of Old California for future generations, while allowing a new California to blossom.
Friday, October 5, 2007
2000 Acres in Marin and Sonoma Counties to be Saved by Coastal Conservancy
At the Coastal Conservancy meeting on Thursday, September 20, 2007, the board discussed preserving two properties, 1234 acres in Sonoma County and 750 acres in Marin County. Click on the project names for more details:
Consideration and possible Conservancy authorization to disburse up to $750,000 to Sonoma Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District for acquisition of the 1,235-acre Poff Property for addition to Sonoma Coast State Beach in western Sonoma County.
Consideration and possible Conservancy authorization to disburse up to $750,000 to the Marin Agricultural Land Trust to acquire a conservation easement over the 750-acre Poncia Ranch south of the town of Tomales, in western Marin County.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Extension of Western Kern County Rails to Trails being discussed
By Doug Keeler
Published: Friday, September 28, 2007
City officials are hoping grant funding can extend the Taft Rails to Trails walking path more than three miles to the east where it will join a large walking, biking and nature area.
Plans are preliminary and funding has not yet been obtained, but Lucille Holt, the city's grants administrator, is envisioning several hundred acres of pathways, a nature area, possibly an amphitheater on 454 acres of land currently owned by the Federal Bureau of Land Management.
Holt calls it a walking park - three-quarters of a square mile of open land crisscrossed by paths for walking, jogging, biking or skating.
It could even include a nature preserve or an amphitheater built in a natural depression.
“It's an ambitious plan and it won't happen overnight, but I think it would be a wonderful addition to Taft,” Holt said.
Grants - both state and federal - will be needed to get the project going. Federal grants can be used to extend trails to trails east from its current end at Second Street for nearly 31/2 miles along the old Sunset Railroad right-of-way to the site of the proposed park, currently an L-shaped parcel of vacant land.
The project would need a pedestrian bridge over Highway 33 stretching from Petroleum Club Road to Gardner Field Road near the intersection with Gas Company Road.
It is also located near where Sandy Creek crosses Gardner Field Road.
Plans have been discussed over the past six years to someday turn Sandy Creek into a recreational walking and biking path.
That fits in well with the proposal that Holt is looking at.
“We would really like to turn Taft into a walking community,” Holt said.
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