Posted on Categories Habitats, Sustainable LivingTags , , , ,

Fulton nursery a go-to spot for native plants

Jeff Cox, PRESS DEMOCRAT

Cal-Flora Nursery in Fulton
California Native Plant Society – Milo Baker Chapter

The showy lady’s slipper (Cypripedium reginae) that grows east of the Rockies is a large wild orchid that reaches up to 30 inches tall, with 3- to 4-inch-long, slipperlike flowers of rose pink. They don’t grow around here. But their distant cousins do, and they look very different.

Our Sonoma County summer fog calls forth these plants where the redwoods grow tall and human activity is at a minimum. In these conditions, the forest floor may be sprinkled with them. The jewel-like pink fairy slippers (Calypso bulbosa) grow only 2 to 4 inches tall and produce 1- to 2-inch “slippers” that only fairy feet could fit.

Why such a difference among woodland orchids? You might think that our mild climate and rich woodland soils would yield orchids even larger than those back east where winter locks up the soil in ice for nearly half the year.

The answer is our summer drought, where it rarely rains from June to October. Plants native to our Mediterranean climate, as it’s called, have evolved to deal with the dry season. Some, like the California fuchsia (Zauschneria californica) have amped up drought tolerance to astonishing levels, blooming furiously in late summer despite not having a drink for months. Some simply shut down their green, vegetative parts and turn dry and brown, sending their roots to sleep until rain returns, or overwinter as seeds fallen to the ground.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/lifestyle/california-native-plants-cal-flora-nursery/

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Lisa Micheli named as Sonoma County’s Climate Crisis Champion

Maggie Fusek, PETALUMA PATCH

Dr. Lisa Micheli, former president & CEO of Pepperwood Foundation, is a “dedicated mentor shaping the next generation of climate leaders.”

U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson recognized Dr. Lisa Micheli, former president & CEO of the Pepperwood Foundation, as Sonoma County’s 2024 Climate Crisis Champion.

Micheli was honored during a ceremony Monday to celebrate climate crisis champions from the five counties of the 4th Congressional District.

“Dr. Micheli is a tireless advocate for climate change adaptation and environmental protection as well as a dedicated mentor shaping the next generation of climate leaders,” Thompson said. “Dr. Micheli has put her doctorate in energy and resources from UC Berkeley to good use, serving as the Sonoma Community Services and Environment Commissioner, directing the Rutherford Reach Restoration of the Napa River, and founding the Pepperwood Foundation, which has become a leading institute for regional climate resilience in Northern California. She is exceptionally deserving of this award, and I am proud to recognize all that Dr. Micheli has accomplished.”

Read more at https://patch.com/california/petaluma/thompson-names-micheli-sonoma-countys-climate-crisis-champion

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California’s ocean salmon fishing season closed for second year in a row

Susan Wood, NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL

California’s commercial and recreational ocean salmon fishing season is set to be closed for the second consecutive year, another blow to the state’s beleaguered industry suffering from the combined fallout of drought, climate disruption and deteriorating ocean conditions.

Already, a new request is underway for yet another federal disaster declaration to help alleviate some of the wide economic damage from the closure, affecting not just the fleet but many associated businesses that depend on the fishery, one of the state’s most lucrative.

The Pacific Fisheries Management Council, which manages and monitors West Coast salmon stocks in the ocean, endorsed the option on Wednesday of a full closure through the end of the year, mirroring recommendations made to close the fisheries in 2023.

Many fishermen, already resigned to a severely limited season if any at all due to depleted stocks, had backed the full closure.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/north-bay/californias-salmon-fishing-season-closed-for-second-year-in-a-row/

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New restoration plan for Laguna de Santa Rosa

Laura Hagar Rush, SEBASTOPOL TIMES

The Laguna de Santa Rosa held an open house on Wednesday, February 21, to celebrate the release of the Laguna de Santa Rosa Restoration Plan. Funded by a grant from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife with matching funds from Sonoma Water, this document examines six potential restoration projects in the Laguna de Santa Rosa watershed.

Presented by Neil Lassettre of Sonoma Water and Scott Dusterhoff of the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI), this plan was several years in the making.

“So six years ago, we were here with folks from the public, many of you here in this hall, saying ‘Well, we were going to do this restoration planning effort.’ And here we are six years later, unveiling this restoration plan to you all. So this is really an exciting time for us,” Dusterhoff said.

Dusterhoff explained the two major phases of the project this way: “The first component was developing an understanding of how the Laguna used to look and how it used to function and the habitats that it was supporting. So that’s developing an understanding of the historical ecology,” he said. “And then after we understand how the Laguna used to look and how it used to function, we can understand the landscape change—so the magnitude of change from what was to what is. So that was part number one. Part number two then was using that information to develop this long term restoration vision—this long term idea of all of the habitats we want to bring back in the Laguna. So then, we took that vision and we dove deep on a few areas, and we came up with this master restoration plan,” he said.

Read more at https://www.sebastopoltimes.com/p/new-restoration-plan-for-laguna-de?

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Press Release: Governor Newsom launches California’s ‘Salmon Strategy for a Hotter, Drier Future’

Office of Governor Gavin Newsom

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: To restore populations of salmon amidst hotter and drier weather exacerbated by climate change, Governor Newsom announced California’s first strategy to protect the iconic fish species for generations to come.

Governor Gavin Newsom today announced new actions and efforts already underway that California is taking to help restore California’s salmon populations.

Salmon Strategy for a Hotter, Drier Future

After 10 years of rapidly intensifying drought and more extreme weather, salmon are not doing well. Last year, with projections showing Chinook salmon population at historic lows, the salmon season was closed and the Newsom Administration requested a Federal Fishery Disaster to support impacted communities. Additionally, due to crashing salmon populations in 2023, some tribes canceled their religious and cultural harvests for the first time ever.

The strategy’s six priorities call for:

    1. Removing barriers and modernizing infrastructure for salmon migration
    2. Restoring habitat
    3. Protecting water flows in key rivers at the right times
    4. Modernizing hatcheries
    5. Transforming technology and management systems
    6. Strengthening partnerships

Read more at https://www.gov.ca.gov/2024/01/30/governor-newsom-launches-californias-salmon-strategy-for-a-hotter-drier-future/

Posted on Categories Habitats, Water, WildlifeTags , , , , , , , ,

PG&E formalizes plan to take down dams on Eel River

Mary Callahan, PRESS DEMOCRAT

In a landmark moment, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. formalized its plans to tear down two more-than-century-old dams on the Eel River — removing the barrier that forms Lake Pillsbury, freeing the waters of the river and restoring the lake footprint to a more natural state.

The moves are part of a 94-page draft surrender application submitted to federal regulators and made public Friday as part of the utility’s plan to decommission its Potter Valley powerhouse and all the infrastructure that comes with it — including Scott and Cape Horn dams, sited slightly downstream.

PG&E has said work deconstructing the dams could begin as early 2028, depending on regulatory approval and environmental review of the plan.

Scott Dam, built in 1921, would come down first, either in phases or all in one season.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. initial draft plan

The plan fulfills long-held dreams of conservationists and fishery groups to see the cold, clear headwaters of the Eel River, part of the Mendocino National Forest, reopened to migrating fish and to restore natural river flows in hopes of reversing the decline of native fish stocks.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/pge-formalizes-plan-to-eliminate-lake-pillsbury-in-mendocino-county-forest/?ref=mostsection

Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, Habitats, Transportation, WildlifeTags , , , , , , , ,

Hwy. 37 could be under water by 2050. Here’s how Caltrans plans to keep traffic flowing

Colin Atagi, NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL

The favored plan also proposes the route have a 60 mph speed limit, as well as two lanes in each direction with bicycle and pedestrian paths. The plan is in its early stages and officials haven’t identified a cost or funding source.

Caltrans, in order to keep traffic flowing decades from now, intends to build an elevated road along Highway 37 to combat rising water levels, which are expected to eventually inundate the North Bay arterial.

The proposed project essentially stretches across the existing route along San Pablo Bay and through Marin, Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties.

It preserves travel patterns, allows landward marsh migration and is resilient to sea level rises, officials said in explaining its benefits.

Read more at https://www.northbaybusinessjournal.com/article/news/hwy-37-could-be-under-water-by-2050-heres-how-caltrans-plans-to-keep-tra/

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Student-run United Anglers of Casa Grande gets permit to help dwindling trout population in Petaluma

Amelia Parreira, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

A long-sought permit recently obtained by United Anglers of Casa Grande will allow the organization to rescue fish directly from Petaluma’s watershed, which will help save the dwindling local steelhead trout population and allow its student-run hatchery to operate year-round.

The organization, which this year celebrates 40 years of local environmental conservation and fish population restoration, was granted the federal permit this summer following a yearlong review process.

Fish rescued by United Anglers from the local watershed will be transferred to the organization’s state-of-the-art hatchery — California’s only high school-run fish rehabilitation program — before being released back to their natural habitat.

“Our focus has always been nearby Adobe Creek and the steelhead trout in this watershed,” said Dan Hubacher, who has run the organization since the retiring of its founder, Tom Furrer, in 2011. “And I remember as a student, as an alumni of the program, I remember sitting here and Mr. Furrer saying, ‘We can’t touch these fish. The permit won’t allow us.’”

Hubacher said it’s surreal to think about how far the group has come in its efforts over the years.

“If we can get multiple locations where we can find fish, we can bring them in (and) can hopefully jump start this population,” he said. “Through the last couple of years, not only are we not seeing adults, which is alarming, but we’re not seeing juveniles.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/student-run-organization-gets-permit-to-help-dwindling-trout-population/

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Focus on the SDC: Open space and the public trust

Tracy Salcedo, THE KENWOOD PRESS

The SDC’s wildlands are public now. Do they have to be privatized to become public again?

From day one, my community activism has focused on preservation of the open space at the Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC). Of all the worthy transformations contemplated for the storied property, ensuring the wildlands remain forever wild has been my highest priority.

From day one, I’ve heard promises from elected officials at the county and state levels, along with planners, consultants, and bureaucrats, that preserving the open space was a done deal.

From day one, I’ve asked: If that’s the case, why do we have to wait? Why don’t we set it aside now?

Don’t worry, the officials have responded. There’s a process. Have faith.

I’m worried. In its recently released request for proposals (RFP), the California Department of General Services (DGS) has reiterated its intent to sell the entire 945-acre SDC property, including the open space, to a private party. That’s not preservation in the public trust. That’s creation of private property.

I’m worried.

The process trumps the promise

The timelines for Sonoma County’s specific planning process and the state’s disposition process have always overlapped, but the original idea was that by the time the property was put up for sale, the specific plan would be done, the open space boundaries would be delineated, and a means of transfer to state parks, regional parks, or a land trust would be in place.

Enter wildfire, pandemic, inflexibility, and bureaucracy. Now, if the state sticks to its timeline, it will sell the property before the Board of Supervisors adopts the beleaguered specific plan. If a sale goes forward, the buyer will own not only the campus, but also the surrounding wetlands, woodlands, grasslands, trails, and much of the Sonoma Valley Wildlife Corridor.

Read more at https://www.kenwoodpress.com/2022/06/01/focus-on-the-sdc-open-space-and-the-public-trust/

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The hatchery crutch: How we got here

Jude Isabella, HAKAI MAGAZINE

From their beginnings in the late 19th century, salmon hatcheries have gone from cure to band-aid to crutch. Now, we can’t live without manufactured fish.

To restore salmon populations requires a thoughtful, long-term vision. Habitat restoration is key, and in some instances a conservation hatchery that keeps distinct salmon populations alive during the long process of undoing extensive damage to watersheds.

Writer and fly fisher Roderick Haig-Brown dreamed of a time when the North Pacific Ocean would grow a lot more salmon.

Haig-Brown was probably the most famous and influential fly fisher in North America during his lifetime. The author wrote from his home on the banks of Campbell River on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. He sat at a desk with a view of the river, far from where the arbiters of great writing resided at the time. The New Yorker regularly reviewed his books (always favorably) and in 1976, the New York Times reported on his death.

From the 1930s to the 1970s, Haig-Brown led readers into the realm of Pacific salmon: chinook, sockeye, coho, chum, and pink. In his 1941 book, Return to the River, a lyrical story about one fish that moved a critic to call the author an immortal in the field of nature writing, Haig-Brown dug into the soul of a fish. He created a world from a wild chinook salmon’s point of view, allowing the reader to tag along on the cyclical path of a fish named Spring, from birth to death in an Oregon stream. Her life story is both wondrous and harrowing. Spring’s journey reflected all that Haig-Brown fretted about over 80 years ago: logging that decimated streams, dams that blocked rivers, and development that buried creeks. He fretted about hatchery fish, too.

Read more at https://hakaimagazine.com/features/the-hatchery-crutch-how-we-got-here/