THE MERCED SUN-STAR
It’s hard to fathom that such a tiny creature can have so large an impact on our food supply. But honeybees are essential components in the production of fully one-third of the food U.S. residents eat — from almonds and cherries to broccoli and cabbage, from peaches and apples to coffee and grapes, from brussels sprouts and cashews to onions and lemons.
Bees pollinate crops worth $20 billion to $30 billion annually in the United States alone. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, bees pollinate 71 of the 100 crops that provide 90 percent of human food.
Without these essential pollinators, the crops would bear no fruit.
via Our View: Demise of U.S. bees demands urgent action – Our View – MercedSun-Star.com.
Seth Borenstein – AP Science Writer, THE MERCED SUN-STAR
WASHINGTON — A new federal report blames a combination of problems for a mysterious and dramatic disappearance of U.S. honeybees since 2006.
The intertwined factors cited include a parasitic mite, multiple viruses, bacteria, poor nutrition, genetics, habitat loss and pesticides.
The multiple causes make it harder to do something about what’s called colony collapse disorder, experts say. The disorder has caused as much as one-third of the nation’s bees to just disappear each winter since 2006.
via Feds: Many causes for dramatic bee disappearance – State & Region – MercedSun-Star.com.
Lori A. Carter, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Wildlife lovers gathered in the shadow of the Highway 101 bridge over the Petaluma River Friday evening to protest slow action by state and federal agencies in preventing birds from dying in construction netting.
“Caltrans is NOT above the law,” stated one sign. “Stop killing birds” was another.
Cliff swallows that build their mud nests each spring in the concrete bridge supports are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
via Wildlife advocates protest bird deaths in Petaluma highway netting | Petaluma360.com | Petaluma Argus-Courier | Petaluma, CA.
Felicity Barringer, THE NEW YORK TIMES
For more than a decade, wine experts have discussed the impact of climate change on wine grapes, agriculture’s diva, a marquee crop nurtured and pampered around the world.
Now scientists are raising a new question: when grapes are transported to new areas, assuming warming weather and flagging rain make current regions unsuited to such harvests, what will the crop’s arrival do to the animals and plants already in residence?
via Scientists Question Impact as Vineyards Turn Up in New Places – NYTimes.com.
Brett Wilkison, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Projects by private landowners to boost salmon and other fish populations in North Coast streams are set to receive an additional $2 million this year from an arm of the federal government.
Federal and local officials on Friday announced the commitment of new grant money for six major river basins stretching from Sonoma County — and including the Russian River — to Eureka, in Humboldt County.
Development, dams, logging and water diversions for farms and cities have harmed the region’s once-bountiful salmon and steelhead runs, with several species now listed as endangered or threatened.
via Projects to restore fish habitat get $2 million federal boost | PressDemocrat.com.
Vesta Copestakes, SONOMA COUNTY GAZETTE
Natural Resources Conservation Service NRCS in California and the Gold Ridge and Sotoyome Resource Conservation Districts have teamed up with a number of local government agencies, nonprofit groups, agribusinesses and landowners to improve fish habitat in five northern California watersheds. The goal is to increase salmonid populations while also sustaining productive agricultural operations. California is one of three western states included in this program.
James Gore, NRCS Assistant Chief from Washington, D.C., attended a special event in Camp Meeker to provide information on the programs during a walking tour of the Dutch Bill Creek restoration project that has been in process since 2009. This work included removing an old fish barrier dam, constructing a new pedestrian bridge, installing rock wiers for fish migration, and other stream and habitat restoration efforts.
via Dutch Bill Creek Fish Habitat Restoration Funding.
Center for Biological Diversity
The Center for Biological Diversity today announced a settlement requiring the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop recovery plans for endangered California tiger salamanders. Under the settlement approved by the court last week, all three populations of California tiger salamanders will receive final recovery plans within the next five years.
“I’m so glad these three populations of the beautiful, severely endangered California tiger salamander will finally get recovery plans,” said Collette Adkins Giese, the Center’s attorney dedicated to conserving amphibians and reptiles. “Timely development of these plans is absolutely necessary, because they give us a roadmap of the actions needed to ensure the species will survive.
”Recovery plans are the main tool for identifying actions — such as research and habitat restoration and protection — necessary to save endangered species from extinction and eventually be able to remove their protection under the Endangered Species Act. Research by the Center has found that the status of species with dedicated recovery plans for two or more years is far more likely to be improving than of those without.
via Settlement Will Speed Recovery of Endangered California Tiger Salamanders.
Jeff Quackenbush, NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL
A $40 million project near Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport that would convert agricultural waste such as chicken manure into natural gas, electricity and certified-organic fertilizer has run afoul of the 2013 expiration of a federal renewable-energy incentive said to be crucial to the economics of the venture.
The Sonoma County Farms to Fuel Project had a green light from local government to start construction, approval for $35 million in low-interest state bond financing, a $3.37 million state matching grant and a market for about half the estimated plant revenue. But the project has been on hold for months, after it became apparent it wouldn’t be finished and on line by the end of next year, the current sunset for a federal business energy investment tax credit equal to 30 percent of project costs for renewable-energy sources, according to John Martin, chief operating officer of Kansas-based BioStar Systems, LLC 913-438-3002, biostarsystems.com.
via Large waste-to-fuel project hangs on federal subsidy renewal – North Bay Business Journal – North San Francisco Bay Area, Sonoma, Marin, Napa counties – Archive.
The latest draft of a Mitigation Policy for the Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District (APOSD) prohibits private mitigation on most District conservation easements or property. Laws such as the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act require compensation, or mitigation, when an activity harms habitat or waterways. Mitigation may be in the form of money, or it may require long-term protection of other at-risk habitat.
The District has needed to set policy guidelines for mitigation – this was made clear by the Roblar Road quarry proposal in 2010. A complicated exchange was worked out by quarry proponents which included mitigating for the loss of a California Tiger Salamander breeding pond on the quarry site by constructing habitat on a nearby property protected by an Open Space conservation easement. This deal was criticized for several reasons, but especially because the mitigation would occur on land that was already protected by the conservation easement. However, there was no Open Space District policy on mitigation at the time and the Board of Supervisors voted to approve the quarry. Lawsuits have stopped the project for the last couple of years, giving the District time to put together the new Mitigation Policy.
The second draft of the Mitigation Policy contains the following guidelines:
- The District will not accept mitigation funding from private parties or accept acquisitions that result from third party mitigation projects.
- Existing conservation easements that expressly allow habitat mitigation will be able to do so, but new easements will mostly expressly prohibit mitigation.
- Mitigation-related funding (that is, when mitigation requires paying money rather than buying land) from public projects only, may be used by the District to buy land or to fund habitat-enhancement projects on District land.
This Policy, if adopted and followed by the Board, will close the door to most private mitigation projects on Open Space District land, but will still allow some kinds of mitigation for public projects.
APOSD Mitigation Policy draft
Keri Brenner, PETALUMA PATCH.COM
After more than 10 years of researching a “biological opinion” about the best way and best spot to save the last remaining coho salmon and steelhead trout in the Russian River watershed, engineers and officials on Wednesday broke ground on a pilot project along Dry Creek north of Healdsburg that they hope will do the job.
“This is the strongest and the last stronghold for this population [of fish],” said Mike Dillabough, chief of operations and readiness at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “By recreating the habitat for the fish, they’ll be able to restore the population naturally.”
via Feds, State, Sonoma County Break Ground on $1.8M Dry Creek Rescue Plan for Last Remaining Coho Salmon – Petaluma, CA Patch.