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.
Clark Mason, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
An ambitious effort to save fish in the Russian River watershed took another step forward this week with ground-breaking of a habitat restoration project along Dry Creek.
The work just below Warm Springs Dam on the Russian Rivet tributary is intended to provide refuge for endangered Coho salmon and threatened Steelhead, native fish that require pockets of slow-moving water to survive.
via Dry Creek ‘fishway’ project aims to restore salmon habitat | PressDemocrat.com.
THE SONOMA COUNTY GAZETTE
A year has gone by since the Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) Board of Directors (County Supervisors) authorized the Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Estuary Project, a plan to construct a channel to keep salt water from intruding into the Estuary, but allow fresh water to seep out. The purpose was to raise fresh water levels in the estuary lagoon to benefit the growth of juvenile steelhead fish preparing for their ocean sojurn.
At that Board meeting in mid-August of 2011, representatives of National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) made threatening statements to the Board of Supervisors, to the effect that they would be in violation of the Endangered Species Act if they did not approve the project, implying something horrific would happen if they did not approve the EIR. They also strongly implied that anyone else trying to stop the project would also be in violation. Unfortunately, the Biological Opinion, requiring both the Estuary Project and Fish Flow Project (Low Flow) became federal law without any public environmental review; California Environmental Law is circumvented by the Endangered Species Act.
Nevertheless, RRWPC filed a lawsuit 30 days later challenging the decision, mainly because they had split the Estuary Project EIR off from the Fish Flow Project EIR, claiming that the lowering of flows was separate from the management of the Estuary. We challenged water quality and recreational impacts repeatedly, but were faced with the fact that the “Fish Flow Project EIR” would address many of the issues we felt were lacking in this first EIR and the new EIR would be released before our case made it to court.
via Russian River at Jenner Estuary Project Lawsuit Settled.
Glenda Anderson & Cathy Bussewitz, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A Mendocino County judge on Wednesday overturned controversial state water rules designed to regulate how grape growers in Sonoma and Mendocino counties divert water from the Russian River. Superior Court Judge Ann Moorman declared the law to be “constitutionally void” and “invalid.”“There is not substantial evidence in the record to show the regulation, as enacted, is necessary,” she said.
The regulations were aimed at preventing endangered and threatened fish from becoming stranded and dying when farmers take water from the river to protect their crops from frost. Grape growers spray water on the vines to form a protective shield of ice when temperatures fall below freezing
via Mendocino County judge tosses out states frost-protection rules | PressDemocrat.com.
by Staff, SAN RAFAEL PATCH.COM
Are we losing bees? Or are they holding their own, busily pollinating crops and flowers as they should? A biologist at S.F. State is asking for your help in a nationwide bee census Saturday.
via Join the Great Bee Count Aug. 11 – San Rafael, CA Patch.
by Alastair Bland, NORTH BAY BOHEMIAN
Chinook salmon are abundant this year in one of the best seasons in local fishing memory, with sport and commercial fishermen reeling in easy boatloads of the most prized food and game fish on the Pacific Coast.
Still, a local conservation group warns that all this could change if state officials in Sacramento, now plotting the near future of California’s water-development infrastructure, approve and build a large canal intended to deliver Sacramento River water to Southern California.
via Delta Blues | News | North Bay Bohemian.
by Brett Wilkison, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A Sonoma County judge has sided with key points in a lawsuit challenging approval of the controversial Roblar Road rock quarry, a move that could derail the project west of Cotati.
A split county Board of Supervisors approved the 70-acre project in late 2010 over the objections of a group of neighbors and others concerned about environmental impacts.
via Opponents of Roblar Road quarry win round in court | Petaluma360.