Pond 7 of the old Cargill Salt Co. plant between Napa and Sonoma is an improbable sight: a lifeless salt flat spreading across more than 300 acres along the edge of the San Pablo Bay.
The surface is a twisted mass of filthy salt crystals, devoid of plants and avoided by the migratory birds that inhabit nearby marshes.
As long as the pond remains in this state, officials say, it poses a threat to the ecologically sensitive bay: should a rain storm flood the pond and breach the dirt banks, it could wash salt into the open water in concentrations high enough to kill fish and other wildlife.
via Water agency nears completion of Napa-Sonoma salt marsh pipeline | The Press Democrat.
Robert Digitale, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Nearly two years after it launched amid national media attention, Santa Rosa’s Ygrene Energy Fund has financed its first projects for making older buildings green.
The company, which fashioned its business after a program pioneered by the County of Sonoma, is providing financing and administration to retrofit homes and commercial buildings in Sacramento and Miami. The public/private programs allow property owners to install solar electric systems and other energy- and water-saving improvements, with borrowers repaying the debt on their property tax bills.
via Ygrene seeks green in energy retrofits | The Press Democrat.
Brenda Adelman, SONOMA COUNTY GAZETTE
Words have the power to conjure up all kinds of feelings for good or ill, such as “treated sewage” or “recycled water”. Most people would never dream that these disparate terms represent the same product.
Over the years, there has been this subtle and intentional shift in language to persuade the public to accept exposures to treated wastewater in everyday life. After all, it looks and smells the same as potable, and even experts can’t tell the difference. Some officials and politicians have even tasted the local chemical concoction to certify it’s high quality. Over the years, what used to be ‘treated sewage’ became ‘treated effluent’, then ‘wastewater’ or ‘treated wastewater’, and finally ‘recycled water’, this latter having entirely removed the ‘yuk!’ factor. Yet little has changed in the content of the product.
Current treatment of the raw sewage is better than it used to be, and probably the term ‘treated sewage’ is no longer fair, but ‘recycled water’ is very misleading, since of the approximately 80,000 chemicals on the market, only 125 are regulated. We have a long way to go before we should agree to drink the stuff. What we are learning about endocrine disrupting chemicals (most pesticides are in that category, for example) is that children are more vulnerable than adults and low dose exposures can have major impacts on the elderly or those with compromised immune systems.
via Down the Drain: ‘Treated Sewage’ or ‘Recycled Water’?.
Madeleine Thomas, EAST BAY EXPRESS
In May, The Conservation Fund announced that it had bought nearly 20,000 acres of coastal redwood, Douglas fir, and oak woodlands, known as Preservation Ranch, in Sonoma County, in order to prevent the area from being turned into vineyards. The plan by the national environmental nonprofit is one the largest conservation efforts of its scale in the state. The Conservation Fund also intends to implement sustainable forestry practices at Preservation Ranch and use carbon credits from the state’s cap-and-trade program to help pay for the restoration of the forest, which was heavily damaged by decades of logging. If successful, the project could serve as model for sustainable forestry practices in California and throughout the nation. But it’s an ambitious project, and not without it’s share of challenges.
via A Model Forest? | Eco Watch | The Bay Area Environment Column.
Eric Gneckow, NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL
The governing board that will oversee the first operating year of a renewable energy-focused public power agency in Sonoma County took shape last Thursday, as the agency’s joint powers authority grew to include the cities that recently voted to allow the agency to offer power to its residents and businesses.
Representatives for the cities of Santa Rosa, Sonoma, Sebastopol and Cotati joined what is now an eight-member board for Sonoma Clean Power. Along with Windsor and the county’s unincorporated areas, those areas account for more than 75 percent of ratepayers in Sonoma County.
via Governing board takes shape for Sonoma Clean Power – North Bay Business Journal – North San Francisco Bay Area, Sonoma, Marin, Napa counties – Archive.
Sean Scully, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
If you’ve ever littered in or around the Santa Rosa plain, there is a reasonable chance that the object you threw away is now lodged in one of several garbage-strewn accidental dams clogging up the Laguna de Santa Rosa.
And it’s causing serious headaches for nearby landowners, environmentalists, and county water officials.
“Eventually all that garbage that comes out of Santa Rosa, out of Rohnert Park, out of Cotati, that comes down Mark West Creek, winds up here,” said Mike Thompson, assistant general manager of the Sonoma County Water Agency, on Monday as he surveyed a series of cleanup sites along the Laguna near Guerneville Road.
via Laguna de Santa Rosa clogged by litter, debris | The Press Democrat.
Tracie Cone, SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS
SEQUOIA NATIONAL FOREST — In parts of California’s Sierra Nevada, marshy meadows are going dry, wildflowers are blooming earlier and glaciers are melting into ice fields.
Scientists also are predicting the optimal temperature zone for giant sequoias will rise hundreds and hundreds of feet, leaving trees at risk of dying over the next 100 years.
As indicators point toward a warming climate, scientists across 4 million acres of federally protected land are noting changes affecting everything from the massive trees that can grow to more than two-dozen feet across to the tiny, hamsterlike pika. But what the changes mean and whether humans should do anything to intervene are sources of disagreement among land managers.
via Sierra a 'living lab' for climate change – San Jose Mercury News.
Matt Brown, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Work is underway to repair the environmental damage done during a controversial orchard-to-vineyard conversion project near Sebastopol, winemaker Paul Hobbs said.
The county shut down the Watertrough Road project last month after inspectors found that bay laurel and blackberry bushes were removed illegally from a protected zone above a creek and that erosion-control measures were not in place.
Biologists have been to the property to assess the damage and formulate a plan to fix it, Hobbs said.
via Sebastopol vineyard conversion cleanup begins | The Press Democrat.
Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
With illegal marijuana cultivation wreaking environmental havoc across the nation, North Coast Reps. Mike Thompson and Jared Huffman are seeking new penalties for harm done to woodlands, waterways and wildlife.
The two Democrats, joined by a pair of Republicans, introduced the Protecting Lands Against Narcotics Trafficking Act, nicknamed the PLANT Act, aimed at imposing penalties for environmental damage from pot gardens and other illegal drug production on public lands and private property.
via Harsher penalties sought for illegal pot farmers | The Press Democrat.
Julie Johnson, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The Sonoma City Council overcame its previous division Monday and voted unanimously to join the Sonoma County Clean Power Authority.
The vote is the latest in a series of 11th-hour decisions by cities on whether to join the county’s fledgling public power program. Sonoma became the fifth city to join.
“It gives me great pleasure to vote yes and make this a unanimous vote of the Sonoma city council,” said Mayor Ken Brown, who had previously said he was inclined to vote no.
via Sonoma Council votes unamiously to join clean power authority | The Press Democrat.