CLIMATE PROTECTION CAMPAIGN
The Board of the Sonoma County Water Agency and the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors today created a joint powers authority to oversee Sonoma Clean Power, a proposed local program to buy and generate electricity for residents and businesses.
Three local organizations hailed the move and pledged to work with the new Sonoma Clean Power Authority, while cautioning that the power provider must be run like a competitive business venture rather than a government program. Climate Protection Campaign, Sonoma County Alliance, and the North Coast Builders Exchange each communicated their concerns to county officials.
“For Sonoma Clean Power to be successful in local job creation as well as greenhouse gas reduction, it must be run by proven energy entrepreneurs with a competitive mentality,” said Ann Hancock, Executive Director of the Climate Protection Campaign.
via County Creates Sonoma Clean Power | Climate Protection Campaign.
Bob Norberg, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
What would be the largest solar energy project in Sonoma County, generating enough electricity for 10,000 homes, is being planned for vacant land at the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport.
“The goal is to get renewable energy projects started here in Sonoma County and get local jobs in this arena,” said Cordel Stillman, the capital projects manager for the Sonoma County Water Agency.
In addition, the airport is planning its own solar installations to provide electricity to the administration building, terminal and runway and security lighting.
via 50-acre solar array planned at Sonoma County airport | PressDemocrat.com.
Jeff Quackenbush, NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL
Proposed state regulations on North Coast vineyard erosion are moving toward draft rules to be considered for adoption in 2013.
Through Jan. 2, San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board staff will be taking comments on a draft conditional waiver of waste-discharge requirements for vineyard properties in the Napa River and Sonoma Creek watersheds and an associated draft document on environmental affects of the waiver program. Those drafts were released Nov. 16, and the board is set to consider them at a public hearing set for Feb. 13 in Oakland.
via State rules for vineyard erosion move toward 2013 adoption – North Bay Business Journal – North San Francisco Bay Area, Sonoma, Marin, Napa counties – Archive.
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.
Bob Norberg, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Greenhouse gas emissions declined in Sonoma County in 2011 for the third straight year, reflecting an expansion of renewable energy sources and a down economy, which lowered demand for power and transportation.Still, Sonoma County’s goal of reducing emissions 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2015 remains elusive, officials said Tuesday.
via Greenhouse gas emissions down again in Sonoma County | PressDemocrat.com.
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.
Greg Beato, THE NEW YORK TIMES
The waterfall that is the best-known feature of the Bohemia Ecological Preserve is currently nothing more than a picturesque spill of bone-dry rocks. The shaggy grasslands that carpet the preserve’s rolling terrain are a parched golden brown.
But as Craig Anderson, 51, leads a group of hikers up gravel roads toward a hilltop campground, the fact that the landscape is at something less than peak splendor after several rain-free months does little to diminish his enthusiasm. And why should it? In California’s economic climate — also fairly parched — Bohemia Ecological Preserve is that rarest of specimens: a recently opened park. In May, it celebrated its official grand opening.
via Benefactors Create and Maintain a Private Park in California – NYTimes.com.
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.
Phil Coturri, NAPA VALLEY REGISTER.COM
The days are becoming shorter and cooler, harvest is drawing to a close, and grapevines are shutting down for a long winter’s nap: Autumn is officially upon us. While the next four to five months are not normally considered the growing season in the vineyards, at the certified organic Oakville Ranch Vineyards, this is the time of year that we are just starting growing our cover crops, soils, biodiversity and ecological balance, elements of healthy vineyards.
As the founder of Enterprise Vineyards, for the past 35 years I have farmed exclusively organic vineyards throughout Napa and Sonoma County. I have always focused my goals beyond organic farming for its environmental benefits. For more than three decades I have worked to prove that organically grown grapes offer winemakers the most balanced fruit and allow most accessible path a vineyard’s terroir, a wine’s expression of place. This can only happen when the vines and the land are in balance.
via Grapegrower report: Organic practices make the difference.