Posted on Categories Water, WildlifeTags , , , Leave a comment on Drought threatens coho salmon

Drought threatens coho salmon

Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Coho salmon are trapped in the Russian River and urgently need a boost from Mother Nature.

Cut off by lack of rain from most of the small streams where they habitually spawn, the endangered coho face a ticking biological clock that could decimate this year’s reproduction.

“We know their time is running out,” said Nick Bauer, a biologist with UC Cooperative Extension’s coho monitoring program.

via Drought threatens coho salmon | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, WaterTags Leave a comment on Governor declares drought emergency

Governor declares drought emergency

Derek Moore, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Gov. Jerry Brown’s declaration Friday of a drought emergency in California does not immediately trigger new restrictions on water use on the North Coast, where officials already have begun asking people to voluntarily cut back their use.

Brown, speaking in San Francisco Friday, said California is in perhaps its worst drought since record-keeping began a century ago.

His proclamation states that drought and water shortage are creating “conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property” in the state. The governor asked Californians to reduce their water usage voluntarily by 20 percent.

via Drought declaration underscores state's water woes | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Agriculture/Food System, Land UseTags , , Leave a comment on Vineyard CEQA suit looms large

Vineyard CEQA suit looms large

Dan Verel, NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL

A group is hoping to slow a vineyard expansion project at Paul Hobbs Winery by arguing that the California Environmental Quality Act should apply, a position that many in the wine industry said could lead to unintended consequences by usurping what they say is an important local provision.

The group, called the The Watertrough Children’s Alliance in Sebastopol, is far from the first to bring CEQA to the legal table in opposing a vineyard or land-use issue. But the group’s efforts also include contesting the permit that the Sonoma County Agricultural Commission issued for the expansion under the Sonoma County Grading, Drainage and Vineyard and Orchard Site Development Ordinance, which is exempt from CEQA. State law, the group argues, should supersede that ordinance, also known as VESCO.

In response to the group’s lawsuit filed late last year that claims the 48-acre expansion at Paul Hobbs Winery should fall under the purview of CEQA, John Holdredge, an attorney for Geary, Shea, O’Donnell, Grattan & Mitchell representing the winery, wrote that using CEQA over the local Sonoma County ordinance would effectively render VESCO “inoperative.”

via Vineyard CEQA suit looms large – North Bay Business Journal – North San Francisco Bay Area, Sonoma, Marin, Napa counties – Archive.

Posted on Categories Sustainable LivingTags , Leave a comment on Countywide plastic bag ban could be in place in March

Countywide plastic bag ban could be in place in March

Brett Wilkison, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

For Sonoma County shoppers, the days of choosing between between paper and plastic bags at checkout lines are officially coming to an end.

On Wednesday, a long delayed move to ban carryout plastic bags at most retail outlets countywide cleared the first of two formal votes, setting in motion steps to implement the new regulation by mid-March.

Supporters hailed the progress after three years of planning, studies and setbacks, including a sticking point raised by the city of Santa Rosa last year that threatened to sink the whole proposal.

via Countywide plastic bag ban could be in place in March | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories WildlifeTags Leave a comment on Lawsuit over Petaluma bird deaths settled

Lawsuit over Petaluma bird deaths settled

Matt Brown, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

A group of environmentalists Thursday reached a settlement with Caltrans in a lawsuit over the killing of federally protected birds during a highway construction project at the Petaluma River bridge.

The settlement requires Caltrans to remove nets that contractor C.C. Myers installed under the bridge to keep migratory cliff swallows out of the construction zone. Conservationists said the nets entangled and killed dozens of cliff swallows during last year’s nesting season.

Last September, C.C. Myers paid a $3,525 fine for violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which prevents the killing of cliff swallows, according to Michael Woodbridge, a spokesman with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The fine was not part of Thursday’s settlement.

via Lawsuit over Petaluma bird deaths settled | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Water, WildlifeTags , Leave a comment on Sediment Release in Tributary of Salmon Creek Results in $38,000 in Costs and Penalties to Vineyard Developer

Sediment Release in Tributary of Salmon Creek Results in $38,000 in Costs and Penalties to Vineyard Developer

District Attorney Press Release, COUNTY OF SONOMA

District Attorney Jill Ravitch announced today that defendant Stephen Kistler has resolved a civil case with the District Attorney’s Office for a violation of Fish and Game Code section 5650.1, prohibiting the release of potentially harmful materials into waterways.

District Attorney Ravitch stated: "Land owners involved with construction must take care to avoid placing sediment in our creeks, which is known to harm fish and other riparian life."

On April 10, 2013, an employee of Mr. Kistler was running a pump to empty a reservoir for construction of an irrigation pond that was to occur on that site. The sediment-laden water leaving the irrigation pond turned the usually pristine Salmon Creek dark. Neighbors also noticed the change in the color of unnamed tributaries of Salmon Creek. The Department of Fish and Wildlife, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other agencies, responded to the scene to investigate the cause of the pollution. The property, located at 147011 Bodega Highway in Bodega, was discovered to be the source of sediment which was pumped from a reservoir into the unnamed tributary of Salmon Creek causing the creek to look "milky." Kistler cooperated with the investigation.

The civil case was resolved by an agreement between the District Attorney’s Office and defendant Kistler. The agreement, filed with the court today, permanently enjoins Kistler from placing any material that may be harmful to fish and other riparian life into the waters of the state. Additionally, Kistler agreed to prepare a reservoir management plan, pay a civil penalty of $25,000 pursuant to Fish and Game Code section 5650.1, pay $5,000 in restitution that will go into an account to benefit riparian habitat in Sonoma County, and pay an additional $8,653.96 representing the investigation costs incurred by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Salmon Creek (and its unnamed tributaries) is home to Coho Salmon, as well as other sensitive riparian species. Sediment harms the growth and impairs survival of juvenile Coho and other Salmonids.

The civil case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Ann Gallagher White, assisted by District Attorney Investigator Lisa Chapman. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agent Nick Call, and Department of Fish and Wildlife Warden Tiffany Stinson, and Demitri Esquivel headed the investigation.

via Sediment Release in Tributary of Salmon Creek Results in $38,000 in Costs and Penalties to Vineyard Developer | County of Sonoma.

Posted on Categories Agriculture/Food SystemTags , , Leave a comment on Court denies Drakes Bay Oyster Co., owner says fight will go to the U.S. Supreme Court

Court denies Drakes Bay Oyster Co., owner says fight will go to the U.S. Supreme Court

Mark Prado, MARIN INDEPENDENT JOURNAL

The Drakes Bay Oyster Co. will take its fight to stay open to the U.S. Supreme Court after a petition to have its case reheard by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was denied Tuesday morning.

In October, attorneys for owner Kevin Lunny filed a petition for what is known as an en banc rehearing after the court ruled against Drakes Bay in September.

The petition to rehear the case argued that the review should be granted because the panel decision conflicts with precedent set by the U.S. Supreme Court and the 9th Circuit.

But Lunny said in a statement late Tuesday he will take his fight to the Supreme Court.

via Court denies Drakes Bay Oyster Co., owner says fight will go to the U.S. Supreme Court – Marin Independent Journal.

Posted on Categories WaterTags , , , Leave a comment on Dry conditions lead some on North Coast to store water

Dry conditions lead some on North Coast to store water

Glenda Anderson, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Sales of water storage tanks have spiked on the North Coast as rural residents, already faced with declining wells, springs and reservoirs, brace for what could be another drought year.

“They’re hoarding water,” said Rich Hutchison, a plumbing and electrical buyer for Friedman’s home improvement stores.

Water storage tank sales increased by about 40 percent at Friedman’s stores in December, he said. The Ukiah store alone sold 20 tanks in December, a 50 percent increase from the same time last year, Hutchison said.

via Dry conditions lead some on North Coast to store water | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Water, WildlifeTags , , , , Leave a comment on Public Meeting on 15-Year Russian River Plan

Public Meeting on 15-Year Russian River Plan

SONOMA COUNTY WATER AGENCY
A 15-year blueprint to help restore endangered and threatened fish to the Russian River watershed, while maintaining the region’s primary water supply, is the subject of an upcoming meeting. On Friday, January 17th the Public Policy Facilitating Committee (PPFC) will meet for an annual update on the Russian River Biological Opinion (meeting details below).
The Biological Opinion was released by National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in September 2008. This 15-year plan requires the Sonoma County Water Agency (Water Agency) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to modify Russian River water supply and flood control operations to prevent harm to endangered coho salmon and threatened steelhead trout. The PPFC – comprised of elected and appointed officials from public agencies throughout the region – meets annually to review progress.
“The Water Agency and its partners have made a lot of progress. Studies have revealed new information about how fish live in the Russian River estuary, the first mile of the six-mile Dry Creek Habitat Enhancement Project is well underway and in November, we released young coho into newly created habitat,” said PPFC Chairman Efren Carrillo, a Water Agency Director and a member of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. “It’s exciting to see the pieces coming together and this meeting is a chance to highlight the successes as well as understand the challenges moving forward.”
The Biological Opinion requirements include reducing minimum summertime flows in the Russian River and Dry Creek; changing the way the sandbar is breached at the estuary between May 15 and October 15; enhancing habitat in Dry Creek; and fish monitoring. Topics to be covered on January 17 include a review of a study on invertebrates that live in the estuary (a primary source of food for steelhead before they enter the ocean), the results of extensive fish surveys and the construction of large habitat enhancement projects in Dry Creek. The public will have an opportunity to comment.
Meeting Details
DATE: Friday, January 17
TIME: 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
LOCATION: Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Chambers, 575 Administration Drive, Santa Rosa
For additional information, please contact Pam Kuhn, (707) 547-1930 or pamela.kuhn@scwa.ca.gov. Learn more about the Russian River Biological Opinion at www.sonomacountywater.org/rrifr.

Posted on Categories WaterTags , , Leave a comment on Mendocino County declares drought emergency

Mendocino County declares drought emergency

Glenda Anderson, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Mendocino County Supervisors Tuesday unanimously declared a drought emergency, the first step in managing the county’s dwindling water supplies as rainfall continues to bypass the North Coast.

“It’s just really scary to see where we are with the water supply,” said Supervisor Carre Brown.

The emergency declaration includes creation of a committee to evaluate the drought’s effects on local water sources and draft a plan to lessen its impacts.

Wells are drying up and Lake Mendocino, a primary source of water in the Ukiah and Hopland valleys, is close to an all-time low following a year of record low rainfall. Just 7.67 inches of rain fell in the upper reaches of the Russian River last year.

via Mendocino County declares drought emergency | The Press Democrat.