A 50-year plan for the restoration of San Francisco Bay and other coastal wetlands was released Thursday by federal wildlife officials who call it the biggest effort to save tidal marshes outside the Florida Everglades.
The $1.24 billion plan for the Bay and a patchwork of tidal marshes in Northern and Central California calls for projects along 500 miles of the state’s 1,100-mile coastline, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service said.
The plan is the result of 15 years of research and provides recommendations meant to save 17 struggling species of plants and animals, including the endangered California clapper rail, a bird. The plan was previously approved by the service, which has spent years reviewing and getting public comment. Funding will come from a mix of federal state and private sources.
Since the Gold Rush era, 90 percent of tidal marshes in the San Francisco Bay have been lost to development and contamination.
Sonoma County’s startup public power agency is set to consider the purchase a portion of its electricity supply locally from the Geysers, the world’s largest complex of geothermal power plants located along the Sonoma and Lake County border, according to material presented to the agency’s governing board.
The contract with Calpine Energy Service would constitute approximately 10 percent of Sonoma Clean Power’s electricity through 2023, ramping up to 18 megawatts — 158,000 megawatt-hours annually — as the renewable energy-focused power provider increases its customer volume in the coming years. Houston-based Calpine operates 15 geothermal power plants at the Geysers, with a combined capacity of 725 megawatts.
The item does not disclose the wholesale pricing per megawatt-hour currently under discussion, but notes that agency staff are currently acting within an approved framework for negotiations that would set a ceiling for average retail rates that are equal to or below the anticipated 2014 average rate from Pacific Gas & Electric Co. — 9.72 cents per kilowatt-hour, or $972 per megawatt-hour.
Cotati became the first city in Sonoma County to voice an opinion on the concept of water fluoridation throughout the county at its City Council meeting on November 12.
After hearing presentations from proponents and opponents of fluoridation as well as a number of audience members, the council responded with a unanimous no vote at around 10:45 p.m.
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors is expected to take up this issue sometime in the spring of 2014, and thus far, the board has seemed in favor of fluoridation. Before the issue is actually voted on by the county board, representatives from the Sonoma County Dept. of Health Services will go to council meetings throughout Sonoma County extolling the virtues of fluoridation, while opponents will be at the same meetings trying to dispel their case.
I and my colleagues at the Pacific Institute have worked on California water issues for more than a quarter of a century. It is therefore no surprise that we get asked on a regular basis by friends, journalists and colleagues what we think about the efforts underway to resolve the problems of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and in particular, about the proposed massive tunnel project to divert water from the Sacramento River to the conveyance aqueducts south of the Delta.
The purpose of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan proposals, ostensibly, is to resolve the joint problems of 1. ensuring reliable water supplies south of the Delta, and 2. restoring the damaged ecosystems and fisheries damaged by the current design and operation of water infrastructure. These are supposed to be “co-equal” goals. Will the new proposals achieve this? I don’t know what to think, because I cannot get the critical information necessary to make an informed judgment. Here are some questions that should have been answered long ago:
Thirsty California may get a smidgen of rain this coming week, but it is not likely to change what, so far, has been the driest calendar year in recorded history.
No rain at all fell in San Francisco in October and only 3.95 inches has fallen since Jan. 1, the smallest amount of precipitation to date since record keeping began 164 years ago, according to the National Weather Service.
Things can still change, but the storm predicted to roll in Monday and Tuesday has already petered out, according to forecasters, who are expecting only sprinkles, if that.
"It’s absolutely dry," said Bob Benjamin, a National Weather Service forecaster. "We just went through October where there was no measurable precipitation in downtown San Francisco. That’s only happened seven times since records started."
Numerous constituents Wednesday urged Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael to rethink his opposition to a bill that would grant the California Coastal Commission the power to fine violators of the state’s Coastal Act.
Created by voter initiative in the 1970s, the commission’s mission is "to protect, conserve, restore, and enhance the environment of the California coastline."
Levine received the free advice during a public hearing that he convened "on protecting California’s coast," at the Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies in Tiburon. Before inviting public comments, Levine listened to presentations by three panels of experts. The panelists included Marin Supervisor Steve Kinsey, Coastal Commission executive director Charles Lester, leaders of environmental organizations who expressed admiration for the commission, and two lawyers who are currently involved in suits against the commission.
Environmentalists are claiming victory after federal fishery regulators on Sunday tightened fishing restrictions amid evidence the sardine population is in steep decline.
The 7-6 vote brought unusual drama to a meeting of the Pacific Fishery Management Council, which met over the weekend in Costa Mesa. California and Washington officials led the charge to set 2014 sardine fishing limits at the lowest level in a generation.
"This decline is fairly rapid," said Geoff Shester, California program director for Monterey-based Oceana. "A lot of people have started to compare it to the sardine collapse of the 50s and 60s."
Jeremy White, CAPITOL ALERT
Barring a sweeping policy change or the introduction of new technology, California will fall short of its goals to drastically curtail greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, according to a new report from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
The good news is that California remains on pace to cut emissions to their 1990 level by 2020, a goal set out in a 2005 executive order issued by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. But the subsequent goal of thinning greenhouse-gas trapping emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 currently appears to be out of reach.
via Capitol Alert: California won’t meet 2050 emissions goals, report says E.U. For a more technical discussion, see this article.
Quietly, without fanfare or fireworks, a land-use issue was resolved this past month in Santa Rosa.
You probably didn’t hear about it because it didn’t involve protests or lawsuits or contentious hearings before the City Council. It was settled with reasonable discussions among sensible adults looking to find a solution that would work for both sides and, more importantly, for all residents of Santa Rosa.
We want to share that good news.
At issue is the community connector bridge across Highway 101, a project that has been planned for several years to provide a safe way for people to cross the freeway without using their cars. The bridge would create a new connection between Santa Rosa’s east and west sides, between Santa Rosa Junior College and Coddingtown, between northeast Santa Rosa and the SMART train station in the northwest on Guerneville Road.
For the past almost 40 years, Forestville has fought one development plan after another on downtown property that runs along Front Street in the heart of downtown. Now, with the support of Sonoma County’s Agricultural Preservation & Open Space District, the Forestville Planning Association, and a local investment group that includes the Bartolomei family, and a Yes vote from the Board of Supervisors, Forestville finally gets a plan everyone can live with.
Eight and one half acres of land will now be approximately 50% park and preserved wetlands with native habitat, and 50% developed land for mixed-use commerce. The land will also accommodate Sonoma County Regional Park’s trailhead to the West County Trail directly running into Forestville’s downtown. That a real boon to the parks, users of the trail, and downtown businesses.