Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Marine scientists are scrambling to determine the extent and cause of a disease that is killing starfish along the West Coast, including Sonoma County.
The affliction, called sea star wasting disease, has killed up to 95 percent of the stars in some tide pool populations ranging from southeast Alaska to Santa Barbara in a manner similar to scenes from a horror movie.
“They essentially melt in front of you,” said Pete Raimondi, chairman of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UC Santa Cruz’s Long Marine Lab.
via Wasting disease devastating starfish along Sonoma Coast | The Press Democrat.
The sea star wasting map is online at
David Herr, SONOMA COUNTY GAZETTE
Most people feel helpless when it comes to impacting the outcome of an event. Yet they DO have influence, and they CAN effect change. What it takes is having enough people to be heard – and solid information to gain respect..
We changed the outcome of a tree removal in my neighborhood by contacting people who had the power to stop the operation before long-term permanent damage occurred. In the process, we learned that laws and systems in place are not enough, and that oversight is essential to protect our environment from ignorance.
Our Back Yard
River Drive is a small neighborhood at Hacienda Bridge in Forestville. What we came to call the “Hacienda Timber Harvest,” without intervention, would have been a redwood clear-cut on two lots going down to the river on both sides of Hacienda Bridge. This brought many in our neighborhood and community together in outrage over what Clear View tree service was doing with a Cal Fire “exemption” permit and little oversight.
How did this happen?
How could a timber harvest occur along the banks of the Russian River, which has been designated critical habitat for three species of salmon? How could this be permitted when multiple agencies have spent millions of taxpayer dollars on studies alone to save the fish and their habitat?
Both lots were recently purchased by out-of-area owners…people who don’t live here, or intend to live here…and who appear to be ignorant of local environmental protections. Both have applications to raise these original summer cabins along the river using FEMA flood mitigation assistance funds. Both contacted Clear View tree service to remove a few trees they considered a fire hazard, and in their way of intended construction.
via People Power STOPS Forestville Timber Harvest.
Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A plan to reroute a popular bicycle trail around a proposed gas station and market on the western edge of Santa Rosa was criticized as not doing enough to protect bicyclists but was approved anyway Thursday by the city’s Planning Commission.
In a 5-1 vote, the commission signed off on plans to build the station, market and one-bedroom apartment along the Joe Rodota Trail at North Wright Road just south of the Fulton Road and Highway 12 intersection.
Most commissioners felt the developer had found a creative solution to the problem of possible conflicts with bicyclists by diverting them behind the station along an easement on the property.
But some bicycle advocates and Commissioner Vicki Duggan felt the project wasn’t doing enough to protect bicyclists along what is already a problematic portion of the trail linking Santa Rosa to Sebastopol.
via Santa Rosa gas station gets OK despite cyclists' objections | The Press Democrat.
Rachel Dovey, NORTH BAY BOHEMIAN
Nick Papadopoulos is a farmer now, but he has a professional background in conflict resolution. So, standing in a vegetable cooler on a Saturday night last March, surrounded by surplus produce that hadnt been sold, his mind began to wander.
"We had all this food that wasnt going to people," the general manager of Bloomfield Farms in Petaluma recalls. "Its edible and its grown for the purpose of feeding people, and we dont make any money when its wasted."
Later that week, he posted a message on Facebook advertising farmers market leftovers at a reduced price. That was the beginning of CropMobster.com, a social media hub addressing local farm waste and hunger—both issues hinging on a centralized, assembly-line food system that, according to Papadopoulos, is full of holes.
via Harvest Share | Dining | North Bay Bohemian.
Andrea Granahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The California State Grange Master, Bob McFarland, is in Sebastopol this week for the annual State Grange Convention. He was willing to discuss what is happening on the national level with the venerable agricultural organization.
Is the National Grange suing the California Grange?
Yes. The National Grange Master Ed Lutrell tried to kick me out, but the California Grange membership that had elected me refused to do so. Then Lutrell revoked California’s 143-year-old charter and tried to seize the bank accounts, offices and other assets, but a court injunction stopped him. So he is suing us, and the trial will come up in late spring I think.
Why would Lutrell do that?
He supports industrial agribusiness, while in California we support family sustainable farming. We took a stand against GMOs and he favors it, saying there is no difference. He has done the same thing to the Wyoming State Grange, revoked their charter and tried to seize their assets.
via 5 Questions for Bob McFarland, California's grange master.
Diane Peterson, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
North Bay chefs and growers have long been at the forefront of the movement to eat local, championing the return to the table of heirloom tomatoes and grass-fed beef.
Nowadays, the farmers are starting to grow grains like rye, farro and wheat as well, providing chefs with whole-grain, freshly milled flours for their breads and pasta.
“Grains are the logical next step,” said Debra Walton of Canvas Ranch in Two Rock. “Were really moving totally local, from vegetables and meat to grain and breads and beer.”
via Grains go local | The Press Democrat.
Alastair Bland, NORTH BAY BOHEMIAN
Pressure is growing in communities around the world against Veolia Transdev, the worldwide industrial solutions firm based in France, clouded in political and environmental controversy and currently the operator of Sonoma County’s public bus line.
But the 25-year contract that gives the France-based giant several million dollars each year to operate the Sonoma County Transit bus fleet will come to an end in mid-2014, and local activists aligned against the company due to its support of Israel’s presence in Palestine want the county to part ways with Veolia.
via Bus Stop | News | North Bay Bohemian.
Jeff Quackenbush, NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL
The county of Sonoma has slowed down the process for adopting new zoning rules designed to protect 3,200 miles of streams and rivers from development and agriculture along their banks.
Based on comments received about a proposed Riparian Corridor addition to the county Zoning Code (sonoma-county.org/prmd/docs/riparian_corridor/) that would consolidate existing land-use planning policy adopted in 2008 and as well as allow the incoming director of planning and building to help manage the process, county officials have postponed a Planning Commission workshop on the matter, originally set for Wednesday, as well as a hearing set for Nov. 7.
“We received a lot of comments and suggestions,” said Jennifer Barrett, deputy director of the county Permit & Resource Management Department, or PRMD. “We want to form a stakeholder group of interested parties and then go back to the commission.”
via County slows deliberation on stream setbacks – North Bay Business Journal – North San Francisco Bay Area, Sonoma, Marin, Napa counties – Archive.
Alicia Chang and Jason Dearen, USA TODAY
LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) — The oil production technique known as fracking is more widespread and frequently used in the offshore platforms and man-made islands near some of California’s most populous and famous coastal communities than state officials believed.
In waters off Long Beach, Seal Beach and Huntington Beach — some of the region’s most popular surfing strands and tourist attractions — oil companies have used fracking at least 203 times at six sites in the past two decades, according to interviews and drilling records obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request.
via Calif. finds more instances of offshore fracking.
Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Scientists looking for clues to the origins of life on Earth have discovered new life forms right here in Sonoma County that may shed light on how life evolved — and how it might be detected elsewhere in the universe.
A three-year study of alkaline ponds at The Cedars, a vast but remote serpentine area north of Cazadero, has uncovered microorganisms never before detected, existing in the kinds of harsh conditions believed to reflect those that first gave rise to life, scientists say.
Researchers hope studying these unique microbes and how they function may impart information about the biochemical reactions that imbued inorganic substances on early Earth with the spark of life.
via Remote Sonoma County landscape offers microscopic peek at life's beginnings | The Press Democrat.