Posted on Categories Habitats, WildlifeTags , , ,

Sonoma Valley zoologist seeks creative ways to save mountain lions — and the planet

Austin Murphy, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The day after a young male mountain lion made national news by paying a visit to the Santa Rosa Plaza in April, Quinton Martins ventured a guess as to why the feline ended up at the mall.

“Maybe he was going to the Apple Store to upgrade his Sierra,” deadpanned Martins, a big cat expert with a doctorate in zoology, a robust sense of humor and some unconventional ideas about how best to save the planet.

He followed that one-liner with a slew of scientific analysis. But the quip was vintage Martins, whose public relations instincts are as sharp as his tranquilizer darts. He is the South African-born founder of Glen Ellen’s Living With Lions, a project he leads for Audubon Canyon Ranch. One of his missions is to educate landowners, to show them that it’s better to coexist with apex predators than it is to shoot them.

With the help of volunteers and veterinarians on his team, Martins traps the big cats and collars them, allowing the public to monitor their movements and, in a way, get to know them. Not everyone is on board with this marketing-based approach.

“He’s told us many times he wants his animals to be media stars,” said Greg Martinelli, lands program manager for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “There’s a difference between science and advocacy.” With Martins, he thinks, “those lines are a little blurred.”

Martins, for his part, makes no apologies for his unorthodox approach.

“Obviously we need to keep doing science,” he said. “But we have enough scientific information to know that the environment is in a desperate state, and something drastic needs to be done.”

The man who seeks nothing less than to overhaul and defibrillate the conservation movement grew up in Welkom, South Africa, which he describes as “a crappy gold-mining town” 90 miles northeast of Bloemfontein. His happiest hours were spent outdoors, camping and fishing with his father.

“We used to go to some pretty cool, wild places, to go fishing,” Martins said. “I remember the connection to nature, just sitting quietly, enjoying that peace.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/9652183-181/sonoma-valley-zoologist-seeks-creative

Posted on Categories Forests, HabitatsTags , ,

Save the Redwoods League releases book on state of redwood forests on 100th anniversary

Meg McConahey, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

… California’s state tree is not out of the woods. More than a million acres of redwood forests remain unprotected, managed for timber. And even the protected forests’ health is threatened by the degraded land surrounding them, Hodder said. Some forests have been logged multiple times. Among the league’s current initiatives is to help existing forests regenerate, a difficult task considering the complexity of the old growth ecosystems that developed over millennia.

They are among the most awe-inspiring natural wonders of the world. As Mother Nature’s skyscrapers, redwoods are among the tallest living things on the planet — the most gargantuan approaching 400 feet. And although not the oldest — the bristlecone pine has a longer lifespan by a good measure — the most senior denizens of the redwood forests were alive during the lifetime of Julius Caesar.

Today, less than five percent of the original 2.2 million acres of coast redwood forests, which once covered the Northern California and Southern Oregon coast for more than 200 million years, still survive.

It took a scant 150 years for loggers and then major timber companies to fell California’s primeval forests. But one organization, the Save the Redwoods League, can be credited with helping to preserve what was left of these titans that had flourished since the days of the dinosaurs.

The conservation organization, which claims credit for helping to preserve 212,000 acres of coast redwoods and their cousins, the giant sequoias that inhabit the western slope of the Sierra, is celebrating its centennial, and marking the event with publication of a new book, “The Once and Future Forest: California’s Iconic Redwoods.”

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/lifestyle/9162305-181/save-the-redwoods-league-releases

 

 

 

 

Posted on Categories Land Use, WildlifeTags , , ,

SDC study recommends confining development to existing campus

Chris Lee, KENWOOD PRESS

For more information about the site: Transform SDC

A conceptual plan for the future of the Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC) proposes large portions be designated for wildlife corridors and natural areas, with any new development confined to the existing central campus. This outline was presented at a June 23 “community workshop,” hosted by the consulting firm Wallace Roberts & Todd (WRT), authors of a pending 3,000-page “Existing Conditions Report,” to offer a preview of its findings. Some 200 people attended.

The material that was presented focused primarily on the results of surveys and community outreach about the 860-acre campus, and an inventory of campus land and buildings. Notably, the land use proposal was presented as a recommendation from the consulting firm, not merely an expression of public opinion. “This is a framework for how we think the conversation should move forward,” WRT Principal Jim Stickley said.

The community input that informed the study was more direct. “A large hotel or resort would be seen as a failure,” said Tania Carlone, a facilitator for Consensus Building Institute, a subcontractor of WRT. “The general feeling was that there is a saturation of luxury homes, of tourism. Folks were consistently concerned that the development in the core campus could encroach on the open space.”

Supervisor Susan Gorin agreed that the community wants open space and parks. “This is who we are and this is what we value and believe in,” she said. Economist Walter Kieser of Economic & Planning Systems, another WRT expert, cautioned that the county’s housing shortage and low residential vacancy rate could create pressure to explore other options. “You see tension between uses that have a lot of market potential and uses that have a lot of community value,” he said. In the subsequent question and answer session, local resident Scott Braun was explicit about the possibility of a big development. “Anyone who thinks there aren’t plans out there is living in a fool’s paradise.”

Commissioned by the state, the $2 million WRT study began 14 months ago but was interrupted by the October fires. Completion is expected in July or August. As part of the study, 65 community members were interviewed. From this input, consultants identified five community priorities: protection of SDC land and water, preservation of a legacy of care, community character and historical preservation, contribution to economic diversity and viability of Sonoma Valley, and a focus on community benefit.

Read more at http://www.kenwoodpress.com/pub/a/10018?full=1

Posted on Categories Forests, Habitats, Water, WildlifeTags , , ,

The trail blazers: local eco-pioneers lead the way

Jonah Raskin, THE SONOMA VALLEY SUN

Last October’s firestorms stunned Sonoma Valley citizens, though once the smoke cleared and embers were extinguished, families and friends ventured out to see the spectacle of blooming flowers and green trees.
Richard Dale, the executive director for 26 years at the Sonoma Ecology Center (SEC), said that the disaster brought about “heightened interest in the environment.” Some of that concern, he added, was “about the need to prevent future fires” and some was “amazement at the natural world.”

In light of our recent fires, and droughts and floods, it might be useful to remember that the pioneers who crossed the plains, forded rivers and scaled mountains were the opposite of conservationists. In fact, they made a continental-sized mess by slashing forests, exhausting soils, polluting waters, exterminating Indians tribes and decimating wild life.

Read more at http://sonomasun.com/2018/06/21/the-trail-blazers-local-eco-pioneers-lead-the-way/

Posted on Categories Agriculture/Food System, Habitats, Land Use, WildlifeTags , , ,

Granting of Point Reyes ranch long-term leases halted in lawsuit settlement

Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Granting long-term leases to the two dozen ranching families that have raised cattle for generations at Point Reyes National Seashore would be halted under a proposed court settlement announced Wednesday to resolve a lawsuit brought last year by three environmental groups.
The tentative deal, which involves the groups and the National Park Service, manager of the 71,000-acre seashore on the Marin County coast, requires park managers to study impacts on the environment from decades of ranching and opens up the possibility that grazing dairy and beef cattle could be curtailed or ended.
Both the ranchers and environmental groups claimed victory in the settlement of a closely watched case, seen as having wider implications for management of federal land.
“This is what we asked for in the lawsuit,” said Deborah Moskowitz, president of the Resource Renewal Institute, one of the environmental groups. “It’s good news.”
Dairy rancher Jarrod Mendoza said the settlement was “a temporary win” for ranchers, who would get five-year leases.
Ranchers have been operating on one-year leases and Mendoza, a fourth-generation rancher, said he was “hopeful” that 20-year terms would ultimately be allowed. Mendoza, who milks about 200 cows a day at his ranch, said he hopes to continue in agriculture for the rest of his life.
Moskowitz and Mendoza acknowledged the settlement does not address the question of whether cattle can coexist with wilderness on a scenic peninsula inhabited by tule elk, eagles, black-tailed deer and bobcats.“I think those questions will be answered in the general management plan,” Mendoza said, referring to a park planning update required by the settlement,
Read more at: Granting of Point Reyes ranch long-term leases halted in lawsuit settlement | The Press Democrat

Posted on Categories Habitats, Land UseTags , , ,

Berryessa Snow Mountain on President Trump's list of monuments up for review

Matthew Daly, ASSOCIATED PRESS
The Interior Department has identified 27 national monuments, predominantly in Western states, to review for possible changes to the protections created over the past two decades. Here are the six in California.

Berryessa Snow Mountain, designated in 2015, 330,780 acres
Carrizo Plain, designated in 2001, 204,107 acres
Giant Sequoia, designated in 2000, 327,760 acres
Mojave Trails, designated in 2016, 1,600,000 acres
Sand to Snow, designated in 2016, 154,000 acres
San Gabriel Mountains, designated in 2014, 346,177 acres
Source: Interior Department

The Interior Department on Friday identified 27 national monuments, mostly in Western states, that it is reviewing for possible changes to the protections created by Republican and Democratic presidents over the past two decades.
The list includes the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument that President Barack Obama established in 2015 to add protection for federal land in Napa, Yolo, Solano, Lake, Colusa, Glenn and Mendocino counties. It does not include Obama’s 2014 addition of the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands in Mendocino County to the California Coastal National Monument.
President Donald Trump ordered the review last month, saying protections imposed by his three immediate predecessors amounted to “a massive federal land grab” that “should never have happened.
”The list released Friday includes 22 monuments on federal land in 11, mostly Western states, including Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah, Nevada’s Basin and Range and Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine.
The review also targets five marine monuments in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, including a huge reserve in Hawaii established in 2006 by President George W. Bush and expanded last year by President Barack Obama.
Read more at: Berryessa Snow Mountain on President Trump’s list of monuments up for review | The Press Democrat

Posted on Categories Land UseTags , , , , ,

Santa Rosa meadow up for sale by Sonoma County over neighbors’ objections 

J.D. Morris, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
At the end of Beverly Way, a small and secluded street in northeastern Santa Rosa, lies the entrance to a grassy meadow beloved by local residents who for decades have wandered through the open field and among the massive oak trees beyond.
Visitors to the Sonoma County-owned land are welcomed by a prominent sign just beyond the street that declares the property part of the surrounding Paulin Creek Open Space Preserve, a more than 40-acre swath of land situated south of the former county hospital complex and above the Hillcrest neighborhood near Franklin Park.
But the meadow’s inclusion in a forthcoming county land deal — the sale of 82 acres to a local developer whose plans include hundreds of new housing units — has neighbors alarmed that the county is, perhaps unwittingly, turning over the field to housing construction.
A 16-foot banner recently staked down by Beverly Way neighbors speaks to that concern.“The county is selling our meadow to an apartment developer,” it proclaims, encouraging like-minded individuals to help prevent “the destruction of our preserve.”
Read more at: Santa Rosa meadow up for sale by Sonoma County over neighbors’ objections | The Press Democrat

Posted on Categories Land Use, WildlifeTags , , , ,

Public open space outside Santa Rosa grows with deal for Mark West Creek land

Derek Moore, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Generations of kids and other nature lovers will continue to enjoy outdoor experiences at a Mark West Creek ranch northeast of Santa Rosa under a new conservation deal that maintains public access to the property in perpetuity.
More broadly, open space advocates say preservation of the 124-acre Rancho Mark West builds upon a legacy of protecting land from development in the sensitive environmental area while offering the public more opportunities to engage with nature a short distance away from Santa Rosa.
“We hope to be able to walk people from Santa Rosa to Rancho Mark West to spend the night. That would be a pretty incredible opportunity,” said Craig Anderson, executive director of the nonprofit group LandPaths.
LandPaths will continue to operate In Our Own Backyard, Owl Camp and other popular outdoor programs for kids at the St. Helena Road ranch under an updated conservation easement that protects public access to the site.
Read more: Public open space outside Santa Rosa grows with | The Press Democrat

Posted on Categories Agriculture/Food System, Sonoma Coast, WildlifeTags , , ,

Conservationist Zeke Grader, advocate for fish, dies

Steve Rubenstein, SFGATE
Zeke Grader, a lifelong conservationist who loved wild fish, wild rivers and the good fight necessary to protect them, has died. He was 68.
“You would probably not be eating a wild California salmon today if it were not for Zeke,” said his friend Tim Sloane, the executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. “He was not afraid of speaking truth to power. He wasn’t afraid of anyone.”
Mr. Grader, 68, died Monday night of pancreatic cancer at a San Francisco hospice.
From 1976 until this summer, Mr. Grader held the executive director position for the federation, the largest trade group of commercial fishermen on the West Coast. He represented commercial fishermen in their efforts to keep streams and rivers flowing, the San Francisco Bay healthy, and wild salmon and other native fish plentiful and viable.
In the constant battle over California water, Mr. Grader frequently fought with agricultural and commercial interests that he believed were laying claim to more than their fair share.
He worked on such projects as dismantling dams, protecting habitat, assisting out-of-work fishermen and maintaining critical water flows. He took on timber harvesters, suction dredge miners and petroleum polluters.
“You cannot overstate how much he accomplished in legislation and policy,” Sloane said. “There would be no commercial salmon industry in California if not for his efforts.
”Former Monterey congressman and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta praised Mr. Grader for his “critical leadership in the fight for strong stewardship of our ocean resources. … His common sense, his total devotion to those he represents and his commitment to getting the job done have given all of us courage and inspiration.
”His friend and fellow conservationist Patricia Schifferle said Mr. Grader “wasn’t afraid to take on big agriculture and industry to protect our resources.”
“Because of him, we have protections in San Francisco Bay and in our estuaries,” said Schifferle, the director of Pacific Advocates in Truckee. “He was fair-minded when he came to the table. But he was not afraid of a fight. He was a man who stood up for fish.”
A lawyer by training who wound up making the king salmon his primary client, Mr. Grader was a short, blond, stocky man who loved good food, scally caps, vintage cars and strolls on Northern California beaches with family, friends or his beloved cocker spaniel, Emily.
He spoke plainly and bluntly, and one friend said Mr. Grader had an unparalleled “BS detector.” His favorite food was salmon, although, Sloane said, he would settle for petrale sole.
He put in long hours, and his friends knew that he was often too busy working to be bothered. If you wanted to be sure to catch Mr. Grader on the phone, Sloane said, you had to call him around sunrise, when his workday started.
Mr. Grader, the son of a fish broker, was a native of Fort Bragg in Mendocino County. He spent much of his childhood on the Fort Bragg docks, helping fishermen unload their catches. He was a graduate of Sonoma State University and the University of San Francisco School of Law and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.
A wild fish was worth saving, Mr. Grader believed, not just for the fisherman who caught it but for its own sake, as part of the natural order.“
I think part of it is standing your ground, saying what you mean,” Mr. Grader said to a friend not long before he died, in describing his way of representing fish and fishermen. “Don’t mince your words. Know what you’re talking about. Stay firm. Don’t back down.”
He is survived by his wife, Sausalito attorney Lois Prentice. At his request, there will be no funeral. Plans for a memorial service are pending.
Source: Conservationist Zeke Grader, advocate for fish, dies – SFGate