Posted on Categories WaterTags , ,

Sense of Place: Petaluma River once considered a creek

Arthur Dawson, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The Petaluma River flows from its headwaters on Sonoma Mountain, past the city of Petaluma and out to San Pablo Bay. With a watershed smaller than that of neighboring Sonoma Creek, it was called Petaluma Creek up until about 1960, though most of it is actually a tidal slough.

River, creek, slough … What’s the difference?

Sonoma Creek’s flow typically exceeds that of the Petaluma River, sometimes by a wide margin. During the 2006 New Year’s flood, the Petaluma River was running at 9,600 cubic feet a second while Sonoma Creek hit 20,000 cubic feet a second (the Missouri River, a hundred miles below its headwaters, only occasionally tops that). In fact, some 19th-century mapmakers labeled the stream the “Sonoma River.” During a winter storm, it easily earns the title, though in the summer it sometimes dries up in places.

In the United States, a creek is “normally smaller than and often tributary to a river.” Originally a British term for “a narrow sheltered waterway, especially an inlet in a shoreline or a channel in a marsh,” its meaning changed over time. As settlement progressed inland above saltwater and tides, the word followed and was applied to freshwater channels, too.

Around San Francisco Bay, sloughs are tidal channels where salt and freshwater mix (elsewhere they can be freshwater side channels). At low tide that brackish water flows “downstream” into the Bay, but when the tide comes in, the flow reverses and goes “upstream.” Our sloughs are similar to British “creeks.”

So how did Petaluma Creek become the Petaluma River? As Newt Dal Poggetto, a lifelong county resident described it: “It was Petaluma Creek until Clem Miller got it named a river.” After being elected to the House of Representatives in 1959, Miller “found out that if you could change the name of a creek to a river, you qualified for the Army Corps of Engineers budget. Spending money! So he got Congress to change the name, which qualified it to get federal funding for dredging and building levees.”

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/9174338-181/sense-of-place-petaluma-river

Posted on Categories Habitats, WildlifeTags , , ,

Petaluma Wetlands added to international conservation list

Matt Brown, PETALUMA ARGUS-COURIER

The Mekong River Delta, the Great Barrier Reef, the Amazon Rain Forest, and now the Petaluma Wetlands, all share an important distinction. They are sites included in an international list of critical wetlands worth protecting.

Petaluma wildlife advocates received notice last month that the Petaluma Wetlands are included as Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance, a designation from the Switzerland-based International Union for Conservation of Nature. The official designation means the Petaluma Wetlands are joining the 400,000-acre San Francisco Bay Estuary, which was awarded international status in 2013.

The Ramsar designation, named after the Iranian city that held the international Convention on Wetlands in 1971, doesn’t include additional funding, but is helpful in securing grants for wildlife conservation, said Susan Kirks, president of the Madrone Audubon Society.

“This is a significant recognition for the sensitive wetlands habitat, birds and wildlife of the Petaluma Wetlands,” she said.

The Petaluma Wetlands include Alman Marsh Tidal Wetlands, Shollenberger Park Wetlands, Ellis Creek Wetlands, Gray’s Marsh Wetland and Hill Property Tidal Marsh, all environmentally sensitive spots along the Petaluma River that are home to a diversity of species, including the salt marsh harvest mouse, river otter and an array of birds.

Read more at http://www.petaluma360.com/news/8191606-181/petaluma-wetlands-added-to-international

Posted on Categories Air, Land Use, WaterTags ,

Water regulator to deny Dutra permit

Matt Brown, PETALUMA ARGUS-COURIER

In its letter to the company, the water board said that Dutra did not properly study alternative sites for the asphalt plant.
“After review of the Alternatives Analysis, we have determined that the Applicant has not yet demonstrated that the proposed Project constitutes the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative,” the board wrote in the letter. “As such, the Alternatives Analysis is inadequate.”

A regional water regulator intends to deny a permit for the Dutra Group, dealing a serious setback to the company’s contentious plans to build an asphalt plant along the Petaluma River just south of the city.
The San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board sent a letter on Nov. 1 telling the company that its application is incomplete.
“We’ve told them of our intention to deny their permit,” said Fred Hetzel, an environmental scientist who is working on the Dutra permit for the water board. “(The denial) will come within the month.”
The water board permit is a key approval that the company needs before it can start construction on the long planned asphalt plant on 38 acres of land at Haystack Landing. The company also needs permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bay Area Air Quality District and California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Read more at: Water regulator to deny Dutra permit

Posted on Categories Local Organizations, Sonoma Coast, Sustainable LivingTags , , , , , , ,

California Coastal Cleanup Day coming Saturday, needs volunteers in Sonoma County

Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Sonoma Coast Cleanup 2017: sonomabeachcleanup.org
Laguna de Santa Rosa and Sebastopol Laguna Wetlands Preserve 2017: lagunadesantarosa.org/volunteer_lagunastewards.html
Petaluma River Cleanup 2017: friendsofthepetalumariver.org/project/conserve
Russian River Watershed Cleanup 2017: russianrivercleanup.org
Santa Rosa Creek-to-Coast Cleanup: srcity.org/2290/Creek-to-Coast-Cleanup
Mendocino County Coastal Cleanup Day: mendocinolandtrust.org/connect/coastal-cleanup-day
Sonoma Ecology Center Cleanup 2017: brownpapertickets.com/event/3042967

Do you find yourself dismayed or even tormented by images of seabirds, marine mammals, fish and other sealife with their guts full of plastic and other trash?
Here’s your chance to help, and it only takes a few hours.
Saturday marks the 33rd annual California Coastal Cleanup Day, an opportunity to rise to the defense of the ocean and its inhabitants by removing litter from local beaches and watersheds before winter rains and storm surges can sweep it out to sea.
Dozens of sites around the North Coast, both inland and at the ocean’s edge, are among more than 870 locations chosen statewide for volunteer cleanup crews to go to work on Saturday.
Locally, they include state and county beaches along the Sonoma Coast, from Jenner to Bodega Bay, as well as public beaches up and down the Mendocino Coast.But in growing recognition of the volume of discarded litter that washes coastward from rivers and streams, dozens of inland cleanups are planned, as well. Targeted waterways include the Russian River from Ukiah to Monte Rio, the Petaluma River, Santa Rosa Creek, the Laguna de Santa Rosa and several Sonoma-area parks and preserves.
“Ideally, this is the day everybody gives back to clean waterways,” Russian Riverkeeper Executive Director Don McEnhill said.
Read more at: California Coastal Cleanup Day coming Saturday, needs volunteers in Sonoma County | The Press Democrat –

Posted on Categories Sustainable Living, Water, WildlifeTags , , Leave a comment on Annual Petaluma River fall trash cleanup September 20

Annual Petaluma River fall trash cleanup September 20

SONOMA RESOURCE CONSERVATION DISTRICT
Saturday, September 20th 9am to noon
Join the Sonoma Resource Conservation District and the Friends of the Petaluma River in our Annual Petaluma River Fall Trash Cleanup starting in Downtown Historic Petaluma. The event coincides with the 30th Annual Coastal Cleanup Day, a national effort where thousands of participants gather locally to keep our coasts and inland waterways free of debris.
"Solving our water pollution problems requires everyone’s involvement" (California Coastal Commission, 2013). Our focus is to strengthen the ways in which we can help restore and protect the Petaluma River Watershed for years to come.
In 2012, Sonoma County COASTWEEKS combined cleanup’s collected approximately 10,487 pounds of garbage and 727 pounds of recyclables. The Petaluma River Cleanup in 2013, pulled a total of 1,010 pounds of trash and recyclables from the river and tributaries.
We hope to see you out on the river at this remarkable community event to enhance and protect our watershed!


9:00 a.m. – noon Trash Cleanup
Noon – 2 p.m. Enjoy food and browse informational tables from community partners
Meet at 260 H North Water Street Petaluma, CA.
For more information contact Christine at 707-569-1448 x114 or ckuehn@sonomarcd.org.
Or, see News & Events | Sonoma Resource Conservation District.

Posted on Categories TransportationTags , , Leave a comment on Building a better bridge in Petaluma

Building a better bridge in Petaluma

Matt Brown, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Standing atop a column that will soon support a new bridge over the Petaluma River, Jeffrey Kress reached up, touched the underside of the existing span and felt the vibrations of thousands of motorists zipping along Highway 101 unaware of the work taking place just a few feet below the road.

Constructing a major bridge in the exact footprint of an existing one without disrupting road, rail or river traffic is a highly complicated dance, one that Kress, a senior bridge engineer at Caltrans, and his colleagues have been choreographing for months.

They are overseeing efforts to swap out the 60-year-old twin two-lane spans over the river with a modern, six-lane, $130 million bridge.

via Building a better bridge in Petaluma | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Land UseTags , , Leave a comment on Critics of Petaluma asphalt plant proposal seek rehearing

Critics of Petaluma asphalt plant proposal seek rehearing

Matt Brown, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The city of Petaluma and a coalition of environmental groups Monday asked a three-judge panel to rehear its appeal challenging Sonoma County’s approval of the Dutra Materials asphalt plant along the Petaluma River just south of city limits.

In a unanimous ruling last month, the 1st District Court of Appeal in San Francisco affirmed the 2011 judgment of Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Rene Chouteau, who found the county’s air quality analysis of the project was adequate and that open meeting laws had been followed.

The plaintiffs contend that the appeals court did not properly rule on the environmental and procedural questions.

via Critics of Petaluma asphalt plant proposal seek rehearing | The Press Democrat.