State Senator Gloria Romero recently introduced Senate Bill 624 to remove serpentine as California's state rock due to the presence of carcinogenic asbestos in the rock. Romero and her staffers say asbestos—and by extension, serpentine—is a bona fide health hazard. The bill has received unanimous approval from the state Assembly’s Natural Resources Committee. But the bill does not mention the importance of serpentine to California's biodiversity. For instance, it has been estimated that serpentine-endemic plant species represent 10 percent of the California Floristic Province's endemics. If you think Senator Romero overlooks serpentine's important role in California natural history, let her know at DISTRICT 24 and also tell your own state representatives in the Assembly and Senate. (from Jake Sigg's Nature News)
On the map below you will see the network that we have worked on since January, widening to make some trails accessible and closing duplicate spurs or steep ascents when necessary to aid habitat restoration on the cuts. For the sake of clarity, the trails have been given names (which can be changed at a later date with more input) so that we can pinpoint areas when talking with one another. Any of you who have helped up here know that this has been a big challenge. On June 27 we had an AWESOME work party (above) with 18 volunteers, including our youngest volunteer Jack, 10; our oldest volunteer (to date) Doretta, 80+; and birthday woman Deidra, who treated us to homemade birthday cake and lemon-pear bubbly! We had enough people to split into three teams:
Team 1 watered, weeded, and mulched around the 110 native plants that were planted for Earth Day. Susan Miller, native-plant specialist, thinks that all but 10 of the plants have survived. These can use water through the summer. If interested in watering them periodically, or even once a month, please let me know. I'll set up a watering schedule and arrange for a 50-gallon drum of water up there.Team 2 cleared and widened the middle ridge trail where it joins the arroyo trail, which was completely closed in for a pretty long stretch with pampas grass, pine, and coyote bush. It is now open if you want to walk a loop and not go out and back.
You can buy a DVD of the documentary film Remembering Playland at the Beach from Playland-Not-at-the-Beach Museum, 10979 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito on weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Cost is $20. Or you can order it for $25 with a credit card by calling 510-232-4264, extension 24. The preview DVD sold at the Balboa cinema premiere did not include extras that are now in this full-length DVD.
When a doe crosses the road, her fawns will follow, so please slow down and be extra cautious, especially along Rosita Road, Sharp Park Road, and other areas where deer come down from the mountains to reach the creeks and delicious ornamental plants growing in our yards. Another way to protect the lovely creatures that share our environment is to keep dogs out of San Pedro Valley County Park, which is clearly posted "No Pets Allowed" precisely to protect wildlife. If you see a dog in the park, call the ranger at 650-355-8289.
John Maybury photo
Broad opposition to offshore drilling and support for smart ocean policy are part of California's Marine Life Protection Act, which expands its Marine Protected Area (MPA) system. In August 2009 the state Fish and Game Commission approved this network of protected areas for the north central coast, and is developing similar networks for the rest of the California coast. Resources:
OVERLAND TRAIL charters this classic Southern Pacific private car (above) for train trips up and down the scenic Central California coast (below). Roger Lagerquist photos
THE FRAGILE EDGE: DIVING AND OTHER ADVENTURES IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC
By Julia Whitty
Rangiroa, Funafuti, and Mo’orea are among Earth’s 330 coral atolls. From space they look like pearl necklaces whirled onto a cobalt blue sea. First formed around volcanic mountains, they became, as the great mounts wore down, chains of living coral surrounding shallow lagoons that can stretch more than 50 miles: 500-pound spotted eagle rays leap and somersault; bluefin tuna, marlin, and blackfin barracuda hunt their prey outside the thin circlet of isles, while within the glassy waters of the lagoon, rainbow-colored juvenile sea creatures swarm, flying fish glide in long, glittering flights, terns drop like arrowheads. On the windy side of an atoll, which might be as little as a football field in width and nine feet in height, 15-foot swells break in a continuous roar against a protective berm. Down from the atoll, a shelf slides thousands of feet into the utter darkness of the sea floor.
Mainland environmental issues deeply affect the much more fragile atolls: pollution, lack of fresh water, overpopulation. rising sea levels, more powerful storms. When surface-water temperatures climb or fall, polyps die and the dead reefs crumble. As hurricanes scour the atolls, people still tie themselves to coconut palms. In Whitty’s rich, humor-filled language, the creatures that live there become palpable. Fat little poi dogs learn to team up to catch fish in the lagoons, or starve. Each page is a festival of detail. “On the outer edge of Tiputa Pass, gray reef sharks … spend the daytime hours schooling. At about one hundred feet underwater, we find shoals of ten or twenty gray reef sharks drifting in close formation. At one hundred fifty feet, the shoals coalesce into squadrons. Below two hundred feet, they become curtains of shark drifting slowly in the bottleneck of the deep pass.” Whitty’s prose rivals Rachel Carson’s, or Annie Dillard’s, or Gary Snyder’s, with much of the storytelling talent of Barry Lopez. This is a blue jewel of a book, and you won’t put it down. I finished it and, sorry it was over, immediately began it again.JIM LECUYER
Florey's Books at 2120 Palmetto in Pacifica presents award-winning author A.R. Silverberry's new book Wyndano's Cloak. Discover the magic of Wyndano’s Cloak: Jen has settled into a peaceful life when a terrifying event awakens old fears of being homeless and alone, of a danger horrible enough to destroy her family and shatter her world forever. She is certain that Naryfel, a shadowy figure from her past, has returned and is concentrating the full force of her hate on Jen’s family. But how will she strike? A knife in the dark? An attack from her legions? Or with the dark arts and twisted creatures she commands with sinister cunning. Wyndano’s Cloak may be Jen’s only hope. If she can only trust that she has what it takes to use it. A tale of madness, friendship, and courage, Wyndano’s Cloak reveals the transformative power of love and forgiveness, and the terrible consequences of denying who you really are. Book trailer:
In Pacifica City Council chambers June 22, an informative, scripted, and controlled meeting was held on the proposed widening of Highway 1. The San Mateo County Transportation Authority (SMCTA) presented information on its long-standing plan to widen Highway 1 from four to six lanes between the Fassler/Rockaway Beach and Reina del Mar intersections.
The preferred alternative plans, according to SMCTA consulting engineers, actually widen to eight lanes at the Rockaway Beach intersection, including two turn lanes. Many alternatives were listed on one sheet of paper for the first time, and visual diagrams of various alternatives were papered on the walls of the room.
Estimated commute time saved in building this "parkway" is five to seven minutes. The term "freeway" was mistakenly used several times by the moderator, an accomplished public outreach consultant. It didn’t fit the script and a public official was heard to mutter from the back of the room, "It’s not a freeway!"
A key question from the audience (on a form read by the moderator—no town hall style here, thank you) asked about Pacifica City Council’s responsibility in the coming process: What is council's role and how will it influence the process? SMCTA’s Joe Hurley replied that it was "too early to ask that question" but ultimately said that no formal requirement of the council is needed.Public comment on the Calera Parkway Project closes July 22. Mail comments to SMCTA, P.O. Box 3006, San Carlos, CA 94070; fax to 650-508-7938; or email to firstname.lastname@example.org (put "SR1/Calera Parkway" in subject line).
During Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month in June, one nonprofit is renewing its effort to inform LGBT older adults in San Mateo County of a free resource that helps them stand proud and overcome prejudice. Family Service Agency of San Mateo County, a San Mateo-based nonprofit dedicated to transforming the lives of children, families and older adults, provides free peer counseling to LGBT older adults age 55-plus through its groundbreaking Senior Peer Counseling Program. Launched in 2008, the Senior Peer Counseling Program trains volunteers to provide free one-on-one and group peer counseling to older adults in the LGBT community who struggle with a unique set of challenges particular to their sexual orientation and gender identity. The program—which serves the LGBT community and other clients in English and also provides counseling in Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin and Tagalog—is on the cusp of renewing a one-year, $283,140 contract from San Mateo County’s Behavioral Health and Recovery Services Division to continue through June 2011. As such, the Senior Peer Counseling Program is seeking LGBT clients to benefit from the counseling, as well as volunteers to serve them.
Family Service is seeking volunteers age 50-plus who are caring individuals to serve as peer counselors for the program’s LGBT component. Volunteers will serve older adults living in San Mateo County, should have access to a reliable car, and should be willing to make a one-year commitment. Following volunteer training sessions, peer counseling takes place at a mutually agreeable location for the counselor and client. To volunteer, please contact Geri Lustenberg at 650-403-4300, x4389 or email@example.com.
To qualify to receive free counseling through Family Service’s Senior Peer Counseling Program, LGBT older adults must reside in San Mateo County and be 55 years or older. Both individual and group therapy sessions are available. Family Service Agency of San Mateo County is a private nonprofit organization that for 60 years has helped Peninsula children, families and older adults transform their lives through the provision of programs and services including: child development and education; supervised family visitation and exchange; older worker employment and training; support services for older adults; and family loans. Nearly 20,000 people in need are assisted annually. For more information, please call 650-403-4300 or visit http://www.familyserviceagency.org/
Caltrans Releases Final Environmental Review for Highway Project That Will Degrade Ancient Humboldt County Redwood Grove
Conservation Groups Vow Legal Challenge, Seek 100,000 Letters of Opposition
GARBERVILLE, Calif.— The California Department of Transportation has released the final Environmental Impact Report for a controversial highway-widening project that threatens to degrade the ancient redwood grove at Richardson Grove State Park and could change the rural character of Humboldt County. The Environmental Protection Information Center and the Center for Biological Diversity have vowed an all-out legal challenge of the project, and are seeking to have state and federal legislators pressure Caltrans to rescind the project.