Marina Earth Day Held April 11 at Locke-Paddon Park
By Natalie Zayas Delgado & Steve Zmak
This annual event, the largest Earth Day event in Monterey County, always draws a great crowd of families wanting to learn more about conservation, and an outpouring of community service.
This event is unique in that volunteers sign up for service projects to clean and beautify the park. For their service they receive a free lunch—an amazing vegetarian stir-fry provided and cooked by the Marina Rotary. The Earth Day Committee provided fresh, locally grown, organic fruits, such as mandarin oranges and strawberries. Everyone's Harvest Farmer's Markets works with local farmers and the sponsorships for the event help pay for the fruit.
There were eight service projects that included invasive weed removal, watering the oak woodland, repairing wind fences around the new oaks, adding new native plants, colorfully painting garbage cans and park benches, litter removal, placing mulch, and gardening at the Dunes Project.
More than 200 volunteers registered in advance, with an additional 50+ volunteers showing up that morning. Live bands jam throughout the work party surrounded by 30 booths from educational, conservation and civic groups. Ventana Chapter Executive Committee members Rita Dalessio and Mary Gale staffed the Sierra Club table that included games and coloring for the kids, hiking guides for the adults, and they handed out 150 reusable bags with the Sierra Club logo. Event organizers estimate that more than 300 reusable bags were handed out at this event by various groups. This is important as Marina's Bag Ordinance went into effect on March 19th.
The Chuck Haugen Conservation Fund provided reusable dishes and wash stations so the event was zero waste. The Monterey Regional Waste Management District provided trash, recycle and compost containers.
Organizers of this event were: Citizens for Sustainable Marina, Return of the Natives, Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District, Central Coast Cert., Marina Rotary, and Monterey Regional Waste Management District.
Sponsors of the event were: Sierra Club Ventana Chapter, The City of Marina, Green Waste Recovery, Marina Grange, Chuck Haugen Conservation Fund, Friends of the Marina Library, Marina Rotary, Aplus Water, Coffee Mia, Monterey Regional Waste Management District, Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District, Return of the Natives, Everyone’s Harvest Farmer’s Markets, Calvary Baptist Church, T. A. Ledesma Builders, and Central Coast Cert.
Public Officials Vote to Oppose Local Crude Oil Train
Monterey County Board of supervisors voted April 7 to oppose the Santa Maria Phillips 66 rail spur project, which could bring mile-long oil trains carrying 2.5 million gallons of Canadian tar sands crude nearly every day from San Francisco through Monterey County to San Luis Obispo County. The Board directed County staff to write a letter to the county officials in San Luis Obispo opposing the Phillips 66 project.
With a 40-fold increase in crude-by-rail since 2008, derailments and spills have also been on a steep rise. In 2013 more crude oil was spilled from trains than in the previous four decades combined, and in 2014 there were more oil train accidents than in any other year on record.
In voting to oppose the Santa Maria Phillips 66 rail spur, Monterey County joins cities and counties all along the rail route that have passed resolutions and sent letters against the project, including San Jose, Davis, Berkeley, Oakland, Moorpark, Oxnard, Camarillo, Alameda County, Santa Cruz County and Ventura County.
Sierra Club at the National, State and Ventana Chapter level oppose this project and have submitted oral and written comments including the attached PDF regarding the deficiencies in the Revised Draft Environmental Impact Report (RDEIR). Overall, we believe that RDEIR hides serious pollution, climate pollution and chemical safety hazards from the public and its own workers and the Project should not be approved at this time. (PDF letter to San Luis Obispo County here).
Coho Salmon Return to Santa Cruz County
Roughly one hundred coho salmon returned to spawn in Santa Cruz County's Scott Creek this past December. This was the best return of coho in years. The hatchery on this creek maintains a Coho Captive Brood Stock Program, one of two in California. The other is on the Russian River. Captive adult salmon rearing is a last ditch effort to stave off extinction. The program is, in concept, similar to the Condor Recovery Project.
Heavy rains in December of 2014 opened the sand bar blocking the entrance to Scott Creek and allowed returning adult salmon to leave the ocean and enter the stream to spawn. Coho must spawn by January (or February, in their southern range of the Santa Cruz Mountains) or they pass beyond the widow of time in their life cycle and die before being able to spawn.
Apparently a combination of factors led to this December's encouraging spawning numbers. These numbers are still quite low historically, but nevertheless very encouraging for a stream and a region that have seen repeated spawning failures over the past near decade. Good ocean conditions were available to these young fish as they went to sea from the hatchery and creek in the spring of 2013. Stronger genetics were apparently produced in the captive Scott Creek fish by the introduction of DNA from a fish native to the Russian River. In other words, it seems that stronger genetics, good ocean conditions and good weather led to a revival of hope for coho salmon.
The hatchery and captive brood stock process is very complex and dangerous. Adult salmon survive poorly in captivity and their genetics are damaged by repeated inbreeding in a hatchery process that does not allow natural selection to take place. But coho are in a dire condition and their survival as a species across much of California now depends upon human intervention.
Wild spawning coho salmon are spectacular animals that turn bright red and can look like gleaming copper in the stream. We have severely damaged their chances for survival, primarily because of water diversion and intensive land use. But this winter has provided us with a glint of hope for their continued existence in California. Coho and "silver salmon" are the same animal. They once existed in huge numbers and were a major food source for both Native Americans and later for post 1860 California.
Financial Settlement Reached in Lawsuit between Monterey Bay Shores Resort and Lender
This month, Ed Ghandour, owner of the 39-acre Sand City parcel proposed for a massive resort/condo and his creditors, New York-based Fourth Third LLC reached agreement in court in Monterey ending the threat of potential foreclosure. This agreement concludes the limited receivership of the property put into action last year and returns control to Ghandour who says he will focus on completing the Coastal Development Permit (CDP) process provisionally granted by the California Coastal Commission last April.
This project has been contested by the Sierra Club since it was first proposed in 1998. The development would put a 1.3 million square foot, 368 unit hotel and condominium complex with underground parking spaces for nearly 1,000 cars into the fragile dune landscape of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.... [more]
Mark Stone Appointed to Assembly Committees
Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins has reappointed Central Coast Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay) to serve as the Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Coastal Protection, and has appointed him to serve as the Chair of the newly-convened Assembly Select Committee Expanding Access to California's Natural Resources.
The Select Committee on Coastal Protection will carry forward the public conversation about ways to address a variety of potential threats to California's coast. The Select Committee on Expanding Access to California's Natural Resources will explore issues related to fulfilling the state's vision for clean air, clean water, and open spaces for all Californians.
State statute defines environmental justice as the fair treatment of people of all races, cultures, and incomes with respect to the development, adoption, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. The Committee will have the opportunity to discuss ways of guaranteeing access to coastal and natural resources for low-income communities, ensuring equitable access to outdoor and environmental education to low-income students, and developing meaningful environmental policy processes from within underserved communities.
Sierra Club Condemns State Injection Well Practices, Calls for Investigation
Sierra Club at all levels, National, State and Ventana Chapter continue the fight against fracking in California. This week the Associated Press reported that more than 2,500 injection wells that put federally protected aquifers at risk in California have been permitted by the Division of Oil Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR), a California State agency under the Department of Conservation responsible for permitting oil and gas extraction. Nearly half of those—or 1,172—have been permitted in the last four years.
The oil industry uses injection wells to dispose of liquid waste created in the process of drilling for oil and to dispose of waste water produced during the long term production of oil from existing wells. The injections are convenient for oil companies because drilling and production can bring up as much as 13 gallons of wastewater for every gallon of petroleum. One of the easiest disposal methods is to deposit that wastewater back underground. Shallow well injection into ground water supplies is included in this unsafe process.
This waste includes a soup of chemicals used in fracking and other well stimulation techniques, as well as contaminated water pulled up from underground during drilling. State records show that this practice can introduce toxic levels of contaminants that can ruin water supplies for drinking or watering crops and livestock.
These permits have been issued despite growing warnings from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) since 2011 that state regulators were out of compliance with federal laws meant to protect underground drinking-water stores from oilfield contamination. State and federal agencies are reviewing the permit process and DOGGR has until 2017 to actually stop injection into aquifers that USEPA has not designated for waste disposal.
Sierra Club CA Director of Sierra Club California issued this response to the news:
It's time for an outside investigation into DOGGR's practices. While USEPA's calling for a plan to stop injecting into sensitive aquifers is commendable, that's not enough. It's time for the U.S. Attorney's office to investigate how and why this permitting continued even after the federal agency warnings."
Plastic Bag Ban Threatened by the Plastic Industry Trade
Senate Bill 270, calling for a ban on the use of handled plastic bags in grocery stores, food marts and convenience stores, was signed last September by California Governor Jerry Brown. This ban, long supported by Sierra Club required an eight year effort to get passed and goes into effect this summer for grocery stores and in the summer of 2016 for convenience stores. Its immediate effect will be that soon shoppers will be encouraged even more than before to use re-useable bags. To celebrate the implementation of the bag ban, Ventana Chapter has ordered hundreds of cotton canvas bags to distribute to members and the community to replace plastic bags.
The bill's long-term effect will be reduced trash along roadways and in cities, a drop in plastic pollution in waterways and oceans and one less everyday product that encourages ours to be a throwaway culture.
Sounds great, right? Yes, but unfortunately, there is opposition from the plastic bag industry which raised hundreds of thousands of signatures to seek to overturn the new law through referendum on the 2016 ballot. This petition was pushed by the American Progressive Bag Alliance, a group that's part of the plastics industry trade association called SPI. Both groups are based in Washington, DC. Both groups represent plastic bag manufacturers based outside of California who are apparently offended by Californians' desire to live in a place that is not polluted with plastic bags.
Remember, this bill establishing the plastic bag ban was not created on a whim. It was the result of many years of work and had been preceded by other ban bills that failed. The bill had also been preceded by adoption of local plastic bag bans in more than 100 California cities.
So now we have a situation that we have seen before in California. State lawmakers create policies that protect the environment and have broad support. Then out-of-state special interests move in and try to stop the policies from taking hold.
The plastics makers who want to kill the ban bill have turned in more than the 500,000 signatures required for qualifying on the ballot. The results of the validity of the signatures will be announced in a few weeks. (Source: Sierra Club CA)
30 hikers joined Chapter Outings leader, Anneliese Suter in this photo from a trek up to Snively's Ridge in Garland Ranch on New Year's Day. Rewards included coffee and cake (Kaffee und Kuchen) with whipped cream at Anneliese's home.
( Photographer: Clay Ramsay from Washington D.C.)
An exhibit of Carmel area artists' artwork depicting the Carmel River Watershed now on display at the Garland Ranch Visitor Center. (Photograph: Rita Dalessio).
Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District Park Art Exhibit Opens at Garland Ranch Visitor Center
An opening reception for local artists' renderings of the Carmel River watershed opened on January 10 showcasing 2-dimentional media depicting plants and animal life in and on the water. This juried show is a must see for anyone interested in the riparian corridor of the River which connects several MPRPD parks from the inland upper reaches of Cachagua Community Park heading down stream connecting Kahn Ranch running westward through Dampierre Park. The River continues, reaching Garland Ranch Regional Park and Palo Corona Regional Park overlooking the Carmel Lagoon where the River spills into the Pacific Ocean.
The Garland Ranch Regional Visitor Center in Carmel Valley is a destination that provides an opportunity to experience the Carmel River Watershed and serves as a gateway to exploring your parks and open spaces. The art exhibit will run through June 25, 2015. For more information and hours please call MPRPD at 831-372-3196 or visit: www.mprpd.org (Source: MPRPD staff).
Senator Bill Monning to serve as the California State Senate Majority Leader
Central Coast Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel) was appointed to serve as the California State Senate Majority Leader by Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León. This position will allow Monning to work in the leadership of the California State Senate in political matters and strategy.
California Coastal Commission Votes to Schedule Collections Resort Appeal Hearing in 2015
Sand City beachfront site of proposed Collections resort/condo project showing undeveloped dune habitat. (Photograph: California Coastal Records Project).
Ventana Chapter won a victory at the California Coastal Commission (CCC) meeting on December 12 when the Commissioners voted unanimously to schedule a hearing on the Appeal filed by the Chapter and 2 Commissioners, Mary Shallenberger and Chair Steve Kinsey on the Sand City approval of the Collections resort/condo project. The Commissioners agreed with staff that the City’s action raises a substantial issue regarding the City-approved project’s compliance with the policies and standards of the Local Coastal Plan (LCP) and the Coastal Act.
Sierra Club attorney, Larry Silver filed an appeal last December with the CCC over approval by the City of the Collections project planned for 26 acres in the highly erodible dunes west of Highway 1 between Tioga Avenue and the north end of the Edgewater Shopping Center. Currently, about 8 acres are used for construction materials handling and storage and owned by the Applicant, King Ventures. The remaining 18 acres is undeveloped dune habitat and is owned by the City of Sand City as 2 lots, the McDonald site (16.25 acres) and Granite site (2.31 acres)... [more]
Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District to Purchase 860 Acres
Carmel Valley artist, Paola Berthoin gives a painting demonstration for Chapter members at her studio and garden which has been certified as National Wildlife Federation Certified Habitat. Ms. Berthoin has spent years creating stunning artwork and a book entitled
The Monterey County Board of Supervisors began reviewing state hydraulic fracturing regulations at their September 23 Board Workshop. The Supervisors, County Staff, and about 100 members of the public heard a presentation by the California Department of Conservation's sub-agency the Department of Oil Gas and Geothermal Resources or DOGGR.
The agency's presentation described, in brief, the structure of a deep hydraulic fracturing well and horizontal bores. They showed maps estimating the extent of the Monterey Shale formation in California, and described the tortured logic of the regulatory process set off by the adoption of CA Senate Bill 4 (SB4, from the 2013 state legislative session). With one slide DOGGR attempted to address how Monterey County's landscape could be changed by a new oil "play" or boom. The photo came from North Dakota where the massive Bakken Shale oil and gas play is taking place in an agricultural landscape. The Bakken Shale play can be seen from space. At night North Dakota looks like it has a massive new city. This is because so much natural gas is being flared off. Flaring is a cheap disposal method for getting rid of gas when there is no infrastructure to capture and ship it. Oil is the primary driver of the Bakken Shale play. This shocking waste of fossil fuels is one of the common side effects of petroleum and gas booms... [more]
On August 29, California Coastal Commission (CCC) staff sent a letter alerting developer Ed Ghandour that materials submitted by his corporation to address requirements for the conditional Coastal Development Permit (CDP) for the Monterey Bay Shores Resort are deficient and need to be revised. Specifically, the letter lists deficiencies in several areas including an outdated topo map (1995) of the project site, an incoherent set of working plans, a lack of visual simulations for public view shed, lighting and signage as well as other necessary details and illustrations for the prior to issuance (PTI) notice.
Additionally and of primary importance to Sierra Club, the plans submitted do not adequately address specific provisions that enhance sensitive species habitats including Smith’s blue butterfly and Western snowy plover habitats. Snowy plovers, a federally-threatened species have been nesting on the project site for many years and could be wiped out by the development. Ventana Chapter has been following this development proposal since 1998 and we have submitted extensive testimony intended to protect endangered species at this location.
By Kevin Collins
The USA is now the planet's largest producer of both crude oil and natural gas having surpassed both Saudi Arabia and Russia. This fact has been reported in both Bloomberg News and by the International Energy Agency. You may not have noticed any changes. Gasoline prices haven't fallen. There were no shouts of joy except perhaps in corporate boardrooms and maybe in bars where drilling rig workers relax after a day on the well pad. There was barely a peep out of the oil industry. These increases are accounted for by expanded Fracking in many states, especially North Dakota and Texas but also in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Colorado, California, Florida, about 20 states in all.
At the same time, global warming has become an indisputable fact, except on Fox News, and among politicians who prefer to invent their own alternative reality, funded by the fossil fuel industries. There is a strange splitting of issues taking place. Two very conflicting pieces of information run along, magically separated from each other in public discourse.
Retail gasoline prices didn't fall in part because oil is an internationally traded commodity and the big players are multi-national corporations that sell oil across international borders. There is now pressure to export this newly produced natural gas and oil from the USA to international markets. Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Terminals are the most controversial because of the huge safety risks presented for anyone living or working near those ports and facilities that would receive, pressurize and load that gas into LNG tanker ships.
The Keystone XL pipeline is still looming. It would transport the most polluting (tar sands) oil on earth from Alberta Canada to New Orleans to be exported as refined products to international markets by sea.
Most of you will remember all the theatrical handwringing over the past forty years about the oil imports the USA needed to purchase from the Middle East and how this was supposed to imperil our national security. Of course we still buy oil from Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Persian Gulf. The USA still uses more oil than it produces! Oil continues to be imported because the American appetite for crude is so immense. The USA now consumes 18,886,000 barrels of crude per day. That's nearly 800,000,000 gallons per day. That crude, once refined into gasoline and other products is being converted into an awful lot of carbon dioxide. The numbers for natural gas and coal are equally alarming.
How do we unite these two separate stories, on the one hand, expanded oil and gas production and consumption, and on the other, the world hurling itself into the coming catastrophe of flooded coastal cites, climate refugees, disrupted agriculture, famine and ecosystem collapse?
Well magically, in Western Europe, they have been building a renewable energy economy. We simply don't hear about that here in the United States... [more]
By Kevin Collins
Roughly a year ago the Santa Cruz County staff responsibility for Timber Harvest Plan Review was moved from the County Department of Environmental Health to the Planning Department.
Unfortunately all of the institutional memory and knowledge about this crucial County responsibility has been lost from the Planning Department through retirements and staff resignations. It has been many years since the Planning Department was involved in logging permit review.
Fully 25% of the entire land area of Santa Cruz County is zoned for Timber Production. This includes an area from the ocean to the Santa Clara County line totaling 111 square miles of mountain terrain. The most valuable and sought after lumber is of course from redwood trees. But Douglas fir are also cut here and it is common for timber logging to be followed on the same parcel by the cutting and sale of hardwood trees, primarily for firewood sales.
During the peak of logging activity in Santa Cruz County in the 1990s, roughly 3000 acres a year were being logged annually. Logging here is, by state law, limited to "selection." The rules allow for 60% of all conifer trees 18 inches in diameter and larger to be felled every 14 years. There is also a 10 year "re-entry" rule. A 50% limit applies to the cutting of conifer trees from 12 to 18 inches in diameter. Other rules apply to streamside areas. There is no clear limit on the felling of hardwood trees such as oak and madrone... [more]
On April 10, on the second day of a 9 hour hearing, the California Coastal Commission gave conditional approval to the proposed Monterey Bay Shores Resort in Sand City. This project has been contested by the Sierra Club since it was first proposed in 1998 (Sierra Club litigation timeline PDF here). The development would put a 1.3 million square foot, 368 unit hotel and condominium complex with underground parking spaces for nearly 1,000 cars into the fragile dune landscape of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Nearly 700,000 cubic yards of dune sand or 73% of the habitat would be disturbed by bulldozers and trucks. The site is wedged in between a State Park and a Regional Park as well as nearby to another proposed hotel site. The Commission has twice before denied this project a Coastal Development Permit. However after a complex series of lawsuits, the Commission, under pressure from the Attorney General's office, decided to grant the permit with conditions.
The proposed building site is within the highly unstable Monterey dune ecosystem and it harbors three federally listed endangered species, the Pacific coast population of the Western Snowy Plover, the Smith's Blue Butterfly and the Monterey Spineflower. An April 7th letter from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (PDF letter here) states that about one third of the site is within designated critical habitat for the Western Snowy Plover. The Service calculates that the project will result in 88% of the habitat being disturbed above the high tide line and 38% being permanently destroyed by construction. This habitat degradation may constitute harm to the species if there is loss to coastal plover populations and may result in a "Take" as defined under Section 3 (19) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The plover currently nests in the sand, both on the beach and in the dune areas of the proposed site. A tiny beach bird, it weighs less than 2 ounces. Once the eggs hatch, the chicks, unable to fly for a month, soon begin to wander the beach feeding off insects under the watchful eyes of their parents. Plover chicks often feed at the high water debris line, called the "wrack line" near the edge of the extent of high tide waves. As Snowy Plovers are so small, they cannot protect their chicks from this massive increase in the presence of humans, pets, vehicles and human-activity attracted predators that will access the beach from this new development. A hotel/condo project with hundreds of guests and year-round residents sited directly within plover critical habitat is a major problem for this rare species. There are only about 2,200 of these birds left in all of coastal California.
The torturous lengthy hearing was taken up by back and forth arguments between the developer, his attorney, and the Commission. These discussions centered on the conditions the Commission staff had recommended be placed upon the permit. These "conditions" ranged between limits upon night lighting and windows (that lead to bird strike kills) to a contentions argument about how to build foundations that are expected to be undermined by shoreline erosion and sea level rise.
In other words this hotel/condo proposal is expected to be eventually washed away by the Pacific Ocean and the Coastal Commission staff did not want to recommend approval of a permit that would leave behind concrete foundations buried in the beach. One condition requires that parts of the hotel/condo project be removed once breaking waves come within a short distance of the hotel. (See Coastal Engineer Dr. Thornton's erosion analysis PDF here).
The developer has proposed his own plan to protect habitat for wildlife and rare plants; however experts engaged by the Sierra Club disputed the practicality and effectiveness of the developer's plan. We regard this plan as a smoke screen meant primarily to confuse the issues. It is clear to us that this hotel/condo project will be very destructive to wildlife and rare plants. Structures that are expected to be washed away should not be built in the first place. Sierra Club will continue our efforts to protect wildlife and stop this project from being built.
Western snowy plovers are challenging to photograph. First, they're federally listed as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act with dwindling rare habitat so just finding them is the first hurdle. Second, they are easily confused with the more plentiful sanderlings that do not have the black head markings. Third, they're small, well camouflaged, and very fast. Once I spot one or a group, I have to get down on my stomach and crawl very slowly towards them. I do this when they aren't looking at me. When they do turn and look at me, that’s when I click. Then move and little closer; click. Move a little closer; click click click, but careful not to disturb them. They're very sensitive to intruders such as humans and dogs when they're nesting March through September. I found 3 on the beach less than 2 weeks ago where the proposed Ghandour 39-acre Monterey Shores Resort would remove more of the western snowy plover's habitat, so don’t wait too long to view them there. You can also ignore the "No Trespassing" signs posted on the gate at the base of Sand City's biggest dune. The Coastal Commission ruled them to be illegally posted some years ago.
Ventana Chapter member Steve Zmak is a commercial advertising and fine art photographer based in Marina, California available for assignments, projects and workshops: .
Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity and Audubon have drafted comments for the upcoming hearing at the California Coastal Commission scheduled for April 9, 10 and 11. Chapter members will be attending the hearing and speaking on our behalf.
This massive development will occur on beachfront land currently undeveloped and used by the western snowy plover, a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act. Due to significant concerns with the Project detailed in our attached comments (PDF here | See also comments from Peter R. Baye Ph.D.), these groups urge the Commission to deny Project approval because the Commission has failed to meet its obligations under CEQA by not analyzing all Project impacts on the plover, including increased public access to western snowy plover habitat, beach erosion, sea level rise and cumulative impacts from neighboring property. The Commission has also failed to adopt all feasible mitigation measures for the Project and the Project, as currently proposed, will result in the likely "take" of the threatened western snowy plover, an important coastal resource... [more]
On Friday March 14, the FORA (Fort Ord Reuse Authority) Board vote on Consistency with the Monterey County 2010 General Plan which the Sierra Club opposed was DENIED, a victory for environmental protections. The FORA Board voted 6-6 to adopt the FORA staff Resolution Attachment A, Consistency Determination between the General Plan and the Fort Ord Reuse Plan. When a vote results in a tie, the vote fails so the Consistency Determination failed.
We opposed this "determination of consistency" and believe that the FORA Board should require that the County amend the 2010 General Plan to be consistent with the 1997 Reuse Plan for several reasons we outlined in our letter by attorney Thomas N. Lippe (PDF attached). County staff must now create redline draft revisions, verify CEQA requirements are met, hold a Board of Supervisors hearing and then back to FORA for a vote of consistency. The Chapter will be monitoring this closely.
Sierra Club wishes to thank FORA Board members Supervisor Lou Calcagno, Supervisor Jane Parker, Marina City Council member Frank O'Connell, Marina City Council member Gail Morton, Carmel City Council member Victoria Beach and Monterey City Council member Nancy Selfridge for their votes on behalf of environmental protection at Fort Ord.
Stunning Carmel Valley and Wilderness views from a recent Chapter hike on the Manzanita Trail at Kahn Ranch. Hikers can reserve a free access permit on line at the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District website: http://www.mprpd.org/index.cfm/
Everyone is asking, "Where’s our beautiful yellow pollen that announces the spring courtship of the Monterey pines?" Yes, the candles are showing, but the sap flow is weak right now. Yet, new cones will be growing soon, and many plants, animals and birds are arriving for the warmth and sun. Indian soap plants are sending their wavy, thin leaves out into the pathways, and the Fremont star lilies are also re-appearing. The fuchsia-flowered gooseberries are greening up, and white-tailed deer, not often seen in the Park over the last several years, are rummaging through the new, green shoots, ignoring the dried grasses from last year. The small seed-eaters, like the nuthatches and chickadees, flit through the oak and pine undergrowth. Poison oak is still sporting its deceptive winter sticks, but a few early leaves are a stunning, innocent, bright green.
At the western kiosk, a beautiful array of pictures cover the bulletin board next to the map, welcoming visitors with images of the most popular Monterey pine forest inhabitants. The rear of the kiosk now presents specific information and pictures of the Monterey pine forest. Chapter leader Mary Pendlay and three student volunteers from the CSUMB Service Learning Institute have created new public outreach media, which include the bulletin boards for the kiosk; a 12 page color booklet about the Park, Monterey pine forest and history, soon to be published; and an educational power point presentation for middle and high school science students about the pine forest and its habitat. Many thanks to CSUMB students Elizabeth Lambert, Michael Layne and Katie Hart for their hard work and excellent projects, and to Laura Lee Lienk for her support through her "Environmental Interpretation" course. The Friends of Jacks Peak Park (FJPP) and the local community continually look for ways to celebrate the unique nature of Jacks Peak Park and the means to share it. Please join the docents every second Saturday of the month at 11 a.m. for a leisurely one hour tour through the largest, native, contiguous stand of Monterey pines in the world.
(See Monterey County Parks for more information)
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is currently soliciting comments to conduct studies of the potential environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and other oil drilling activities in central California for the 284,000 acres of public land under the jurisdiction of the Hollister Field Office. The resulting Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will evaluate the effects and risks of fracking in the Monterey Shale, an area stretching from Santa Cruz to Ventura Counties. BLM is also seeking statewide science review of potential oil and gas drilling impacts on the environment and geology of California, including the potential seismic impacts of drilling in a state that is constantly subjected to earthquakes.
The decision to conduct EIS review comes after a federal judge gave a victory to a Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) lawsuit which challenged BLM's decision to auction off about 2,500 acres to oil companies. The Court found that BLM had violated the National Environmental Policy Act or NEPA; that they were using out of date environmental assessment and that the new drilling techniques warranted updated studies. The EIS process is likely to take about two years.
Attached are the Chapter's comments emphasizing the potential negative effects fracking will have on the environment and our dwindling water supplies. (PDF here)
Ventana Chapter has retained San Francisco attorney Thomas N. Lippe to represent the Chapter in its challenge to recent events at the Fort Ord Reuse Authority (FORA) Board that could weaken the environmental protections we included in the Fort Ord Reuse Plan by way of our 1998 Settlement Agreement, known as Chapter 8 of the Master Resolution.
The Chapter has been working to protect the environment at Fort Ord since the Fort Ord Reuse Authority was established in 1994. In 1997, the Club filed a lawsuit challenging FORA's adoption of the Fort Ord Reuse Plan and the Environmental Impact Report for the Reuse Plan. The Club and FORA settled that case by FORA agreeing to adopt a "Master Resolution" governing FORA's certification of the local general plans adopted by the City of Marina, the City of Seaside, and Monterey County. The Master Resolution includes a mandatory requirement (in Master Resolution section 8.02.010), that FORA disapprove the "consistency" of any local general plan that meets any of six specified criteria.
The Sierra Club is concerned because, in drafting its new General Plan, Monterey County altered or omitted many important, mandatory policies and programs of the Base Reuse Plan that are essential for protecting the environment. These alterations and omissions fundamentally change the County's legal obligations when it reviews future development entitlements, because the changes transform mandatory requirements of the Reuse Plan into discretionary decisions by the County.
Currently, the FORA Board, based upon legal advice from its outside counsel, is poised to adopt an interpretation of Master Resolution section 8.02.010 that will severely weaken environmental protection at Fort Ord. This interpretation is designed to allow the Board to approve the consistency of the Monterey County General Plan with the Fort Ord Reuse Plan when it is anything but "consistent." The attached letter from the Chapter's legal counsel, Thomas N. Lippe explains these complex issues in more detail. (PDF here)
Ventana Chapter's attorney, Larry Silver has filed an appeal with the California Coastal Commission over the approval by the Sand City City Council of the The Collection at Monterey Bay resort planned for 26 acres in the dunes west of Highway 1. As proposed, the 340 unit resort is to be constructed in two phases: the first phase will include 105 time share units and the second phase will include a 235-unit hotel with a restaurant, conference center and wellness spa. There will be over 600 parking spaces.
The appeal says that the project as approved is inconsistent with the City's certified Local Coastal Program (LCP) policies including those related to hazard avoidance, protection of public views and natural resources, public access and adequacy of public services (traffic). The FEIR is inadequate and does not address protection of Seacliff buckwheat or Western snowy plover at the site. The project does not avoid and minimize significant impacts to important public views of the Pacific Ocean and the Monterey Peninsula. And the FEIR does not adequately address traffic access and shoreline hazards at the site.
Furthermore, the development is not sited to ensure safety and dune stability over its economic lifetime as required by the City's LCP. Portions of the project would be threatened by coastal erosion over time and the FEIR does not address this high risk scenario. Also, the FEIR does not discuss the effects on public access of re-routing the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail to accommodate this project.
California Coastal Commission Chair Steven Kinsey and Commissioner Mary Shallenberger have also filed an appeal of the Collection proposed development to the CCC. They argue that "the approved project is inconsistent with provisions of Sand City's certified Local Coastal Program with respect to hazards, natural visual resources, development and public access, and is also inconsistent with the public access and recreation policies of the Coastal Act."
Chapter hikes are a great way to learn about the world around us. Members here are looking at a Painted Lady butterfly held by lepidopterist/ornithologist Chris Tenney on a hike in Soberanes Canyon led Lynn Bomberger shown right.
(Photographer: Mary Conway).
Sand City City Council will hold a public hearing on the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) for a proposed development, Collection at Monterey Bay on 26 acres in the dunes west of Highway 1 on December 17. King Ventures of San Luis Obispo has plans for a 340 unit resort to be constructed in two phases: the first phase will include 105 time share units and the second phase will include a 235-unit hotel with a restaurant, conference center and wellness spa. There will be over 600 parking spaces.
Ventana Chapter retained attorney Larry Silver of the California Environmental Law Project and coastal ecologist Dr. Peter Baye to provide comments. Our position is to request the City to deny the Project a Coastal Development permit (CDP) and not to certify the FEIR... [more]
By Rita Dalessio
Ventana Chapter will be working to protect the federally listed threatened Pacific Coast western snowy plover as plans are developed for a sustainable Monterey Peninsula desalination plant.
Proposals for a new Regional Water Project for Monterey Peninsula are currently undergoing review by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and other agencies. Next steps could be a search for a suitable location for desalination test wells along the coast. Under consideration is a portion of the Cemex sand mining property in Marina... [more]
For over 22 years the Ventana Chapter has been litigating on behalf of the public trust resources of the Carmel River. We have been represented by attorney Larry Silver, and consulted with hydrologist and fishery biologist Dr. John Williams.
Following years of futile negotiations, in March 1991, Sierra Club filed a complaint with the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) protesting California American Water's (CAW) continued over drafting of the Carmel River. Our complaint alleged that CAW's pumping from the Carmel River's subsurface flow was without lawful right and that its water diversions threatened the survivability of the local steelhead population (Oncorhychus mykiss). During twelve days of hearings by SWRCB, Sierra Club presented scientific evidence that CAW's diversions were unlawful and that CAW was producing water from the Carmel River alluvium without a permit from SWRCB. Sierra Club also showed that these practices were damaging the public trust resources of the Carmel River... [more]
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Much of the work of the Club consists of non-glamorous, roll-up-your-sleeves labor. Volunteers study EIRs and make comments; activists get government staff reports and keep tabs on proposed developments and policy changes; sometimes the Club files suit.
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