GOOD NEWS

Los Angeles Times: Santa Cruz County Still doing A (Relatively) Good job of flattening the curve!


Environment America: House passes climate-forward transportation bill, July 1

“The U.S. House passed the “Moving Forward Act”, a sweeping $1.5 trillion infrastructure package that will rebuild and modernize American in several key areas. H.R. 2 and the INVEST Act will protect public health and the environment. The House’s long-term transportation spending plan, the INVEST Act, was included as part of the package. This legislation reorients highway funding to prioritize maintenance and safety, and increases investment in electric vehicles, public transportation, biking and walking.” More HERE.


Elfin-Woods Warbler Protected

Following litigation brought by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today designated critical habitat for the elfin-woods warbler, Setophaga angelae. This small, black-and-white bird, found only in Puerto Rico, has lost a significant amount of habitat to urban and agricultural development. Today’s measure designates 27,488 acres in El Yunque National Forest land on the island. “The designation is a great step in the right direction for protecting Puerto Rico’s magnificent forests, which are home to this tiny bird,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This beautiful little warbler needs a buffer against the increasing intense storms that plow through the island.”


YES! Magazine: The Hopeful Work of Turning Appalachia’s Mountaintop Coal Mines Into Farms

“On a surface-mine-turned-farm in Mingo County, West Virginia, former coal miner Wilburn Jude plunks down three objects on the bed of his work truck: a piece of coal, a sponge, and a peach. He’s been tasked with bringing in items that represent his life’s past, present, and future. “This is my heritage right here,” he says, picking up the coal. Since the time of his Irish immigrant great-grandfathers, all the males in his family have been miners.
“Right now I’m a sponge,” he says, pointing to the next object, “learning up here on this job, in school, everywhere, and doing the best I can to change everything around me.” Read more HERE.


EcoWatch: California Passes World’s First Clean Trucks Rule. Jun. 26

The state of California made history June 26 when it passed a clean truck rule that E&E News reported was the first of its kind in the world. The Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT) Regulation, passed unanimously by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), will require more than half of trucks sold in the state be zero-emission by 2035 and 100 percent by 2045. “California is once again leading the nation in the fight to make our air cleaner,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. More info HERE.


Wild Salmon Center: Oregon Forest Reform Bill Passes!

“On June 26, the Oregon Legislature passed new forestry reforms and directed the state to set up a mediation process for comprehensive protections for salmon streams on non-federal forests. Your emails to legislators helped push this bill over the finish line! The legislation sets up bigger buffers from aerial pesticide spray around homes, schools, and many small streams. It will start a first-in-the-nation system to allow people to get notified when aerial spray of forestlands happens near their homes. And it requires larger stream buffers on many salmon streams in the Rogue-Siskiyou region. Please send legislators a quick note of thanks HERE!


Zero Emission Electric School Bus Program

In partnership with Monterey Bay Air Resources District (MBARD), Monterey Bay Community Power’s (MBARD) latest energy program is designed to fund 100% of the costs to replace at least six traditional school buses with electric buses. MBCP dedicated $1.2 million in funding to add to MBARD’s existing electric school bus program. MBCP and MBARD share a goal of improving air quality and this powerful partnership reduces local greenhouse gas emissions for an annual program total of 120 MTCO2e, the equivalent of over 132,000 lbs. of coal burned each year by replacing six traditional school buses with electric buses.
The Zero Emission School Bus Program helps ensure your school district has the opportunity to provide clean running electric transportation for our students in the community. More info HERE.


Center For Biological Diversity: Gila River Saved From Water Project on June 18

After a battle of 15 years, a proposal to divert water from the Gila River for irrigation in southwestern New Mexico has been defeated. The proposal would have been devasting to the Gila, a stronghold for endangered species and one of the last intact rivers in New Mexico. Center cofounder Todd Schulke said, “This decision bodes well for all the wildlife and the riverside forest that make the Gila so beloved by many of us.” Read MORE.


Pocket: Spiders are a natural and healthy part of your home’s ecosystem.

Should I kill spiders in my home? An Entomologist explains why not to.
“I know it may be hard to convince you, but let me try: Don’t kill the next spider you see in your home. Why? Because spiders are an important part of nature and our indoor ecosystem – as well as being fellow organisms in their own right. Some species even enjoy the great indoors, where they happily live out their lives and make more spiders. These arachnids are usually secretive, and almost all you meet are neither aggressive nor dangerous. And they may be providing services like eating pests – some even eat other spiders. Read more HERE.


Earthjustice, June 16: THE BADGER-TWO MEDICINE AREA – Too Sacred To Drill

“VICTORY! On June 16, 2020, a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., rejected a Louisiana company’s bid to keep its oil and gas drilling lease in Montana’s Badger-Two Medicine region, adjacent to Glacier National Park. The decision settles a decades-long fight to protect lands and waters sacred to the Blackfeet and critical for wildlife habitat. For the Blackfeet, who have lost so much over the past few centuries, the Badger-Two Medicine area remains one of the last strongholds of the Tribe’s values. The landscape is a critical part of the oral history, creation stories, and ceremonies of the Blackfeet people. For centuries, they have used these mountains and forests to hunt elk and other game, gather plants, collect lodge poles, and search for supernatural powers. Today, many Tribal members travel to the Badger-Two Medicine area for prayer and vision quests.” Learn more HERE.


The Guardian, June 18: World’s Largest Liquid Air Battery Will Help the UK Go Carbon Neutral

Construction is beginning on the world’s largest liquid air battery, which will store renewable electricity and reduce carbon emissions from fossil-fuel power plants. Spare green energy will be used to compress air into a liquid and store it. When demand is higher, the liquid air is released back into a gas, powering a turbine that puts the green energy back into the grid. A big expansion of wind and solar energy is vital to tackle the climate emergency but they are not always available. Storage is therefore key and the new project will be the largest in the world outside of pumped hydro schemes, which require a mountain reservoir to store water. The CryoBattery works by using electricity to cool and compress air, turning it into liquid and storing it in industrial sized containers. It then feeds the liquid through a turbine, turning it back into electricity and pumping it back into the grid when it is needed. More HERE.


Homeless Garden Project Farm Stand Re-Opens, Tues. – Sun., 10 am – 4 pm

After a couple months of online farm stand sales, we are excited to be re-opening the farm stand for walk-up sales!Come on by the farm anytime between 10am and 4pm on Tuesday-Sunday to get fresh produce straight from our fields, including our delicious strawberries! We will be accepting cash and credit/debit cards. We are maintaining numerous social distancing protocols at the farm. In recognition of Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, HGP staff will be matching each dollar spent at the Farm Stand this weekend with a donation to Black Lives Matter. INFO.


Optimist Daily, June 17: Innovative tree growing method sees tiny urban forests pop up across Europe

Planting more forests around the globe is definitely a good approach to help reduce the risk of climate change, but it can take decades before trees can grow to their full potential and significantly benefit the environment. Using an innovative approach towards growing forests, people around Europe are working on speeding up this process by planting tiny, dense, and fast-growing forests in their urban and suburban areas, all in a bid to promote biodiversity and help fight the climate crisis. Often sited in schoolyards or alongside roads, the forests can be as small as a tennis court. They are based on the work of the Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki, who has planted more than 1,000 such forests in Japan, Malaysia, and elsewhere. More INFO.


EWG: California Assembly Bill 2762: The Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act

California law on cosmetic safety mirrors the inadequate federal law. It does not give state regulators enough authority to ensure that cosmetics sold to Californians are safe. What authority the law does provide to regulators is rarely used. When state agencies investigate harmful cosmetics, the results are limited and the products often remain on the market. Winding it’s way through the legislature, AB 2762, the Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act, will explicitly prohibit the use of the 12 of the most harmful chemicals and contaminants in cosmetics today. These “Toxic Twelve” ingredients include mercury, three types of formaldehyde, some of the most toxic parabens and phthalates, and the fluorinated compounds known as PFAS.


Audubon: Court Shuts Down Interior’s Second Illegal Land Deal in Alaska

“A federal District Court decision released on June 1 resoundingly shut down the Interior Department’s second attempt at an illegal land exchange with the King Cove Corporation to make way for a road through vital protected wetlands in Izembek National Wildlife Refuge.”
“For the second time, the Court has told the road proponents that invading the Izembek Wilderness and damaging the biological heart of the Refuge to build an unnecessary and expensive road is unacceptable,” said David C. Raskin, president of Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges. “Let us hope that this decades-long, misguided effort is finally over, and the natural habitat and wildlife that depend on the Izembek Refuge will continue to be protected in perpetuity.” More HERE.


EcoWatch: Study Says U.S. Can Reach 90% Renewable Energy By 2035

“Experts disagree about how fast the United States can replace coal and gas-fired power plants with zero-carbon electricity. Researchers tried to get around this sticking point (of when we will can get to 100% renewable energy) in a new analysis from UC Berkeley. Instead of asking, “how much?” they asked “how fast?” — specifically, how fast we could get to 90 percent zero-carbon power — meaning wind, solar, hydropower and nuclear power — at no extra cost to consumers. Thanks to rapidly falling costs for wind turbines, solar panels and batteries, the answer is 2035 (with substantial legislative support).” “We’re spending too much time stressing about the last 10 percent and not enough time thinking about the first 90 percent,” said Ric O’Connell, executive director of GridLab, a clean energy consulting firm, and co-author of the report. “So let’s focus on the first 90 percent.” More HERE.


Audubon, June 3 ­– Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2020

“Farmers, ranchers and foresters are too often unsung heroes in the fight against climate change, and this bill is a first step in giving them the resources they need to maintain their lands in a way that supports common sense conservation,” said David Yarnold, president of the National Audubon Society, “This bill will help to create a cleaner future for both people and birds, while also helping rural economies recover from the COVID-19 crisis.”
“A bipartisan bill introduced today in the Senate will provide technical assistance for the agriculture and forestry sectors to improve their ability to reduce air pollution and remove carbon from the atmosphere through natural processes, such as storing it in the soil. The Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2020, led by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Mike Braun (R-IN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) will help advance these natural climate solutions at the national level.” More HERE.


Grist: House Democrats unveil Environmental Justice For All Act

Democratic lawmakers on March 28 rolled out an environmental justice bill that aims to address inequities faced by marginalized communities. “For far too long, communities of color, low-income communities and tribal and indigenous communities have not been a meaningful voice in the decisionmaking process impacting their well-being. Not with this bill,” Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Va.) said during a press conference. Advocates have long called for action to tackle unequal effects of environmental issues on these communities. There have been studies, for example, that show that low-income and nonwhite communities face greater impacts from pollution. (Co-authors Raúl M. Grijalva & Donald McEachin pictured above) The new bill would require that cumulative impacts be considered in Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act permitting decisions. More HERE


Center On Race, Poverty & the Environment: Kern County Violating Law by Rubber Stamping Oil Drilling

FRESNO, Calif.— In a monumental victory for both public advocacy groups and local farmers, a California’s Fifth District Court of Appeals today (2/25/20) ruled that a Kern County oil and gas ordinance paid for and drafted by the oil industry violated the state’s foundational environmental law. The court ruled that a key county analysis failed to disclose the full extent of drilling’s environmental harm, in violation of state law. Kern County used the flawed study to pass an industry-friendly oil and gas ordinance in 2015 and has issued more than a thousand permits a year since it passed. The court ordered that the environmental impact report and the ordinance be set aside until the county can demonstrate it complies with the law. Kern County must stop issuing permits under the ordinance within 30 days. The ruling means environmental review of new drilling proposals in Kern County will revert back to state authorities.
“This is an important victory for Kern County residents,” said Caroline Farrell, executive director of the Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment. “Kern County residents deserve to know the impacts from oil and gas operations on their community so that we can reduce those impacts and protect our health and environment.”


Inside Climate News: As Protests Rage Over George Floyd’s Death, Climate Activists Embrace Racial Justice

Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of UPROSE, Brooklyn’s oldest Latino community-based organization, said she considers showing up to fight police brutality and racial violence integral to her climate change activism. Bronx Climate Justice North, another grassroots group, says on its website: “Without a focus on correcting injustice, work on climate change addresses only symptoms, and not root causes.” These community organizations in New York have been joined in protest by the nation’s most prominent climate change activist groups, including the Sierra Club, 350.org, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sunrise Movement and Extinction Rebellion.


Optimist Daily, June 8: A female-led energy company is bringing green power to the Navajo Nation

The Rural Electrification Act of 1936 aimed to erase energy access disparities across the US but left out Native American tribes throughout the country. Lack of energy access still plagues these communities today. According to the American Public Power Association, Native American communities account for 75 percent of non-electrified homes in the US. This affects every aspect of life for these families. Without electricity, homes often lack running water, lighting, cooling, heating, and refrigeration. But a renewable energy group, co-founded by Native American women, is aiming to close the energy gap. Wahleah Johns is one of the cofounders of Native Renewables, the solar energy company whose goal is to provide renewable energy to every home in the Navajo Nation using off the grid solutions. The organization employs Navajo tribal members, holds educational workshops on the benefits of renewable energy, promotes economic independence, and seeks to empower tribal members. With over 300 days of sunlight each year, solar is a logical solution to accessing reliable energy. More HERE.


SF Chronicle, May 13: Forests can help boost California’s economic recovery,  Laurie Wayburn

As California begins its recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, the Legislature has a short window to simultaneously address both our current economic losses and ongoing climate challenges. Although these remain unprecedented times, it is also an opportunity to envision a better future and a different way of doing things, particularly regarding fire, drought, water reliability, forest health and how these are entwined with our economic recovery. Even as state and local leaders focus on gaining the upper hand on the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting budget fallout, California’s longer-term economic stability is increasingly threatened by the risks of climate change. We are in another year of drought. An intense, long and dangerous fire season is projected. Degraded north state watersheds threaten California’s water supply and reliability, and northern rural counties rank among the highest in the nation for unemployment.  By restoring our northern watersheds — the streams, meadows and forests that store and provide water to the state’s largest reservoirs — we can create and sustain good full-time jobs, reduce fire risks, and increase our water security through launching a new generation of climate resilience work. As with the state’s clean-energy transformation, smart forest management delivers direct economic as well as environmental benefits by creating clean, green jobs. AB 2693, introduced by Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), will support economic recovery, increase water security and reduce fire risk with a ready-to-implement economic and climate solution. More INFO.


National Geo, June 3: Millions of cicadas are emerging in the U.S. right now.

There are only seven species of cicadas that come out all at once every 13 or 17 years—a life cycle that’s unique among insects. Each year, warm weather in North America brings the familiar buzzing and clicking of cicadas that have surfaced from their underground burrows in search of mates. Once every decade or so, though, that cacophony turns deafening as millions of the winged insects emerge at once in dense throngs. They stick around for about a month, and die. It’s happening right now across southwestern Virginia, southern West Virginia, and the tip of North Carolina, where a group of cicadas known as brood 9 is emerging for the first time in 17 years. In 2021, an even bigger brood is expected to emerge throughout the mid-Atlantic. More HERE.


TED Talks: How Trees Talk To Each Other, Suzanne Simard

“A forest is much more than what you see”, says ecologist Suzanne Simard. Her 30 years of research in Canadian forests have led to an astounding discovery — trees talk, often and over vast distances. Learn more about the harmonious yet complicated social lives of trees and prepare to see the natural world with new eyes. Link.


Santa Cruz Sentinel, June 2

In a shift that significantly expands public access to some of California’s most scenic places, parking lots at 144 of California’s 280 state parks, beaches and historic sites have now reopened after being closed for more than two months due to the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, several high profile state parks that had been completely closed also have reopened in recent days, including Big Basin Redwoods and Castle Rock in the Santa Cruz Mountains, which began welcoming visitors again on Friday. Campgrounds and the visitor center remain closed at Big Basin, as they are at all state parks still.  But restrooms are open, along with trails, and the park store. Rangers are wearing masks. Visitors are encouraged to wear them at the entrance kiosk, although are not required to wear them while hiking.

Smart Cities Dive: NYC passes sweeping ‘Climate Mobilization Act’

The New York City Council passed wide-ranging legislation to fight climate change known as the “Climate Mobilization Act,” a package of seven bills that supporters said would help build a “Green New Deal for New York City.” The legislation passed Thursday by a 45-2 vote, according to CityLab and multiple other reports.
The bills’ centerpiece requires buildings over 25,000 square feet to cut climate emissions 40% by 2030 and more than 80% by 2050, which officials said is “the most ambitious energy efficiency legislation in the country.” The legislation also requires green roofs on certain large buildings and establishes requirements for smaller buildings to do the same.


Optimist Daily: During the 1980s, the Ashaninka tribe of Brazil had seen large swaths of its land being devastated by deforestation at the hands of lumber companies seeking to exploit the indigenous reserve for resources such as mahogany and cedar wood. Seeking justice, the tribe managed in 1996 to take the companies responsible for decimating their homes to court. After enduring an over twenty-year-long legal battle, last month, Ashaninka has finally won the lawsuit — in a victory representing a truly historic win for indigenous rights. On top of a $2.4 million settlement, the indigenous Ashaninka people will receive an official apology from the companies who deforested their lands decades ago. According to the Ashaninka’s lawyer, there’s more to the sentence than granting justice to the group. The settlement marks a key turning point in the safeguarding and protection of native peoples’ rights, acting as a precedent for thousands of similar cases of environmental crime and destruction.


Yes! Magazine: How to Feed Ourselves in a Time of Climate Crisis

Changing the food system is the most important thing humans can do to fix our broken carbon cycles. Meanwhile, food security is all about adaptation when you’re dealing with crazy weather and shifting growing zones. How can a world of 7 billion—and growing—feed itself? Here are 13 of the best ideas for a just and sustainable food system, from saving seeds to curbing food waste. HERE.


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National Geographic: A legendary Ozark chestnut tree, thought extinct, is rediscovered

“The chinquapin was supposed to have been wiped out by blight. Now one determined Missouri naturalist is hand-pollinating trees in secret groves to bring it back. Deep in the rolling southeast Missouri Ozarks, Steve Bost gets out of his car at the end of a remote dirt road. Somewhere nearby, carefully hidden from the public, is the Ozark chinquapin tree, once a keystone Ozark forest species. Decimated by chestnut blight in the mid-1900s, any viable trees were thought to be long gone—that is, until Bost found a few healthy hangers-on in the 2000s. Now he’s trying to bring the tree back from the edge of blight in a non-traditional way. And he’s succeeding.” More HERE.


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National Wildlife Federation: No cause for panic over Asian giant hornets in North America.

“Recent documentation of the Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia) in Canada and Washington state have prompted questions and concern about the species. While invasive non-native species are a real problem and something to be concerned about, right now there’s no cause for panic over Asian giant hornets (nicknamed the “murder hornet”) in North America. Monitoring continues, but the problem was local to a specific area of the Pacific Northwest and seems to have been resolved. Early detection and rapid response to new species invasions is of critical importance. Eradication of new non-native invasive species is only truly possible when the problem is identified and dealt with early enough. Monitoring continues, but hopefully that is the case with the Asian giant hornet in North America.”


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Yes! Magazine: Your New Healthy Habits? Their Ancient.

Centuries before the arrival of Europeans in the Americas, Indigenous peoples had refined natural ways to become and stay healthy. Nowadays, modern medicine is discovering that the traditional practices and lifestyles of Native Americans improve your health. Before modern conveniences, here’s what they knew about vitality, health, and a better night’s sleep.


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Environment, May 18: This startup shows us why drones hold the key to mass reforestation

“This week, on land north of Toronto that previously burned in a wildfire, drones are hovering over fields and firing seedpods into the ground, planting native pine and spruce trees to help restore habitat for birds. Flash Forest, the Canadian startup behind the project, plans to use its technology to plant 40,000 trees in the area this month. By the end of the year, as it expands to other regions, it will plant hundreds of thousands of trees. By 2028, the startup aims to have planted a full 1 billion trees.” More INFO


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State Park Recent Openings!

Castle Rock SP – as of May 22.  Open from 8:00 a.m. to sunset. PLEASE NOTE: rock climbing activities are currently suspended. Very limited parking is now available to the public. The Kirkwood parking lot will be open with 50% capacity

Henry Cowell Redwoods SP – as of May 16. The main day-use lot is open with 50% capacity. Parking will remain closed at Fall Creek and along Highway 9 and Graham Hill Road. Garden of Eden remains closed to all visitation. Visitors must wear masks at the kiosks for day use entry in accordance with Santa Cruz County health order.

Nicene Marks SP – The kiosk parking at The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park is open with reduced capacity. No parking along the road or at picnic areas. Visitors must wear masks at the kiosks for day use entry in accordance with Santa Cruz County health order.

Wilder Ranch SP – as of May 16. The main day-use lot a is open with 50% capacity. All other parking lots along Highway 1 will remain closed. Beaches will remain closed from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. in accordance with the Santa Cruz County shelter in place order. Visitors must wear masks at the kiosks for day use entry in accordance with Santa Cruz County health order.

And Continued Closures

Big Basin SP –  The full closure means there is no public access at these public outdoor spaces on a temporary basis to protect public health from the COVID-19 pandemic. All restrooms are closed, and there are no parking facilities open for visitors, recreational boats or off-highway vehicles. No form of activities is permitted (including sunbathing, walking, jogging or watersports).

Manresa, Natural Bridges, Sea Cliff, Sunset State Beaches – These beaches continue to be temporarily closed to vehicular access, meaning there are no parking facilities and parking on roadways is prohibited to protect public health from the COVID-19 pandemic. The beach is fully closed from 11 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily, meaning there are no public access during this time. During the other times, the beach is open to local residents.


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Virginia Bans Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling!

After years of advocacy by the Surfrider Foundation, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed legislation banning offshore oil and gas drilling. The law permanently protects state waters, which extend three miles from shore, from drilling and makes it very difficult and expensive for any future oil and gas drilling in federal waters offshore of Virginia!  Surfrider is committed to filling in the patchwork of bans on drilling from coast to coast. We are stoked to see Virginia join Florida, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire, and Maine in banning offshore oil drilling on the East Coast and Oregon and California on the West Coast.


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Optimist Daily, May 13: Demand for community supported agriculture has never been higher

As news of large agricultural distributors dumping milk and plowing under crops coincides with reports of massive demand increases at food banks, community-oriented food systems are finding their niche as reliable, healthy options for sustainable food distribution. Full Belly Farm, a 450-acre organic farm in Northern California delivers weekly boxes of fresh diverse produce to members who buy into their CSA program. Redmond, a founding partner of the farm, says, “The interest in getting local, fresh, organic produce just has skyrocketed during this crisis.” Full Belly Farm, like many others, has seen their restaurant demand plummet, but the demand for their CSA boxes has jumped by 2,000 a week. More info HERE


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350.org: May 15, The Williams Pipeline Permanently Blocked!

“We did it! The Williams fracked gas pipeline proposed for New York City has been stopped. This is a multi-year people powered victory! The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation released its long awaited decision on a key permit for the Williams fracked gas pipeline in NYC.  Not only did they deny the permit, but the company cannot reapply again – which means the project is stopped for good! There’s no need for new fossil fuel projects.”


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The Optimist Daily, May 15: Seattle to make some of its neighborhoods permanently “car-free”

In April, as the pandemic made parks and sidewalks more crowded in Seattle, the city shut down most traffic on a series of streets to help give people more room for exercise or walking to the grocery store. Now, the city plans to make the changes permanent on 20 miles of streets. Like in other ”car-free” neighborhoods, the streets still allow some vehicles like those of residents and businesses in the area — but cars can no longer travel through, which significantly shrinks the total amount of traffic. The streets are part of a network of quieter residential roads that Seattle has designated as greenways—relatively flat streets, in a hilly city, that can help people bike or walk to run errands. Also, as more businesses begin to reopen and people return to work, the routes can also help workers safely commute without turning to cars.


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Pocket-lint, April 21: Future batteries, coming soon: Charge in seconds, last months and power over the air

Smartphones, smart homes and EV cars are still limited by storage power. “The battery hasn’t advanced in decades. But we’re on the verge of a power revolution. Big technology and car companies are all too aware of the limitations of lithium-ion batteries. While chips and operating systems are becoming more efficient to save power we’re still only looking at a day or two of use on a smartphone before having to recharge. While it may be some time before we get a week’s life out of our phones, development is progressing well. We’ve collected all the best battery discoveries that could be with us soon, from over the air charging to super-fast 30-second re-charging. Hopefully, you’ll be seeing this tech in your gadgets soon.” More HERE.


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Center For Biological Diversity: Colorado Bans Wildlife-killing Contests

Joining five other states that prohibit cruel, competitive killing of wildlife, the state of Colorado has just voted to ban killing contests for coyotes, foxes and other animals.
Winners of wildlife-killing contests often proudly post photos and videos on social media that show them posing with piles of dead animals; they then dispose of the animals’ bodies in “carcass dumps” away from the public eye. “Coyotes and other carnivores play such important ecological roles, but across the nation they’re mercilessly targeted by these barbaric events,” said the Biological Diversity Center‘s Collette Adkins. “We’re thrilled that Colorado’s banning these inhumane contests.”


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Green Tech Media, May 01: Southern California Edison Contracts Mammoth 770MW Energy Storage Portfolio to Replace California Gas Plants

One of the world’s largest single battery storage procurements will race to meet an August 2021 deadline, which would be a record-fast turnaround for projects of that magnitude. The seven projects, which still need approval from the California Public Utilities Commission, will help meet a fall CPUC order for 3.3 gigawatts of carbon-free resources to help meet the state’s grid reliability needs.
Most of the winning projects will be co-located with existing solar farms that will charge the batteries, making them useful for integrating and smoothing the intermittency of the state’s growing share of renewable generation, as well as providing resource adequacy (RA) for times of peak demand in the late afternoons and evenings. That’s needed to replace grid capacity provided by four natural gas-fired power plants on the Southern California coast that use seawater for cooling, and have been ordered to close as soon as possible to reduce their environmental impact. SCE’s single 770-megawatt procurement “tops the entire 2019 US storage market by more than 200 megawatts,” said Daniel Finn-Foley, head of energy storage for Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables.

Note: While energy storage is essential to retiring fossil fuels, it is crucial that we consider the environmental/habitat impact of these “mammoth” solar installations.


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Science, April 30: Renewable power surges as pandemic scrambles global energy outlook

The pandemic-induced global economic meltdown has triggered a drop in energy demand and related carbon emissions that could transform how the world gets its energy—even after the disease wanes, according to a report released today by the International Energy Agency (IEA).  The precipitous drop in energy use is unparalleled back to the Great Depression of the 1930s. But not all energy sources are suffering equally. Efforts to shift toward renewable energy could be hastened as fossil fuels, particularly coal and oil, have borne the brunt of the decline. Use of renewable energy, meanwhile, has risen thanks to new projects coming online and the low cost of turning wind turbines or harvesting sunlight. Read more HERE


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National Geographic: Saving the tiny foxes

Twenty-five years ago, it looked like the animals in California’s Channel Islands would go extinct. But then biologists captured, bred, and re-released the foxes on the islands. They also got rid of non-native feral hogs, which were attracting a predator, the golden eagle. Now, the island foxes, no bigger than house cats, are back.


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The unprecedented 2020 northern hemisphere #OzoneHole has come to an end. The Polar Vortex split, allowing ozone-rich air into the Arctic, closely matching last week’s forecast from the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service.

More on the Northern Hemisphere Ozone hole at https://bit.ly/39JQRU8


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Project Drawdown Releases a Free Publication: Drawdown Review

“The World’s Leading Resource for Climate Solutions. Our mission is to help the world reach ‘Drawdown’— the point in the future when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to steadily decline, thereby stopping catastrophic climate change — as quickly, safely, and equitably as possible. Our latest publication is the first major update to our research and analysis of climate solutions and includes 10 KEY INSIGHTS for possibility and action across sectors”. Sign up for free download HERE.


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Environment California provides Good As News feature

U.S. wind energy hits a new milestone
Wind energy accounted for more new utility-scale generation capacity in the U.S. than any other energy source in 2019. A new report by the American Wind Energy Association found that wind energy made up 39 percent of all new U.S. generation capacity last year, making wind the largest source of renewable energy in the U.S.

Wolf population on the rise in Washington
The wolf population in Washington state, which was nearly eliminated in the 1930s, increased by 11 percent in 2019. While wolves still face serious threats in Washington and across the country, there are now an estimated 145 wolves in 26 packs.

New Jersey’s transportation fleet is going electric
New Jersey committed to invest millions of dollars from the Volkswagen settlement and Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) revenue in electrifying the state’s transportation system. This investment will turn diesel trucks and vehicles into clean, electric fleets all across the state, improving air quality and promoting clean, renewable energy for a healthier future.3

Houston tackles carbon emissions and transportation
Mayor Sylvester Turner and the City of Houston’s Office of Sustainability released the city’s first Climate Action Plan on Earth Day, laying out a vision for America’s fourth largest city to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reach carbon neutrality by 2050.4


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A Bridge In Brazil for Tamarins

New York Times, April 21: One of the world’s most spectacular primates has become a symbol of conservation in Brazil, where an overpass is being built over a major highway to keep the species going. The golden lion tamarin, one of the world’s most charismatic primates, has a dark face that can look inquisitive, challenging, almost human, framed in an extravagant russet mane.
The endangered New World monkey weighs less than two pounds. It lives only in Brazil, and only in the Atlantic coastal forest there. Tamarins spend their time high in the trees, up to 100 feet off the ground, in small groups of up to eight or so animals, with one breeding pair among each group.Today there are about 2,500 tamarins living in about five million acres of forest. But only some of those forest acres are connected.
“Our main goal,” Mr. Ferraz said, “is to create a viable population in the long term.” What that means in numbers is a population of 2,000 tamarins with a connected conservation area of 2.5 million acres, milestones the group hopes to reach by 2025. Scientists say such a size is necessary for the population to be self-sustaining. Read more HERE.


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From Grist: “The multinational investment bank Morgan Stanley unveiled an updated energy policy yesterday that says the company ‘will not directly finance new oil and gas exploration and development in the Arctic, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.’ The company is also committing not to directly fund coal-fired power plants and thermal coal mines. Additionally, the bank will ‘conduct enhanced due diligence’ on oil sands, deepwater oil and gas projects, oil and gas pipelines, and fracking projects, which means they’ll take ‘environmental and social impacts’ into account before funding those types of developments, including potential impacts on local communities and tribes.”

“Morgan Stanley is the fifth major U.S. bank to toughen its energy policy recently. Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup all ruled out financing for Arctic Refuge projects in the past few months — Citigroup just this week. That leaves Bank of America as the only major U.S. bank that hasn’t committed to stop funding Arctic drilling.”


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Victory for Clean Water with Supreme Court Ruling, April 23

Earthjustice announced, “The nation’s highest court has sided with clean water advocates in a decades-long legal dispute involving a wastewater treatment plant, its pollution discharges, and a partially dead coral reef in Hawaiʻi. The Court’s decision solidifies the Clean Water Act’s place as one of the nation’s most effective environmental laws. ‘This decision is a huge victory for clean water,’ said David Henkin, the Earthjustice attorney who argued the case before the court. ‘We are glad the Court has recognized the importance of protecting clean water for all Americans’ What started as a local water pollution case could have had disastrous repercussions for clean water across the United States.
What did the U.S. Supreme Court decide? The court found that point source discharges to navigable waters through groundwater are regulated under the Clean Water Act. In its decision on County of Maui v. Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund, the court held that the Clean Water Act “require[s] a permit if the addition of the pollutants through groundwater is the functional equivalent of a direct discharge from the point source into navigable waters.”


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The Optimist Daily, Leatherbacks in Thailand, April 23

In Thailand, environmentalists are reporting the largest number of nests of rare leatherback sea turtles in two decades on beaches bereft of tourists. Leatherbacks are the world’s largest sea turtles. They are considered endangered in Thailand, and listed as a vulnerable species globally by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The 11 turtle nests authorities have found since last November were the highest number in 20 years, said Kongkiat Kittiwatanawong, the director of the Phuket Marine Biological Centre.  As beautiful as it is to witness turtles hatch and crawl to the sea, the fact that turtles are thriving without people around tells us that perhaps we should consider vacating beaches that are known to host turtle nests during the hatching season.


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National Geographic, April 17, 2020: Woman Who Played Crucial Role in Identifying Coronavirus Finally Getting Recognition

When June Almeida peered into her electron microscope in 1964, she saw a round, grey dot covered in tiny spokes. She and her colleagues noted that the pegs formed a halo around the virus—much like the sun’s corona. What she saw would become known as the coronavirus, and Almeida played a pivotal role in identifying it. That feat was all the more remarkable because the 34-year-old scientist never completed her formal education. Almeida realized she could use antibodies taken from previously infected individuals to pinpoint the virus (using electron microscope). Antibodies are drawn to their antigen-counterparts—so when Almeida introduced tiny particles coated in antibodies, they would congregate around the virus, alerting her to its presence. This technique enabled clinicians to use electron microscopy as a way to diagnose viral infections in patients. Read more HERE.


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The Hill: Judge cancels Keystone XL pipeline permit! April 16

A district judge in Montana reportedly ruled Wednesday against the Keystone XL pipeline, canceling a key permit necessary for the project’s construction. According to The Associated Press, Judge Brian Morris ruled in favor of environmental groups who argued that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ plan to construct the pipeline over rivers did not properly take endangered species into consideration. The setback for TC Energy, the pipeline’s sponsor, comes just days after construction on the pipeline began near the U.S.-Canada border, the AP noted. Environmental groups celebrated Wednesday’s court victory, with the main group behind the lawsuit calling it a “significant hurdle” the pipeline would face.


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Asthma rates plummet in Kentucky as coal plants shut down, Nature Energy, April 17

Air pollution has long been linked to health issues, especially asthma. Coal-fired power plants are a definitive source of air pollution. But it’s been difficult for scientists to attribute respiratory problems of people living near coal specifically to those coal plants because a host of other factors come into play. But after four coal-fired power plants in Louisville, Kentucky, either retired the use of coal or were retrofitted with strict emissions controls, local asthma-related hospitalizations dropped, and individuals even used their inhalers less frequently—showing the impact an abrupt drop in coal-related emissions can have on people’s health.


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A Win for Right Whales Hurt by Lobster Fishing

Right whales are the rarest whales in the world. Only about 400 North Atlantic right whales remain. The Center for Biological Diversity and allies just won an important victory for this rapidly declining population. A court said the National Marine Fisheries Service acted illegally by not taking steps to protect the whales from entanglement in commercial lobster lines, which cause injuries and death. “Right whales have been getting tangled up and killed in lobster gear for far too long,” said Kristen Monsell, the Center’s oceans legal director. “This decision sends a clear signal that federal officials must protect these desperately endangered animals.”

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From Clean Technica, April 1: Last Coal Plants In UK and New York Closing!

The end of burning coal to generate electricity is progressing. In the UK, two large coal-fired facilities have been closed recently — Fiddler’s Ferry in Cheshire and Aberthaw in Wales.  In 1990, 70% of the country’s electricity came from burning coal. Last year it was 3%. SSE Thermal is the owner of the Fiddler’s Ferry facility. Last November, it said the facility’s financial performance had “deteriorated to unsustainable levels, with losses of around £40 million in SSE’s last financial year.”
And, the Somerset Operating Company, the last coal-fired generating plant in New York, near Buffalo, is scheduled to close as part of governor Andrew Cuomo’s push to make his state fossil fuel free by 2040 — one of the most ambitious such programs in the United States.

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$600 million in geothermal and solar energy deals approved by Monterey Bay Community Power.

The Central Coast is well on its way to meeting its mandated renewable energy goals thanks to two recent deals worth a whopping $593 million. The two contracts were approved on April 8 by Monterey Bay Community Power, a relatively new public agency charged with buying electricity on behalf of a vast majority of ratepayers—300,000 and growing—in Monterey, San Benito, Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.     In one contract, MBCP committed to buying electricity generated by the Coso Geothermal Project. Built in 1987 and located on a U.S. Navy base in Inyo County, Coso is one of the largest geothermal power plants in the country. The plant’s technology exploits the heat of existing deep below the Earth’s surface to create steam that drives turbines, producing electricity. The other contract will help a developer secure the financing for a brand new power project, known as Rabbitbrush Solar, in Kern County. More INFO.


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YES! Magazine: 12 Ways Communities Are Taking Care of Each Other During the Pandemic, by Ruth Terry

Around the country, grassroots initiatives spearheaded by nonprofits, community groups, and individuals are addressing basic, immediate needs such as shelter, food, and replacing lost income, while others are addressing mental health and providing ways to keep spirits up during quaran-times. All of these contributions are meaningful and important, but here are a dozen in North America that we want to amplify.


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From the Guardian: “Coronavirus pandemic leading to huge drop in air pollution”

“The coronavirus pandemic is shutting down industrial activity and temporarily slashing air pollution levels around the world, satellite imagery from the European Space Agency shows. One expert said the sudden shift represented the “largest scale experiment ever” in terms of the reduction of industrial emissions. Readings from ESA’s Sentinel-5P satellite show that over the past six weeks, levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) over cities and industrial clusters in Asia and Europe were markedly lower than in the same period last year.”


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Yes! Magazine – Full of Inspiring Articles

“Gardening is my Prozac. The time I dedicate to training tomato vines or hacking at berry bushes seems to help me stave off feelings of sadness or dread and calm the chatter in my mind. My vegetable beds have even buoyed me through more acute stressors, such as my medical internship, my daughter’s departure for college, and a loved one’s cancer treatment. I’m not alone in appreciating the antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects of gardening—countless blogs are dedicated to this very subject, and a rash of new studies has documented that spending time around greenery can lead to improved mental health.”


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By Helen Christophi – Mar 28 2020  Sierra Magazine

A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the Trump administration to go back and study the Dakota Access Pipeline’s effects on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other Indigenous peoples near Lake Oahe in North Dakota and South Dakota, finding it used a sloppy environmental review process to illegally greenlight the pipeline.

“After years of commitment to defending our water and earth, we welcome this news of a significant legal win,” Standing Rock Sioux Tribe chairman Mike Faith said in a statement. “Perhaps in the wake of this court ruling, the federal government will catch on too, starting by actually listening to us when we voice our concerns.”


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Check this out on Save The Waves and celebrate! March 12. 2020


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December 11, 2018—Thanks to the hard work of Organic Farming Research Foundation and a broad coalition of organic champions, we have secured historic wins for organic agricultural research in the 2018 Farm Bill, which will provide $395 million for organic agriculture research and education over the next 10 years. This milestone is the biggest win for organic farming in the Farm Bill in decades, securing permanent funding for organic research at USDA.

These funds will dramatically expand competitive grants through USDA’s Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), ensuring organic farmers and ranchers have the tools and technology to meet their unique challenges and the growing demand for organic products—leading to a more resilient and sustainable agricultural system that values healthy environments and healthy people.


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NOAA Ocean Guardian Schools help protect sanctuary resources
By Seaberry Nachbar, November 2018

Adorned with garden gloves and reusable water bottles, the students of Gault Elementary School have been walking the one-mile journey to Seabright State Beach in Santa Cruz, California, for the last five years. Led by their intrepid teacher, Susan Dahlgren, and Dr. Bill Henry of Groundswell Coastal Ecology, the students get right to work removing invasive ice plant and replacing it with native dune plants. Seabright State Beach, once covered in the non-native ice plant, is now thriving under the loving care of these students. Their work has been so successful that threatened and endangered animals like the snowy plover and burrowing owl have now returned to these dune ecosystems to nest and flourish. Read more on NOAA


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Dec 13, 6:30 – 8:30 pm  Film screening of “New World Rising” the 4th episode in the PBS critically acclaimed series, Native America. Woodside High Performing Arts Center, 199 Churchill Avenue, Woodside, CA

This documentary series gives a new perspective, based in science and grounded by indigenous practice, on the previous 15,000 years of human history in North and South America. Episode 4, “New World Rising”, offers poignant examples of how Native American people resist colonization by preserving their indigneous culture and knowledge. The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band is featured lighting a prescribed burn in “New World Rising”, and the Amah Mutsun Land Trust invites you to join members of the tribe and their collaborators to explore how they are applying traditional ecological knowledge to the most pressing issues in land conservation today.
The film will be introduced by Scott Tiffany, a producer/director on the series, who will give us an insider’s view on the making of this epic. Following the film presentation, there will be a panel discussion and Q&A, including:
• Valentin Lopez, Amah Mutsun Tribal Chairman and Amah Mutsun Land Trust President
• EkOngKar Singh Khalsa, Amah Mutsun Land Trust Executive Director
• Kent Lightfoot, Professor of Anthropology, University of California Berkeley
• Scott Stephens, Professor of Fire Science, University of California Berkeley


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December 4, 2018—Today the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) released the eighth guidebook in their immensely popular Soil Health and Organic Farming Series: Organic Practices for Climate Mitigation, Adaptation, and Carbon Sequestration.

The guidebook examines research related to the capacity of sustainable organic systems and practices to sequester soil carbon and minimize nitrous oxide and methane emissions. The guide includes practical advice for reducing an organic farm’s “carbon footprint” and adapting to climate disruptions already underway.

“Research demonstrates that sustainable organic agriculture has great potential to sequester carbon, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and enhance farm resilience,” said Dr. Diana Jerkins, Research Program Director at OFRF. “We believe it is the best approach because sustainable organic agriculture not only integrates best soil health management practices, it protects soil life from the potentially adverse effects of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers.”


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National Geographic article by Jason Bittel, Oct 29, 2018

Off the coast of Monterey, California, and some two miles below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, scientists piloting a remotely-operated submersible saw something no one has ever seen before.
Octopuses. Hundreds of them. Huddled on a rocky outcrop at the base of an underwater mountain.
“We went down the eastern flank of this small hill, and that’s when—boom—we just started seeing pockets of dozens here, dozens there, dozens everywhere,” says Chad King, chief scientist on the Exploration Vessel Nautilus.
All in all, King estimates that more than 1,000 octopuses known as Muusoctopus robustus were nestled among the rocks, most of which appeared to be inverted, or turned inside out. For this species, that inside-out pose is common among females that are brooding, or protecting their growing young. In some cases, the submersible’s camera could even spot tiny embryos cradled within their mothers’ arms. This octopus garden is located at the foot of the Davidson Seamount in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary


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50 years ago the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act was passed, on October 2, 1968.

There are approximately 3.6 million miles of streams in the United States; 1.1 million are at least five miles in length. Only 12,754 miles are protected by the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act—only 0.35% of the rivers found here. But what a wonderful 12,754 miles! Allagash. Salmon. Snake. Missouri. Concord. Fortymile. Trinity.

As the Act reaches a half century of protecting some of our greatest rivers, we hope you’ll join us in celebrating its accomplishments—and in working for its future. While there is much we have to do, there is much we have done, and to the thousands of people across the country that have worked tirelessly to save their local river, it’s time to take a moment to celebrate, to congratulate each other, to look forward. To add to the 12,754 miles. Source: National Wild and Scenic Rivers System

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The Elwha’s Living Laboratory: Lessons From the World’s Largest Dam-removal Project
Two dams removed from Washington’s Elwha River were branded as salmon-restoration projects, but their watershed and scientific impacts are just as significant. For over 4 years now, the Elwha River has run free. Source: The Revelator, Oct 1, 2018, Tara Lohan


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While pursuing her master’s degree, Mariah Pfleger had the opportunity to conduct genetics research on deep-sea sharks in the Gulf of Mexico. “My research revealed that there was a case of mistaken identity! For years, Genie’s dogfish had been misidentified by researchers as a different type of dogfish shark called Squalus mituskurii. However, Genie’s dogfish looked different from other dogfish species: it had a longer body, a smaller tail fin, and differently-proportioned dorsal fins. In addition, the genetics of Genie’s dogfish didn’t match anything else! Once the research team and I realized that Genie’s dogfish was its own, unique species, we had the opportunity to name it and formally describe it for the scientific literature.” Mariah named the species after her hero, Dr. Eugenie Clark (1923 – 2015), “a pioneer in shark biology, and one of the first women to make a name for herself in the boys club of marine biology.”

dr._clark.png    Dr. Eugenie Clark


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Today, Sept 27, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill (SB) 1017 — that will clean up California’s swordfish fishery. SB 1017 will phase out the use of large-mesh driftnet fishing for swordfish, establish a buyout program, and incentivize the use of cleaner fishing gear to reduce the incidental catch of marine wildlife.
“This hard-won victory was a long time coming. Finally we have found a way to phase out the use of these deadly and destructive nets without harming the commercial fishing industry in the process. I am grateful to Governor Brown for signing it into law,” said Senator Allen. “I’m very pleased that we now can look forward to a time not far in the future when magnificent marine creatures will no longer be injured and killed by these nets. I am grateful to the lead supporters of the legislation, Pew Charitable Trusts, Oceana and Turtle Island Restoration Network, and hundreds of other groups, for their steadfast, effective advocacy of this measure,” Allen added.


Monterey Bay Salmon And Trout Project In Action

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On Wednesday, April 19, 2017, volunteers from the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout project worked together to release Salmon smolts. First they carried nets of fish from the Kingfisher Hatchery to the tank truck, then to the banks of Scott Creek where they planted 5” Salmon smolts into the stream so they can swim out to open ocean. The Salmon were trucked from the hatchery on Big Creek about two miles to an open pool on Scott Creek where they were carried by buckets from the truck to the creek and released.
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Lea Bond, biologist and technician with the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), was the last one to pass the fish to Scott creek. The fish quickly swam downstream and out to sea for a year or two of ocean travel, before returning to Scott Creek to spawn.

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    Ruby Rorty is bubbling over with enthusiasm for environmentalism. Like a busy sea otter, this Pacific Collegiate School junior is a gal-on-the-go contributing to many local and international ocean conservation organizations in the footsteps of her oceanographer hero, Sylvia Earle, ambassador for the world’s oceans.

    Ruby is clearly going places, and at the top of her list of favorite destinations is her very own Santa Cruz Environmental Alliance which she started with her friend and artist Kaiya McMurdo. These two change-makers created an art and environmentalism curriculum for grades 3-5 cleverly called Trashtastic that addresses plastic manufacturing, disposal, and pollution. The Santa Cruz Environmental Alliance is currently running a social media campaign, #nomoremermaidtears, which is promoting plastic pollution awareness through photos of young people dressed as mermaids holding signs with ocean conservation messages. The pictures can be found on the SCEA Instagram page, @sc_environmental.

    Ruby’s quest for protecting the oceans was sparked in second grade when she set off to write a report on orcas. At home her family encouraged her to cultivate a passion that could be used to help others. They told her to “Change the world, do what you love, and figure out how other people benefit as well.” She credits her teacher Hillary Daniels for guiding her to take a leadership role in the EarthEcho International 3T3 beach clean up campaign.  Ruby takes a bold stance for what she believes in, even while wearing a mermaid tail. Go Ruby, go!


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Sept 16, 2107 –  Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Program created by AB 109

The Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Program was created by AB109, which, on September 16, 2017, amended the Budget Act of 2017 to provide $20 million to the Wildlife Conservation Board for local assistance, payable from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF). The Program is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment – particularly in priority populations, which include disadvantaged communities, low-income communities, and low-income households.


Seed of Flame: Mt Madonna Middle School Project Wins $10,000 in National Environmental Challenge

The Seed of Flame, an environmental STEM project undertaken by a team of seventh grade students at Mount Madonna School (MMS), is one of 16 finalists nationwide to receive a $10,000 prize through the 2016-17 air and climate Lexis Eco Challenge. 

“Mount Madonna’s seventh grade has taken on this project in response to our changing climate,” said MMS science teacher Katrina Leni-Konig. “As part of the final challenge, we are engaging social media and art activism to raise awareness about local impacts, and to catalyze global action.” 

The students have launched a social media challenge on Instagram, @seed_of_flame. The public is invited to post pictures of themselves or others hugging a tree, with the hashtag “#hugatree”. Select photographs will be compiled into a public art exhibit. The challenge will be used to raise money for the organization, Trees for the Future, through the student’s online fundraising campaign at https://donate.trees.org/seedOFflame. The goal is to raise $640 which is enough to help a family in Africa grow and maintain a forest garden, providing food security and enhancing environmental resources for generations.  In addition to #hugatree, students are creating a film collection of people around the world planting trees, and are reaching out to communities across the globe to participate. They have also created a YouTube video, “Seed of Flame Claymation,” and are in the process of creating a video game.

 Last fall, this 10-student MMS team participated in the initial air and climate challenge. Inspired by the Loma Fire, a nearby wildfire that occurred in fall 2016, they developed an action plan that can benefit their local community by transforming a school greenhouse into a forest nursery to restore forests after wildfire, disease, and other human impacts. “We need to understand that wildfires are a necessary part of our forest ecosystem, but climate change is making it more difficult for forests to regenerate on their own,” commented MMS science teacher Katrina Leni-Konig. “Wildfires in California are larger, burn hotter, last longer, and are more frequent than usual. The forests need our help!”  Students began a small seed bank in their science classroom, with seeds gathered from the forest property surrounding the MMS campus. Once established, the forest nursery and seed bank will serve as an ongoing educational resource for the school and broader community. At present, the students estimated that the forest seed bank contains thousands of seeds including acorn, redwood, manzanita, madrone, and coyote bush.


 John Morley volunteers with Save The Waves

When in college, John Morley thought about majoring in marine biology but ended up getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and pursuing a career in international trade. He chose to be an Encore Fellow with the non-profit Save The Waves in July of 2016 after retiring as the Director of Corporate Customs at Intel Corporation. Encore.org brings new sources of talent to organizations solving critical problems.

John first became familiar with Save The Waves when he participated in a surf fundraising trip they held in Baja. He’s passionate about the ocean and surfing and feels fortunate to be able to contribute to Save The Waves’ efforts to protect and improve the environment and drive positive environmental changes along our cherished coast.

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Interview by Dale Zevin 2/3/17


Mount Madonna Honored with Governor’s  Environmental and Economic Leadership Award

Congratulations to teacher Jessica Cambell and Mount Madonna School (MMS) on receiving the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA), which celebrates the environmental education work of MMS fifth grade students for the last nine years! MMS is one of twelve California organizations – and the only school – recognized with a 2016 GEELA, the state’s highest environmental honor, in a ceremony held January 19 in Sacramento.

 “I am extremely honored to be a part of Mount Madonna School,” commented Cambell, “and to have worked with amazing teachers like Nate Rockhold and [the late] Sri Gyan James McCaughan, to create an award-winning program that allows students to find passion in using their voice to create positive change within the world!” 

 The annual program is administered by the California Environmental Protection Agency, in partnership with the Natural Resources Agency, the Department of Food and Agriculture, the State Transportation Agency, the Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency, the Government Operations Agency, the Labor and Workforce Development Agency, and the Health and Human Services Agency.

 The GEELA program recognizes individuals, organizations, and businesses that have demonstrated exceptional leadership and made notable, voluntary contributions in conserving California’s precious resources, protecting and enhancing its environment, building public-private partnerships and strengthening the state’s economy.

 “This year’s GEELA recipients are demonstrating the creativity and collaboration that make California a leader in protecting our environment,” said CalEPA Secretary Matthew Rodriquez. “They stand out as examples for how sustainable practices go hand in hand with economic and organizational success.”

 Following the ceremony Cambell was also presented with a certificate from the California State Assembly, recognizing MMS’ GEELA achievement, presented by Assemblyman Mark Stone, representative of the 29th Assembly District. 

Mount Madonna School fifth and ninth graders scour the beach on the Santa Cruz County side of the Pajaro River mouth for trash Wednesday morning as they work with Save Our Shores to survey micro-plastic levels of Monterey bay beaches. (Shmuel Thaler -- Santa Cruz Sentinel)


Book Review: The Carbon Farming Solution

Jan 15, 2017

The Carbon Farming Solution: A Global Toolkit of Perennial Crops and Regenerative Agriculture Practices for Climate Change Mitigation and Food Security

Written by Eric Toensmeier
Published by Chelsea Green Publishing, 2016

Reviewed by M.L. Altobelli

First things first – Eric Toensmeier ’s new book was fun to poke around in. I do realize that sounds almost blasphemous since the subject of climate change is so serious and essential for current eco-landscapers to get a handle on, but I think it helps that the information in The Carbon Farming Solution is so easy to access. Eric is a permaculture specialist with a deep understanding of applied ecology and that shines through the entire book. He’s also hopeful that we humans can make changes to clean up our world and stabilize its ecology and climate and that optimistic message can also be a tonic of its own kind in these current times. For more: Ecolandscaping.org


Aggie Morrow volunteers at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History

 Chris Sulots, Volunteer Coordinator at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History introduced me to Volunteer Aggie Morrow. Aggie is in her third year of volunteering at the Museum and she said she naturally gravitated to volunteering at the Museum since she is a trained Biologist. Aggie finds her volunteer work with students rewarding, fun, and varied. She leads Ohlone Program tours for K-4 students, Neary Lagoon Watershed  tours for 5th graders and Neary Lagoon Wetland walks for 3rd graders.  Aggie also volunteers at the Museum’s special events, such as the Migration Festival and at Natural Bridges events.

Aggie is inspired by what the children take away from their Museum experiences and what they will remember. She also values the opportunities she receives for her own personal enrichment as a Museum Volunteer, such as participating in a tour of the Santa Cruz City Wastewater Treatment Plant.

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Sawyer Claussen volunteers with Save Our Shores

Fourteen year old Sawyer Claussen can’t not pick up trash. Even during lunch at middle school he doesn’t refrain from saying, “Remember to pick up your trash. There’s a recycling bin right there.” His friends know him as a tireless environmental enforcer who can’t stand litter or plastic water bottles and picks up trash when he’s surfing. These friends also join him on beach clean up days.

Sawyer has been volunteering for the Save our Shores beach clean up days for half his life, literally. He was seven years old when he started picking up trash and 13 years old when he took the SOS steward course. He is currently earning his hours of service until he is old enough to be eligible to lead groups on his own. Learning the SOS curriculum about single use plastics is important to Sawyer. He says, “It’s fun, I like the beach, I like a clean beach, and it feels good when I look at all the trash we pick up.”

We are lucky Sawyer lives in our county and has many years ahead of him cleaning up the beaches we all enjoy. Thanks for your service Sawyer!

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Eva Claussen volunteers with Save Our Shores

Twelve year old middle schooler Eva Claussen remembers a picture of herself when she was just five years old holding a display board with a cigarette butt, a plastic straw, a water bottle cap and a plastic bag glued to it. She was participating in a Save Our Shores presentation on ocean pollution to an O’Neill Sea Odyssey group before the fourth and fifth graders set sail.

Since that early start in environmental volunteering, Eva has also participated in many beach clean ups. She says that even though she is currently too busy with organized sports practices and games to join SOS group events, she remembers what she learned at that impressionable age. Everyday at school she picks up snack wrappers from chips, Pop Tarts, hot chocolate and ice cream bars that don’t quite make it through the push lids of trash cans.

She will never forget the time she was surfing at 38th Street and a plastic bag got caught on the fin of her surfboard that caused her to fall when it acted like a parachute and suddenly slowed her down. It’s times like this that leave lasting impressions and call us to act just as young Eva’s environmental deeds leave lasting impressions on those who are lucky enough to see her in action.

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