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
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. Eugenie Clark
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.