Saturday, November 12, 2011

Somethin' Smells Funny .... an I'm not laughin'

I love open space. I love the wild. We understand so little of how our world works and yet ....there are folks who think all they have to do is put up a building and parking lot and "VoilĂ ! Look at our Nature Displays - Aren't you learning?" .... (!??!) You'd think the Pharos came back and stacked some more rocks! (How about another sphinx?)

Speaking of old things.... Because of new techniques in analyzing data, we are now, NOW! seeing life on this small rock in space in new light. Phylogenetics and technology and programming languages, together are allowing us to see where you, me, my cat, and the bug on my plant, connect to each other and to our ancient ancestors through time. ISN'T THAT COOL?!  

OH!!! The Jepson Manual (the book that botanists use to find out stuff on higher plants) has been changed and many of the plants have had their Genus and/or Family changed. How did they do that? By analyzing all of the DNA in the plants in the Jepson Manual. Imagine that!  Though, as much fun as PCR is to do, it takes TOOO LONG TO DOOO. Look how long the Human Genome Project took!  Many other organisms have MUCH BIGGER genomes then humans have. Now a-days, folks grind up their organism, add some special restriction enzymes and then input what they get into BLAST.

Why would I talk about phylogenetics? Because that is what is changing how we see biology and ecology, now, and into the future. And anything (books, college classes, biologists) that describes Nature will have to include bioinfomatics. And our laws, like the laws that protect our Natural Resources were poorly written and now, they are seriously out of date. It is well understood that the Army Corps of Engineers do not have all of the data on the ecosystems in the West (California in particular) because of the lack of basic information as to how our ecosystem works. It is more then just a Mediterranean Climate! It has been an understood truism, since I worked protecting wetlands in Ohio in the 1990s, that what powered the ecosystems/water of the West, was not understood. 

Now the REAL crux of this diary....

The Whittier Narrows Natural Area may be in for something from Washington D.C..  And when you look at their maps, you will realize it is the entire watershed that may be "altered". We need to learn a lot about this and if we see danger.... We will need to speak up!!!!!

You see, the National Park Service has been considering to envelop the San Gabriel Mountains, River - really the entire watershed. Now, on the outset, it sounds nice. Like, maybe the open space might be protected from people who need to put concrete everywhere. 

I think we need to look at what the National Park System could do to our watershed.... understanding that the people most likely to carve it up via the water (ACOE) has little knowledge of how things are put together in the west. They have lots of manuals for the East Coast...

I have been trying to find what the pros and cons are for the NPS to take over our watershed. Then I remembered what someone said in an interview I did for a documentary. In 2002 I interviewed many people on the problems of water in southern California for this film (EPA, MWD. USFS, Sanitation Districts, UCLA Professors - lots of people).  I showed it, and then put it up on the web so people could learn. This is a tiny cut but, if you want to see more just Google, 'Ya Don't Miss The Water'.

In this clip, the Forest Serviceman (about 1:40 minutes) says that people would no longer be able to sit in the streams or live in the forest. Almost sounds like a good thing....

Then I found this.... from Courthouse News Service.
"Five environmental groups say the National Park Service illegally approved more than 130 miles of off-road vehicle trails in an addition to the Big Cypress National Preserve, "one of the few remaining sizeable and contiguous tracts of relatively pristine and significantly undisturbed landscape in the eastern United States, and particularly in Florida"
...and there is more...

 "Moreover, despite acknowledging in the EIS [environmental impact statement] that unknown levels of adverse impacts would inevitably result to diverse resources in the addition, including to surface water flows and the spread of invasive species, NPS failed to gather pertinent information on which to fully analyze the environmental impacts or to apprise the public of the extent of such impacts. NPS similarly failed to investigate and analyze the inevitable impacts to resources with respect to several listed species, including Florida panthers, for which vital research is lacking concerning the expected impacts of ORV use and ORV-assisted hunting on panthers and their prey."     The environmentalists sued Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Director Daniel Ashe. They seek declaratory judgment and an injunction."  
There's a fire in the shed, Misses O'Leary!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

When you pay your water bill, do you think, "PORK!"

Well, maybe you should! Here are some articles pointing to some water pork... You did not know that Pigs... er, pork swim? Well, have we got news for YOU! Right HERE at Relief we have a story about  the "what and how" some folks, in some circles, use your hard earned money! (I bolded a few important words, below.)

That's where it stands today. And little has changed. The economy still is stagnant. More state services are due to be slashed. The pork is smelly.
Pork like this: Bike trails, when local governments lack enough money to fill street potholes. Open-space purchases, while public parks are being closed. "Watershed education centers," as schools are being whacked and tuitions are soaring.

The bond is really larded up: $10 million for "climate change planning," $50 million for river parkways, $75 million for the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.

Remember, this is supposed to be a water bond — strategically titled by the Legislature: "Safe, Clean and Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act."

There must be at least $2 billion worth of fatback. Add to that $455 million for "drought relief." Save the money. The drought's long over. 

BUT WAIT!!!! The Water DUDES from Central Basin thought that maybe...just maybe if they got wonderful articles written about them they could show the public that they were doing their jobs.... and not just taking the money for silly projects. But, if you thought that, Honey, you were wrong... check this out...

There seemed to be no doubt that Mike Adams was a productive journalist, even if his beat was a bit obscure: the Central Basin Municipal Water District.
In recent months, he churned out more than 20 stories on the water wholesaler based in southeast Los Angeles. He wrote about recycled water that kept the grass green on street medians and parks. About the computer system a college used to irrigate its landscaping. About a water-saving youth soccer field.

  • Areas serviced by the Central Basin Municipal Water District
    Areas serviced by the Central Basin Municipal Water District 
The only mystery, really, was Adams himself. The Times could not find evidence he exists.
Adams' stories were published on the website News Hawks Review after Central Basin agreed to pay up to nearly $200,000 in taxpayer money to public relations consultant Ed Coghlan.
Under the deal, Coghlan said he would produce promotional stories about the district that would be indexed on Google News.
The district, which sells water to cities and water companies in Southeast Los Angeles County and serves a total of more than 2 million residents, has come under criticism for the unusual arrangement.
Central Basin staffers, in recommending the agreement with Coghlan to the board of directors, said the stories would enhance the district's image and would be written by experienced journalists.
And on paper, Adams fit that bill.

Doesn't it just do your little heart good to see such insane corruption get exposed? Let's do some more!!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Native plants' surprising uses: Talk by biologist and Gabrieleno Indian Thursday at Franklin Canyon Park

Biologist and Gabrieleno Indian Matt Teutimez (pictured) will be speaking on the many extraordinary ways in which native plants have been used by Native Americans. 7 p.m. Thursday, June 23, at Franklin Canyon Park in Beverly Hills.

Matt has done some truly dynamic presentations on native plants at the Whittier Narrows Nature Center, and tomorrow's event in Franklin Canyon's William O'Douglas Outdoor Classroom promises to be engaging and informative too.

The Web page for the event explains that indigenous plants "were the backbone of daily life for local Native Americans. Plants were used for food, clothing, tools, weapons, medicine, shelter, trade items, toys and games, artistic expression, and spiritual objects that helped maintain a connection to the earth."

Tomorrow's presentation is part of Franklin Canyon Park's "Nachochan Gathering" series. The word "nachochan," the Website explains, "is a form of greeting in Tongva meaning 'My eyes see your eyes. My hands are open.' We open our hands to you and they are filled with the traditions, songs, games, and food of Native American cultures."

The park and series invite people to "bring your friends or make new ones and relish in a new topic each month. It's a kaleidoscope of hands-on learning, crafts, and guest speakers.

Franklin Canyon Park is at 2600 Franklin Canyon Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210. Click here (PDF) for a list of programs and a map of the park. Or call (310) 858-7272, ext. 131, for more information.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Friends file legal appeal against Discovery Center!

When it rains, it pours, the saying goes. And for the San Gabriel River Discovery Center at the moment it's coming down in buckets.

The LA Weekly reported yesterday that the Friends of the Whittier Narrows Natural Area have filed an appeal against the planned water museum and meeting hall, which would, writes Dennis Romero:

"essentially tear out a beautiful area along the rivers (the San Gabriel and Rio Hondo diverge here) to install a building where you could appreciate . . . the beautiful area along the rivers."

Romero also mentioned State Parks' widely reported decision last week rejecting the Discovery Center Authority's request for $7 million in bond money to build the water museum.

He includes a nice quote from Friends President Jim Odling:

"Our organization and members are grateful to State Parks for recognizing, as so many in the local community have, that the Discovery Center project would, in fact, take us backwards in our efforts to protect California's natural and cultural resources."
With the appeal filed, the work of protecting our resources goes on.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Discovery Center brutally rebuffed! State officials reject application for $7 million in bond funds

Hot off the press: The San Gabriel River Discovery Center Authority's request for $7 million in state bond funds was D-E-N-I-E-D.

The Los Angeles Times broke the story Friday online. Here's a more detailed follow-up:

Grant request for Whittier Narrows nature center is rejected

By my calculations, based on the figures in the application the authority submitted to California State Parks, the project is now $17 million in the hole. (The estimated construction cost is $22 million. The authority told State Parks it had about $5 million committed.)

Is this the end project? If it is, Discovery Center officials aren't letting on.

Outgoing Discovery Center Authority boss Belinda Faustinos told the Times the project would "seek other funding avenues."

True to their word, they're now looking to the California Community Foundation for money.

But that means that some of the most powerful elected and unelected officials in the local area will be competing against tsunami survivors, asthma and diabetes research programs, and disability rights advocates, among others, for charitable dollars.

All for a trophy water museum and meeting center officials are forcing down the throats of an unwilling public.

If I were one of the donors upon whom the foundation depends and I learned what the foundation was proposing, I'd start thinking about taking my money elsewhere.

To see who else could become a Discovery Center victim if the foundation hands the authority a check, click here. (Scroll up and down the page to see the entire list of June 2010 grantees.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

70 feet of petition signatures opposing Discovery Center delivered to authority board March 21

Friends President Jim Odling wrote today:

The board of the San Gabriel River Discovery Center Authority got a surprise at its meeting last week when members of the Friends of the Whittier Narrows Natural Area delivered more than 1,100 petition signatures opposing the authority’s $22 million taxpayer-funded water museum.

Friends board members Ed Barajas, Michael Barba and I delivered the signatures — the vast majority coming from people living and working in the Whittier Narrows area — as a 70-foot banner, which stretched out from one end of the board room to the other.

You can watch a video of our presentation here:

You, our many terrific supporters, made this dramatic and important moment possible.

Your signatures and signature gathering efforts are sending a clear message to officials that the community wants the Whittier Narrows wildlife sanctuary and its nature center preserved.

As I said in my comments to the board, the signatures represent an incredible spectrum of the community, including Latinos, Native Americans, community and environmental activists, volunteer docents and more than 200 local high school and college students, among others.

These 1,100 voices are the most recent expression of concern over the destruction and waste promised by the Discovery Center project — concern that has been growing.

Last November, the Gabrieleno Band of Mission Indians announced their opposition to the project. Local chapters of the Sierra Club, Audubon Society and California Native Plant Society pulled out of the project booster club last year. And in 2008 the county’s environmental review board deemed the project “incompatible” with the Whittier Narrows Significant Ecological Area.

Together we can help save the Whittier Narrows wildlife sanctuary, the community’s access to firsthand experiences of nature there and our evermore-scarce financial resources.

Thank you for your continuing support.

Jim Odling
President, Friends of the Whittier Narrows Natural Area