By Don Pelton
After sending a few friends a link to a good SacBee article today about the stressed reservoirs in the Feather River watershed above Lake Oroville, one of my friends called my attention to the extensive clearcutting in lands surrounding some of Lake Oroville’s feeder streams up to the southeast of Lake Oroville, all visible in Google Earth (see snapshot below).
Here’s the very informative SacBee article:
And here’s a snapshot I took a few minutes ago, using Google Earth, showing some of these same areas of the watershed to the east of Lake Oroville, including feeder streams into the Lake.
Clearcutting prevents sequestration of the rainwater and accelerates the runoff, carrying precious soil with it. All of which adds to the already considerable burden on Lake Oroville.
In this snapshot, the light-colored speckled patches upstream from Lake Oroville (clearcut areas) are conspicuous:
The Sierra Science Lecture Series at the Nevada County Campus welcomes Kelly Santos in a presentation titled, Implementing Youth-Led Citizen Science Through Plant Phenology. The presentation will be held on Tuesday evening, February 21, from 6:30 – 7:30 pm, in the Multipurpose Center, building, N-12. Come early and enjoy a meet-and-greet and refreshments at 6:00 pm.
Kelly will discuss phenology, the study of when things appear in nature and the influence of seasonal changes and climate change. She will present a citizen science plant phenology project led by the Sierra Streams Institute Education Program that they implemented in two local high schools. Students contributed as citizen-scientists to a national phenological dataset and analyzed and interpreted data to discern long term trends. Come learn about this amazing project, the available curriculum, and find out the many ways to become a citizen scientist!
About our presenter:
Kelly Santos works as an education program Co-Director for Sierra Streams Institute. Kelly was raised in Irvine, CA, and graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a B.S. in Marine Biology. She brings extensive laboratory, field, and teaching experience to Sierra Streams Institute. In the past, she has worked and volunteered with the Ocean Institute in Dana Point, UC Santa Cruz, Michigan State University, Tahoe Resource Conservation District, as well as Pretoma and Centro de Educación Creativa in Costa Rica. These various positions have taken her from the depths of the kelp forest to lakes in the high sierra and allowed her the opportunity to work among scientists, teachers, environmental managers, and students. In her free time she enjoys exploring the Sierra, cooking, and making photographs.
This presentation is free, and the public is welcome and encouraged to attend. The Nevada County Campus is located at 250 Sierra College Drive, Grass Valley, CA 95945. Parking is $3 on campus and permits can be purchased at the kiosk machine at the main entrance to the campus. For more information about this presentation and others in this series, contact the series coordinator, Jason Giuliani at: email@example.com.
Sponsored by: NCC Sierra Science Series, Sierra Streams Institute
By Hayley Yount Severe
(Reprinted from Facebook with permission of the author)
When we first heard of the evacuation last week, we began to imagine what we would do in the same situation. Where would our dog go? How would we meet up with our children and grandchildren? What important items would we take with us, leave or simply forget amidst the chaos? Would we stay together; where would we go and who could we trust in a strange area we’re not familiar with? Would we have enough gas to get there? Will we have a home to return to? Imagine being given 30 minutes to leave your home, how would you respond?
I would like to share a story about Donna and Todd. We had many, many pets staying in cars last week, many suffering from extreme anxiety, diarrhea, vomiting. One of our volunteers helped an 88 yr old woman clean her car when both her cats, after day 2, became ill. She was trying to clean her cats with wet ones in the dark car, her clothes were covered in feces and urine. And no shower for 3 days. She had just had surgery a week before, she and her handicapped husband grabbed the cats, their canes and photos of the grandkids and eventually found their way to the Nevada County Fairgrounds.
The husband, age 89, had been sitting up in a chair for 2 days with no sleep, while his wife tended to the cats in their car. On top of that, in the haste to leave Marysville, they forgot their medicine. Our volunteer had to beg the husband not to leave to retrieve the medicines they so badly needed. We found them a lovely home to stay at ( #FriendlyHomesNC) with a wonderful couple who had been giving convalescent care to Mother in their home for 6 years.
The family drove to the Fairgrounds, picked up our elderly couple, took them to their home for hot showers, hot coffee, warm beds, fresh bandages for the wife’s surgical wound, and began the process of getting their meds filled here locally. Oh yes, lots and lots of hugs. Those kitties sure were happy to be out of that car and into a warm blanket that morning.
Stories like this compel us to be vigilant of the coming rains, and very prepared for the next possible evacuation. We have 32 screened homes that are ready to take in evacuees. We will match the evacuees to the appropriate home and assist them in the most urgent needs they may have. We’ve received calls from every corner of our beautiful county offering homes, ranches, Yurts, treehouses, Air B&B’s, condos, RV’s, and several kennels and farm properties suitable for pets. Dog food, toys, kennels and vet checkups too. So many families offered their children’s bedrooms, toys and videos to young families with small children. Toys, diapers, formula, all available for the asking from great service organizations in our county.
I could tell you all many stories such as this, so many people in our community simply could not do enough for these poor people. I heard time and again “There but for the Grace of God”. If you are interested in being added to our list of #FriendlyHomesNC please PM me. We are ready to go if this weekend’s rains exceed the forecast.
Be proud Nevada County, you shine brilliantly in a moment of crisis. Blessings to you all.
Hayley Yount Severe, Associate Publisher/Editor at 101 Things To Do in Wine Country, lives in Lake Wildwood. She says, “We are in the process of setting up a website for people to go where we can match evacuees to Friendly Home folks.” In the meantime, if you wish to volunteer, you may contact her on Facebook by Private Message.
Only in a surrealistic election year such as this could an otherwise ironic remark like the following — by Sherry Turkle — be read as straight-up un-ironic truth:
” … that this man who stood against democratic institutions is also a misogynist is a stroke of good fortune. The next time we may not be so lucky.”
(From “We Need to Talk about Donald“)
We live in Trump-country, a red county in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, near — but oh so far politically — from the coast. In a recent “President’s Day Parade,” our guests from the Bay Area got depressed when a pro-Trump display passed by.
It’s mostly peaceful here, save for the occasional wintertime flock of shrieking geese flying overhead and the bucolic sounds of butane honey-lab houses exploding.
Trump-love makes no sense to me, except as a sort derangement. We have some family further up the West Coast, a group of devout Christians, one of whom (Facebook informs me) recently joined “Prophets for Trump.” I’m still trying to parse the morality of that.
Meantime, what will happen to the children?
By Don Pelton
As I understand it, Sacramento’s CBS13 News Live Reporter Kelly Ryan this morning had “mixed results” when attempting to find someone in the City of Grass Valley willing to be interviewed about the Whispering Pines Brewery proposal.
Here, however, is the CBS13 brief report (snipped from their 10pm broadcast) that includes an interview with Dan Ketcham of CARD (Citizens Advocating Responsible Development), the local citizens’ group that initiated a lawsuit over the issue:
By Don Pelton
Attorney Michael W. Graf, representing local citizens’ group, Citizens Advocating Responsible Development (CARD), yesterday filed a petition in Nevada County Superior Court challenging the City of Grass Valley’s “actions on May 10, 2016 and May 24, 2016 approving Text Amendments of the Whispering Pines Specific Plan SP-1A Corporate Business Park designation.” Graf, in his notice to the City, added that “petitioner’s actions will include claims under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).”
The complete “Petition for Writ of Mandate” plus associated documents filed yesterday (including Graf’s notice to the City) can be read in their entirety here.
As I reported on May 11th (see “Grass Valley City Council Ignores CEQA Guidelines in Last Night’s Whispering Pines Decision“), the “Grass valley City Council last night voted 3 (Jason Fouyer, Howard Levine, Ben Aguilar) to 2 (Jan Arbuckle, Lisa Swarthout) to adopt an ordinance that includes (1) amendments to the Whispering Pines Business Park Specific Plan and (2) the adoption of a Negative Declaration as ‘the appropriate level of environmental review’ of these amendments.”
Now that the City is facing legal action over this issue, it has scheduled a closed meeting next Tuesday the 14th (prior to the regular City Council meeting) in order to discuss the matter, although there are no items concerning Whispering Pines in the regular open agenda for Tuesday. The following notice describing the reason for the closed meeting appears in the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting:
The “copy available for public inspection in Clerk’s Office” (referred to above) is most likely the same Petition and associated documents that I’ve made available here.
Attorney Michael Graf’s filing is a model of clarity, and leaves little doubt that — in approving the zoning changes — both Planning staff and the three Council members who approved the zoning changes failed to adequately consider CEQA’s requirements in the broadest sense (as they apply to potential environmental impacts) and in the narrowest details (the City’s failure to recirculate the revised Negative Declaration for further public comment).
The formal Petition for Writ of Mandate concludes with this request:
Nevada City-based non-profit Sierra Streams Institute is partnering with the Cancer Prevention Institute of California to launch an important new study on the health consequences of living in a mining-impacted community.
Sierra Streams Institute is currently seeking women over the age of 18 years, with a history of breast cancer and currently living in western Nevada County to participate in this exciting research project. Participants will be asked to provide a urine sample, toenail clippings, and complete a brief questionnaire. They are also planning a subsequent study involving in-home environmental sampling and are waiting for final approval of the study protocols.
This study, funded by state tobacco taxes through the California Breast Cancer Research Program, will focus on the amount of cadmium and arsenic in the bodies of women with and without breast cancer residing in historical Gold Country.
These two metals are of interest because they are found at high levels throughout Gold Country, are known carcinogens and may play a role in developing breast cancer. The three most populous counties in Gold Country, including Nevada County, have breast cancer rates that rank in the top ten counties in California.
To volunteer for the CHIME (Community Health Impacts of Mining Exposure) study or to learn more about this ground-breaking study, please visit Sierra Streams Institute website at: http://www.
Our power went out at 1:45 pm. We got an automated PG&E call just now that said the outage is affecting 1400+ customers. They estimate resolution by 4:45 pm.
Scientists believe that simple land management techniques can increase the rate at which carbon is absorbed from the atmosphere and stored in soils.
For many climate change activists, the latest rallying cry has been, “Keep it in the ground,” a call to slow and stop drilling for fossil fuels. But for a new generation of land stewards, the cry is becoming, “Put it back in the ground!”
As an avid gardener and former organic farmer, I know the promise that soil holds: Every ounce supports a plethora of life. Now, evidence suggests that soil may also be a key to slowing and reversing climate change.
Evidence suggests that soil may also be a key to slowing and reversing climate change.
“I think the future is really bright,” said Loren Poncia, an energetic Northern Californian cattle rancher. Poncia’s optimism stems from the hope he sees in carbon farming, which he has implemented on his ranch. Carbon farming uses land management techniques that increase the rate at which carbon is absorbed from the atmosphere and stored in soils. Scientists, policy makers, and land stewards alike are hopeful about its potential to mitigate climate change.
Carbon is the key ingredient to all life. It is absorbed by plants from the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and, with the energy of sunlight, converted into simple sugars that build more plant matter. Some of this carbon is consumed by animals and cycled through the food chain, but much of it is held in soil as roots or decaying plant matter. Historically, soil has been a carbon sink, a place of long-term carbon storage.
But many modern land management techniques, including deforestation and frequent tilling, expose soil-bound carbon to oxygen, limiting the soil’s absorption and storage potential. In fact, carbon released from soil is estimated to contribute one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Ranchers and farmers have the power to address that issue. Pastures make up 3.3 billion hectares, or 67 percent, of the world’s farmland. Carbon farming techniques can sequester up to 50 tons of carbon per hectare over a pasture’s lifetime. This motivates some ranchers and farmers to do things a little differently.
“It’s what we think about all day, every day,” said Sallie Calhoun of Paicines Ranch on California’s central coast. “Sequestering soil carbon is essentially creating more life in the soil, since it’s all fed by photosynthesis. It essentially means more plants into every inch of soil.”
Carbon released from soil is estimated to make up to one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Calhoun’s ranch sits in fertile, rolling California pastureland about an hour’s drive east of Monterey Bay. She intensively manages her cattle’s grazing, moving them every few days across 7,000 acres. This avoids compaction, which decreases soil productivity, and also allows perennial grasses to grow back between grazing. Perennial grasses, like sorghum and bluestems, have long root systems that sequester far more carbon than their annual cousins.
By starting with a layer of compost, Calhoun has also turned her new vineyard into an effective carbon sink. Compost is potent for carbon sequestration because of how it enhances otherwise unhealthy soil, enriching it with nutrients and microbes that increase its capacity to harbor plant growth. Compost also increases water-holding capacity, which helps plants thrive even in times of drought. She plans to till the land only once, when she plants the grapes, to avoid releasing stored carbon back into the atmosphere.
Managed grazing and compost application are just a few common practices of the 35 that the Natural Resources Conservation Service recommends for carbon sequestration. All 35 methods have been proven to sequester carbon, though some are better documented than others.
David Lewis, director of the University of California Cooperative Extension, says the techniques Calhoun uses, as well as stream restoration, are some of the most common. Lewis has worked with theMarin Carbon Project, a collaboration of researchers, ranchers, and policy makers, to study and implement carbon farming in Marin County, California. The research has been promising: They found that one application of compost doubled the production of grass and increased carbon sequestration by up to 70 percent. Similarly, stream and river ecosystems, which harbor lots of dense, woody vegetation, can sequester up to one ton of carbon, or as much as a car emits in a year, in just a few feet along their beds.
One application of compost doubled the production of grass and increased carbon sequestration by up to 70 percent.
On his ranch, Poncia has replanted five miles of streams with native shrubs and trees, and has applied compost to all of his 800 acres of pasture. The compost-fortified grasses are more productive and have allowed him to double the number of cattle his land supports. This has had financial benefits. Ten years ago, Poncia was selling veterinary pharmaceuticals to subsidize his ranch. But, with the increase in cattle, he has been able to take up ranching full time. Plus, his ranch sequesters the same amount of carbon each year as is emitted by 81 cars.
Much of the research on carbon farming focuses on rangelands, which are open grasslands, because they make up such a large portion of ecosystems across the planet. They are also, after all, where we grow a vast majority of our food.
“Many of the skeptics of carbon farming think we should be planting forests instead,” Poncia said. “I think forests are a no-brainer, but there are millions of acres of rangelands across the globe and they are not sequestering as much carbon as they could be.”
The potential of carbon farming lies in wide-scale implementation. The Carbon Cycle Institute, which grew out of the Marin Carbon Project with the ambition of applying the research and lessons to other communities in California and nationally, is taking up that task.
“It really all comes back to this,” said Torri Estrada, pointing to a messy white board with the words SOIL CARBON scrawled in big letters. Estrada is managing director of the Carbon Cycle Institute, where he is working to attract more ranchers and farmers to carbon farming. The white board maps the intricate web of organizations and strategies the institute works with. They provide technical assistance and resources to support land stewards in making the transition.
“If the U.S. government would buy carbon credits from farmers, we would produce them.”
For interested stewards, implementation, and the costs associated with it, are different. It could be as simple as a one-time compost application or as intensive as a lifetime of managing different techniques. But for all, the process starts by first assessing a land’s sequestration potential and deciding which techniques fit a steward’s budget and goals. COMET-Farm, an online tool produced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, can help estimate a ranch’s carbon input and output.
The institute also works with state and national policy makers to provide economic incentives for these practices. “If the U.S. government would buy carbon credits from farmers, we would produce them,” Poncia said. These credits are one way the government could pay farmers to mitigate climate change. “Farmers overproduce everything. So, if they can fund that, we will produce them,” he said. While he is already sequestering carbon, Poncia says that he could do more, given the funding.
Estrada sees the bigger potential of carbon farming to help spur a more fundamental conversation about how we relate to the land. “We’re sitting down with ranchers and having a conversation, and carbon is just the medium for that,” he said. Through this work, Estrada has watched ranchers take a more holistic approach to their management.
On his ranch, Poncia has shifted from thinking about himself as a grass farmer growing feed for his cattle to a soil farmer with the goal of increasing the amount of life in every inch of soil.
By Don Pelton (Board Member of the Wolf Creek Community Alliance)
Dear Friends of Wolf Creek:
Here’s a great way to have some fun and trigger a contribution from Summer Thyme’s Restaurant to the Wolf Creek Community Alliance (without spending an extra cent of your own)!
Drop by Summer Thyme’s Restaurant at 231 Colfax Avenue in Grass Valley and have something to eat, ask the cashier for some wooden nickels when you order (you’ll get one “nickel” for every $5 you spend) and drop them in the donation box below the Wolf Creek Community Alliance poster (see picture below). Based of the number of “nickels” in the donation box, Summer Thyme’s will donate a percentage of their profits to WCCA.
This offer is good for every visit you make to Summer Thyme’s from now through June.
Wooden Nickels (in front of register):
Here’s the Complete Summer Thyme’s Menu: http://www.summerthymes.com/menus/