Touring a 14-square-mile Delta island where sweeping cornfields will provide a home for legions of sandhill cranes come winter, a team of government officials from Mexico got a pretty good idea Wednesday how private lands can be used to benefit public resources. The visit to Staten Island was part of a weeklong tour by the delegation, which has partnered with the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service to swap ideas about how to preserve soil, water and wildlife species while fighting climate change.These issues, after all, transcend political boundaries.
Archive for month: August, 2016
You are now in California and the U.S. category.
The Obama administration unveiled initiatives to help restore the Salton Sea and improve the region’s climate resilience, economy and public health as part of President Barack Obama’s visit to Lake Tahoe Wednesday. Obama talked about the need to combat climate change as part of conservation efforts during his keynote speech at the sold-out 2016 Lake Tahoe Summit. Before Obama arrived on the West Coast, the White House press office announced a package to aid the Salton Sea and plans to boost conservation at Lake Tahoe.
You never know what kind of bold, bizarre and humanity-benefitting concepts the Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) will yield. After all, the LAGI is the force behind a biannual design competition — motto: “Renewable Energy Can Be Beautiful” — that in 2014 introduced the world to Energy Duck, a semi-terrifying, solar panel-clad bird-monster roughly the size of a tugboat. Like in years past, LAGI 2016 aims to solicit “human-centered solutions” that marry site-specific public art with sustainable energy infrastructure.
Located in Riverside and Imperial counties, about 150 miles (240km) southeast of Los Angeles in the desert, the Salton Sea is a 360-square-mile (930-square-km) lake, the largest by area in California. But that status is under threat, as the lake has been shrinking for years, exposing the dry lakebed and creating dust that has hurt the air quality for local residents, while taking away critical wetland habitat for thousands of birds. Now conditions are expected to deteriorate at a rapid clip when it stops receiving Colorado River water as part of an earlier agreement.
A few years ago, on a ranch in the small Marin town of Nicasio, a series of events led to an important environmental discovery. Scientists found that a single application of compost on rangeland helps plants suck carbon from the air and store it in the ground. Compost on less than three acres can offset carbon emissions from four diesel truck trips from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. If compost were applied to the millions of acres of rangeland in California, the effect would be monumental.
It can be difficult to see any bright side when it comes to the water challenges facing the western U.S. Whether it’s the severe drought going on its fifth year or the nation’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead, hitting a historically low water level, there are many valid reasons to be concerned about the region’s dwindling water supplies.
The North San Diego Water Reuse Coalition issued a response Tuesday to the San Diego County Grand Jury’s May 31 report that commended the coalition for its voluntary collaboration in helping solve San Diego County’s drinking water supply problems with its regional recycled water project.
Everyone knows about the California Gold Rush – the massive migration of fortune seekers to the hills of the former Spanish colony in the late 1840s and 1850s. During the same period, however, there was another rush to California with a more lasting effect – farmers seeking fertile land and a mild climate. Those included the ill-fated Donner Party, but many thousands more. Many who came for the gold also learned that more durable fortunes were to be found in farming, such as my cousin, Hugh Glenn, the “wheat king of California” for whom Glenn County is named.
The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem was once a very different place. Before levees and dams, the rivers and streams that flowed through the Central Valley into the San Francisco Bay swelled and shrank with the seasons. Huge, shallow floodplains warmed by the sun mingled with icy mountain snowmelt to create a habitat rich with microscopic plankton, the base of the aquatic food chain. Now, nearly all the waterways that feed the Delta are channelized for shipping, farming and flood control, none more so than the Sacramento River.
As drought-stricken residents of Los Angeles’s hottest neighborhoods replace thirsty lawns with native plants, pavers and bare soil, new research has shown how their local climates could begin tipping back in the direction of their desert-like origins. In a region beset this year by drought and powerful heat waves, the widespread adoption of drought-proof landscaping is expected to bring warmer days — and much cooler nights. Overall, experts say the changes would help to protect residents from heat waves, which are being made worse by global warming.