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A state-convened working group is recommending a series of initial steps toward reducing whale entanglements in crab gear in California, including more monitoring and retrieval of lost fishing gear. The Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group was convened in September after the Center for Biological Diversity and other groups found that whale entanglements in 2014 and 2015 had reached historic highs.
Small cascades of cold, pristine water rush out of the hillside at Big Springs, the headwaters of the Sacramento River, as they converge in a clear and shallow pool located in the Mount Shasta City Park.
On September 26, as people hiked to and relaxed besides Big Springs, Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, and hundreds of environmentalists and activists from all over California and Oregon held a rally, the “Water Every Drop Sacred” event, in the scenic park at the Sacramento River headwaters. After the rally ended, Sisk and tribal members led a march and protest of 160 people to the water bottling plant.
The Tribe is opposed to the planned opening of the plant, closed after it was operated by the Coca-Cola Bottling Company and other corporations for years, in accordance with its commitment to protect and preserve the Headwaters of the river, the Mount Shasta watershed and sacred tribal lands.
Read More and View Photos
See Also: Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center
|| Environmental Justice Coalition for Water
Wildfires are a natural and regular occurrence during the dry season in California. After four years of drought, the situation this year is especially dire with huge numbers of large fires breaking out all over the state. The Rocky Fire was only contained within the last several days after burning for more than a month, consuming 70,000 acres in total. D. Boyer shared a thorough report from the scene of the Rocky Fire:
On July 29th a fire broke out in the area of Morgan Valley Road and Rocky Creek road in Lake County California. Since this fire started near Rocky Creek road it became known as the Rocky Fire. All wildfires or forest fires are given names according to the location where they started. The fire grew quickly because of the outside temperatures, the availability of fuel, and the lack of moisture or rain. The Rocky Fire has so far consumed at least 60,000 acres and as of August 6 is only 20% contained. The fire has used at least 26 aircraft, 301 Fire engines, 57 dozers, 40 water tenders, and over 3,000 firefighters. Air National Guard equipment has also been used to fight this fire.
So far 43 residences, 53 outbuildings destroyed, and 8 structures damaged. Counties effected are Lake, Yolo & Colusa Counties. The Rocky Fire has forced the evacuation of 1,480 people, and at least 13,000 have been asked to vacate their properties.
Read More with Photos and Video
The Environmental Protection Information Center and the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned
the California Fish and Game Commission to protect the Humboldt marten under the California Endangered Species Act. The Humboldt marten is a cat-sized carnivore related to minks and otters that lives in old-growth forests in Northern California and southern Oregon. Most of the marten’s forest habitat has been destroyed by logging, and the remaining martens in California likely number fewer than 100 individuals. Consequently, California’s Humboldt martens are at grave risk of being lost entirely from the state.
“California’s Humboldt martens have been eliminated from 95 percent of their historic range,” said Rob DiPerna, EPIC’s California Forest and Wildlife Advocate. “Survival and recovery of the marten demands immediate action.”
The historic range of the marten extends from Sonoma County in coastal California north through the coastal mountains of Oregon. Once thought extinct, the Humboldt marten was rediscovered on the Six Rivers National Forest in 1996. Since that time, researchers have continued to detect martens in California, but also determined that Humboldt martens declined substantially between 2001 and 2008 and have not rebounded from that decline.
Read More | Environmental Protection Information Center | Center for Biological Diversity
Flowback fluid from fracked oil wells in California commonly contains dangerous levels of cancer-causing chemicals, a new analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity has found. Benzene levels over 1,500 times the federal limits for drinking water were found in fracking flowback fluid tests dating back to April 2014 obtained and analyzed by the Center. Benzene in excess of federal limits was found in 320 tests, and chromium-6 was detected 118 times. Both chemicals can cause cancer.
On December 22, with the full support of marine conservation organizations, a group of California legislators called on the Pacific Fisheries Management Council and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service to transition away from deadly California drift gillnets. “California drift gillnets are deadly curtains of death for marine wildlife like whales and sea turtles,” said Doug Karpa of Turtle Island Restoration Network.
Voters in two California counties were able to overcome the oil industry and pass fracking bans by wide margins. Measure J in San Benito County passed with 57% of the vote, and Measure S in Mendocino County passed with 67%.
Conservation groups notified the National Marine Fisheries Service of their intent to sue the agency for delaying Endangered Species Act protection for the pinto abalone, an approximately six-inch snail with an iridescent inner shell that was once common in rocky, intertidal coasts from Alaska to Baja California.
On September 23, Native American Tribal members, including direct descendants of the Pomo peoples who once populated the Little Lake Valley where Caltrans is currently building an oversized freeway, joined environmental groups in a protest on the north end of the Willits Bypass highway project. Protestors entered the construction zone north of town in the early morning hours, stopping the fast and furious flow of dirt-filled, double-belly dump trucks that have been working from dawn to dusk to cover the wetlands and archeological sites the activists seek to protect.
Elders and spiritual leaders from local Pomo Indian Bands and the American Indian Movement (AIM) lead the way to threatened cultural sites where prayers were offered for the ancestors. The AIM flag and drum were present near the construction area where Native American cultural artifacts have been discovered. The sites have been documented and fenced off by Caltrans, but are still slated to be destroyed by being permanently graded and buried under the Bypass as currently designed.
“I hear and feel our ancestors cry to save our villages from destruction. The white man’s history repeats itself. We pray that the Creator will hear our prayers”, said Priscilla Hunter, tribal representative for the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians. “Caltrans placated the interests of local ranchers by giving them permanent grazing rights on the mitigation lands and built the viaduct over the railroad track to preserve it, but yet they don’t listen to the Indians’ concerns for protection of our ancestors’ culture or to our call for downsizing the northern interchange to avoid a large village site.”
Previous Related Indybay Features:
Destruction of Little Lake Valley Wetlands Finally Halted After Many Permit Violations
Earth Firster Occupies Wick Drain Stitcher to Save Little Lake Valley from Willits Bypass
Tree-Sitters Removed as Opposition to CalTrans Bypass Project Grows
The National Marine Fisheries Service has released new data showing that the California-based drift gillnet fishery targeting swordfish killed an estimated 53 marine mammals from May 2013 through January 2014. Fishery observers monitored 34 percent of the drift gillnet sets made last year; they documented that the fishery killed an estimated three California gray whales, six short-finned pilot whales, nine northern right whale dolphins, nine California sea lions and 26 short-beaked common dolphins.
In a move that stunned but was welcomed by long-time opponents, the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) suspended
the permit for the Caltrans Willits Bypass on Friday, June 20. ACE is the agency that regulates impacts on federally protected wetlands. This project has been highly contested, with Native American involvement and over 50 arrests last year.
“This appears to be the first time ACE has ever pulled a permit on an approved project under construction,” said Ellen Drell, co-founder of the Willits Environmental Center, one of the project’s opponents. ”We are surprised and elated that ACE has finally acted, although we have been pointing out the enormous problems with Caltrans’ plans for years."
Over 50 people were arrested last year in protests to stop Caltrans' construction and advocate for alternative plans. In addition to the issues of wetlands destruction, a long list of violations of the Migratory Bird Act, Clean Water Act, and numerous permit violations and other habitat threats, it has come to the attention of local Tribes that archaeological sites were buried with new fill without Tribal consultation, as required by law.
Read More | See Also: Ceremony to Protect Wetlands Brings Together Environmentalists, Indigenous People
Previous Coverage: Occupation of the Willits Bypass on Highway 101
| Action Camp to Defend Little Lake Valley Established
In a victory for ocean wildlife, federal fishery managers in Sacramento on March 13 decided not to expand driftnet fishing into protected sea turtle habitat along the California coast because it would significantly raise the risk of capture and drowning of endangered whales, sea turtles and dolphins. But the Pacific Fishery Management Council failed to take direct action to remove driftnets from the California coast, though the gear is banned in Oregon and Washington.
The Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal petition on January 16 with the National Marine Fisheries Service to protect more critical habitat for the endangered Southern Resident population of orcas. If successful the proposal would extend Endangered Species Act protection to the whales’ winter foraging range off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California. After several drastic declines, only 81 killer whales remain in the Southern Resident population.
On the morning of October 22nd
, supporters and members of some 50 families of those executed by California police will converge on Sacramento as part of the National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation. They will demand an end to police violence from California Attorney General Kamala Harris. They will demand proper investigations into their loved ones' deaths — not whitewashes performed by police investigating themselves and District Attorneys refusing to thoroughly investigate the police.
The event is being organized across multiple channels, including families of victims, The Stop Mass Incarceration Network
, and Anonymous. One of the key organizing groups is the Duenez family and supporters. Ernesto Duenez Jr. was gunned down on June 8, 2011, in Manteca, California, in what many have called a police execution. John Moody, who killed Duenez, was cleared of the shooting of Ernesto Duenez Jr. on December 13, 2012 by the county District Attorney, just a day before the police video of the incident was released to the public. And so, with essentially no check, police murders and assaults continue; the ranks of those killed are added to in the United States at an unparalleled pace.
After the rally In Sacramento, there will be another in Oakland at 2:30pm
at 73rd and International Blvd. and one at 4:30pm
at the Fruitvale BART Station. There will also be events held
in Fresno, Hayward, Redding, Los Angeles, San Diego, and other cities in California and across the United States.
Read More |
Oakland events |
October 22nd Coalition list of events