Entries categorized "Environment"

A Tour of The Sustainable Living and Learning Communities

A IMG_8406A future focused interdisciplinary institution grows from the deep roots of UC Davis’s alternative communities.

By Colin Walsh

In an earlier article we discussed the new SLLC that binds together the Student Farm, The Experimental Community Gardens, the Domes, Design Lab workspace, and Project Compost and the Tri Co-ops (Pierce, The Agrarian Effort, and Davis Student Co-op). What had been distinct learning communities with similar values and commitment to student agency, are now a unified grassroots educational initiative that explores a broad range of principles and practices related to agricultural, environmental, and social sustainability. Together, they aspire to promote 4 values, according to the SLLC website: experiential learning, sustainability, community, and place.

We also looked at the Green Fellowship program, a new effort to “fund projects exploring student-led advancement of social justice, sustainable technology, and environmental sustainability at UC Davis” according to the website.

A_IMG_4047The Tour

On Saturday 5/11, as a very nice wine and cheese reception featuring food from the Student Farm and wine from the award winning Matthiasson and Farella wineries wound down (Steve Matthiasson and Tom Farella where in attendance), our tour guides gathered us together in the Eco Garden by the historic farm house at the student farm. We were welcomed warmly by our guides Carol Hillhouse and Nick Tamayo. Nick described his several years of experience with the student farm as he became ever more involved.

First, we walked through the Eco Garden, literally taking time to smell the flowers. Our guides took the time to point out plants and told us about the history and visions for the areas as we went.

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Great Tree Search Update

Scarlett-oak
This scarlet oak on Antioch is a car magnet because of the cooling shade it produces all summer.

By Greg McPherson

Nineteen trees were awarded Great Tree status in Tree Davis’s Great Tree Search. Great Trees were designated because of their unusual size, species, form, or history. Awardees ranged from 12 to 380 years old, 11 to 129 feet tall and 1 to 20 feet girth. Fascinating stories on what made each tree special were captured in a series of Davis Enterprise articles this spring and can be found online at the Tree Davis website http://www.treedavis.org/programs/great-tree-search/.

Great-tree-necklace
Each Great Tree has a Necklace with species name, fun fact, and a QR code that points one to more information on the website.

Also on the website is a map with locations and fun facts on each Great Tree. A graphic design class at Sacramento City College produced unique Tree Necklaces that adorn each tree with species name, fun fact, and a QR code that points one to more information on the website.

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Open Space and Habitat Commission visits new City open space area

IMG_5897On Saturday, the Open Space and Habitat Commission had an officially noticed "meeting" – really, a stroll through the woods – on City-owned land to the west of the Putah Creek South Fork Preserve.  This land, approximately 10 acres in total, was purchased with Open Space funds in 2017 with the goal of providing more open space access for Davisites.  Most of the trail is already there (recently cleared by volunteers); the City plans to make small improvements like signage, removal of invasive plants, etc.

This post is my unofficial impression of our morning as a commission member, as documented through my phone camera.  It was a lovely hike and I hope you enjoy these pictures from the City's "backyard," which you can visit yourself if you care to.

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Making Biking Convenient

Is making driving worse our Bike-rack-1 only alternative?

By Roberta Millstein

When I read the Davis Enterprise op-ed on roads, driving, and biking last month (“Infrastructure, what is it good for?”), I was sympathetic.  After all, it does seem to make sense to call out the “operative principle” that “if only we make driving (or parking) inconvenient enough, then people will drive less, or slower, or somewhere else.”  Indeed, as the op-ed says, we surely don’t want to rejigger our roads and our parking spaces only to increase car traffic and cars idling if the goal is to reduce carbon emissions.

But now I am not so sure.

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UC Temporarily Suspends Glyphosate-based Herbicides

IMG-4152

By Nancy Price

On May 14th, 2019 Janet Napolitano, President of the University of California, sent a remarkable letter to the Chancellors of all UC campuses, the Director of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, and the CEOs of all  the UC Medical centers announcing the “temporary suspension of the use of glyphosate-based herbicides.”

Napolitano cited “concerns about possible human health and ecological hazards, as well as potential legal and reputational risks associated with this category of herbicides.”

This may be a response to the mounting scientific research linking glyphosate to cancer, or it could just be that the UC system is worried about being named as a defendant in a glyphosate lawsuit like the three Monsanto/Bayer have lost over the last two years. The most recent lawsuit found Bayer responsible for damages of 2 billion dollars.

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Local Environmental Heros Honored by Sierra Club

Sierraclub
(From Press release) This year, environmentalists from the local Sierra Club Yolano Group's area (primarily Yolo County) received 4 of the 6 individual awards given for all of Northern California at the Sierra Club’s Mother Lode Chapter Annual Awards Banquet in Sacramento on May 18. One additional special award for meritorious service was given to a local environmentalist by the Yolano Group.

The Mother Lode Chapter of the Sierra Club covers almost all of Northern California from Yosemite to the Oregon border and the Inner Coast Range to the Nevada state line. The Sierra Club is the nation's largest and oldest environmental group and has almost 1,500 members in Yolo Co. and 3.5 million members nationwide.

Following are the local environmental heroes receiving the awards at the gala event and a brief description of why they were recognized.

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Davis Hosts Green New Deal Town Hall as Part of Nationwide Mobilization

WHAT:
Community members from Davis and surrounding areas will meet at the UC Davis Art Annex to discuss the ​Green New Deal and how to best address the climate emergency on Saturday, May 25th, from 10am-12pm. The event is one of more than 250 town halls for the Green New Deal taking place all over the country. It hopes to stimulate conversation and action on climate justice in the region.
WHEN:
Saturday May 25, 10 AM - 12 PM
WHERE:
UC Davis Art Annex 107
WHO:
● Sunrise Movement ● Yolo County Progressives ● Sierra Club (Yolano Group) ● UPTE - University Professional and Technical Employees ● YDSA - Young Democratic Socialists of America at UC Davis

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Concern about tree pruning in middle of nesting season

By Pam Nieberg 

Please contact the City Council, City Manager, City Wildlife Resource Specialist and whomever else you wish regarding the city tree pruning that is going on right now.  Someone in the city contracted for the pruning of city trees now, in the middle of nesting season for virtually every bird species, including the legally protected Swainsons Hawk.  Who in their right mind would do that?

When I received a notice of the pruning, I contacted the city to ask that it stop, giving the reasons stated above.  Unfortunately, a number of the city trees in my neighborhood, including a number of Canary Island Pines which Swainson's hawks love, were heavily pruned despite efforts to prevent it. 

Normally, this time of year, I hear the Swainson's hawks vocalizing all over the neighborhood, every day, all day. Yesterday and today after the pruning--complete silence.

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Traffic Fiascos: Who’s Responsible?

By Glen Holstein

Lately Davis has been lurching from one fiasco, paid parking, to another, Mace gridlock, like a drunk staggering home from a dive bar.  Kudos to the Davis Enterprise for connecting the dots that these and many other fiascos are related elements of a campaign that’s strangling vehicle traffic while increasing greenhouse gas release and reducing safety.  And kudos to Ellie Fairclough for pointing out the similarity between the Mace and Paradise fiascos.  As at Mace, the exit road from Paradise was reduced from four to two lanes and traffic “calmed” so much that 88 people were incinerated trying to escape the Camp Fire.

And in the paid parking fiasco parking enforcement staff were cheerleaded so much that they started behaving more like an occupying army than public servants.  Recently when a downtown business owner tried going to lunch she was forcibly detained by a parking enforcer who yelled “You can’t leave – I haven’t written you a ticket yet.”

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Faulty Logic and Catch-22s in the Proposed Removal of Endangered Species Protections for the Gray Wolf

Canis-lupus
Photo by John & Karen Hollingsworth/USFWS

On June 13, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) proposed removing the gray wolf, Canis lupus, from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.  At that time, I wrote an article and submitted an official comment, arguing that the 2013 Proposed Rule was capricious, arbitrary, and inconsistent

Now, almost six years later, the FWS proposes to “delist” Canis lupus again.  However, the logic underlying the 2019 Proposed Rule is no better than the logic underlying 2013 Proposed Rule.  Comparing the two a bit, focusing on the wolves in the Pacific Northwest (western Washington and western Oregon) and California, will make that evident.

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Davis's Great Burger Battle Is Over – What Now?

GStreetWunderbarBurger
Would you like to see G Street Wunderbar offer this burger again?

The great COOL Cuisine Burger Battle is over, and by all accounts it was a grand success, both in terms of number of burger consumed and people's delight in the various burger offerings. But what's next for Davis's vegan food scene?  Surely there is more to come from COOL Cuisine, once founder Anya McCann recovers from the herculean effort it took to pull this off. 

In the meantime, though, is there anything that you and I can do?  Yes, I believe there is.  But before we get to that, let's review.

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A “Revolution of Values” is needed to realize the promise of Earth Day

MLK at Riverside Church

By Nancy Price

The Founding of Earth Day 

During the 1960s, the concerns of environmental and anti-war activists began to converge as they’d had enough of corporate environmental disasters, epitomized by Love Canal (1953) and wide-spread harm to nature from indiscriminate use of DDT and chemicals that Rachel Carson revealed in Silent Spring (1962). There were also the assassinations of President Kennedy, Malcom X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy, and the increasing violence of the War in Vietnam and at home - the tragic My Lai Massacre (March 1967), police brutality at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, and the widening carpet bombing, extensive use of Agent Orange, and move into Cambodia.

Finally, in 1969, two iconic disasters galvanized the public and legislators into action: in Ohio, the alarming fire on the Cuyahoga River in downtown Cleveland, long polluted by industrial waste and sewage; and in California, the huge Santa Barbara Channel oil spill, at that time the largest oil “blowout” in U.S. waters that covered 30 miles of pristine sandy beaches and greatly impacted marine life.

It was no surprise that after Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson proposed Earth Day for April 22, 1970, 20 million people turned out to peacefully demonstrate. Anti-war protests continued, however, to escalate at university and college campuses and tragically, less than a month after Earth Day, four students were killed by the Ohio National Guard at Kent State University, Ohio (May 4, 1970).

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VCE community energy advisers offer expertise, provide access

VCEAC
Members of the Valley Clean Energy Community Advisory Committee are, from left, Lorenzo Kristov; Gerry Braun, chair; Marsha Baird, secretary; Christine Casey; Mark Aulman; and Christine Shewmaker, vice chair. Not pictured are Yvonne Hunter and David Springer. (Courtesy photo)

(From Press Release) Greener energy, customer choice, local control, access — they’re the hallmarks of Valley Clean Energy (VCE), a public electricity program launched locally last June. VCE serves residential and business customers in Davis, Woodland and unincorporated Yolo County.

The highly skilled staff members, a board of directors made up of local elected officials and an advisory committee of experts from the three jurisdictions are transforming the idea of community choice energy into a reality.

“The Community Advisory Committee is a really powerful group with quite a diverse mix of backgrounds,” says Davis City Councilman Lucas Frerichs, a member and past chair of the VCE board.

The members’ breadth and depth of knowledge makes for a “stellar” bunch, adds Yvonne Hunter, a longtime Davis resident who is one of the CAC’s nine volunteer members. Before her retirement from the League of California Cities, Hunter served as the lead lobbyist for state legislation that authorized cities and counties to create Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) electricity providers.

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Betting on a crash – confronting those speculating on our future

The dark side of capitalism is that disruption, change and scarcity all provide avenues of profit for those willing to speculate on its consequences.

Paradise-on-fire
Paradise on fire

By Nick Buxton

It is hard to imagine reading the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report and feeling energised and excited. After all, the report, published in October 2018, warned that we are on a path to catastrophic climate change, way beyond the maximum 1.5 degrees temperature increase goal made three years ago at the United Nations climate conference in Paris. It leaves me with a sinking feeling of dread. Yet, strange as it may seem, some who read the IPCC report may well have reacted with joy. Yes, at the chance to make money. The dark side of capitalism is that disruption, change and scarcity all provide avenues of profit for those willing to speculate on its consequences.

The seemingly shameless capacity of some people to seek profits in the most desperate of situations was brought starkly home recently when I read about a financial investor in Dallas who as Hurricane Harvey approached the US east coast realised that investing in short-term housing in Houston and South Florida would be profitable as people fled their homes and looked for anywhere to stay. “We saw occupancy go to 100 percent in a lot of those hotels,” says the Dallas investor. “We didn’t crush it. But we made 25 percent, 30 percent, pretty quick.”

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Local Sierra Club and Audubon Groups Raise Concerns about Burrowing Owls at Mace 25

Burrowing-owls
Buow picture taken by R. Millstein, 8/2017

Davisites may recall the large proposed business park, the Mace Ranch Innovation Center (MRIC), which would be sited on the farmland outside of the Mace curve to the east of Davis, subject to a Measure R vote.  The project proposal was withdrawn in 2016, but the commission on which I serve, the Open Space and Habitat Commission, has been told informally that the project may be re-proposed again in some form.  In its original form, the proposal included 25 acres of land purchased with funds from the City’s Open Space program, widely referred to as the “Mace 25.”  (See my op-ed in the Davis Enterprise, “How 25 acres of open space got into the MRIC proposal” for the history of how that occurred).

In response to the widespread belief that the MRIC proposal will back in front of the City, two local environmental groups have raised concerns about the presence of burrowing owls on the Mace 25: the local chapters of the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society. Note that burrowing owls have been designated as a “species of special concern” in California, and their numbers have been declining precipitously in recent years.

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Valley Clean Energy Board Meeting to Be Held on April 11

VCE(From Press Release) The Valley Clean Energy board of directors will meet at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 11, in the Community Chambers at Davis City Hall, 23 Russell Blvd. in Davis. The meeting is open to the public.

The board — which includes members of the Davis and Woodland city councils and the Yolo County Board of Supervisors — is expected to discuss strategies for increasing the amount of renewable power that VCE will offer, with a focus on local renewable resources.

VCE, the local electricity provider, launched last June and provides cleaner energy at competitive rates to 55,000 local customers. For more information, visit https://valleycleanenergy.org. To receive agendas by email, sign up at https://valleycleanenergy.org/get-in-touch/.

 


Update on Pesticide Use in the City of Davis

Central ParkFollowing is a copy of a letter sent by Alan Pryor, a Natural Resources Commission member, concerning pesticide use in Davis and the qualifications required for consideration for the IPM Specialist position for which the City is now seeking a replacement. The letter was sent to Stan Gryzco (Public Works Assistant Director), Richard Tsai (Environmental Resources Manager), and John McNearny (Wildlife Resource Specialist) as the top 3 City officials overseeing the as-yet-to-be-replaced Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Specialist.

Readers may recall that the previous beloved IPM Specialist, Martin Guerena left the position under unusual circumstances and was subsequently awarded the City's Environmental Recognition Award last year in the Individual Category for his decade of service to the City.

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Cool Cuisine Burger Battle Brings Magnificent Medley of Flavors

BurgerbattleWith just a little over a week left of the March Cool Cuisine vegan Burger Battle, I thought now would be a good time to share the burgers that I’ve tried so far.  I hope to try at least one or two more before the end of the month.  (Full disclosure: I’m not actually vegan, more like a flexitarian).

My partner and I have tried four of the entries, focusing not on the burgers-trying-to-be-like-meat, but rather on the more unusual offerings.  Our burgers have come from the Davis Food Co-op, Yeti Restaurant, Redrum, and Zumapoke & Lush Ice (with the Upper Crust Bakery providing vegan buns for the Co-op and Zumapoke).  All were creative, flavorful, and, most importantly, delicious.  Of the four, the one from the Co-op is probably my favorite… but not by much.  Each was outstanding in its own way.

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Bob Dunning Doesn’t Understand that the City’s Declaration of a Climate Emergency Is No Laughing Matter

ClimateChangeComicWe are indeed in a climate emergency, and I am glad that the City Council has officially recognized it; big kudos also to the citizen activists who urged them to. I look forward to seeing the concrete actions that will be made in light of the recent Declaration.

Yet apparently not everyone feels this way.  In a pair of recent columns (here and here), Bob Dunning made fun of the Declaration with a series of obviously ridiculous proposals that, he suggests (tongue firmly in cheek) the City could implement.

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Is JUMP bike’s minimum age limit a violation of Federal law?

JUMP image smallThe following is a modified version of a letter I sent on February 11 to Ryan Rzepecki, CEO/Founder of JUMP, the electric bike share brand owned by Uber that is the sole provider of bike share in Davis (as well as Sacramento, UC Davis and West Sacramento). I have not yet received a reply.

The Bicycling, Transportation and Street Safety Commission (BTSSC) holds its next monthly meeting this Thursday, March 14, at 5:30 pm at the Davis Senior Center, A St. entrance. An evaluation of Sacramento JUMP is on the agenda. I have created a series of “Commissioner’s Reports” which address the age limits, weight limits, speed limit settings, parking capabilities and other aspects of the system.  This is available here as a Google Doc or as a PDF at the agenda link for this meeting.

In my view Jump’s minimum age limit of 18 and maximum weight limit of 210 lbs and the City and/or region’s required  speed assistance limit of 15 mph of the bike and restriction on parking flexibility are contrary to our city’s culture, goals and traditions, and do not respect the balance of safety and convenience created in State law. They reduce the capability of the JUMP bike in general and minimize the advantages of a moderate electric boost. While addressing these issues, I will do something more specific: I will make a motion to ask Council to determine if the minimum age limit may be against Federal law -- it is the age issue which I focus on in this letter… - T. Edelman

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