6/5/10  Earlier this week, Jacoby Creek turned the color of chocolate milk.

While there has been a lot of rain recently, old-timers who live in the watershed said they've never seen it run so muddy. In the past few days, officials have found the source of the heavy silt, a landslide that started on an old logging road on a tributary of Jacoby Creek called Monahan or Golf Course creek.

Now they are trying to figure out how to stem the flow of mud from the collapse, especially since salmon are taking the brunt of it in the estuary before heading out to sea. The slide is on private property above the Baywood Country Club Clubhouse Restaurant, according to e-mails sent between California Department of Fish and Game personnel. Fish and Game Environmental Scientist Scott Bauer wrote that water had been pouring from a cut bank onto the old road, which made the road fail.

”The hillslope is very steep ... and this failure will continue to discharge sediment for some time,” Bauer wrote.

Those who live along the creek are mostly concerned about having the problem fixed.

 

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The moratorium on commercial whaling that took effect in 1986 has been one of the most successful international agreements in the conservation world. The number of whales killed each year instantly plummeted from 38,000 to between 1,000 and 2,000. Whale populations began to rebound. It brought about a new global consciousness — and conscience — about whaling.

Now a panel of the International Whaling Commission is proposing to effectively suspend that moratorium for 10 years. Its goal is a noble one: to bring the three rogue whaling nations into a pact that will place an agreed-upon limit on their catches, as well as to better monitor their whaling and ensure more humane hunting practices. These are all good ideas. Unfortunately, the proposal gives away more than the whaling commission would get. It says in essence that all a nation has to do to escape the commission's official disapproval is refuse to cooperate long and hard enough.

Supporters of the proposal say it would save at least 5,000 whales over the 10 years. The actual number would be somewhat smaller. That's because the three whaling nations — Japan, Iceland and Norway — currently set their own limits, which are far higher than those in the proposal, but don't actually catch as many whales as they say they will. Anti-whaling activists expect that pattern to continue. Demand for whale meat is declining; Japan's whaling operation survives only with the help of large government subsidies. If the three countries continue to catch whales at their current rate, the number of whales saved by the proposed agreement would be closer to 3,000.

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5/6/10 Several House members from the West Coast - including Congressman Mike Thompson - want to permanently re-impose the moratoria on offshore drilling in California, Oregon, and Washington, even though federal plans don’t even contemplate lease sales in Pacific waters. Bans on oil-and-gas leasing along the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts expired in 2008.

H.R. 5213. A bill to amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to permanently prohibit the conduct of offshore drilling on the  Outer Continental Shelf off the coast of California, Oregon, and Washington; to the Committee on Natural Resources.

To read the full text of H.R. 5213, click here

4/23/10 A proposal announced today by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) would, if adopted, for the first time in almost 25 years, endorse the killing of whales in their most precious feeding grounds, the Southern Ocean.

The IWC has had a moratorium on commercial whaling since 1986 but Iceland and Norway have legal objections to the moratorium and Japan continues to conduct commercial whaling using a loophole in the IWC which allows whales to be killed for “scientific purposes.”

In an effort to bring this whaling under IWC’s control, the Chair of the IWC has proposed to give these countries official commercial whaling quotas for the next 10 years.

“The proposed quotas are not set using the IWC’s own scientific methods, but are a result of political bargaining which has little if anything to do with the whales’ themselves,” said Wendy Elliott, Species Program manager, WWF-International. “Setting quotas for commercial whaling based on politics not science would be a step backwards for IWC,” Elliott said.

Furthermore the IWC Chair has proposed commercial whaling quotas for whale species listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as endangered.

If adopted the new proposal would legitimise commercial whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, despite the IWC’s absolute ban on commercial whaling in this area since 1994. The Southern Ocean is the main feeding ground of many whale species such as blue whales, humpback whales and fin whales.

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5/6/10 From day one, drilling proponents have said that “new technologies make it safe” and that oil spills shouldn't be of concern.

I have always opposed drilling for oil off the coast of Northern California, and for good reasons. First, there isn't enough recoverable oil to benefit our needs vis-à-vis the risk. But that hasn't stopped some from pursuing leases to explore and drill.

Second, our coast is rich in marine life and is one of only four major upwellings in the world. Damage to this fragile ecosystem would devastate not only our district, but an incredible amount of marine habitat throughout the Pacific Coast.

Third, our tourism industry is the life-blood of many communities in Northern California and visitors don't buy rooms, dinner, or shop in areas devastated by oil spills or cluttered with off-shore oil drilling equipment. Our fishing communities, tourism communities and related businesses up and down the coast generate billions in economic activity, and should not be put in jeopardy by drilling off shore. 

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