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Posts Tagged ‘Activism’

epa-5-epaFounded on December 2nd, 1970, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was a response by President Nixon, the U.S. Senate, and the U.S. Congress to two decades of growing concern of the American people about the deteriorating state of the environment in which they lived and the human health effects that resulted for that deteriorating state.

To address both concerns, the mission of the EPA (as stated on their website) has been to ensure that:

  • all Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn and work;
  • national efforts to reduce environmental risk are based on the best available scientific information;
  • federal laws protecting human health and the environment are enforced fairly and effectively;
  • environmental protection is an integral consideration in U.S. policies concerning natural resources, human health, economic growth, energy, transportation, agriculture, industry, and international trade, and these factors are similarly considered in establishing environmental policy;
  • all parts of society — communities, individuals, businesses, and state, local and tribal governments — have access to accurate information sufficient to effectively participate in managing human health and environmental risks;
  • environmental protection contributes to making our communities and ecosystems diverse, sustainable and economically productive; and
  • the United States plays a leadership role in working with other nations to protect the global environment.

To accomplish this mission, the EPA develops and enforces regulations, gives out grants, studies environmental issues, sponsors partnerships, teaches people about the environment, and publishes their findings.

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Las Angeles, CA air quality compared across decades. Photo courtesy of Green Building Law.

Over the course of its history, the EPA has increased the health and quality of the environment outside and inside our bodies. By regulating air quality under the Clean Air Act (1963) the EPA sets emissions standards that insure the air we breath, particularly in cities, is healthy. As a result, air quality has dramatically improved. This has decreased the rates of respiratory distress and disorders and so lessened the burden on our healthcare system. Not to mention making the views we get to see all the more spectacular.

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Water comparison between two cities in Michigan. Photo courtesy of Michigan Radio.

By regulating water quality under the Clean Water Act (1972), the the EPA sets drinking water and wastewater standards that insure the water we drink is clean and safe. An example of this that should still be fresh in all of our minds is that of Flint Michigan where EPA standards were ignored, and the results were a tremendous negative impact on the health of the residents of Flint, particularly children.

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By reducing the amount of new materials we, as a society, use more land can be left looking like the lower right part of this photo instead of the upper left. Photo courtesy of FreeYork.

By promoting recycling standards and educating people about recycling (using tools like their ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ campaign), the EPA has helped reduce the amounts of raw materials needed to produce the vast quantities of foods and produces that we all need to live our lives. This reduction in the amounts of materials we need means that we can now do more with less which reduces extraction costs and leaves more areas open and natural and beautiful.

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Before and after photos of glacial retreat. Photo courtesy of NASA.

By regulating greenhouse gas emissions again under the Clean Air Act (1963), the EPA is helping to reduce the amount that our planet is going to warm and so lessen the catastrophic impacts that human caused global warming is going to have on all of our lives in the next few decades.

And don’t think for a second that people, organizations, corporations, etc will reduce their environmental impacts voluntarily. No voluntary environmental protection strategy has ever worked, and when left to their own devices, the environment and the health of the public citizen suffer. One example of this is that I have already written about is the history surrounding Love Canal. And there are many, many more stories such as this one out there.

It is for all these reasons and more that I find the current attacks on the EPA so disturbing. From the nomination of Scott Pruitt for EPA Administrator to the introduction by congressman Matt Gaetz (R -Florida) of H.R. 861. If passed H.R. 861 will terminate the EPA. This bill was co-sponsored by Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky), Steven Palazzo (R-Mississippi), and Barry Loudermilk (R-Georgia). Remember these four names. They are the names of individuals who are in favor of causing harm to the environment and to US citizens. Call your congressperson every day, and tell them repeatedly, that any support for H.R. 861 will directly harm We The People of the United States not to mention the citizens of many other countries, and the ecosystems we all require to live. Instead ask them to support the EPA and the incredibly important job they are doing in the months, years, and decades ahead.

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Information is important. With information each of us as individuals, and our society as a whole, can learn about the world. With information, we can all make decisions that make sense. With information, we can all discuss ideas.

Without information none of that is possible. Without information, we are, at best, at the mercy of our current, limited knowledge, and our base instincts. Without information we are, at worst, at the mercy of the limited knowledge and instincts of someone else.

This is why the gag order, and insistence that all reports and data be pre-screened before release to the public, issued by the President to the EPA are so concerning to me, and I think should be so concerning everyone else. This is exactly the kind of action that limits access to, and spread of, information. It will only hamper all of our abilities to operate as rational, critically thinking individuals. It is the kind of action that is put in place to control what we, as citizens, know and when we know it. This is censorship and it has no place in science or a free society.

#thisisnotnormal

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PBCS logoOn Saturday, I had the pleasure and privilege of being the MC for the awards celebration at the Point Blue Conservation Science 2016 Bird-a-thon dinner. It was a terrific evening that the staff of Point Blue had put a lot of work into to make run so smoothly.

This was a celebration of the 39th annual Rich Stallcup Bird-a-thon (learn more about it here) which is a fund raiser where teams of birders go out into the county of their choice and bird for a 24 hours period each fall. These teams collect sponsors who donate money to Point Blue in fixed sums or on a per-species basis. It is a great event that gets people out to enjoy the natural world, see a lot of different species of bird (and other wildlife), and raises money for bird research and conservation of birds and of the whole ecosystems in which they, and we, live.

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Rich Stallcup doing what he loved (photo by Juliet Grable)

The Rich Stallcup Bird-a-thon (named for the late great Rich Stallcup who played a huge roll in founding the Point Reyes Bird Observatory that later became Point Blue Conservation Science and also in inspiring several generations of birders and naturalists) has raised over $3 million over its 39 year history making it the longest running event of its kind in the USA!

The 2016 Bird-a-thon, collectively, saw 266 species of birds, raised more than $82 thousand, and included dozens of teams comprised of several hundred individual counters.

At the awards dinner, we recognized individuals and teams who raised the most money, who competed for the most species seen per county, who competed as green teams (meaning that no fossil fuels were used during the actual count). We also recognized the contributions of the youth teams, of which there were three this year, and one of which I co-led.

In addition to the awards, Wendell Gilgert, the director of the Point Blue Rangeland Watershed Initiative, gave a presentation on the importance of rangelands in protecting biodiversity, reducing greenhouse gas levels, and storing water. It was a fantastic presentation that I think exposed even the most experienced birders in the audience to some new information and a novel way of looking at biodiversity to read the health of a landscape.

It truly was a lovely evening in the company of a bunch of passionate bird nuts, and I am very much looking forward to the 2017 bird-a-thon! I hope you will join us!

 

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Dear Friends,

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Wrentit (2015 PBCS Bird-a-thon mascot)

Over fifteen years ago, I was one of the founding youth members of a youth bird-a-thon team. The team was organized and lead by birding greats Rich Stallcup and Ellen Blustein as the first youth team for what was then, the Point Reyes Bird Observatory and what is now Point Blue Conservation Science (PBCS). It was an amazing experience, and has turned into a recurring amazing experience every year since. We are now preparing for the youth bird-a-thon, again, and this year is looking like another spectacular one.

Over the past 15+ years, this team has taken to the field alongside so many amazing birds as they get restless and begin to move on their fall migration. For the birds, fall migration has been happening almost exactly the same way for millions of years, and it is still a feat that boggles the human imagination. For our bird-a-thon team, the Drake’s Beach Sanderlings, fall migration has come to include this exhilarating day to witnesses the birds as they move through central California.

Each year many bird-a-thon teams ready themselves for the fall. These teams pick a day in mid-fall and go in search of the avian wanderers as they pass by; keeping tallies of who stops to visit. On September 24th 2016, the Drake’s Beach Sanderlings will be doing just that, and we are lining up another great group of youths (in age and spirit) to find all those birds!

As in past years, this is not only an opportunity to see beautiful birds, learn as much about migration patterns and identification as possible, and spend time in great company. It is also a time to give. The PBCS is a recognized leader in conservation of avian biodiversity, the ecosystems that they, and we, depend upon, and climate change science. To continue to be such an influential leader requires money. It takes money to keep the banding stations running as they monitor avian population trends. It takes money to assess the loss of habitat that urban development causes. It takes money to set aside critical habitat and so insure that future fall migrations will continue this millions-of-years tradition. Funding is often hard to come by, and so we ask you, birders, environmentalists, friends, to become sponsors of our team and PBCS. Now, don’t think we won’t work for those donations. You can pledge a fixed sum, or you can tell us that you will give a small amount for every species we see. That way we will have a large incentive indeed to try our hardest to find every last species we can. In the past we have seen around 150 species, so a pledge of $0.20 per species will mean a total donation of around $30. Any amount that you can give will be valuable and tremendously appreciated, and donating is easy. Just go to: http://birdathon.kintera.org/faf/search/searchTeamPart.asp?ievent=1164352&lis=0&kntae1164352=3E274B2B05C54EDE984F8053552EF68D&team=6822398

and click on the ‘Donate Now’ button on the right side of the page. In this time of epic drought in California, the conservation of habitat and bird populations is all the more challenging and critical. Your donation will aid the cause of bird conservation throughout the western hemisphere, and you will join a long tradition of helping to inspire the birding leaders of tomorrow!

Thank you for your support,

The members of the Drake’s Beach Sanderlings

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Wrentit (the 2015 Bird-a-thon mascot)

Dear Friends,

For over 15 years, The Drake’s Beach Sanderlings have participated in the Point Blue Conservation Science Rich Stallcup Bird-a-thon, and in so doing provided dozens of young birders the opportunity learn about birds, bird conservation, and ecosystem stewardship.

Planning for the 2016 Rich Stallcup Bird-a-thon is underway now and your help is needed for this event’s continued success! Sponsor support has provided thousands of dollars towards environmental stewardship and conservation of the ecosystems on which we all depend. Further, your support of the Drake’s Beach Sanderlings encourages young people to go out and engage with birds, the birding community, and the natural world as a whole.

We can meet the challenges that the future is presenting, but it will only be possible with the generous contributions of our sponsors.

The Drake’s Beach Sanderlings take pride in their tradition of providing education and stewardship for young and old. Participants learn how to protect the environment and the avian creatures we love so much. We also visit a wide range of locations and habitats and so gain a better understanding of the range of biodiversity that exists in Marin County.

PBCS logoThe Drake’s Beach Sanderlings was the first youth bird-a-thon team supported by Point Blue Conservation Science. Over the years, the extraordinary efforts conducted by members of this team have helped to foster a deep seated passion for wildlife and conservation in young people. These young people have then carried that passion and knowledge into the world with them as they have expanded and spread to a wide range of endeavors.

I am excited to report that in the 2015 Bird-a-thon, the Drake’s Beach Sanderlings:

  • Birded for over 14 hours, beginning at 5:30am.
  • Covered over 100 miles, zig-zagging across Marin County.
  • Saw a total of 142 species of bird.

As we prepare for the 2016 Drake’s Beach Sanderlings Bird-a-thon, we know the time and support of our team members is priceless, but the financial support from you and others like you is what makes it possible for the bird-a-thon and Point Blue to grow and improve year after year.

So stand out as a leader! Donate $15.00 or whatever you can as a sponsor of the Drake’s Beach Sanderlings. Your support provides opportunities for young and old to demonstrate environmental stewardship, experience the rewards of connecting with their environment, and make a real difference in their communities and the world. And donating is easy! Just go to our team website: http://birdathon.kintera.org/faf/search/searchTeamPart.asp?ievent=1164352&lis=0&kntae1164352=3E274B2B05C54EDE984F8053552EF68D&team=6822398 and click on the “Donate” button.

We very much appreciate your support. If you have any questions about The Drake’s Beach Sanderlings, the Rich Stallcup Bird-a-thon, or our any other aspect of this event please e-mail or call me at aaron.haiman@deltaconservancy.ca.gov or 510-289-7239.

Sincerely,

Aaron N.K. Haiman

Drake’s Beach Sanderlings Team Co-Leader

 

 

 

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There are currently ten state conservancies operating in California. Each of these state agencies was established to promote and protect a certain part of the California landscape that was deemed by the California legislature to be of particular importance. All the state conservancies operate within the California Resources Agency. Each conservancy is under the guidance of a board of directors that is comprised of a range of individuals who represent federal, state, and local agencies and NGOs that advise each conservancy’s staff on how to accomplish their core mission. Since I started working for one of these conservancies a few months ago, I thought it might be interesting to introduce the whole set. So here they are, in order of when they were created, the California State Conservancies.

1. The California Coastal Conservancy was founded in 1976. It’s mission statement is “…to preserve, protect, and restore the resources of the California coast, ocean, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Our vision is of a beautiful, restored, and accessible coastline, ocean and San Francisco Bay Area.” This agency is tasked with managing the 1,100 miles of coastline that runs from Oregon to Mexico. In 2014, their operating budget was around $8 million.

2. The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy was founded in 1979. It’s mission statement is “…to strategically buy back, preserve, protect, restore, and enhance treasured pieces of Southern California to form an interlinking system of urban, rural and river parks, open space, trails, and wildlife habitats that are easily accessible to the general public.” To accomplish this, the SMMC owns or manages thousands of acres from the Mojave Desert to the Pacific Ocean.

3. The California Tahoe Conservancy was founded in 1984. It’s mission is “…to restore and sustain a balance between the natural and the human environment and between public and private uses at Lake Tahoe.” Since its founding, it has acquired over 6,500 acres in the Tahoe Basin, and has worked to control invasive species, improve water quality, and restore forests and wetlands in the Tahoe Basin. In 2014, their operating budget was approximately $9.5 million.

4. The Coachella Valley Mountains Conservancy was founded in 1991. It’s mission statement is “…to protect the natural and cultural resources of the Coachella Valley: the scenic, wildlife, cultural, geologic, and recreational resources that make this such a splendid place for people and all the other life forms with which we share this special place.” With only limited staff and funds, this conservancy has ensured the conservation of over 46,200 acres.

5. The San Joaquin River Conservancy was founded in 1995. It’s mission includes, “…develop and manage the San Joaquin River Parkway, a planned 22-mile natural and recreational area in the floodplain extending from Friant Dam to Highway 99. The Conservancy’s mission includes acquiring approximately 5,900 acres from willing sellers; developing, operating, and managing those lands for public access and recreation; and protecting, enhancing, and restoring riparian and floodplain habitat.”

6. The San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy was founded 1999. It’s mission is “…to preserve open space and habitat in order to provide for low-impact recreation and educational uses, wildlife habitat restoration and protection, and watershed improvements within our jurisdiction.” The area covered by this conservancy is across eastern Los Angeles County and western Orange County.

7. The Baldwin Hills Conservancy was founded in 2001. It’s mission is… “to acquire open space and manage public lands within the Baldwin Hills area and to provide recreation, restoration and protection of wildlife habitat within the territory for the public’s enjoyment and educational experience.” The Baldwin Hills are a small area of unincorporated Los Angeles near Culver City about 450 acres in size.

8. The San Diego River Conservancy was founded in 2003. This Conservancy’s enabling legislation states that… “The agency’s mission, the restoration and conservation of the San Diego River Area, is accomplished by (1) acquiring, managing and conserving land; and (2) protecting or providing recreational opportunities, open space, wildlife species and habitat, wetlands, water quality, natural flood conveyance, historical / cultural resources, and educational opportunities.” One of the major goals of this Conservancy is to create a river-long park and hiking trail that will run from the river’s headwaters near the town of Julian to the Pacific Ocean.

9. The Sierra Nevada Conservancy was founded in 2004. It’s mission states that the “Sierra Nevada Conservancy initiates, encourages, and supports efforts that improve the environmental, economic and social well-being of the Sierra Nevada Region, its communities and the citizens of California.” The Sierra Nevada Conservancy operates throughout the Sierra Nevada Mountains providing funding for projects that support it’s mission.

10. The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy was founded in 2010. It’s mission is… “Working collaboratively and in coordination with local communities, the Conservancy will lead efforts to protect, enhance, and restore the Delta’s economy, agriculture and working landscapes, and environment, for the benefit of the Delta region, its local communities, and the citizens of California.” The Delta Conservancy operates throughout the legal boundary of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Suisun Marsh by providing funding, support, and project management to efforts that further it’s mission.

 

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You Are Invited to Help Save the Delta!

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A pile of garbage illegally dumped along a roadway in the Delta

Trash in the world’s waterways and oceans has been making a lot of news lately. A recent report from the World Economic Forum estimates that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans of the world, by weight, than fish. The report further calculates that amount of trash flowing into the oceans is equal to about one large dump truck load being dropped every minute. All this garbage has far reaching effects such as the beached whales around the world that are frequently found with 20-30 lbs or more of plastic in their stomachs and the 1 million or more seabirds that die from plastic ingestion every year.

It has been estimated that about 70% of all this trash originates on land…from humans…we are the problem!

Want to be a part of the solution?

The Delta Conservancy is hosting Delta Waterways Cleanups as part of Creek Week, an event organized by the Sacramento Area Creeks Council, to help stem the flood of trash to the waterways and the ocean. On April 9th we will be organizing two sites in the Delta. One site is located along the shore of Sherman Island. The other site is in the Sacramento Bufferlands along Lower Morrison Creek. Join with hundreds of other volunteers and come spend the morning with us pulling all manner of trash out of the waterways of the delicate ecosystems of the Delta. If you do, you will be helping to keep our waterways, our planet, clean and healthy.

Online Registration is at: http://www.creekweek.net/vdelta.html and additional information on the sites and detail for the day can be found at: http://deltaconservancy.ca.gov/waterway-cleanups-0/

Please feel free to share this invitation widely with anyone who may wish to join us.

If you have questions, contact me at: aaron.haiman@deltaconservancy.ca.gov

I hope to see you there!

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