Salmon Aid Festival: A Fight to Save the Endangered Fish

Last weekend, the Delta water story took me to Oakland to attend the 2009 Salmon Aid Festival. The main event happened on Saturday, June 20 to Sunday, June 21, with a special Native American ceremonial salmon bake on Friday, June 19. More than two dozen organizations “including commercial, recreational and tribal fishermen, conservation organizations, chefs, restaurants, scientists, and many others” worked together to create Salmon Aid to “raise awareness of the plight of west coast salmon populations, the rivers and streams they spawn in, and the many coastal and inland communities that rely on salmon for their livelihoods and survival.” Salmon advocates came from California, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho, Nevada and other faraway places to support the event. The festival had education booths, activities, food, environmental film screenings and music to showcase the human connection to the fish as well as educate the public.

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I had the opportunity to interview Jessie Reader, a Salmon Aid event organizer. She is also an organizer for the Tuloumne River Trust, a Native American organization concerned about the salmon declines. Below is the Q & A interview.

What did you think of the event?

Bigger and better than last year, SalmonAid 2009 featured 10 great musical acts, including Bay Area favorite Afro-Dance Band Albino!. We had sustainable seafood from some of the West Coasts finest restaurants, film screenings from the Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival, kids activities, and information from over two dozen organizations who work for sustainable salmon fishing and protection of our rivers and streams. Two sunny days brought out a great crowd from around Oakland and the Bay Area.

Was it a success? And why?

SalmonAid 2009 was a great success on a number of fronts. Working closely together to put on this event has significantly strengthened our unlikely but growing coalition of commercial fishing groups, recreational fishing groups, environmental organizations, and tribes. We built a platform for over 2 dozen organizations that would not have had the means to make such an outreach event happen on their own. Politically, we see that we are making an impact. Congressional Representative Barbara Lee sent a commendation, and Representative George Miller sent one of his senior staffers to read a statement of support. The festival mobilized over 1300 letters to President Obama and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator Jane Lubchenco (the Federal Agency charged with enforcing the Endangered Species Act when it comes to Salmon) As we move forward, President Obama’s Administration and Congress will continue to hear from our many diverse groups speaking with one voice.

(more…)




CB’s Green Report: California’s Water System Gets Federal Bailout
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Big news for California and its water supply — Interior Secretary Ken Salazar pledged $260 million in federal stimulus money to help California modernize its outdated water system and ease its water problems.

Salazar and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger went on a helicopter tour of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Wednesday. The federal official saw first-hand California’s overtaxed water system of reservoirs, pumps and canals (designed to supply water to only half of the state’s 37.7 million population), which were built more than 50 years ago.
The federal funds will help California deal with the drought and institute an updated system.

“It is time to modernize, it is time to make hard choices and it’s time for the federal government to re-engage in full partnership with the 21st century water system for the state of California,” he said to the Associated Press.

Salazar plans to use money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to create jobs in California and aid its water supply problems.

“From boosting water supplies and improving conservation to improving safety at our dams, these shovel-ready projects will make a real and immediate difference in the lives of farmers, businesses, Native American tribes and communities across California,” Salazar said to Reuters.

(more…)




CB’s Green Report: Drought Conditions Worsen Southwest Water Crisis

As if the fight over water from the Colorado River and Lake Mead could get any worse in the Southwest, the area is facing extreme drought conditions. A recent USA Today article reports that January and February 2009 are the driest beginning of any year since America started keeping precipitation records over a century ago. These low water levels are causing severe droughts in Texas and California, which exacerbates the water crisis in the Southwest.

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The map reflects the exceptional (brown-red), extreme (orange) and severe (dark yellow) water problems in California, Nevada and Texas.

USA-Today-Precipitation-Map320.jpg

Richard Heim, a meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center told USA Today that the 2.69-inch average rainfall across the U.S. in January and February is the least amount of moisture in those months since NOAA began keeping records in 1895.

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The current dry spell started in Central Texas in 2007, and hit California along with the rest of the Southwest in 2006. Los Angeles only received 3 inches of rain during 2006-2007, its driest year on record.

As a result of these prolonged drought conditions in California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a drought emergency in February 2009.  For the first time in 15 years, Los Angeles is planning to implement a water rationing system – achieved “through price-enforced household conservation and tough new lawn watering restrictions.”

“The level of severity of this drought is something we haven’t seen since the early 1970s,” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said in unveiling his city’s drought plan, which also would put more water cops on the beat.

And to save endangered fish populations, the courts are reducing the amount of water taken from rivers (Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta water source in Northern California). Water officials also decided to cut their Sierra Mountains water source pumped to cities and irrigation districts by 85 percent according to Reuters. These measures highlights the growing tensions between farms/agricultural water uses and animals as well farms/agricultural versus urban/metropolitan water needs.

Thus, another major loser in the water fight are farmers and ranchers.

California farmers lost more than $300 million in 2008 and economic losses may accelerate to 10 times that this year as 95,000 people lose their jobs. Farmers will get zero water from the main federal supplier (Reuters).

As farms continue to suffer, major Southwest cities like Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Phoenix are growing in population. People are moving to the warm sunbelt.

“For the last few years, the driest states, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada, have been the fastest growing. And you know that can’t be sustained,” said James Powell to Reuters.  Powell is the author of “Dead Pool,” a book about global warming and water in the U.S. West.

It’s not surprising that California, the world’s eighth-largest economy, uses enough water to cover the state of Washington in a foot of water.  And approximately 80 percent of the water is used by farms growing crops like organic lettuce and rice. The drought induced water cutback to the farms will cause a dramatic decrease in California’s agricultural production —- which has serious economic implications as well as food supply ramifications.

And to make matters even worse, the droughts are making California more vulnerable to wildfires.  Last year, a record 500,000 Southern Californians had to vacate their homes because of fires.

State officials are using prison inmate crews to clear away brush and create fire breaks around communities to reduce the risk of wildfires, said Daniel Berlant, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (USA Today).

A water shortage, drought conditions, fewer crops and the potential for fires is a red flag for an impending disaster.




CB’s Green Report: Flippers, Fines & Fashion

Stuck in ice? Five weary dolphins are trapped behind a drifting pack of ice off the coast of Sea Cove, Newfoundland. They have been stuck in this shrinking area for four days and are in urgent need of rescue. Somehow the dolphins got separated from the open Atlantic, said Mayor Winston May of the Canadian province. According to an expert from the Whale Release and Strandings group, the dolphins will drown if the ice continues to cover the open area. The dolphins need to surface above water in order to breath.  At the moment, the Canadian federal Fisheries Department does not have an icebreaker to send.  Sadly, the dolphins are crying out for help..literally. “They’re not going to survive much longer,” said May. “You can hear (the dolphins) crying all night long,” he said. Hopefully, Canada will figure out a way to rescue the dolphins before it’s too late.

Paying for pollution? You betcha. BP Products North America, the international energy company, will shell out almost $180 million to settle a Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency pollution case. Back in March 2005, an explosion and fire killed 15 people and injured more than 170. The British oil company division will pay $161 million for pollution controls, another $12 million in penalties (whoa!) and then yet another $6 million for an air pollution reduction project near their refinery in Texas.The company already plead guilty to breaking the Clean Air Act and will pay $50 million in fees. Somehow, it doesn’t seem like these expensive environmental mishaps are hurting this company.

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Bryant Park

New York Fashion Week Goes Green. By adding recycling bins for bottles, cans, aluminum, glass, plastic and cardboard, Coca-Cola Recycling LLC helped the Mercedes-Benz Fall Fashion Week Fall 2009 Collections, Feb. 13-20 make a green statement. Twenty-five bins were placed throughout the Bryant Park complex to allow anyone to “Give It Back.” See you can have style and be green too! Hopefully, other major fashion events will partner with Coke or other recycling companies to make being green chic!

Smooches,
The Caramel Bella




CB’s Green Report: It’s All About The Aussies…

kangaroos

Today is a really sad day. Call me a sap, but I absolutely love animals. So, I was extremely saddened to find out that millions of animals have died in the recent Australian fire. (This blaze scorched about 1,2000 square miles of land and the human death toll is expected to hit 200.) Kangaroo corpses have been found along with other burnt animals. And if that wasn’t enough, the animals that have survived the fire will likely perish, if not rescued soon, because their food supply is gone. Wildlife animal rescue is working hard to save the animals. According to the Associated Press, several animals were even harmed after trying to return home.

Kangaroos that survived are suffering from burned feet, a result of their territorial behavior. After escaping the initial flames, the creatures — which prefer to stay in one area — likely circled back to their homes, singeing their feet on the smoldering ground.

Let’s hope all the Aussie animals are rescued and their homeland is restored.

koala

And in a related story…. An Australian volunteer firefighter, David Tree, saw a female koala that looked to be in pain. He began putting water on her paws and took her to a wildlife shelter. The koala, now named Sam, is doing well but will faces a 7 month recovery period for her injuries. She’s made friends easily and even has a boyfriend. Check out the video about her rescue.


There is some possible good news for Australia. The recent Australian fires in Victoria, which were partially caused by arson, has spurred plans for a new fire alert system.  On Thursday, Australia vowed to put a national fire warning system in place. Experts are unsure whether the coordinated alarm system could have saved lives in the country’s worst-ever wildfire. The proposed system would send automated warnings to phones in the affected areas.  Hopefully, the Australian government will implement the much needed system.

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And although the fire alert system may help once there is an active blaze, it appears global warming could have partially contributed to the fires, and lead to an increase in future ones. (Note: One man has been arrested for arson related to these fires.) The 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that “fires in Australia were virtually certain to increase in intensity and frequency because of steadily warming temperatures over the next several decades.” According to TIME.com, Australia’s temperature has warmed 0.9°C since 1950, and climate models predict it could increase 5°C by 2070, especially if global warming isn’t stopped. In addition to fires and increasing temperatures, climate change could cause heat weaves and droughts in Australia. Those of us in California know that dry weather along with hot temperatures is a breeding ground for wildfires. These fires are just another reason why everyone needs to work together to stop global warming.

smooches,
The Caramel Bella




The Green Report: Animals, Appliances and Archrivals

The fight over the environment continues. Round 1: Palin vs. Judd. In one corner we have the beautiful actress Ashley Judd and in the other one there’s Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. These ladies are not sparring off on presidential politics. No, this time it’s all about wolves and bears – or rather, killing them from airplanes. Judd is the new spokesperson for Defenders of Wildlife. She’s in a video (see below) where she goes off on Palin and Alaska’s predator control program.

Obama is making more moves on the energy front. This week, President Obama ordered the Energy Department to revise the energy standards of nine appliances: ovens (including microwave ones), lamps, beverage vending machines, residential dishwashers, commercial boilers and commercial air conditioners. These changes will make the appliances more energy efficient and reduce global warming emissions for the planet. And the Prez is thinking about consumers’ pockets too.

“This will save consumers money, this will spur innovation and this will conserve tremendous amounts of energy,” Obama said in remarks at the Energy Department, where he briefed staff on his plan for a new energy economy.

Way to go President O on the energy front.

ibex

Extinct. Resurrected. Extinct Again. That’s the story of the Spainish Ibex, a member of the mountain goat species. The Ibex was declared extinct back in 2000 after the last one was found dead in Spain. However, before it’s death, scientist preserved some of its DNA (yes..a bit weird). The scientists then used domestic goat genes in eggs to clone a female Pyrenean ibex (or bucardo). Tah dah! Dead extinct animal cloned..well not quite. Sadly, the baby ibex kid died shortly after birth. A little spooky but this experiment gives hope to scientists that want to clone animals on the brink of extinction.




Layoffs at the Zoos?

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A layoff for elephants? Yes, an expected effect of the current recession are state budget cuts that reduce crucial funding for exhibits at zoos, aquariums and botanical gardens. In New York alone, their 76 zoos, botanical gardens and aquariums will lose $9.1 million dollars in funding next year.

“We’re faced with this very difficult problem of firing the animals, as it were,” said Steve Sanderson to CNN. Sanderson is the CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society, which manages the Bronx Zoo and the New York Aquarium.

Taking matters into their own hands, the Bronx Zoo has created a video (www.bronxzoo.com) to alert people to the animal layoffs.

In this case, an animal firing means some species will be shipped off to other zoos. Or if a species dies, it will not be replaced. And the overall amount of zoo exhibits will decrease.

A spokesman for the New York State Budget Office told CNN that cuts are necessary because of the state’s financial situation. New York isn’t the only place where the state’s budget problems are affecting the zoos. Animal exhibits are being streamlined or discontinued in California, Missouri, North Carolina and Maryland.

Although there is an $819 billion economic stimulus package in consideration, funding for zoos, botanical gardens and aquariums are not included. Taxpayer watchdog groups fought to keep funding from being directed at these organizations.

I hear the elephants, giraffes and other animals at the zoo are wondering: where is their economic bailout?




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My Maltese puppy; lazy Sunday mornings; a day at the Beach; Yoga; breakfast anytime of the day; my gurls (and you know who you are); my family (I’m a daddy’s girl); making new friends; Los Angeles & Washington, DC; ocean views; Anguilla; healthy foods that don’t taste healthy; politics; "greenie" things; meditating; natural curls and movies.

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  • profileCARAMEL BELLA: This is my place to write about my adventures and mis-adventures in this thing called life. I discuss my passions: the environment, politics, art & culture, writing as well as yoga, health and spirituality. The one thing you can expect from this blog is that it is not what you expected. Thanks for reading! To reach me email thecaramelbella at gmail.

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