Weekly Roundup: December 20, 2013

Check out this week’s Weekly Roundup for breaking news affecting San Francisco Bay

Sacramento Bee 12/14/13
SF Bay River Otter Sightings Suggest Comeback
Earlier this year, a river otter named Sutro Sam became the first of the whiskered critters to be seen in San Francisco for decades.
The juvenile male otter drew crowds to a brackish pool on a seaside cliff where he swam and ate for a few days, thrilling onlookers before disappearing quietly.
In all, researchers have received 600 reported sightings throughout the San Francisco Bay region over the past two years in the first population study of the weasel-like creatures ever done here. Most of the sightings have been confirmed through photos and video taken by bystanders in an area where the species was nearly wiped out after decades of of hunting, development and pollution.
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Oakland Local 12/12/13
The New Bay Bridge Bike Path: Here’s where to get on in Oaktown and Emeryville
Since its grand opening two weeks ago, the Alexander Zuckermann Bike Path has both enthralled and eluded many visitors. The photos and videos are stunning, but how exactly does one get there? I set out from Lake Merritt on my bike to find out.
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SF Gate 12/13/13
Purchase of Skagg’s Island Farm to Restore SF Bay Marshland
By any measure, it’s a good thing when 1,092 acres along San Francisco Bay become permanently protected open space.
This is even better: Friday’s sale of an oat farm near Highway 37 to the Sonoma Land Trust will allow 4,400 acres of dry land to be restored to a functioning marsh, just like it was before humans put up dikes and walled out San Francisco Bay.
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SF Gate 12/15/13
Bird Count in Oakland Shows Surprisingly Low Tally 
The annual Audubon bird count in Oakland was a breeze this year: There were hardly any birds to count.
“Normally we’d see thousands of scaup and bufflehead and canvasback. This year it’s staggering – we’ve hardly seen any,” said Ruth Tobey, one of more than 200 volunteers who scoured the East Bay on Sunday with binoculars and clipboards, counting birds.
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CBS Bay Area 12/12/13
Appeals Court Upholds San Francisco’s Plastic Bag Ban
A state appeals court has upheld a San Francisco law banning the use of non-compostable plastic bags at checkout stands in retail stores and grocery markets.
The 2012 law, an expansion of an earlier measure, prohibits most single-use plastic checkout bags and requires stores to charge 10 cents for paper or compostable plastic bags.
The ordinance was upheld Tuesday by a three-judge panel of the state Court of Appeal in San Francisco. The court ruled on a challenge by the Los-Angeles-based Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, a manufacturers’ association that has been battling plastic bag laws around the state.
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Bay Nature 12/13/13
Capturing King Tides Through Citizen Science
You’re driving through Mill Valley along Highway 102, the sky is blue, the drought persists, and it’s still not raining—yet, the water laps at your tires and the asphalt road resembles a shallow creek. It’s the winter king tides in action and that, organizers at the California King Tides Initiative say, is what the future looks like.
King tides are extreme, high tide events that occur biannually, normally around the summer and winter solstices, when the gravitational pull of the sun and moon are in alignment. While the tides are not affected by climate change, they act as an indicator of the way in which sea level rise will affect coastal communities. Hayley Zamel, an organizing partner for the California King Tides Initiative, said winter king tides, particularly when paired with a storm—as was the case in Pacifica last year—offer a realistic look into the climate-changed future.
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SF Gate 12/20/13
NYC Expands Smoking Ban to Include E-Cigarettes
Years after being exiled to New York City’s sidewalks by a ban on smoking in indoor public places, some smokers relished electronic cigarettes as a way to come in from the cold. Now they’re down to their last few puffs after the City Council voted 43-8 Thursday to expand the ban to include the devices. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to sign the measure before leaving office in a few days. The ban would take effect in four months.
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