Weekly Roundup | July 12, 2013

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

SF Chronicle 7/7/13
Ships urged to slow down for whales outside SF Bay
The Coast Guard is asking large ships off the Northern California coast to slow down to almost half their normal speed to avoid collisions with endangered whales feasting on an abundance of krill in the water.
A message being broadcast over marine band radio advises the vessels to approach and exit San Francisco Bay at no more than 10 knots and watch for large whales around two marine sanctuaries.
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The Atlantic Cities 7/11/13
5 Landmarks That Could Soon Be Swallowed by Rising Seas
So, you spent last weekend celebrating American independence with patriotic fervor and you’re now enthused about the preservation of American history and culture and all things awesome and bygone. Right? Keep that historical buzz going for a moment to contemplate five sites the National Trust for Historic Preservation — the country’s preservers-in-chief — thinks are most vulnerable to flooding caused by sea level rise.
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Grist 7/6/13
Can bringing wetlands back to our coasts protect us from future megastorms?
Kevin Shanley says too many cities have an outdated approach to storm protection that makes them vulnerable to the coming mega-storms. The CEO of SWA Group, an international landscape architecture, planning, and urban design firm, Shanley is an advocate of using “green infrastructure” — human-made systems that mimic natural ones — as bulwarks.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, people are taking note. Some experts believe New York City would not have sustained such severe damage had the original wetlands that lined the coasts not been uprooted by development. In fact, some parts of Staten Island remained relatively unscathed because they were protected by the massive Fresh Kills Park and its wetlands.
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The Sacramento Bee 7/12/13
Caltrans yanks anti-tunnel signs in Delta, ignites furor
State transportation officials have emboldened a protest movement in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta by removing yard signs objecting to Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to build two giant water diversion tunnels.
The signs, proclaiming “Save the Delta! Stop the Tunnels!”, have proliferated in yards fronting state highways in the region in recent weeks. It is an effort by residents and activists to make their voices heard on the controversial issue.
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Contra Costa Times 7/11/13
Bald eagle chick discovered at Crystal Springs Reservoir
A bald eagle has hatched from an egg and begun learning to fly in San Mateo County for the first time in at least 98 years.
The eagle took its initial flight from the nest along Crystal Springs Reservoir sometime around the first week of July, according to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which owns the 23,000-acre Peninsula Watershed surrounding the man-made lake.
Watershed keepers first glimpsed the bird in early June in a nest about 100 feet up a tree. They estimate that by then it was already about 2 months old, with a 3-foot wingspan. The eagle has since fledged, or started flying, but will remain in the same area as its parents for up to a year, said watershed keeper Tim Sullivan.
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ABC San Francisco 6/28/13
Three river otters find new home at SF’s Aquarium of the Bay
Pier 39 in San Francisco has some playful new residents. Three river otters named Shasta, Tubbs, and Wildcat have a permanent new home at Aquarium of the Bay. Their exhibit has fresh water pools, dry land, live plants, and plenty of fish. It’s called, “Otters: Watershed Ambassadors.” Officials say they saved the three from fur traders in Louisiana.
Watch Video>>


Weekly Roundup December 28, 2012

Last week’s storms revealed the vulnerabilities of low-lying parts of the Bay Area to flooding. In Alviso, nearly 2,000 people reside eight feet below sea level. The South Bay Salt Pond restoration project nearby is restoring tidal wetlands, which can help buffer storms and absorb water as sea level rises, protecting vulnerable areas like Alviso. In East Palo Alto, seven homes were evacuated last week due to flooding, with one being rendered uninhabitable. Emergency levee repairs likely spared other homes, for now, but the levees remain vulnerable in the long-term. In a New Year’s boon for the Bay, Alameda County is set to begin a county-wide ban on single use plastic bags January 1. The Press Democrat reports that The International Maritime Organization is set to reroute shipping lanes that go in and out of San Francisco Bay in an effort to keep cargo ships from colliding with whales. The East Bay Express finds that the Navy has downplayed risks of radiation exposure to residents of Treasure Island after obtaining data showing high levels of radiation on the island. Finally EPA Chief Administrator, Lisa Jackson resigns with a mixed record, after four years spent battling industry and Republican officials over climate change legislation.

weekly roundup

EENews.net 12/21/2012
When Sea Rises, Should a Neighborhood be Abandoned?
For one town at the southern tip of the San Francisco Bay, water has been the enemy for many years. Floods have struck repeatedly in Alviso, a San Jose neighborhood of about 2,000 people. Lying about 8 feet below sea level, it’s been inundated when nearby rivers overflowed during rainstorms, with water rising so high it filled up homes and destroyed businesses. With climate change predicted to increase sea levels, some fear the water at some point could be unstoppable.

San Jose Mercury News 12/26/2012
Emergency East Palo Alto Levee Repairs Holding up, Officials Say
Emergency repairs to an earthen levee that separates dozens of East Palo Alto homes from flood-prone San Francisquito Creek are holding up, city and public safety officials said Wednesday.
Swollen with runoff, the creek briefly flowed over a roughly 600-foot section of the levee between Verbena Drive and Daphne Way at about 8 p.m. Sunday. Mandatory evacuations were ordered for seven homes and at least one was damaged to the point of being uninhabitable.

Pleasanton Patch 12/28/2012
County-Wide Plastic Bag Ban Only a Few Days Away
The plastic bag ban is upon Tri-Valley and the rest of the County. On Jan. 1, Alameda County will join San Francisco, San Mateo County, San Jose and 49 other California cities and counties in no longer providing single-use plastic bags at checkout — making reusable bags a must-have for any Bay Area resident, according to the latest release by the County.

Press Democrat 12/27/2012
Ocean shipping lanes near San Francisco changed to protect whales
Shipping lanes that carry about 20 cargo and cruise vessels a day in and out of San Francisco Bay are being revised in an effort to reduce fatal collisions with whales, federal officials said Thursday.
The proposal developed by the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration modifies shipping lanes that head north, west and south from the Bay, limiting their overlap with areas frequented by endangered blue, humpback and fin whales.

East Bay Express 12/26/2012
Alarming Radiation Levels Found on Treasure Island
Navy officials have repeatedly downplayed the risks of radiation exposure to current and former residents on Treasure Island. But data from the US Navy shows that measurements taken in former residential areas of the island revealed pockets of alarmingly high radiation levels.

New York Times 12/28/2012
EPA Chief Set to Leave, Term Fell Shy of Early Hope
Lisa P. Jackson is stepping down as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency after a four-year tenure that began with high hopes of sweeping action to address climate change and other environmental ills but ended with a series of rear-guard actions to defend the agency against challenges from industry, Republicans in Congress and, at times, the Obama White House.

Just Beyond the Bay: Take Action to Protect the Whales

Blue whales swim in the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Photo by Dan Shapiro courtesy of NOAA Photo Library.

Biking through Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, I emerge into the pinkish glow of the sun setting over Ocean Beach. The sun sinks below the horizon, eclipsed by a large container ship cruising from San Francisco Bay toward distant ports across the Pacific Ocean. Like ducks in a row, two more follow and another  is just visible in the distance.

Before these ships reach open water, they will pass through the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries, where endangered blue, fin, and humpback whales come to feed. Imagine a constant flow of shipping vessels speeding through one of the most abundant assemblages of marine mammals in the world.

The noise from all those ships disrupts the whales’ ability to communicate with each other, navigate, and forage. Even worse, ships strike and kill whales. These sanctuaries are meant to protect endangered creatures, but the proximity of the shipping lanes to the feeding grounds results in countless whale deaths.

The ships follow internationally recognized shipping channels between San Francisco Bay and major ports of the Pacific Rim. But these channels cut directly through the marine sanctuaries, where whales are put at a greater risk of death by cargo ship. Federal agencies are taking steps to fix the shipping lanes, but they need to hear from us.

Imagine as the sun slides into the Pacific Ocean, a majestic creature breaches the surface of the water, free from the danger of passing ships.

Take Action today to protect the whales of the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank sanctuaries.