News of the Bay: March 14, 2014

Check out this edition of News of the Bay for breaking news affecting San Francisco Bay

National Wildlife 1/27/14

Harbor Porpoises’ Remarkable Return
On a blustery California August day, researchers are studying some of San Francisco’s least-known residents from an unlikely laboratory: the Golden Gate Bridge. Below in the bay glides a parade of boats—fishing vessels, a tall ship, a slow container barge packed with colorful boxes like giant Legos. Behind the scientists, tourists pause to snap pictures, unaware of the ongoing hunt. Through binoculars, Bill Keener suddenly spots his quarry: a harbor porpoise, its dark gray dorsal fin appearing briefly before resubmerging. Keener predicts the porpoise’s course and, just as it surfaces again, photographs the animal before it disappears. “Got it,” he declares triumphantly.
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News of the Bay

Daily Camera 3/8/14
Boulder: Disposable bag use down 68 percent in wake of 10-cent fee
Six months after Boulder instituted a 10-cent fee on disposable grocery bags, use of plastic and paper bags has fallen 68 percent, city officials said.
That figure is based on a comparison of estimated bag use before the fee was implemented in July and the number of bags paid for by shoppers in the last six months, said Jamie Harkins, business sustainability specialist for the city.
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Sacramento Bee 3/10/14
E-cigarettes face restrictions as cities update smoking ordinances
The electronic cigarettes flooding the U.S. market don’t technically emit smoke, but many cities have decided they’re not much different from ordinary cigarettes.
Last week, Rancho Cordova became the latest local government to pursue restrictions on e-cigarettes; the City Council directed staff members to treat them like regular smokes when they draft amendments to city code sections governing smoking. The Los Angeles City Council also voted last week to restrict e-cigarette use where tobacco smoking is restricted, including restaurants, parks, bars, nightclubs, beaches and workplaces. Similar measures have been approved in a number of Bay Area cities, along with New York and Chicago.
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Reuters 3/13/14
In drought-stricken California court rules smelt fish get water
A California appeals court sided with environmentalists over growers on Thursday and upheld federal guidelines that limit water diversions to protect Delta smelt, in a battle over how the state will cope with its worst drought in a century.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a lower court should not have overturned recommendations that the state reduce exports of water from north to south California. The plan leaves more water in the Sacramento Delta for the finger-sized fish and have been blamed for exacerbating the effects of drought for humans.
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Weekly Roundup | September 13, 2013

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

San Jose Mercury News 9/5/13
Palo Alto: Restoration effort benefits steelhead trout in San Francisquito Creek
The hard-luck steelhead trout of San Francisquito Creek will have one less obstacle to surmount once the storms of winter set the stage for their annual spawning runs. A construction team has removed a century-old concrete barrier from a section of the creek in El Palo Alto Park on the Palo Alto-Menlo Park border, restoring the streambed to a more natural course. The roughly 40-foot-wide structure, known as a weir, had acted at times as a dam, trapping the federally threatened fish on either side.weekly roundup
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Phys.org 9/6/13
Study documents cigarette environmental hazards
The pollution caused by cigarette butts, along with massive deforestation from cutting down trees for wood to dry and fire cure tobacco, means smoking is seen more and more as an environmental problem. It’s a problem that’s on the rise, with an estimated 5.6 trillion cigarettes smoked annually, and more smokers in the developing world every day. “Cigarette smoking is a full service health hazard,” said Dr. Thomas Novotny, a scientist formerly at UCSF and UC Berkeley who is now a professor at San Diego State’s Graduate School of Public Health. “It’s also a full-service environmental hazard.”
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KQED Science 9/9/13
Warming climate could transform Bay Area parks and open space
By the end of the century, the Bay Area’s landscape could look more like Southern California’s, raising tough questions for land managers trying to preserve the region’s protected lands. It may not be an official record, but by some accounts, more open space has been preserved in the San Francisco Bay Area than in any other major U.S. metropolitan area. More than a million acres are permanently protected from development – that’s almost one-third of the 4.5 million acres that make up the 10-county region. Now, with temperatures on the rise, land managers and scientists are beginning to ask how the Bay Area’s landscape will withstand climate change. As plants and animals are forced to shift, some of the Bay Area’s iconic parks and vistas could look dramatically different.
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Mother Jones 9/9/13
Don’t Lather, Don’t Rinse, Don’t Repeat
Microbeads, found in many cosmetics, are the latest addition to the marine plastics problem. Yes: You may be dirtying our waters every time you clean your face. In the summer of 2012, when they set out to measure levels of plastic pollution in the Great Lakes, a team of researchers expected to find lots of bottles, six-pack rings, and plastic bags. They expected, too, to discover plenty of microplastics: those minuscule pieces of free-floating plastic that typically result from the degradation of much larger pieces. But these researchers were unprepared for just how much micro-size trash they would discover. Some of the samples they collected from Lakes Huron, Superior, and Erie indicated the presence of as many as 450,000 bits per square kilometer—twice as many as had ever been recorded.
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Bay Nature 9/12/12
Ospreys taking a liking to San Francisco Bay
Although ospreys can be found worldwide, until recently there had been no record of their using the San Francisco Bay for anything other than wintering grounds. This nesting season, however, dozens of young ospreys took their first dives through the San Francisco Bay air and caught their first fish in its waters.
Ospreys go south for the winter and spend the breeding season in higher latitudes. In the past, they would pass up the San Francisco Bay to nest farther north. “If you look at the range route for opreys now it looks like ospreys come down the Pacific coast and the nesting and breeding range stops somewhere just north of San Francisco,” said Allen Fish of the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory (GGRO).
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