ded reckoning

The Militaristic, Environmental, Telecom blog that doesn't know where it's going

15 May 2005

Non-Earth Day Posting

In keeping with my belief that you shouldn't pay too much attention to the environment on Earth Day, but should keep it in mind all the time (not in some cheesy mother-Earth kind of way though), here are some thoughts on some articles that should get more attention.

First, from MSNBC (which has a good enviro-news section, though it is just a culling from AP, WP, etc.), comes news that the swampland sellers in Miami are looking for some more suckers. Seems they've used up the land opened up by Homestead AFB closing (something similar is happening near here in Concord, CA where the NWS is closing and the city wants to build 15,000 houses), and now want to build in the agricultural buffer next to the Everglades. While the buffer may not have been part of the big Federal, State, and local compromise to fix the Everglades, it is land that was once considered the part of it and should be left alone, but the local politicians probably will be coming out in force to help change the zoning and fill it with some good Hurricane chaff, sort of like what is happening with the 8-1/2 Square Mile Area.

Out in the North Pacific, some NOAA scientists have used satellite and current data to identify areas where sea-borne trash is likely to congregate. These are the leftovers from some of the industrial fishing industry, that over the past 20 years has done a great job of attempting to sweep the sea clean of life using monofilament drift nets, and long lines, some up to 50 miles long. While the work resulted in a good cleanup of nets and ropes (some in balls up to 30 Ft in diameter) which should help the marine sanctuary around the Midway Islands, it does nothing about the ongoing overfishing that plagues much of the Pacific. This is primarily due to large, subsidized factory fishing fleets, most out of a few Asian countries. And, while the really big drift nets have been outlawed, they may still be being used illegally (nets over 1.5 miles long were banned by about 1993).

I've also noticed that my current newspaper, the SF Chronicle, is doing a pretty good job of covering small e environmental issues. After having read this major Big Green series, in the SacBee a few years ago, I was ready to read articles about the inside-the-beltway propaganda from the usual suspects, rather than reporting on mundane local and Central Valley issues. Read the series before you send your next check to the Sierra Club or WWF.

So, read on and see what is going on with expanding nesting habitat and the numbers of Wood Ducks in Butte County, getting school kids to help ducks and see how farmers can coexist and enhance wildlife habitat, also in Butte County. Though they barely mention it, Ducks Unlimited and the Fish and Game department are funding a lot of this work, which means hunters are funding it, not my snobby next door neighbor enviros who send their money to Green Peace.

We also have a chunk of coastland, Stornetta Ranch, in Sonoma County that is going to be preserved, side-by-side with the remaining land still in use as the family's working farm, with a conservation easement (note again, that Audubon only gave $1K to help make this happen). One of the great things about this deal is that it will help the Garcia River estuary become a fish producing area again.

Along similar lines, here in the Bay Area, there is work being planned to help remove some small dams and add fish screens to intakes on Alameda Creek, which drains into San Francisco Bay. Hopefully it will result in the return of Steelhead Trout to the creek and other areas of the watershed. The report says that Steelhead have been trying to migrate up the stream in the past few years, but without any luck, I assume. This is small scale environmentalism that gives much bigger returns (especially when water is involved due to the outsized impact it has in connecting land areas and species).

On the suits, lobbying, and Washington stuff, the Mercury rules I wrote about last month has been back in the news. A few states in the midwest kicked it off with a lawsuit to allow them to make tougher rules since they suffer from local mercury hot spots (from power plants or from auto plants?). Hey, if they think they can get the local power companies to reduce their Hg emissions in a more efficient manner than is currently in place, let 'em, the market will work it out and federalism will have also worked. I just think the end result will make no difference.


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