Palos Verdes-South Bay Sierra Club

Become an Outings Leader

Before too long we’ll be able to have group hikes and other outings. Be ready. Become a leader! 

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The Foggy View is looking for writers who are Black, Indigenous or other people of color to share your perceptions of environmental justice or experience of nature. Please contact wordznpix@gmail.com. We’re also in search of volunteers who can translate our articles into languages other than English.

Due to COVID-19, for everyone’s safety, Sierra Club outings and in-person events/meetings are cancelled through Feb. 28, 2021. Click to find our virtual happy hours and other online activities. Meanwhile, we are directed to not conduct any of the outings as private.  If you’re hiking on your own, please stay at least 6 feet from anyone else. For questions on outings, please contact your outings chairs, Frank or Kevin.

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Ecocentro, un recurso del Sierra Club para la comunidad latina sobre el medio ambiente y la salud de su familia.

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PV-SB Hike Leaders.     PV-SB Officers.

Outings liability waiver

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Electric Vehicles for All

By Isabelle Jeng, Environmental Reporter

On Feb. 9, Congresswoman Nanette Barragán introduced the Electric Vehicles for Underserved Communities Act of 2021, or EVs for All Act, a bill that will provide grants to fund the expansion of access to electric vehicles to those living in underserved communities, especially those residing in public housing projects. 

The grants will fund: 

  1. The purchase of EVs manufactured in the last five years
  2. The purchase, installation, and maintenance of EV charging facilities 
  3. Community education and outreach of these services
  4. Incentives for residents of public housing projects to use these services including subsidized fares
  5. Maintenance, repairs, and other costs associated with operating such service, including towing, impound, and driving infraction fines. 
  6. Monitoring, data collection, and evaluation of the service. 
  7. Technical assistance relating to the establishment, operation, and evaluation of such services
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Peacocks: The Gorgeous Invaders

By Isabelle Jeng, Environmental Reporter

Top two photos by Margaret Rust

Everyone says you either love them or hate them; regardless, peacock and peahen, or, male and female peafowl, are here to stay.

According to Vicki Mack, who authored the only known biography of Frank Vanderlip, an early twentieth century Palos Verdes Peninsula developer, they were introduced to the area as gifts from Elias Baldwin’s daughter.

If he sounds familiar, it’s because Baldwin Park and Baldwin Hills bear his name; Baldwin was a wealthy investor and entrepreneur who settled in Southern California in the late 1800’s. Upon encountering an ostentation of peafowl in India during his travels, he imported the exotic pheasant species to southern California; his daughter would eventually gift a few pairs to Vanderlip in the early 1900s. 

Eventually, peacock population would grow uncontrollably, as they have no known natural predators on the peninsula. 

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Safeguarding White Sage

Photo: goodfreephotos.com

By Susan Rothrock Deo

As we learn about traditional uses of native plants, it is important to develop a connection with the plants and their cultural legacies. “Plants are not just ‘cultural resources.’ Plants are our relatives. They’re to be treated with reciprocal respect.” (Craig Torres, Tongva, from “Saging the World,” California Native Plant Society)

In our modern world trendy ideas can ignite the popular imagination without a real understanding of their cultural or ecological significance. Recently the Los Angeles Times reported that this has happened with burning smudge sticks made of white sage. 

Unfortunately, most of the white sage being sold is poached from the wild and local populations are being decimated. White sage, Salvia apiana, is only found from Southern California to northern Baja California and this habitat is shrinking fast due to competition from humans for housing, businesses, highways. The California Native Plant Society is working with local indigenous groups to “stop rampant poaching, foster understanding and inspire action for white sage.” (See website below.)

If you want to use white sage, you can help by following these practices (See Los Angeles Times article below.):

  1. Be sure to check the source. “If your supplier can’t tell you exactly who grew the sage and where …, stop buying their product and boycott that supplier.” 
  2. Buy from white sage farmers.
  3. Grow your own sage. “You need to have a relationship with your plants, tend to them, instead of just overharvesting something you know nothing about,” says Teresa Romero, environmental director of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash.
  4. Use the leaves sparingly and harvest wisely. You only need a few leaves in a fireproof bowl to burn for smudging. Even one leaf in a gallon of water can be a strong tea. Do not cut the plant to the ground or pull it up by the roots. Avoid harvesting when the plant is flowering. The flowers are an important source of food for native bees and the seeds for birds and wildlife.
  5. Become a responsible steward of the land. Growing your own white sage or other native plants is a way of giving back to the land. “We have to go from seeing ourselves as having indisputable rights to gather plants wherever and whenever we want, to seeing ourselves as having responsibilities to take care of the landscape we have the privilege of stewarding,” says David Bryant, campaigns and engagement manager for the California Native Plant Society.

To learn more:

Poachers Are Wiping Out SoCal’s Wild White Sage to Make Smudge Sticks. You Can Stop Them. Jeanette Marantos, Los Angeles Times, April 12, 2022

Saging the World, Supporting Indigenous-led Efforts to Safeguard White Sage, California Native Plant Society https://www.cnps.org/conservation/white-sage

Along the Path: The Wisdom of the Sages

Traditional Indigenous Uses of Native Plants

By Susan Rothrock Deo

“These places where our villages [were built were] right under malls and city parks. The footprint [of the original peoples] is still here…. When you’re feeling a lack of grounding,…you’re not living close to the earth, it’s important to return to those places to be able to feel oneness with them.” An indigenous healer in California

Hiking through the sage scrub or chaparral you might notice the feathery branches of Artemisia, the pale purple flowers accenting the sages, or breathe in their heady aroma. But have you ever thought about the mysteries that lie beneath? The native indigenous people of Southern California, including the Tongva (or Gabrielino) of the South Bay, had intimate connections with these plants. 

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Earth Day Activities

***Sierra Club Re-mobilizes for Earth Day*** Click to find out how you can help.

Saturday, April 23
Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy
Earth Day Celebration
White Point Nature Preserve
9:00am – 12:00pm
1600 West Paseo del Mar, San Pedro, CA 90731
www.pvplc.volunteerhub.com

Saturday, April 23
AltaSea
Celebrating our Blue Earth
10:00am – 1:30pm
2451 South Signal Street, Berth 58, San Pedro, CA 90731
www.altasea-project-blue.org

April 23-24
Aquarium of the Pacific
Earth Day Celebration
9:00am – 5:00pm
100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, CA 90802
www.aquariumofpacific.org

Sunday, April 24
Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy
Earth Day Celebration & Film Presentation
Warner Grand Theatre
4:00pm – 6:00pm
478 W. 6th Street, San Pedro, CA 90732
www.pvplc.org

MAMMOTH / EASTERN SIERRA BUS TRIP

SEPTEMBER  10-13, 2022 ,  SATURDAY – TUESDAY

Back by popular demand! Join us for four fun days of hiking in the spectacular Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains, John Muir’s favorite place on Earth.  Participants must be fit to hike 5-7 miles in hilly terrain at high altitude.  The daylong hikes include many breaks and 45 minutes for lunch. There will be three speed groups; the faster the group, the more miles covered.

Price includes bus, three nights shared room at the Quality Inn Mammoth Lakes, hot breakfasts, driver’s gratuity and snacks. Depart early Saturday morning from South Bay and return Tuesday night. Cancellation fee: $50. If you cancel after Aug. 11, no refund unless the trip is full. To reserve your spot, please fill out the information below and a check for $480 to PVSB Sierra Club, to : Minoo Hart, 411 Paseo De La Concha,  Redondo Beach, CA.  90277

NOTE:  We may add requirements if the pandemic is still an issue.

LDRS:  MINOO HART ( heartmaman@gmail.com ) & TERRI STRAUB ( terristraub@hotmail.com )

Co-leaders: Emile Fiesler & Galen Heisey.

———————————— Mail in (PLEASE PRINT LEGIBLY)———————————-

Name: First——————Last—————-Gender—————-Phone#————————————-

Email address————————————————–

Person you would like to share a room with————————————————————————

Mailing address———————————————————————————————————

—————————————————————-Check  #——————-

Plant Poaching, Illegal Exporting Rings, and the Endangered Dudleya Succulents

By Christian Paullin, Environmental Journalist

Photo of Dudleya virens copyright Dieter Wilkens. Used with permission

International criminals, poaching, and shipping containers full of illegal plants is not what usually comes to mind when talking about succulents. But succulent poaching across California has seen a rapid rise. The target is the dudleya, a succulent native to California’s coastal bluffs and cliffs. In southern  Los Angeles County we have our own species of dudleya native to the Palos Verdes coastal hills–the Dudleya virens.

These drought-resistant, colorful succulents have increased in popularity in parts of Asia, specifically South Korea and China. Dudleya, also known as liveforevers, cannot be farmed effectively in wet climates–leading to a high level of poaching along the California coasts. 

Dudleya poaching was relatively unknown to authorities until recently. In 2018, a dudleya exportation ring was discovered by authorities in California. A group of poachers had illegally removed the plants from Northern California and falsified paperwork saying the dudleya came from a farm in San Diego. They attempted to export the illegally poached plants to South Korea where they could be sold upwards of $1000.00 per plant. They were found with $600,000 worth of dudleya in their possession.

It has become a problem across the state in recent years and it is suspected to have started happening in the Los Angeles coastal areas as well. Due to the increasing threat towards these succulents, the California Native Plant Society recently sponsored a bill protecting these special, endangered plants. 

On September 28, 2021 Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 223, the first California law to deal directly with poaching of a plant from public and private land. The punishments include fines up to $50,000.00 and 6-month prison sentence after multiple offenses.

Seventy percent of all dudleya species can be found in California. Ten species, including four found in the Los Angeles area are classified as threatened or endangered.  Though our local dudleya, Dudleya virens, is not threatened, it is an uncommon species and it is important to protect these plants. Dudleya are not only threatened by poaching but also wildfires, droughts, climate change, and coastal development. 

These drought-resistant plants are an important member of our ecosystem and are able to hold water more effectively than most plants. Therefore it is a popular food and water source for ground squirrels, rabbits, snails, deer, hummingbirds, and bees. They also provide stability to coastal bluffs and cliffs, which is an issue in the landslide area of the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

Therefore it is imperative we continue to protect the dudleya not only for future generations to enjoy in the wild, but also to maintain our ecosystems. Though it is not known if Dudleya virens has been poached from the Palos Verdes hills, it is still important to know our community is home to a special species of succulent and we should do everything we can to protect this native plant.

Our Window into the Marine World: Tidepools

Along the Path: A Young Person’s Guide to Exploring Nature

By Susan Rothrock Deo

Tidepools are one of my favorite marine habitats. From the comfort of land, without donning scuba equipment, we can start to explore the marine world. Tidepools are small depressions where sea water remains after the tide goes out. They are found on rocky shores in the intertidal zone (between low and high tides). Tides are caused by the moon’s gravitational pull: high tides on the near side and low tides on the opposite side of the earth. Learn more at https://scijinks.gov/tides/.

We have some great local tidepools. The best time to visit is at or near low tide. (Check online. Times change daily.)

READ MORE AND SEE A SLIDESHOW

Air, Land and Sea: Microplastics Are Everywhere

By Shera Dolmatz

New evidence illustrates that the ocean is sending minuscule bits of plastic pollution back into the air and onto the land. Bodies of water long believed to be the final resting grounds for discarded plastics are not the last stop.  The atmosphere, ocean, and waterways working together keep microplastics cycling throughout the globe. 

Microplastics develop as the ocean grinds plastics into micron-sized particles. (A human hair ranges from 20 to 200 microns in width.) Researchers at Utah State and Cornell universities found that oceans are spraying a continual stream of microplastics into the atmosphere.  The sea-sprayed aerosols float across the globe and can resettle onto the land causing a secondary re-emission source. 

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Concerned about Electric Bikes and Other Inappropriate Uses of Trails?

By Vicky Hoover, member, Recreation Issues Subteam Photo by Karl Forsgaard

Do one, two, three, or even more, of the issues below bother you?  Interest you?  Concern you?  Upset you? Make you feel some action is needed toward better management?

  • Off-road vehicles (motorcycles, electric bicycles, ATVs, snowmobiles, jet-skis, etc—whether creating noise, conflict with hikers, or impacts to ecosystems);
  • park overflight noise impacts;
  • bicycles;
  • trail conflicts and inappropriate uses;
  • accessible recreation;
  • recreation fees charged on public lands;
  • commercialization and privatization of recreation on public lands.

Let the Sierra Club’s Recreation Issues Subteam hear from you!

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Get Trained in Wilderness First Aid

A two-day Wilderness First Aid Course (WFAC) will be held on Saturday May 14 and Sunday May 15 in Fullerton.

The Saturday class will be indoors, with skills exercises in an outdoor courtyard. The Sunday class will be outdoors in a park. Both Saturday and Sunday sessions will have COVID precautions including masks and appropriate spacing (spacing will be necessarily reduced during skills exercises). Every student will be lead rescuer on one 25-minute simulation with 1:1 instructor supervision. No other two-day wilderness first aid course in Southern California offers this. Meals and overnight camping are not provided. The course fee is $160. A recent student said the following about the two-day WFAC –

“This 16-hour course rivaled any 24-hour course I have taken.”

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Redondo Beach City Council Votes for Green Power

By Al Sattler, Alternate Chapter Representative

Photo courtesy of Riley Goldfarb

California’s 2020 wildfire season was the worst in recorded history.  We can expect more of this: extreme weather events, droughts and fires due to the rapid rate of global warming. The United Nations IPCC’s latest report says we need to transition off of fossil fuels as soon as possible or face a globally disrupted climate. Redondo Beach has taken a step in the right direction.

The Clean Power Alliance (CPA) allows local governments to promote green energy by purchasing and selling electricity to residents as an alternative to traditional utilities.  It currently provides power for 32 cities and counties in Southern California.  Fifteen of these communities have 100% renewables as the default level, including Culver City, Manhattan Beach, Rolling Hills Estates, Ventura, and Ventura County.

Recently the Redondo Beach City Council considered

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My Walk among the Giants

By Bill Lavoie, Membership Chair

This year alone, wildfires in the southern Sierra Nevada claimed the lives of nearly 3,600 giant sequoias. For more than 100 years, Save the Redwood League has pursued its mission to save California redwoods. In addition to funding research on fire ecology and climate change, the league purchases redwood properties and donates them to the California state or national park system. Through their efforts, we have Prairie Creek Redwood State Park and Redwood National Park to appreciate, among others.

In 2019, the league acquired the largest privately held ancient giant redwood forest, Alder Creek Grove. As a donor to the league I was invited to visit the grove, located just south of Sequoia National Park. Privately owned for close to 80 years, it was used as a family retreat and for some logging, but careful management preserved the redwoods, including the fifth largest redwood tree in existence, the Stagg Tree. 

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The Big Stink in Carson

By Al Sattler, Group Vice Chair

Photo of Dominguez Channel by L.A. Sanitation

In early October, residents of Carson started smelling a stink, the “rotten egg” smell of hydrogen sulfide. The stink was intermittently detectable in much of the South Bay, but it was unbearable in Carson. The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), which was called to investigate, put a large number of inspectors into the area looking for likely industrial sources of hydrogen sulfide, with refineries being the usual suspects. No industrial culprits were found. Eventually it was decided that it was coming from biological activity in the Dominguez Channel, which is effectively a huge storm drain that receives runoff water from as far north as the 105 Freeway, draining several South Bay cities, including Hawthorne, Gardena, and Carson, and carries it to LA Harbor.  There is always water in it, rising and falling with the tides. With the drought, however, there has been no flow through it, so it is essentially a stagnant body of water.

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Habitat, Habitat, Have to Have a Habitat…

Story and Photos By Susan Rothrock Deo

Here is one of my favorite ecology songs. Once you hear it, you can’t stop singing it!

Every living thing needs a habitat, a home. A habitat is “the natural home or environment of an animal, plant, or other organism.” Habitats have a combination of conditions that help the plants and animals living there thrive: the right amount of sun and precipitation, the comfortable variation of temperature throughout the year, the correct type of soil and prevailing winds, etc. We have several different habitats in our area, both terrestrial and marine. There are kelp forests and rocky shores, coastal bluff scrub and riparian habitats.

A special habitat stands out as crucial to the survival of many local organisms: coastal sage scrub. Coastal sage scrub is one of the most threatened habitats in the country. As Allan Schoenherr said in A Natural History of California (1992), “This brightly flowering, odorous community is now nearly gone as a result of overgrazing, agriculture, and urban sprawl.” It is estimated that a century ago there were 2.5 million acres of coastal sage scrub in Southern California, from Ventura all the way to the Mexican border. Only 250,000 acres are left. That’s just 10% of the original acreage. If coastal sage scrub disappears, so do many of the special plants and animals that call this habitat home.

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Links of Interest

  • On Jan. 1, a state law will go into effect that requires Californians to separate all organic material from their other garbage. That means adding food waste such as coffee grounds, eggshells, banana peels, moldy bread, last night’s table scraps and those vegetables at the back of your fridge that are starting to look slimy to the garden waste already in your green bin. [Read more from the L.A. Times
  • A sheen in the Pacific Ocean roughly the size of a football field about two miles off Huntington Beach has been identified as oil, officials confirmed Thursday morning. [L.A. Times]

.]

New Laws Aim to Combat Climate Change and Assist Low-Income California Residents

By Isabelle Jeng, Environmental Journalist

On September 23, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into effect a $15 billion package of environmental bills aimed toward combating the climate crisis. Of the 24 bills passed, a handful are notable for their sharp focus on assisting low-income residents and communities. 

Safe Drinking Water

Senate Bill 403 added to the California Safe Drinking Water Act authorizing the State Water Board (SWB), to order the consolidation of water systems that serve a disadvantaged community and are at risk of consistently failing to provide an adequate supply of safe drinking water. 

The SWB found 331 water systems serving about half a million Californians that violated water quality standards. The unsafe contamination levels result from the local agency’s inability to “generate sufficient revenue from its customer base to…address the problem.” 

Home Energy Savers

(SB 756) adds home weatherization services to the Energy Savings Assistance Program (ESAP) for renters or homeowners whose household income falls below 250% of the federal poverty level. Examples of weatherization include attic insulation, caulking, weatherstripping, water-heater blankets, and improvement of low-flow showerheads. Customers can apply for these services through their energy providers’ websites. 

Southern California Edison: https://www.sce.com/residential/assistance/energy-saving-program

Southern California Gas: https://www.socalgas.com/save-money-and-energy/assistance-programs/energy-savings-assistance-program 

San Pedro and Wilmington residents, note: The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has an energy- and water-saving assistance program open to all their customers, regardless of income.

Electric Vehicles

A $3.9 billion zero-emission vehicle package will fund “consumer rebates for new zero-emission vehicle purchases and incentives for low-income Californians to replace their old car with a new or used advanced-technology car.” 

One such program the package will fund is the Residential EV Charging Incentive Program, established by the SCAQMD, which provides a rebate on residential chargers with larger rebates for low-income residents. The package will fund other rebate programs such as the Clean Vehicle Rebate Program (CVRB) for California residents who meet income requirements for purchasing or leasing an eligible clean energy vehicle, as well as vehicle buyback programs for some older model vehicles. 

Find details on these programs here: 

Charging – http://www.aqmd.gov/home/programs/community/community-detail?title=ev-charging-incentive

Replace your ride – https://xappprod.aqmd.gov/RYR/Home/Eligibility 

Clean Vehicle Rebate Program – http://ww2.arb.ca.gov/sites/default/files/movingca/cvrp.html

“Pack It In; Pack It Out! And…”

By Cheryl Frick

…that means orange peels too! 

They can take six months to decompose. 

In a drier climate, they can last indefinitely.

Let’s Get Together:

Increasing Community Involvement in Local Air Pollution Reduction

By Christian Paullin, Environmental Journalist

According to an American Lung Association report, the Los Angeles – Long Beach area has the worst air quality in the United States.

Why is our air quality so poor? Los Angeles is home to the two busiest ports in the US (Los Angeles and Long Beach), the world’s 15th busiest airport and it has some of the most crowded freeways anywhere. Frequent wildfires and the influx of smoke from wildfires across the state are among other contributors. To make matters worse, the geographical location is a recipe for a buildup of particulate matter and ozone pollution. Los Angeles is a basin surrounded by mountains; dominant northwest winds and scarce rain let pollution accumulate.

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Land and Sea Is the Life for Me:

The Amazing Adaptations of Northern Elephant Seals

By Susan Rothrock Deo

Featured image by Karen Schuenemann. More photos by her and Charles Conklyn, Paul Blieden, Susan Deo, Ariel Swartley and Ming H2 Wu in the slideshow

Have you seen them hauled out on a beach, lazing in the sun, or scooting their tremendous bodies across the sand at surprising speed? Have you heard them snort, whimper, belch, scream, squeak, roar or hiss? One doesn’t soon forget an encounter with the amazing northern elephant seal, Mirounga angustirostris, the second largest seal in the world, the loudest animal on land, and the deepest diver of all air-breathing vertebrates. 

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The Taber Grove: A Gift from Good Neighbors

Longtime active Sierra Club members John and Lynn Taber envisioned turning a small, overgrown and weedy pocket park on the east side of Rolling Hills Estates into a space that would entice residents to get outdoors and enjoy time in nature.

The Tabers brought a proposal to the city and to their much-beloved Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy. They offered to fund the removal of trash and debris, the improvement drainage, as well as the addition of amenities such as picnic tables and a hitching post, and so transform the space into a true miniature park or grove for neighborhood residents to enjoy.

On August 31, 2021, city officials and conservancy leadership met at the space adjacent to Palos Verdes Drive East and Harbor Sight Drive now known as the John and Lynn Taber Grove to celebrate the Tabers’ vision and generous gift. They initiated the grove by unveiling a commemorative boulder. Excerpted on the boulder’s plaque is one of John’s favorite poems by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “A Psalm of Life.”

Wilderness First Aid Course

A three-day Wilderness Medical Associates Wilderness First Aid course will be offered to WTC staff and students in June, 2022.  Click title to download a flyer.  If this course reaches full enrollment, an additional course will be offered in Fall, 2022.

Help Us Get Social

The PV-SB Sierra Club is more than outdoor activities and environmental action. We’ve enjoyed quarterly get-togethers (often with guest speakers) plus annual trips to the Hollywood Bowl, local theater and potlucks. Now that our Social Chair, Joyce White, has stepped down, we need someone to step up and keep the good times rolling. If you’re interested, contact Group Chair, Marcia Cook: 310-324-9827.

Want to Become a Hike Leader? By Cheryl Frick

Training for Hike Leaders and Wilderness Travel

Click now to register for the 2022 Wilderness Travel Course

For those who would like to lead hikes and other outings, WTC is working on scheduling the next LTC. Keep an eye on this space for more info: 

https://www.sierraclub.org/angeles/leadership-outings/leadership-training-seminar

Questions? Contact Jeremy Netka, 323-401-1039

jnetka@gmail.com

What Lies Beneath

Decades of Toxic Dumping off Our Coast

By Christian Paullin, Environmental Reporter

If you have ever visited the coastline on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, San Pedro, or Long Beach, you have likely come across a warning sign deterring anyone from catching and eating White Croaker, Barred Sea Bass, Black Croaker, Topsmelt, Barracuda, and shellfish. These signs stand to protect you from the danger of eating toxic fish—a reminder of an environmental disaster that has continued since the 1940s, right in your own front yard. 

The illegal (and legal) dumping of Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) off the Palos Verdes Peninsula has been the source of recent national news. So what happened, and how can we work to contain a massive environmental disaster, decades in the making? Read on to discover what these deadly chemicals are and how we can protect our coastlines from further harm. 

Long Beach Dept. of Health

DDT has long been used as a pesticide globally. It was initially used by the military in World War II to kill mosquitoes and fleas, to control diseases such as malaria, typhus, and bubonic plague; however, it would later used for commercial farming throughout the world in the 1950s to 1980s. It is relatively inexpensive to produce, and does not break down easily. The fact that it did not require constant reapplication made it popular with farmers. Ironically, this same feature makes this chemical so harmful to our environment (3).

For nearly 30 years, the Montrose Chemical Company, located in Torrance, legally dumped DDT via sewer systems that led topipes off White Point (1). There was no explicit law at the time restricting the company from pouring chemicals straight into the sewer system (2).  The former site of Montrose Chemical is now the Montrose Chemical Superfund site.  Brown pelicans nearly became extinct, and other fish-eating birds like bald eagles also became scarce.   Fortunately, Montrose Chemical was forbidden to dump DDT in the sewer in 1971.  The area along the Palos Verdes Peninsula, extending out to about 1.5 miles, is now the Palos Verdes Shelf Superfund Site.  The amount of DDT in ocean sediments near San Pedro has decreased, and brown pelicans have recovered. But this was only a small fraction of the amount Montrose was truly dumping into our local waters.

For decades there were rumors of additional large scale illegal barrel dump sites which were finally confirmed by UCSB researcher, David Valentine. Valentine was studying methane seepage, rather than chemical dumps in waters between Catalina and Palos Verdes. In 2011, he decided to investigate the rumors of the barrels using his sonar equipped deep-water robot. He quickly found many unknown waste barrels in a small area. Further testing would later show the barrels contained DDT. A group of scientists, led by NOAA-Scripps Institute of Oceanography, began mapping the underwater dump site first located by Valentine and exposed a massive dump site in a report released in 2020. Their findings were eloquently reported on by Rosanna Xia of the LA Times in October 2020, making headline news across the country.

The dump site was so large that the group had a difficult time finding an end to the site. Everywhere they looked, they would encounter more barrels and the designated site was continually expanded. The group employed data algorithms to estimate the number of barrels because there were too many data points to count (9)

Initially the reported amount of DDT dumped was around 110 tons (4), however, the newly discovered dump sites led investigative journalists to look into Montrose’s history logs, which showed nearly 2000 barrels of DDT were dumped per month between 1947-1961, amounting to an additional 767 tons of chemicals of our local coasts (5). 

The danger of DDT was first brought into the public eye in the 1960s via Rachel Carson and her book,  Silent Spring, which detailed the effects of pesticides, specifically DDT, on animals. Her research found pesticides to be carcinogenic, promote tumor growth, affect reproductive health of animals, specifically birds, and other harmful consequences on wildlife (7). Consequently DDT directly affects humans as well. Women heavily exposed to DDT during childhood have a 5-fold greater likelihood of developing breast cancer. Pregnant mother’s exposure to DDT is also directly linked to an increased chance of breast cancer for their daughter (8). Beyond those effects, there are likely long-term effects unknown to us. 

Though dropping DDT levels allowed birds to partially recover, some conflicting reports have shown animals such as deceased dolphins washed up on local beaches to have heightened levels of DDT in recent years (5).

As of April of 2021, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and the NOAA-Scripps team worked together to report their findings in a US congressional briefing. Multiple state and federal agencies are following the findings closely. The EPA has initiated a multi-year, clean-up feasibility study to determine if there is a better option than a natural recovery approach, which is the expected course of action. (5).

Breaking The Ice With Dr. Steven Morris

By Isabelle Jeng, Environmental Journalist

Canadian-American physicist Dr. Steven Morris spent 12 extraordinary months at the South Pole in 1984 as a researcher for UCLA’s Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics (IGPP) post-doctoral program. Dr. Morris studied seismic patterns while experiencing life in one of Earth’s most challenging environments and troubleshooting finicky computers in a time of changing technology.

He concluded his career after teaching college-level physics and astronomy at Los Angeles Harbor College in Wilmington. Dr. Morris can now be found leading weekly hikes along the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

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Chasing Arrows Lead You Astray

By Shera Dolmatz

Should you toss a plastic bottle with this symbol in the recycling bin? What about plastic bags or those “air pillows” in Amazon boxes? The answer may surprise you.


Plastic waste has become a global crisis. Science magazine reports that “by 2050 the world’s oceans will contain more plastic than fish by weight.”

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Fabulous, Fantastic Feathers

Along the Path: A Young Person’s Guide to Exploring Nature

Story and Photos By Susan Rothrock Deo

Have you looked at a feather lately? From the shiny black of a smooth crow feather to the showy colors of a peacock’s tail, they are amazing. Birds are the only living organisms with feathers, but they weren’t the first. A group of dinosaurs, the theropods, which includes Tyrannosaurus Rex, had feathers. The ancestors of modern birds arose late during the time of the dinosaurs and some call modern birds “living dinosaurs.”

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Want restored wetlands and a park to replace the Redondo Beach Power Plant?

The South Bay Parkland Conservancy suggests these five action steps:

  1. Sign our petition
  2. Contact our local representatives
  3. Write a letter to the water board
  4. Share steps 1-3 with your database
  5. Testify before the Water Board at its October 17 meeting
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Close Encounters of the Wild Kind

Along the Path: A Young Person’s Guide to Exploring Nature

By Susan Rothrock Deo

Do you have a special memory of a close encounter with a wild animal? They are all around us—flying in the air, wiggling in the ground, running across a yard, even resting for a moment on a leaf. Being in touch with their world as much as ours can have a profound effect on our health and well-being. 

In his new book, “Our Wild Calling: How Connecting with Animals can Transform Our Lives,” Richard Louv writes about how we can not only coexist with our animal friends, but we can also deepen our bonds with nature to create a better world. Read on to inspire your own encounters, waiting for you right outside your window. 

  • Peregrin falcon feeds its young.
  • Raccoon peeks out from roof vent.
  • Osprey in tree
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Virtual Social Hour: International Bird Rescue, July 25th

International Bird Rescue (Bird Rescue) has been saving seabirds and other aquatic birds around the world since 1971. Our team of specialists operate two year-round aquatic bird rescue centers in California, which care for over 5,000 birds every year, and has led oiled wildlife rescue efforts in over 200 oil spills in more than a dozen countries. 

Our mission is to inspire people to act toward balance with the natural world by rescuing waterbirds in crisis and we dream of a world in which every person, every day, takes action to protect the natural home of wildlife and ourselves

This year marks Bird Rescue’s 50th Anniversary saving wildlife! Join us for a Virtual Social Hour and help us celebrate how Bird Rescue came to be, were we are now, and hear some success stories from the staff who made it all happen. From Blue-Banded Pelicans to oiled Western Grebes, our staff works to rehabilitate and release our local aquatic birds and to spread awareness and passion for the wild world around us. We look forward to sharing those stories with you!

Join us online on Sunday, July 25. As always, our virtual social hours are FREE AND OPEN TO ALL. Spread the word! The schedule, as usual, is:

3:30 p.m. Arrive to meet and greet new friends and old.

4:00-5:00 p.m. Learn how birds are rescued and rehabilitated.

5:00-5:30 p.m. Your turn to ask questions.

We’re Back! Check Details Here.

Drawing by Cheryl Frick

National Sierra Club has okayed in-person gatherings after July 4. The Palos Verdes-South Bay Group kicks off our return to normal with a conditioning hike Thursday, July 8, 2021. We’ll meet at Peninsula Center near the corner of Hawthorne and Silver Spur at the new time, 6:00 p.m.

Not for beginners. Five to 8 miles in 2 hours with many hills through various area on the peninsula. Please come EARLY to sign the waiver by 6 pm. Meet at the Peninsula Center parking lot in front of the Hamburger Habit. No dogs, please Leaders Bill Lavoie and Kevin Schlunegger.

Level: Moderate(O)

Cost: Free

For more activities, check here:

Current Activities Calendar

Toxic Clouds on the Horizon; The HF Threat Continues

HF test release. AQMD

By Isabelle Jeng, Environmental Journalist

If you think a leak at a refinery in Texas doesn’t concern you, think again. If you live, go to school or work in southern Los Angeles County, you are among the millions at risk of serious injury from hydrofluoric acid (HF), which is used to make high-octane gasoline. If you’re within six miles of the Torrance refinery or the Valero refinery in Wilmington, you are among the tens of thousands who risk death from a large release of this chemical.

As reported in the May Foggy View, there have been three major near misses in the last six years that could have caused mass casualties near refineries, one of them right here at the Torrance refinery. 

On May 42021, another refinery suffered a leakage of highly toxic hydrogen fluoride (HF). This time it was the Marathon Petroleum Corporation’s Galveston Bay Refinery in Texas City, Texas, 41 miles south of Houston. Texas City officials issued a shelter-in-place order for those who live between 14th and 34th streets, from Fifth Avenue South to Texas Avenue — a region that extends two miles downwind of the release. Residents were instructed to go home and stay inside, shut all windows, and turn off their air conditioning to prevent any fumes from entering their homes. 

Two refinery employees were taken to a nearby hospital. No other injuries were reported. Marathon spokesperson said of the incident, “The … refinery’s automated response systems today activated mitigation measures in response to a small chemical release. The release has been stopped and air monitoring data indicate no off-site impact … relevant regulatory notifications have been made. A full investigation will be conducted to determine the cause.”

According to a Reuter’s article, “The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) on Wednesday described the release as an undetermined amount of hydrogen fluoride, a toxic chemical that turns into a ground-hugging vapor cloud at room temperatures and can lead to severe health problems, even death.”

Marathon’s Galveston Bay Refinery is the second largest in the United States, producing 585,000 barrels of gasoline per day. The only larger refinery in the country is the Port Arthur refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, which, in comparison, produces 607,000 bpd. Earlier this year, Marathon shut down the Galveston Bay refinery for a complete overhaul, including its HF alkylation unit. The overhaul clearly did not address safety issues sufficiently, further endangering the health of those who live in its vicinity. 

Alarmingly, this is not the first HF release from a Marathon refinery in Texas City. In 1987, a crane dropped a heater unit on an HF storage tank, shearing off two pipes. A total of 53,000 pounds of HF were released from the top of the tank over a few hours. Fifty-eight thousand people on 85 city blocks were evacuated, and 1,037 people were treated at hospital for respiratory problems and skin and eye irritations. The accident could have been catastrophic if a pipe on the bottom of the tank were sheared off, and all the HF in the tank were release in a matter of minutes as demonstrated in the Nevada desert. 

According to another Reuter’s article, about 50 of the 135 refineries in the U.S. have elected to use HF as the catalyst in a process called “alkylation” for producing gasoline. Two of California’s 15 refineries — Valero and PBF’s Torrance Refining Company — use the toxic catalyst, and both are located in the densely populated South Bay region of Southern California. In a major accidental release, HF can form a ground-hugging cloud that is lethal for miles downwind.

In 2013, the United Steelworkers Union (USW) warned the public of the dangers of an accidental release of HF. The study, “A Risk Too Great, Hydrofluoric Acid in U.S. Refineries,” emphasized the lack of adequate safety systems to handle any releases. The USW estimated that many thousands of workers and millions of people are “at risk of exposure from an HF release.” 

Special thanks to  Jim Eninger for providing invaluable information for this article

Can Ocean Farming Help Feed the Earth’s Booming Population? Pt. 2

Shellfish in the L.A. Harbor. Judy Herman

The Future of Ocean Farming in Southern California

By Christian Paullin, Environmental Reporter

How do you sustainably feed the 9.9 billion people that will be alive by 2050? Aquaculture is one answer. Shellfish and seaweed can be farmed sustainably, even adding numerous benefits like preventing toxic “red tides” and providing more oxygen to both our oceans and our air. 

So why is there only one seaweed farm of the coast of Los Angeles (which has not started its operations) and no shellfish farms? To answer this, we must understand the difficulty in starting a local ocean farm in California. Read on to find how we can support local farms that might someday soon pave the way for the future. 

Open-ocean shellfish and seaweed farming can potentially thrive off our coasts in a way that is minimally invasive. Shellfish and seaweed both eat nitrogen and phosphorus: a source of food for phytoplankton that cause toxic algal blooms. These “red tides” make the ocean anoxic and ultimately, kill off large amounts of sea life. Seaweed goes further— introducing oxygen to both the ocean and our atmosphere. Seaweed has a staggering number of uses, is full of vital nutrients, and it grows unabated. So why is there only one seaweed farm off the coast of Los Angeles (which has not started its operations) and no shellfish farms?

To farm oceans in California, one must lease a section of ocean from the state. These leases have been difficult to come by in recent years as the state has not issued a new lease in nearly 30 years.  To add to this,  in order to operate with the proper permitting, one must go through a high level of bureaucracy; first the Department of Fish and Game, then a long list of state agencies: the Coastal Commission, Department of Public Health, Regional Water Quality Control Board, US Army Corps of Engineers, and the Coast Guard.

Expensive lawyers and consultants are almost always required to help each firm gain these licenses. Ultimately this is difficult for small, entrepreneurial farmers and it is more likely a large established farm will have the resources to gain these permits and leases.

Another hurdle in our area is strong competition from foreign imports. Bernard Friedman, owner, operator, and sole employee of Santa Barbara Mariculture, one of the few successfully operated open-ocean aquaculture businesses in California, highlighted the difficulties of competing with foreign-subsidized imported seafood. Our local farmers have to jump through bureaucratic hoops, have high levels of initial start-up costs, and then can only sell their product with a small profit margin as foreign-imported competition drives the price down.

For this industry to thrive, there needs to be a shift in how the leases and permitting are currently managed. There needs to be a less complex way to receive permitting and ocean leases while still maintaining the health of our ecosystems.

Something also needs to be done to help local aquaculture operators compete with foreign imports. Subsidies for local goods are not the option as they may encourage farmers to farm unsustainably. Then what else can be done? Potentially a tariff on foreign imports as a way to move buyers towards locally sourced seafood can help increase margins for local farmers, thus incentivizing more local farms opening up. A solution is hard to come by as impacts of open ocean farms aren’t fully understood; nevertheless, the current system is not economically sustainable for our local farmers.  It is vital that we  create a system that is both economically viable for farmers without impacting our local ecosystem.

One potential solution to competition is for businesses and restaurants selling seafood to shift their focus on purchasing it direct from the source. Local docks and harbors across southern California (San Diego, Newport Beach, San Pedro, Ventura, and Santa Barbara) are a great source of local product that businesses and individuals alike can turn too instead of imported product. Many businesses such as Santa Monica Seafood and Get Hooked Seafood in Los Angeles act as middlemen between local fishermen and businesses.  There is an opportunity for more entrepreneurial individuals to provide an avenue of contact between our local fishermen and the public.

There is a lot of potential for offshore aquaculture of shellfish and seaweed. It can help our local ecosystem and economies alike.  However, in order for this industry to thrive sustainably, there needs to be a change not only in how the government manages it, but also in how businesses and individuals purchase seafood. By being more conscious and willing to spend a few extra dollars on local seafood, we can help create a healthy economic and natural environment for shellfish and seaweed open ocean aquaculture.

Santa Barbara Mariculture information can be found here http://www.sbmariculture.com/Summarized Permiting and Leasing 

Virtual Social Hour: Giving Injured Marine Mammals a Second Chance

Photos courtesy of the Marine Mammals Care Center

Southern California is a destination not only for vacationers but for a diversity and abundance of marine life.  Each year tens of thousands of marine mammals, including seals and sea lions, breed off of the Southern California coast.  Some of these animals become sick or injured and strand on Southern California’s iconic beaches.  As part of our Virtual Social Hour on Sunday, June 27, Dave Bader, Chief Operations and Education Officer at the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro, will discuss how experts work to rehabilitate these marine mammals and provide them with a second chance at life in the wild.  Dave will give a close look at hospital operations and the patients at the Marine Mammal Care Center. 

Dave has a bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology from the University of California at Santa Cruz and a master’s degree in Biology with an emphasis in educational media design from the University of California at Irvine. 

Sunday, June 27 on Zoom. FREE and open to all — spread the word!

Arrive at 3:30 to greet old and new friends.

4:00-5:00 Learn how the center cares for their marine mammal patients

5:30 Dave Bader answers your questions.

Zoom link will be sent to registrants the day before.

Marvin Contreras joins Communications Team

Marvin Contreras lives in Grand Staircase-Escalante

Marvin Contreras is an editor, poet, and outdoor enthusiast. He was raised in the San Gabriel Valley, and he has since graduated from the University of California – Riverside with a bachelor’s degree in English. When not working, reading, or writing, he is paying attention to birds. He currently lives in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. 

We are fortunate to have Marvin on the Communications Team as Copy Editor. If Foggy View articles start to look more clear, concise and compelling, call it the Contreras Component.*

*[Judy accepts the blame for the alliteration.]

CALL FOR ANGELES CHAPTER EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE CANDIDATES 

The Sierra Club Angeles Chapter nominating committee is looking for members from sections and groups across the Chapter to run for the chapter Executive Committee (ExCom).  We are striving for the Angeles Chapter leadership to reflect the diverse membership and population of the Los Angeles and Orange Counties. We believe that environmental injustice/climate change disproportionately hurts the most marginalized people in society — including people of color, people from working-class backgrounds, women and LGBTQ people. We believe that these communities must be centered in the work we do. Hence, we strongly encourage applications from people with these identities or who are members of other marginalized communities.”

Executive committee members build relationships with other community partners and influence what is important to the Angeles Chapter, recruit members and improve the Chapter’s diversity.  Prepare for and attend the Executive Committee meetings; consider the interests of the entire Chapter when voting.  Candidates are then considered for the Chapter Elections in November 2021

Contact Nominating Committee Chair, Tejinder Dhillon at tejinder.k.dhillon@gmail.com  or co-chair Donna Specht at donnaspecht@juno.com for more information. 

Header photo by Judy Herman

Can Ocean Farming Help Feed the Earth’s Booming Population?

Photo by yeowatzup, Wikimedia Commons

PART 1: Aquaculture in California, So Far

By Christian Paullin, Environmental Journalist

By 2050, our planet will be home to approximately 9.9 billion people, a more than 25% increase since 2020,according to the International Institute for Sustainable Development. The current global levels of food production are not nearly enough to support these additional two billion people. To support this expected progeny in a healthy environment, we must produce more food  without increasing land use or greenhouse gas (GHG) production.

California is at the forefront of this potential global food crisis as we produce 13% of our country’s crops and livestock and export billions of dollars of agriculture. In addition, we are located on the Pacific Ocean, which holds precious resources of shellfish, fish, and seaweed. As land availability reduces year in and year out, many scientists, farmers, and countries are turning to aquaculture as an alternative farming option.

California farm products for sale in Fresno, CA. (US Department of Agriculture)

Aquaculture, however, threatens ecosystems in several ways: destruction of habitat, introduction of foreign species, pollution, increased levels of animal waste, diseases passed to local fish populations, blockage of migration patterns, over-utilization of resources among many others. But if done correctly, aquaculture can be one of many avenues our society pursues in light of rising food demand.

The Sierra Club’s  Sustainable Marine Fisheries Policy doesn’t address aquaculture specifically, many of the principles apply. To briefly summarize, the Sierra Club encourages marine fisheries to be ecosystem-focused rather focused on single species. How will the farm affect the existing environment in all facets: local marine species, salinity, temperature, food sources, and even sunlight penetration? How will a fish from the Atlantic affect the ecosystem if it were to escape and breed in the Pacific? There are a lot of unknowns; proper research and analysis needs to be completed before any farm is opened.

Californians employed aquaculture as far back as 1850 when San Francisco residents started growing various breeds of oysters from all over the west coast in the San Francisco Bay. Though bay aquaculture and inland aquaculture are plentiful in California, almost all open-ocean aquaculture is restricted in California, including the hazardous system of farming fish in net pens or cages in the open ocean, for good reason. Net pen aquaculture involves anchoring huge nets or cages in the open-ocean. This can lead to: introduction of escaped fish into local population, pollution from waste of fish/antibiotics/chemicals, spread of disease from farmed to local populations, among other harmful factors.

However, some open-ocean farming can be done sustainably, specifically offshore farming of local shellfish and nutrient-rich local seaweed. Open ocean is vast: there are areas of low biological productivity and it’s a relatively untouched source of farmland to help feed our growing population.

Net Pens off the coast of Maine. (NOAA)

Mussels and seaweed can both provide benefits to local ecosystems such as reduced algal blooms, combat impacts of ocean acidification by removing GHG’s from the ocean and can provide habitat to some species of marine life.

Seaweed aquaculture off of South Korea. (NASA)
 

Open-ocean farming is already happening in California. Northern California has a few offshore seaweed farms. Santa Barbara Mariculture has farmed mussels in the open ocean for years after discovering wild mussels growing on oil rigs in the open ocean. And Ventura Shellfish Enterprise is a multi-party initiative working to receive a permit and lease for open-ocean shellfish farming. Unfortunately, Daybreak Seaweed, a woman-owned company based in Tomales Bay north of San Francisco, after an initial seaweed farming experiment, found California regulations too onerous. They are now partnering with seaweed and shellfish growers in Alaska.

Catalina Sea Ranch is the only operation located in the Los Angeles area. It was given permission to operate as a mussel farm but failed to comply with their permit obligations; did not perform inspections, ignored enforcement requests, and prematurely served product to consumers before being given the go ahead from the proper bodies. Ultimately their structure broke apart causing an accident fatal to a local recreational fisherman. Their failures have put a damper on this industry in Los Angeles, but it should not signal the end of offshore aquaculture in Los Angeles. With proper enforcement and rule-abiding operators, safe and sustainable offshore aquaculture still has a chance to thrive off our coasts.

So why aren’t there that many shellfish or seaweed farms off the coast of South Los Angeles or anywhere in Los Angeles for that matter? There are numerous reasons including some bureaucratic red tape, competitive pricing, difficulties of operating, a need for higher level of enforcement by governing heads, and others that will be touched on in the next issue of Foggy View.

Intertidal mussels growing in Bodega Bay, Calif. (NOAA)

Lies Cost Lives

Torrance Refining Company (Isabelle Jeng)

Millions living in the vicinity of two South Bay refineries are at risk from massive amounts of highly toxic hydrogen fluoride and tens of thousands could die from an accidental release ― vastly more than Covid-19 deaths in these communities.

By Isabelle Jeng, Environmental Journalist

Hydrofluoric acid (HF) is used by refineries to make high-octane gasoline. It boils at 67° F. The two refineries in California still using this volatile and highly caustic chemical store it in large quantities. Refineries sometimes explode. There have been three major near-misses in the last six years that could have caused mass casualties near refineries, one of them right here in the South Bay at the Torrance refinery. The other California refinery using HF is also in the South Bay: Valero in Wilmington. The SCAQMD (South Coast Air Quality Management District) Board’s latest failed attempt to ban HF — despite the findings of its own staff, based on masses of damning data — follows a long line of similar failed efforts at the state and local levels over the past three decades.


By failing to ban HF, the AQMD perpetuates the refineries’ lies. The refineries claim:

  • HF is safe, especially when it’s “modified” (MHF).
  • But they’re going to add “mitigation measures” anyway.
  • There are never any off-site consequences.
  • There are no alternatives to HF.
  • Conversion is too expensive.

Let’s examine those claims.

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