Palos Verdes-South Bay Sierra Club

Foggy View Hiatus

March 2023 will be the last update of the Foggy View or the website until we get a new editor. The only part of the website that will remain current is the Calendar, which is linked to Campfire. For information about hikes, click “Calendar” on the top green bar. You can print out a list if you want.

Get updates on our other events and activities by following us on social media:

Facebook: Palos Verdes South Bay Group of the Sierra Club 


Could You Edit the Foggy View?

Dear readers,

After six years of editing the Foggy View, I’m stepping down. Over the years I’ve made the editor’s job easier by finding great volunteer help. We have a wonderful communications team that can be relied upon to write engaging and relevant articles on nature and environmental issues. Our new copy editor is a wiz at laying out for print and at posting online. So, now the editor’s job boils down to attending the monthly online ExCom meetings to get ideas about issues that are cropping up, assigning the articles (usually to a member of the communications team, but also sometimes to an ExCom member or outside expert) and, with the help of the copy editor, editing them for space, clarity and accuracy.

Could you edit the Foggy View? Of course you could! Think you might be interested? Give me a call or a text, 310-951-7235, and we can talk about it. I’ll be available to train and support the new editor, though they may have a completely new vision for the FV.

Looking forward to some good changes,


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 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.

Find us on Facebook and Instagram

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

NOTICE: We do not endorse any advertisers on this site.

PV-SB Hike Leaders.     PV-SB Officers.

Outings liability waiver

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The ExCom Welcomes Elizabeth Neat and Shera Dolmatz

You may recognize the names of our new ExCom members from their writing for the Foggy View. We look forward to more contributions from them.


Inspiring Connections Outdoors (ICO) is a Sierra Club program that provides safe and fun outdoor experiences for youth and adults from marginalized communities. ICO is part of the Outdoors for All campaign, which works to expand universal access to nature for children and youth. For more than 20 years, Elizabeth Neat has led ICO for the Angeles Chapter. As Chapter Fund-raising Committee Chair, Elizabeth organized the 2022 City Hike, which gave suburbanites like PV-SB Group members a chance to explore downtown Los Angeles on foot while raising money for the Club.

Consider joining the ExCom to help plan our environmental actions and social events. All Sierra Club members are welcome at meetings. Talk to an ExCom member for details.


Shera Dolmatz trained with Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project in the summer of 202O to advocate for policies to advance legislation to tackle climate change, She attended Women in Green Conference for years and participated in their university mentor program for young women entering the environmental field. She is also part of a team of Girl Scout  leaders working to bring marine environmental programming to Girl Scouts.

Exploring Costa Rica with the Sierra Club

Text by Judy Herman  Photos by John Taylor

In December of 2022 I was privileged to experience the “Natural Highlights of Costa Rica” on a Sierra Club tour. It was a top notch tour of an astounding country. 

For a nation one-eighth the size of California, Costa Rica has a lot going for it: tremendous biodiversity, a high literacy rate, good education and healthcare, and a liberal democracy. 

How did it happen? Their 1949 constitution abolished the armed forces, freeing up funding for development and social services.

To explain why a country with only 0.03% of the world’s landmass is home to 500,000 species, or about 5% of the known species on Earth, we have to look back farther. Twenty million years ago the continents of North and South America were separate.Tectonic plates moving below the ocean caused volcanoes to arise, which eventually produced a chain of islands between the continents. Sediment accumulating between the islands resulted in a land bridge connecting North and South America for the first time in 150 million years. Species that had evolved on separate continents were then able to meet, resulting in enormous biodiversity. 

Diverse topography, from high mountains to river valleys and coastlines on both the Atlantic and Pacific, coupled with a tropical climate, gave rise to 12 distinct ecosystems, from tropical rainforests and cloud forests, to mangroves, wetlands and coral reefs and we saw many of them. These distinct habitats pushed more speciation. Plus, the centrally located country sees whales migrating from both Alaska and the Antarctic.

I knew Costa Rica was a birder’s paradise, boasting 941 species, but I also heard that of the total of 500,000 species 300,000 were insects and feared that 299,999 would be mosquitoes. But this mosquito magnet came through with only half a dozen bites and saw dazzling butterflies, stick insects and long lines of leaf cutter ants marching to their fungus farms. Thanks to Mario, our expert and eagle-eyed local guide, we also saw two- and three-toed sloths, several species of monkeys, agouti, coati, anteaters, caimans, poison-dart frogs, quetzals, scarlet macaws and many more wonders.

What did I see? What did I smell?: The Lives of Darkling Beetles

Along the Path

By Susan Rothrock Deo

Photo by Emile Fiesler

What is that crawling between the leaf litter? It’s dark and shiny and scuttles under the leaves. It’s a darkling beetle in the coastal sage scrub. Our darkling beetles are black and are about three quarters of an inch long. Their wings are fused so they can’t fly. The adults have chewing mouth parts and feed on dead plant and animal material: our sage scrub “garbage collectors,” as one friend calls them. They are often found under California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum), which is one of the keystone species in coastal sage scrub and other sagebrush ecosystems. 

Ha, ha! What is he doing now? He’s standing on his head! When threatened, darkling beetles stand on their heads and point their rear ends in the air. Some species release an offensive smell when they do this, which is why some people call them “stink beetles.” Our local ones do have a bad taste so many birds and small mammals leave them alone. 

There are about 20,000 species of darkling beetles worldwide, which can be kind of confusing if you use this common name to identify them. They make up the Family Tenebrionidae. The name comes from the Latin word Tenebrio which means “seeker of dark places.” This makes sense since they are scavengers and often found hiding in leaf litter or under rocks. They help the environment by getting rid of lots of dead materials! There is even one species of darkling beetle from East Asia that scientists are studying because it can eat Styrofoam. This is exciting for our planet because Styrofoam is a type of plastic that takes hundreds of years to decompose on its own. Darkling beetles, both adults and larvae, can also be pests: eating stored goods like flour, grains, etc. 

Darkling beetles undergo full metamorphosis like butterflies do: egg, larvae, pupae and adult. Their larvae are commonly known as mealworms. Maybe you buy mealworms from the pet store to feed your pet lizard or bird. (These pet food mealworms are different species from our local darkling beetles.) The local adult beetles and their larvae provide food for many wild creatures in the coastal sage scrub or sagebrush, like coyotes, foxes, hawks, snakes, ravens and crows.

Darkling beetles are one of many families of beetles in the Order Coleoptera, the largest insect order. Almost 40% of all insects are beetles, about 350,000 species. That’s about 25% of all animal life on land. 

Be on the lookout for darkling beetles when you’re out walking in the sage scrub. Even though they are small, they play an important role in our local ecosystems.

See a Reggie? Tell the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife

By Gwendolyn Henry

Have you ever seen or encountered wildlife and wanted to report it to CDFW online? You can using the Wildlife Incident Reporting (WIR) system! Reports made using the WIR system aid CDFW’s research and add to statistics on wildlife reports. If you have difficulty (such as wildlife getting into trash cans) or concerns about a wild animal, these can also be reported using the WIR.

Seabirds, owl & hawk or falcon nests, raccoons, fox, mule deer, bear, coyote, salamanders, lizards, snakes, any creatures would be greatly appreciated.

Remember Reggie the famous alligator in Machado Lake? If you see another, Reggie… definitely call it in.

When a report is submitted, the system will send it to a CDFW staff member based on the type of encounter that was reported and the location of the incident. Sightings will be recorded for statistical purposes and record keeping. If the encounter was regarding a concern about wildlife, a CDFW biologist will review it and can contact you with information on how to address the concern.

Each year, CDFW receives more than 5,000 reports through the WIR system which is an excellent option for those who prefer to contact CDFW online rather than by phone.

Be sure to bookmark this link for future wildlife reporting: 

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Liane Minckler Joins Communications Team

The Foggy View is happy to welcome our new copy editor, LIane Minckler.

Liane says, “I have lived in Colorado my whole life and immensely enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, rock climbing, and skiing. I also love water sports such as scuba diving, snorkeling, and lake activities such as paddle boarding and kayaking. I was always taught how integral the environment is to everyday life and how it should be treated kindly, and to leave no trace. This love of outdoors and appreciation for the environment has remained steady throughout the years, prompting me to choose a career that is dedicated to preserving the beauty and prestige of nature.

“This spring I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and the honors distinction of Magna Cum Laude, which was researched based, from the University of Colorado Boulder where I majored in Environmental Studies. I am excited to begin working on saving the planet!”

She’s made a great start in assisting with the editing and layout of the Jan/Feb Foggy View.

Better Bluffs Bring Back Blue Butterflies

By Christian Paullin, Environmental Journalist

The Esplanade bluff, the hilly barrier between the beach and Esplanade in Redondo Beach, was covered in a South African ice plant (Carpobrotus edulis). Redondo Beach resident Ann Dalkey, a marine biologist, noticed the non-native plant on her daily bike ride to work. 

Initially, Dalkey did not know that this invasive species took away important native habitats from the endangered El Segundo Blue Butterfly, notably by outgrowing its host plant, the seacliff buckwheat (Eriogonum parvifolium). After years of riding past it, she decided to take action and began reaching out to various contacts she had in the biology and conservation world.

In the early 2000s, Dalkey connected with Travis Longcore, an environmental scientist, researcher, and professor. Together they founded the Beach Bluff Restoration Project (BBRP) and created the BBRP Master Plan. The plan outlines why the bluffs need to be restored, where restoration should occur, removal of the non-native ice plant, what types of plants needed to be planted, how and where to plant them, the importance of the plants, how the restoration will help not only native animal life like restoring El Segundo and Palos Verdes Blue Butterfly habitat but also fight against erosion and runoff, and so much more. The 74-page plan became the framework of how this project would be undertaken and was the guiding force in starting this important environmental restoration work. 

Dalkey also contacted Carolyn Lieberman, a Coastal Program Coordinator for the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, who works on restoring native coastal ecosystems. Together they landed funding through the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the restoration of the Bluffs began. The ice plant was removed and native plants that specifically cater to the needs of the blue butterfly replaced it. These included the seacliff buckwheat (Eriogonum parvifolium), the beach sand verbena (Abronia umbellatum), California sagebrush (Artemisia californica), California sunflower (Encelia californica) and others from the approved list of suitable plants.

The LACC, an inner-city environmentally focused youth development non-profit, played a vital role in executing the restoration by providing project managers, leads, and workers who removed the invasive plants and replaced them with native plants. The LACC is the largest conservation corporation in the nation, providing work for over 250 active members, particularly at-risk youths between the ages of 18-26. Many of the LACC Corps members lived within a few miles of Redondo Beach yet had never even seen the beach or ocean before this job. Working in environmental conservation exposed them to the outdoors, provided new experiences, educated them on the importance of conservation, and built career opportunities they never knew existed before.

Despite years of restoration work by the LACC, there was no sign of the endangered butterfly. The scientific community theorized there had been too much disruption to the environment. The butterflies were finally spotted by some corps members in 2007; a team of scientists from USC confirmed it was really a blue butterfly and went out to count the population, finding over 200 endangered butterflies present at the bluff. 
A few years later the SEA Lab closed and funding dried up, ultimately halting restoration despite invasive plants continuing to grow. However, in the last two years, the South Bay Parkland Conservancy (SBPC) took the lead. Partnering with the Department of Fish and Wildlife to continue the restoration, they landed a $79,000 grant approved by the USFWS. The SBPC will oversee 6.9 acres of restoration.

The SBPC aims to bring volunteers in so the local community has the opportunity to help restore our bluffs. Contributions include providing host plants to our endangered butterflies, protecting against erosion, implementing natural filters for rain run-off, and creating a wildlife corridor for the butterflies and other biodiversity.

As of July 2022, the SBPC is responsible for 2064 plants in the ground, 1291 volunteer hours, 661 different volunteers, and hosted 58 different events, in 2022 alone! Now it is your turn to support!

The SBPC is always looking for additional volunteers to help continue the restoration of the Esplanade bluff. Volunteering is one easy click away, SBPC Volunteer Sign Up. Events are held almost always on Saturdays. There are time slots available between 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM and 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Come down and support our local environment! I know I will be!

How to help:

Resilience in the Face of Natural Disasters

By Isabelle Jeng, Environmental Journalist

In Sept. 2022, Hurricane Ian became the worst tropical storm to hit Florida since 1935. The Category 4 storm ravaged the Gulf Coast and left 2.7 million people without power. Babcock Ranch, however, a Charlotte County community, emerged virtually untouched. Granted, Babcock Ranch was not nearly the hardest-hit community in Florida, but its residents still felt 100-mph winds and experienced torrential rain. They never lost power or water, though, for the entire duration of the storm.

Located 30 miles from the coast to avoid coastal storm surges, Babcock Ranch is home to approximately 5,000 residents. “Power lines to homes are all run underground, where they are shielded from high winds. Giant retaining ponds surround the development to protect houses from flooding. As a backup, streets are designed to absorb floodwaters and spare the houses.” Babcock Ranch declares that “renewable energy is a way of life,” on its community site. As the first solar-powered town in the U.S., Babcock Ranch produces more solar power than it consumes. Its resilience is attributed to the 870-acre field of 650,000 photovoltaic panels that can provide enough energy for up to 30,000 homes; with residents totaling only a fraction of that, the excess power generated “goes back into the grid and is used to power surrounding communities.”

What can we in Southern California learn from Babcock Ranch? Hurricanes are not a threat here, but can we ensure a reliable source of energy after an earthquake?

A 2020 study conducted by Dr. Luis Ceferino, an assistant professor at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering, examines the effectiveness of distributed energy resources (DERs) in increased resilience of power systems to natural disasters. A DER is a small-scale unit of power generation such as solar panels, electric vehicles, and small, natural gas-fueled generators that operates locally and connects to a larger power grid. The study concludes that if 20% of households within a community use solar panels connected to a microgrid, energy can be sustained in the event of a natural disaster. “The more microgrids there are, the more people are likely to be within these islands of electricity,”  Ceferino explains. “Within a microgrid, the more people with panels, the better.”

“The power system is vulnerable to natural hazards and events especially in the U.S.,” Ceferino says. “In 2014, there was an earthquake in Napa and 70,000 residents were left without power. That was considered a moderate event.” “Batteries and solar panels can make you independent of your [power] grid,” he adds. “If your main grid is out, you can live off the battery.” Depending upon the rate of consumption, stored power can be used for up to two or three days. That is not a long time, but it is critical in the aftermath of a natural disaster, especially for healthcare facilities with an inevitable influx of victims. In a microgrid, a household supplies power to itself. Multiple buildings or homes generate electricity that can power an entire neighborhood. In “island mode,” a house is completely independent of the main grid. If a set of panels is damaged during an earthquake, a home connected to that microgrid can disconnect and sustain itself until power is restored in the main grid. This avoids power disruption throughout entire neighborhoods.

New homes in California nowadays are built with the goal of having net-zero consumption. “Net zero,” Ceferino explains, “means on average, you should generate as much as you consume. If you have a bigger roof, there is a higher chance of achieving net zero consumption.”

We know that rooftop solar panels are vulnerable to high winds, but in California, we’re more concerned about earthquakes and Ceferino says, “We don’t know as much about the vulnerability of panels to earthquakes – that’s something we may need to continue researching; if we’re going to rely on them, they need to be properly designed and implemented.”

The Island Fox: The Little Mammal with the Big Job

Along the Path

By Susan Rothrock Deo

Something in our salty blood beckons us to the sea/ Something in our imaginations beckons us to islands

—Susan Lamb

Photo: Santa Cruz Island Foxes. Paul Blieden

Have you ever visited an island, perhaps one of our own California Channel Islands? They are indeed a
world apart. Biologists are intrigued by the adaptations plants and animals have made when isolated on
islands for thousands of years.

The island fox (Urocyon littoralis) is one of my favorites. It is found only on the six largest Channel
Islands. Its closest relative is the gray fox (Urocyon cineroargenteus). Scientists believe when sea levels
were lower during the last ice age, gray foxes swam or drifted on debris to the northern island(s). They
evolved special adaptations, including smaller size, to survive on the islands where resources were
limited. Island foxes are one of the smallest canids (group of mammals that includes wolves and dogs)
 in the world. Despite being the size of a housecat, they are the largest mammal on the Channel Islands. They have mottled gray fur on their heads and back; rufous or cinnamon on their belly, neck and legs; and white on their cheeks, throat and chest. Their tail has a black stripe along the top.

The Chumash, who lived on the northern Channel Islands and surrounding coast, considered the fox a sacred animal. They probably transported some to the southern Channel Islands when trading with the Gabrielinos, who lived on the southern islands and surrounding coast. Over the years, the foxes evolved that each island has a separate subspecies: Santa Catalina (Urocyon littoralis catalinae), the largest in size with the longest tail; San Miguel (Urocyon littoralis littoralis), the second largest with the shortesttail; Santa Rosa (Urocyon littoralis santarosae), average size with longest ears; San Nicolas (Urocyon littoralis dickey), lighter in color with longest legs and most bones in tail; Santa Cruz (Urocyon littoralis santacruzae), smallest in size with shortest legs; and San Clemente (Urocyon littoralis clemente).

Island foxes are omnivorous, eating insects, mice, reptiles, and native fruits. Some eat marine life also.
They can run very fast and because they are able to turn their front paws inward, they can climb trees searching for fruit or birds’ nests. They have no natural predators, so they are not afraid of people and are active both day and night, especially at dawn and dusk.

The island fox is a keystone species, crucial to the island’s natural web of life. Without the fox, too many
deer mice might overconsume plant materials or prey on eggs of low nesting birds, threatening these
populations. Many native plant species rely on the fox to eat their fruit and distribute the seeds through their scat. Insects and birds depend on this seed dispersal too. A few years ago, island foxes were endangered. Sheep, pigs and goats imported for ranching competed for the foxes’ food. Native bald eagles, who primarily ate fish, began to disappear from the islands. Excessive DDT (an insecticide)had accumulated in their food (fish) and then in the eagles. It caused their eggshells to be so thin that they broke and never hatched. Golden eagles moved in to fill the void, but they ate mammals, not fish. They found an abundant supply of sheep,
goats, pigs and, unfortunately, island foxes.

Thankfully, a “coordinated, organized and highly focused strategy was able to reverse the certain
extinction of an endangered population.” (National Park Service) The ecosystem balance and foxes’
success were ensured by: a captive breeding program of island foxes, removal of domestic sheep, pigs and goats, removal of golden eagles, and reintroduction of bald eagles.

Today the populations of foxes on all six islands have recovered. There are still threats, like
diseases such as canine distemper introduced from the mainland. However, conservationists continue to monitor the fox populations and vaccinate them against these diseases.

I’m looking forward to seeing an island fox in the wild one day. I hope you are too!

To learn more about the island fox:
National Park Service
Friends of the Island Fox
Catalina Island Conservancy Island Fox Recovery and Support
Search for YouTube videos about the Island Fox, such as this one.

Holiday Leader Appreciation Lunch

We celebrated our hard-working leaders and enjoyed socializing over a bountiful Pollo Inka lunch.

Photos by Marilee Tadler, human companion to our Monday night mascot, Jag

Holiday Lights Hike

What’s in Your Water?

Fear the Faucet? Where to Get Water Quality Reports and the Surprising Truth about Bottled Water

By Christian Paullin

Environmental Journalist

Travelers to developing countries have long been admonished to avoid tap water, to stick with bottled water, even to brush their teeth. But in recent decades, even in our own highly developed country, residents have been giving their home taps the side-eye and stocking up on plastic bottles of water. Is this wise?

Water filtration and boiled water date back to prehistoric times. The first recorded community water filtration can be traced back to 19th century Scotland. It wasn’t until 1908 in New Jersey, though, that community water was treated in order to make it safe to drink, in this case with chlorine. According to a report on infectious diseases in the United States by the CDC, the occurrence of typhoid and cholera dropped dramatically after the introduction of treated water. Between the years of 1900 and 1920, typhoid fever incidents dropped by 67% across the US. The decrease in both diseases has been directly credited to water treatment.

Clearly the large, rapid reduction in water-borne diseases after the introduction of treated water means that water treatment is essential to the health of a community. But

according to a survey performed in 2020, only 60% of Americans trust tap water enough to drink it. Why the distrust? For one, there have been incidents of contaminated tap water sources across the U.S. in the last 70 years. The U.S. is a heavily industrialized country, and during World War II, we began using chemicals, petrochemicals, and other industrial processes that wreaked havoc on ground water, lakes, streams, rivers in places across the country. Take the Erin Brokovich story of hexavalent chromium in water sources for Hinkley, Calif., or the high lead contents of water in Flint, Michigan, or the discolored, foul smelling water of Sativa Water District in Compton, Calif., in our own county.

It’s hard to blame 40% of our country for distrusting tap water with incidents like this happening close to us; however, communities have increased transparency in water quality and legislation to improve fresh water across our country. The Clean Water Act improved water sources; introduction of water districts and water boards created higher levels of water quality and quantity monitoring, and there has been significant improvement in testing. As a consumer of water, you legally have the right to request a water quality report from your specific water purveyor; some even include it in each bill. Testing is more stringent every year and testing methods are also improving in speed and accuracy.

Ironically, bottled water, which many turn to hoping for a safer alternative, has less stringent water quality testing requirements. Typically the Environmental Protection Agency monitors water quality for all water sources that ultimately end up in our taps. However, bottled water falls into the Food and Drug Administration’s realm. And a loophole allows bottle water producers to get away without a water quality test. Essentially, if a bottled water is bottled and sold in the same state, the water does not need to be tested for quality. Unfortunately, about 70% of all bottled water sold in the U.S. falls into that category, which means the majority of bottled water, which is stored in plastic bottles made up of various chemicals that can leach into the water before you drink it, is untested. Therefore, not only is bottled water definitively worse for our environment, it may also be contaminated.

If you are unsure or concerned about your tap water, look into filtering your tap before switching to bottles. Basic carbon filters are known to be highly effective at removing chemicals, sediment, and other contaminants from water. You can purchase carbon filters that attach directly to your tap and do not require a plumber. There are more high tech filters than can be installed under a sink as well. Consider a filter before bottled water. Research where your city’s water comes from and check the water quality reports. 

If you are concerned with the smell or appearance of your tap water, please immediately file a complaint. Instructions provided by California Water Boards,

Find out where your water comes from.

The Angeles Chapter Sierra Club is in the midst of creating a water quality grade for LA and OC’s drinking water.


Bottled Water Quality Investigation | Environmental Working Group (

Brief history of clean drinking water

Holiday Party and Leader Appreciation Lunch

Please join us for our  

Holiday Party and

Leader Appreciation Luncheon

Sun, Dec 11, 2022,1:00 pm 

El Pollo Inka, Peninsula Center.

Join us for holiday fun and spirit and leader recognition for the countless hours they volunteer each week. Price: $29 per person. Limited to 50 participants. 

Please RSVP early to Leader Bill Lavoie: email: 

Reservation deadline: Thursday, December 1

A Mammoth Good Time

After a two-year hiatus the PV-SB Group’s Mammoth bus trip returned in triumph this September (despite a flash flood that disrupted roads on the way back). We good hikers took it in stride; it was all part of a wonderful four-day adventure. We’d enjoyed the cool weather and managed to dodge most of the raindrops.

A brief description of one day’s hike: This 8.4 mile loop hike, starts at 10,080’.and loops through a chain of crystalline alpine lakes, with views of Shepherd Crest, Mount Conness and the Conness Glacier. Be prepared for beauty. 

Many thanks to leaders Minoo Hart and Terri Straub, as well as co-leader Emile Fiesler who enjoyed the able assistance of his daughter Veda.

Photos by Judy Herman, except last one (woman in purple jacket) by Janice Ling

The Thunderbird Rises:

Hope for the Return of an iconic Species

Along the Path by Susan Rothrock Deo

“Hawks,” my husband said.

We were driving home from our first trip to the redwood parks in Northern California. We love watching hawks, so this was a bonus to the forests’ majesty. But there was something different about the three birds soaring over the meadow: so graceful, so HUGE. 

“Look at their wingspan! What ARE they?”

The park newsletter had the answer: “The condors are back.” 

“Condors! Their wingspan is nine and a half feet. A red-tailed hawk could fit on one wing!”

I’d read about condors years before we moved to California, but never imagined I’d see one in the wild. In the late 1800s they lived all the way from British Columbia to Baja California. By the mid-1900s only 30 remained in the wild. It was the first species protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act of 1966. In hopes of saving the species, conservationists started a captive breeding program. They have reproduced successfully in captivity, but not enough survived when reintroduced into the wild to sustain a population.

In 2003 a group of Yurok tribal elders in northern California conceived a plan to reintroduce condors to their ancestral lands. The Yurok tribe, like several neighboring tribes, “believe the Creator long ago set them the task of working to repair and rebalance the world.” The California condor (the “thunderbird” of Native American tales) is considered sacred by the Yurok and many other indigenous cultures. The “prey-go-neesh” (condors) have been “spiritually tied to the Yurok…since the beginning of the world.” In May of this year, with their partners (including the National Park Service, California State Parks, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) the Yurok introduced a group of five condors in Redwood National Park. 

The California condor, Gymnogyps californianus, is the largest land bird in North America. They are thought to live about 60 years, but current high mortality makes this unclear. They are soaring birds, typically only flapping their wings during takeoff and landing. 

Condors are very social and spend most of their time roosting with other condors. They nest in existing cavities in cliffs or trees. Couples are monogamous, staying together much of the year. They lay only one egg and adults take turns brooding and feeding their young. The chicks hatch after two months and develop in the nest another six. Once fledged and flying, the chick follows the adults around, learning all it needs to survive. 

Condors are “obligate scavengers,” only eating carrion, the remains of dead animals. Because of their size and strength, they can easily tear open the hides of large carcasses, thus making the food available to smaller scavengers also. As an added environmental bonus, special bacteria in the condor’s digestive tract remove and neutralize a variety of bacterial toxins from the carrion, such as anthrax, botulism and cholera.

The Yurok’s reintroduction includes something new: mentor birds. One of the five condors is a few years older and will hopefully teach the youngsters how to survive. But there are still challenges, the biggest being lead contamination. It only takes a small amount of lead in a carcass (from a hunter’s ammunition) to poison a condor. Some birds are monitored for lead poisoning and can be treated, but this isn’t always possible. The state has eliminated lead from ammunition sold within California and is educating hunters about using lead-free ammunition. There is more work to do.

Seeing the condors will always be a special part of our redwood memories. I hope you get to see a “thunderbird” in the wild one day too!

More about the Yurok Condor Restoration Program:

Watch condors being prepared for release on live camera 

What is the ExCom Anyway?

You may have heard them term “ExCom” bandied about at Sierra Club events. You may even have been urged to join it. But what is it?

It stands for Executive Committee, not to be confused with “ex-con.” It’s the officers of the group, plus a few others, who keep the PV-SB Group going. Find their names, faces and contact info here.

Members of the ExCom focus on different aspects of our mission, including:

  *Making sure we’re exploring and enjoying by coordinating with hike and outings leaders.

  * Taking action on local environmental issues, such as the Torrance Refinery, the AES Power Plant and the landslide mitigation plans in Rancho Palos Verdes (which affect the nature preserve where we hike on Monday nights). Actions include writing letters to agencies and to newspapers, speaking at meetings and commenting on environmental impact reports.

*Interviewing and endorsing candidates for local public office who care about our environment.

 *Educating the public and recruiting new members at public events and through our newsletter (yes, the one you’re reading now).

Find out what’s really going on. All Sierra Club members are welcome to attend the meetings on the first Wednesday of each month at 7:00 pm. You can comment, ask questions or offer suggestions, but only members may vote. Call a member for the Zoom link.

Raptor Rapture

By Isabelle Jeng, Environmental Journalist

Photos by Keith Willis. Instagram:keithwillisncl

“ I experienced joy, wonder, and tons of learning through the raptor project, all if it for science. I can’t recommend it highly enough.” 

—Liz Kennedy, San Pedro

In February, Liz Kennedy, of San Pedro, volunteered as a nest observer with the Friends of Griffith Park’s (FoGP) Raptor Study program. The following month, she drove to Elysian Park to make her first recorded observation of a nest of red-tailed hawks. 

“It was a great nest,” she said, “because you could stand above it on a trail and look down on it.” 

The LA Raptor Study covers six sub-regions (See map at linked site.)

A self-taught nature enthusiast, Liz had gone on plenty of trips with Audubon over the years in the South Bay and was also a member of the California Native Plants Society. She heard about the volunteer program from her colleague, and as a bird watcher, was interested. 

After an orientation, she would visit her assigned nest every other week, from March until mid-June. Volunteers are to observe nesting activity for a minimum of 15 minutes; however, Liz often stayed longer, recording the date and time, how long she observed, the condition of the nest, and what the birds were doing – including unusual activity. As stated on the FoGP site, “[T]his data-gathering is vital to biologists because it represents a specific, comprehensive dataset of raptor habits over multiple years…By documenting and tracking raptor nests across Los Angeles, we hope to understand how ecological dynamics change from year to year in the natural and built areas of Los Angeles, in particular how human activity is impacting wildlife here.” 

  Between April and June, after new nests are located and basic data is recorded on substrate and tree species, volunteers monitor egg incubation, chicks, and fledging, as birds leave the nest by the end of June. One of the last times she saw them, the babies were active, exercising their wings and getting ready to fly.

In this hemisphere and latitude, raptors’ nesting activity and egg-laying occurs in the spring. “The nest was right above the connector between the 5 and the 110,” she said. “It was oud and noisy, but it was a great spot. I saw other birds, and since it was spring and there was a lot of blooming mustard and other wildflowers. It’s a beautiful park with beautiful areas and there are lots of native plants on the hillside I was above.” 

The Raptor Study Program is always in need of volunteers. This year, there were many nests that could not be monitored due to a volunteer shortage. Liz says, “As citizen science projects go, this is a small time-commitment, but it’s also very interesting and doesn’t extend very much into the year. I experienced joy, wonder, and tons of learning through the raptor project, all if it for science. I can’t recommend it highly enough.” 

Anyone who also notices a new nest in their neighborhood is encouraged to reach out to the raptor study Outreach Coordinator, Nurit Katz, at, or call or text (818) 384-9493. 

California Brown Pelican: Mysterious Deaths Despite DDT Ban

By Christian Paullin, Environmental Journalist

Editor’s note: In March 2020, Susan Deo told a triumphal story with stunning photos by Beverly Gates, M.D. (who, sadly, passed away in June): banning DDT allowed the endangered California brown pelican to thrive again. Unfortunately, the story didn’t end there.

If you’ve spent time on our coast you’ve likely seen the California brown pelican–a prehistoric-looking bird with a huge wingspan and a massive pouch below its bill–nosediving straight into the deep blue ocean. 

These majestic creature’s ancestors date back 30 million years. Despite being the smallest sub-species of pelicans worldwide, California brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis californicus) are still quite large: up to four feet tall with wingspans over 6.5 feet.

They can dive bomb straight into the ocean from as high as 70 feet. A fall from that height would cause severe injury to a human, but pelicans are protected: air sacs protect vital organs upon impact and the birds contort their bodies to safely enter the water and protect their airways. Their dive is so ferocious it stuns fish nearby allowing the pelicans to collect prey into the billowing pouch and fly away. They can carry up to three gallons of water after gulping up their prey and eat up to four pounds of fish per day.

With a large appetite like that, California brown pelicans require a healthy ecosystem. Food scarcity, climate change, pollution, and habitat destruction, among other things, have all played a role in the declining population of these seabirds over the last 100 years. They are especially susceptible to oil; when coated, their feathers no longer insulate them, causing them to die of hypothermia or drown. 

Readers of Susan’s article know that a pesticide nearly led to the pelicans’ extinction. DDT weakened the pelicans’ eggshells causing their young to struggle to pass the incubation period. Their numbers plummeted and they were added to the endangered species list in 1970. By 1972, DDT was banned but it took another 35 years before populations recovered and the bird was removed from the list. This incident is cited as an example of how we can positively impact our environment and living things by enacting protective laws.

` Nevertheless, the California brown pelican is in near constant threat. In May of 2022, hundreds of the birds in Southern and Central California were found to be starving to death, severely injured, or already deceased. This incident has been deemed the “Brown Pelican Crisis” by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and after thorough testing and autopsies, there is no indication of diseases or parasites. Food scarcity is thought to be the problem here. Birds likely injured themselves as they were desperate for food and willing to put themselves into more risky places in order to eat. All ages of these birds have been affected which also helps point to food scarcity as the cause of the crisis. As of now, many of the birds have been reintroduced to the wild but many died shortly after arrival and some are still in captivity recovering.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is asking for the public’s support in this crisis.

*First, it is most important to note that you should not touch or try to treat the birds yourself if you see a sick or dead pelican.

*If you do encounter a sick or injured pelican the CDFW requests that you contact your local Wildlife Rehabilitation Center listed at and email the CDFW at Our closest center is International Bird Rescue in San Pedro.

*Report dead pelicans using the CDFW’s Wildlife Health Laboratory mortality reporting form to help monitor unusual mortality events. Please include photos if possible.

*And please donate to International Bird Rescue to help to keep our wildlife healthy and abundant.

California Fires: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Along the Path   

By Susan Rothrock Deo

Fires are big news in California, unfortunately. Natural fires, caused by lightning strikes, volcanic eruptions, meteors, have occurred for millions of years. Today, though, 17 out of 20 wildfires are human caused: unattended campfires, out of control burning debris, carelessly discarded cigarettes, malfunctioning equipment and of course arson.

Climate change is a major problem too. Scientists confirm increased greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere raise the planet’s temperature and cause more extreme weather events, like lightning storms and drought. 

Read more: California Fires: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

For many years, we thought all forest fires were bad and we suppressed them, causing a build-up of forest litter. Rising temperatures and pollution weaken trees’ defenses against disease and cause more dead trees. This excess fuel makes fires burn hotter.  And we’ve built our homes further into remote areas, so fires are threatening more people’s homes, and sometimes their lives.

There’s the bad and the ugly, but what about the good? 

Fire is essential to the health of most California ecosystems. Coniferous trees like the knobcone pine (Pinus attenuata), Bishop pine (Pinus muricata) and Sargent cypress (Cupressus sargentii) all have seed cones protected by tightly closed, resin-coated scales. Only high temperatures can open the cones and release the seeds. Fires also clear the forest of underbrush, exposing the soil and opening the forest floor to sunlight, which encourages new growth. 

Chapparal (an ecological community composed of shrubby plants) is a fire adapted ecosystem, meaning most species can quickly recover. Fires are more frequent today, though. A recent study in the Santa Monica Mountains showed only 28 years until fire returned to an area. The return rate used to be 70 to 100 years. Therefore, communities don’t have enough time to recover between fires. 

Like the closed cone pines, sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum), are fire dependent. The largest trees in the world by volume, only about 75,000 remain, scattered on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The National Park Service says, Other than the change of seasons, fire is the most recurrent and critical process in determining the life history of [these magnificent giants.] Their thick (two to four feet), fibrous bark, insulates the living tissues of the inner bark from fire. A normal fire can burn back the forest floor litter and not harm the living trees. The exposed mineral soil becomes a prime base for the germination of sequoia and other seeds. Today, however, fires may burn so hot they go through the protective bark, damaging the heart of the tree, or escape to the canopy, burning the food-producing needles, leaving trees severely damaged or dead.

Chapparal has many fire dependent plants, like Ceanothus, the California lilac. There are 50 to 60 species of Ceanothus, most in California and Oregon. Bacteria growing on Ceanothus roots fix nitrogen for easy absorption, a natural fertilizer. Like many chapparal plants, Ceanothus leaves are coated with flammable resins that fuel a fire. The seeds require intense heat for germination and the fire-resistant roots let the plant resprout quickly afterwards.

In contrast, our local coastal sage scrub habitat is not adapted to frequent fires. Once burned, it can easily degrade from the mature mix of species to one of non-native annual grasses. 

Fires have an important role to play in natural ecosystems. We need to learn ways to facilitate healthy fires–and protect our homes and communities.  We want to keep the good and eliminate the bad and the ugly.

This Year’s Team Sierra City Hike 

by Elizabeth Neat, PV-SB Group member.

Photo ©Ann Salvador. Used by permission.

What sights or experiences come to mind when you think of Downtown LA?  For me, it has been hotels and conventions and getting lost driving in a maze of freeway ramps and one-way streets. That said, I recently signed on to help organize the 2022 Team Sierra City Hike: LA experience, which will take place from September 23 to October 10, and features a route through the center of Los Angeles. Scouting the route and helping plan the event has given me a whole new take on Central Group’s territory. 

City Hike is an annual, national, Team Sierra event to raise money for the Club. This year our campaign will highlight the breadth of conservation and environmental justice efforts of the Angeles Chapter and offer an opportunity to explore downtown LA with friends.  

I would like to give you a brief preview of the route:

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Save $ While Helping Save the Planet


Considering solar panels, an electric car or energy-efficient appliances? Now’s the time. The Inflation Reduction Act offers tax breaks on devices that help slow climate change.

Photo: Electric vehicles-U.S. Department of Energy-2010-public domain 

Earth Day Round-up

Local Earth Day events in April provided an opportunity to recruit new Sierra Club members. The South Bay Parkland Conservancy’s celebration in Redondo Beach’s Wilderness Park offered an array of food and activities, including an overnight camp out. Though they didn’t stay overnight, members of our ExCom Dave Wiggins, Al Sattler and Bill Lavoie were on hand to inform attendees about the Sierra Club.

Local assemblymember Al Muratsuchi hosted a beach cleanup in Torrance. Our group political chair, Dean Francois reports: “It was a pleasure to see Patrick Furey, Torrance mayor; Jimmy Gow, Torrance city council candidate; and El Camino College board member Cliff Numark, Torrance mayoral candidate, participate in the cleanup.” Al Sattler and Bill Lavoie were there along with Dean, cleaning the beach and talking up the Sierra Club.

(Pictured: Dean Francois picks every litter bit at the beach cleanup.)

A Plea to Prevent a Plastic-tastophe at the Port

Trash in the harbor. Photo by Eva Cicoria of Paddle out Plastic

By Isabelle Jeng, Environmental Journalist

A giant entertainment complex will transform the San Pedro waterfront in the coming two years. Plans for the old Ports o’ Call site encompass 2.5 acres with restaurants, a brewery and a108,000-square foot outdoor amphitheater jutting into the L.A. Harbor. The 62,000-seat stadium will host about 100 concerts annually as well as local events. 

But large crowds on a windy strip of land projecting into the harbor could result in an unfortunate series of pollution superspreading events. Fortunately the public comment period required by the environmental impact report process allowed the Sierra Club to offer suggestions for adjusting the plan to mitigate the flow of plastics and other pollutants into the ocean and atmosphere. Our PV-SB Group letter pointed out environmental hazards that could be avoided:         


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“Nature’s Best Hope” and the Future of Our Yards

By Christian Paullin, Environmental Journalist

As California begins another round of water restrictions due to the ongoing drought, we will likely start seeing browning lawns, closed golf courses, fewer flowers, and less fruit on trees. But is this necessarily a bad thing? Lawns make up more than 50% of urban outdoor water usage in the U.S. Southwest in the summer months. If more and more home and property owners decided to tear out their lawns and replace them with low-water alternatives, more water would be available for vital uses such as agriculture, drinking water, and there would be enough water to allow our rivers and streams to stay full and provide a healthy ecosystem for native flora and fauna. Does that mean we should all tear out our yards and replace them with gravel or turf? Not necessarily; water usage isn’t the only negative effect of our lawns.

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I’m breaking up with plastic. 

By Cheryl Frick, Hike Leader and Group Secretary

“If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you it’s yours. If it doesn’t, it never was.”  

I fell in love with the convenience of plastic. I felt like a good citizen lovingly separating it from my trash to give it a second life via recycling, only to find out that only about 6% of plastic was coming back to me, while new plastic production climbs. Plastic is ending up in landfills, being incinerated or worse! The World Wildlife Fund estimates that by eating, drinking and breathing we consume up to five grams of plastic a week — the equivalent of a credit card. Yuck!  With this knowledge, I have tried to become a more conscientious shopper and I am hoping you will join me in ending our deceitful relationship with plastic. Below are some easy wins.

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Along the Path

By Susan Rothrock Deo

The Bee’s Knees: The Elegance of California Bumblebees and other Native Bee Pollinators 

The other day I watched a fat little bumblebee climb around inside a poppy. She buzzed onto one, then another, the sacs on her hind legs filling with pollen. I marveled at the beauty of her black and yellow fuzzy body, the skill with which she navigated the bright orange flowers. Recently, scientists taught some bumblebees to roll a little ball into a hole for a reward–a drop of nectar. Bumblebees who had not been trained learned how to do it by merely watching the trained bees! 

Read more: Along the Path

Worker bees and queens (all females) gather pollen for protein. They leave a scent marking the flower as one that has already been visited so other bumblebees don’t waste their time there. Each bumblebee carries about 25% of her weight in pollen back to the hive. Bumblebees and European honeybees are the only social bees. Other species are solitary. Bumblebee hives are in the ground and much smaller than honeybee hives. Bumblebees are native while honey bees were imported from Europe to help pollinate agricultural crops. Being “generalists” (not particular about what flowers they mine for nectar and pollen), honey bees also visit ornamental and native plants. Only honey bees make honey. Native bees store pollen for their larvae—in individual cells for each. 

Both male and female bees gather nectar for carbohydrates. Pollen sticks to the hairs on their bodies so both sexes can be effective pollinators. Pollinators are anything that helps transfer pollen from the male part of the flower to the female part of the same, or another, flower. Without this fertilization there would be no seed or fruit. In addition to bees, animal pollinators include hummingbirds, bats, and a variety of insects from butterflies to beetles. Over 80% of terrestrial plant species require an animal pollinator (mostly insects) to reproduce. Native bees and other pollinators are much more efficient than honey bees because they have evolved with native flowers: the shape of their bodies and mouth parts, the appeal of the flower’s color or scent, the time of day or night and time of year the species blooms. For example, bees like blue, purple, violet, white and yellow flowers and can see ultraviolet markings that we can’t. Bees can’t see red, however, and are not particularly attracted to tubular flowers, thus red flowers, especially tubular ones, are pollinated by hummingbirds. 

Worldwide there are about 20,000 species of bees, including over 250 species of bumblebees.  In North America there are 5,000 bee species, with 1,600 in California, including twenty-six species of bumblebees. Two of the bumblebee species found in Southern California are the yellow-faced bumblebee, Bombus vosnesenskii, and the California bumblebee, Bombus californicus. A number of native species are disappearing due to reduction of their habitats, loss of preferred flower species, excessive use of pesticides, and fierce competition from the honey bee. 

Native bees are fun to watch. They are not aggressive like honey bees and wasps. You can find them on your hikes or in your own yard by seeking out patches of native plants in bloom. To attract native bees, you need to provide food, shelter and water. Creating a native plant garden, even a small one, is the best way to provide food.  Some favorite plants of local bees are native sages and buckwheats, California goldenrod (Solidago californica), California lilac (Ceanothus spp), California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), and penstemon spp. The more native plants, the more native bees. If you cultivate the patience to wait for them to show up, they are “the bee’s knees” to watch!

Interesting fact: Bumblebees are an important pollinator of tomatoes, which they “buzz” pollinate. They do not transfer pollen with their bodies but rather the buzzing of their wings close to the flowers moves the air enough to shake the pollen loose!

Additional Resources

Common California Bee Groups from UC Berkeley Urban Bee Lab (including photos):

Best Bee Plants for California from UC Berkeley Urban Bee Lab:

How you can help with bee conservation from the Xerxes Society for Invertebrate Conservation:

Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard by Douglas W. Tallamy (See review in this issue.)

Common Bee Groups in California


This is a large group of bees that includes honeybees, cuckoo bees, digger bees, carpenter bees, orchid bees and bumblebees (which are discussed in the adjacent article). Carpenter bees use strong mouthparts to burrow into wood like dead tree stumps or boards. Inside they create branched tunnels to raise their young.


These are also called membrane bees or plaster bees because they line their holes with a cellophane-like secretion that is waterproof and resistant to fungus. Some are unable to carry pollen on their legs, so they use their crops, structures in their digestive tract that store and soften food.


Mining bees are quite small and nest in the ground. They build branching tunnels and fill them with pollen, on which they lay their eggs. Their whole metamorphosis takes place inside these holes. They are among the first to emerge in the spring. Many of this group of bees are very specialized, getting their pollen from only a few species.


This is the second largest family of bees, also called sweat bees because some, especially the smaller ones, land on your skin and lick your sweat. Most nest in the ground, some in wood, and some lay their eggs on the food of another species. One interesting species, Agapastemon texanus, the green sweat bee, has a beautiful iridescent green exoskeleton.


This large and diverse group of bees includes leaf-cutting, mason, resin or wool carder bees. They primarily nest in premade tubular cavities, like holes in wood, old plant stems, or even snail shells and make their larval chambers by using such objects as leaves, flowers, mud, resin, plant hairs or pebbles.

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. 

Read More

Safeguarding White Sage


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

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

Saturday, April 23
Celebrating our Blue Earth
10:00am – 1:30pm
2451 South Signal Street, Berth 58, San Pedro, CA 90731

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

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



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.


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

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


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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