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 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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PV-SB Hike Leaders.     PV-SB Officers.

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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. 

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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! 

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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. 

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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.

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

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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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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:

Southern California Gas: 

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 –

Replace your ride – 

Clean Vehicle Rebate Program –

“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:

Questions? Contact Jeremy Netka, 323-401-1039

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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