Palos Verdes-South Bay Sierra Club

Land Conservancy reduces fire risk in Palos Verdes Nature Preserve

Arborist crew removing acacia shrubs from the Palos Verdes Nature Preserve. Photo: Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy/pvplc.org

By Adrienne Mohan, Executive Director
Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy

While some wildfires are part of nature’s natural cycle, the images of flames burning Southern California hillsides and neighboring homes is alarming.  Since its founding in 1988, the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy has expended significant human and financial resources on fuel load reduction management work that benefits both the safety of residents and wildlife on the peninsula. 

Removal of invasive weed species like mustard, acacia, and pampas grass, not only impact the quality of habitat on the Peninsula, but also address a major fire danger.  An acacia removal project was funded by the City of Rancho Palos Verdes this year to augment fuel modification by the city due to larger-than-expected amount of invasive weeds around the Peninsula caused by heavy rainfall followed by warm weather.  Removal of acacia is critical because it is comprised of approximately 90% dry plant matter and volatile resins, making it highly combustible.  It also blocks out native vegetation such as species that are both more fire resistant and more needed by local wildlife to survive.

The project supported the removal of 40 acres of acacia and another 61 acres of invasive mustard. The Conservancy has also worked closely with the other surrounding cities, such as the City of Rolling Hills, to remove potential fire hazards.  As Habitat Manager of the 1,400 Palos Verdes Nature Preserve, the Land Conservancy provides guidance on vegetation and natural resource management to reduce fuel load vegetation in compliance with the Natural Communities Conservation Plan (NCCP).  The plan requires meeting federal requirements to protect natural wildlife diversity such as monitoring, restoration planning and implementation.

A Conservancy biologist oversees the monitoring and documentation of project sites to prevent disturbing birds and other mammals.  This year, the Conservancy trained four Field Monitoring Interns from CSULB to identify plant and animal species and gather data using Geographic Information System (GIS) tools.  Data was gathered on areas where acacia had already been removed and documented any regrowth and seedling germination for retreatment.  Flora and soil samples were collected for each treated area, and monthly photo point monitored results. 

The acacia removal data collected this year are helping the Conservancy to develop a “Habitat Enhancement Plan” to identify strategic priorities for the additional removal of acacia and other combustible vegetation that will reduce the fuel load and maintain wildlife benefits for the foreseeable future.  

Lizard Love

By Susan Rothrock Deo

Walking my dog in early April, I found this pair of southern alligator lizards, Elgaria multicarinata, on a neighboring block. I watched them for several minutes and they didn’t move. I wasn’t sure what they were doing, so I did some research and learned they have a unique mating ritual. The male bites the female’s neck, mates quickly, but keeps holding on for up to forty-eight hours! If you see any interesting or unique lizard behavior, take a video and send it to the LA County Natural History Museum. They are gathering information about the behavior of Southern California lizards with citizen science—that’s YOU! The Natural History Museum calls these programs “Community Science.” Check out their website to see what types of community science interest you!

State allows power plants to continue harmful cooling method

By Melanie Cohen, Environmental Co-Chair

In 2010, after decades of complaints from environmentalists, California water regulators ordered 19 coastal power plants to phase out a cooling process that is blamed for killing billions of marine organisms every year. In “once-through cooling” (OTC) power plants pump huge amounts of water from a nearby ocean or river to cool their equipment.

By 2019, most of the plants using OTC were retired or replaced. Only four remained: one owned by the AES Corporation in Redondo Beach, a facility in Huntington Beach, San Onofre Nuclear Plant, and a plant in Ormond Beach. AES contended that California would not be able to meet peak electricity demand unless the four plants were allowed to continue using the harmful cooling method. The California State Water Board held hearings (2019-20) to determine whether power demand was sufficient to delay closure of the plants.

Because of the massive damage ocean cooling causes to coastal waters and sea life, Sierra Club Los Angeles and Sierra Club Palos Verdes-South Bay sent a letter supporting the shutdown.

Read More

Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation

Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation

By Judy Herman, Foggy View Editor

My Generation, a campaign of the California Sierra Club, is fighting for an equitable transition to a fully electrified economy powered by 100% clean, renewable energy. Volunteer leaders, especially young people, drive community mobilization across the state. The word “Generation” in the name has a double meaning: it refers both to the generation (or production) of energy and to the energetic young people who will be the next generation of environmental leaders. But the topic of a recent monthly meeting, climate justice activism training, interested this Boomer. I signed up for and was welcomed to the Zoom session led by Yassi Kavezade, Fran Yang and Angie Balderas.

Here’s some of what I learned about community activism:

It’s about listening — meeting with community groups and letting them define their needs. Schmoozing is essential. Making informal, one-to-one connections assures you are working as friends who want to be open and mutually helpful. Forging these personal connections is challenging in the time of COVID-19 when meetings are virtual. We have to be creative — maybe send a message in the chat to someone you’d like to know better and set up a virtual coffee break.

We were advised to set SMARTIE goals, ones that are:

Specific, Measurable, Ambitious, Realistic, Time-bound (clear deadlines), Inclusive and Equitable.

Along the Path: Our Prickly Neighbors and Their Friends

Opuntia ficus-indica Photo: Judy Herman

By Susan Rothrock Deo

We have some prickly neighbors here in the South Bay, and I don’t mean the people down the street who play loud music at midnight or the kid who “borrows” your soccer ball and “forgets” to return it. I’m talking about the REAL prickly ones: the cacti.  Cacti have figured out how to thrive in warm dry climates like Southern California. Their stems evolved into round or oblong pads that store water and have thick waxy skins. Their leaves evolved into thin, hard pointed thorns, which also provide protection.

Opuntia littoralis. David Ferguson and Joe Shaw, Opuntiads.com
Read More

Links of Interest

The Forest Committee of Sierra Club’s Angeles Chapter launches a series of programs on wildfire

Annals of a warming planet: The West Coast wildfires are Apocalypse, Again. The New Yorker

Severe burn damage from California wildfires seen from space. Live Science

A toxic secret lurks in deep sea off the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Los Angeles Times

Bankruptcy lets Exide and other companies get away with poisoning the environment. Los Angeles Times

Along the Path: The El Segundo Blue Returns

By Susan Rothrock Deo

Slideshow: 1-4 Tracy Drake, 5 Eva Cicoria, 6 Susan Deo, 7 Paul Blieden

I scanned the prolific clusters of flowers, scattered like pink tinged cotton balls, across the bushy plant. The plant was maybe three feet wide by two feet high so it took a while. The people walking by on the path must have wondered why I was staring at a plant for so long. The flowers were pretty, and there were tons of bees, but that’s not what I was looking for.

Read more and watch a slideshow

Fun Facts on Indian Wildlife

Text and photos by Susan Deo

Langur monkeys and chital deer have a symbiotic relationship. The monkeys drop leaves from the trees for the deer to eat and can see danger from their perches in the trees and warn the deer. The deer have excellent hearing and can also let the monkeys know about pending danger.

The Indian elephant (Elephas maximus indicus) is a little smaller in size than African elephants. It also has a bit smaller ears.  All elephants, though, are social creatures, like us humans. They don’t like being alone, without their herd. Elephant babies can nurse from any mother in their herd. Lone elephants are rogue and angry outcasts

Can You Find the 10 Essentials? By Cheryl Frick

Links of Interest

Racist Urban Planning Left Some Neighborhoods to Swelter Black or Hispanic areas…up to 20 degrees F hotter in summer. (New York Times)

Why Does California Have So Many Wildfires? (New York Times)

What’s Your Experience with the Outdoors in Other Countries?

I’ve noticed that different countries have different ideas about what constitutes a national park. For example, in Cuba and Vietnam, the people who traditionally worked the land that was later designated a national park are allowed to stay there and continue farming. I was taken aback when I visited Cuba’s Viñales national park and saw that the stunning mogotes (karst formations), famed on tourist websites, were surrounded by tobacco fields.

If you grew up or lived in another country, what was your access to the outdoors like? What were the national parks like? Where did you go on vacations, if you did? Did you camp or hike? Write up your memories and include some pictures, if you have them. Send them to wordznpix@gmail.com and we may feature them in a future issue.

—editor

National Parks: An Intriguing Way to See the World

By Susan Rockroth Deo

How many national parks have you visited? Our family keeps a list. Some of us even have national park “passports” to stamp at every U.S. park we visit.

In Dudhwa we went on tiger hunts (of the camera kind) riding on the back of a trained elephant—the only way to go!

Each national park offers many ways to explore its nature, geology, and history. According to some sources, the world’s first national park was our Yellowstone National Park—set aside by the U.S. government in 1872, almost 150 years ago. Since then the U.S. and many other countries have preserved special regions of their countries as national parks. Though there is no internationally accepted definition of a national park, this one is close: “an area protected because of its natural, ecological or cultural value and where human presence (or at least human exploitation of resources) is limited.” There are now over 161,000 protected areas in the world, including terrestrial and marine preserves, national parks, wildlife refuges and scenic or historic areas.

Read more and see more pictures

Why is the Sierra Club Involved in Politics?

By Al Sattler

Alternate Chapter Rep

Recently, I was asked why the Sierra Club is involved in politics. Many people mainly think of the Sierra Club as doing hikes and other outings. However, it is important to remember that the Sierra Club Mission Statement begins with “To Explore, Enjoy, and Protect the wild places of the earth”. Note the word “Protect”. From its very beginnings, the Sierra Club was set up, implicitly, to do some politics. John Muir and like-minded people founded the Sierra Club “to do good things for Mountains”. John Muir believed in taking people out into nature so they would appreciate it, so they would want to keep it from being destroyed. After all, he took President Teddy Roosevelt camping in Yosemite, to show it off to him and

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Wildflowers in Your Yard

By Al Sattler, Alternate Chapter Representative

You don’t need to drive to the Poppy Preserve in Lancaster to see poppies…you can plant them in your yard. Some annual wildflowers can thrive even in a small space. These pictures are California Poppies and Elegant Clarkia in a parkway strip, with rosemary and lantana behind them. Lupine and Clarkia grow well in pots…they volunteer in ours.

July/Aug. 2020

Racism, Covid-19 and Oil Drilling Are Conected

By Melanie Cohen, Conservation Co-Chair

California has long produced some of the dirtiest, most carbon-intensive crude oil in the world, with operations taking place dangerously close to homes, schools, hospitals and other sensitive sites. Proximity to oil development is associated with adverse health effects including asthma and other respiratory illnesses, which increase the risk of severe consequences from COVID-19.

“The costs of living near oil and gas wells include higher risk of cancer, asthma, and preterm birth, and those consequences are only increasing. Meanwhile, oil production in California is in a long-term decline,” said Kobi Naseck of Voices In Solidarity Against Oil in Neighborhoods. “Right now, millions of Californians—overwhelmingly low income, Black, Indigenous, and people of color—are reckoning with the Covid-19 pandemic in addition to these chronic health issues caused by the oil industry in their backyards. VISION calls for a Just Recovery from Covid that includes necessary health and safety setbacks and a Just Transition for workers employed by the failing fossil fuel industry and impacted communities.

There’s hope: Assembly Bill 1057 requires the California Geologic Energy Management Division (“CalGEM”) to focus on protecting public health and the environment rather than just regulating the oil and gas industry in California. CalGEM is actively working on revising its regulations to better align its regulatory mandates with the new goals of the bill.

As part of its pre-rulemaking process, last November CalGEM released a series of initiatives targeting certain oil and gas extraction methods, intended to safeguard public health and the environment, including:

  1. A moratorium on new oil extraction wells that use high-pressure steam to break oil formations below the ground
  2. Updated and strengthened rules for public health and safety protections near oil and gas extraction facilities
  3. An independent audit of CalGEM’s permitting processes for well stimulation and underground injection control and a scientific review of pending well stimulation permits to ensure public health, safety and environmental protections are met prior to approving each permit.

These initiatives are in line with the State of California’s overall climate goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2045.  California intends to meet this goal by decreasing fossil fuel dependence and consumption. Earlier this year CalGEM solicited comments regarding its proposed regulatory changes. More than 40,000 Californians from across the state commented via email or in-person and online at town halls. In public comments, many Californians urged the Governor and CalGEM to address the crisis facing over five million people who live closest to oil extraction, which disproportionately impacts communities of color who already suffer from some of the highest concentrations of environmental pollution in the state. Commenters called on Gov. Newsom to mandate 2,500-foot health and safety buffer requirements between fossil-fuel infrastructure and homes, schools, and other sensitive sites statewide.

Sierra Club supports this new role for CalGEM and supports the 2,500-foot setback ruling. Sign the petition here. Want to do even more? Call your state senator and urge them to vote for AB345.

Local rulings being developed by Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning and are calling for ONLY 500-foot setbacks!! Sign the Sierra Club petition here to CALL for the statewide regulation of 2500 feet:

https://addup.sierraclub.org/campaigns/protect-la-countys-residents-health-and-safety—-not-oil-industry-interests

Invisible Friends

Text and photographs by Emile Fiesler

Gardeners encounter numerous animals that enjoy feeding on the plants in their gardens.  These animals are typically labeled “pests.” There are other animals that prey on these pests, and these are typically labeled “beneficial.”  A number of beneficial insects are used as so-called biological control agents, as opposed to chemical control agents, which are often toxic to a broad range of organisms, including to us humans.  A large group of these gardeners’ friends are tiny parasitoid wasps. These photos from various Southern California locations show three species, depicted larger than life size.  Shown above on a stucco wall is a female Torymid Wasp (Megastigmus), which has an approximate mature length of 3.5 millimeter (0.14 inch).”

eulophid-wasp-by-emile-adj

Eulophid Wasp (Eulophidae), which measures about 2.5 millimeter (0.1 inch) in length, on California Bush Sunflower (Encelia californica)

Note that parasites do not intend to cause lethal damage to their host, any more than parasitoids intend to spare the life of their host. They’re all just concerned with their own survival. Read More

Covid Zoo by Cheryl Frick

Along the Path: A Young Person’s Guide to Exploring Nature – Music in the Air

By Susan Rothrock Deo                                                                                                           Photo: Northern Mockingbird. R. Hagerty, USFWS

Tweedle-dum, tweedle-dee; Richard, Richard; cheer-up, cheer-up, cheer-up! the mockingbird seemed to sing this morning. It’s fun to make up onomatopoeic words for birds’ songs (words that sound like what they sing). Experienced birders can identify a species just by hearing its song. Some use words or phrases to help them remember, like the Eastern Towhee sings, “Drink your tea.”

Our northern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) is quite a prolific songster. Mockingbirds belong to the thrush family—like the robin and wood thrush—many of which are beautiful songsters. Here in SoCal mockingbirds are one of the earliest birds to start singing in the morning and one of the last to stop at night. This spring they seem especially vocal, or maybe it’s because we are home more. Not only do they have tons of their own songs, but they also “mock” other birds, or sounds they hear like lawn mowers and car horns! Listen to this one imitating a car alarm. Mockingbirds can learn new songs throughout their lives but not all birds are able to do that. Read More

Links of Interest: Environmental Justice

Racism is Killing the Planet by Hop Hopkins, Sierra Club director of strategic partnerships (Sierra Magazine)

Sierra Club’s Environmental Justice Program

Black Environmentalists Talk About Climate and Anti-Racism (New York Times) “Both political racism and environmental racism are drivers of our excess pollution and climate denialism.”

Energy Justice Network

How Residents of South LA Are Tackling Environmental Racism (Yes! Magazine)

May/June 2020

Trump Administration’s Current Assault On Environmental Laws

By Dave Wiggins, Al Sattler and Steve Dillow

For several months, the attention of America’s citizens, and its press, has been focused in large part on the Covid-19 pandemic now sweeping the world, and the dramatic impact it has had on our health, economy, natural environment and culture. But as the spread of the disease, and the nationwide debate over how best to respond have commanded our civic attention, the Trump administration, with little fanfare, has been chipping away at some of our most significant and protective environmental safeguards.

Let’s review just a few of the actions taken this year:

On January 23, the administration narrowed the definition of what constitutes a federally protected waterway, exposing millions of miles of streams, arroyos and Read More

They’ve Been at It Since the Beginning, But We’re Fighting Back

The Trump administration’s scrapping of environmental regulations didn’t just start this year. They’ve been at it since Day One. The Brookings Institution tracks the administration’s attacks on the regulations that keep us safe: https://www.brookings.edu/interactives/tracking-deregulation-in-the-trump-era/

But there’s some hopeful news:

Sierra Club Steps in as Watchdog After Trump’s EPA Uses COVID-19 Crisis to Stop Enforcement of Pollution Laws

Plastic Icebergs: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

By Frank Atkin, Outings Co-Chair

As if the novel coronavirus weren’t enough, there’s another invisible enemy lurking off our shores. Five giant spiral currents or “gyres” in oceans around the globe sweep in and trap floating debris. The largest gyre is home to a debris accumulation known as The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP). Perhaps you’ve heard that it’s the size of Texas and can be seen from space. But, according the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), those are myths. It’s insidious. You may have flown over it or even navigated through it without seeing it. Read More

Along the Path — Nature Close to Home: Entertaining and Enlightening

Story and Photos By Susan Rothrock Deo

Greetings from the depths of our “Corona Spring.” None of us can predict what things will look like by the time you read this newsletter. We can only practice our best social distancing and hope for the best. One thing we DO know: most of us would rather be out and about: hiking a favorite trail nearby or embarking on a grand adventure to parts unknown. But here we are, at home.

Don’t be dismayed.

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Safer at Home Humor

By Cheryl Frick, Outings Leader

Meet the New Senior Director of the Angeles Chapter

 

By Louise Fleming

The Angeles Chapter is delighted to welcome Morgan Goodwin as its new Senior Director. Morgan’s history of climate activism, mountain climbing, community-building and public service will benefit the Chapter both in our current moment of crisis and in the longer-term effort to explore, enjoy and protect our world. Read More

Going Green During a Pandemic

By Judy Herman, Foggy View Editor

Staying safer at home presents some challenges, but we’re adapting. Instead of our Sierra Club hikes we’re taking solitary walks to explore our own neighborhoods and using online conferencing for alternative exercise from aerobics to Zumba, as well as to reconnect with our hiking friends. Get Earth-friendly tips from our members and find out the most important thing you can do right now below. Read More

Tell Your Best Sierra Club Adventure

Now that our in-person activities are on hold, let’s hear about your favorite Sierra Club trip or hike of all time. Go through your photos and remember the scent of pines, the chill of one of the pines dropping a load of snow on your head or the thrill of bagging a peak. Remember that time you just narrowly avoided — I don’t know what; it’s your memory. Write it up in about 400 words and send it with 5 – 10 pictures to judyherman@cox.net by June 15 for possible inclusion in the July Foggy View.

The Gnatcatcher Saves Coastal Habitat

By Barbara Dye, former Executive Director of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy

The Rancho Palos Verdes Natural Communities Conservation Plan (NCCP), which gave us the nature preserve, all started because of a small, gray bird, the coastal California gnatcatcher, that lives in a vanishing habitat called coastal sage scrub.

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Fire Drill Friday

by Bill Lavoie, Membership Chair

Jane Fonda responded to teen climate activist Greta Thunberg’s alarm: “We have to act life our house is on fire–because it is!” For 14 weeks she and other activists – celebrities and unknowns – protested the lack of action on the climate crisis every Friday in front of the U.S. Capitol. Read More

Along the Path: A Wonderful Bird is the Pelican

By Susan Rothrock Deo

A Wonderful Bird Is the Pelican/  His bill can hold more than his belican.

    [from a limerick by Dixon Lanier Merritt]

We watch them floating in formation along the coast, or they watch us walking by on the pier where they sit stoically on a post. We marvel at their persistence when they hang around fishing boats waiting for a handout. Brown pelicans, Pelecanus occidentalis, are reminiscent of pterodactyls,

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Phil Wheeler

Phil Wheeler, a life member of the Sierra Club since 1989, died quietly on Jan. 30 in Redondo Beach. Phil served as Group Chair of the PV-SB Group. He was active with the Long Beach South Bay Group of the Wilderness Travel Course. For the Angeles Chapter he served as Safety Committee Chair, on the Management Committee and as a Navigation Examiner. Phil also served on the national  Sierra Club Financial Committee. The Angeles Read More

Mammoth/Eastern Sierra Bus Trip

Aug 22-25 Sat-Tue O: Mammoth/Eastern Sierra Bus Trip. Back by popular demand! Our 4th annual Mammoth Lakes Bus Trip. Join us for 4 days of hiking in the spectacular Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains. Read More

Memorial Day Yosemite Trip

CANCELLED because of Coronavirus. May 22-25 Fri-Mon O: Memorial Day in Wawona Cabin Trip.  Rideshare Fri to stay in a cabin in the Wawona area near Yosemite’s south entrance for moderately paced 8-12 mi, 1200′-3000′ gain hikes each day. Read More

Whale of a Day

The Rancho Palos Verdes annual Whale of a Day celebration will be held on Saturday, April 18, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. The event is free to the public. There are activities for children ~ face painting, children’s crafts, small children’s games ~ all at no charge.  There are also exhibits, craft and food vendors and a raffle drawing. Environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club, will have booths.  Info

Links of Interest

Federal plastic pollution bill introduced

Climate Action

Fire Drill Fridays

Extinction Rebellion

Jan / Feb 2020

A Breakthrough for the Future of the Redondo Beach Power Plant Site

By Dave Wiggins, Conservation Co-Chair

For over 20 years, Sierra Club members in and around Redondo Beach have fought hard to ensure that the eventual closure of the city’s seaside power plant would lead to the restoration of the historic wetlands that existed in the area till the 1940s.  Massive residential development proposals have been defeated, zoning safeguards have been enacted, and there is a growing consensus among city and county leaders that preservation of open space, development of parkland, and restoration of the wetlands should be among the highest priorities for the site’s future.

The power plant now operates at only 2% of its capacity, and it’s scheduled to shut down at the end of 2020, though an upcoming decision by the State Water Resources Control Board could extend its life for a further two years.

Either way, a major breakthrough toward parkland and restoration at the site has just occurred.  On November 5, at the urging of Redondo Beach Mayor Bill Brand, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (the most powerful elected officials you never heard of) voted unanimously in favor of a resolution expressing the county’s intent to partner with Redondo Beach in a financing plan for the acquisition and development of the power plant site, and the adjacent power line corridor, as regional parkland.  The plan will include cleanup of the soil at the site and the restoration of the historic wetlands in the area. Read More

Room for a View — For Now

By Dean Francois, Group Political Chair

As you walk down Hermosa Beach’s Pier Avenue Public Plaza, you still can see a vast expanse of the ocean, which, for now at least, has been saved.

Developers proposed to build a large three story hotel going underground for two floors within three plots of land on the north side of the plaza.  They proposed to completely take over three public alleys.  It would mean a demolition of several restaurants, shops, and the Hermosa Cyclery.

As we stay diligent in an attempt to preserve the protections the CA Coastal Act offers, some of our executive committee members developed comments to the draft environmental impact report (EIR). The comments became official Sierra Club comments as they were approved by the executive committee and submitted by the deadline well over a year ago. Other Sierra Club members worked to gather signatures and close to a thousand were submitted to the EIR calling for the protection of the public view of the ocean and keeping the public alleys open.  The petition’s list includes former city commissioners, former council members, former mayors; and a mayor and current council members from a neighboring city. Read More