Palos Verdes-South Bay Sierra Club

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

New Liability Waiver

Did you know that when you sign in for a hike you are signing a liability waiver? In order to particpate in any of the Sierra Club’s outings you must do so. Beginning in January 2020, the Angeles Chapter has a new liability waiver. Read it now and don’t hold up the line signing in:

The Wanderer with Purpose

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

By Susan Rothrock Deo

I love to go a-wandering/ Along the mountain track/ And as I go, I love to sing/ My knapsack on my back.

Do you like to wander? We land mammals wander here on terra firma. Did you know there are also animals that wander the seas? Our famous one is the California gray whale.

Gray whales don’t carry knapsacks, but they do have a thick layer of blubber (fat) that supplies the food energy they need for migration. The gray whale has one of the longest migrations, over 10,000 miles round trip! In summer they live in the Bering and Chukchi Seas north of Alaska, fattening up for their journey. In fall, they travel south to Baja California in Mexico. In Southern California we start seeing them in December, though some of the younger whales may wander in and out of the area earlier. The whales spend winter in the warm lagoons of Baja where they breed and give birth. In spring they swim back north to their feeding grounds. This time they hug the shore. The favorable ocean currents make swimming easier for the little ones. Being closer to shore and the kelp forests helps moms protect their babies from ocean predators like orcas and sharks. Read More

A Year at the South Pole

Just reaching the South Pole is an achievement. What is it like to be part of group of scientists spending a full year there?

Sierra Club member Dr. Steven Morris will show us in a slideshow from his South Pole year, 1984-85.  He was responsible for maintaining the computers and running a seismometer for UCLA.  In addition to seismology, scientific teams there during his stay studied balloon-borne meteorology, ice-core drilling and the aurora australis.  Dr. Morris will tell what it’s like to winter-over, and how science gets done at this remote and hostile location.

Join us on Wednesday January 22, 2020, 7:00 PM, at the Palos Verdes Peninsula Center Library, 701 Silver Spur Road, Rolling Hills Estates (entrance also on Deep Valley Dr). To take the chill off, snacks and refreshments will be served. For more information, contact Joyce White, 310-383-5247.

 Photo by NOAA

Strike a Blow Against Plastic Pollution

Reduce and reuse, because recycling is broken.


  Bring your own bottle — not necessarily booze. Carry your own filtered tap water so you can politely turn down offers of water in plastic bottles from friends and business associates.

 Bring your own bags. You already bring large sacks when you shop for groceries. You can also bring smaller bags for produce and bulk items like rice and granola.

Bring your own box. Bring a reusable plastic box (Tupperware or the like) when you get take-out or want to take home half of that extra-large restaurant meal. Read More

Nov/Dec 2019

Holiday Lights Hike

Dec 9 Mon O: Holiday Lights Hike. Join our annual easy social hike to enjoy the Holiday Lights of Sleepy Hollow in Torrance. Meet 7 PM in Redondo Beach Riviera Village parking lot across from Trader Joe’s, 1 block west of PCH & Palos Verdes Bl. via Vista del Mar. The hike will last about 1 1/2 hrs. Bring comfortable walking shoes & red lens flashlight. Ldr: Bill Lavoie, Asst. Ldr: Kevin Schlunegger or Zoltan Stroll.


Your Tips for Going Green

We all care about the environment. Recycling is good, but reusing is better (no energy wasted transporting materials to get broken down and reformed and transported back). “Upcycling” turns trash into treasure.

So how do YOU do it?

Send your tips for:

*Using less single-use plastic and other packaging materials

      Do you know sources for reusable produce bags (preferably local)?

      What do you line your kitchen trash can with?

*Saving gasoline, water, or electricity

*Adapting something about to be thrown out for reuse.

*Making art from discards

*Other green tips



Leader Appreciation Dinner

Outings Leaders volunteer their time and expertise to lead hikes and outings throughout the year. The Palos Verdes- South Bay Group would like to recognize and thank our leaders for the countless hours they volunteer each week.

You’re invited… Leader Appreciation Dinner

Saturday, November 23, 2019 5:00pm

El Pollo Inka

550 Deep Valley Dr. #201

Rolling Hills Estates, CA 90274

Complimentary prix fixe dinner provided to all former and current Outings Leaders of the Palos Verdes-South Bay Group of the Sierra Club and their significant others. Fountain drink included.

Supporters encouraged to attend for $25

Questions? Contact: Kevin Schlunegger RSVP by Nov 20. (619) 804-6616

Along the Path: Soaring Free – The Red Tailed Hawk

By Susan Rothrock Deo              (Soaring hawk photo by Ashok Khosla)

“Keee. Keeeee.” The shrill call pierced the air.

Three red tailed hawks soared over the canyon, their pale, brick-red tails glinting like stained glass.

“Keee. Keeeee.” Some describe their call as a scream, but it doesn’t sound that way to me. I smiled. “Wish I was up there with them.” Read More

Mitigation measures won’t stop deadly HF, says Chemical Safety Board

The SCAQMD failed the community too, but there’s still hope

By Steve Dillow, Conservation Co-Chair

Following the June explosion at a Philadelphia refinery, which caused it to permanently close, our local refinery spokesman bragged that it proved that their mitigation efforts to contain hydrogen fluoride (HF or MHF) worked perfectly. He said there was no release of the deadly chemical at all. But on Oct. 16, in its report on the accident, the federal Chemical Safety Board showed that the recent Philadelphia Refinery explosion did in fact release over 5000 pounds of HF, and that their mitigation efforts (water sprays mostly) reduced the release by only 38%. The only reason that it didn’t injure or kill tens of Read More

Sep/Oct 2019

Up Against the Wall

By Judy Herman and Melanie Cohen

Children torn from their mothers’ arms, caged and left to sleep on concrete floors where bright lights glare around the clock. You’ve heard how the current U.S. border policy tramples human rights, but do you know that existing and proposed border barriers also threaten other species?

In a letter to the Border Patrol, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stated that proposed barrier projects in two Arizona counties would put at risk 16 threatened or endangered species, including the ocelot, jaguar, Mexican

Read More

New Film Reveals the Drama of the Border Wall

Experience the environmental and human drama of the wall in a vivid new film at our quarterly meeting.

“The River and the Wall” follows five friends on an immersive adventure through the unknown wilds of the Texas borderlands as they travel 1200 miles from El Paso to the Gulf of Mexico on horses, mountain bikes, and canoes. Conservation filmmaker Ben Masters realizes the urgency of documenting the last remaining wilderness in Texas as the threat of new border wall construction looms ahead. Masters recruits NatGeo Explorer Filipe DeAndrade, ornithologist Heather Mackey, river guide Austin Alvarado, and conservationist Jay Kleberg to join him on the two-and-a-half- month journey down 1,200 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border.

They set out to document the borderlands and explore the potential impacts of a wall on the natural environ- ment, but as the wilderness gives way to the more pop- ulated and heavily trafficked Lower Rio Grande Val- ley, they come face-to-face with the human side of the immigration debate and enter uncharted emotional waters.

Movie, munchies and mingling. Join us on Wednesday October 23 at 7 PM at the Palos Verdes Peninsula Public Library, 701 Silver Spur Rd, Rolling Hills Estates (entrance also on Deep Valley Dr).
Snacks and refreshments will be served.
For more information, call Joyce White 310- 383-5247

Misadventures in the Skin Trade

By Dave Wiggins, Conservation Co-Chair

Habitat destruction caused by agricultural devel- opment and mineral extraction? Entire ecosys- tems altered, perhaps permanently, by advanc- ing climate changes brought on by greenhouse gas emissions? These are of course very real threats to the existence of a great many of the world’s endangered species. Yet most of us don’t think of the tremendous threat to many of the very same species posed by the brisk illegal international trade in wholly unnecessary products made from their bodies.

Read More

Along the Path:

A Young Person’s Guide to Exploring Nature By Susan Rothrock Deo

How Did THAT Get There: Pt. 2: Animals

The first time I heard a peacock, we were visiting my husband’s family in India. Their calls here in Palos Verdes conjure up fond memories. Not everyone shares my sense of wonder about peafowl (only the male is a “peacock”). They are like dandelions—a joy to some, a pest to others. Around 1900, the exotic birds were a status symbol for superrich Americans.

Read More

Will Your Team Win the City Hike?

Get your team together!

On September 28, the Angeles Chapter is launching the first-ever

City Hike in LA!

Be a part of the inaugural event.

Read More

PVP Land Conservancy Volunteer Training

Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy offers training sessions for docents and nature walk leaders in Sept. and Oct.

Read More

You Can Be a Leader

Offered just twice a year, the next Sierra Club Angeles Chapter’s

Leadership Training Program (LTP) Seminar is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019.

The Sierra Club Angeles Chapter’s many groups, sections and committees sponsor thousands of trips ranging from easy hikes to backpacks to worldwide travel and mountaineering expeditions. From experienced volunteer leaders you will learn how to plan a trip, handle problems on the trail and make sure that everyone has a great time. You’ll gain knowledge about good conservation and safety practices, along with tips for getting your leadership rating quickly and then, if you choose, pursuing more ad- vanced ratings.

Read More

Links of Interest: Plastics Edition

Living without Plastic: One Family’s Journey. L.A. Times

How to Eat Less Plastic. Consumer Reports

The Ugly Truth Steve Lopez Learned at his Recycling Center. L.A. Times

Tips for Using Less Plastic. Green Education Foundation

How I Cut Back on Plastic. Send your tips to

Jul/Aug 2019

Paddle out Plastic

By Eva Cicoria

What comes to mind when you think of a port?  Boats, barges, cargo, cranes?   What about sea life?  In LA Harbor, as I’ve discovered over years kayaking there, you’ll find

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Read More

Seizing Smugglers’ Skins and Other Wild Tales, July 24 Quarterly Meeting

July 24 Wed 7pm Quarterly Meeting. Before you buy that travel souvenir, listen up. Inspector Ali Ventura will tell us how US Fish and Wildlife recovers endangered species, supports migratory birds, preserves  habitat, safeguards fisheries, combats invasive species, and promotes  wildlife conservation in accordance with US and international laws. They inspect thousands of species, both live and as parts of products. Wait till you see the examples of confiscated items and hear about  strange smuggling techniques. Join us at the Palos Verdes Peninsula Library, 701 Silver Spur Road, Rolling Hills Estates (entrance also on Deep Valley Dr). Snacks and refreshments will be served. For more information, call Joyce White 310-383-5247.

AQMD Bows to Industry, Says No HF Ban

On June 22, the AQMD Refinery Committee voted 3-2 to allow tons of toxic volatile hydrogen fluoride (HF) to remain at two local refineries, Torrance PBF and Wilmington Valero. The refineries will add more water sprays, pumps, sensors, and video displays, and declare that it makes us safe. Community groups and individuals made excellent presentations, but it was clear this was a well-organized campaign by the refineries and their allies.

The committee directed AQMD staff to write a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with each refinery, for the refineries to theoretically keep people in the community safe from “irreversible health effects” if there was a 1-inch hole in an HF tank. If a leak was bigger, or lasted for longer than 10 minutes, or medical care delayed (think earthquake), people could be dead instead of having “reversible” health effects like an irregular heartbeat or fluid buildup in the lungs. The only way to be truly safe from HF is for it to be gone.

The full AQMD Board will vote on this in November. In the meantime, we need to convince everybody how criminally absurd this is. To help, Email us at

Susan Deo Wins Conservation Award

At the Angeles Chapter Awards Banquet in May, Susan Deo received a Conservation Service Award for her popular Foggy View column, “Along the Path.”

Congratulations, Susan!

Along the Path: How Did THAT Get Here?

Part I: Plants

By Susan Rothrock Deo

Do you have dandelions in your yard? Most grownups call them weeds because they grow where we don’t want them. We kids know better—dandelions are AWESOME! Pretty yellow flowers, puffy heads of floating seeds that scatter in the wind. The dandelion, originally from Eurasia, is an example of a non-native species that has found its way to Southern California.

For millennia species have been on the move. Some carry themselves, wind and water carry more. Humans are notorious for transporting species from afar to grow for their beauty or for food. Sometimes we move things accidentally, like when sailors of old brought their mattresses ashore and shook out the old straw bedding (including seeds and insects) to replace with fresh dried grass.

Most non-native, or “alien,” species are not a problem in their new homes. Some are even beneficial, like corn or almond trees. Trouble occurs when an alien species causes economic or environmental harm, or harm to human health. Then its INVASIVE. Harmful invasions are usually caused by species from similar climates that travel well, grow and reproduce vigorously. They may out-compete or prey on native species or disrupt the native habitat. Most do not benefit their new ecosystems, such as becoming food for native species. Here are a few of the plants scientists have designated invasive in Southern California.




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Castor bean, Ricinus communis, was cultivated for castor oil and as an ornamental. The plant is extremely poisonous. Two seeds can kill a human.

Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare, related to anise and licorice, was brought from southern Europe as an herb for cooking and medicinal purposes. It is very hard to eradicate. Where naturalized, however, scientists must consider the Anise Swallowtail butterfly first. Fennel is their preferred food, so if all the fennel is removed, their population will suffer.

Pampas grass, Cortaderia selloana, is a landscaping plant originally from South America. One plume can produce 100,000 seeds or more that travel far on a windy day. It may look nice in your neighbor’s yard, but you can also see pampas grass scattered along the bluffs all the way up the coast. Non-native grasses like this crowd out our native bunch grasses. Native grasses are much more fire-resistant and are better food for local species.

Russian thistle, Salsola tragus, is one of several species we call “tumbleweed.” Seeds were first brought from Russia to South Dakota in a batch of contaminated flax seeds in 1873. Dried plants break off at the base and the ball-shaped plants tumble along dropping seeds as they go, thus tumbleweed spread throughout the West. (It didn’t arrive soon enough to be part of the old West’s story as Western movies and fiction portray, though.) Recently, a new tumbleweed has appeared in California. Because it’s a hybrid of two species it has no native range and scientists are having trouble finding insect pests to help control its population.

Want to learn more? Pick up a plant field guide or search online for invasive species. Next time, non-native and invasive animals!

Links of Interest

The South Coast Air Quality Management District’s Republican-controlled refinery committee voted 3-2 to support an industry-backed alternative. Los Angeles Times

Bald eagle chick webcam Daily News

The clean cars you don’t see in TV ads Daily News

We’re Social: Share on Instagram and Facebook

Check out our new Instagram page for the Palos Verdes South Bay Sierra Club.

Tag our page @sierraclub_pvsouthbay with your best photos. 

Please follow our Instagram page at:           

Facebook: Palos Verdes South Bay Group Of the Sierra Club

How I did the Tour du Mont Blanc

By Tejinder Dhillon, Wilderness Training Committee Instructor

A few years ago I read a New York Times travel article titled “100 miles, 10 days, three countries and a lot of cheese.” It sounded like exactly what I wanted to do Read More

Night Hikes in the Preserve Are Back!

By Bill Lavoie, Vice Chair, Membership and Outreach

After much work by the Rancho Palos Verdes city staff and the Palos Verdes South Bay group of the Sierra Club the winter night hike permits are back.

To refresh, last year several residents of the Del Cerro Park area of RPV went to the city council with concerns about hikers entering the Portuguese Bend Preserve more than an hour after sunset.  The result was that the city council then cancelled night hike permits until staff could work on these concerns with the aim of resolving the issue.

Our Sierra Club chapter and RPV city staff worked together to resolve/revise the night hike permit requirements in a manner that would continue to protect the preserve while still affording access.  After many months of working together with city staff, Del Cerro Park Homeowners Association, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife, we were ready to submit our revised night hike permit to the RPV city council, and together we were able to work out issues with any remaining concerns the city council might have had.

In March the Rancho Palos Verdes City Council approved the new night hike permit requirements.  We truly appreciate everyone who worked so diligently to resolve this situation and bring back the popular night hikes our chapter has led for many years.

A big thank-you to Bill for his dedication to this issue — ed.

Enjoy the nature preserve? Comment on the NCCP by May 6.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California Department of Fish and Wildlife are evaluating the City Council-approved Draft City of Rancho Palos Verdes NCCP/HCP and associated documents and are seeking public comment in accordance with their permit decision processes.  Read More

Public Health Dept Supports Banning MHF at Refineries

By Steve Dillow, Conservation Committe Co-Chair

On April 2, the LA County Department of Public Health sent a letter to the SCAQMD urging them to phase out MHF as soon as possible. This public agency offered the following conclusion: Read More

Along the Path: Painted Ladies on the Move

By Susan Rothrock Deo                                                              Photos by Eva Cicoria

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Did you see them? The clouds of butterflies fluttering through Palos Verdes in early spring? Read More

Links of Interest

Quiz: How does your diet contribute to climate change? New York Times

Desalinization pumps more toxic brine into the ocean than previously thought. Science News

Arctic Ocean is a hot spot for viruses. Science News

Mar/Apr 2019

Editorial Assistant Wanted

Have a flair for writing? Can you write headlines and leads that grab readers’ attention? Do you have some of these other skills or want to learn them? Read More

Links of Interest

Where the Wildflowers Will Be CurbedLA

Why Are Dolphins Washing up on Local Beaches? Daily Breeze

Indigenous Peoples of California Tell about Tending Nature KCET

Night Hikes