Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Walters on Technology

Excellent overview of the state’s difficulties finding congruence with its current technology, its future technological needs, and the new demands waiting in the wings.

Dan Walters: Computers, prisons and health care
By Dan Walters - Bee Columnist
Published 12:00 am PST Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Members of the Senate Budget Committee were plainly irked last week during a hearing on the state's long-stalled efforts to upgrade and merge its computer systems.
Why is it, they asked repeatedly, that the state keeps spending millions, even billions, of dollars on computer schemes, only to be told that it will take many more millions of dollars and many more years to have something that works? "Where are we from where we were before?" an obviously exasperated Sen. Mike Machado, D-Linden, asked at one point as Clark Kelso, a veteran troubleshooter who currently heads the Office of the Chief Information Officer, tried to explain what was happening.

Kelso handed out copies of a glossy book called the "California State Information Technology Strategic Plan," chock-full of good intentions to streamline and improve state agencies' multiple hardware and software systems, many of which are antiquated and incompatible with other state systems.

"Much of our fundamental planning has now been completed, and we are beginning to move into sustained execution of major portions of our strategic plan," Kelso says in his plan's cover letter. But the senators were clearly unconvinced that the state, after countless false starts and some spectacularly expensive disasters, is really on the right track. There were several allusions to the Oracle fiasco, when the state signed a $100 million software contract that had political connotations and became a major embarrassment to former Gov. Gray Davis.

If anyone can solve the state's computer woes, it's probably Kelso, but the jury is still out. At the very least, the chronic difficulty in getting the job done implies that when it comes to large, complicated service delivery programs, state government is scarcely a model of efficiency.

Funds are Needed

And probably more will be needed as long overdue flood protection infrastructure finally becomes part of the public policy of our state.

It is to be hoped that as this process evolves and more focus is given to the flood protection options, the short-sighted taboo against dams playing a major role will evaporate as more serious policy emerges from public leadership on top of the issue.

No shortage of uses for anti-flood funds
A top priority will be figuring how to speed repairs - and raise cash.
By Deb Kollars - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Back in November, California voters said yes to spending $4.9 billion for greater protection against flooding, touching off an unprecedented wave of state tax dollars for levee work and floodwater management.

On Tuesday, for the first time, legislators and the state's top flood officials gathered at the Capitol to start the process of hashing out how they'll spend money from Propositions 1E and 84, which target a range of flood control improvements.

High on the priority list: how to speed up levee studies and repairs, and how to raise even more money because -- big as they are -- the new bond packages will not be enough.

Previous estimates pegged California's flood control needs, the bulk in the Central Valley, at $12 billion to $13 billion. Those figures could climb into the $16 billion to $18 billion range, pending further study, according to Lester Snow, director of the state Department of Water Resources.

Snow was among those testifying before the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee. Tuesday's hearing was called by state Sen. Darrell Steinberg, a Democrat from Sacramento who is the new committee chair.

"This is urgent," Steinberg said. "The bottom line is public safety. This is an issue we need to stay on every week and every month."

Arden Arcade

Though the county predicts failure, as it has with all of the recent incorporations, it appears Arden Arcade, or whatever new name (I like Arden but as a Sacramento city resident I can’t vote) the voters decide on during the election for cityhood, may very well come into being, and hopefully become another government entity willing to sit on a Joint Powers Authority to oversee the Parkway.

Arden Arcade petitions filed for cityhood
By Ed Fletcher - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Standing around a small downtown conference table Tuesday afternoon, five Arden Arcade cityhood proponents surveyed their work: several large stacks of slightly moist petitions.

Moments earlier, cityhood backers had endured a steady rain as they delivered the signed, dated and addressed petitions to the local intergovernmental agency that must analyze the viability of an Arden Arcade city.

The signed petitions -- 13,591 by the proponents' count -- move the effort to turn a collection of unincorporated Sacramento County neighborhoods into the city of Arden Arcade to the next phase.

"There were a lot of people who didn't think we could do this," said Bill Davis, one of the proponents. "There are more than enough valid."

The process now moves to the county's registrar of voters, where officials will match the signatures against voter files to validate them. Proponents need 9,500 valid signatures from Arden Arcade voters.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Uncity Continues Unraveling

All the more reason to ensure the Parkway is protected through the formation of a Joint Powers Authority for overall governance and a nonprofit for daily management and endowment fund building.

Editorial: Another city drive?
Signatures show Arden Arcade substance
Published 12:00 am PST Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Signs of discontent have been apparent for some years in Arden Arcade, a collection of neighborhoods in the unincorporated but urbanized portions of Sacramento County that we call The Uncity.

These neighborhoods, which include auto dealerships along Fulton Avenue and retail strips along Marconi and El Camino avenues, are among the healthier generators of sales and property taxes for Sacramento County. Local activists have long complained that Arden Arcade gives the county more than it gets back. Increasingly, they have come to believe that creating their own city is the solution.

This is no longer background music in the chorus of civic life. Arden Arcade citizens have gathered more than 13,000 signatures. If approximately 9,000 of them prove to be from valid, registered voters from the community, the petitions will bring city talks to a new level -- comprehensive planning by a county commission.

It is too soon to post odds on Arden Arcade. It is not too soon to take the effort seriously.

This effort isn't like other incorporation drives in Sacramento County in recent years. The younger cities already on the map -- Citrus Heights, Elk Grove and Rancho Cordova -- had established, deep civic identities. How many folks who live in Arden Arcade tell folks on an airplane that Arden Arcade is their community? The other young cities had the local business communities squarely behind them. Fulton auto dealers, at best, seem ambivalent. A traditional city nucleus doesn't seem to exist.

Taking lessons from history, however, will only go so far. There is a growing crisis in Sacramento County government that makes cityhood drives here and elsewhere quite appealing on the surface. The county, which hasn't chased new auto malls and big box stores and other tax-generating enterprises as other local governments have, is staring at a massive structural budget deficit in the coming years.

Hatchery Viewing Announcement

Hatchery has front roe seats
Bee Metro Staff -
Published 12:00 am PST Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The public is invited to watch state Department of Fish and Game technicians artificially spawn steelhead from 8 a.m. to noon each Wednesday through March at the Nimbus Hatchery Visitor Center, 2001 Nimbus Road, Rancho Cordova.

Each year workers artificially spawn at least 200 steelhead at the hatchery along the south bank of the American River at Hazel Avenue. That effort yields about half a million eggs, according to Terry West, hatchery manager.

With luck, a like number of juvenile steelhead are eventually raised and released into the river about a year later to start a perilous 125-mile journey to the Pacific Ocean. After about two years in the ocean, some of those small steelhead reach seven to 12 pounds and return to the American River to spawn.

Officials estimate that only about 10,000 out of the original half-million make it that far.

The artificial spawning operation is an effort to maintain steelhead runs on the American River. Construction of Nimbus Dam and Folsom Dam blocked migration of steelhead and salmon to traditional spawning areas farther upriver.

Call (916) 358-2884 for more information.

Public Private Partnership I

Here is an example of a local public private partnership that has been doing a pretty good job.

One of our policy suggestions is to have the American River Parkway managed by a nonprofit organization through a contract with a Joint Powers Authority (made up of Parkway adjacent cities) that we hope someday will assume responsibility for the Parkway in a joint agreement with its current governmental authority and daily manager, Sacramento County.

'06 a good year for power grid
System was reliable, cheaper despite July heat wave, ISO says.
By Edie Lau - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Tuesday, February 27, 2007

California's electrical grid was more reliable and cost less to maintain last year despite the record-breaking July heat wave, the state Independent System Operator reported Monday.

"We have achieved the highest reliability performance ever of the ISO since the beginning," said Yakout Mansour, president and CEO of the corporation, which has managed most of the state's electrical transmission system since 1998.

At the same time, the not-for-profit agency was able to reduce expenses -- related to solving power-grid bottlenecks -- by 29 percent, to $477 million. The ISO spent $669 million in 2005. The cost of maintaining reliability was even higher in 2004, at $1.1 billion.

Public Private Partnership II

On a really big scale, but what if…

What a U.N. Partnership with Big Business Could Accomplish
February 21, 2007 George C. Lodge and Craig Wilson

As Ban Ki-moon begins his tenure as secretary-general of the United Nations, the world's poor continue to cry out for help and hope.

One-sixth of the world's population lives in "deep poverty"—generally defined as surviving on half or less of the annual income of those at a nation's poverty line.

And yet, more than a trillion dollars has been spent by bilateral and multilateral organizations since World War II to try to alleviate this problem.

The funds that were supposed to help improve people's lives have often been lost to governments that lack either the desire or the ability to reduce poverty within their borders.

Several years ago, world leaders gathered in Monterrey, Mexico, and gave poverty reduction top priority. They committed themselves to halve the number of people living on less than $1 a day by 2015. They realized that poverty is the seedbed of terrorism and the spur to migrants hammering at the gates of Europe and America.

But the goal of poverty reduction will not be reached unless the world tries something new.

It is clear from the experience of countries that have been most successful in reducing poverty—Japan, China, Singapore, South Korea, and Botswana, for instance—that the creation of profitable businesses is the key. They provide the jobs, income, and motivation for education and individual development that raise standards of living.

Small- and medium-sized domestic operations have created most of the jobs. But globalization has meant that for a local business to flourish, it must invariably be connected to world markets, credit, and technology. That's why multinational corporations must play a critical role.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Water Confusion Continues

California’s long, confused and perhaps endless, struggle with how to control and manage its water, (which is plentiful north and scarce south) revisits one long simmering issue.

Editorial: Unsolved drainage mess
Should feds cut deal with San Joaquin farms?
Published 12:00 am PST Monday, February 26, 2007

Congress and the federal Bureau of Reclamation set in motion an environmental mess when the bureau began supplying irrigation water in the 1960s to the western San Joaquin Valley.

The soils are both highly productive and highly problematic. While they grow some of the biggest almond crops on the planet and spectacular fields of lettuce, the ground contains high concentrations of salts and selenium. This particular element can literally kill wildlife that comes in contact with it. When the federal government started draining the runoff from the west valley's farm fields into a wildlife refuge known as Kesterson, the birds in the refuge began hatching mangled offspring that belonged in a horror movie.

The feds stopped draining the water into Kesterson, but they never solved the problem. Instead, they essentially put a plug at the bottom of a bathtub. This has trapped this salty runoff underground or let it leach into the troubled San Joaquin River.

Now this bathtub needs a drain and a decontamination system. But what?

Welcome to another California water conflict, where all the options are expensive, controversial and complicated beyond human description. And the political solution will involve the kind of bipartisan cooperation that isn't usually in the state's political gene pool.

The bureau's Central Valley Project is lauded in textbooks as a monument to the federal government's ability to reshape the West by damming a mighty river (the Sacramento at Mount Shasta) and diverting the water (via a canal far downstream in the Delta) to the San Joaquin Valley.

The CVP truly did transform the Valley, turning desert into endless fields of crops. But desert agriculture demands a sophisticated drainage system. If the water applied to the crops stays underground, it accumulates the salts in the soil and can kill the next crop if the groundwater rises to the root zone.

The original solution -- building a drain to send this soup to the delicate Delta -- has been a nonstarter for years. So what's the solution? Many environmental activists have long called for massive retirements of farmland on the west side. The farmers say they plan to retire some lands, but want to stay in business, and you can see their point. They are some of the most sophisticated, productive growers on the planet.

Citizen Hotel?

Hmm, not sure I get it…

Bob Shallit: Citizen Hotel name chosen to reflect Sacramento
By Bob Shallit - Bee Columnist
Published 12:00 am PST Monday, February 26, 2007

It's a little different, Chip Conley admits. But he says the name he's selected for the boutique hotel his company is opening downtown next year is perfect.

The Citizen Hotel.

"It's iconic -- a name you'd use in Sacramento and not in other places," says the CEO of Bay Area-based Joie de Vivre Hospitality, which is remodeling an 82-year-old office tower at 10th and J streets into a 197-room hotel with five penthouses and a terrace overlooking the Capitol.

The name was the result of a lengthy process that included meetings with hundreds of Sacramentans. It's intended, Conley says, to reflect the pride locals have in their city as well as the role Sacramento plays as a site of political discourse.

The interior design is not finished, but Conley has a few details. The lobby will have the look of a "private law library," he says. A staircase will lead to a mezzanine lounge -- "a great perch to see the celebrities checking in," he says.
The overall feel of the place?

Sort of like Sacramento itself, the CEO says.

"It will be classic and timeless on the outside -- all-American and slightly traditional," he says. "But when you look under the surface, you'll see something more hip and sophisticated with a lot of surprises."

Global Warming

Good overview with the conclusion that it is already too late unless China, soon to overtake the United States as the biggest polluter, agrees to virtually stop its industrial expansion, and running close behind China is, of course, India.

Since it is too late, perhaps we are left then with the one human response to natural issues that has seemed to work; technological innovation.

Warning on Warming
By Bill McKibben
Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis: Summary for Policymakers
Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. IPCC, 18 pp., available at

When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its latest report in early February, it was greeted with shock: "World Wakes to Climate Catastrophe," reported an Australian paper. But global warming is by now a scientific field with a fairly extensive history, and that history helps set the new findings in context— a context that makes the new report no less terrifying but much more telling for its unstated political implications.

Although atmospheric scientists had studied the problem for decades, global warming first emerged as a public issue in 1988 when James Hansen, a NASA scientist, told Congress that his research, and the work of a handful of other scientists, indicated that human beings were dangerously heating the planet, particularly through the use of fossil fuels. This bold announcement set off a scientific and political furor: many physicists and chemists played down the possibility of serious harm, and many governments, though feeling pressure to react, did little to restrain the use of fossil fuel. "More research" was the mantra everyone adopted, and funding for it flowed freely from governments and foundations. Under the auspices of the United Nations, scientists and governments set up a curious hybrid, the IPCC, to track and report on the progress of that research.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Selfhood & Politics

Egos and rhetoric have been influencing politics since the first human was influenced by the second, so no surprise there; but that is how things get worked out, selfhood struggling against institutions.

Editorial: Hot air, egos threaten fight against warming
For landmark law to be effective, legislative leaders, governor must work together
Published 12:00 am PST Sunday, February 25, 2007

When California enacted landmark legislation last year to combat global warming, it seemed like a love fest for state leaders who helped pass the bill -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez and Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata.

But appearances can be deceptive. Behind the façade of a united front, these three leaders harbored deep differences on how California should reduce its greenhouse emissions, and how quickly. Those differences came to the fore last week, and the result wasn't pretty.

The fireworks started when Perata held a press conference Thursday to unveil a package of eight Senate bills to reduce carbon dioxide, methane and other gases linked to global warming. Perata said these bills would help California move quickly on meeting goals of last year's Assembly Bill 32 -- which calls for a 25 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020 -- while also reducing diesel soot and other pollution that is endangering Californians now.

The Senate package includes some strong elements, including a bill to create incentives for smarter regional planning, thus reducing car trips and vehicle emissions. Other bills called for stronger renewable energy standards, further pollution reductions at state ports and new standards for cars and fuels sold in the state.

Perata, however, didn't spend much time consulting with the Schwarzenegger administration or Núñez's office on these ideas. Núñez, whose Assembly members are working on their own bills, was noticeably lukewarm. Schwarzenegger was more fiery, suggesting that Perata was undermining last year's compromise.

"We cannot abandon AB 32 just seven weeks after it became law," the governor said in a statement.

Politics of Public’s Money

A good reminder that what should happen with our money rarely does, but that is the way of life and never cause to not continue to laud the producer of the facts (as this column does), or advocate for balanced reasonable policies.

Good policy advocacy is crucial to the political process and very often some part, maybe even a large part, gets woven into the actual policy legislated into law.

Dan Walters: Politicians can't claim ignorance
By Dan Walters - Bee Columnist
Published 12:00 am PST Sunday, February 25, 2007

Given the short attention span of those in politics -- roughly extending to the next election -- it's remarkable that in the 65-year history of the Legislature's budget office, only four people have carried the title of "legislative analyst."

Elizabeth Hill has held the job for the past two decades, second only to the fabled A. Alan Post (1949-1977) in longevity, and last week, Hill completed her most important annual chore by releasing her staff's exhaustive analysis of the governor's proposed budget.

Hill and the report her office produced epitomize just-the-facts financial and policy analysis, cutting through the supposition, political rhetoric and downright fantasy that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, emulating his predecessors, employed in unveiling his budget last month. One example: Counting on $500 million in revenue from expanding Indian casino gambling even though pacts are stalled in the Legislature.

Hill's three biggest points, couched in dry language, were that:

• Despite all the noise about eliminating the state's "net operating deficit," California's budget still has a chronic gap of multibillion-dollar proportions, and when you discount the governor's gimmicks and suppositions and factor in declining revenue, the deficit is as bad as ever.

• The state should reduce unspent school appropriations for the current fiscal year to save about $1.3 billion over the next 18 months and narrow the budget gap.
• The governor should slow down the repayment of the bonds the state issued three years ago to refinance its short-term budget debt, thereby freeing up more revenue to cover next year's gap.

Hill knows that, as usual, her major recommendations may be dead on arrival because they conflict with the politics that drive the budget process. The one major suggestion from Hill that was adopted in recent years, a one-time cut in school aid, became an immense political firestorm. The very powerful Education Coalition used it as a political hammer on Schwarzenegger, accusing him of reneging on a promise to restore the money.

Green Pyramid

Great story about a very worthwhile trend that is moving throughout the culture, and isn’t the building chosen as headquarters perfect?

Pointing the way to green future
West Sac's pyramid becomes the state's building laboratory.
By Edie Lau - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Sunday, February 25, 2007

The pyramid building in West Sacramento, once headquarters of the Money Store, is turning a new shade of green.

The 10-story ziggurat on the bank of the Sacramento River will remain gold on the outside. It's the inside, now home to the California Department of General Services, that is adopting the color of the environmental movement.

Guardians of DGS, the landlord agency of state government, aspire to make the ziggurat a test case for environmentally friendly building practices -- a project they fondly call "greening the Zig."

"We need a laboratory to test how ideas become acculturated," said Ron Joseph, who, as director of DGS until his retirement last month, championed his agency's metamorphosis.

The greening is happening in ways visible and not-so-visible. A sign on the door to the room housing computer servers is obvious, for example. "Conserve Energy," it admonishes. "Turn off lights!"

But a campaign to reduce the number of computer printers in the building -- thereby saving on paper, electricity and cartridges -- is evident only to the employees who have given up the luxury of printing documents at their desks.

With the Zig and its 1,200 occupants leading the way, the department aims in the next eight years to transform 1,600 buildings under its control into models of sustainable work spaces.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Bulbs are Better

Yes, the new bulbs are terrific, and a good example of the market catching up with the problem.

However, thoughts of outlawing the old bulbs are both over-kill and unnecessary as the market will take care of it and many still want the lighting design factor incandescent and halogen offers way above fluorescent.

Editorial: Go with the glow
Fluorescent bulbs create their own market
Published 12:00 am PST Saturday, February 24, 2007

If you used a compact fluorescent light bulb in the 1980s and 1990s, you may have thought it a dim investment.

These early bulbs flickered and buzzed and sent a cold light through the room. They took seconds to brighten and were so oddly shaped they didn't work in many fixtures.
For all these reasons, millions of consumers swore they would never buy another CFL bulb. That's a shame, both for their pocketbook and the planet's warming climate.

Like computers, cell phones and low-flush toilets, CFL bulbs have changed dramatically in recent years. Now these energy efficient bulbs possess the power to revolutionize the world.

Alcohol Ban

Banning alcohol appears to be a bad way to keep the public safe on the river. One would think increasing the police presence is more appropriate, and making arrests when alcohol consumption obviously becomes an issue of public safety.

The tradition of having a brew while floating down the river is one cherished, and not abused, by many.

We need more cops on the river and in the Parkway (and have for years), not more restrictions on recreation.

Bill would ban summer holiday drinking on river
By Ed Fletcher - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Saturday, February 24, 2007

Sacramento County's ban of alcohol consumption on the lower American River during summer holiday weekends would be extended from the shores to the river under legislation introduced late this week.

In response to back-to-back July 4 weekends during which heavy boozing led to fights and arrests, late last summer Sacramento County officials banned alcohol consumption along the shores and strictly enforced open-container laws.

But the county has no authority to stop folks from drinking on navigable waterways. That's the jurisdiction of state government, and state law currently allows the consumption of alcoholic beverages on vessels, including rubber rafts.

Assembly Bill 951 by Assemblyman Dave Jones -- which appears to have bipartisan support -- would prohibit drinking alcoholic beverages or possessing an open alcoholic beverage container from Hazel Avenue to Watt Avenue on the three major summer holiday weekends: Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day.

Jones, D-Sacramento, said the out-of-control behavior has to stop.

To Develop or Not to Develop

The continuing struggle about the money development brings to the community versus those who want it to stay as it is, for whatever reasons.

The arguments create difficulties for those trying to choose sides as both camps often couch their arguments in apocalyptic terms, but generally just by looking around us (unless all you like about the world is wilderness) one can see that development is key to community building, while restraining its excesses (which each community needs to define) are always good public policy concerns.

Mill project poses Delta dilemma
Clarksburg toasts winery, but debts mount as key housing plan put on hold.
By Mary Lynne Vellinga - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Saturday, February 24, 2007

In the eyes of Yolo County's top politicians, John Carvalho Jr. is rejuvenating local agriculture, one wine bottle at a time.

Carvalho's renovation of an old sugar beet processing plant on the Sacramento River in Clarksburg into a picturesque winery and reception facility has received universal applause as a valuable addition to the farming and tourism economy of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Earlier this month, Carvalho hosted one of his biggest crowds ever when about 1,200 people came to the Old Sugar Mill over two days to sip port and nibble on chocolate as part of the local wine industry's annual Valentine's Day celebration.

"It's been fantastic," Yolo Supervisor Mike McGowan said of the winery's role in processing local grapes and attracting tourists.

But Carvalho's proposal to build 162 housing units next to the winery has divided Clarksburg and prompted the state's Delta Protection Commission to flex its muscle for the first time.

On Thursday, the commission confirmed its earlier ruling that the proposed development violates the Delta Protection Act, which is designed to protect the rural nature of the heart of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

In making their decision, commissioners cited questions about the adequacy of levees protecting the site, among other things.

The commission stayed construction on the project and kicked it back to Yolo County, which can either try to revise it or challenge the ruling in court. County officials say they haven't decided what they will do.

For Carvalho, any further delay is something he can ill afford. The developer is facing about $5 million in claims from contractors and suppliers who have filed suit, saying they weren't paid for their work on the sugar mill, according to documents filed in Yolo Superior Court.

Air Conditioners in India

We need to keep in mind the huge impact of a rapidly modernizing third world, soon to be first in pollution, as we still barely are with China nipping at our heels.

February 23, 2007
As Asia Keeps Cool, Scientists Worry About the Ozone Layer

MUMBAI, India — Until recently, it looked like the depleted ozone layer protecting the earth from harmful solar rays was on its way to being healed.

But thanks in part to an explosion of demand for air-conditioners in hot places like India and southern China — mostly relying on refrigerants already banned in Europe and in the process of being phased out in the United States — the ozone layer is proving very hard to repair.

Four months ago, scientists discovered that the “hole” created by the world’s use of ozone-depleting gases — in aerosol spray cans, aging refrigerators and old air-conditioners — had expanded again, stretching once more to the record size of 2001.

An unusually cold Antarctic winter, rather than the rise in the use of refrigerants, may have caused the sudden expansion, which covered an area larger than North America.

But it has refocused attention on the ozone layer, which protects people and other animals as well as vegetation from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Now, the world’s atmospheric scientists are concerned that the air-conditioning boom sweeping across Asia could lead to more serious problems in the future.

As it turns out, the fastest-growing threat to the ozone layer can be traced to people like Geeta Vittal, a resident of this hot, thriving metropolis of 18 million, who simply wants to be cooler and can now afford to make that dream a reality.

When her husband first proposed buying an air-conditioner eight years ago, Mrs. Vittal opposed it as a wasteful luxury. But he bought it anyway, and she liked it so much that when the Vittals moved last year to a new apartment, Mrs. Vittal insisted that five air-conditioners be installed before they moved in.

“All my friends have air-conditioners now,” she said. “Ten years ago, no one did.”

Rising living standards throughout India and China, the world’s two most populous countries and the fastest-growing major economies, have given a lot more people the wherewithal to make their homes more comfortable. The problem is that Mrs. Vittal’s air-conditioners — along with most window units currently sold in the United States — use a refrigerant called HCFC-22, which damages the ozone.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Spawning on View Announcement

Artificial spawning on view to public
Published 12:00 am PST Friday, February 23, 2007

The public is invited to watch state Department of Fish and Game technicians artificially spawn steelhead from 8 a.m. to noon each Wednesday through March at the Nimbus Hatchery Visitor Center, 2001 Nimbus Road in Rancho Cordova, a hatchery spokesman said.

Each year, workers artificially spawn at least 200 steelhead at the hatchery along the south bank of the American River at Hazel Avenue.

That effort yields about a half-million eggs, according to Terry West, hatchery manager.

With luck, a like number of juvenile steelhead eventually will be raised and released into the river about a year later to start a perilous 125-mile journey to the Pacific Ocean.

After about two years in the ocean, some of those small steelhead reach 7 to 12 pounds and return to the American River to spawn.

Officials estimate that only about 10,000 out of the original half-million make it that far.

The artificial spawning operation is an effort to maintain steelhead runs on the American River.

Construction of Nimbus Dam and Folsom Dam have blocked migration of steelhead and salmon to traditional spawning areas farther upriver.

Call (916) 358-2884 for more information.

Parks Booked

This will intensify as the state becomes more urbanized and getting away becomes more valuable.

This trend also points to the vital importance to strengthen our Parkway, as over the past several years it has not been maintained well, (it was threatened with closure in 2004) still runs millions behind annually in basic maintenance, and has been unable to add significantly to its footprint as its founders originally hoped.

Our plan to begin to change this downward spiral is to have the Parkway managed by a nonprofit organization, which will, as part of its management, create a financial endowment able to serve as a funding source for new Parkway expanding acquisitions as they become available.

Reservation race is on for prime camping spots
By M.S. Enkoji - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Friday, February 23, 2007

As temperatures barely nudge 60 and rain pelts the Sacramento Valley, it might be tough to think about pitching a tent in the great outdoors, but in the bleakness of February, thousands of people have done just that -- in record numbers.

Reservations for California State Park campgrounds have reached a feverish high, already closing down some of the choicest coastal sites this season until next winter, particularly on weekends.

"We Californians love our outback; that's part of the reason we're in this state," said Roy Stearns, spokesman for the state Department of Parks and Recreation.

Rising gasoline prices, greater desire for family time and a connection to the outdoors have been pushing up demand for camping sites nationwide for several years, particularly since Sept. 11, 2001. So, in a state with one of the longest camping seasons, the best advice for reserving a camping spot is to plan early.

There are hidden gems left for those willing to go inland and up north, Stearns said.

But don't dawdle.

On Feb. 1, when reservations opened for the upcoming camping season, 1,447 reservations poured in within seven minutes. By the end of the day, campers locked up 17,600 reservations, an 18 percent increase from opening day a year ago.

State parks provide 11,000 campsites by reservation and another 4,000 on a first-come, first-served basis.

Good Article on Waterfronts

As we continue thinking about what to do with our waterfront, this could help.

The Waterfront Renaissance

As many cities rediscover the water, we have a remarkable opportunity to create a new generation of great public spaces.

Waterfronts are inextricably linked to the identity and vitality of cities. There could be no New York without a harbor, no San Francisco away from the bay, no Pittsburgh apart from its three rivers.

Over the past hundred years, shipping and industry have dispersed from riverfronts, seafronts, and lakefronts, making cities around the world rethink what to do in these prime locations--the birthplace, in most cases, of the city itself. As humans we are naturally drawn to explore the water's edge, which makes it deeply disappointing when all we find there is a highway, fenced-off industrial facilities or, just as bad, a mediocre shopping mall or underused park.

A waterfront project opens up the debate about the soul of a city for all to see.
Making the transition from working waterfront to public gathering place is full of challenges, be it providing public access or identifying the activities best suited to a particular community and place. Today, more and more cities and towns are boldly taking on these challenges.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

County’s Death Spiral Continues

The slow unraveling of the tax base funding the county, whose ineffective management of its responsibilities is what has led to that unraveling, continues.

At some point, one hopes for county leadership to embrace rather than fight the change and try to make it work best for the region, which needs that kind of public leadership.

There are new faces at the county leadership level and hopefully they will begin moving in that direction.

Petition deadline looms
Arden Arcade cityhood backers tout 13,591 signatures
By Bill Lindelof - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Thursday, February 22, 2007

Arden Arcade residents turned out at a Marconi Avenue church last week to hear that 13,591 signatures have been gathered in an effort to place the question of cityhood on the ballot.

That's more than enough to put the incorporation question before voters in November 2008. But petitions must first be checked to verify if the signatures are valid.

Brad Buyse, campaign services manager for the Sacramento County registrar of voters, has said that cityhood backers have until Feb. 27 to provide about 9,500 valid signatures.

The independent Sacramento Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) will submit the signatures to the registrar.

Within 30 days, the registrar's office will determine if there are sufficient valid signatures. If there aren't enough signatures, proponents will have 15 days to turn in more signatures.

Cityhood proponents unveiled the total as part of a slide show on a big screen behind the pulpit area of Arcade Church that read:

"We did it!!! Final Signature Total 13,591!"

Public Leadership Legacy

The creation of our two finest parks is really a legacy of visionary public leadership, still required to strengthen and provide endowed funding for one of them, the Parkway.

A legacy of open spaces
Without the foresight of some special citizens, treasures such as Land Park and the American River Parkway might not exist. A group is honoring their contributions.
By M.S. Enkoji - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Thursday, February 22, 2007

Wealthy hotel owner William Land never saw the pastoral legacy he bequeathed to Sacramento.

He never took refuge on a sweltering summer day in the shade of a broad-branched tree, spread a picnic with his family or marveled at the exotic zoo collection, all in the heart of his burgeoning city.

Create a place for children to play, "a pleasure ground for the poor," he commanded when he left $250,000 to the city in 1911. Born from a swampy spread purchased with Land's donation a dozen years later, William Land Park is the city's crowning outdoor jewel, 167 acres forever preserved inside an urban milieu.

Land's vision and generosity, benefiting millions -- rich and poor -- will be honored by the California Park and Recreation Society, a nonprofit organization of professionals. He is one of the first to be inducted in the Recreation, Park, and Leisure Hall of Honor, created by the society's District II.

"That was an amazing donation at that time. His contribution is unbelievable," said Judy Quattrin of the society's District II.

The organization's largest district, encompassing 19 counties, hopes that recognizing philanthropy like Land's and professional achievements of people like William Pond, architect of the American River Parkway, will deepen the significance of parks and recreation and help them document individual contributions.

Fast Track Bridge

Couldn’t be too soon for the residents.

Work to begin on Folsom span
Bridge near dam will ease congested commutes in city.
By Tony Bizjak and Cathy Locke - Bee Staff Writers
Published 12:00 am PST Thursday, February 22, 2007

For Folsom's beleaguered commuters, there's finally a concrete reason for hope.

Today, federal and local officials, including Reps. John Doolittle and Dan Lungren, will break ground on a hillside near Folsom Dam, starting construction on a new $117 million bridge.

For residents and commuters, the four-lane bridge and a new, 2-mile connector road can't come too soon. Folsom, a commute crossroads between El Dorado and Placer counties, has suffered some of the region's worst "cut through" traffic congestion on its residential streets for three years.

The trigger was a federal decision in 2003 to close the road atop Folsom Dam for safety reasons, following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Federal officials determined that public vehicles on the dam made it vulnerable to terrorist attack. The new bridge, which is more than 100 yards from the dam, won federal support and financing as the alternative route.

Although work on the bridge is not expected to begin for several weeks, the project already is being hailed as a unique accomplishment in the typically slow-moving world of road building.

"This moved along with the speed of light," Mayor Andy Morin said. "It's amazing to think that in a year and a half, and maybe a few months, we'll be cutting a ribbon."

Flood Assessment Map

The final is out, looks reasonable.

In flood control plan, prices of protection vary
Assessments will reflect benefits in blueprint set for vote.
By Deb Kollars - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Thursday, February 22, 2007

Dan and Nancy Cole, longtime residents of Land Park, live just a short walk from their son, Robert, and his young family.

They share the same shady neighborhood, favorite coffeehouses and stroller routes for the grandkids.

However, if a new flood control assessment is approved this spring, one thing they won't be sharing is a similar tax bill.

The son's assessment -- based on a 1,400-square-foot, single-story home on an ever-so-slight rise in the land -- would be $30 a year. The parents' assessment -- based on their 2,200-square-foot, two-story home on lower ground -- would be taxed $111 a year.

"We're just a half-mile apart. It's a little surprising," the son said. "But it also makes sense."

Differences like this would play out throughout the city and county if property owners approve the new assessment district, which is being proposed by the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency.

San Joaquin Solutions

In an example of good thinking and excellent public leadership, a direction to think about has been offered.

Nunes sees one solution to two Valley water problems
By Mark Grossi and Michael Doyle / The Fresno Bee (2/21/07)

The San Joaquin River connects two of California's major water problems now floating in isolation. On Tuesday, a San Joaquin Valley lawmaker suggested merging the two problems into one regional fix.

One problem is restoring the river. The other concerns irrigation drainage in a region where the river once flowed.

Separate lawsuits have lingered for years. Separate solutions finally are proposed for both. Perhaps, some say, it now makes sense to unify rather than isolate.

"This is the time to start the discussion," said Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Visalia.

But others aren't so sure.

"There is not much evidence in the history of California water to support the idea that adding two hard issues together makes it easier to solve either one of them," attorney Tom Jensen cautioned Tuesday. "To the contrary."

As a Senate staffer, Jensen helped write the 1992 Central Valley Project Improvement Act. The law diverted 800,000 acre-feet of Northern California river water from Valley farms to the environment.

Light Bulbs Banned in Australia

Well, California had a chance to be the first.

Australia to Change Lightbulbs to Curb Warming
February 20, 2007 — By Reuters

CANBERRA -- Australia will be the world's first country to ban incandescent lightbulbs in a bid to curb Greenhouse gas emissions, with the government saying on Tuesday they would be phased out within three years. Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull said yellow incandescent bulbs, which have been in use virtually unchanged for 125 years, would be replaced by more efficient compact fluorescent bulbs by 2009.

"By that stage you simply won't be able to buy incandescent lightbulbs, because they won't meet the energy standard," Turnbull told local radio.

Australia along with the U.S. has refused to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol setting Greenhouse Gas reduction targets, calling instead for an agreement requiring energy-hungry developing countries like India and China to help combat climate change.

Turnbull said the banning of incandescent bulbs would help trim 800,000 tonnes from Australia's current emissions level by 2012 and lower household lighting costs by 66 per cent.

British and Californian lawmakers also have been lobbying for bans on incandescent lightbulbs, which lose much of their energy as heat.

Natomas on NPR

California Town Weighs Cost of Flood Protection
by Tamara Keith
Morning Edition, February 21, 2007 •

North of Sacramento, Calif., there are vast tracts of housing developments on agricultural land, surrounded by rivers and protected by levees. Many of the homeowners who bought there in recent years are finding out that their homes may not be as safe as they thought.

A few decades ago the neighborhood of Natomas was all rice fields surrounded by massive rivers. Now it's urban, with 80,000 residents, chain restaurants and subdivisions for miles. And the Federal Emergency Management Agency is now in the process of reclassifying the neighborhood as a Special Flood Hazard Area.

Standing on a levee overlooking a sea of rooftops, John Hess of the Army Corps of Engineers said new studies have found the levees here are more vulnerable than originally thought.

"It's a deep basin, meaning flood waters — should they get into the Natomas area — could be up to 25 feet deep on the southern end," Hess said. "If there were the breach of a levee there's going to be a lot of water going into this area."

Alex Dewey and his family live in Natomas, in a house with a giant American flag out front.

"Right now I don't trust the city of Sacramento," Dewey said. "I don't trust them at all."

Dewey said he can't understand why the city would allow so many homes to be built in an area at risk of flooding. And he said he didn't learn about the risk until six months ago, when news spread that the Army Corps was pulling its certification of the levees.

Lake Tahoe

It is no wonder everyone wants to live, boat, and recreate there. Private piers and such are the result of opening the lake to development years ago, and it is kind of hard to say to newcomers, the lake is now closed.

We have the same problem with development along our Parkway, and unless the new Parkway Plan mandates no new development that visually intrudes upon anyone of average height walking or biking along the Parkway bike trail (save for nature or heritage centers and ranger stations), we’ll be going down the same path.

And, to continue that plan into the long term, we need to begin developing an endowment to purchase current Parkway bordering property still in private hands for purchase when it becomes available.

This would be a cornerstone of our plan for a nonprofit organization to manage the Parkway, creating such an endowment fund for the Parkway; or the strengthening part of our mission: “Preserve, Protect, and Strengthen the American River Parkway, Our Community’s Natural Heart.”

Threat to Lake Tahoe's clarity seen
A compromise development plan that would allow many more piers, buoys and slips has critics concerned.
By Julie Cart
Times Staff Writer
February 21, 2007

Twenty years ago, scores of state and regional agencies, landowners and conservationists hammered out a comprehensive agreement that dictated virtually every aspect of future development at Lake Tahoe, save one: how many piers, slips and buoys would be allowed along the lake's 72 miles of shoreline.

Today, the planning process is drawing to a rancorous conclusion with a proposal by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to allow the construction of up to 230 piers, 1,862 buoys and 235 boat slips to be built around the lake over the next 22 years. If development reaches the limits allowed by the plan, the high alpine lake eventually could hold nearly 1,000 piers, 6,300 buoys and 3,000 boat slips.

All development at the lake is subject to guidelines intended to safeguard the lake's most cherished and vulnerable asset: the deep blue color that has been fading steadily. The states of Nevada and California as well as a nonprofit conservancy spend millions of dollars annually to preserve the clarity and quality of the lake water.

Critics of the plan say adding so many structures would stir up muck and make the lake more opaque, especially close to shore. Tahoe's water clarity has declined to about 74 feet from the historic high of 100. Lake Tahoe is the nation's second-deepest lake at 1,625 feet.

The state Environmental Protection Agency says the proposal does not provide sufficient scientific analysis of proposed air and water quality monitoring.

In addition, the California State Lands Commission contends that the plan would restrict public access to Tahoe's beaches.

Climate Change Always With Us

More common sense based on history, but never mind, we should soon see flaming headlines about the shrinking of the Mar’s icecaps due to SUVs. :)

Plus Ça (Climate) Change
The Earth was warming before global warming was cool.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

When Eric the Red led the Norwegian Vikings to Greenland in the late 900s, it was an ice-free farm country--grass for sheep and cattle, open water for fishing, a livable climate--so good a colony that by 1100 there were 3,000 people living there. Then came the Ice Age. By 1400, average temperatures had declined by 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, the glaciers had crushed southward across the farmlands and harbors, and the Vikings did not survive.

Such global temperature fluctuations are not surprising, for looking back in history we see a regular pattern of warming and cooling. From 200 B.C. to A.D. 600 saw the Roman Warming period; from 600 to 900, the cold period of the Dark Ages; from 900 to 1300 was the Medieval warming period; and 1300 to 1850, the Little Ice Age.

During the 20th century the earth did indeed warm--by 1 degree Fahrenheit. But a look at the data shows that within the century temperatures varied with time: from 1900 to 1910 the world cooled; from 1910 to 1940 it warmed; from 1940 to the late 1970s it cooled again, and since then it has been warming. Today our climate is 1/20th of a degree Fahrenheit warmer than it was in 2001.

Many things are contributing to such global temperature changes. Solar radiation is one. Sunspot activity has reached a thousand-year high, according to European astronomy institutions. Solar radiation is reducing Mars's southern icecap, which has been shrinking for three summers despite the absence of SUVS and coal-fired electrical plants anywhere on the Red Planet. Back on Earth, a NASA study reports that solar radiation has increased in each of the past two decades, and environmental scholar Bjorn Lomborg, citing a 1997 atmosphere-ocean general circulation model, observes that "the increase in direct solar irradiation over the past 30 years is responsible for about 40 percent of the observed global warming."

Statistics suggest that while there has indeed been a slight warming in the past century, much of it was neither human-induced nor geographically uniform. Half of the past century's warming occurred before 1940, when the human population and its industrial base were far smaller than now. And while global temperatures are now slightly up, in some areas they are dramatically down. According to "Climate Change and Its Impacts," a study published last spring by the National Center for Policy Analysis, the ice mass in Greenland has grown, and "average summer temperatures at the summit of the Greenland ice sheet have decreased 4 degrees Fahrenheit per decade since the late 1980s." British environmental analyst Lord Christopher Monckton says that from 1993 through 2003 the Greenland ice sheet "grew an average extra thickness of 2 inches a year," and that in the past 30 years the mass of the Antarctic ice sheet has grown as well.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

ARPPS Letter Published

Rivers of Gold Heritage Area?

Re "Elk Grove pictures itself in California's history," Feb. 18: The history of Elk Grove complements that of the entire region, whose rich history is due primarily to the global excitement the Gold Rush generated and the extremely bountiful land beckoning settlers prior to that.

The rich regional history underlies our organization's suggestion that local and congressional leadership consider applying for a National Heritage Area designation for the American River watershed, central to the history of the gold rush and the land's bounty.

This designation, under our suggested name of Rivers of Gold National Heritage Area, would be similar to that obtained by Pennsylvania for its Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area designation, and would provide the national attention our region deserves.

The National Heritage Area program is part of the National Parks Service and while compromising none of the local ownership or policy control now existent, would provide funding and technical assistance with the designation to ensure our region continues to treasure and share our important heritage with the nation.

- David H. Lukenbill, Sacramento
Senior Policy Director,
American River Parkway Preservation Society

Build Bridge

Most of Rancho Cordova’s suggestions for the Parkway were excellent ideas, but this is the best one, building a bridge to connect two major parks, a good thing all around, build it and they will come, riding and walking over the river.

Editorial: A bridge for parks?
Time to consider linking Hoffman, Hagan
Published 12:00 am PST Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Two important parks along the American River lie directly across from one another. On the northern side of the river, in Carmichael, is Ancil Hoffman Park. On the southern side, in Rancho Cordova, is Hagan Park. To get from one park to the other, someone would have to swim across the river (not advisable) or travel indirectly by bike or car for miles.

For practical purposes, the parks operate in separate universes. Some residents probably like it that way. But as this region grows, particularly in new areas of Rancho Cordova, better pedestrian and bicycle access to the parkway will become a more pressing need. A new pedestrian span connecting the two parks did not get the attention that it should have by county supervisors when they recently discussed the American River Parkway. That's too bad. It should not be too late in the upcoming environmental review process to discern whether a pedestrian bridge would benefit this wonderful parkway.

The county is in the middle of a years-long process of updating the guiding document for managing the parkway. The essence of the parkway plan has been, and should continue to be, preservation of the river corridor in its natural condition. Any new construction in the parkway should be limited. Ancil Hoffman, for example, has a golf course that is in the parkway. Across the river, Hagan Park does not. Ancil Hoffman has a nature center. Hagan Park doesn't.

The solution for those differences shouldn't be to build another golf course on the Hagan Park side of the river. Instead, why don't the two parks operate more like one, linked by a pedestrian bridge? Would a beautifully designed span add to or detract from the visitor experience?

Speed Work

Couldn’t agree more, but it is also important to remember that we are at this juncture of danger because previous, and some current, public leaders have failed to ensure adequate planning and funding for flood protection were being done.

Editorial: Faster flood work
State can't dawdle in advance of a deluge
Published 12:00 am PST Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Thanks to state voters, lawmakers and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, California is making major investments in a flood-control system that the state has neglected for too long. The governor has channeled tens of millions of dollars into emergency repairs, and voters approved $4.9 billion more in flood-control bonds through the passage of Propositions 1E and 84 in November.

Spending those funds strategically will be challenging, partly because so little is known about the actual condition of the 1,600 miles of state-controlled levees in the Central Valley. As incredible as it may seem, government engineers can't say with certainty which sections of levee have deposits of sand and porous material that might allow flood waters to seep through. They can't delineate all the levee sections that are susceptible to erosion or have subsided over time, making them vulnerable to a high-running river.

Under the governor's strategic plan, the state Department of Water Resources will undertake a monumental assessment of the decades-old flood control system, starting with the 350 miles of levee that protect urban areas. DWR believes it could take four years to assess all of those urban levees, even using the latest state-of-the-art technologies.

Some state lawmakers, including state Sen. Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, think this assessment and other levee work can be completed more quickly.

Bike Race

Great for the region and terrific for the bike trail as hundreds biked to the race.

Cycling's center stage
City earns place as a leader for the pack
By Blair Anthony Robertson - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Helicopters hovered over the streets. Tens of thousands of fans gathered and roared at all the right times. More than 100 police officers stood at the ready downtown.

This was big-time bike racing -- on a Tuesday afternoon downtown, no less. By most accounts, Sacramento was looking a lot like Paris as it played host to the 116-mile Stage Two of the Amgen Tour of California.

When the racers stormed across the Tower Bridge and entered Sacramento for three laps around the Capitol, it was reminiscent of the annual Tour de France finale in Paris, where the riders do circuits along the Champs-Élysées.

J.J. Haedo, who rose to prominence as a sprinter when he won two stages of the Tour of California last year, won the sprint as he exploded away from the peloton in the final 200 yards.

But it was Sacramento that won the day, according to those involved in the race and those who watched it. There's already talk of securing a date for next year's race.

"I'm ecstatic," said John McCasey, executive director of the Sacramento Sports Commission. "This exceeded our wildest expectations, ... from the 'wow' factor to the crowds to the weather."

While thousands attended, officials offered no crowd estimates. The event seemed to come off without controversy or crowd-control problems, and frustrated motorists were at a minimum. Several police officers guarding intersections seemed to have little to do, as the only lawlessness was by the bike racers -- they exceeded the speed limit and ran stop signs and red lights. But that was the whole idea. Cheering fans were just excited to have an event with a world-class field in their hometown.

"It gives me goose bumps, because this is our stop on the world ProTour," said Chris Baumann, 32, a former pro cyclist turned Volkswagen salesman.

Trees & Public Safety

Good job trying to protect the trees, and one hopes a compromise can be reached, but public safety has to take a priority.

Tree savers out on a limb
Deadline nears for compromise over clear zone at Rancho Murieta Airport
By Ed Fletcher - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Don't call him Terry "Butterfly" Schutten, but Sacramento County's top bureaucrat is leading the fight to protect 177 trees on county land next to Rancho Murieta Airport.

The trees -- including a 200-year-old heritage oak -- stand in the way of the privately owned airstrip allowing pilots to land at night.

The airport successfully got a court order demanding the trees to be cut to comply with federal, state and local safety rules.

"We are not against trees," said Art Negrette, an attorney representing the airport. "We want our night permit back; we want a safe airport."

The small single-runway airport is just west of the gated Rancho Murieta community, 25 miles east of Sacramento along Highway 16.

A line of trees -- oak, cottonwood, black walnut and a few non-native varieties -- lies between the runway and the Cosumnes River, about 200 feet south of the landing strip.

Between 1990 and 2002, the airport operated under a variance that allowed night landings despite the trees.

The county's fight to save the trees began before Julia Butterfly Hill drew attention by spending more than two years living in a Humboldt County redwood tree to protect it from loggers.

But the county's 20-year battle appears to be coming to an end after a July appellate court decision.

Shasta Dam Raising & Construction Boom

Shasta Dam expansion plan: Construction boom would follow Shasta Dam raising
By Dylan Darling (Contact)
Monday, February 19, 2007

Raising Shasta Dam would bring a wave of construction and change around Lake Shasta.

Moving campgrounds and waterproofing piers on the Pit River bridge are some of the bevy of projects that would be needed to ready the lake for a new footprint brought by higher water from a higher dam.

The Bureau of Reclamation is going through the process of evaluating these projects and their environmental impacts as part of a feasibility study of the raising of the dam. The study is due next year and, if approved, construction could start in four years, said Donna Garcia, who is heading the study for the Bureau of Reclamation.

"2011 would be the soonest we would see any potential construction," she said.

Shasta is one of four projects that state and federal agencies are looking at to increase the amount of water storage in the state, Garcia said. The others are a new 1.8 million acre-foot reservoir in Colusa County, an expansion of an additional 250,000 to 400,000 acre-feet of water at Los Vaqueros reservoir in Contra Costa County and a raising of Friant Dam in Fresno County, which would add 700,000 to 1 million acre-feet of water.

Garcia said whether the projects are pursued depends on the results of their individual feasibility studies.

While the Bureau is now focusing on a 61/2-foot to 181/2-foot increase in Shasta Dam's height, the massive concrete dam -- second most massive in terms of concrete used behind Grand Coulee Dam in Washington -- could support an increase of 200 feet.

Shasta Dam Raising Study

Shasta Dam expansion plan: Flood of concerns
Anglers, Wintu fear Shasta Dam raising will drown treasured sites
By Dylan Darling (Contact)
Monday, February 19, 2007

MCCLOUD RIVER -- The nation's largest water district is now in the private fly-fishing club business.

But Westlands Water District's $35 million purchase of the Bollibokka Fishing Club and almost 3,000 acres of pristine wilderness along a seven-mile stretch of the McCloud River just north of Lake Shasta has nothing to do with rods and reels and everything to do with crops in the San Joaquin Valley and raising Shasta Dam.

"We did not want to see the use of this land to be changed to impede the potential of raising the dam," said Tom Birmingham, general manager for Westlands, a Fresno-based district that counts more than 700 farms as members and covers more than 600,000 acres in western Fresno and Kings counties.

The Bureau of Reclamation has been studying the possibility of raising the dam since 1980 and expects to have a feasibility report complete next year that will detail whether the dam, and Lake Shasta, will be going up.

Ahead of the wave

While the bureau is looking at possibly raising the dam 6½ feet to 18½ feet, the dam's base could support a raise of up to 200 feet. Tourists often hear that when they visit the dam, which was built between 1938 and 1945. The original plans called for an 800-foot dam, but the lack of supplies and labor cut it to 602 feet.

Human Caused Global Warming Skeptics Guide

The pro human cause is all over the media, but the skepticism is harder to find. Here is a guide put together by Senator Inhofe which is excellent.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Bus & Rail Tax

I would venture to say that for the foreseeable future, transit will never provide transportation for any level of residents in the Sacramento region worth its cost, and that is due, very simply, to the suburban nature of the region and the impossibility of ever providing the level of access to where people want to go with rails and buses as can be done in a highly urban area like New York or San Francisco.

The car (and the bike to some degree) will continue to rule the valley floors, due to weather, employment base, and the car culture gene embedded in valley life.

Editorial: Is transit worth a tax?
Regional Transit kick-starts the debate
Published 12:00 am PST Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Regional Transit General Manager Beverly Scott is right that transit in Sacramento needs more money. Buses and light-rail trains don't run frequently enough or cover enough ground in the region.

While 20 percent of downtown workers use transit to travel to their jobs, countywide on a typical workday, no more than 5 percent of Sacramento commuters use transit.

Most drive. Persuading those drivers to tax themselves for a transit service they don't use will be difficult.

Yet ridership can't be boosted significantly unless transit service is improved, and service can't improve significantly without more money. That's RT's conundrum.

Armed with a new survey that shows 74 percent of Sacramento County residents would support a ballot tax measure for transit and roads, Scott wants to put a new tax measure on Sacramento County's ballot as early as 2010.

Although she would prefer a comprehensive measure that would pay for roads, transit, and pedestrian and bike needs, Scott noted that the district's telephone survey of 2,000 registered voters found that 68 percent would support a tax increase just for bus and light rail. If other transit agencies are not willing to support a ballot measure in 2010, she thinks RT should consider moving forward alone with a transit-only proposal.

Sacramento is the only county in the region that has a local sales tax for transportation. County voters approved an extension of Measure A, the current half-cent sales tax for transportation in 2004, endorsing a plan to raise $5.2 billion over 30 years. Going back so soon to voters would be risky; a transit-only measure would make it even riskier. RT also needs to demonstrate it's a good steward of the money by better managing its work force. RT's bus drivers on average are absent 21 days beyond the 12 annual sick days allowed under their contract. That's unacceptable.

Deep Ecology & Gaia

This is an excellent article, from a British perspective, of the two movements so influential in the global environmental movement, virtually under girding the anti-technology arguments animating it.

The very important fifth principle of eight (particularly for those anticipating having a large family) of the deep ecology platform (from it’s founder) is:
“5. The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a substantial decrease of the human population. The flourishing of non-human life requires such a decrease.” Arne Naess, 'Ecology, Community and Lifestyle', Cambridge, 1989, CUP, p. 29.

How deep is your ecology?

— The New Age versus the New Militants in hardline environmentalism.

There is a stereotypical picture of the British Pagan's interest in the preservation of the environment. Beards, long hair, flowing clothes, excessive use of wind-chimes and language peppered with references to "Mother Earth", "the cosmos", "Oneness with the universe" or even "transcendence of the false ego to achieve union with nature" are recognisable facets of this stereotype. However, while it is undeniably true that the lighter element of "pagan" ecology is often used as an excuse to drink a lot of herbal tea and wear dream-catcher earrings, there are other pagan and pagan-influenced perspectives on environmental issues which are worthy of note. If not always valid as scientific hypotheses, pagan-influenced environmentalist theories offer a fascinating alternative to "conventional" (i.e. person-oriented rather than earth-oriented) ecology.

This distinction between "humanist" and "holistic" ecology may come across as arbitrary at first. For what is ecology if not simply the scientific study of the relationships that living things have to their environment and to each other? Those who advocate the "holistic" approach, and most notably followers of James Lovelock's Gaia hypothesis, would argue that the idea of study in itself suggests something that is apart from the student, a perspective which, as we are all part of the self-regulating organism that is Gaia and thus cannot separate ourselves from it, is ultimately misguided. If the earth or universe is conceived of as a self-regulating organism, then ecology, rather than being an observational scientific practice, becomes a thought system, a perspective on life and the structure of the universe that dominates all other thought. In opposition to "humanist" ecology, the accusation is that conventional scientific attitudes towards ecology are heavily rooted in the Western/Judeo-Christian perspective on nature which assumes that humanity has a certain amount of stewardship over the earth. This use of the term "humanist" is far from its standard definition — we can simply assume that, for the Gaia theorist, ecology that starts and ends with the perspective of the human is, for want of a better word, BAD. As Adrian Harris puts it in his article "Sacred Ecology":

"Besides the cerebral knowledge we all possess, the words & ideas stored in our heads, there is a deeper knowledge held within the tissue of our bodies. It is a somatic, physical knowing which comes from direct experience. This is the knowledge of faith, of emotion, of the gut feeling.

The philosophical tradition of the West is an intellectual one founded on logic & language. It is profoundly limiting, for within it whatever cannot be said does not exist. What I am proposing is a radical alternative: A Somatic philosophy which respects the knowing of the body, the knowledge memories & wisdom held within our muscles, flowing with our hormones, sparking through our nerves." (available at

Monday, February 19, 2007

San Joaquin Valley Water Politics

They continue, and become more complicated with the change in congressional leadership.

Political barriers could stall Valley irrigation plan
By Michael Doyle - Bee Washington Bureau
Published 12:00 am PST Monday, February 19, 2007

WASHINGTON-Serious political and pragmatic obstacles impede a new proposal to shift vast San Joaquin Valley irrigation facilities into farmers' hands.

Capitol Hill skeptics hold key leadership positions. Congress is already booked up with another big Valley water plan to restore the San Joaquin River. Technical solutions are complicated. And history, if it's any guide, suggests it's extremely hard to transfer federal water projects -- especially ones serving California.

"A proposal like this will always face challenges," Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, conceded Friday. "This is not a unanimous consent item."

Just ask El Dorado County residents.

In 1988, the area's congressman proposed that the Sly Park water and recreation unit be transferred from federal into local control. In 2003, Congress finally finished the job -- 15 years for a modest project that lacked the legal and environmental baggage associated with the San Joaquin Valley's west side.

Costa, nonetheless, said he finds promise in the new notion to deliver into local control the San Luis Reservoir and more than 100 miles of canals and associated pumping plants. He represents much of the 600,000-acre Westlands Water District.

Under the proposal, Westlands would join with the San Luis Water District and other districts in taking over the federal facilities. The state of California would also play a role.

The water districts would become responsible for resolving the irrigation drainage problems now afflicting almost 400,000 acres of the Valley's west side. In exchange, the federal government would forgive the districts' $489.6 million construction debt.

"This is an attempt, I think, to think out of the box," Costa said.

Greens Pollution

A good overview of how it happens and what is being considered to reduce it.

Fresh crops tainted by suspicion
E. coli has exposed flaws in spinach, lettuce production.
By Deb Kollars - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Monday, February 19, 2007

Last year's E. coli outbreaks -- one traced to bagged spinach and two to lettuce -- have left a nation in a salad spinner of confusion.

Americans have come to expect the food they eat won't make them sick.

But unlike most edible items in the grocery store that have been cooked, baked, broiled, fried, or pasteurized to destroy harmful bacteria, fresh produce has no such "kill point," no moment on the assembly line when pathogens meet their doom.

The very attribute that makes produce so attractive in color, taste and nutritional value -- its freshness -- also leaves it vulnerable to contamination.

The outbreaks together sickened 350 people -- and killed three -- nationwide. Their one-two-three punch in the fall and winter led to consumer fear and outrage and an unprecedented push by politicians and health leaders for more regulation of the leafy greens industry.

"It's fundamental. You should be able to believe the food you're eating is safe," said Elisa Odabashian, director of the West Coast office of Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports.

Other produce, such as tomatoes, also can cause pathogen outbreaks. But spinach and lettuce, with all their wrinkles and crinkles where harmful bacteria such as E. coli can hide, are among the most vulnerable produce around. In the past decade, 20 cases of E. coli outbreaks have been traced to fresh leafy greens -- many linked to California's Salinas Valley.

Hardly Homeless

This is really more like an urban camping out situation and one wonders how many, counted as homeless, fit this description, “homeless by choice”.

Homeless by choice, O.C. student learns self-reliance
Andy Bussell says his life in his pickup truck has taught him to adapt and change.
By Seema Mehta
Times Staff Writer
February 19, 2007

After a long day of film classes, working at the Apple Store, rock climbing at the gym and finishing homework in the student union, Cal State Fullerton senior Andy Bussell heads home — to a white Toyota Tacoma with a twin-size mattress in the truck bed, a camper shell for protection and black curtains for privacy.

The 26-year-old has been living in his truck for nearly 19 months, skirting rules against sleeping in vehicles while otherwise living the life of a mainstream student. What started out as a way to save some cash has turned into a journey of self-reliance and independence.

"Even though I had a good job, I was tired of living paycheck to paycheck and not making any headway with my credit cards," he said. "I've learned that I can push myself, break down my own boundaries. I've been able to learn that I can change and adapt to different kinds of situations."

The odyssey began in 2005. Bussell was working full time as a "Mac genius" at the Apple Store in Newport Beach, sharing a $1,600-per-month apartment in Aliso Viejo. He had racked up more than $10,000 in credit card debt and was struggling to pay for school and save money for a three-month road trip. So on July 29, 2005, he started living in his truck, with the goal of lasting one year.

Co-workers created a pool on how long the truck life would last, with the longest prediction three months.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Good Commentary

We would agree with this analysis and hope others look at the facts soberly, leaving politics and personalities out of it.

We really need more flood protection. Our vulnerability to massive flooding is clearly the biggest public safety risk currently facing Sacramento.

A 500 year level is obviously desirable, and only the dam provides that.

For a dramatic graphic describing what the congressmen wrote about, go to the Department of Water Resources webpage at .

Benefits of Auburn dam outweigh costs of a flood
Good forest management can be balanced with logging interests
By John Doolittle and Dan Lungren -
Published 12:00 am PST Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Bureau of Reclamation's recent report provided insight on what an Auburn dam could mean for our region. The report is clear that under certain conditions an Auburn dam could:

• Provide 500-year flood protection;
• Generate significant water supply and hydroelectric power revenues; and
• Provide positive recreational and environmental benefits along the American River.

Congress directed the bureau to prepare a special report within the parameters of the latest design for an Auburn dam, which took place in 1978. This required the bureau to adapt a 30-year-old design to meet current conditions and make numerous assumptions to develop a range of potential benefit values and costs.

It is unfortunate that The Bee selected the most unfavorable range of benefit and cost values and presented it as if it were a report finding. The report states no conclusions or recommendations but rather provides information to use as a catalyst for a constructive discussion about flood control.

One finding that is clear, however, is that our region is faced with twice the risk and half the protection from catastrophic flooding as New Orleans had been prior to Katrina.

Tacoma, St. Louis, Dallas and Kansas City are the other major cities at risk of catastrophic flooding. All have 500-year flood protection. Besides New Orleans, only Omaha has a mere 250-year flood protection. Astoundingly, our region currently has roughly 85-year flood protection. We have labored hard to put in motion major repairs of the levees and modifications of Folsom dam, and look forward to their completion over the coming decade. Unfortunately, the most Sacramento can hope to achieve from all these improvements is 220-year flood protection.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Methane from Manure

Hopefully this is what will be happening at all of the dairies and other farms where it is feasible. It is a good use of waste to recycle it for energy, and a good idea for legislation if it already hasn’t been passed.(pun alert)

Cow power means money from manure via electricity
By Edie Lau - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Saturday, February 17, 2007

The cows on Fred Denier's dairy soon will be producing something more than milk -- they'll be making juice.

That's juice as in electrical power.

Cal-Denier Dairy in Galt has a deal with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District to capture methane gas from cow manure to generate electricity.

The deal is one in a wave of new agreements in California aimed at boosting the state's use of renewable energy by harnessing the power of cow pies.

NIMBY is Rational Response

Communities not wanting social service centers to open in their neighborhoods are acting rationally, as the evidence—whether anecdotal or well researched—is that they degrade, rather than upgrade, neighborhoods.

An emerging trend is for services to be scattered, virtually on an individual basis and for treatment teams to deliver services throughout the community rather than in congregate sites.

This is the model pioneered by Pathways to Housing, a homeless provider in New York, which does not set congregate housing for the homeless in a neighborhood but rents existing apartments and subsidizes rent for the homeless while delivering services to the scattered sites.

This works well for the homeless, as they are less apt to have previous values reinforced through group interaction, and for the community, which then deals with the homeless as individual apartment dwellers rather than in a group home situation.

It is the model Sacramento should also use for its new homeless effort.

Homeless shelter director criticizes Antonovich
Advocates say the supervisor's office is trying to sabotage their effort to move homeless women and children to a facility near Sylmar.
By Cara Mia DiMassa and Jack Leonard
Times Staff Writers
February 17, 2007

A year and a half after it was proposed, a novel effort to move homeless children and their mothers out of skid row and into a hillside encampment area near the Angeles National Forest is in danger of falling apart, officials said Friday.

The proposed 71-acre home for women and children trying to get out of homelessness and off downtown's skid row was supposed to be an easy project because it would be built far from homes in the foothills of the San Fernando Valley.

Officials called it an important litmus test for other efforts across the county to decentralize homeless services and spread the problems of skid row to outlying areas.

But on Friday, the president of Union Rescue Mission, which proposed the Hope Gardens complex, said the project is in jeopardy of falling apart, accusing Supervisor Mike Antonovich's office of trying to sabotage the effort.

The supervisor's staffers are doing "everything they can to delay women and children from moving out to Hope Gardens. They've gotten kind of nasty about it," Andrew J. Bales said, adding that delays have already cost the mission more than $1 million in legal costs and interest payments.

Antonovich's office, however, denies the charges and said the supervisor has not decided yet whether he will support the project, a key issue because it's in his district.

The stakes on the outcome of Hope Gardens are high. Last year, the county announced a $100-million program to spread the burden of homeless services across the region in an effort to improve conditions on skid row, which has the highest concentration of homeless people in the western United States.

The plan called for establishing five centers across the county that would provide temporary shelter and social services for transients. But the ideas met with immediate opposition from residents near some of the possible locations, and no sites have been chosen.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Need More Voices Raised for 500 Year Protection

A good editorial for 200 year protection but we need to hear public voices raised for 500 year protection, which major river cities (St. Louis, Tacoma, Dallas, Kansas City) already have, while New Orleans has 250 year protection and Sacramento currently is at about 89 years.

An excellent graphic of this can be found at the
California Department of Water Resources @

Editorial: Big flood vote
Editorial: SAFCA poised to ask residents to invest
Published 12:00 am PST Friday, February 16, 2007

The local agency in charge of flood protection in the Sacramento area is ready to ask residents in harm's way whether they are willing to pay a dime (via a property assessment) for a dollar's worth of new protection. It is a bargain. This assessment election, and its outcome, is arguably the region's most important political decision of the year. The area faces no greater threat than flooding. And it has no greater opportunity to do something about it than in the coming weeks.

Board members of the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency, or SAFCA, voted Thursday to authorize this election. SAFCA has done a masterful job putting together a list of achievable flood control projects on the Sacramento and American rivers, as well as for streams that threaten south Sacramento. The timing could not be better.

Billions in state funds for flood control projects will be available, because voters approved a statewide flood bond, 1E, last November. The communities that are ready to invest in their own futures will end up with the most protection. SAFCA has put the community in the perfect position to prevent a disaster from happening.

Government is Economic Engine

And will remain so in Sacramento for some time to come.

Government is city's engine
Rising tide should help law firms, lobbyists and other cottage industries
By Dale Kasler - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Friday, February 16, 2007

Sacramento's economy will grow more quickly than any other major metropolitan area in California over the next decade, a leading private economist says.

One of the big reasons why may surprise you.

For all of Sacramento's efforts to diversify its economy, the region's old reliable industry -- state government -- will be one of the leading growth engines between now and 2015. After several years of deficits, hiring freezes and downsizing, the state will hire in earnest to keep up with California's exploding population and infrastructure needs, according to the report by Stephen Levy, director of Palo Alto's Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy.

The private sector will be a major part of this, he said. The cottage industries that serve government -- law firms, lobbyists and so on -- will mushroom to keep up with the state's hiring, particularly as California implements billions of dollars in planned infrastructure improvements.

"The state is going to be putting out a ton of money," Levy said in an interview. "State government is the gorilla of the economic base."

Folsom Dam Meeting Announcement

Folsom Dam construction topic of public meeting
Published 12:00 am PST Friday, February 16, 2007

A plan to improve flood protection provided by Folsom Dam, which could mean at least seven years of construction near parts of Folsom Lake, will be discussed at a meeting Tuesday.

The meeting, the first in a series, is from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., in the Folsom Community Center, 52 Natoma St.

The meetings are designed to give residents a chance to voice concerns about the project, expected to cost more than $1 billion.

Representatives from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency and the California Department of Water Resources/ Reclamation Board will attend.

A draft document outlining construction plans raised the possibility of closing Folsom Point during construction.

The possible closing prompted objections from residents who use the popular boating launch.

The Bureau of Reclamation is considering alternatives to keep the boat launch open.
A final decision about how the project will be done is due in late March.

Construction is expected to begin next fall.

For more information about the meeting, contact Shawn Oliver at the bureau, (916) 989-7256 or

Vote for 200 Year Protection

If 500 year protection continues to play a role, though it’s still too small of a one, in our region’s planning, then getting to it in steps is fine.

March vote approved for flood assessment
$326 million would be raised for capital-area levee and dam projects.
By Deb Kollars - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Friday, February 16, 2007

The Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency board of directors on Thursday unanimously agreed to ask voters to approve a new property tax assessment for greater flood safety.

The election, which is designed to raise $326 million over 30 years, will not use the traditional ballot box approach. Instead, a weighted mail ballot system will be employed, with ballots going out starting March 2.

"This is the No. 1 public safety issue in Sacramento," said Sacramento Mayor Heather Fargo, who also sits on the board of the flood control agency, known as SAFCA.

The assessment would pay for the local share of what it would cost to provide a much higher level of flood protection for Sacramento. The total price tag, $2.68 billion, would be largely paid by federal and state sources.

"This is an investment of about 10 cents on the dollar to avoid a catastrophe," said Roger Dickinson, a Sacramento County supervisor and SAFCA trustee. "That's a deal you can't pass up."

Proceeds from the assessment, if supported by a majority of the weighted votes cast, would pay for work on levees on the American and Sacramento rivers and other waterways, as well as improvements to Folsom Dam.

The work, which would take at least 10 years, would provide Sacramento with 200-year flood protection. Currently the city has 100-year protection (and even less in some areas), making Sacramento the most flood-vulnerable large city in America. One-hundred-year protection means levees are expected to withstand huge storms with a 1-in-100 chance of happening in any given year.

Dams & Global Warming

Some may be dirty, some may be clean, so it’s clear that further research is needed.

'Clean' energy dams may be dirty after all
By Matt Weiser - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Friday, February 16, 2007

Last month, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced a plan to borrow $4.5 billion to build two massive new reservoirs. He pitched them as a vital response to climate change.

"With the impact that global warming will cause to our snowpacks," he said, "we need more infrastructure ... so the next generation of Californians is not faced with a shortage of this precious resource."

But new research suggests the governor's water plan may instead aggravate climate change. In recent years, scientists have documented that dams and hydropower -- long considered a "clean" energy source -- may actually pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in surprising ways.

Emissions occur, first, during cement-making and construction for a dam. More happens when land behind it is flooded, causing vegetation to rot, releasing carbon dioxide and methane.

Emissions continue throughout the dam's life as more organic matter washes in from upstream, and when water is released to make electricity, causing a pressure drop that frees gases locked within the stored water.

"If these are going to be built as a response to climate change, you at least need to convene some people to study the effect it will have," said Danny Cullenward, a research associate at the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development at Stanford University. "The facts are in that it's not a zero-impact source from an emissions standpoint."

Natural lakes may produce emissions in the same way. But the effects could be greater in man-made reservoirs because water levels change more dramatically behind dams. And, like any other man-made energy source, reservoirs would be counted as an addition of greenhouse gases beyond natural levels.

"Obviously, there's some irony if measures supposed to help us adapt to climate change are themselves contributing to the problem," said Patrick McCully, executive director of the International Rivers Network in Oakland.

Research shows that some reservoirs have a positive effect, absorbing more carbon dioxide than they emit. In either case, the effects vary according to geology, climate, reservoir operations and other factors.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

States Business Health Facts

Just the facts often help resolve arguments.

Job-flight theory falters
State share of U.S. total rises, study says
By Dale Kasler - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Thursday, February 15, 2007

It seems the California business climate is always on trial.

Business leaders say high costs are driving companies out of state. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger used that argument to persuade the Legislature to overhaul the state's workers' compensation system. Ever the showman, he cast himself as a defender against business recruiters from other states, at one point unloading a moving van to welcome a company that moved to Southern California from Las Vegas.

But a new study by the Public Policy Institute of California says talk of a problematic business climate is overblown, and California is holding its own against other states.

The study, being released today by the nonpartisan San Francisco-based institute, says that while some California companies are moving jobs out of state, non-California companies are moving operations here. And, of course, existing companies are adding jobs.

"California's share of national employment dipped in the early to mid-1990s and has risen since then," says the study, co-authored by the institute's Jed Kolko and David Neumark. The numbers "make it difficult to argue that these changes reflect a bad business climate in recent years."

Species Review Announcement

Species status review begins
- Bee Metro Staff
Published 12:00 am PST Thursday, February 15, 2007

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Wednesday it will conduct a status review of 58 protected species in California and Nevada, including the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep.

The review, required every five years, will determine whether the species status should be changed under the Endangered Species Act. The affected species include 12 animals and 40 plants in California, and six animals in Nevada.

Wednesday's announcement begins a 60-day public comment period to obtain information about each species.

The population of the majestic Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep has increased in recent years. But its recovery has been controversial because it required controlling their only predator, mountain lions.

Invasive Vine Program Announcement

County prepares attack on invasive nonnative vine
Published 12:00 am PST Thursday, February 15, 2007

In a matter of weeks, Sacramento County agriculture officials will launch a test program to eradicate an invasive nonnative plant recently found in Sacramento.

In June, local officials discovered the Japanese dodder (Cuscuta japanica) -- yellowish spaghetti-sized vines that can choke the life out of their host plants -- was thriving at several sites in the city.

The eradication effort comes after county officials accepted a $25,000 contract from California Department of Food and Agriculture.

The contract targets 15 county sites.

To date, the plant, also known as devil's guts, have been found more than 120 sites in California, 80 of which are in Sacramento County.