Monday, January 31, 2011

Public Safety & the American River Parkway

The underlying premise in this Sacramento Bee editorial regarding the illegal camping by the homeless in the Lower Reach of the American River Parkway, is, as the editorial notes: “Like it or not, the health of the American River Parkway and homelessness are inextricably tied. One can't be addressed without tackling the other.”

If that means what it seems to imply, that our local homelessness issues need to be resolved before the public safety issue in the Parkway is resolved, that is wrong.

Public safety in the Parkway is a single local issue that needs to be resolved—as are all public safety issues—immediately.

Local and national leadership and organizations such as ours who feel the need to do so, will continue, as they/we have for several years, to work on the long-term issue of homelessness whose resolution is obviously years in the future.

Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna is absolutely right, as the editorial reports: “The first urgent priority, he [Serna] says, is to restore safety. To that end, he wants a stronger law-enforcement presence dispatched to the most impacted areas of the parkway immediately.”

An excerpt from the Bee editorial.

“Anyone who regularly travels the lower reaches of the American River Parkway near Northgate Boulevard has encountered the ugly scene: Scores of homeless encampments dot the riverbanks. Fires have been started and trees chopped down to accommodate the campers. Tons of trash they leave behind cover the parkway.

“County park officials, police and the homeless themselves say it's not a new phenomenon. The heavy rains last month and releases from Folsom Dam flooded low-lying areas, forcing campers who've always been there to move to higher ground, making them more visible. In some cases, water rose so fast, campers were forced to abandon their belongings. Now that the river has receded, waterlogged tents, sleeping bags, bottles, plastic bags, and other debris have pooled into giant piles, along with human waste, an unsightly and dangerous mess.

“The problem is exacerbated by the county's budget crisis. There was no overflow shelter opened at Cal Expo this winter. A lack of revenue has forced supervisors to slash the number of park rangers from 23 to just 11.

“The two rangers who once were dedicated to park security and regularly dispersed illegal campers and confiscated their belongings are no longer available.

“Local residents, business owners, bike commuters and legitimate park users are alarmed – with good reason.

“Some want the homeless forcibly removed immediately. Without a safe and legal place for them to go, that's hardly a solution. Like it or not, the health of the American River Parkway and homelessness are inextricably tied. One can't be addressed without tackling the other.

“Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna understands that. He spent Thursday night among the illegal campers as part of the county's biennial homeless count.

“The first urgent priority, he says, is to restore safety. To that end, he wants a stronger law-enforcement presence dispatched to the most impacted areas of the parkway immediately. That's a good and necessary first step, but authorities can't just order campers to move on without giving them a safe, legal place to go. That would just move the problem from the parkway to city streets, storefronts and neighborhoods.”

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Another Downtown Drama?

Well, it looks like the railyards project is entering into that rather bizarre territory that has plagued K street for so long; one idea after another with none really working—the jury is still out on the latest K Street mermaid venture.

I really love this town, but we live in the suburbs and rarely venture downtown where all the drama seems to be occurring, so we're not impacted much; but for those folks who are trying to make a business work or who live there, it must be frustrating.

An excerpt from the Sacramento Bee article.

“Sacramento's two-decade quest to turn its empty downtown railyard into a bustling community has seemed a slog at times, marked by false starts, failed schemes and foreclosures.

“This week, though, the project got a double shot of momentum, suggesting the city's dreams are not as unlikely as appearances sometimes suggest.

“The city put out for bid Wednesday a long-stalled project to move the rail tracks that separate the railyard from downtown, a key step to opening the site for development.

“And, on Friday, city leaders pronounced themselves energized after a national urban planning group offered ideas on how to make the site an attractive regional destination – and how to start sooner by starting smaller.

“The panel's most dramatic idea: Ditch plans for a block-long, multi-story bus and train concourse between downtown and the center of the railyard.

"It may be more of a divider than a connector," said Danny Pleasant, transportation chief for the city of Charlotte, N.C. "We're afraid you're going to lose that visual connection" to the railyard.

“Instead, panelists advised turning the area behind the existing I Street depot into a transit village, where commuters would walk short distances from bus to light rail to train stations in an urban setting, possibly centered on a green open space.

“The panel, sponsored by the Urban Land Institute, made its recommendations after touring the railyard and interviewing local officials, developers and real estate experts.

“Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said he was relieved by the transit idea. The city's current concept for a $300 million transit center had been the product of numerous political compromises over the past decade, but its size is "disconcerting," Johnson said.

“He said future Sacramentans might view it as a mistake, similar to how people now perceive Interstate 5 as cutting off downtown from the Sacramento River.

“Assistant City Manager John Dangberg said the transit neighborhood and the group's other ideas would help break down railyard development into more easily financed, bite-sized chunks, incrementally knitting the site and downtown together.

"I love it," Dangberg said. "I hadn't thought of that."

Friday, January 28, 2011

Gibson Ranch Petition

It now has—as of 9:45 am today—732 signatures, going for 1,000, indicating very strong community support.

It is an issue we support wholeheartedly, as noted in several earlier posts, including here and here,

The petition site notes:

An excerpt.

“1. We the undersigned want Gibson Ranch open now.

“2. We want Gibson Ranch Park open as soon as possible because this historic ranch belongs to the taxpayers, community members, and the children. As soon as possible means before April 2nd, 2011.

“3. The "Ose proposal" was submitted on time, in accordance with all the requirements of the "request for proposal," and has fulfilled all of the requirements for the best community benefit.

“4. The "Ose proposal" Gibson Ranch LLC" saves Sacramento County $100,000 per year in the first 5 years, will assure that our park is open 7 days a week, and will immediately start bringing measurable benefits and assets back to community members. We believe that this will bring real social and financial benefits to Gibson Ranch as well as free up scarce funding which could be used in other parts of Sacramento County.”

Thursday, January 27, 2011

California State Parks

There are more threats to shut down some of them in this story from the Sacramento Bee, and looking at the list, one local facility cries out for transfer to a nonprofit historical organization.

The Governor’s Mansion State Historic Park on H street, whose revenue and visitation are among the lowest in the state park system, would be a wonderful project for a robust historical association to take on as their major mission, to take care of it and benefit from the fees charged for events and tours.

An excerpt.

“After spending a century building the nation's largest and most majestic state park system, Californians are poised to do something unprecedented: Retreat from that legacy and start closing parks.

“Years of budget cuts in the California State Parks system have resulted in widespread reductions in park hours, crumbling facilities and reduced staffing. But in the past few years, lawmakers have rejected widespread closures proposed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“Now, however, the climate has changed. Gov. Jerry Brown's budget requires another $22 million in cuts to the parks budget – a pittance compared with the $25 billion state budget deficit, but a number that even strong parks supporters say is unlikely to be achieved without shuttering parks.

“Brown also wants cuts of $30 million to local libraries and $32 million to local fairs.

"I think they are going to have to close parks," said Traci Verardo-Torres, vice president of governmental affairs for the California State Parks Foundation, the nonprofit advocate for parks. "This is uncharted territory."

“Voters rejected a foundation-sponsored ballot measure in November that would have added $18 to annual vehicle registrations to pay for park operations. Its passage would have prevented closures.

“Now, officials at the Parks Department are preparing a list of closures to accommodate the $22 million cut.”

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Folsom Dam Improvements

They are that, but even when they are completed they will do little to help Sacramento prevent the 500 year level of flooding expected to hit us at some point.

Sacramento remains one of the most threatened river cities in America, as we posted on previously.

An excerpt from the Sacramento Bee article.

“The Sacramento region's biggest flood control project enters an important phase this week as construction begins on giant gates that will allow Folsom Dam to handle bigger storms.

“The project is an enormous new spillway being built next to the existing dam. It will allow water to be released more quickly from Folsom Reservoir into the American River before the lake reaches its brim.

“Last week, Martin Brothers Construction of Sacramento completed a $63 million project to excavate the spillway channel in the hillside adjacent to Folsom Dam. As long as eight football fields, it took 18 months to complete.

“That project was overseen by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which owns and operates the dam.

“Now the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers takes the lead on the project. It is charged with finishing the spillway and building flood-control gates that will release water into it.

“The Corps awarded a $126 million contract for that job to Granite Construction of Watsonville, which took over the site Thursday and is expected to start work this week.

"It's a great milestone, but it's no time to rest," said Mike Finnegan, Bureau of Reclamation area manager. "We've got to get it done."

“Both agencies view the modification of Folsom Dam as one of the nation's top flood-control priorities because of the potential risk to 1 million people downstream in the greater Sacramento area.

“The project addresses a major weakness in Folsom Dam's original design: The eight small outlet gates in the face of the dam can't empty the reservoir fast enough when a major storm strikes. The larger gates at the top of the dam can move a lot more water, but by then the reservoir is already dangerously full.”

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The 500 Year Flood Solution

That is what is obviously missing from this editorial from the Sacramento Bee.

Their flood okay, but if there is a way to prevent 500 year level floods, shouldn't that also be a strategy?

Of course it should be!

We posted the long-known 500 year solution on our blog earlier.

An excerpt from the Bee editorial.

“Ready yet to build an ark?

“That would be the understandable response to a U.S. Geological Survey study last week that puts into perspective Sacramento's potential for flooding.

“According to the study, California tops all other regions in the country for the risk of catastrophic storms – including one that could last for nine straight days and inundate Sacramento and much of the Central Valley.

“These types of intense tropical storms don't occur often – the last major one was in the early 1860s – and there is no telling when another could strike. The geological record suggests California has experienced such a storm every 160 years to 400 years dating back to A.D. 212, but the past may not be a reliable indicator of the future.

“Regardless of when one could strike again, the USGS report is helpful in reminding the public that California, and the Central Valley in particular, face an unacceptable risk of inundation in any particular winter. Flood-control districts, helped by state bond money, are working hard to upgrade levees in Yuba, Sutter and Sacramento counties, among others. Yet even when they complete their current work, most of these agencies will be able to achieve only 200-year protection, which translates to one in a 200 chance of flooding in any given year.

“That's a lot better than current standards, but still not strong enough to hold up against a 500-year storm, the scenario laid out in the USGS report.”

Monday, January 24, 2011

Homelessness & the American River Parkway

Sacramento is a compassionate city, and virtually all of us care about and want to help, those struggling with the behavioral issues that often lead to homelessness-drug and alcohol addiction, financial duress, mental health, criminality and others-but generally not to the extent that our personal, familial, or neighborhood safety is seriously threatened.

For our organization, the issue isn't homelessness, but the impact of illegal camping in and around the Parkway, largely by the homeless, on the adjacent neighborhoods and users of the Parkway.

The impact on the adjacent neighborhoods is that they have not been able to safely access their part of the Parkway for the several years this has been a problem, and that is the issue that resonates with our organization, public safety in the Parkway.

As a consequence, of course, we have had to address the larger issue of homelessness in general, which we have done in articles and news releases posted to our website and blogsite.

Through prolonged examination of the issue, we have reached a couple of conclusions: one is our support for the Housing First concept for the chronic homeless.

The chronic homeless are those who have been homeless for some time and scarcely able to mount any sort of social renewal without, at the very least, a place to call home.

This concept was pioneered by the organization Pathways to Housing in New York and they have had success with it.

Sacramento has also embraced this concept, but in a way that we feel will have less success, which we wrote about in an article published in the Sacramento Bee on April 10, 2008 under the title of Scatter homeless housing; don't concentrate sites, and which is also posted to our website's news page on May 12, 2008.

The other is a call for a more vigorous policy of helping the homeless and providing for public safety in the Lower Reach of the Parkway—Discovery Park to Cal-Expo—outlined in our 2005 research report: The American River Parkway Lower Reach Area: A Corroded Crown Jewel, Restoring the Luster.

Over the past couple of years, the concept of providing a tent city for the homeless, has arisen and as the area in and around the Lower Reach has been the tent city, in fact if not legally, for several years, it is also an issue we are concerned about.

We posted a photo gallery on January 18, 2011, of pictures taken January 17, 2011-showing a large tent city which has been erected-and others dating back to 2008, of the impact of illegal camping in and around the Parkway, and the Sacramento Press published a story with photographs from January 20, 2011.

Sacramento can do better, for the homeless, for the Parkway adjacent neighborhoods and for Parkway users.

This article was also published by the Sacramento Press.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Parkway Degradation

This is a very important message from Bob Slobe—who was also interviewed by the Sacramento Press—one of the most devoted Parkway advocates in Sacramento, and for whom the ARPPS Slobe Parkway Advocate Award is named after.

“For those that received my previous message below this one (and thanks for your messages of support), I decided to go back today and explore upstream, hoping that somehow I would find some sense in this, that this so-called "safe-ground" movement was organizing things, was making it better than the camp messes of the past. What I found was exactly the opposite. The devastation marches upstream for another mile at least, maybe further. The City and County have lost the Parkway and lost it where it mattered the most, serving the poorest community in the region, North Sacramento. See for yourself.

Photo locations from Monday and today are attached, none of them what you see from the freeway. It also travels along Northgate towards Discovery Park. As a member of a family that once owned and all but donated this land to the County AND kept it clean and free to use for all while we did, it's amazing to me that a tiny office of five people could have done what an army of County employees can't.

“Shame on all involved.

“If any of you thought the Canterbury Inn was bad take a look at the Parkway as of this afternoon today. It's the worst I have ever seen it. Enjoy the photo tour. I have been a tireless advocate for an end to camping and dumping in the Parkway and attended every meeting of the so-called mayor's task force on Homelessness. The "Safe Ground" movement promised us that they would not advocate for or endorse camping north of the river based on our past burden of bearing this all. Guess what? They lied. They have even moved in park benches and wood chips for the tent city, at least 200 at last count. Imagine, a sea of tents, fecal matter, fires burning everywhere, wholesale logging of the trees, open latrines, mountains of trash, porn, used needles and, if possible, worse. The city has even provided them a dumpster which you can view from the freeway. A closer look, which I don't recommend for safety reasons, reveals at least a mile of encampments. I feel as if, as your representative to the Task Force, that I have failed you all. The County has often called the Parkway "A national jewel." Take a look.

“Shame on all involved.

“Bob Slobe”

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Environmentalism & Marxism

The connection has been known for some time, but one of the founders of Greenpeace, Patrick Moore, who has a new book out, Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout: The Making of a Sensible Environmentalist, sheds further light in an article he wrote for the Vancouver Sun.

An excerpt.

“The collapse of world communism and the fall of the Berlin Wall during the 1980s added to the trend toward extremism. The Cold War was over and the peace movement was largely disbanded. The peace movement had been mainly Western-based and anti-American in its leanings. Many of its members moved into the environmental movement, bringing with them their neo-Marxist, far-left agendas. To a considerable extent the environmental movement was hijacked by political and social activists who learned to use green language to cloak agendas that had more to do with anti-capitalism and anti-globalization than with science or ecology. I remember visiting our Toronto office in 1985 and being surprised at how many of the new recruits were sporting army fatigues and red berets in support of the Sandinistas.

“I don't blame them for seizing the opportunity. There was a lot of power in our movement and they saw how it could be turned to serve their agendas of revolutionary change and class struggle. But I differed with them because they were extremists who confused the issues and the public about the nature of our environment and our place in it. To this day they use the word industry as if it were a swear word. The same goes for multinational, chemical, genetic, corporate, globalization, and a host of other perfectly useful terms. Their propaganda campaign is aimed at promoting an ideology that I believe would be extremely damaging to both civilization and the environment.”

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Privatizing Government Services

Also being considered by Sacramento County in relation to Gibson Ranch (which we support) it can lead to substantial cost savings, as well as unique problems—with solutions to match—as reported by Governing in this examination of ten years of experience by a city who contracted out their trash collection.

An excerpt.

“As the city of West Des Moines, Iowa, was preparing to make a substantial investment in automated trash trucks in 2000, Mayor Steve Gaer asked, "Is there a better way?" At his insurance firm, they had saved money by outsourcing backroom operations. "Why shouldn't we see if there are similar opportunities for West Des Moines?"

“But rather than just outsource, Gaer wanted to give the city's Public Works Department, which was the incumbent trash collector, the opportunity to bid as well. After all, what matters is delivering value for the taxpayers, not tired assumptions about the private or public sectors.

“To ensure a fair process, the city hired a consultant to write the RFP. Gaer also warned the Public Works Department that this would potentially be a 10-year deal, and if they were awarded the contract, they would have to abide with the terms they offered, including the financial terms.

“When the bids were opened, the Public Works Department was surprised that their bid was $1.4 million over the winning bid by Artistic Solid Waste (now Waste Management) for the 10-year contract option. But given the level of savings -- almost 14 percent -- it was hard for the in-house bidders to argue with the results.

“There was, however, some internal grumbling about whether the new provider would deliver the same level of service. Gaer was also concerned, so "we built performance standards into the new contract, and have been ready to enforce them." Mainly, monetary adjustments could be made for performance-related issues that include missing household collections, failing to provide performance reports on a timely basis or failing to provide the city with a list of complaints.

“West Des Moines recently arrived at the end of their 10-year agreement with Waste Management. The service has worked well, costs were lower and Public Works was able to focus on other responsibilities. The only challenge has been managing an external operation. For example, the city found it difficult to respond to special requests such as late set-outs or special collections after extraordinary events.

“In 2010, West Des Moines applied what it learned when it issued a new RFP and negotiated a new contract. A solid waste consultant who specializes in these contracts helped the city get what it wants, including responsiveness to unique customer circumstances and individual service requests. The new contract also addresses more "what ifs," like fuel cost adjustments and specific consequences for performance failures. It also includes customer service standards like callers getting to a live person within one minute. This level of specificity also helped ensure apples-to-apples bid comparisons. Waste Connections won the new contract, which began on January 1.”

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Slobe Gallery of Parkway Devastation Photos

The ARPPS Slobe Parkway Advocate Award, named after ARPPS Charter Member Bob Slobe, president of the North Sacramento Land Company and long time Woodlake resident, whose family played a major role in the formation of the American River Parkway, was so named in recognition that without advocating for a resolution of Parkway illegal camping—which we believe to be one of the major problems impacting the Parkway—one cannot claim to be a Parkway advocate.

Over the years, Bob Slobe, has provided an ongoing series of photographic proof of the ongoing devastation caused by illegal camping in and about the Parkway.

Here are the links to the sets of photographs.

January 17, 2011

August 16, 2009

August 2, 2009

September 30, 2008

September 29, 2008

Monday, January 17, 2011

Auburn Dam

As noted in Friday’s post, we are right in the way of potentially devastating floods which would virtually destroy the Parkway along with most of the surrounding homes, and the fact that a local congressman realizes this and understands that the solution is building Auburn Dam, is wonderful.

The Sacramento Bee headline says it all: “Auburn dam back in play as McClintock takes over House panel

An excerpt.

“WASHINGTON – Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove, could start making waves in California water.

“As new chairman of the House water and power subcommittee, McClintock can promote his pet projects while he squeezes environmentalists. Politically, this means renewed talk of an Auburn dam, stricter scrutiny of San Joaquin River restoration and more support for hydropower.

"We need to change the central objective of our federal water and power policy to one of abundance," McClintock said in an interview. "That means building more water projects."

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Versailles & Gibson Ranch, Addendum

As noted in an earlier post, ARPPS supports the Ose proposal to manage Gibson Ranch as it represents the type of innovative management—by a forprofit—congruent with social enterprise strategies utilized by innovative nonprofits.

Social enterprise—see Wikipedia—is exactly the type of thinking able to bring market-level funding to bear on essentially social goals; which the Ose proposal, at its core, is: revitalizing a valuable community resource which will remain part of the public commons, but benefit from private market strategies.

An extended version of our post has been posted to the Sacramento Press and the original, shorter version is on our website.

Gibson Ranch has set up a website to allow those who support the proposal to sign a petition of support and we urge all those who support this innovative proposal for a major part of our regional parks system to do so.

Remember, if it’s good enough for Versailles, it’s good enough for Gibson Ranch!

Friday, January 14, 2011

What If Floods?

A major winter storm at a 500 year level—comparable to those of the 19th century—hit the West Coast.

Sacramento would be in deep water!

We believe dams are the solution, raising Shasta to its originally engineered height, posted on here, and building the Auburn Dam, giving us the 500 year protection necessary to protect us from such storms, posted about here and here.

The US Geological Survey studied the what if, and has published a report, which today’s Sacramento Bee reported on, and the last two paragraphs of the excerpt (highlighting added) are the bottom line.

An excerpt.

“California has more risk of catastrophic storms than any other region in the country – even the Southern hurricane states, according to a new study released Thursday.

“The two-year study by the U.S. Geological Survey is the most thorough effort yet to assess the potential effects of a "worst-case" storm in California.

“It builds on a new understanding of so-called atmospheric rivers, a focusing of high-powered winds that drag a fire hose of tropical moisture across the Pacific Ocean, pointed directly at California for days on end. The state got a relatively tame taste of the phenomenon in December.

“The team of experts that developed the scenario can't say when it will happen. But they do say it has happened in the past and is virtually certain to strike again.

"This storm, with essentially the same probability as a major earthquake, is potentially four to five times more damaging," said Lucy Jones, USGS chief scientist on the study. "That's not something that is in the public consciousness."

“The study aims to fix that.

“A conference on the subject, ending today at California State University, Sacramento, brings together hundreds of emergency planners to discuss the worst-case storm and how to prepare for it.

“The USGS is assessing a variety of natural hazards across the country. California was chosen for the latest project, called ArkStorm, because the state "has the potential for the biggest rainfall events in the country," Jones said.

“In December, an atmospheric river threw a series of wet storms at the state, breaking rainfall records in many areas across California. One part of Los Angeles County got 17 inches of rain in three days. Disasters were declared in 11 counties.

“In the study, researchers used computer models and a composite of three historical storms to estimate a worst-case event: a torrent of tropical rain for nine straight days.

“It amounts to a 500-year storm. In the lingo of disaster managers, that does not mean it happens only once every 500 years, but that it has two-tenths percent chance of occurring in any given year.

“The Central Valley and the Sacramento region are likely to suffer the worst effects because they lie within a funnel for the state's biggest rivers.”

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Water Storage

The California Chamber of Commerce presents an excellent analysis of our current water supply situation resulting from the storms.

An excerpt.

“January 12, 2011) Early measurements of California’s snowpack are in and the results raise hopes for water users around the state. The mountain snowpack, a key source of water supply throughout the year, is at about twice its average volume of water for this time of year following a large storm that blanketed California with precipitation in late December.

“That storm dumped a deep layer of snow over the state’s high country, bringing snowpack levels to above 50-60 inches, the highest in 17 years.

“Snowpack High

“As of January 3, the Northern statistical mountain snowpack was measured at 174 percent of average while the Central section held 198 percent of average snowpack and the Southern section held onto 277 percent of its average snowpack.

“The statewide mountain snowpack average is about 212 percent of normal, providing a stream of snowmelt throughout the warmer months that will replenish the state’s reservoirs.

“One such reservoir is Lake Oroville, which depends heavily on spring and summer snowmelt for recharge, and has not reached its 3.5 million acre-foot capacity since 2003.

“Reservoir Levels

“Heavy rains have also refilled reservoirs around the state, bringing levels above 100 percent of seasonal average in many cases.

“Oroville, the main reservoir of the State Water Project (SWP), is already at 99 percent of normal, holding more than 2.22 million acre-feet of water.

“Lake Shasta, the main reservoir of the Central Valley Project (CVP), is at 118 percent of normal, with more than 3.45 million acre-feet of water.

“Folsom Lake, also part of the CVP system, is at 86 percent of normal with about 415,950 acre-feet of water.

“The positive news follows several consecutive years of below-average precipitation and ongoing drought conditions. In response, the SWP and CVP dramatically reduced water allocations in 2008 and 2009 to as low as 15 percent of normal.

“The economic harm was unmistakable when these shortages were combined with pumping restrictions stemming from environmental concerns, as Central Valley farmers were forced to fallow crop land and unemployment reached as high as 30 percent in some rural counties.”

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Saving Species by Hunting Them

That is the theme of this article from the Property & Environment Research Center.

An excerpt.

“Evidence that the free market may be wildlife's best hope lies in the different approaches taken over the last decades in southern and East Africa, an particularly in South Africa and Kenya. In Kenya landowners have no right to use wildlife, which is controlled by the state. That has made wildlife a liability; anyone who wanted to make money legally from their land cleared it of native vegetation, chased away the antelope, rhino and elephant, and turned to cattle and agriculture.

“In the 1960s and 1970s in southern Africa, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe began managing wildlife populations through regulations and licensing fees, allowing profits to accrue directly to landowners. Fred Nelson, the founder of Maliasili initiatives in Tanzania and a member of the ICUN sustainable use specialist group, says southern Africa has become a model of the rest of the continent. "Although they may not say it publicly, among conservation organizations that work deeply in Africa, there is little doubt that hunting can be part of a successful conservation regime," he says.”

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Wonderful Water & Tragic Waste

It is wonderful that this is obviously a very good year for water supplies in California, and tragic that we do not have adequate water storage to capture it for the inevitable dry years.

Completing two dam projects, Auburn Dam and the raising of Shasta Dam, which we have posted on before, could resolve much of this tragedy.

The Sacramento Bee reported on the snow pack, source of our great water year.

An excerpt.

“TRUCKEE – For weeks, the storms kept coming, one after another.

“Now that the sky has cleared, Sierra Nevada residents are digging out to discover one of the most majestic and impressive debuts by winter in recent memory.

"The snow is just wonderful," said Elizabeth Carmel, a professional photographer and co-owner of the Carmel Gallery in Truckee. "To have all that we've had at this time of year, it's definitely a winter to treasure."

“From Sequoia and Yosemite national parks to Lake Tahoe, the mountain range is draped in a shimmering blanket of snow up to 18 feet deep in some places. The bounty of moisture is expected to yield lush wildflower blooms, healthier forests and fuller-than-normal reservoirs this year.

“While no one knows when the storms will resume, or even if they will, this winter's stunning start is an unexpected Christmas gift that has drawn legions of skiers to the high country, rejuvenated small-town economies and transformed the Sierra into a glistening fairyland of snow and ice.

“In recent days, low temperatures around Lake Tahoe have flash-frozen that natural artistry into a kaleidoscope of scenes that evoke the very spirit of winter, from cream-colored mounds of snow on rooftops, to icicles that dangle like stalactites from eaves, to pine and aspen trees so lacquered with frost that they sparkle like crystal chandeliers.

“The Sierra, of course, is no stranger to snow. The range, in fact, is famous for the stuff. Over the years, some of the fiercest blizzards in North America have pummeled the range, including the early snowstorms in 1846 that doomed the Donner Party and the massive snowfall in 1952 that stopped a passenger train, the City of San Francisco, in its tracks near Donner Pass.

“Lately, though, Sierra storms have lost some of their sting. Eight of the last 10 years have produced below-normal precipitation, prompting fears of long-term drought and climate change, and sapping the spirits of skiers and small-town merchants.

“Not this year. This year, winter arrived well ahead of schedule, starting with heavy rains a week before Halloween. By Thanksgiving, some ski areas had already opened. In December, snowstorm after snowstorm pounded the range, so rough-and-tumble at times that highways and ski areas were forced to close.”

Monday, January 10, 2011

Suburbs & Urban Planners

In this article from New Geography, the faith-based root of current urban planners is examined—and found wanting.

An excerpt.

“We're coming to the end of the season when we focus a great deal of attention on faith. What is faith? The Biblical definition calls it the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1, KJV). Humans have the capacity to firmly believe in something that cannot be explained by reason and is not visibly evident. Faith is the basis of the world's major religions, and often is a cause for war, and today, terrorism. But though the season of faith may be winding down, there is still a place where faith remains strong year round: It is often the basis of the way we plan our communities.

“Over the past two decades, our city planning has become faith based. A new preacher has evolved in the form of the Architect or Planner who evangelizes to the congregation that they can all live in serenity if they have faith in the teachings. Their sermons of architectural commandments introduce dimensional ratios that can deliver a utopian existence, promising a wonderland for families.

“To enforce faith, you of course need an evil entity to oppose. The evil entity in the faith of land planning is The Suburbs. Those that believe in the suburbs are inherently evil and must be converted or they may spend eternity dammed to a cul-de-sac. The automobile is sacrificed on this altar, with the chant "Space – Space – Space".

“Converts to this faith include many if not most, politicians (not just liberals), architects, planners, environmentalists, movie stars, and many in the press. Those that have not converted yet include land developers, builders, city council and planning commission members, and the majority of the home buying market.

“Some of the principles this faith are as follows:

•Thou shalt build upon thy dwelling a porch of such magnitude that it can serve as a gathering place.
•Thou shalt construct a path of 2 cubits (approximately 4 feet) wide near thy porch for followers to meet and pray that a cul-de-sac shall not influence thy offspring.
•A place for chariots shall be placed upon the buttocks of thy dwelling. Thy chariot must not be nearer to the dwelling than 4 cubits or thee will be smitten.
•Thou shall plant a tree half a cubit from thy curb and in front of thy porch.
•Create a place for gathering no farther than 600 cubits from thy dwelling.
•Thy dwelling shall have Craftsman trim.
•The path to heaven is taken by bicycle, light rail, or walking, not by powered chariot.
•A congregant must dwell in extreme closeness to thy neighbor.

“Myself? I’m a disbeliever; a heretic who thinks there is no place in the design of our cities and neighborhoods for this belief system to be regulated or enforced. If development companies are believers, then by all means let them develop their land in such a manner, as they will have the faith that homes will sell to those that also believe.

“The danger arises when Federal funding is tied to the faith, on the basis that developments of extreme density will surely result in less vehicular miles traveled and a more healthy environment for human creatures. Do not follow this faith, and good luck getting funded. Is this the American way?

“I do not believe the automobile is evil, and I'm thankful that I live in an era where I can think nothing of traveling 20, 30, 40 miles or even 400 miles. A hundred years ago my ancestors had no such luxury.

“I am thankful that I live in a place that offers a sense of space, yet is not too distant from neighbors and services. I am especially thankful for choice. Yes, there is a coffee shop about a 10 minute walk away, but a three minute drive will get me to a coffee shop that offers more tasty drinks at lower costs.”

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Regional Forest Administration

The way that the national forests are being managed in our region is noted in this speech by Congressman Tom McClintock on the floor of the Congress yesterday.

An excerpt.

“Much of my district comprises forests managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Over the last two years, I have received a growing volume of complaints protesting the increasingly exclusionary and elitist policies of this agency.

“These complaints charge the Forest Service, among other things, with:

• Imposing inflated fees that are forcing the abandonment of family cabins held for generations;
• Charging exorbitant new fees that are closing down long-established community events upon which many small and struggling mountain towns depend for tourism;
• Expelling long-standing grazing operations on specious grounds – causing damage both to the local economy and the federal government’s revenues; and
• Obstructing the sound management of our forests through a policy that can only be described as benign neglect, creating both severe fire dangers and massive unemployment.

“Practiced in the marketplace, we would renounce these tactics as predatory and abusive. In the public service sector, they are intolerable.

“Combined, these actions evince an ideologically driven hostility to the public’s enjoyment of the public’s land – and a clear intention to deny the public the responsible and sustainable use of that land.

“Most recently, the Forest Service has placed severe restrictions on vehicle access to the Plumas National Forest, despite volumes of public protests. Supervisor Bill Connelly, Chairman of the Butte County Board of Supervisors writes that “The restriction applies to such activities as: collecting firewood, retrieving game, loading or unloading horses or other livestock, and camping.” He writes, “The National Forests are part of the local fabric. The roads within the National Forests are used by thousands of residents and visitors for transportation and recreation. These activities generate revenue for our rural communities, which are critical for their survival.”

“This is not a small matter. The Forest Service now controls 193 million acres within our nation – a land area equivalent to the size of Texas.

“During the despotic eras of Norman and Plantagenet England, the Crown declared one third of the land area of Southern England to be the royal forest, the exclusive preserve of the monarch, his forestry officials and his favored aristocrats. The people of Britain were forbidden access to and enjoyment of these forests under harsh penalties. This exclusionary system became so despised by the people that in 1215, five clauses of the Magna Carta were devoted to redress of grievances that are hauntingly similar to those that are now flooding my office.

“Mr. Speaker, the attitude that now permeates the U.S. Forest Service from top to bottom is becoming far more reminiscent of the management of the royal forests during the autocracy of King John than of an agency that is supposed to encourage, welcome, facilitate and maximize the public’s use of the public’s land in a nation of free men and women.

“After all, that was the vision for the Forest Service set forth by its legendary founder, Gifford Pinchot in 1905: "to provide the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people in the long run."

Friday, January 07, 2011

Cold Weather Proves Global Warming???

I’m sure you’ve heard that argument being repeated endlessly.

This article from the Washington Examiner takes a look at the obvious absurdity.

An excerpt.

“The New York Times ran an unintentionally hilarious piece by Judah Cohen on Christmas Day with the ironic title “Bundle Up, It’s Global Warming.” The article begins, no joke: “The earth continues to get warmer, yet it’s feeling a lot colder outside.” Cohen proceeds to helpfully detail the record cold and snow lately experienced in North America and Europe before reassuring the reader that this nonetheless is evidence of anthropogenic warming.

“This is only the latest in a stream of such articles and op-eds to appear in the mainstream media the past year, and no wonder – good liberals shivering in the elite cities of the West must not be allowed to let their experience cast doubt on their faith in the global warming God. “[O]verall warming of the atmosphere is actually creating cold-weather extremes” – so sayeth Cohen, one the High Priests of Warming at the New York Times.

“Yet is there any doubt that if our winters were of late unseasonably warm, that, too, would be pounced on as proof of catastrophic climate change? The question must be asked– if any weather at all can be proof of a theory, then what use is that theory? Indeed, how is it a theory at all?

“Imagine I came to you and said, “I have an elf sitting on my head.” And you said after an inspection of my claim, “Well, I don’t see or feel an elf.” And I said, “That’s because it’s invisible, and intangible.” One might then reasonably then ask: What is the difference between an invisible, intangible elf, and no elf at all?”

Thursday, January 06, 2011

November 2010 Parkway Ranger Report

It is now available here, and past reports are available here.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

ARPPS Supports Ose Proposal for Gibson Ranch

The ARPPS Board of Directors voted to approve the Ose proposal for Gibson Ranch at our meeting of 1/3/11.

In The Sunday, December 26, 2010 issue of the New York Times, we are informed that:

“Versailles, one of the most visited monuments in the world, will soon be able to offer tourists a place to rest for the night…

“The Hotel du Grand Controle, an annex building on the edge of the Versailles estate, will be transformed into a 23-room hotel, administrators of the publicly owned palace announced recently.

“The restoration and modernization of the 17th-century building will be overseen by a Belgian company called Ivy International, which has taken out a 30-year lease on the property. The project is a rare transfer of control of a French public heritage site to the private sector.

“It’s a pioneer initiative,” Jean Jacques Aillagon, the chairman of the Versailles palace, said in a news conference in Paris. “The building was given to us in a dilapidated state; my concern was to save it.” (page TR. 2, highlighting added)

Saving shuttered Gibson Ranch from further dilapidation and whether the County should approve management by a forprofit entity led by former Congressman Doug Ose is the issue.

It is an issue which has been of interest to our organization as it addresses much of what we have also found lacking in local government management of the American River Parkway.

Our organization has long called for the use of innovative funding and management practices for the Parkway that are being used successfully with other parks and the concepts embedded in the Ose proposal are congruent with those practices.

When the board of supervisors agreed to study the privatization proposal in November of 2010, the opposition—County Parks and aligned nonprofits—appeared to build their case primarily from the damage it might do to their in-house regional park proposal, which would increase taxes, while the Ose proposal would save taxpayers money.

The proposal to open the Ranch to the public under a lease management agreement comes from a family with a long-established record of public service and philanthropy, is supported by many locally, and is aligned with standard lease management agreements involving some form of privatization.

Given that, the opposition—especially that voiced in the editorial pages of the Sacramento Bee —seemed overwrought.

We were very pleased when the county agreed to move forward in their consideration of the plan to turn over management of the park to a forprofit entity.

With final approval, which we wholeheartedly support, it will be refreshing to see innovation and creativity become part of the mix of local parks management which, if it is as successful as we anticipate, may also impact future decisions regarding the American River Parkway.

If it’s good enough for Versailles, it’s good enough for Gibson Ranch!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Marketing Fisheries

In an acknowledgement of government failure, market forces are being brought to the West Coast fisheries, as noted in this story from KQED San Francisco.

An excerpt.

“California fishermen once reeled in groundfish, like rockfish and sole, as if there were an unlimited supply. But over the years, fish stocks have plummeted and the fishery has been drastically restricted to protect overfished species.

“Now, in what regulators say is an effort to protect both fish and jobs, the West Coast's largest fishery is trying something new. Beginning in January, fishermen in California, Oregon and Washington will become owners of the fishery, much like shareholders in a company.

“More than 90 species are part of the Pacific groundfish fishery. Several of them are common on local restaurant menus, like black cod, petrale sole and rock cod.

“The groundfish are caught by fishermen like Geoff Bettencourt, whose 55-foot boat, Moriah Lee, is docked at Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay. Bettencourt is a fourth generation fisherman and, like others here, he relies on groundfish for a big part of his income. "Some years, dragging is extremely important. It's what we do all summer when there's no salmon," said Bettencourt.

“The technique is known as "dragging" because fishermen use a trawl net, a funnel-shaped net that's often dragged along the ocean floor. The net brings in several kinds of fish at once, but each species has a different federally set catch limit.

“Once fishermen like Bettencourt hit the limit for a certain fish, they're allowed to continue fishing, but must throw back any fish caught in excess of its limit. "If you went over the limit, it was no big deal," said Bettencourt.

“The fish that are thrown back are called "by-catch" and the problem is: most don't survive. Federal fishery managers say that wasted fish makes the fishery unsustainable. So, seven years ago, they began designing a new system called "catch shares."

“Under catch share rules, throwing fish overboard will be banned and observers will be stationed on every boat to make sure. "It creates accountability for every single fish. When that fish comes on the boat, whether you like it or not, it's yours," said Bettencourt.

“Owning the Catch

“The new system will also introduce a bigger change. Fishermen will now own their quota of fish. Just like shares in the stock market, the quotas can be traded or sold.

“Supporters say through a market-based system, fishermen will have more flexibility. "Like you could have two different trawlers and they could just trade species so they both could have a better living. Each guy can tune his business more finely to what he does," said Bettencourt.”

Monday, January 03, 2011

Water Storage

As this recent story from the Sacramento Bee reports, the need for major new water storage capacity on the American River to protect Sacramento from flooding as well as protecting the integrity of the American River Parkway, is apparent.

An excerpt.

“The past two weeks offered a powerful reminder, as both the Sacramento and American rivers have swelled substantially in response to a stormy December. Such high flows haven't been seen since the winter of 2005-06.

“For some, it's an inconvenience. Parts of the American River Parkway bike path went underwater two weeks ago when releases from Folsom Dam were doubled – to 30,000 cubic feet per second – to make way for upstream runoff. This forced some bicycle commuters to find a detour….

“December has been very wet in California. So wet that, as of Wednesday, the statewide snowpack stood at 215 percent of average for the date. But it has not been wet enough yet to approach flooding conditions on any of the state's major rivers.

“Those big releases from Folsom Dam two weeks ago? That was nothing compared to a true flood-control scenario.

“The American River channel has a current flood-flow capacity nearly four times greater, or about 115,000 cfs. That volume hasn't been approached since 1997, the last year of serious flood risk.

“But even 30,000 cfs gets attention. And it's still a lot of water: enough to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool every three seconds.

“At those flows, the river is transformed. Shorelines where we normally walk, fish or picnic are gone, replaced by fast, cold water. Trees go under water. Wading beaches become distant and dangerous rapids….

“Extra water had to be released from Folsom Dam this month because, during winter, federal rules require a certain capacity to be maintained in reservoirs to capture potential floods. The numbers vary, but Folsom Dam's current storage target is 397,500 acre-feet, or just 40 percent of its total capacity. The current actual storage is 431,171 acre-feet.

“Folsom is managed more actively for flood protection than most other major reservoirs in California for several reasons.

“One is that it is relatively small compared to the size of the upstream watershed. This means a storm making a direct hit on the watershed could quickly overwhelm the reservoir.

“Another is that it flows into an even bigger river – the Sacramento – at a confined location in the heart of a major metropolitan area.

“When the Sacramento River is full – which often occurs simultaneously with the American – the additional flow from Folsom Dam can simply back up between the levees, creating additional flood risk.

“So early and active management of Folsom Dam flows is critical to public safety.

"It's one of the more likely reservoirs to reach flood control (status) during any winter," said Maury Roos, chief hydrologist at the California Department of Water Resources.

“In comparison, Shasta and Oroville reservoirs have not made any significant flood control releases yet. That is a measure both of their much larger size and also of the merely middling severity of the winter so far.”