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Jenner Jottings -Tim McKusick - February 2016

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Jenner Jottings -Tim McKusick - February 2016

Watching the storm surge at the mouth of the Russian River, with the high seas seeming to push the river upstream against its current, I can’t help but wonder what this scene will look like with even a slight rise in sea level. The jetty which usually stands strong against the forces of the Pacific, was literally disappearing under powerful ocean waves, with brown-tinged sea foam flowing over the sandy beaches, filling the estuary.

These extreme events are predicted to be more commonplace as the climate warms and changes. Reading the writing on the wall, Jenner townspeople are having serious discussions on how best to survive the inevitable flooding events of the future. Keep in mind the recent King Tide flooding in Jenner happened before the river really had much flow. The flooding was purely caused by high seas filling the estuary.

The engineers studying the Estuary for the Russian River Biological Opinion have been thinking about removing the Jetty to create a more natural river mouth, and were wondering out loud what to do with the rocky materials that would be pulled out in a jetty-abatement. Here’s a suggestion: use it to build a sea wall!

Surfrider Foundation Has Issued an Alert Needing Immediate Public Action

Created by the California Coastal Act of 1976, the mission of the California Coastal Commission, an independent state agency, is to protect, conserve, restore, and enhance the California coast and ocean for environmentally sustainable and prudent use today, tomorrow and for future generations. Coastal Commissioners and staff are tasked with upholding the primary mandate of the California Coastal Act: to permanently protect the California coast, our “distinct and valuable natural resource of vital and enduring interest to all people and exists as a delicately balanced ecosystem.”

This means they are to protect your right to beach access (from the mean high tide line to the water), to protect our coastline and waters from damaging development and when irresponsible oil companies bust a pipe and ruin your local coastal sanctuary…the Coastal Commission is supposed to be there to protect our California coastline through enacting the Coastal Act.

For over 20 years, advocates have been producing an annual vote chart of the state’s most powerful land use agency. This “annual report card” coalesced in 2013 with the formation of ActCoastal, collaboration between the Surfrider Foundation, WILDCOAST and Environment California. ActCoastal reviews the most significant items from each Commission meeting and records each Commissioner’s votes as “positive” or “negative” based on anticipated impacts to coastal resources and potential to set statewide precedent. It is a historical record of how well Commissioners are upholding California’s landmark legislation, the Coastal Act.

In 2015, in a series of important and controversial decisions, Commissioners weighed in on impacts of private development on public trust lands and beach access, and protection of special places including Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas (ESHA).

The Coastal Commission’s average conservation score in 2015 was 47 percent, down from an overall score of 71 percent in 2014. These low scores recorded in 2015 are indicative of a larger problem: A Commission regularly voting against the interest of our public coastal resources. The California Coastal Commission is clearly headed in the wrong direction, failing to adequately protect our coast and risking the public access rights promised to all Californians.

And now the scary part…as of this week, an effort is underway to fire Coastal Commission Executive Director Charles Lester who has shown to be a coastal champion protecting our coastline and our access to it.

This is more than an assault on Executive Director Lester, it’s an attack on the Coastal Act. The most pro-development commissioners with the worst environmental voting records are attempting a coup to weaken the Commission’s ability to protect the public’s coast and undermine the integrity of the Coastal Program.