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Sonoma County Gazette

Environment and Ecology

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2020-05-25May 25, 2020

On May 8, 2020 the court denied an EPA request to exclude the testimony of 3 international experts, clearing them to testify on the neurotoxic risks of community water fluoridation in a federal court trial in San Francisco beginning 6/8/2020. Those 3 experts on neurotoxicity are Dr. Philippe Grandjean of Harvard and the U. of Southern Denmark, Dr. Howard Hu of the U. of Washington, and Dr. Bruce Lanphear of Simon Fraser U. in British Columbia. Information on public access to the trial will not be available before the Sonoma County Gazette’s June print edition pub. date. Live-streaming is not planned, and the court’s decision on audio recording is pending. There will be a limited number of cell phone access “listening stations” for members of the public, but the trial schedule has not been set, and listening access protocols have not been released. Read more on the background of this case and watch some informative videos.

2020-04-24Apr 24, 2020

In 2019, the Sonoma County Civil Grand Jury investigated the risk of a major earthquake in Sonoma County and the effect that it could have on residents, due to impacts on water supplies.  In direct response to the Grand Jury’s recommendations, Sonoma Water prepared a $59 million water transmission system budget that will help fund critical infrastructure improvement projects, including construction of three earthquake hazard mitigation projects: the Russian River, Mark West Creek, and Santa Rosa Creek pipeline crossings. Sonoma County Water Agency Board Approved the budget for reliable water delivery and infrastructure on April 21, 2020.

2020-04-24Apr 24, 2020

Creating habitat is a DEVOTION, a meditative practice in addition to being exceedingly helpful to our Flying Friends who may be short on real estate and menu options. Let last years’ plants go to seed whenever possible; first of all, pollinators will utilize the blossoms, and you can also save seeds, which are in very short supply everywhere I have checked lately.

2020-04-13Apr 13, 2020

TIME is the great educator. We learn over time by looking BACK to see the results of our decisions, and the consequences of our actions. Earth-consciousness began long before Earth Day was named and celebrated, but it took putting a title on that consciousness to bring us a day, a month, a slice of time when we can look at our accomplishments, and also look at what we still need to do to SAVE this planet we call home.

2020-04-08Apr 8, 2020
2020-03-30Mar 30, 2020

April is a big month for Climate Action; the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day is April 22nd. Events were planned globally for the entire week. But as we move into shelter-in-place worldwide, those events — marches, climate strikes, tree plantings, and etc., have been canceled physically and are going virtual on the internet. We’re not turning our backs on the Climate Crisis. As a matter of fact, our interconnectedness in the face of this virus have made us even more aware of how we all are one people on one planet. Here are some suggestions for climate activism that does not involve striking in public.

2020-03-22Mar 22, 2020

Sonoma County is encouraging the public, businesses and organizations to donate new, unused personal protective equipment to assist first responders, health care providers, and health care facilities responding to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

2020-03-20Mar 20, 2020

With the COVID-19 outbreak spreading and shelter-in-place orders coming down across the state, we at CAFF are working hard to keep our local food system running strong, our family farmers in business and our communities safe and healthy. While confusion abounds during this ever-developing COVID-19 crisis, one thing is clear: a strong, healthy, local food system is absolutely essential during times like these. So what can consumers do right now to help assure that our family farms stay in business and the many people who comprise of our shared food system can weather this storm? From  joining a CSA  to ordering direct from farms online to making sure our most vulnerable have food CAFF has compiled a few tips.

2020-03-11Mar 11, 2020

While reading the Press Democrat, many of us were greeted with the news that Governor Newsom has offered Sonoma County the opportunity to lease 49 state-owned parcels for emergency homeless shelters. They are offered as part of Newsom’s package of emergency measures meant to address the homelessness crisis. One prominent parcel in the City of Santa Rosa is the 57-acre Southeast Greenway.

2020-03-07Mar 7, 2020

A wildfire suppression plan adopted at the end of 2019 by the California Board of Forestry could cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars but will do very little to actually reduce fire risk for communities in Sonoma County and throughout the state. Fire safety experts and environmental protection advocates filed suit on January 28 to block the new Vegetation Treatment Program (VTP) from going into effect.

2020-03-06Mar 6, 2020

Sonoma County finally received a COVID-19 test kit which will enable us to test for novel coronavirus locally. I want to give a huge shout-out to Senator Mike McGuire and Congressman Mike Thompson for leaning in and fighting hard for Sonoma County to be able to stand up our local lab testing. In the meantime, continue to wash your hands and face; avoid touching your face; cough/sneeze into your elbow; and stay home if you’re sick. Bust out that thermometer and check your temperature. "Try to avoid anxiety or panic if you do fall ill, because you may well just have a common cold! Also 80 percent of corona illnesses are mild. If everyone with a cold floods their local emergency rooms, it will be harder for health-care workers to treat patients who are critically ill. Plus, you could pick up the virus in the hospital if you don’t already have it."



2020-05-20May 20, 2020

The National Park Service (NPS) at Pt Reyes Seashore is about to release its Final plan for ranching at Point Reyes National Seashore. In February the NPS released the trove of 7,600 public comments to its draft plan that, if adopted, will extend 20-year leases to ranchers and expand ranching in this popular national park.

2020-03-02Mar 2, 2020

The California Strategic Growth Council (SGC) is accepting grant applications for projects that protect agricultural land and reduce greenhouse gases. The cabinet-level State body opened the sixth funding round of its Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program (SALC) after its interagency Council approved updated guidelines at its public meeting on Tuesday. SGC invites cities, counties, resource conservation districts, land trusts, California Native American tribes, and other governmental and non-profit entities to apply for the grants.

2020-02-28Feb 28, 2020

For fSonoma County farmworkers wildfire smoke has now become a challenging health hazard . Seven of the ten most destructive wildfires in California have occurred in the last five years — three in Sonoma County. Wildfire smoke contains high levels of microscopic particulate matter that can affect cardiovascular health, reduce lung function, and increase the risks of respiratory disorders. Sonoma County health officer, Dr. Celeste Phillips, told Kaiser Health News that the best way for workers to stay safe is to limit time outdoors.

Most farmworkers are paid by the shift and cannot afford time off–particularly during peak harvest, which now extends into the dry, hot, and windy fall conditions most conducive to wildfires. Most farmworkers have no paid sick leave and are ineligible for unemployment benefits. Undocufund, established in 2017 by county labor, faith, and immigrant rights organizations to assist unauthorized immigrants harmed by the fires reports that one of the most common hardships for undocumented residents who need assistance is sudden income loss due to evacuation, lost workdays and/or job loss. 

2020-02-28Feb 28, 2020

The following Permit Sonoma agenda items are scheduled for discussion at upcoming Board of Supervisors, Board of Zoning Adjustments, Planning Agency, or Planning Commission meetings. These items have been identified as being of significant interest to the public.


2020-02-27Feb 27, 2020

As a beginners' guide to Arctic thaw and its consequences, this is pretty exemplary stuff. Ice on Fire keeps the narration from DiCaprio to a minimum, bedding it over high-definition footage, often shot with drones or using time-lapse techniques, under the direction of cinematographer Harun Mehmedinovic.”  OUR VERY OWN Raymond Baltar, RFFI’s North Coast Biochar Project Manager, is interviewed in the film on location about RFFI’s forest-based biochar project which converts competing hardwoods into biochar.

2020-02-26Feb 26, 2020

Transportation is the single biggest source of GHG emissions. By shifting to low carbon transportation modes, we can prevent millions of pounds of emissions annually. SMART is a green commute alternative to the one-person-in-one-car model of sitting in tra_c idling on the Hwy 101 corridor, emitting tons of GHGs. The 1.72 million people who have ridden on SMART prevented 8.1 million pounds of CO2 emissions, compared to the same trip in a car.

2020-02-25Feb 25, 2020

The UGB is simply a line around the city that protects open space and ag lands. It prevents urbanization and development beyond the boundary without a majority vote of approval by its citizens. The UGB can be revised if needed at any time by going back to the voters.  It gives the community a direct voice in the future of the city. The City of Sonoma is moving forward to renew its existing Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) for another 20 years by placing a ballot measure before voters in November 2020. This is great news for open space and agricultural lands and climate-wise, city-centered growth for the next generation.


2020-02-17Feb 17, 2020

Sonoma County Climate Activist Network (SoCoCAN!) wants you in the room for Sonoma County Climate Activists Community Summit, It’s Up To Us! Sun., Mar. 15, 1:30-6:00pm, Odd Fellows Hall, 545 Pacific Ave., Santa Rosa. The Summit aims to link groups and activists closer for greater leverage on climate crisis, focuses on how adults can work with youth-led groups and seeks an overall vision for our county in the fight for climate justice. 

2020-02-16Feb 16, 2020

Thanks to a generous grant from CAL FIRE, we’ll be discussing: Community Wildfire Protection Plans, Roadside fuel reduction work, Old Skaggs Springs Road, Stewarts Point-Skaggs Springs Road, Residential defensible space projects and more.

2020-02-11Feb 11, 2020

Because of conservation efforts by Bill Kortum, Ted Eliot and many, many others that have “loved where they lived” enough to protect lands and also because we are a community that enjoys exploring and discovering the secrets of our natural world, we have a huge list of birds that have been encountered in Sonoma County over time. In addition to having an incredible diversity of natural habitats, lots of public lands, and adventurous birdwatchers, we also have mild winters. We are also along the commonly used bird migration route known as the Pacific Flyway.  All of these factors contribute to the huge diversity in birdlife that we enjoy in Sonoma County.  

2020-02-08Feb 8, 2020

In September, Supervisor Lynda Hopkins with Director of Regional Parks Bert Whitaker and his team, Director of Transportation and Public Works (TPW) Johannes Hoervertsz and his team, CHP representatives and your local MAC representatives have been working away in the background on solutions to protect our Beach neighborhoods, now and for the long term. One of the top goals is toReduce influx of beach parking in the neighborhoods.

2020-05-19May 19, 2020

Join a team of conservationists, biologists, film-makers and local leaders to learn more about our backyard paradise and how it’s being threatened by pollution, habitat loss and giveaways to private industry. Monday May 20 @ 59This week we’ll hear from Ken Bouley who coordinated the analysis of the public comments on Point Reyes General Management Plan for RRI. Ken has published several letters and has been a tremendous advocate for the Park’s return to wilderness. Detailed informational links, guidelines and videos in this notice.

2020-02-06Feb 6, 2020

Our historic record of grassroots activism is what gives us the quality of life we all treasure. We have established a spider web of protected areas, greenbelts and parks that serve as community separators. When I’ve gone to public hearings and meetings where people are working to further preserve these areas from development and degradation, I’m both impressed and alarmed that often it’s the same people who fought to establish the initial protections for these areas who are still the ones fighting to protect them. At forty-six years old, I can look around the room and ask, where is the rest of my generation? Do we take these lands that our predecessors saved for granted? Are we willing to stand up for our open spaces? 

2020-02-04Feb 4, 2020

California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) has awarded $67 million for landscape-scale land management projects intended to restore and maintain healthy forests, conserve working forests, and enhance carbon storage in California’s forests. CAL FIRE funded 17 Forest Health grants, targeting over 130,000 acres of California’s forestlands for restoration through a suite of activities. 

2020-02-04Feb 4, 2020

This is the decade of hope. Hope that we will finally stop the war against people and a plant by legalizing cannabis in the USA and around the globe. Hope that globally we are increasingly focused on real-time solutions to help sink carbon and restore climate stability. Interestingly, Industrial Hemp, and its use as a fiber, fuel, food, and much more is available to support this transition and both frees the plant and gets us off the carbon-economy.


2020-02-02Feb 2, 2020

Jerry Dodrill is exhibiting his amazing Photography depicting vistas of "Sonoma County Wild"" at the Laguna Foundation's Heron Hall, through May 5, 2020.

2020-02-01Feb 1, 2020

While this means Sonoma County, I want to take a wider perspective. We need to love where we all live—this planet. If we really love it and if we love our children, we have to get really serious about saving it for the future. Already, we’ve lost so much of what we cherish. Because the losses’ve been incremental, we don’t always see them until some cataclysmic event such as the fires (followed by floods, hailstorms, and dust storms) in Australia.

2020-01-31Jan 31, 2020

On December 31, 2019, Edward M. Chen, U.S. District Judge, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California,  dismissed an EPA motion for summary judgement (MSJ) in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Fluoride lawsuit. This means the lawsuit will go forward. The trial has been rescheduled to begin Monday April 20 and will run for two weeks. Judge Chen delivered his ruling on New Year's Eve. 

2020-01-29Jan 29, 2020

Five million mattresses have been recycled by the Bye Bye Mattress program in the state of California since the program began in 2016, the Mattress Recycling Council (MRC) announced today. If these mattresses were laid end-to-end they would span nearly 6,000 miles – enough to build a bridge from California to Hawaii and back. By recycling these units, Bye Bye Mattress helped California save more than 6 million cubic yards of landfill space.

2020-01-28Jan 28, 2020

The Sonoma County Local Coastal Plan, an integral part of that decades-long preservation effort, is being revisited by county officials, and changes will be made. It will be important to be watchful and mindful that we do not lose what so many have fought to save. Please consider attending the next public workshop on the Local Coastal Plan, scheduled forJanuary 30, 2020 at 1:15 p.m. at the county planning department, Permit Sonoma 2550 Ventura Avenue Santa Rosa, CA 95403.

2020-01-23Jan 23, 2020

The council meets quarterly to discuss various topics related to management of Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary off San Francisco, including sanctuary enforcement coordination; updates from the Greater Farallones, Cordell Bank, and Monterey national marine sanctuary superintendents; and from the Director of the Greater Farallones Association, the nonprofit partner to Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.

2020-01-22Jan 22, 2020

The Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has diverted over $100 million from safety and maintenance programs to executive compensation at the same time it has caused an average of more than one fire a day for the past six years killing over 100 people. PG&E is the largest privately held public utility in the United States. A new research report shows that 91% of PG&E stocks are held by huge international investment management firms, including BlackRock and Vanguard Group. PG&E is an ideal investment for global capital management firms with monopoly control over five million households paying $16 billion for gas and electric in California. The California Public Utility Commission (PUC) has allowed an annual return up to 11%.


2020-05-15May 15, 2020

California Trout, the Round Valley Indian Tribes, the County of Humboldt, Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission and Sonoma Water formed the Two-Basin Partnership last fall. The Partnership developed the Feasibility Study Report filed with FERC. The group is also exploring options for developing a governance structure for future ownership and operations of the facilities.  The Partnership is an outgrowth of an ad hoc committee convened by Congressman Jared Huffman. That group identified co-equal goals for a two-basin solution. These include minimizing or avoiding adverse impacts to water supply reliability, fisheries restoration, water quality improvements and recreation enhancements in the Russian and Eel River basins. One specific priority is improving fish passage and habitat on the Eel River with the goal of recovering native migratory fish like salmon and steelhead, including full access to habitat upstream of Scott Dam.

2020-01-16Jan 16, 2020

Learning Laguna Docents provide meaningful volunteer service to schools to ensure a healthy future for the Laguna de Santa Rosa and the children of our community. Learning Laguna is a two-part wetland education experience for 2nd-4th grade students that inspires learning with specially designed, engaging activities focused on the Laguna ecosystem and gets children outside for explorations in nature. Sign up!Docent Training Orientation;Monday, January 27, 2020, 10:00am – 12:00pm

2020-01-15Jan 15, 2020

California State Treasurer Fiona Ma says when it comes to addressing the climate crisis, California is "moving the financial needle" in the right direction. "As the State’s Banker, I’m happy that we will invest in companies that spur newer, greener tech solutions to combat fires, floods and blackouts in California. The $1 billion low-interest revolving loan fund sends a message to the world that California is stepping up even more to help Mother Nature." Both Ca treasury programs, CAEATFA assists the state in meeting its greenhouse gas goals and works with the private market. CPCFA facilitates low cost financing to qualified waste and recycling projects to control pollution and improve water supply.


2020-01-12Jan 12, 2020

In partnership with  The Center for Social and Environmental Stewardship,  a non-profit organization based in Santa Rosa/Windsor,  Timber Cove Resort  removed 26,000 sq. ft. of non-native, invasive iceplant and replanted with native shrubs and seeds. The Center also promotes educational opportunities and works with  disadvantaged youth  on the project. 


2020-01-09Jan 9, 2020

The Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition is a local nonprofit working to promote bicycling in Sonoma County through education and advocacy. To find out more – and to make a tax-deductible contribution to support their work – visit .


2020-01-09Jan 9, 2020

On January 4th and 5th, Forest Unlimited - the long standing Sonoma County-based forest and watershed protection group, planted 1400 coast redwood seedlings in an area between the Pacific Ocean and Sebastopol. The two properties that hosted the plantings are protected forever by conservation easements.

2020-01-09Jan 9, 2020

Climate Healthy Communities Start with Urban Growth Boundaries. All nine cities in Sonoma County adopted UGBs more than 20 years ago and most have renewed them once. UGBs are proven and accepted across the board by planners, communities and most elected officials as successful. 

2020-01-06Jan 6, 2020

Why Would Anyone Try to Justify Dropping Poison in the Middle of Our National Marine Sanctuary with a Personal Attack?  I will simply make a couple of observations about what’s likely driving the current Administration’s recently seated Monsanto-trained Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ms. Aurelia Skipwith, to rush to try to resurrect the increasingly controversial push to use helicopters to spread 1.5 tons of multi-species second-generation rodenticide poison on the Southeast Farallon Island as early as next fall.  California policymakers are right now proactively taking action to simply preclude the use of the very same dangerous chemical, brodifacoum, lest we cause the potential extinction of mountain lions, bobcats, and several other species. 

2019-12-29Dec 29, 2019

On December 5th, at its Holiday Networking Party, the Sonoma County Conservation Council gave Woody Hastings the Ernestine I. Smith Environmentalist of the Year award, for his work organizing against new gas stations being built in the County — one of the great success stories of 2019. 

2019-12-29Dec 29, 2019

Greta Thunberg is youngest ever named Time’s Person of the Year. For all her work in motivating millions of people to care about and strike for the climate, Time named Greta their person of the year. She stressed that she wasn’t alone and talked about other youth leaders. COP 25, the UN Climate Summit was a failure. Million Roofs Initiative reaches its goal. Divestment—Goldman Sachs, UC, Ireland join 1100 other institutions.


2019-12-25Dec 25, 2019

We feel we must again respond to the opposition to a proposal by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to eradicate non-native and invasive House Mice from the Farallon Islands outlined in this article (  A lot has been written about this proposal, both pro and con. We invite those interested in being informed to read the FWS's Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the project here


2020-05-14May 14, 2020

Nature-based tools are proving to be increasingly vital for climate and health resilience. These natural solutions are especially important for disadvantaged communities, which disproportionately experience the impacts of environmental issues while having the least amount of resources to protect themselves.  State legislators across the country recognize these benefits and are introducing legislation to enable the use of natural infrastructure. For example,a California bill introduced this year would provide grants to school districts or charter schools located in low-income or disadvantaged communities to convert existing pavement at a school to green space. AB 2031 also requires that these parks include a garden to be used as an educational tool for children, providing both health and educational benefits. 

2019-12-17Dec 17, 2019

Effective 12/09/2019, the burn permit suspension in Sonoma, Lake, Napa, Solano, Yolo and Colusa counties was lifted by Cal Fire. Those possessing current and valid agriculture and residential burn permits can resume burning on permissible burn days. Residents are asked to use caution while conducting burns, follow all guidelines, and to maintain control of the fire at all times. Individuals can be held civilly and/or criminally liable for allowing a fire to escape their control.

2019-12-11Dec 11, 2019

Audubon's 120th Christmas Bird Count will be conducted between the dates of Saturday, December 14, 2019 through Sunday, January 5, 2020.  Your local count will occur on one day between those dates. Participate in as many counts as you wish! You can also  view the circles by state here  or use ESRI's free mobile app to view updated public maps of all CBC circles by state! Click  here  to download the free ESRI Explorer app for iOS or Android. Find CBC circles by searching on your state’s full name + “Christmas Bird Count”.

2019-04-25Apr 25, 2019

Think of birding as a puzzle or mystery and you are the detective. You have to use whatever data you have, be it plumage (feathers), color, a bird song or call, behavior, habitat, size, shape, body type, etc. to deduce the species of bird you're trying to identify. Since we are all cooped up, the kiddos are out of school and everyone needs something exciting to keep ourselves busy and positive, becoming a backyard birder is the perfect new hobby for everyone at any level of proficiency. Thankfully, there are many helpful birder sleuth apps one can use to become a master birder.

2019-02-26Feb 26, 2019

Locally— is the driest February in over 150 years. It may end with zero rainfall. Earlier February temperatures were nearly 20° above average, after the hottest January on record. Globally— Rising temperatures around the world are worrisome, but the record-breaking temperatures in Antarctica this month are even more so. On February 9th, researchers measured a temperature of 69.35° F. Earth’s poles are warming quicker than much of the rest of the planet. So why aren’t we taking this more seriously?


2020-05-12May 12, 2020

A directive that allows park agencies to reopen some parking lots and sports facilities was issued  by Dr. Sundari Mase. The health order means residents can drive to inland parks beginning Wednesday, May 13, 2020. The order keeps Sonoma Coast parking areas closed to prevent crowding at beaches but allows coastal residents to walk or bike to nearby parks during limited hours. Facilities that encourage gatherings or have frequently touched surfaces remain closed. These include playgrounds, dog parks, outdoor gym equipment, picnic areas, drinking fountains and barbecues.

2020-05-08May 8, 2020

This program is intended to help residents create defensible space around occupied homes and reduce vegetation along access routes.
We will chip for up to 2 hours with no charge to the resident! Jobs longer than 2 hours may be the responsibility of the property owner. 

2020-05-05May 5, 2020

Residents must obtain permits from their localAir Quality Management District. In the SRA, a CAL FIRE permit is required in addition to an air quality permit. An online application provides a convenient alternative to obtaining a CAL FIRE permit.

2020-04-26Apr 26, 2020

Is a declaration of emergency needed to stop emissions that are exposing us to enormous climatic changes?  When properly implemented, could we survive such a declaration?   The answer is yes.  We can and will deliver.  We can survive and thrive. I sense and see pent up creativity, out-side-the-box thinking, and optimism for the future.  Why not?  We now know how to flatten the curve.  Let’s start by acting on some concrete ideas as to how we can institutionalize what we have just learned - about flattening the curve to address the steeply rising green house gas curve.  I know there must be many good ideas, and I share a few of mine...

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