In the beginning this blog was centered on San Francisco parks and open space issues with special emphasis on natural areas and natural history. Over time it began to range into other areas and topics. As you can see, it is eclectic, as I interlace it with topics of interest to me.

I welcome feedback: just click this link to reach me.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

2012.01.17

1.   Nature Sounds Society Post-Production Workshop Feb 2-5
2.   Native plant San Bruno Mtn field trip Jan 21
3.   Development planned on San Bruno Mtn - you can comment
4.   New series of Thinkwalks
5.   Dominik Mosur racks up a record-breaking Big Year for San Francisco
6.   What Does the New Jepson Manual Mean for California Floristics?  Jan 25
7.   Bay Area Open Space Council ask you to help contribute to Bio-Atlas
8.   We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals
9.   Chronicle features rare serpentine canyon in Sonoma County
10. Montana Supreme Court argues that corporations are not "persons"/farmed salmon risky
11.  The penitential grief of the rich as they pocket those bonuses
12.  Thousands of historical documents could be lost in Egyptian fire
13.  Noosphere: avalanche of information threatening to swallow us whole
14.  EBRPD Botanic Garden 2012 schedule of classes
15.  Zombie fly parasite killing honeybees - discovered at SFSU
16.  New York Times, Los Angeles Times weigh in on Hetch Hetchy
17.  Changing Lives: El Sistema and the Transformative Power of Music
18.  Encounter, by Czeslaw Milosz

1.  Nature Sounds Society Post Production Workshop - San Francisco 2/2 - 5/2012

If you've made some great nature recordings, what do you do next? Learn how to edit, filter, and produce CDs or MP3s of your recordings. A finished recording makes a great gift. They can be used in art installations or presentations, or you can develop library of your own sounds to enjoy.  Rob Danielson, emeritus Associate Professor of Film, Video & Sound, University of Wisconsin, and sound designer Dan Dugan will lead this hands-on seminar.

For more information, registration, and contact information, go to http://www.naturesounds.org/announcements/index.html
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2.  California Native Plant Society field trip

San Bruno Mountain
Saturday January 21, 10 am to 1 pm
Leader:  Doug Allshouse

The saddle is state-owned land that comprises the northernmost several hundred acres of the park.  It features grasslands; the headwaters of Colma Creek, now part of a disturbed wetland; a eucalyptus forest; and monocultures of gorse.  It is rich in plant species, both native and non-bnative, and its grasslands share plant species common to the southeast portion of the mountain.  Of interest in the bog is creek dogwood. 

There is a $6 fee for park admission, payable at the ranger kiosk.  Meet in the main lot just past the kiosk.  If wet weather cancels, the trip will be rescheduled to February 4.  Contact Doug at dougsr228@comcast.net or 415-584-5114 with questions.

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3.  San Bruno Mountain Watch
The Daly City Planning Department has prepared an Administrative Draft General Plan which, when approved, will guide development in Daly City for at least the next 10 years. The Planning Commission is holding 2 study sessions of the plan for the public on:

Wednesday, January 18th and
Monday, January 30th
7:00 pm
Council Chambers
City Hall
333 90th Street, Daly City

San Bruno Mountain Watch asks that you participate in this review, and put special attention on the Daly City Dunes site above the John F. Kennedy Elementary School. The owner of 2 key parcels in the dunes area wants to subdivide the parcels into 8 lots for single-family homes.  If this application for development is approved, with the necessary infrastructure and roads, much larger parcels will also be opened to development.

You can download and read the general plan at www.dalycity.org/gp

January 30th is the deadline for correspondence, which should be directed to Michael VanLonkhuysen, Daly City Planning Division, 333 90th St, Daly City, CA 94015. Or you can email comments to Michael VanLonkhuysen.

More information: mountainwatch.org

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4.  A new series of walks for Thinkwalks:

Friday (20th) 12:15 to 2pm Social Justice Murals walk
Saturday (21st) 12:15 to 2:30 pm Walk the Wiggle
Jan. 22 Water Walking Tour
Jan. 23 Social Justice Murals BIKE RIDE
Jan. 24 Outside Lands Bike Cruise
Jan. 25 Walk the Wiggle
Feb. 2 Outside Lands Bike Cruise
Feb. 3 Walk the Wiggle
Feb. 4 Water Walking Tour
Feb. 5 Walk the Wiggle

http://thinkwalks.org/tours

Learn about the history of muraling in the Americas, see a variety of street art, hear insider stories and get into DEEP discussion about what counts as legitimate, renegade, graffiti and advertising, mural art or tagging.

Call me with questions!

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5.
LOCAL BIRDER DOMINIK MOSUR WRAPS UP A RECORD-BREAKING “BIG YEAR”
Local bird-watcher Dominik Mosur has completed a record-breaking ‘Big Year’ for San Francisco birders. Throughout 2011 Mosur documented sightings of 273 different species of birds in San Francisco. The exact tally is 264 seen from within San Francisco city limits, plus nine more seen from a boat within San Francisco County waters for a total of 273. This breaks the previous ‘SF Big Year’ record of 254 within the City and 264 within the County, set in 2005 by Hugh Cotter during a ‘Big Year’ competition.

 ‘The Big Year’ is an informal competition among birders to determine who can see or hear the largest number of species of birds within a single calendar year and within a specific geographical area.  Local Bay Area birders did not participate in an official ‘SF Big Year’ in 2011, but Mosur’s year started off with great promise. Spotting more than 170 different species within January and February, Mosur decided to carefully log his sightings in the hope of setting a new record and attaining a personal ‘Big Year’. With the sighting of a small brown Swamp Sparrow on October 25, he not only broke the record for the most species seen within the city of San Francisco, but also that of the county of San Francisco. At the end of 2011, Mosur’s total sightings of 273 different species within the city and county of San Francisco is the new record to beat.

The sighting of a Bald Eagle on December 24th was a highlight of the end of Mosur’s ‘Big Year’.  Mosur spotted the majestic raptor soaring over Corona Heights while on his lunch break from work at the Randall Museum. “It was the third sighting this year of a Bald Eagle over San Francisco,” Mosur said, “and a great way to end the year.”  Other highlights of Mosur’s ‘Big Year’ include finding a Burrowing Owl -- the only one seen alive in the City all year; finding and photographing the first American Oystercatcher seen in California north of San Luis Obispo County; and seeing the first Brown Booby from SF city limits.

According to Mosur, he is “a self-taught amateur ornithologist.” He was first attracted to bird-watching over ten years ago when he moved to San Francisco from Southern California. Mosur said that during one of his first visits to Golden Gate Park, he bumped into an Audubon birding tour, they let him follow along, and he’s been hooked ever since. Now he goes birding nearly every day and continues to be inspired by the possibility of seeing something new.

“There is a huge diversity of wildlife in the City,” explains Mosur. “It just takes some patience and time commitment to discover it. Anyone can be a birder if they dedicate themselves to it. It is a fun, intellectually and physically stimulating hobby that gets you in touch with the outdoors, the passing of the seasons, and the general pulse of nature.”

Currently on staff at the Randall Museum, Mosur cares for more than 100 animals in the Museum’s Live Animal Exhibit, including fourteen species of birds. He is active with the Golden Gate Audubon Society and co-leads monthly birding walks from the Randall Museum at Corona Heights Park.

“Dominik's interest in bird-watching is truly inspiring,” said Chris Boettcher, Randall Museum Executive Director. “He brings a level of passion and commitment to nature education that is a real asset to the Randall.”

For information about the guided birding walks the public may call the Randall Museum at 415-554-9600 or visit www.randallmuseum.org

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6.
What Does the New Jepson Manual Mean for California Floristics?
Speaker: Bruce Baldwin, Ph.D.
Wednesday, January 25, 7:30 pm
Location: Auditorium, Orinda Public Library

Changes in understanding of California's native and naturalized vascular plants since publication of The Jepson Manual (1993) necessitated a complete revision of the book, which is now complete. Implications for the flora extend from higher-level classification (e.g., families) to fine-scale taxonomy (e.g., species). Bruce Baldwin will review some of the more conspicuous changes affecting our plants and provide some perspective on why these changes are important steps forward for California botany. He also will talk about new initiatives of the Jepson Flora Project and how they will affect the California botanical community.

Bruce Baldwin is Curator of the Jepson Herbarium and Professor of Integrative Biology at U.C. Berkeley.  He is Convening Editor of the Jepson Flora Project, including The Jepson Manual: Vascular Plants of California, Second Edition.
More information at http://ebcnps.org/index.php/meetings/

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7.  Bay Area Open Space Council - This email is for those of you that care about animals, plants and/or people and want to contribute somehow to their well-being.  That's you, right?

CONTRIBUTE TO THE BIO-ATLAS
Do you have access to a species list for a conservation land parcel such as a preserve, park, or protected open space?  If so, join us in creating a Biodiversity Atlas for the Bay Area, and in the process get an illustrated bio-atlas for your special site of interest!

The Bay Area Bio-Atlas is a project of iNaturalist in partnership with Pepperwood Preserve and the Bay Area Open Space Council and is funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.  Our goal is to locate species lists created by local biologists for parcels comprising the Conservation Lands Network.  By integrating these lists into one map product for the Bay Area we will greatly advance our understanding of the region’s biodiversity and generate a critical data source for multiple conservation planning applications.  Participating groups will in turn be provided with an illustrated digital and/or hard copy bio-atlas for their parcel of interest that can be accessed via iNaturalist.org.  By setting a baseline for the Bay Area, we will be able to track change in biodiversity over time in response to climate change and other stressors.  Participating groups will also be offered training on how to use iNaturalist.org to support their own conservation planning projects and citizen science initiatives.

Curious?  Interested?  Click here to learn more about it and see it in action.
 



To build the Bio-Atlas, we are seeking species lists or data representative of species present for protected lands within the ten Bay Area counties. Our team can help to manage your data to maximize its value yet protect the confidentiality of information regarding sensitive species.  And our team will work with you to find out about the kind of data you have, the geographic area it applies to, and any concerns you may have about data quality or confidentiality.


Interested?  Email or call Morgan Kennedy, iNaturalist Preserve Coordinator at mkennedy@pepperwoodpreserve.org or 707-591-9310  x121.  To learn more about iNaturalist.org, please check out the website and contact Dr. Scott Loarie, co-director, iNaturalist.org at loarie@stanford.edu with any questions. 


   "The lack of popular interest in the natural history sciences, failing some other cultivated interest, is unfortunate both for the individual and for the community....The natural 
surroundings of Californians are singularly rich and varied. A scientific interest in at least certain features of our natural environment, as for example the trees, shrubs or herbaceous plants, directs one to useful and agreeable intellectual activity. Accurate and detailed knowledge of even a small area lifts the possessor out of the commonplace and enables him directly or indirectly to contribute to the wellbeing and happiness of his community."
    -Willis Jepson, Trees of California, 1923

"I think biology must be one of the most satisfying careers because the things you are studying are so absolutely and endlessly real and interesting and directly important.  You never have to doubt the validity and interest of what you are doing."        Peter Raven


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8.
We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals.  Remote from universal nature and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion.  We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate for having taken form so far below ourselves.   And therein do we err.  For the animal shall not be measured by man.  In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.  They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.  --Henry Beston, The Outermost House

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9.  Serpentine canyon and its rare native plants in Sonoma County in the January 17 SF Chronicle: 

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/01/16/MNIM1MNAG8.DTL

Very few other than native plant people may know this site, which is difficult to get to and verges on inaccessible.  Picture of Roger Raiche, "discoverer" and savior of the area, is on the front page.

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10.  Two from High Country News

A big win for democracy in Big Sky country – for now
The Montana Supreme Court argues that corporations are not "persons" as it reaffirms the state's almost-century-old Corrupt Practices Act.
http://www.hcn.org/wotr/a-big-win-for-democracy-in-big-sky-country-2013-for-now?utm_source=wcn1&utm_medium=email

Genetically modified or no, farmed salmon a risky proposition

Recent debate has focused on modified fish, but the entire farmed salmon industry deserves closer environmental scrutiny.
http://www.hcn.org/blogs/goat/genetically-modified-or-no-farmed-salmon-a-risky-proposition?utm_source=wcn1&utm_medium=email


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11.

Before we set our hearts too much on anything, let us examine how happy are those who already possess it. -Francois, duc de La Rochefoucauld, moralist (1613-1680)

LTE:  Those poor rich folk

 
           
SIR – The depiction of the rich on your weekly covers are very enlightening. They either appear to be cowering in a state of Blitz-era terror and deprivation (January 7th), or chased by savage hounds in fear of their lives (September 24th). I didn’t realise quite the penitential grief it takes to pocket those bonuses.
Luke Smolinski
Burgess Hill, West Sussex

"Conservatives are engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy: the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."

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12.  Thousands of historical documents could be lost following a fire at the Institute of Egypt - which began during clashes in Tahrir Square last month - but an army of restoration workers is working day and night to save the country's written history.

(Alice Polesky:  I can't help thinking of the other great loss of books in Egypt, the library at Alexandria, inadvertently destroyed by Julius Caesar. Who knows what was lost by that debacle -- our entire link between the ancient and modern worlds. I wish these modern volunteers all the success and luck they need.)

(JS:  The riches that were lost at Alexandria will never be known, but just the little bits that are known is horrifying.)


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16534331

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13.  noosphere

MEANING:
noun: The sum of human knowledge, thought, and culture.

ETYMOLOGY:
From French noösphere, from Greek noos (mind) + sphere. Earliest documented use: 1930.

USAGE:
"This avalanche of information is threatening to swallow us whole, to waste our days and to overwhelm our own thoughts. Essentially, it's the noosphere on steroids."
Frank Bures; Digitized to Distraction; National Post (Canada); Nov 15, 2008.

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14.  East Bay Regional Park District Botanic Garden 2012 CLASS SCHEDULE

http://us1.campaign-archive2.com/?u=01091d83e4aa193c78a888704&id=e7109312db&e=dc1584429c

Andie Thrams

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15.  OBSERVATIONS: Zombie Fly Parasite Killing Honeybees
http://links.email.scientificamerican.com/ctt?kn=7&ms=MzgzODIxMTIS1&r=NTM5NzIzNTA1NgS2&b=2&j=MTI1NDE0NjYwS0&mt=1&rt=0

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16.
From Today's New York Times

Friday, January 6, 2012
Water From Yosemite Is Still Cheap, for Now
By JOHN UPTON
 
The going rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco is about $2,500 a month. That's the same amount the city pays to use eight miles of Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park as a reservoir.

The $30,000 annual fee was set by federal law in 1913 and has not been changed since. But now, as the federal government struggles with budget problems, a Central Valley congressman is pushing to increase the city's Hetch Hetchy rent by a thousand fold, to $34 million a year.

Representative Devin Nunes, a Republican from Tulare, said the current low rent amounts to a federal subsidy for San Francisco's water and electricity supply and is unfair to farmers in his heavily agricultural district, whose water supply is diminished. He proposed to Congress's Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction that the city be made to pay a fee comparable to what the government sought to charge Southern California Edison to operate a reservoir in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

The extra money would be a drip in the country's deep financial hole, but it would drive up the city's municipal power costs and reverberate through the water bills of 2.5 million Bay Area residents.

The fee was established by the Raker Act, which was supported by influential San Francisco civic leaders but opposed by early environmentalists. It permitted San Francisco to build O'Shaughnessy Dam and lock in cheap hydroelectricity and water supplies.

The Raker Act "made some people within the city enormously wealthy," said Gray Brechin, a geography professor at the University of California, Berkeley. "Arid land without water is virtually worthless."
 
The city agency that operates the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, defended the unchanged $30,000 annual fee, noting that the agency also pays $5 million a year to reimburse the federal government for security, trail maintenance, water monitoring and other services around the reservoir.

"We get value out of it and the National Park Service gets value out of it," said Michael Carlin, the agency's deputy general manager.

But Representative Nunes said San Francisco Congressional leaders have backed legislation that diverted water away from farmers in his parched district by restricting the amount they can draw from the San Joaquin River. "Meanwhile, they're taking water from the exact same area, piping it and then not paying anything for it," Mr. Nunes said. "I believe that the Congress will continue to address this, especially as extreme liberals from San Francisco try to take other people's water away." Republicans attempted to increase the rent on Hetch Hetchy in 1995 and 2005, but failed under pressure from Bay Area Democrats.

Meanwhile, Representative Dan Lungren, a Republican from Gold River, said he wanted an investigation into whether San Francisco's use of the water violates the Raker Act by taking more water than he says it needs.He is also seeking a study of the feasibility of draining the reservoir and restoring the meadows on the valley floor, a move supported by many environmentalists.


CLICK HERE to donate to Restore Hetch Hetchy. (hetchhetchy.org)


The mission of Restore Hetch Hetchy is to return the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park to its natural splendor while continuing to meet the water and power needs of all communities that depend on the Tuolumne River.

"What right has a single city to absorb the property of a nation??    Poet Harriet Monroe


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(PLEASE NOTE: The $10 billion cost claim in the article below was recently acknowledged by the SFPUC to lack credibility. For more information please read the recent article by Dan Aiello in the California Progress Report)

 From Sunday's Los Angeles Times
  
Editorial

San Francisco's water ways
The city is not doing enough to meet rules that allow it to use water from Hetch Hetchy.
Sunday, January 15  2012
 
The way San Francisco takes advantage of its bountiful water from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir would make John Muir weep. The iconic naturalist and founder of the Sierra Club fought mightily to prevent the damming of one of the most beautiful valleys in Yosemite National Park nearly 100 years ago, but lost. And there are reasons to think that the city that benefits from this extraordinary federal largesse isn't abiding by one of the few restrictions placed on its water use.

The 1913 federal law that gave San Francisco its special deal also made it clear that the city was to take no more Hetch Hetchy water than it needed to "for its beneficial use for domestic and other municipal purposes." It was to continue using its own local resources of water, supplementing that as necessary with the water from Yosemite.

But the city uses almost none of its own groundwater anymore. It does little to harvest rainwater, and its water reclamation efforts are minuscule.

Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Gold River) is asking Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to investigate whether San Francisco is breaking its agreement and the law. And though the underlying motivation for this request isn't really to make San Francisco a better water citizen, the Interior Department should investigate anyway.

Lungren is an advocate of dismantling O'Shaughnessy Dam and restoring Hetch Hetchy Valley to its original state - what Muir described as "a grand landscape garden, one of nature's rarest and most precious mountain temples." Certainly it's true that the dam should never have been built; anyone who suggested damming a gemlike area of a national park these days would be treated much like a hunter setting out to kill California condors - which was also done back in the early 1900s.

But that's different from saying that the reservoir that is there now should be dismantled. Recycling and reclaiming water are the right things to do, but they wouldn't come close to providing San Francisco with enough water. An exhaustive state study five years ago found that replacing the water and power provided by the current system would cost $3 billion to $10 billion. Even if the state had that kind of money, it's not at all clear that Hetch Hetchy should be its top environmental priority.


San Francisco isn't profligate with its water; per capita consumption is far lower than the statewide average. But that's not a good reason for wasting fresh water from the Sierra. With climate change expected to create drought conditions, the state's water resources will be hard-pressed to serve all the needs; every city and county should be planning now to irrigate landscapes with recycled water and treat sewage water to the point of being drinkable. In the case of San Francisco, there's also a century-old deal that it sought - and should stick to.


CLICK HERE to comment online.

CLICK HERE  to send a letter to the editor explaining why you support restoring Hetch Hetchy Valley.

CLICK HERE to donate to Restore Hetch Hetchy.
(hetchhetchy.org)

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17.  Youth orchestras in Venezuela

The music man

The power of art

Jan 14th 2012 | from The Economist