February 2009

After scores of interviews, countless searches, and many hours of compilation, the PCL Foundation is proud to launch the Sierra Nevada Grassroots Directory. Community groups, agencies, and residents alike will benefit from this detailed directory of environmental grassroots organizations active in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.


The Sierra Nevada Grassroots Directory is a resource aimed at the protection and preservation of this world-renowned place. The Directory includes all 23 Sierra counties organized alphabetically from Alpine County to Yuba County. It provides information about environmental non-profit organizations, government agencies, and bodies with administrative or policy-making duties in each region.


The Directory is the culmination of a joint effort by PCL Foundation staff and grassroots organizations throughout the Sierra. The Directory is a living document; please send updates to grassroots@pclfoundation.org. View the Sierra Nevada Grassroots Directoryonline or download a PDF version by visiting the newly redesigned PCL Foundation website.



STOCKTON – For as long as most anyone can remember, a large island in the Calaveras River just east of the University of the Pacific footbridge has been held hostage by a bamboo-like “weed from hell.”

This week, for the first time in half a century, you can see through the island to the far side.

University students are attacking invasive Arundo donax, hacking it to shreds and removing its stalks as part of a long-term river restoration plan from Pershing to Pacific avenues.

Sprucing up this segment of stream, although only about a half-mile in length, could be a model for river rehabilitation projects elsewhere, said Greg Anderson, an assistant professor of biology who has coordinated much of the dirty work.

And it would create a living laboratory for Pacific students – a place for would-be biologists to study bugs and all things moving or growing.

“This river could be a resource. It could be a gem,” Anderson told local Sierra Club members this week in Stockton.

The long-term vision includes building wetland habitat, establishing native plant gardens strung together by a gravel footpath, and, on that famously choked island, planting native elderberry bushes in which an endangered beetle might find sanctuary.

“It would be great to have a nice stretch of river so people can see its potential,” said the Sierra Club’s Nan Ballot, who frequently walks the Calaveras levees. “You may not be able to restore it to its original form, but it doesn’t have to be as bad as it is.”

The question is who will pay to make it better. A $30,400 award from The Rose Foundation in Oakland will pay for Arundo annihilation, but more money will be needed to complete other portions of the project, said Margit Aramburu, director of the university’s Natural Resources Institute.

“I know the university has a continuing interest in doing work in the channel and enhancing it,” Aramburu said.

First, how to keep that scourge Arundo from returning? The plant grows like a teenager, it sucks up huge amounts of water, and it won’t die, even from fire.

“If you burn it, it grows faster. It likes it,” Anderson said.

Students are experimenting with non-mechanical ways to kill Arundo, including cutting the stalks and leaving them there to compost, a process that actually hinders new sprouts.

The Calaveras will never be what it once was. If it was unleashed, Stockton would flood; your drinking water supply would be cut.

But the Calaveras can be more than it is, Anderson says.

“My argument is it doesn’t have to be a flood channel that has no other purpose,” he said.


Read this story on the Stockton Record website: http://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090227/A_NEWS/902270321/-1/A_NEWS14

Want the latest environmental headlines in CA?

Check-out the FLCR “News Wire” page for the latest and hardest hitting news in an easy to read format.

Compiled by Defenders own Rebecca Tatum!

Photo Courtesy of: Matthew, Morriston Canada

Photo Courtesy of: Matthew, Morriston Canada



Advocate staff writer

Published: Feb 20, 2009 – Page: 7B UPDATED: 12:05 a.m.


More than half of the 305 most common birds found during the winter months in the United States have been migrating farther north during the past 40 years, according to a recent report from the National Audubon Society.

During a Feb. 10 telephone news conference, Audubon representatives presented an analysis of the past 40 years of Christmas Bird Count information that shows a general trend of birds moving more inland and farther north, said John Flicker, president of the National Audubon Society.

During that same time, information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows a global temperature rise, he said.

Although those two trends aren’t enough to make a cause-and-effect connection between climate change and bird migrations, he said, it’s enough of a correlation to show some impact.

“The impacts of global warming are being felt now, right here in North America,” Flicker said. “The majority of species of birds are moving north in winter right along with the warmer temperatures.”

Too many people think climate change is something that will happen in the future and in a location far away from them, he said.

“This latest research shows it’s happening here and now,” Flicker said.

Greg Butcher, Audubon Bird Conservation director and analysis leader, said they selected 305 of the most common birds spotted during the Christmas Bird Count.

Of those 305 species, 177 of them – 58 percent – were spotted having moved farther north than usual for their wintering grounds, he said.

“More than 60 (species) moved in excess of 100 miles north, while the average distance moved by all studied species – including those that did not reflect the trend – was 35 miles northward,” according to the report “Birds and Climate Change Ecological Disruption in Motion.”

Not all winters are the same; during warmer winters, birds were found farther north while during colder winters, they
were found farther south in general, Butcher said.

In addition, some states have had warmer winters on average than other states, a factor that also makes a difference, he

“We also found birds of almost every type moving north,” Butcher said. There are “thousands of things” that could be out there that could contribute to this movement north, he said. Global warming, however, almost certainly is a major factor in this movement, he said.

A concern is that as birds migrate into areas not traditionally suited to them, that species will be stressed by not finding the right kind of habitat or enough habitat to survive, Audubon representatives said.

“The birds are a very important part of the picture of what’s happening,” said Terry Root, professor of biological sciences at Stanford University.

“We’re going to be losing species.”

Betsy Loyless, Audubon senior vice president of policy, said habitat conservation needs to be re-examined since it appears that many birds are changing where they spend the winter.

There also needs to be a focus on halting the impacts of global climate change, she said.

“As scientists, we must reduce global warming by reducing greenhouse gases 80 percent by 2050 to avoid the worst impacts of climate change,” Loyless said.
Amy Wold, the environmental reporter for The Advocate, can be reached at awold@theadvocate.com.

In a recent interview with the Stockton Record, Stockton native Chris Issac (Mr.Lucky) spoke to Tony Sauro about the inspiration for his song “Best I Ever Had”:

“Yeah, that’s a reference to a place in town behind Stagg High School, where we’d make out in the tall grass by the (Calaveras) river,” Isaak said with a chuckle. “We used to go out there with our girlfriends when we were kids. The grass was 3 feet tall, and nobody could see you when you laid down in it. It was definitely splendor in the grass.”


Click here to read the whole article, published on the Stockton Record on February 24th, 2009.

If you are involved already with FLCR or are thinking about becoming more involved I urge you to consider taking advantage of some opportunities to educate yourself about local water issues and the personalities active in them.

Here are some nearby, relatively inexpensive places to attend “Watershed School”:

UC Cooperative Extension for San Joaquin & Stanislaus Counties:

Keep an eye on the listings for events at the UC Cooperative Extension Office (their slick new facility is just off Arch Road near the Stockton Airport). I was recently able to attend a session there on Rangeland Run-Off issues. For $10 I got an excellent catered Mexican lunch PLUS an all day introduction to water quality standards that concern agriculture–and, ultimately, downstream users–directly from UC researchers at the cutting edge. They spoke as well of best practices for protecting streams from possible negative effects of rangeland out flow. Many of these solutions are simple and cheap (or free). I also collected numerous links to other organizations and to research projects in the UC Coop system which help broaden my understanding and could directly benefit the fledgling FLCR group’s long range objectives. There are several upcoming events of interest on their online calendar now. Googling UC Cooperative Extension, San Joaquin County will get you there.

Restore the Delta (restorethedelta.org/symposium.php):

These folks–who share much in common with FLCR–have a major symposium scheduled for Feb. 28–all day–in Lodi. Called “Restore the Delta Symposium on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta–A Bold Direction; The People’s Vision for the Delta” this one will feature some of the same folks who spoke at the UOP Water Summit last November…but a lot of others too. $40 includes a lunch at Wine and Roses. Go to the Restore the Delta website for more details and registration.

Stockton East Water District:
I’m coming to understand that this public District is the main agency responsible for Lower Calaveras water–where it goes, who uses it (and how), quality, flow, fish issues–the whole nine yards. They have fiduciary responsibility for public funds for surface and ground water use in our community. Neither a sexy nor easy job but critical…and very political. They don’t really focus on it but they can be effective teachers too.
Jeremy Terhune was kind enough to haul me out there recently. It was a very rainy Tuesday in the middle of a nasty drought. Everyone was smiling. Board meetings are every Tuesday afternoon at the facility east of town. Keep going out past 99 on Main Street. Just past Mormon Slough with recovery ponds on your left you can’t miss it. Their schedule, agendas, past meetings minutes and contact information are all online. Yes, it’s a board meeting of a public agency. These “events” can be life-threatening snoozers but, for me, just a short time there was a college education. Next time–when I’m not freeloading my ride–I will stay for the whole show. As Jeremy likes to say nothing beats talking to people face to face. Not all strictly one on one conversations, the ones we had before and during the meeting were hugely instructive. The facility also has displays including detailed maps that give a big-picture view of the watershed we are trying to improve. I was assured by Manager Kauffman and his board that I could also have access to other resources–including additional detailed land use maps–on site. I’ll be going back.

Of course reading The Record, Lodi Sentinal and the blogs at recordnet.com are a whole education in themselves. Alex Breitler and the rest of the Record staff are adding immensely to my understanding…daily.

Treat yourself to local Audubon and Sierra Club presentations. I’ve attended several in the months since FLCR started in August 2008 whose topics DIRECTLY related to issues FLCR members have raised as concerns for the Lower Calaveras. More network links can be discovered there too. Googling Audubon San Joaquin and Sierra Club San Joaquin will get you to their event calendars.

Learn from and with FLCR activists. UOP Instructors Greg Anderson and Stacy Luthy can give you a real college education on river biology. Kari Burr will bring you up to speed on fisheries and salmon restoration issues. Conni Bock has worked on outdoor ed for the San Joaquin County Office of Education for years. Local award winning photographers Michael Randolph and David Best are working on collecting photos and other images of the river–from New Hogan to the San Joaquin Ship Channel. I’ve been tagging along with them. We’d love to have more photographers, artists and writers join that effort. We’ll put results of some of that work/fun on view at Earth Day in April.

Our main man, Jeremy Terhune, continues to do a masterful job building The Friends of the Lower Calaveras into an active, engaging presence on the local conservation/restoration/preservation scene. He’s a pretty good instructor too.

He cannot do it alone. No single individual should ever be expected or relied on to sustain such an effort.

And Mr. T has a two year seed grant clock from Defenders of Wildlife that’s now ticked off close to half that time.

The more of us who are educated and prepared to act at the end of that two years the more will get done and for a much longer time.

It may be location, location, location in real estate but in grassroots organizing it is
sustainability, sustainability, sustainablity.

As an early member of FLCR I knew one thing for sure: I didn’t know diddly about the Lower Calaveras let alone “big picture” water issues. Yes, I’d read the stuff in the papers and hung out for several months with some Deltakeeper alumni but–really–I knew nothing.

I guessed that was also the case for most Stocktonians–a fact our on-going one on one discussions with friends and neighbors bear out. It’s maybe no surprise that’s why the FLCR’s current primary goal is public education. See the Committees and Mission links elswewhere on this blog for more about that.

Taking that to heart I’ve been taking advantage of as many local water education opportunities as I could scare up. The November 2008 Water Summit at UOP was a great beginner’s intro to both the controversies and key players in water issues in our area and throughout the state. It had matchless, concise historical perspective to boot.

So what have I learned about the Lower Calaveras in six months?

That there’s a whole lot more to learn.

New Hogan


By Dana M. Nichols
February 17, 2009
Record Staff Writer


SAN ANDREAS – Kathy Zancanella, the manager at the Calaveras County Airport, has been flying these hills in her small airplane since 1968.

She’s seen seasons spin from green to brown, the gradual fading of the black zones left by wildfires, old barns falling and homes arising. She knows the mood of the land, the level of the rivers and the data gathered by sensors at the airport.

The recent rains haven’t been enough to change her opinion of what she’s seeing from the windows of her 1946 Taylorcraft.

“It looks pretty dry,” Zancanella said.

Zancanella recently took an aerial tour of major Mother Lode reservoirs that provide water to farms and cities in our region.

Pardee Reservoir, on the Mokelumne River, appeared to be in the best shape. But Zancanella said because of how it’s managed, she’s rarely seen it drawn down much over the years.

In contrast, the much larger Camanche Reservoir just downstream is showing miles of shoreline.

And New Hogan Reservoir, the main surface water source for Stockton, looks the worst, with part of the original, smaller Hogan Dam emerging from the water because of the low level.

New Melones, the largest reservoir in the region, has steeper sides and a dramatic bathtub ring even though it hasn’t yet sunk to as small a percentage of its capacity as Hogan.

Contact reporter Dana M. Nichols at (209) 607-1361 or dnichols@recordnet.com.


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