November 2010

By Matt Weiser, Sacramento Bee

A lead player in a massive Delta habitat-restoration project is quitting that effort, casting doubt on one of the most important attempts in decades to revive the West’s largest estuary.

The Westlands Water District said in a news release late Monday that it is withdrawing from the Bay Delta Conservation Plan because of “political interference” by the U.S. Department of Interior.

The Obama administration directed the department two years ago to take a more active role in resolving water and environmental problems in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a water source for 25 million Californians and 3 million acres of farmland.


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As a student of the Humanities… I just had to post this one!

– Jeremy


By digging up and poring over old books and records of Mediterranean marine life, scientists have filled a 200-year gap in fish population data.

The data, generated from from naturalists’ accounts and fish market records published between 1818 and 2000, shows the clear decline of fishes in the Adriatic Sea (east of Italy) and provides a crucial baseline comparison for the ongoing collapse of today’s fisheries.

“The understanding of fish communities’ changes over the past centuries has important implications for conservation policy and marine resource management,” the authors wrote in a study published Nov. 17 in the journal PLoS ONE. Ignoring old records, they added, has led to a “historical myopia” in fishery science that underestimates the loss of natural resources.


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Dr. Dirt loaned me his 1979 California Water Atlas. He might have seen my recent post about the latest edition of the voluminous California Water Plan.

Dale’s hardcover atlas is a treasure. Folded inside is an Oct. 24, 1979 letter from the state Office of Planning and Research (under then- and soon-to-be Gov. Jerry Brown) describing the atlas as “the State’s most ambitious cartographic undertaking” which took more than a year and one-half to assemble.

Click here to read the full article on Alex Breitler’s Blog

Sharks and wolves: Predator, prey interactions similar on land and in oceans

CORVALLIS, Ore. — There may be many similarities between the importance of large predators in marine and terrestrial environments, researchers concluded in a recent study, which examined the interactions between wolves and elk in the United States, as well as sharks and dugongs in Australia.

In each case, the major predators help control the populations of their prey, scientists said. But through what’s been called the “ecology of fear” they also affect the behavior of the prey, with ripple impacts on other aspects of the ecosystem and an ecological significance that goes far beyond these species.


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The Golden State is a land of superlatives. Among its bragging rights, it has the largest population of any state in the country, the world’s eighth largest economy, one of the largest and most complex water distribution systems in the world, and–among its dubious distinctions–the greatest proportional loss of historical wetland and riparian habitat in the West.





In two weeks, we’re supposed to get some kind of update on the progress of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. The goal had originally been to finish the draft plan itself, but now officials are saying that won’t happen until early next year.

Still, there’s lots of interest in what the progress report will say.

Here’s the latest communication from upstream water users and Delta interests. They’re worried that the BDCP — and a peripheral canal or tunnel, if one is formally proposed — will rely on flows needed by upstream cities and farms. Another letter by attorneys for the Glenn Colusa Irrigation District says taking upstream flows needed by non-BDCP participants would make the plan illegal. Read it here.

Click here to read more on Alex Breitler’s Blog

By Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson

Can the administration fight climate change without stressing climate change?

The new Congress will usher in an unprecedented number of lawmakers who question the link between human activity and global warming. As a result, the Obama administration is abandoning its two-year quest to convince the public and lawmakers that global warming is a matter of scientific urgency. Instead, the president is talking about nuclear power use, natural gas exploitation and sales of electric cars.

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