May 2011

A Swallow Story

Alex Breitler’s Blog

Sierra Club advocate Nan Ballot was walking the levee along the Calaveras River a couple of weeks ago when she saw two people in a boat using a pole to knock down swallows’ nests underneath the Interstate 5 bridge.

“When I was pointing my camera at them they folded up the pole, tucked it into their boat and putted off,” she said.

Then, on Sunday, she walked past the same bridge and saw a different boat with a man, woman and child on board.

When Ballot got on her phone to report what she believed was illegal activity, the man floated over and said he’d been hired to remove the swallow’s nests in advance of construction work on the bridge, she said. Then he went back to work, while she watched in anger.

Click here to read more on Alex Breitler’s Blog

More great work from our very own Dr. Dirt. This just in from Kohl Open School:

This year Dez’s class got to do a big presentation called “Reptile-mania and Amphibians too!” with Dr. Dirt and three of his colleagues. The scientists who were there to help us out in presenting the information to the rest of the school included an entomologist, a herpetologist, a mammalogist, and a zoologist/civil engineer. We called them our live Dr. Googles. Our presentations were about snakes, lizards, a newt, a skink, and a salamander that live in our area of California. Dr. Dirt brought the live animals for all of the Kohl students to hold, touch, and observe.

To get ready to do these presentations, each 5th grader in Dez’s class got to do some research about the amphibian or reptile they chose. “It was very fun learning about our fascinating animals,” said Isabelle. We researched facts about their habitat, diet, life cycles, and predators. We used a trifold to display all the facts about our reptile or amphibian. We presented the information 36 times as the different classes and groups rotated around the cafeteria looking at the twelve animals on display. By the end of the day, we were worn out, but felt that we had become pretty close to experts!

Click here to read more at the Kohl Open School website

The state and federal water project pumps in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River continue to kill hundreds of thousands of imperiled Sacramento splittail and hundreds of threatened spring run chinook salmon every day.

Natural Resources Secretary John Laird and the Department of Fish and Game have failed to take action to stop the unprecedented carnage caused by the export of Delta water to corporate agribusiness on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and southern California water agencies. Meanwhile, state and federal governments continue to go forward with the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build a peripheral canal/tunnel.

The federal Central Valley Project pumps killed 470,532 Sacramento splittail, a native minnow species found only in the Delta and Central Valley. The State Water Project facilities killed 34,456 splittail on Thursday, May 19, according to data available from the DFG website. (

Click here to

The most endangered river in the United States is at risk from natural gas development and the hazards associated with hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for the second year running, according the American Rivers annual list of the country’s 10 most endangered rivers, released today.

The clean rivers advocacy group placed the Susquehanna River at the top of this year’s list, citing the rush to develop natural gas reserves in the region without considering the risk to clean water and public health. Last year’s most endangered river was the Upper Delaware, also threatened by natural gas extraction.

Click here to

Here’s a top 10 list of most Endangered Rivers, according to “American Rivers”:

  1. Susquehanna River (NY, PA, MD) / Threat: Natural gas extraction
  2. Bristol Bay (AK) / Threat: Massive copper and gold mine
  3. Roanoke River (VA, NC) / Threat: Uranium mining
  4. Chicago River (IL) / Threat: Sewage pollution
  5. Yuba River (CA) / Threat: Hydropower dams
  6. Green River (WA) / Threat: Exploratory drilling and mine development
  7. Hoback River (WY) / Threat: Natural gas extraction
  8. Black Warrior River (AL) / Threat: Coal mining
  9. St. Croix River (MN, WI) / Threat: Rollback of longstanding protections
  10. Ozark National Scenic Riverways (MO) / Threat: Overuse and poor management

Do you know how many endangered species live in San Joaquin County?

Fish and Widlife Service reminds us that:

” All living things are part of a complex, often delicately

balanced network called the biosphere. The earth’s biosphere,

in turn, is composed of countless ecosystems, which include

plants and animals and their physical environments. No one

knows how the extinction of organisms will affect the other

members of its ecosystem, but the removal of a single species

can set off a chain reaction affecting many others.”

In other words, every critter, big and little, is important… you may have run across an Endangered Species without even knowing it!

In celebration of Endangered Species Day, here’s a list of all of the Endangered Species that need our help to continue thriving in San Joaquin County:

Endangered Species in San Joaquin County

The bureaucratic process involved in moving plants and wildlife onto the Endangered Species Act list has devolved over the decades into an acrimonious court feud between champions of the country’s imperiled species and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service administrators charged with protecting them.

Candidate species have lingered for years on the government’s docket. Concerned citizens’ groups have sued to get them attention. Then, in the course of responding to those lawsuits, the service has spent more time on litigation than biology. As a result, delays lengthened and more lawsuits were filed, is if on a never-ending loop.

Click here to

Next Page »