December 2011

The FLCR Steering Committee wishes all of our wonderful supporters  a Happy New Year!

While 2011 was a good year for FLCR, 2012 may bring even more exciting developments, like:

  • 2012 Stockton Steelhead Festival
  • 2012 State of Our River Symposium
  • Another great year of Riverwalks, this time with snacks and refreshments!
  • An expanded Calaveras Outreach and Education Day.
  • The Calaveras River Native Grass Demonstration Project
  • Adaptive Management Environmental Educaiton with Dr. Dirt
  • Nature Journaling with John Muir Laws
  • From Big Trees to the Delta: Calaveras Watershed Leadership Program
  • Research and development of a the idea of forming a Calaveras River Parkway Trust!
  • Coastal and Polar Bear Cleanups
  • MAYBE… just MAYBE… a Calaveras River Draft Habitat Conservation Plan to review!

Have a SAFE and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) is offering up to $1.8 million in new grants for urban green infrastructure projects that both improve water quality and support community revitalization. Projects that support the restoration of canals, rivers, lakes, wetlands, aquifers, estuaries, bays and oceans qualify.

The E.P.A. argues that improving urban water quality is central to sustainable urban development. “Many urban waterways have been polluted for years by sewage, runoff from city streets and contamination from abandoned industrial facilities. Healthy and accessible urban waters can help grow local businesses and enhance educational, recreational, employment and social opportunities in nearby communities. By promoting public access to urban waterways, E.P.A. will help communities become active participants in restoration and protection.”

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The Delta smelt saw a tenfold increase this year thanks to lots of freshwater flow through the estuary, officials said today.

We’ll have a story in the paper and online Thursday. In the meantime, here’s the Department of Fish and Game memo, with charts showing the abundance of five fish species since the late 1960s.

And here’s a snapshot of the numbers (this is an index, not the literal number of fish in each population):

This year       Last year        Historic high

Delta smelt:               343                  29           1,673 (in 1970)

Striped bass:              272                  43           19,677 (in 1967)

Longfin smelt:            477                 191           81,737 (in 1967)

Threadfin shad:          228                 120           15,267 (in 1997)

American shad:          894                  683           9,360 (in 2003)

You’ve probably heard about coral bleaching—the mass die-off of coral reefs because of warming sea temperatures, a dynamic that can be attributed at least indirectly to climate change. It’s a problem of growing concern to the hundreds of millions of people whose lives depend on reefs and the fish they shelter. But as ocean temps continue to rise, is there any hope for coral?

Science to the rescue! Researchers are learning tons about which kinds of coral species are either resistant to bleaching or bleach more quickly—and using that data to figure out which reefs are going to be more resilient to climate change … which will feed into where to focus protection efforts. As part of the work, marine scientists often need to do painstaking fish and coral surveys in beautiful but remote locations—which is why The Nature Conservancy sent a science team led by Joanne Wilson and Sangeeta Mangubhai to spend two weeks in November in the Indonesian archipelago of Raja Ampat, known as the global center of marine biodiversity. I caught up with Wilson and Mangubhai—barely dry from all their diving—to get the skinny on what they found, including giant clams and an anchovy fish ball.

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