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HELIX WATER SPARES LAKE JENNINGS TEMPORARILY

By Miriam Raftery

November 22, 2013 (La Mesa) – Several directors of the Helix Water Board indicated a willingness to vote to close Lake Jennings permanently or at least remove camping facilities and end fish stocking to save funds. But in the end, after public testimony and a proposal by director Joel Scalzitti, the board unanimously voted to form a committee to see if an alternative can be found.

Carlos Lugo, General Manager, led off the hearing earlier this month by stating that a  September workshop on the issue did not have a high attendance.  The lake has been a financial drain on the district and a consultant’s analysis predicted that even investing in major upgrades would not result in a profit.

CITY TO DRAIN DOWN LAKE MORENA STARTING DECEMBER 1

 

Update: View 10 News interviews on this issue

Interim Mayor Todd Gloria ignores objections over negative impacts including fish kills, fire danger

By Miriam Raftery

November 17, 2013 (Lake Morena) – Unless the County agrees to fork over $1.7 million,  San Diego’s interim Mayor Todd Gloria has announced his approval of plans for the City of San Diego to drain down Lake Morena to 2,967 feet and transfer the water to Barrett and Otay Lakes.    His decision ignores warnings from  Supervisor Dianne Jacob and a report by County Parks and Recreation staff, which warns that such action could have “negative impacts on public safety, the environment, recreation and the local economy.”

THE THRILL IS GONE: CUYAMACA COLLEGE SHUTS DOWN BIKERS' "BUMPS" TO RESTORE NATURE PRESERVE

 

State orders habitat restoration; college urges bikers to organize and seek new site

November 18, 2013 (Rancho San Diego) -- Cuyamaca College has begun to enforce restrictions on use of a nature preserve at the Rancho San Diego campus that has been a popular – but illegal – spot for young bike riders.

The area off Fury Road in Rancho San Diego has long been used by bikers who created dirt mounds that enabled them to perform their daredevil tricks. The college is closing the area, part of a sensitive wildlife habitat, while it removes the bumps and replants vegetation to restore the area to its natural state.

USDA INVESTS IN RESEARCH TO CONVERT BEETLE-KILLED TREES INTO RENEWABLE ENERGY

 

November 18, 2013 (Washington D.C.) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA has awarded nearly $10 million to a consortium of academic, industry and government organizations led by Colorado State University (CSU) and their partners to research using insect-killed trees in the Rockies as a sustainable feedstock for bioenergy.

The award, provided under the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), is part of USDA's effort to develop modern solutions for climate challenges in agriculture and natural resource management. AFRI is provided under the Farm Bill, and Secretary Vilsack highlighted the need for passage of a comprehensive, long-term Food, Farm and Jobs Bill to continue groundbreaking agricultural research across the nation.

WHEN "GREEN" IS NOT CLEAN

 

Originally posted on San Diego Loves Green

By Roy L. Hales

November 18, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – The #1 source of Greenhouse Gases is not buildings or transportation, but electricity. That’s because 42% of it is still generated from coal. There are other questions regarding natural gas, which now supplies a quarter of the nation’s power, and aging nuclear plants. Renewable energy sources – hydroelectricity, biomass, wind, and solar – supply 13%. These are supposedly all “clean,” but some have actually caused great damage to the environment.

WHY OUR RIVER IS A MESS

River cleanup and monitoring events planned Nov. 17 and 18

By Jordan Schaffner

November 13, 2013 (San Diego)--Living on the San Diego River can be amazing.  For a while, it seemed to change every day.  It could be dark green and deep, beautiful with a flowing current.  Living here gives you a sense of being on a camping vacation every day, just by looking at it. Yet we are still in central San Diego. Since it is a nature preserve, many wild creatures come and go, making the river their home.  Some permanent, some temporary.

MASSIVE BAT KILLS REVEALED AT WIND PROJECTS

 

November 11, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Wind turbines killed over 600,000 bats last year in the United States. That’s according to BioScience, which made the projection based on the startling number of dead bats found at 21 facilities.  The number could be even higher, nearly a million bat deaths, according to the author, Mark Hayes at the University of Colorado.

ARBOR DAY AT MISSION TRAILS DEC. 7

 

November 9, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Arbor Day in Mission Trails is being celebrated at the Equestrian Staging area on Saturday, December 7, 2013, 9:00 a.m. The public is invited to take part in the donation and/or planting of oak trees. Volunteers may help with the planting - or act as cheerleaders. Volunteers are also needed to pull weeds and help with general landscape maintenance of the area. Some shovels will be available, but Mission Trails says it would be helpful if you could bring your own. Gloves and comfortable shoes are recommended. To make a donation, please complete and mail the Arbor Day Donation Form.

ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY CRUISE SHIPS

 

By Roy L Hales

November 6, 2013 (San Diego) – Cruises are popular getaways, and many ships depart from Southern California.  Only some cruise lines have better environmental records than others.  Marcie Keever, of Friends of the Earth report, recently did an evaluation of 162 cruise ships to help people choose green and sustainable businesses.

Among cruise ships departing from San Diego, for example, ratings ranged from “A” to “F” depending on the cruise line and category.

ENERGY DEMONSTRATION HOUSE IN SANTEE SAVED 49.9% ON ENERGY COSTS

 

 

Photo by Erik Hauenstein

November 6, 2013 (San Diego) – An “Energy Demonstration House” featured on the San Diego Sustainability Tour in September has generated 49.9% in energy savings for the homeowners.   This ‘Clark Kent’ of households was transformed into an energy super-hero to showcase the simply things homeowners can do to slash energy costs and live more comfortably and sustainably – and how to use it using other people’s money.

HELIX WATER TO WEIGH OPTIONS WEDNESDAY FOR FUTURE OF LAKE JENNINGS

 

Closure of popular recreation facility among options

By Miriam Raftery

 

November 3, 2013 (La Mesa) – At its meeting on Wednesday, November 6, Helix Water District will vote on whether to have staff prepared detailed reports on four options for the future of Lake Jennings. Those options include:

  • close the lake to the public and decommission campgrounds and fishing facilities,
  • limit public access to only hiking, picnicking and fishing- -but the lake would no longer be stocked with fish and campgrounds would be decommissioned,
  • Maintain camping and fishing and invest $1,600,000 to $3,600,000 in renovations, or
  • Create a master plan for renovation and expansion based on the 2007 Lake Jennings Campground Master Plan at a cost of $8 million to $15 million, with additional expenses for permitting, environmental impact and mitigation.

DUAL DEATHS IN WIND TURBINE FIRE HIGHLIGHT HAZARDS

 

Could Vestas' fire-prone turbines be installed in East County?

By Miriam Raftery

October 31, 2013 (Netherlands) – Two young mechanics, ages 19 and 21, died when a fire broke out in a wind turbine where they were performing  routine maintenance.  The tragedy occurred at Deltawind’s Piet de Wit wind farm in the Netherlands, but highlights the hazards associated with fires caused by wind turbines.

According to the Netherlands Times, “because of the height, the fire department initially had trouble extinguishing the fire in the engine room.”  The fire started in the afternoon, but it took until evening for a special team of firefighters to arrive and ascend with a large crane.

LIGHTS OFF IN OCOTILLO: OUTAGE RAISES QUESTIONS OVER AIR SAFETY

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 25, 2013 (Ocotillo) – Wind turbines in Ocotillo went offline on October 21 for several days due to SDG&E maintenance on Sunrise Powerlink, according to Matt Dallas with Pattern Energy .  Flashing red lights on the turbines that normally warn aircraft of the 500-foot-tall structures have also been dark, raising questions of safety for pilots at the site near the Borrego airport.

PUBLIC MEETINGS TUES. & WED. ON SDG&E PROPOSAL IN CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST AND NEARBY PROPERTIES

October 21, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Two scoping meetings are planned this week in Julian and Alpine  for the public to obtain information and voice views on a proposal by San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E)  that includes Cleveland National Forest lands.  SDG&E wants to combine over 70 existing special use permits for electric facilities in the forest into one Master Special Use Permit.  In addition, SDG&E wants to replace some power lines and distribution liens both inside and outside the forest  including fire hardening, relocation and undergrounding of certain facilities.

Areas impacted include the vicinity of Descanso, Campo, Pauma Valley, Santa Ysabel, and Warner Springs.

CUYAMACA RANCHO STATE PARK: MEETING ON GENERAL PLAN NOVEMBER 12

 

October 17, 2013 (San Diego's East County)--California State Parks (CSP) invites you to the third public meeting for the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park General Plan. The primary purpose of the meeting is to receive your thoughts, ideas and concerns about the Preferred Alternative Plan and General Plan proposals which will be presented at the meeting.  View the agenda here

The meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 12 from 6-8 p.m. at the Marriott San Diego Mission Valley Cabrillo Room, 8757 Rio San Diego Drive, San Diego 92108.

CONTROVERSIAL NET METERING MEASURE SIGNED INTO LAW BY GOVERNOR BROWN

 

By Paul Kruze

“The way everything has turned out, the energy hogs are being rewarded…Now, no matter how much you conserve energy, no matter how much you generate, the residential ratepayers are stuck with this.” – Pete Hasapopoulos, San Diego Sierra Club

October 11, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) -- Amid a chorus of cheers and jeers, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 327 reflecting the first change to electric rates and how  major power utilities account for residential rooftop solar systems.

Introduced by Fresno Democrat Party Assemblyman Henry T. Perea, the legislation directs the California Public Utilities Commission to design a new net metering program that would take effect within four years. The bill also gives the CPUC authority to require utilities to source more than 33 percent of their power from renewable sources like wind and solar. In addition, the new law will replace the electric rate restrictions adopted by  California during the state’s energy deregulation crisis in 2000.

GARDENING SAN DIEGO STYLE: PLANTSTRAVAGANZA NOV. 2

 

 

 

 

Dorcas E. Utter Butterfly Pavilion and diverse plant sale at Water Conservation Garden

October 11, 2013 (Rancho San Diego) -- Considering fall and winter as prime gardening months would be scoffed at in many parts of the United States, but not in San Diego, with its Mediterranean climate characterized by mild-to-cool wet winters, and warm-to-hot dry summers.  The Fall Planstravaganza!, held at the Water Conservation Garden from 9am-4pm on Saturday, November 2, 2013, helps San Diegans make the most of the region’s fall-to-spring planting season and save water while they do it.

NO SUNNY WELCOME FOR SOLAR DEVELOPER IN PINE VALLEY

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 9, 2013 (Pine Valley) --- Planners and residents provided a frosty reception to representatives from ecoplexus tonight.  Planners voted unanimously, 11-0, to find the company’s proposed solar project inconsistent with the Central Mountain Regional Plan and the County’s General Plan.

By energy industry standards, this is a small “green” project—three megawatts on two 12-acre parcels at Buckman Springs Road and Old Highway 80.  But to residents in this rural area, the project seems substantial intrusion along scenic highways without tangible benefits to Pine Valley residents.

To say it was a tough crowd would be an understatement.

FUTURE OF “GREEN” POLICIES IN SAN DIEGO ASSESSED IN GREEN EXPERTS ACADEMY FORUM

 

By Paul Kruze

View videos of the forum:  http://youtu.be/OJtTm5CKagM; http://youtu.be/Un5b_TJUaYA;

http://youtu.be/ixahMxpdK6g

October 3, 2013 (San Diego)--In an attempt to make heads or tails out of the fallout from the resignation of former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, the Green Experts Academy held a forum entitled “San Diego Civic Crisis: Where Does The Green Sector Go From Here?” at the Cricket Communications headquarters in Kearney Mesa on September 26th.

HIDING MORTALITY: THE WOLFE ISLAND SLAUGHTER

 

By Jim Wiegand, wildlife biologist

September 27, 2013 (San Diego's East County) -- While Altamont Pass operators have been hiding most of their wind turbine mortality with search intervals of 30-90 days, the rest of North American wind farms hide mortality by using search areas that are far too small.  By using only 50 meter search areas for their huge new turbines, the wind facility operators can easily hide over 90% of fatalities caused from turbine blade strikes.

SUPERVISORS APPROVE WORK PLAN FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY

 

“We supported the renewable energy plan but we wanted it done in the right. The stakeholders advisory group is biased and stacked. It’s all industry…” – Donna Tisdale, Chair, Boulevard Planning Group

By Alex Riggins

September 26, 2013 (San Diego)  – The County Board of Supervisors  voted 5-0  on Wednesday to approve a work plan for a comprehensive renewable energy plan. The plan includes options for creating an alternative to SDG&E such as a publicly owned utility district, as well as plans for the type, scale and location of energy development. A cost analysis and comparison of various energy options was removed, however.

The work plan will analyze ways in which the county can move forward with renewable energy options. It was approved unanimously after the Board heard public comments and deliberated for nearly two hours on Wednesday morning.  The plan drew support from the energy industry and concerns from rural residents.

WINE TASTING SEPT. 29 TO HELP RE-OPEN SIERRA CLUB'S FOSTER LODGE, REBUILD CABIN LOST IN CHARIOT FIRE

 

September 22, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – The Sierra Club invites the public to a benefit to raise funds for rebuilding a cabin lost in the Chariot Fire on July , and to celebrate the fact that the historic Foster Lodge survived the wildfire on Mount Laguna.  While there was insurance coverage, the Chapter needs to raise funds to offset a $10,000 deductible and other costs not covered to get the lodge reopened for business.

ENVRIONMENTALISTS WEIGH CHALLENGE AFTER SAN DIEGO CITY COUNCIL APROVES CASTLEROCK PROJECT AND TRANSFER OF LAND TO SANTEE

 

By Nadin Abbott

September 17, 2013 (San Diego)—The San Diego City Council voted 7-0 to approve the controversial Castlerock housing project on the border of Santee and San Diego. The resolution proposed by Council Member Scott Sherman (District 7) and Council Member David Alvarez (District 8) reads in part, “approve the Staff’s recommendation (Annexation being the preferred scenario).”

It is clear that San Diego would prefer the project to go to Santee.  One key reason is fire response, which San Diego Fire Department cannot do in a timely manner, due to the location of the nearest fire stations and how busy Santee roads can be at rush hour.  With annexation, Santee will have jurisdiction to dispatch fire engines and other emergency services.

SAN DIEGANS TO PROTEST KEYSTONE PIPELINE SEPT. 21, VOW CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE IF APPROVED

By Miriam Raftery

 

September 20, 2013 (San Diego) -- Over 100 San Diegans will gather outside the Federal Building downtown on Saturday to call on President Obama to reject a permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would carry tar sands oil from Canada to Texas for refining and export. San Diego’s event is one of roughly two hundred “Draw the Line” events planned around the country, part of a nationwide day of action sponsored by 350.org and other climate action groups.

President Obama has said he would approve completion of the 1,700-mile pipeline from Alberta to Gulf Coast refineries only if it would not “significantly exacerbate” carbon pollution, adding that the pipeline’s net effects on the climate would be “absolutely critical” to his decision. 

350.org contends that the pipeline would increase pollution by the equivalent of adding 9 million cars to the highways, also creating water pollution and other problems.

MAYORAL CANDIDATES AMONG PANELISTS AT GREEN EXPERTS ACADEMY FORUM

 

September 18, 2013 (San Diego ) – On September 26, the Green Experts Academy presents a panel focused on green jobs, the clean tech sector development, renewable energy, climate mitigation, solar and the vision for America’s Finest Green City.  Participants include mayoral candidates David Alvarez, Nicole Capretz, Office of Interim Mayor Todd Gloria, Deanna Sphen, Office of Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins, and other green experts.

CASTLEROCK PROJECT TO BE HEARD BY SAN DIEGO CITY COUNCIL SEPTEMBER 16

 

 

Environmental concerns, conflict of interests by Lightner raised

By Miriam Raftery

September 16, 2013 (San Diego) – San Diego’s City Council will hold a hearing today at 2 p.m. on the controversial Castlerock housing project.  The project is proposed by Pardee Homes near the boundary between Santee and San Diego.   The Planning Commission previously recommended annexing land for the project to Santee. Council has the option to approve, modify or disapprove the project and if approved, to determine whether or not it should be transferred to Santee’s jurisdiction.

Campaign contribution forms reveal that Council President Sherri Lightner accepted $4300 in donations from 12  Pardee Homes employees during her primary challenge. “If Pardee reimbursed its employees, the contributions would be illegal. Regardless of the contributions legality, we believe Pardree’s contributions are an inappropriate attempt to purchase your vote for a quadruple up-zone on Castlerock,”  wrote Van Collingsworth, executive director of Preserve Wild Santee, in a letter to Lightner.

Comments submitted jointly by the Chaparral Institute and Preserve Wild Santee raised serious concerns over water supplies, traffic, environmental and public health impacts if the project is built near Mission Trails Regional Park.

SOLAR HOMES TOUR SEPT. 21 INCLUDES EAST COUNTY HOMES

 

September 15, 2013 (San Diego's East County)--The non-profit San Diego Renewable Energy Society’s 13th San Diego Sustainability Tour features free, open house tours of 10 energy-smart homes showcasing the gamut of energy efficiency and solar solutions San Diegans are employing to slash utility bills, power their electric vehicles (EVs), improve property values and reap rich tax credits and cash rebates as they hedge against September’s rising energy costs.

Residential: Homeowners and qualified contractors will be on-hand at 10 winning residential sites across the county. In a unique twist, join the East County Solar Guy for a boots-on-the-roof solar installation in progress in La Mesa on September 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., plus you can see two other solar homes in East County.

ACTIVIST MEETING: CLIMATE CHANGE AND XL KEYSTONE PIPELINE SEPT. 16

 

September 14, 2013 (San Diego) – Activist San Diego is holding a general meeting on September 16, beginning at 7 p.m., at Joyce Beers Center, 3900 Vermont St., San Diego.  The meeting will address climate change and the XL Keystone Pipeline.

FUNDS SOUGHT FOR CHOCOLATE CREEK/PEUTZ CREEK WILDLIFE CORRIDOR: SEPT. 19 DEADLINE

 

 

September 14, 2013 (Lakeside/Dehesa) – San Diego River Park Foundation is striving to secure $850,000 in grant funds to save the 152-acre Chocolate Summit/Peutz Creek Conservation area between Dehesa and Lakeside. They needed to raise $37,500 by September 19, of which just $4,171 remains to be raised.  Every dollar given will result in $22 in grant funds.

This undeveloped land is the last remaining key piece of this wildlife corridor within our conservation area, according to the Foundation’s Facebook Page.  For details and donations visit: http://www.sandiegoriver.org/peutz_creek.php

 A biology report identified this property as part of a "large regional linkage for wildlife between Dehesa and Lakeside that has been identified as important to maintain the diversity of wildlife in the region." Hundreds of  plant and animal species have been identified or are expected to be located on this important property, including:

BILL TO PROTECT BOBCATS PASSES LEGISLATURE

 

Local legislators divided on measure

Photo: Bobcat family in Lakeside, photo by Billy Ortiz

September 13, 2013 (Sacramento) – A bill to prohibit trapping of bobcats around public parks and wildlife refuges in California is now on the Governor’s desk awaiting signature.  The bill, AB 1213, would also prohibit trapping bobcats on private property without the landowner’s permission.   

An estimated 1,813 bobcats were killed in the 2011-2012 license season, up 51% over the prior year. The vast majority of those (1,499) were taken by trappers, the rest by hunters.  Bobcat pelt prices have soared from $78 in 2009 to over $700 today, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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