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Dec 29
2009

"The Dangerous World of Butterflies"

Posted by Bruce Robinson in wildlife , trees , tourism , timber , resources , policy , parks , open space , media , law enforcement , international , government , farms , environment , conservation , author , animals

Bruce Robinson

 Nature lovers versus breeders. Preservationists versus poachers and smugglers.  A history that goes back eons versus threatened extinctions in the 21st  century. These are just some of the stories that lie within the dangerous world of....butterflies?

 Here on the west coast, we enjoy seeing the annual migration of the brilliant orange monarch butterflies, some of which gather in certain trees at the Bodgea Dunes state park on the Sonoma Coast.  But the Monarchs of eastern North America have a longer and far more remarkable migratory cycle.

 

Researching and writing this book on butterflies has opened his eyes in unexpected ways, Peter Laufer (left) says, but it also served to fulfill the unarticulated wish behind the impromptu remark that first set him onto that path.

 

 

 

This video compresses the life cycle of the Painted Lady butterfly into less than three minutes of striking time-lapse photography.

[video:[video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UD0jQH 400x400] 300x300] 


From PeterLaufer.com:

War weary after writing a book about Iraq, Laufer joked before an audience that his next book would be about butterflies. The result: an invitation to a butterfly preserve in Nicaragua. There he stumbled into a theater of intrigue full of strange and nefarious characters-all in pursuit of one of nature's most delicate creatures.

 

The Dangerous World of Butterflies chronicles Laufer's unexpected discoveries in the butterfly industry and underground. Readers will learn everything there is to know about the beauty and magic of butterflies. But Laufer's narrative takes unpredictable turns into the high-stakes realms of organized crime, ecological devastation, species depletion, natural history museum integrity, and chaos theory. Set in locales throughout the Americas and beyond, this fascinating book takes us into a behind-the-scenes world sure to alter our view the next time we delight in the colorful fluttering of butterflies in our yards.

 Butterflies are enormously popular, and have been for centuries, but not everyone loves them. There is even a website for people who are repelled by them.

 

Dec 28
2009

"Tamalpias Walking"

Posted by Bruce Robinson in speaker , parks , open space , ocean , Marin , history , environment , coast , author , art

Bruce Robinson

Marin County artist Tom Killion has spent his life portraying different views of Mount Tamalpias--but filtered through the techniques of Japanese woodcut printmaking.

 

When he set out to draft the text for Tamalpais Walking, Killion discovered he had a lot to learn about the history of Mount Tamalpais.

   Tamalpais Walking is the most recent in a series of collaborations between Killion and poet Gary Snyder, Their previous joint effort was The High Sierra of California in 2002. Killion will be at Copperfields Books in Sebastopol on June 3 to talk about their books.

 

Even though Japanese woodcuts are distinctly stylized, Killion says he was also intrigued by the accuracy of detail that the masters were able to incorporate.

 

Killion's website shows and sells many of his prints, including the samples reproduced below. There is also a page explaining his technique, including this favored hand-powered press.

 

 

 

Oct 08
2009

The Immigrant Paradox

Posted by Bruce Robinson in youth , students , speaker , Santa Rosa , resources , poverty , policy , parks , nonprofit orgs , medicine , jobs , immigration , housing , healthcare , Health , government , food , finances , families , events , employment , education , economy , community , children , California

Bruce Robinson

What segment of California’s population is healthiest?  It’s probably not what you would think.

As Alameda County’s Public Health Officer, Dr. Anthony Iton (left) directed efforts to correlate data from death certificates, parole offices, income reports from the national census and other sources and see where they overlapped in his county. And he found a high correspondence to the areas where poverty is most prevalent.

Taking their cue from the social support systems that many immigrant families enjoy, Dr. Iton suggests that public health departments also instigate informal gatherings of residents in impoverished neighborhoods, as an additional tool for improving their collective well-being.

Dr.  Iton  also co-authored this report (pdf, 87 pages) detailing the relative medical and social factors that shape health outcomes among the population of Alameda County. Similar results apply in Sonoma County and much of California.

 

Aug 06
2009

Wildfire Season

Posted by Bruce Robinson in wildlife , weather , trees , resources , public safety , parks , open space , news , government , environment , California

Bruce Robinson

Another drought-fueled fire season is underway across northern California, when any passing storms are more likely to bring blaze-sparking lightning strikes than enough rain to ease the danger.

CalFire maintains a frequently updated online map of all active fire incidents throughout the state, and you can see it here.

Aug 05
2009

C.A.M.P. 2009

Posted by Bruce Robinson in policy , parks , nonprofit orgs , news , law enforcement , government , environment , economy , drugs , agriculture

Bruce Robinson

California’s annual Campaign Against Marijuana Planting is underway again, and so is the debate over its effectiveness.

The photograph above was taken at a CAMP raid in Shasta County, which has become the county where the state marijuana eradication program is now most active. Sonoma County ranks sixth.

  

CAMP is a project of the California Attorney General's Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement. Spokeswoman Michelle Gregory says an increasing number of the pot growing operations they find are in hard-to-reach areas of the state. But not all of them.

Aaron Smith is the California Policy Director for the national Marijuana Policy Project. He says the state’s aggressive attempts to reduce marijuana growing have actually contributed to the spread of new and better financed farms into remote public lands in California.

Marijuana advocates have for years claimed that pot is California's biggest crop, and now cite govenment figures to support that claim. CAMP spokeswoman Gregory affirmed that much of California's cannabis is exported to other states. Surprisingly, Tennessee is reportedly the second leading pot producing state, far behind California.

The two tables below, as well as the graph above, are taken from the CAMP website.

 

   

Below, some of the marijuana plants shown in the earlier picture are loaded onto trucks to be taken away and destroyed. Photographs from the San Francisco Chronicle.