Tags >> Marin
Jul 13
2009

SMART's Railcar Decision

Posted by Bruce Robinson in transportation , technology , Sonoma County , policy , planning , nonprofit orgs , Marin , government , finances , environment , energy , economy , design , construction , community , carbon , business , budget , air quality

Bruce Robinson

The Sonoma-Marin commuter train faces a pivotal decision this week, as its directors choose the type of rail cars they will design the rest of the line to match.

The SMART Board of Directors Meets on Wednesday, July 15 at 12:30 pm in the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors chambers to consider the railcar purchase and other business.

 The regulatory standards set by the US Federal Railroad Administration are the biggest single factor shaping SMART's choice for new rolling stock (as railroad cars are often called). SMART General Manager Lillian Hames explains those standards are especially stringent in situations where freight and passenger trains share the same set of tracks.

 The global financial woes of the past year are also affecting SMART, Says Hames, particularly their plans to issue bonds against future sales tax revenues. They are hoping to bridge the funding gap with grants, cost savings in planning and construction, and other measures.

One of the variables tied to the choice of rail vehicles that SMART will use is the height of the floor height above the tracks, which is a function of such design considerations as fuel tank placement and structural engineering. The difference could be 24 inches or more, but either way, the passenger loading platforms at each of the 15 stations along the line will have to be built to match the train's floor level, so that wheelchair users can easily access the cars. These new platforms, says Hames, will likely look quite different than the wooden decks seen along historic train stations.

{mp3remote}http://media.krcb.org/audio/nbr/platformsremote}

 

Jul 12
2009

Drake's Estero

Posted by Bruce Robinson in wildlife , resources , recreation , politics , policy , parks , open space , ocean , nonprofit orgs , news , Marin , legislation , history , government , fish , farms , environment , Congress , coast , activism

Bruce Robinson

 The long-running debate over an historic oyster farm in Drakes Estero, within the  the Point Reyes National Seashore,  has jumped from western Marin County to Washington D.C., and shows few signs of cooling off.

Fredrick Smith, Executive Director of the Environmental Action Coalition of West Marin says that, Senator Feinstein's statements to the contrary, he fears that her legislative intervention on behalf of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company will set a bad precedent that could have wide implications.

 

The fate and future of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company and the Estero has been a long-running and hotly debated issue in the Point Reyes area for years. Recent developments have been chronicled by the Point Reyes Light.

The gorgeous airborne view of the estuary below was taken by Sonoma-based pilot and photographer Robert Campbell . See more of his work here .

 

 

Jun 30
2009

Herons

Posted by Bruce Robinson in wildlife , open space , nonprofit orgs , Marin , environment , birds , animals

Bruce Robinson

 

There's no better time than now to observe young herons and egrets preparing to leave the nest, and few better places than Marin County's Bolinas Lagoon Preserve.

Although they are large birds, herons and egrets are remarkably graceful, says Andy LaFrenz, an Audubon Canyon Ranch board member, which is part of the reason he takes particular pleasure in watching them. The picture below is a Great Blue Heron in flight.

 

Click here to get directions to Bolinas Lagoon Preserve.  Nesting pairs such as these are easy to spot high in the trees, when looking down from their ridgetop viewing platform.

 

 

The 1000 acre Bolinas Lagoon Preserve is owned and administered by Adubon Canyon Ranch, which was founded in 1962 after local preservationists defeated a plan to build a major highway and other urban expansions into the Marin coastal area.

Jun 21
2009

Fungi

Posted by Bruce Robinson in wildlife , water , technology , Science , resources , policy , ocean , media , Marin , Ideas , Health , food , environment , business , author , agriculture

Bruce Robinson

Fungi are the oldest living things on land, and among their estimated two million varieties, they may hold many yet-to-be-discovered medicinal uses and other benefits.

Paul Stamets, founder and president of Fungi Perfecti , has written six books on mushroom cultivation including Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms and The Mushroom Cultivator. In this audio lip, he offers a short history of fungi:

As a dedicated mycologist for more than 30 years, Stamets has discovered or identified four new species of mushroom. Here, he talks about how it feels to make such a discovery.

 Among the many fungal processes that hold great promise for addressing human needs, Stamets points to one that could herald important changes in ethanol production.

 


 

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