Tags >> conservation
Oct 16
2009

Ecosystem Rights

Posted by Bruce Robinson in wildlife , water , trees , speaker , resources , protest , politics , policy , nonprofit orgs , Marin , legislation , land rights , justice , international , Ideas , government , environment , conservation , climate change , birds , author , animals , activism

Bruce Robinson

U.S. law gives constitutional rights to corporations. Now a countervailing legal theory is emerging that defines and defends the legal rights of the environment.

Mari Margill is Associate Director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, based in their West Coast office in Portland, Oregon. But as she explains here, the organization's origins lie in Pennsylvania.


Obtaining legal standing for nature, says Margill, requires enacting new laws to spell that out, something that is beginning to happen in scattered local jurisdictions, but faces an uncertain future on appeal.

 

For more information about CELFD click here.

 

 

 

Sep 30
2009

The Deal for the Dump

Posted by Bruce Robinson in waste , Sonoma County , garbage , environment , conservation , alternative energy , air quality

Bruce Robinson

Even as amended by county supervisors this week, Sonoma County’s plan to sell its dump to a private operator will have to clear some huge hurdles before the deal is done.

If the privatization deal breaks down, says Mike Anderson, Chairman of the Sonoma County Solid Waste Management Task Force, it could open the way for the county to turn instead toward intensive efforts to set and reach a goal of generating zero net waste.

As part of the marathon public hearing on the issue Tuesday, county supervisors did make several amendments to strengthen the proposed contract, noted Brant Arthur, of the Climate Protection campaign.

Republic Services, based in Phoenix, Arizona, operates more than 230 other landfill sites across the United States, including several others in the greater Bay Area. They hope to have the agreement to assume control of the county's 300 acre Meecham Road dumpsite and resume operations there by 2012.

 

 

 

 

Sep 15
2009

Sonoma Coast Wave Power

Posted by Bruce Robinson in West County , weather , water , technology , Sonoma County , resources , planning , ocean , fish , environment , design , conservation , community , coast , climate change , California , alternative energy

Bruce Robinson

Wave power off the Sonoma County coast is a potentially carbon-free source of electricity, but it faces big questions about environmental impacts and economic viability.

You can read more about the project on the Water Agency's website.The image at right shows one prototype of a low-profile generator which could be deployed in an array of dozens of individual units, as illustrated below, to power a sizable area.

The Sonoma County Water Agency's first informational meeting about the wave power studies was held in Gualala on September 9th. Most of the people there, reports Richard Charter, knew nothing about the project before that meeting.


Two other study projects on the Northern California coast have received permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), both issued before the Sonoma County Water Agency's application was approved. Cordell Stillman (left with Water Agency boss Randy Poole) says both sites were sought by PG&E, but other than that, they are quite different in status and approach.

While the entire concept of wave-generated electricity is in its very earliest stages, Richard Charter  (left) observes that it holds some benefits from an environmental perspective, but it is hardly a clear or easy solution to meeting future power needs.

 

Sep 09
2009

United Plant Savers

Posted by Bruce Robinson in resources , open space , nonprofit orgs , medicine , Health , environment , drugs , conservation , climate change , agriculture , activism

Bruce Robinson

 

Preserving biological diversity isn’t the only reason for protecting endangered plant species—in some cases, its good for our health, too.

United Plant Savers emerged in the 1990s, primarily in response to the depletion of naturally occurring supplies of popular medicinal herbs, explains Executive Director Lynda LeMole. Until that time, most of them were harvested by hand, in a process known as “wild-crafting.”

While herbal medicine is most commonly associated with the orient, eastern practitioners have long had a keen appreciation for certain medicinal plants from North America, especially American Ginseng, seen being harvested at left.

 

Commercial cultivation of many medicinal herbs is complicated by the challenges in replicating their natural growing conditions, particularly for those, like American Ginseng, that are found on the forest floor. Even here in Sonoma County, where conditions favor a wide range of crops, many sensitive herbs will not thrive. That's another factor complicating the preservation of the "at risk" herbs on the list below.

United Plant Savers “At-Risk” List 

  • American Ginseng - Panax quinquefolius
  • Black Cohosh - Actaea  racemosa (Cimicifuga)
  • Bloodroot - Sanguinaria canadensis
  • Blue Cohosh - Caulophyllum thalictroides
  • Echinacea - Echinacea spp.
  • Eyebright - Euphrasia spp.
  • False Unicorn Root - Chamaelirium luteum
    Goldenseal - Hydrastis canadensis
  • Lady’s Slipper Orchid - Cypripedium spp.
  • Lomatium - Lomatium dissectum
  • Osha - Ligusticum porteri, L. spp.
  • Peyote - Lophophora williamsii
  • Slippery Elm - Ulmus rubra
  • Sundew - Drosera spp.
  • Trillium, Beth Root -Trillium spp.
  • True Unicorn - Aletris farinosa
  • Venus’ Fly Trap - Dionaea muscipula
  • Virginina Snakeroot - Aristolochia serpentaria
  • Wild Yam - Dioscorea villosa, D. spp.

 

There is a full list of botanical sanctuaries (including three  in northern California) among the  resources at the United Plant Savers website.


Lynda LeMole, Executive Director of United Plant Savers, will be the featured speaker tonight at the Science Buzz Café  in their new home at the Youth Annex adjacent to the Sebastopol Community Center, at 7 pm.

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