Thursday, October 16. 2008
The environmental impact report is in and it pans SDGE's proposal for a powerline from southeastern CA across large expanses of wild territory and into the San Diego metropolitan area. While SDGE is touting it as a transporter of "green energy" their own people admit that they don't know how much green energy the line will really transport. The powerline would most likely be used to transport power generated by extremely dirty generators just across the border in Mexico. And again, everyone but a few rich people will pay for it and suffer the consequences.
Saturday, September 6. 2008
Some updates have been done to the following pages on the website of the California Chaparral Institute:
Threats to Chaparral - There are a lot of threats to southern California's native chaparral ecosystems. Here is a good summary.
Fire and Science - Pseudo-science is often used by all sides in the complex fire debate that rages year-round in southern California. (Sometimes I think listening to all these fights is worse than the fires!) The California Chaparral Institute attempts to bring some real fire science into the debate.
Native Americans - A lot of people want to point to pre-Columbian native techniques as the "right way" to manage chaparral and fire. But that's bogus because 1) we're not sure that the native Americans were harmless to the environment and 2) there were no invasive European and Asian species to cause the type conversion that is creating so many problems in the 21st century. You can learn more on this "Native Americans" page.
Fire Safe Techniques - What can YOU do to prevent your home from burning down? It's common for us to think about what the government should do or about what the fire departments should do or about what our neighbors should do, but the one thing we can control is our own behavior. What can we do to make our homes and yards less likely to burn? That's the big jackpot. When the fire does come, how can we survive it intact? The California Chaparral Institute is starting to put together a page that will consolidate the best information, links, and products all in one place.
Saturday, September 6. 2008
The most populous part of one of the most populous states (southern California) is built right in the middle of an amazing old-growth ecosystem and most of those millions of people are totally oblivious to it. And when they do think about it at all, a lot of them have some pretty crazy ideas about chaparral. Rick Halsey is doing a series about the Myths of Chaparral on his blog. You should read it.
Friday, September 5. 2008
Friday, June 20. 2008
wildbird in Native/Non-native Issues
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Sunday, June 15. 2008
The large wildfires that we've been having present both a direct and an indirect threat to the native chaparral ecosystems of southern California. The direct threat is of "type conversion" - when healthy chaparral is replaced by weeds and grasses. The indirect threat is that these huge fires scare people into doing foolish things such as clearing or "prescribed burns" in the wildlands.
We think that a county-wide fire department will be able to make faster and more effective use of our firefighting resources. This will reduce (but never eliminate) the number and extent of these large wildfires which will keep people safer and give them more peace of mind. A more cool-headed populace won't push the politicians into doing stupid things and that will be good for the chaparral.
It should be a no-brainer but naturally, like all things in southern California, there is contention about forming a county-wide fire department. The San Diego Board of Supervisors will be meeting at 9AM on June 25th to consider the consolidation of all rural fire districts into one county-wide entity. This is a good first step and it should be encouraged.
It will also be a good opportunity to voice your opposition to the board's plans (approved on May 14th) to burn large amounts of wild chaparral in the county in a misguided attempt to make us safer in the cities. This, of course, is a foolish act which will lead to much larger and faster moving wildfires in the weedlands which follow the fires. We need to keep pushing back against this plan. It's not over until the land is burned.
You can learn more about these issues at the San Diego Regional Fire Safety Forum website. They are an organization made up not of politicians and weed control companies, but of experienced firefighters and wildland experts who really know what they are talking about.
Thursday, June 5. 2008
The California Chaparral Institute publishes a quarterly newsletter titled "The Chaparallian". It's very good and this month's edition focuses on old-growth chaparral. Yes, there is old growth chaparral and it is as breathtaking as any old growth forest when you are inside of it. The Chaparralian is available only to members so go there and join up. (And ask for your own copy of number 26 when you do!) The Chaparral Institute and its leader, Rick Halsey, are the most active advocates for our chaparral ecosystems that I know of, so you will also be helping to save these remaining patches of old growth.
Saturday, April 19. 2008
...maybe not yet, but it's well past noon.
You've read about it here before: SDG&E wants to build a new high voltage powerline across San Diego county, ruin some very pristine lands, and subject us all to even greater risk of wildfires. There are many reasons not to do it and San Diego County Department of Planning and Land Use has done a very good job of listing them. Check it out here. It's all still in the "draft" stage, so they haven't technically rejected the whole project, but it doesn't look good for SDG&E at this point.
People, contact your government and tell them to completely reject this ridiculous proposal. If enough of us call and write they will listen; you know why? Because the average citizen never bothers to contact them. Be the voice that matters. The California Public Utilities Commission has a section of their website dedicated to this project. Visit it here.
I do not focus on the Sunset Powerlink in this blog, but here is an excellent one that covers both the Powerlink fiasco and the alternatives:
Saturday, April 19. 2008
Rick Halsey of the California Chaparral Institute talked to residents of Del Dios today about wildfire, wildflowers, and the future of the chaparral in our area. Then he led a walk through part of the San Dieguito River Park to illustrate his words. Here's a photo that Janet took of the talk:
As you can see, they do these things nicely in Del Dios, with music, a potluck, organized by Michelle DePriest. The walk took about 35 to 40 participants of all ages through a part of the park that is closed to the general public, and many interesting plants and insects were found including a nice stand of Phacelia grandiflora - the latest act in nature's big wildflower show this year.
Rick will be doing another presentation and wildflower walk at the Elfin Forest Garden Festival on April 26th, 2008. Read about it here and reserve your tickets.
Tuesday, April 15. 2008
I was riding my bike, the other day and I had stopped to listen to the birds in a riparian zone when I detected motion near my feet. I looked down and saw a whole bunch of these ladybug larvae:
I didn't have my camera with me, so that photo is from Bugguide.net, an excellent site for identifying insects.
There were a lot of these larvae crawling around and attaching themselves to a whole crop of small, 4" tall plants alongside the road. When I got home I looked them up and found that they are Seven spotted lady beetle larvae, unfortunately non-native.
Today I was riding there again and stopped to look. They had all attached themselves and some had finished pupating (is that the right term) into adults, but most were still in the process. I didn't have my camera today, either, so I snipped off a piece of plant with the pupa on it and brought it home with me. Here's a closeup:
You can click that picture to see a larger version.
After I had taken some photos and put the plant outside I got to looking at them and finally noticed the plant that they are on. Look at those tiny flowers. What in the world are they? Here's a photo that shows a bit more of the plant:
I had snipped off the top half of a plant, but the bottom is mostly stalk with one or two branches similar to these. Oh, and you can see the remains of another SSLB that has already finished pupating.
So what you thought was a posting about a non-native insect has turned out to be another plant ID question. If anyone knows what this plant is, could you let me know? Thanks.
[Susan M. ID's this as a Spergularia, but exact species unknown. Thanks Susan!]
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