Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

The Realities of California’s Drought In Santa Clara County

calero creek fish loss

We’ve all heard the stories and seen the photos on the news about just how bad the drought is in California and other states. But today, as I left my neighborhood of green lawns and gardens and drove out into the country I noticed new evidence that took my breath away. Along one of my favorite riding trails runs Calero creek, an area full of wildlife. Fish, crayfish, birds and of course raccoons, skunks, opossum and the occasional bobcat rely on the daily releases from the reservoir to keep the creek flowing. So do the farmers and homes who use wells and creeks for watering their livestock.

As of yesterday the creek is no longer flowing. The banks are dry, and although there are some areas that still hold a small amount of water, those will dry up soon too.

In a 100 yard section of creek bed I saw scores of fish dead or dying. The remaining pools of water are getting smaller and the wildlife trapped in them will die as well.

Unless we get significant rain, there will be few or no releases of water from the reservoir in the near future and the death toll in the creek is heartbreaking.

According to a resource at the Santa Clara Water District offices, all of the reservoirs that use imported water (pumped in from the California Aquaduct for example) are significantly reducing or completely stopping outflow to the creeks. This includes Calero, and Almaden reservoirs.

According to the water district staff person I spoke with, the California department of fish and wildlife (CDFW) is working with the Water District and tough calls have to be made.

The CDFW has closed several streams to fishing until they determine water flows are adequate. You can find a partial list here. Other streams deemed not as important because there aren’t steelhead present, are simply being “turned off”.

What can you do?
It’s time to take our heads out of the sand folks. Take a look at this photo of what is left of the wildlife in Calero creek and ask yourself if you really need to keep your grass green or take a 15 minute shower. Start thinking about how you can conserve.

The  Santa Clara Valley Water District is asking for a 10% reduction in water use. To meet the reduction goal, the water district will double rebates paid to people who conserve water, promote water conservation laws in cities and use technology to convert the county’s wastewater into drinkable water within five years. But that’s in 5 years. We must conserve now.

Learn more about the California Water Action Plan, which will guide state efforts to enhance water supply reliability, restore damaged and destroyed ecosystems and improve the resilience of our infrastructure.

And while you’re at it. Pray for rain!


Spring in Guadalupe Gardens

The Guadalupe River Park Conservancy, the City, and a variety of sponsors interested in environmental issues put on a nice event today: Spring in Guadalupe Gardens. This was a great chance to enjoy spring weather, maybe pick up a few new plants for the garden, and see how the park is developing. For people with kids there were a bunch of booths with educational presentations on recycling, water conservation, and other environmental topics. On top of that, there was live music and other fun activities.

Shed House Bluegrass Band

Zero Bag Day/Bag Exchange on Earth Day

All Whole Foods Markets will save some trees on Earth Day.


In honor of the day Whole Foods will not “bag” up your purchases. It will be Zero Bag Day at Whole Foods.

Bring in your own reusable bags!

From 4pm to 7pm bring 10 plastic bags to the Whole Foods Market Blossom Hill and “American Assistance for Cambodia” will give you 1 free reusable Clementines Whole Foods Market Bag! (while supplies last)

And at their table (behind the customer service booth) sample a planet earth cookie.

Where: Whole Foods Market Blossom Hill

When: Earth Day – Friday, April 22nd – From 4pm to 7pm.

1146 Blossom Hill Road
San Jose, CA 95118
(408) 266-3700

American Assistance for Cambodia

Earth Day 2011 Weekend Events

Earth DayEarth Day on the Bay celebration at the Marine Science Institute is this Saturday April 16 from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.

This free family friendly event will feature programs with tide pool animals, sharks, fish, plankton, along with fish and shark feedings. Touch a crab, fish, eel or snail. There also will be an exploration of Hawaiian ocean culture, an environmental information fair, arts & crafts, and more.

Marine Science Institute
500 Discovery Parkway
Redwood City, 94063

Saturday April 16, 2011
8:00 am – 5:00 pm

Admission: Free

Full Circle Farm’s annual Earth Day Festival this Sunday, April 17 from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.

An Earth Day celebration of all things fun, vibrant, and fiercely local here in Silicon Valley; this free festival features local food, local musicians, fun and games for all ages, tours of the Farm, and kids activities including: face painting, petting zoo, seed creations, veggie stamping, flower power bookmarks, and more.

Full Circle Farm
1055 Dunford Way
Sunnyvale, 94087

Sunday, April 17, 2011
10:00 am – 3:00 pm

Admission: Free

Coastal Cleanup Day is 9/25/2010!


Last years about this time, I wrote a post recommending that everybody take part in Coastal Cleanup and now it’s rolled around again. From 9:00AM to 5:00PM on Saturday (9/25), people will get down to creeks and waterways around the bay area and clean up the mess! Not sure where to go? Here’s a list of the sites that are being cleaned up today and the condition of the location. You can make a difference, so pick a spot and get down there!

But first, you’ll need to be prepared.

Bring your own gloves, sturdy shoes, sunscreen, a hat and some water (in a recycled bottle please!) and pitch in. You’ll also need to download and sign a waiver to participate, and it’s a good idea to visit the volunteer page for instructions.

In addition, look carefully at the site you’re going to be visiting. We took our 9 year old son with us last year and worked on the Guadalupe Creek cleanup crew. We thought it would be a good way to re-enforce our lessons in taking care of the earth and it was, just not exactly as we planned.

See the Guadalupe has a lot of homeless camps along it’s banks and running into the debris left behind as well as cache’s of the residents’ belongings created a whole new lesson in humanity. Encountering needles and the filth in some of the places we found was actually hazardous. I’m not one to shirk away from doing what needs to be done, but think about what your kids can ruin into down there and prepare them to not disturb someone’s camp, pick up needles etc.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t take kids to cleanup at all. What I AM saying is be prepared and keep an eye on your kids. Pick a site and go cleanup our waterways!

Education Forum at The Tech: Solar Power

The Tech Museum of Innovation is hosting an educational forum presented by the Silicon Valley Education Foundation.

Solar power will an important part of our energy use in the future. Join Alana Conner (VP of Content Development – The Tech Museum), Charles Weis (County Superintendent of Schools), and Tom Werner (CEO SunPower) to discover how education will help you, or your children enjoy a career in the solar energy field.

Monday, June 21
12:00 – 1:30 PM
Note: This event is free and lunch is provided.

The Tech Museum
New Venture Hall
201 South Market Street
San Jose, CA 95113

Visit: Silicon Valley Education Foundation .

Please RSVP

Contact: Rigo Magaña @ (408) 790-9591

Tech Museum Contact: Helena Race, Public Relations Associate, hrace@ the

Drill, Baby, … Still?

Drill, Baby, ... Still?

My downtown neighbor Deborah just posted this great pop/rap video protesting the handling of the recent BP disaster and other massive spill created by offshore oil drilling. That’s Deborah singing lead. She’s joined by AshEL Seasunz for rap vocals.

If you upload a photo of yourself holding a hand-written sign saying “Clean Up the Mess. Start Building Our New Green Economy” to the Drill, Baby, … Still? Facebook page, you may appear in the next version of the video.

Garden tour report

Tour-goers exploring a California native plant garden in south San Jose.

Every year I’ve been on the Going Native Garden Tour, I’ve explored the California native plant gardens of a different part of the South Bay. One year it was Santa Clara and Sunnyvale. Another year, the San Jose downtown core. This year I headed for Los Gatos and San Jose’s Camden and Cambrian areas.

In the Los Gatos hills (actually in Monte Sereno) I saw a grand, 1.7 acre garden, established for 12 years, where a hillside of poppies and blue-eyed grass frame a view across a small valley. Near downtown Los Gatos was a showpiece home garden by designer Alrie Middlebrook, as well as a community volunteer-planted garden at the Art Museum of Los Gatos, also designed by Middlebrook.

Both the Los Gatos garden and one I saw in central southern San Jose were planted on more modest lots. These gardens are on a scale that any homeowner could replicate, saving water and still presenting a beautiful front yard to the neighborhood.

Finally, along Capitancillos Drive in a south San Jose neighborhood, volunteers have planted over a half mile of parkstrip bordering the Capitancillos Meadow with a variety of California native plants, including ceanothus (California lilac), bush lupines, buckwheats, and more. This garden is completely unirrigated, but still makes an attractive and impressive border for the road edging this upscale neighborhood.

My discovery of the day was flannel bush (aka Fremontodendron), a striking tall shrub, with dramatic yellow flowers and dark green foliage. I saw this both at the Monte Sereno hillside garden and on Capitancillos Drive. I only wish I had enough room in my own garden to fit in one of these dramatic plants.

Flannel bush at the Capitancillos Drive parkstrip garden.

Don’t forget, garden tour this Sunday


We’ve mentioned it before, but I thought this would be a good time for a last minute reminder about this Sunday’s Going Native Garden Tour. The tour features dozens of gardens all over Santa Clara County. All of the gardens emphasize native California plants, and most are low-water, low-chemical, and beautiful too. You can still register to join the tour until 3 pm on Sunday (or until the tour reaches capacity). All the details are at the tour website.

Earth Day 2010 Weekend Events

Earth DayEarth Day 40th Anniversary is Thursday April 22; however, there are activities planed for this weekend:

Earth Day celebration at the Marine Science Institute is this Saturday April 17 from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

This free family friendly event will feature programs with tide pool animals, sharks, fish, plankton, along with fish and shark feedings. There also will be an exploration of Hawaiian ocean culture, an environmental information fair, and more.

A special screening of the new documentary Saving the Bay, with director Ron Blatman (10:00 AM & 3:00 PM ).

Marine Science Institute
500 Discovery Parkway
Redwood City, 94063

Full Circle Farm’s Third Annual Earth Day Festival this Sunday, April 18 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.

An Earth Day celebration of all things fun, vibrant, and fiercely local here in Silicon Valley; this free festival features local food, local musicians, fun and games for all ages, petting zoo, tours of the Farm (showing off over 100 new fruit trees), and lots of great information from local organizations on how to enjoy the pleasures of a life lived simply and locally.

Full Circle Farm
1055 Dunford Way
Sunnyvale, 94087

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