A Blue Date, a Fallen hero, Gambling with SF Bay and more
Jan. 1, 2010
By David Helvarg
Be the Blue January 13.
The best way to overcome post-holiday blues is to be the blue, to Wear Blue For The Ocean and Great Lakes Wednesday January 13. In a show of support for strong environmental protections weeks before the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force delivers its final recommendations to President Obama (see Blue Notes #63-67) a coalition of citizens and conservation groups including Ocean Conservancy, Ocean Champions, Ocean River, Ocean Defenders, BFC, NRDC, Conservation Law Foundation, Gulf Restoration Network, Pacific Environment and many more are looking to create a wave of action and a media splash to show support for restoring the blue to our red, white and blue. We’ll need to keep spreading the word with the speed of a Bluefin however. So far events and rallies are planned for San Francisco and Seal Beach, California, Washington D.C., Cambridge, New Orleans, Tampa, Houston and Honolulu. To learn more about them or plan your own event – go to wearblueforoceans.org. There are also Wear Blue Facebook and Twitter pages. Other options for the 13th — go to school or work in blue (like the Coast Guard) and explain why. Videotape yourself and your friends in blue, post it and send it to the website. Forget the green flash and create a blue flash mob. Talk about wearing blue to Oprah, Ellen, Ed Begley, Laird Hamilton and Jack Johnson. Whatever you do, do something. Also keep spreading the word through blogs, facebook pages, emails, action alerts, newsletters, you tube, you name it. Remember, you can’t judge a person by what they wear, unless it’s blue on January 13.
Blue Carbon and Copenhagen
We could still turn the tide and avoid the worst impacts of climate change if we mobilized allied nations as we did in World War Two. Instead the recent UN Summit in Copenhagen suggests we’re treating our greatest global threat like the invasion of Grenada. One of the few solid agreements to come out of the talks was for the establishment of a multibillion-dollar fund to reduce deforestation. The burning and clearing of forest is the second largest source of human-generated carbon after the burning of fossil fuels. A recent UN report on “Blue Carbon” suggests that funding needs to be expanded to protect carbon sequestering coastal habitats, specifically mangroves, salt marshes and seagrass meadows that also function as the nurseries, filters and storm barriers of the sea. Sea turtle hatchlings need healthy coastal and marine ecosystems in order to survive. It just so happens that we also need the same healthy ocean ecosystems to survive on this blue planet,” notes coral scientist Steven Lutz who’s organized an international ‘Blue Climate Coalition’ working to bring the Blue Carbon discussion into the mainstream of policy and action.
For a more detailed story on this see my “Blue Bayou Climate Solution” in Huffington Post at:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-helvarg/the-blue-bayou-climate-so_b_388065.html
Dery the Daring
Dery Bennett passed away on December 15, 2009 at the age of 79. Executive Director of the American Littoral Society for over 40 years, he was also a founder and president of New Jersey’s Clean Ocean Action for 25. Dery was a mentor and leader to the ocean and coastal community of the Mid-Atlantic and well beyond. A tall, lanky clam digging ex-Navy sailor, reporter and author with laconic good humor, unwavering principles and brown eyes that could turn from mirthful to mournful in the changing of the light, he was once asked if he was optimistic or pessimistic about the future. “I’d have to say it depends on what day you ask, or what time of day,” he replied before going on to explain the Homeric life cycle of the American Eel, part of his encyclopedic knowledge of the ocean and shore that he loved to hike. He impressed the hell out of me and almost anyone else who ever met, knew or loved him. He leaves huge imprints in the sand for all of us to follow. A successful defender of coastal open spaces against rapacious developers, I know one bit of guff he wouldn’t have tolerated for a moment…
What’s the Point Molate?
I’m finely getting to fight City Hall. As a resident of Richmond California I only became aware of one of my city’s treasures in recent weeks: 422 acres of the last open green space and largest intact eelgrass beds on San Francisco Bay (see Blue Carbon note above). Point Molate contains a historic winery (with an early 20th century brick castle) that later became part of a Navy fuel oil depot before the Navy sold it to the city for a dollar in 2003. The Point Molate headland is an example of the resiliency of nature left unpaved, rapidly reclaiming its terrestrial area as hilly coastal grassland, range-managed by mule deer with colossal Toyons – Christmas Berry shrubs — the size of live oaks, also live oaks, federally protected Suisun Marsh Aster, native Molate Blue Fescue, a unique local bunchgrass horticulturists have bred for landscaping, coyote brush, wild mint, Dutchman’s pipe vine and its rarely seen companion, the pipe vine swallowtail butterfly. “This is the most beautiful area imaginable for grassland geeks,” Botonist Lech Naumovich who’s showing me around, grins happily. I’m hoping a San Francisco State marine biologist might soon show me the 50 acres of submerged plant habitat just beyond the beach. I’m also thinking this could be the third emerald jewel of Bayside green parks along with the Presidio of San Francisco and Fort Baker in Marin.
Unfortunately with its million dollar views of the bay, the city and Mount Tamalpais Point Molate has generated a more predictable plan the city council seems to favor. On January 15, despite opposition from the Mayor, the Governor, the State’s two Senators and what seems to be a lot of Richmond residents, they could vote to transfer title to Upstream LLD, a private consortium put together by Berkeley developer Jim Levine that represents a small band of Pomo Indians he hopes will become California’s next gaming tribe. Levine, who has already paid the city fifteen million non-refundable dollars towards a possible $50 million purchase price, has promised to build the greenest most eco-sustainable Gambling Casino resort, retail shopping, hotel and 300 housing unit complex this side of Las Vegas. He’s also promising tens of millions more dollars from future gambling revenues to the city, county, environmental critics and others. Along with the city land transfer Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar would have to agree to convert Point Molate into reservation land for urban gaming to begin. If Salazar doesn’t but the city has already sold the land Levine could then sell it to a third party like Chevron that has a huge production facility just over the ridgeline and has made an $80 million offer in the past. I think I’ve seen this movie before.
Some on the city council seem to believe the promise of Casino jobs for maids and security guards at a city mandated ‘living wage’ is the best they can hope to provide their low-income constituents, even though I see no indication that this is what the people of Richmond support.
Unfortunately the council’s been given an incentive not to look at the job-generating capacity of working parks like the Presidio and Fort Baker. In Fort Baker, along with a Coast Guard Station, marina and children’s Discovery Museum you have Cavallo Point Lodge, a destination luxury resort that was built on an existing historic site within the park but that didn’t require loss of public ownership, didn’t have to tear down a hillside, impact offshore living resources, pave over a major watershed, install thousands of slot machines or generate wall-to-wall traffic to achieve success.
While our recession and addiction plagued city and state already have dozens of casinos there’s only one undeveloped headland left on San Francisco Bay that could still be a local and world center for natural ecosystem services, youth recreation, education, jobs and opportunities as Point Molate Park.
In addition feel free to call Ken Salazar at the Department of Interior 202-208-7351 to discourage any land transfer at Point Molate (while you have him on the line you could tell him increased offshore oil drilling may be part of a reasonable climate strategy, just not on this planet).
If my Memoir serves us correctly
My next book, ‘Saved by the Sea — A Love Story with Fish,’ comes out with Thomas Dunne Books (an imprint of St. Martin’s) in May. Ocean Explorer Sylvia Earle says, “This book has the power to change the way you think about the world, about yourself, and the future of humankind.” Others I admire including Ted Danson, Philippe Cousteau and Carl Safina praise the book in ways that would make me blush except I only wrote what I know about the changes in my life and our Ocean world over the last half century.
Blue Frontier Campaign will be sending me on a book tour this spring and summer from Boston to Miami, San Diego to Seattle and points beyond. The hope is to not only do bookstore appearances but to work with seaweed groups and organizations to stage book parties and media events that can also highlight the work they (you) do every day to protect and restore healthy oceans and coastal communities from sea to shining sea. If you’d like to be a part of the ‘Saved by the Sea Tour’ please contact BFC at email@example.com
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