Monday, May 30, 2011

Follow-up on Noyo Redwoods - SUCCESS!

In November of last year I passed along an an appeal from the Save the Redwoods League to help protect the Noyo redwoods. It was marked for harvest and was set to be cut down on April 1st. It turns out that we (the people of California) were successful and dug in to make a difference - the Noyo redwoods now belong to the Save the Redwoods League, where they're safe. Some of the trees even bear marks where they were planned to be cut down - talk about the nick of time. This was done privately, without taxpayer support, which is increasingly how it seems we're going to have to do conservation.

Unfortunately the same is not true of our state parks. Out of the 70 that are being closed, SIXTEEN of them contain redwood forests. California can't afford to lose this resource. They're a symbol of the state. The Redwoods League is working to protect them too - learn more here.

How Do We Understand Sports Events?

From XKCD:

Seriously. Go read the game summaries on ESPN after a baseball series or especially after March Madness games. Somehow the consruction of a cause-effect narrative out of somewhat random events is much more obvious in print than when you just hear it.

It works for end-of-the-day stock market narratives, especially noticeable on the radio. "Profit-taking caused..." "...on investor anxiety..." etc.

If basketball is your thing, an interesting article about the bias in how the Lebron James story plays out in the media. Here's another one having fun with all the Cleveland fans boo-hooing last summer when he left.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Best Hike in Cleveland National Forest

Just want to give a shout out to Frank at for his quick resonse to my question about a previous hike in the Trabuco Unit of Cleveland National Forest. Start at San Juan Trail across from the candy story on Ortega Highway (74), then across the creek and up up and away on Chiquito Trail to the falls. The area above the falls has easily the nicest riparian woodland I've seen anywhere in this NF. Frank has a trail description and a great video of the falls too:

Many people do this as a car shuttle and come out above the falls at the top instead of returning to the candy store parking lot.

To stay on-message: let's hope Cleveland National Forest doesn't get closed down like the state is trying to do to its parks. For those of you fiction-minded outdoorsy types out there, Kim Stanley Robinson predicted back in 1988 that exactly this will happen in his novel The Gold Coast, about an Orange County in 2067 where people are packed in like sardines - including in the by-then-fully-developed former National Forest.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

San Jacinto = Lots of Snow as of 25 May 2011

Tried San Jacinto yesterday. Too snowy! It just wasn't fun so I turned around just before Little Round Valley. Someone I know went up the east side from the tram and made it but said it was still damn annoying. At least the waterfalls and creeks are going, and I got some purty pitchers.

It's worth mentioning that San Jacinto isn't one of the 70 state parks that's set to close this year - unless you help stop it.

Sharks and Sherpas

1) Friend Anup sends me an article from Surfer Magazine about some total nutbar in Northern Territory, Australia who rides great white sharks. What's wrong with people.

2) Check out this Outside Magazine feature about a Sherpa former Himalaya-guide, current taxi driver in New York. I've seen someone make the opposite transition when I met a Nepali guy in a mountain village there who had just come back from New York and brought his new American wife with him, so now the circle is complete. I should point out that I disagree with this Sherpa guy strenuously on the value of Oregon pinot noir but aside from that seems like an interesting dude.

Friday, May 13, 2011

We're Losing Our Best State Parks





If melodrama is ever appropriate, it's appropriate now. Jerry Brown has proposed a list of state parks to close, which is being discussed as a done-deal. Many of the state's gems are on it. This seems to have become an annual occurrence and I wonder how much longer it can last without actually happening. In the meantime, WRITE THE GOVERNOR AND YOUR SENATOR AND REPRESENTATIVE IF YOU CARE AT ALL. I've put a template at the end of this post. The parks themselves have a website where you can learn more here.

I can't describe how sad this makes me. California is the most beautiful spot on this planet, and we're not taking our responsibility to take care of it for our kids seriously. For many of us, Each of these parks is a reason to live in California. Each of these parks that closes is one less reason to want to live here. If you run across this post please contribute your own list.

You can read the full list at the Union-Tribune or Chronicle articles, but here are the ones that just break my heart. In total there are 70. Maybe it's time to visit the state parks website and plan your summer vacation. Quickly.

San Diego:
- Palomar
- San Pasqual

Bay Area:
- Castle Rock
- Henry W. Coe SP
- Olompali
- Petaluma Adobe
- Portola Redwoods
- Samuel P. Taylor (This is an absolute disaster. How could this happen?!?)
- Tomales Bay

Rural Sonoma and points further north:
- Annadel
- Castle Crags
- Del Norte Coast Redwoods SP (OLD GROWTH REDWOODS! Maybe the Feds could take it over since it's adjacent to national parks.)
- Hendy Woods SP
- Sugarloaf Ridge

It's pretty annoying that the people who write these articles never say what "closed" means. (Come on, Mike Lee at the Union-Tribune and Adam Weintraub at AP!) (UPDATE: Mike Lee at the Union-Tribune was good enough to write me back and said this: "Great question...i'll include that in next version... short answer: putting locks on the gates and doing their best to keep people out... will have irregular patrols. Thanks for the query.")

Does it mean the land just won't be manned or maintained, but the state will maintain possession of the land, and members of the public enter at their own risk? (Not great, but the best outcome if they're ("closed".)

Or does it mean that five years from now the redwoods will be gone and there will be condos there?

In one case in the last couple years (Fort Ross) the state convinced Russia to shoulder some of the burden of keeping it open. At the time Schwarzenegger billed this as a positive development, but I don't know about you; having to beg for money from Russia to keep a park operating doesn't seem like it should be a point of pride.

Whatever happens, these lands must be preserved as open space.

Today, for the first time, I considered raising my future children somewhere besides California.

Here's the one I'm sending. Cut and paste and modify if it helps you. I have already dropped this in the mail to my senator and assembly member. Look up your state legislator here).


Dear []:

I am deeply saddened by Governor Brown's proposal to close 70 state parks. This is an abject disaster.

One of the reasons I chose to move to California to live and work and raise a family, despite the high cost of living and challenged educational infrastructure, is the state's amazing park system. Each park that closes tips that equation in the wrong direction, for me and many, many other voters and taxpayers. For the first time today I imagined taking my California-funded medical degree, and raising my family outside the state. There is a point beyond which living in California no longer represents a good deal for the taxpayer, and we're approaching it.

Regardless of the eventual solution for these lands - that is, whether they remain state parks, or are administered by another entity or in another way - they absolutely must be protected from development, preferably in a way that keeps them open to the public. Even if this means making them state-owned use-at-your-own-risk zones, that's certainly better than redwoods being cut down to build condos. Otherwise California will become New Jersey, and the flow of high-earning in-migrants from elsewhere in the country will stop. It bears mentioning that growth has already slowed substantially in the past decade.

Please do the right thing and do not support this aspect of the proposed budget. Cutting these parks won't put California in the black. It will also be noticed by the many voters in your district who are organized and who value open space and parks.