Jun 21, 2010

Thanks Science

Science has a good cluster of coverage on the oil disaster on it's website. Check it out here: http://news.sciencemag.org/oilspill/.

There's a ticker at the top called "By the Numbers". The number that sticks with me is the one stating that as of June 18th there were 120 EPA scientists, engineers, and contractors sampling air, water and sediment.

Anyone else underwhelmed?

Jun 19, 2010

Oil Spill Map

If you're trying to follow the oil spill in the Gulf and are having a hard time dealing with the news coverage, I recommend this mapping tool provided by NOAA. As a geographer and GIS consultant, I'm happy to see a publicly accessible GIS for the oil spill. I've only spent a little time using it but I found it  robust in terms of the breadth of the data and their interpretability. Gaps and limitations are noticeable but for such a large scale, I'm impressed.

One thing that struck me was how we have areas of heavily oiled marsh or beach, but somehow the National Marine Fisheries Service's Emergency Fishery Closure line is well outside those areas. Noticing that the line stays about the same distance from land, I'm guessing that the agency's jurisdiction begins at X nautical miles, before which some other agency (state?) is responsible. Does that seem plausible?

I don't eat animals, so I'm less interested in the "seafood" side of the oil spill. My interest is piqued though, especially since my best friend (also vegetarian) works at a local restaurant that serves shrimp flown in daily from the Gulf of Mexico. Ignoring that their sourcing is the epitome of unsustainable, it's worrisome to think that these shrimp come from the coast of west Louisiana, where the vendor says  there has been no oil. But I look at this map  and can see that there has been oil in the area. I can't see any indication of the dispersant's reach, but I imagine that if there are dead dolphins and sea turtles washing up on those west Louisiana beaches, that the shrimp aren't particularly safe.

On the one hand, we're worried about the economy the region, so we want to support any fishers who might be able to continue. On the other hand, a dead fishery is a dead fishery: Perhaps we should leave surviving critters alone. Perhaps not as there are reports that sea animals are crowding together, thus depleting oxygen in the water. Regardless, I can't imagine eating the critters from the area, at least not at the moment. Science Magazine reports that it currently takes 7 -10 days to determine levels of deadly oil derived compounds in seafood. Are we to assume that shrimpers are holding their stock while these tests are being done? Given that the restaurant in question flies the shrimp in daily, I'll guess that they are not tested.

Instead we're relying on experts to declare areas safe for fishing. I'd like to think that this is being done cautiously, but pressure to keep the regional economy going is evident. I guess I'm glad I don't have to wonder if my own food is dangerous because I don't eat animals, and even if I did, I wouldn't eat them from so far away. Perhaps the $20 billion escrow fund for affected parties will encourage fishers to test their stock to see if they can get compensation rather than continue fishing. Here's hoping.

Jun 11, 2010

Nature's Acres This Sunday!

If you're in the Bay Area you should check out Nature's Acres for you plant needs! They don't have regular business hours at the moment, so this weekend's open house is a great opportunity. Otherwise, give them a ring to see when they're open. Great deals on native plants!

Nature’s Acres Nursery Sneak Peak Open House and Two for one native plant sale.

Free Birding and Nature Walks, Nursery Tour and Activities

When: Sunday June 13, 2010 10 am-5pm
Where 450 Sexton Road, Sebastapol, California (Directions below)

Join us as Nature’s Acres native plant nursery opens its doors to the public for the first time. In operation for just over two years, after much work our quarter acre lot is now bursting at the seams with robust native plants! We have to move lots of plants to make way for new inventory and are eager to have nature-loving visitors. Come on out for a day in the country and experience peak spring Nature’s Acres style.

The nursery grounds and surrounding property are bursting with a diversity plant with animal life. The area features good birding and nature observation. The property has a creek with a diverse riparian strip, overgrown orchards and patches of oak woodland. Josiah Clark and other SF naturalists will lead periodic excursions around the property throughout the day seeking out birds, butterflies reptiles, amphibians and of course plants too.
Among dozens of other songbirds present Tree and Violate Green Swallows, Western Bluebird and Ash-throated Flycatcher have all just fledged young from our nesting boxes and some are already re-nesting.
Our small pond is alive with tadpoles and newly morphed out Pacific –chorus froglets. Three species of snakes and two species of lizard are also a common find.
The pollinator beds are full of flowers and a great place to study and photograph native bees, butterflies and rarely seen insects.
In creek news, we just today recorded the first record of a salmon fingerling and a rare native freshwater shrimp!

More about Nature’s Acres
Started on an old organic apple orchard in 2008 by three childhood friends, Nature’s Acres intends to help fill the deficit of locally native plants in San Francisco and surrounding areas.
Creating wildlife habitat and breathing life into the urban landscape is at the heart of Nature’s Acres mission. We make special efforts to produce the native larval food plants for native butterflies and other pollinator species including the Coastal Greenhairstreak and Field Crescent.
Located in a commercial nursery hotspot, our operation is positioned to pump out large quantities of native plants at competitive prices.Nature’s Acres provides a wide range of native plants for the gardener, landscaper and habitat stewards alike.
Our collection areas range from Santa Cruz to Mendocino, though most of our stock is from San Francisco, the peninsula and Marin. Most San Francisco genetics have been collected from private gardens and vacant lots, and our operation prides itself on providing responsibly collected genetics from declining and locally important populations.
The nursery grounds are maintained as an experimental ecology life lab. We encourage and protect all native fauna on the nursery grounds. Through careful observations and with strong backs, we strive to be good stewards of the land increasing the habitat potential and carrying capacity of our acres and beyond.


Directions:
From 101 North take 116 West to the town of Sebastapol.
From downtown Sebastapol, follow the Bodega Hwy or 12 West about 10 mins.
Look for Sexton Road and take a left.
Drive about 500 yards and take the driveway at the mailbox 460 Sexton Road on your right. (The actual address is 460 though)
***Drive very slowly down driveway and across small creek. Park in or just outside nursery or inquire for parking options if necessary.
***The area is surrounded by private property so please respect our neighbors!***

Nearby Attractions and activities:
-Sebastapol Farmers Market,
-Luther Burbank Farm,
-scenic route home along Hwy 1 through Bodega Bay.
- Mellow biking and along nearby farm roads