In the wake of the popular and upsetting documentary "Blackfish," which slammed the SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment corporation's handling of captive orcas, a California legislator has introduced a bill that would outlaw the performing orca industry in the state.
The bill, introduced by Assembly member Richard Bloom on March 6, would require that all captive orcas being used for entertainment purposes in California be either released to the wild or held in open sea pens, and forbid their transfer to other states for entertainment purposes.
The bill is likely to be intensely controversial, and may well endure extensive modification during the legislative process. But whether or not this individual piece of legislation turns out to be the appropriate way to address the captive performing orca issue, one thing is certain: it's long past time that someone in the state looked at banning these archaic, embarrassing, and arguably cruel spectacles.
New gray wolves confirmed as dispersing from northeastern Oregon in December are providing confirmation that left to their own devices, the charismatic predators may well recolonize California.
According to a report released in February by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, presence of a wolf in December has been confirmed in the White River Wildlife Management Unit (WMU), which surrounds Mount Hood east of Portland. ODFW confirmed wolf tracks in the area after a sighting was reported. ODFW also confirmed that on the same day of the White River wolf sighting, another wolf likely dispersing from the northeastern corner of the state was documented in the Heppner WMU, which encompasses much of the Umatilla National Forest and the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.
The agency can't tell whether the wolves are just passing through or have taken up residence, live alone or with other wolves, or are male or female. But the sightings are mounting evidence that if they aren't hounded out of the Cascade Range, wolves are quite likely to re-establish themselves in California.
An extremely rare, low-growing beach plant that survives in just a few coastal sites in Oregon and the extreme north of California is being proposed by a number of environmental groups for protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
The silvery phacelia, Phacelia argentea, an 18-inch mat-forming herb that grows only in Del Norte County in California, and Coos and Curry counties in adjacent Oregon, is threatened by improper off-road vehicle recreation and invasive plants, according to a petition filed Friday with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by eight environmental protection groups.
The groups are asking USFWS to consider the plant for listing as either Endangered or Threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.
We reported in December on a complex legal contest between Marin County and a group of wildlife activists seeking to protect coho salmon in bucolic West Marin. Today, an update: the California Court of Appeals have handed a victory to the friends of the salmon.
At issue is the Marin Countywide Plan drafted in 2007 that, according to the lawsuit by the Salmon Protection and Watershed Network (SPAWN), didn't examine the cumulative impact of development on salmon and steelhead habitat in its Environmental Impact report (EIR). SPAWN also charged that Marin County didn't act quickly enough to enact setback regulations that would keep new development out of the creeks.
On Wednesday, the Court of Appeals agreed with SPAWN, sending the lawsuit back down to the lower court with instructions that Marin County redraft the plan's EIR to assess what development would do to West Marin's salmon and steelhead.
Are you in or near the Inland Empire with a hankering to watch the nation's emblematic bird? The U.S. Forest Service could use your help this Saturday at its final bald eagle count of the winter in the San Bernardino and San Jacinto mountains.
Each year the USFS posts volunteer eagle-watchers at strategic points around the shores of lakes in Southern California national forests as part of its annual citizen science census of our national bird. Though the season is already drawing to a close it's been a productive one for eagle-spotters, with 15 seen in February alone.
Years of study of the birds' movements have revealed that many mature bald eagles return to the same Southern California mountain lakes year after year from summer locations as far afield as Montana and Canada. And over the last decade or so, some eagles have decided to stay here year-round to breed -- an exciting development, given that Southern California's original breeding population of bald eagles was wiped out in the 1950s.
Here's another story to file under "why we can't have nice things": the California Department of Parks and Recreation has closed night-time access to a popular road through the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park because someone's been mutilating ancient redwood trees under cover of darkness.
As of March 1, the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway in Humboldt County is closed to the public between sunset and sunrise every day, as a result of illegal poaching of redwood burl wood from trees inside the park. Burls, a kind of vegetative tumor usually found on older redwood trees, are much-prized for wood-carving and furniture due to their colorful, swirling grain.
The nine-mile Parkway, a popular two-lane scenic thoroughfare that runs through a mix of old-growth and second-growth redwoods, has been the scene of increased illegal cutting of burlwood from both fallen and standing ancient redwoods, according to officials.