Category: Quick mends

Short takes from around the Web.

Quick Mends: Who remembers the milkman?

person pouring milk in highball glass
Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

Update: On March 1, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously that bigger L.A. restaurants cannot offer or provide disposable plastic straws to customers who are dining in or taking food to go unless customers request them, according to the Los Angeles Times. The law goes into effect on Earth Day, April 22.

The Berkeley, California, City Council just passed an ordinance to require restaurants charge an additional 25 cents for disposable cups by January, 2020, as part of a sweeping Single Use Disposable Foodware and Litter Reduction Ordinance. Opponents wonder if take-out coffee customers might wait to buy their to-go java in neighboring Oakland.

Meanwhile, Adidas’s CEO says the company sold 1 million shoes last year made from harvested ocean plastics. Making the shoes involved 3D printing technology, as well as a partnership with Parley for the Oceans.

And, note the graph here that shows the Top 20 countries with mismanaged plastic waste. No.1 is China; No. 20 is the United States.

Here’s a hopeful quote from Parley’s weekly blog:

“Removing plastics from the ocean is not enough. We need to get at the whole idea of disposability and single-use items,” says Tom Szaky, CEO of the Trenton, New Jersey-based international recycling company TerraCycle, which is behind Loop. “We’re going back to the milkman model of the 1950s. You buy the milk but the milk company owns the bottle, which you leave in the milk box to be picked up when you’re done with it.”

See you on the river, Jim Burns

 

Quick mends: Extreme heat suspected in Malibu fish die-off

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More than 1,000 fish died in Malibu Lagoon last week from what scientists suspect was higher-than-average water temperature. (Courtesy #follownews)

More than 1,000 fish, mostly mullets, were discovered last week floating dead in Malibu Lagoon, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Fish die-offs have been widely reported this summer in Florida and the Gulf Coast due to a persistent red algae bloom. Our own die-off in Malibu Lagoon occurred because of  high-than-average water temperatures, at least that’s the suspicion of state park scientists.

Scientists also blame hotter-than-average ocean temperatures for the Southland’s muggy conditions this summer. Temperatures have been recorded around 80 degrees F.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

 

Quick mends: Network of cameras capture LA River’s wildlife

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A coyote stands on its hind legs, captured by a new wildlife camera installed by the National Park Service near Silver Lake. | National Park Service/Public Domain

According to KCET, National Park Service researchers have installed a series wildlife cameras across 30 miles of the river’s course to try and get answers on how foxes, bobcats, opossums, coyotes, skunks, raccoons and other mammals use the area.

Around 30 cameras have been installed this year, from relatively wild areas in Griffith Park to little strips of property right outside of downtown L.A. that could be as small as 10×20 feet. The program will hopefully help determine whether the LA River acts as a wildlife corridor between the more than 150,000-acre Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and spaces in the city.

Eventually, the public can help tag photos by going on a citizen science website.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Quick Mends: High Country News weighs in on LA River revitalization

In a gem of a piece, photographer Roberto (Bear) Guerra chronicles the species loss the LA River has suffered since being encased in concrete with photographs of specimens from the Western Foundation for Vertebrate Zoology and the LA County Natural History Museum.

An important photo essay as our city weighs the future of the river in terms of development and habitat restoration. A sample:

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Western Toad (Courtesy High Country News)

Western Toad (Bufo boreas) —  Perhaps no animal is as emblematic of the decline of native species in the decades following channelization as the western toad. One of the neighborhoods adjacent to the soft-bottom Glendale Narrows section of the river is still known as “Frogtown,” for the swarms of young toads and Pacific treefrogs that hopped through the streets each year until the 1970s. Today, toads and frogs are rarely to be found.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Quick Mends: Listen to the people

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This manuscript map from 1868 shows the path of the Zanja Madre, or Mother Ditch, as it winds along current-day North Broadway from the Los Angeles River, at right. (courtesy Los Angeles Public Library, Central Library Collection)

William Deverell, a historian at USC and the director of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, recently penned this editorial in the Los Angeles Times. He skillfully recounts how the concrete-encased LA River came to be, but does deeper than other writers.

According to Deverell, the research for the U.S. Army Corps final work came from old-timers. Tasked with creating a profile of the river, two engineers asked these old people what it was like to grow up in the region before statehood, before the Gold Rush, even back to the Mexican and mission period.

“The people they interviewed were nonwhite: indigenous, Mexican, mixed-race mestizos. (No whites, or at least a very few, had memories that stretched back far enough to help.) These elders knew the river; it ran through their memories and lives. They grew up near it, but not too near, lest wintertime floods wash away their adobes. They drank from it, as did their livestock. They irrigated their crops from the zanjas they had carved from it. The river was lifeblood, the defining feature of the landscape.”

Yet this research from seemingly egalitarian roots was later used to create a river not for the people, but for those with money, power and clout.

As we near the approval of the renewal design plan, he advocates we not make the same mistake twice.

Thanks to Steve Kuchenski of the Pasadena Casting Club Conservation Committee for passing this along.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Quick mends: Endangered steelhead spotted in Ventura

This story from the Ventura County Star has gone viral in the last several days, according to Pasadena Casting Club’s John Tobin. As the club’s conservation editor and an enthusiastic environmentalist, he was excited by the sighting of this endangered species, adding, “this could be the L.A. River!”

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STEELHEAD STEALTH:  But researchers still spotted this lone fish near the L.A. County-Ventura border. (Courtesy RCDSMM STREAM TEAM)

I share his sentiment and hope that the push to develop the river doesn’t leave out the most important part — a return of Southern California Coast Steelhead.

Of course, after years of drought, spotting a southern steelhead in a creek at Leo Carrillo State Park is a reason for everyone to cheer. Gone are the days of steelhead runs, when an entire industry sprang up to cater to fishermen who traveled to witness and catch these magnificent fish as they made their way from the ocean to their spawning grounds in our local mountains.

“It was so exciting to find an actual steelhead, as they are rare as hens teeth this year,” said Rosi Dagit, team leader and senior conservation biologist for Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains, by email. “Only four anadromous adults have been documented thus far, and one died in my hands in Malibu on Wednesday. A lot of future hopes are with this lovely fish and we wish her many babies to help recover the population!”

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Twenty-five-inch steelhead trout caught in the Los Angeles River near Glendale, in January, 1940. (Courtesy family of Dr. Charles L. Hogue)

See you on the river, Jim Burns