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January-February 2006 Roadrunner Newsletter, Kern-Kaweah Sierrra Club


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January-February 2006 Roadrunner Newsletter, Kern-Kaweah Sierrra Club

  1. 1. The Roadrunner Bimonthly Publication of the Kern-Kaweah Chapter of the Sierra Club — Jan/Feb 2006 TEJON RANCH CORPORATION PAST ACTIONS, PRESENT CONDITIONS FUTURE—WHO KNOWS? There’s no other place like it in California. 270,000 acres of land owned by one corporation and sitting at thecrossroads of the Sierra Nevada, the South Coast mountain ranges, the San Joaquin Valley and the high desert.Mountain lions, deer and more threatened species live on the land while the imperiled California condor soarsoverhead, on the lookout for roosting and feeding opportunities. If you haven’t guessed yet, these 270,000 acres are Tejon Ranch, spread across the Tehachapi Mountains andarcing north to the Sierra. Widely acknowledged as the CROWN JEWEL OF UNPROTECTED PLACES in California, the ranch is atrisk from development by its corporate owner. Our vision for the ranch is to preserve its wildness and ensurethat it continues to provide an irreplaceable linkage among key ecological regions in California. The vision ofthe corporation that owns Tejon Ranch is to build a number of developments that will either harm or put atincreased risk the natural values of the land. The avowed goal of the corporation is to make Tejon Ranch theIrvine between Santa Clarita and Bakersfield as well as a trucking hub for goods transportation from the ports ofLos Angeles and Long Beach to northern California and beyond. In addition to the obvious detrimental impacts on the land, the Tejon Ranch corporation’s REFUSAL TOREVEAL ITS LONG-TERM PLANNING for the entire 270,000 acres and to share with the public its data onwildlife and plant species on the land has further raised the level of alarm about the ultimate fate of the ranch. A PROPOSED DEAL brokered by the Trust for Public Land would secure the protection of 100,000 acreson the property, almost entirely in the mountainous center of the property likely to be at least risk ofdevelopment. Again, a lack of public disclosure regarding the scientific rationale of the proposed boundaries ofthe preserve has made it difficult to judge the proposal’s merits. Since the deal would require about $100million in public funds, the residents of California need a more forthcoming presentation before financialdecisions are made. What was purposely left out of the proposal includes important habitat on the San Joaquin Valley floor, thegrasslands on the southern part of the property, and Bear Trap Canyon, an important wildlife linkage in the area.Several projects have been proposed that would affect all three of these areas, and it is unknown what else maybe proposed by the corporation. In Los Angeles County, the PROPOSED 23,000 HOUSES OF THE CENTENNIAL DEVELOPMENTwould leap far beyond the sprawl of northern LA County and potentially dump thousands more cars onInterstate 5. In Kern County, the Tejon Ranch Corporation has been given approval to build more warehouseson the valley floor near the looming IKEA transfer facility familiar to motorists heading south on the 5 beforeentering the Grapevine. The most recent proposal in the Kern County portion of the ranch is the 4,000 UNIT SUPER LUXURYdevelopment proposed for the area around Castac Lake, a natural lake on the ranch. The development, dubbed“Tejon Mountain Village,” is in the midst of historic and critical habitat for the condor that is currently used by
  2. 2. 2 THE ROADRUNNERthis endangered species. In fact, the corporation is seeking a “take” permit from the federal government thatwould allow the harming or killing of condors and loss of habitat. In a recent press release, the Center forBiological Diversity reported that “the company has filed suit in federal court to try to eliminate protections forthe California condor and limit the condor reintroduction program. In February of 2003 a hunter illegally shotand killed a reintroduced condor on Tejon Ranch during a hunt sponsored by the ranch.” The Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, South Coast Wildlands Project and the ConservationBiology Institute submitted comments on the notice of preparation for the environmental analysis of the luxuryresort development, which would provide second and third homes for the very rich and do nothing to addresslegitimate housing needs in the region. The CENTENNIAL DEVELOPMENT DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT (DEIR) ISEXPECTED SOMETIME IN EARLY-MID 2006. It is unclear how smooth the sailing will be for the project,which is in County Supervisor Michael Antonovich’s district. The unprecedented scale of the project and itssignificant distance from existing development in the county are a direct challenge to any efforts by the countyto constrain sprawl and reduce our region’s dependence on automobiles. While Tejon Ranch claims that Centennial will be a self-sustaining development with a mix of residentialand commercial development, there has been no commitment to delay approvals of housing until tenants havebeen nailed down for the commercial zones. There are already DEEP CONCERNS ABOUT TRAFFIC IMPACTS to the Santa Clarita area and the SanFernando Valley from the continued boom of housing in the Antelope Valley, the building of Newhall Ranch,and other developments in the area. The Centennial project and increased truck traffic to Tejon Ranchwarehouses would aggravate an already bad and worsening situation. Sierra Club volunteers are working with other organizations like the Center for Biological Diversity to try tofind a better solution for protecting Tejon Ranch. There are two quick actions you can take to help now. By Bill Corcoran, Sierra Club regional staffTAKE ACTION. Write Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Anotonovich and express your concern about theenormous Centennial development in northern Los Angeles County. Leapfrogging far beyond established communities, the Centennialdevelopment will increase air pollution, dump more traffic on Interstate 5 and cause the loss of rare grasslands.Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, 869 Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration500 West Temple Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012Write California Fish and Game Director Ryan Broddrick and express your opposition to the Tejon Mountain Villagedevelopment. Director Broddrick’s department will be reviewing how the elite luxury development will harm California condors andother wildlife. Mention that much of the project area is designated critical habitat for the condor and that much of the area, includingBear Trap Canyon contain irreplaceable wildlife habitat and linkages wildlife need for their long-term survival.Ryan Broddrick, Director, Dept. of Fish and Game, 1416 Ninth Street, 12th Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814 SEQUOIA MONUMENT UPDATE— One Permanent Injunction Is Joined By Another to Halt Logging Of Large Sequoias. Sequoia National Monument logging has been stopped for now by TWO permanent injunctions. In the Nov.-Dec. issue of the Roadrunner we told you that the judge agreed with the complaint which stated that the originalenvironmental assessment was outdated and lack of high prices for timber was no excuse to postponelumbering, expecting automatic permission at a later date. A second injunction was issued for basically thesame reasons in regards to the Saddleback lumbering proposal. There is as yet no definite date set for judicialhearings. We owe many thanks to those who are watching these activities so carefully and taking action asneeded. SIERRA CLUB SUMMIT PRODUCES PRIORITIES All of these priorities were adopted by the national Board with a clear understanding that the Sierra Club’smajor challenge for the next several years is not to influence short-term environmental policy, but to shapelong-term public sentiments and to regain power for environmental values. This is an agenda for rebuilding ourinfluence; we do not expect to see major federal policy shifts in the next few years. The three new Conservation Initiatives are
  3. 3. THE ROADRUNNER 3SMART ENERGY SOLUTIONS; SAFE, CLEAN COMMUNITIES; AMERICAS WILD LEGACY. These are our organization’s building priorities for the next five years: 1. seek new allies and buildcoalitions; 2. create media visibility; 3. bring people together to take action; and 4. advocate for solutions. What do you think? What are your ideas? What can you, are you willing to do? MIDGEBUZZINGS I received an email from a friend in Washington DC which included a long list of civil servants andadministrators who have left or been demoted by the present administration because of positions they havetaken against current policies. Among them was James Zahn, microbiologist with the Agriculture Department’sResearch Service, who, according to this communication, “resigned when pressured not to publish his study ofbacteria in industrial-style hog farms and forced to cancel public appearances on health impacts of industrymega-farms”. In the same month there was a letter in the “Community Voices” column of the Bakersfield Californian byEd De Boer, who operates Soil Health, a company which promotes organic farming. Mr. De Boer contends thatthere are reliable data which tell us that genetically engineered food crops result in more pesticide and herbicidespraying than ever, with the long term effect of depleting the soil on which those crops are grown. Within a few days, the Los Angeles Times reported that the FDA, in its attempt to lessen the threat of MadCow Disease in cattle, “will prohibit some cattle parts in food for poultry and pets, but will allow others.” The“others” were not defined. Even assuming total faith in the FDA, there may be some nervousness on the part ofcitizens over such news as this. When Mathew Scully visited a factory hog farm in North Carolina to gathermaterial for his book, “Dominion”, he saw first hand the condition of the animals there. Discounting the terrorand agony the animals suffer, and thinking only of the health of human consumers, it may be instructive (justthis once) to quote him: “Sores, tumors, ulcers, pus pockets, lesions, cysts, bruises, torn ears, swollen legseverywhere.” No doubt this is related to what James Zahn wanted to tell us. In the light of such information, consumers are beginning to make some thoughtful decisions. Heretofore formany of us, our grocery store was the trusted main source of most food for the table. Now more and moreshoppers are visiting local farmers’ markets. They are discovering whole foods markets where they can beassured, among other things, that the bread they buy is made of organically grown grains. Some are reducingthe amount of meat in their diets, even dropping red meat entirely and buying only poultry that has beencertified as free-range, and having been fed only organic grain. They are switching from dairy products to soy-based foods, and buying eggs that are guaranteed to have come from free-range, organically fed chickens. Besides these encouraging changes, there is the good news of a growing family farm movement in the UnitedStates, as well as in other parts of the world, led by such people as George Naylor, president of the NationalFamily Farm Coalition, Fred Kirschenmann, director of the Leopold Center of Ames Iowa, and Gary Grant ofthe Black Farmers’ Organization in North Carolina. They and others have organized to support small farmersand help promote the growing market for their foods. They warn us, though, that such labels as “organic” and“free range” can be deceiving and still given out by corporate farms making minimal changes. “Caveat emptor”remains the watchword of the day. Happy hunting! Ann Williams
  4. 4. 4 THE ROADRUNNER Kern-Kaweah GROUP NEWSREQUIRED READING: Everyone is welcome, Sierra Club members and non-members, to join in any of the outdoor activities.Requirements: You must be in condition for type of hike, equipped appropriately for the activity, and prepared to sign a Sierra Clubrelease from liability. You must be willing to follow leader’s directions. Unprepared for the prospective hike? It will be a no-go foryou. Let the leader know ahead of time that you are intending to participate. Customary appropriate equipment includes good hikingshoes, plenty of water, snack, sunglasses, suntan lotion, layered clothing. Long pants recommended. All events are subject to change.Buena Vista Group More info? call Donnel Lester, 661.831.6784Sincere thanks to Glenn Shellcross for all his efforts to make the Buena Vista Group a reality. We arecontinuing on. To do so, YOU must vote for new officers. See p. 7 for the cut-out ballot with simpledirections for marking and mailing. Please do it now!TUESDAY CONDITIONING HIKES. 7 PM 4–5 miles. Corners of Highways 178 & 184. Gordon661.872.2432 or Larry 661.873.8107 (KK Chapter) Monthly breakfast programs will be held on the first Saturdays of each month. Saturday, January 7th andSaturday, February 4th. 8:30 AM is the meeting time at the Jungle Café, located at 700 Truxtun Avenue (at theHill House, across the street from the Beale Library).The topics have not yet been decided. The program is free;if you wish to eat breakfast, the cost is $6.00. For more information, contact Jennifer Randel at 661.324.5903.Highway clean-up program. We hope we can continue, but a person with a current first aid certificate isneeded to make this possible. Are there any volunteers out there with this qualification or who are willing totake the American Red Cross class? Call Donnel.Condor Group More info? call Ches Arthur, 661.242.0423. Pine Mountain Club.Feb 4 (sat) Pacific Crest Trail through the eyes of Dave Koskenmaki, a local Sierra Club member who madethe entire trek from Mexico to Canada this past summer. Potluck 6 PM, Program 7 PM. Pool Pavilion Room,PMC Clubhouse. There will be no official hikes these two months due to uncertainties of the weather. Hikes will start again inMarch. This group has been focusing on proposed developments of Tejon Ranch Corporation (see article for details)as well as instituting a suit against a project for extraction of water from the Gorman Hills. We are up to ourears in conservation concerns.Kaweah Group More info? call Pam, 559.784.4643 or Diane, 559.781.8897.The Kaweah Group is located in Porterville. It also includes the communities of Camp Nelson, Springville, andLindsay. The Group’s focus has been on preserving the Sequoia National Forest and National Monument andmonitoring activities that affect the forest as well as dealing with Deer Creek. FIRST AID—Sierra Club says hike leaders must be certified
  5. 5. THE ROADRUNNER 5and you know —it would be good for all of us to know the basics. Bakersfield Red Cross offers a course everyThursday, 10 to 12, followed by a break, starting again at 2 and finishng at 4. Congratulations to Jim Nicholsof the Owens Peak Group, who already has his certification renewed (He was an INSTRUCTOR at one time),so now the rest of us must get going and earn our certification also.Mineral King Group Visalia. More info? call Kim Loeb, 559.798.1764 We’re ontheWeb! See us at:<>mineralkingGroup Ex Com meets 4th Monday monthly. All SC members welcome. Call 559.739.8527 to attend.Check Min. King Group Website for updates and/or send in your address for regular updates: or call phone number listed above.January. We will be having First Aid and CPR training to qualify for leading outings. Contact: Joanne Dudley:559-733-2078Jan 27 (fri) 7 PM. Film: “Kilowatt Ours.” Learn how you can save hundreds of dollars annually on energybills—while helping to combat asthma and global warming. Free. Tazzaria Coffee House, Visalia.Dinner Socials in Visalia: To RSVP, contact Bev at 559.732.3785 or Welcome to all,members and non membersJan11 (wed) 6:00 PM Keo Thip Thai Restaurant, on Murray, in VisaliaFeb 8 (wed) 6:00 PM Alejandra’s Mexican Restaurant on Main Street, downtown Visalia. Executive Committee Meetings. All Sierra Club members welcomeJan 30 (mon) 5:30 PM Dinner and Ex-Com Meeting at Baker’s Square Restaurant, Mooney Blvd., Visalia. Allmembers welcome.Feb 27 (mon) 5:30 PM Dinner and Ex-Com Meeting at Baker’s Square Restaurant, Mooney Blvd., Visalia. Allmembers welcome.Owens Peak Group More info? call Dennis Burge, 760.375.7967, Jim Nichols, Hikes760.375.8161 email: Meets in Ridgecrest, Maturango Museum Jan 21 (sat) 7:30 AM Upper Centennial Springs Petroglyph Site (Just S of Lower Centennial Flat, max 6490 ft, 300 ft gain, 4.5 mi RT (with optional viewpoint peak, 7750 ft, additional 1500 ft gain, additional 4.5 mi RT)) We will have an easy hike, 300 ft gain and 4.5 mi RT, to the nice collection of petroglyphs in the vicinity of Upper Centennial Springs. For those wanting more exercise and a peak to claim, we can bag a nice lookout 1500 ft and 4.5 mi RT above the Springs. There will be good opportunities for petroglyph photography and stunning views of the Coso Range from the viewpoint. This will be a hike anyone can enjoy! Easy or moderate, with the optional viewpoint, due to distance. Meet at the Ridgecrest Cinema parking lot. For more information, call Dennis Burge at 760.375.7967 or Jim Nichols at 760.375.8161. Jan 23 (mon) 7:30 PM Student Conservation Association (SCA) speakers will tell us about their work in the local area. Maturango Museum. For more info. contact Dennis. Feb 25 (sat) 7:30 AM Climb To The Big Ram Mine (Between Thibaut and Sawmill Creeks, NW of Independence, 7250 ft at top, 1700 ft to 2400 ft gain, 7.5 mi RT) We will climb the amazing mine road to the Big Ram mine, hanging precipitously on the east face of the Sierra. The mine site offers the only good view of mysterious Black Canyon, an otherwise inaccessible, steep, and spooky looking chasm. The old mine road provides the only access to the Sierra from the Sawmill Creek trail to Sawmill Pass to the North to the Oak Creek trail to Baxter Pass to the South. We may do a little ultraviolet prospecting to verify that the Big Ram mine was a tungsten claim. The altitude gain varies depending on which nearby roadhead is open. Moderate due to the altitude gain. Meet at the Ridgecrest Cinema parking lot. For more information, call Dennis Burge at 760.375.7967 or Jim Nichols at 760.375.8161. Feb 27 (mon), 7:30 PM Views of Antarctica Jean Bennett will present a slide program on her trip to Antarctica. Maturango Museum. For further info contact Jean at 760.446.4339.
  6. 6. 6 THE ROADRUNNERFROM THE CHAPTER CHAIR Lorraine Unger I’ve always been fascinated by the coordination that our volunteers exhibit in getting an issue of theRoadrunner mailed out to you every other month. We would love to have newsletters every month butfound the costs of printing were making a heavy impact on our budget. Text and printing: Mary Ann Lockhart spends many hours organizing the publication by contactingthose folks who supply articles and stirring up our outing leaders to schedule hikes. When she hascompleted her editorial work she sends it to the printer in Bakersfield. Mailing: After it is printed, one of our mailing team secures copies from the printer in downtownBakersfield. I thank Marisa Albridge, who prepared the printed Roadrunner this year for mailing andsorting. Over 1600 copies are sorted by zip code with the assistance of a few helpers such as herhusband, Ray Albridge. For 2006 we’ll have Michelle Hoffman and Ann Williams return to handlelabeling and preparing the issue for the bulk mailing facility here in Bakersfield. After the mailing,Monte Harper, Arthur and myself distribute copies to local merchants, the Group Chairs, and KernCounty Library Addresses. Many of our members move to new homes, and the only way we knowabout it is through returned mail to our Post Office Box. Andy Honig has tended the box for many yearsand notifies the National Sierra Club of those members who failed to put in forwarding notices. Youwould be amazed at how many newsletters are returned by the Post Office after the summer months.Each returned piece of mail is charged to the Chapter and it makes some work in order to forward ordiscontinue mailing, so please let us know when you are planning to move. Other volunteer needs: We’re always seeking outing leaders to lead hikes, especially on weekends.You do need a First Aid certificate and some experience going with experienced leaders to familiarizeyourself with our expectations. Many of our conservation projects seem not to have the same level of volunteer support as theRoadrunner. We attempt to break down some of the tasks so that they are not overly time consuming.You can write a letter adapted from a sample letter, spend a few hours at a City Council hearing in theevening, attend a Board of Supervisors meeting during daytime hours, or write a letter to the editorabout your views on the enviro topic of your choice. Just give me a phone call at 661.323.5569 or call any of our officers and we’ll gladly put you incontact with an activist who needs assistance. LeConte Memorial Lodge Volunteer OpportunitiesSeveral of our Chapter members volunteered at LeConte Memorial Lodge in Yosemite last summer!They found it to be a fun experience, enabling Club members to welcome visitors from all over theworld. If you are interested in finding out if you have what it takes to volunteer at LeConte MemorialLodge for a week during the 2006 season, see this web page: volunteering.asp CONTACT: Dr. Bonnie J. Gisel,Curator, 209.372.4542; 209.403.6676; leconte. Kern Kaweah Chapter Excecutive Committee(Call Chair to double check specific information on meeting times and places listed.) Sun January 29, 11:30 AM Sun March 5, 11:30 AM Unger’s home, brown bag lunch
  7. 7. THE ROADRUNNER 7 Members of your 2006 Executive CommitteeLorraine Unger (Bksf), Chair, 661.323.5569; Harry Love (Bksf),Vice-chair; AraMarderosian (Kernville), Secretary. Ches Arthur (PMC), Richard Garcia (Visalia),Stephen Montgomery (Bksf), Gordon Nipp, (Bksf) Georgette Theotig (Tehachapi),Arthur Unger (Bksf) All Sierra Club members are welcome to attend these meetings. YOUR QUICKY CALENDARJAN 14 (sat) Southern Regional Mtg Of California Nevada Regional Conservation Committee. LosAngeles Chapter Office, Los Angeles. 10 AM. Call Ungers for more info. 661.323.5569JAN 14–16 (sat–sun) Tamarisk Removal Service and Carcamp, Surprise Canyon: Flash floods havenurtured a blanket of tamarisk seedlings which must be hand pulled before they mature. Join BLM staffin eradication efforts. Bad attitude toward tamarisk required. See this beautiful, recovering desertriparian canyon. Talk of 1870’s Panamint City, ‘49ers trek across the Panamints, Briggs gold mine.Recreational hike on Sunday. Leader: Bob Ellis. Information and reservations: Sue Palmer, 32373 WSaddle Mtn Rd, Westlake Village, CA 91361, (818.879.0960), (SF BayChap/CNRCC Desert Com) Desert Committee Hike. Further Listings: Contact deutsche@earthlink.netMAR 18–19 (sat-sun) Statewide meeting of California Nevada Regional Conservation CommitteeSan Luis Obispo LOOKING AHEAD—SPRING BANQUET SATURDAY, APRIL 1. MARK YOUR NEW SIERRA CLUB CALENDARS NOW.Volunteer opportunities at Windwolves Preserve. Help plant trees, clear brush, andmore. Call Dave Clendenen at 661.858.1115.Yes, I want to join the Sierra Club. Checkenclosed. HERE IS HELP FOR YOU TO BE ABLE TOName EASILY USE YOUR RIGHT TO WRITE!! 1. Join Sierra Club California’s Legislative ActionCity State Zip Network at: 1: 2. Join the National Sierra Club Action List. Go toIntro $25 Sing $39 Joint $47 Send to Sierra Club Home Page for directions. 3. Join theSierra Club, PO 52968, Boulder, CO 80322 local Action List. Call Art Unger to sign up,F94Q W 6000-1 661.323.5569.John Muir In Global Perspective. The focus of the 2006 California History Institute will be “John Muir in Global Perspective.” High-Conference Topic lights of the conference will include a preview ofMARCH 31 - APRIL 1, an exhibition on naturalist John Muir which willUniversity of the Pacific include paintings and related papers. Harold Wood of the Mineral King Group has been deeply in-University of the Pacific’s John Muir Center will volved in the planning of this conference and willhost a conference at the Stockton campus of Uni- also be presenting a section on “John Muir inversity of the Pacific on March 31-April 1,2006. India” at this conference.
  8. 8. 8 THE ROADRUNNER Want to contact Roadrunner? Mary Ann Lockhart 661.242.0432The RoadrunnerReturn Service RequestedSend to PO Box 3357Bakersfield, CA 93385