Environment

Environment
1:32 pm
Fri February 20, 2015

'Unprecedented' back-to-back warm winters in California complicate ongoing drought

Jan. 17 2015 - San Luis Obispo, Calif. — A wet December helped to green California's hills and refill a portion of San Luis Obispo's Laguna Lake, but the following month of January was among the warmest and driest on record in 2015.
Credit Randol White - KCBX News

The Central Coast saw a very warm, dry January this year, as did the rest of the state. Now, Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) say it ranks among the warmest and driest on record.

Not only was this January the fourth warmest in the books, but it follows the warmest January ever in 2014. 

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Environment
6:27 pm
Tue February 17, 2015

Bill aims to add more protections for California groundwater from oil and gas drilling contamination

Roughly 60 percent of the oil pumped to the surface in California comes from Class II injection wells, according to the state. This oil field is in Kern County, Calif.
Credit Flickr member ben klocek

A new bill up for consideration in Sacramento is aimed at protecting groundwater from oil and gas drilling operations.

Central Coast Assembly Member Das Williams (D-Carpinteria) introduced AB-356 on Tuesday. It would require monitoring near Class II injection wells.

Currently, there are nearly 42,000 oil field injection wells operating in the state, according to the California Department of Conservation. These wells are designed to increase oil recovery and "safely dispose of the salt and fresh water produced with oil and natural gas" the department states.

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Environment
6:13 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

UCSB Study: The world's oceans are filling up with plastic

Plastics mixed in with debris washed ashore at San Francisco's Ocean Beach following a storm in 2010, the same statistical year used for the NCEAS study.
Credit Flickr member Kevin Krejci

A study published Thursday in the journal Science takes at look a just how much plastic waste is collecting in the world's oceans.

An estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic waste are added each year according to the numbers crunched by UC Santa Barbara's National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS). That's more than scientists had thought, and enough to cover the entire City of Los Angles in ankle deep trash more than twice over—each year.

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Environment
5:29 pm
Tue February 3, 2015

Proposed National Marine Sanctuary nominated off California coast

The Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary is in the initial nomination process with NOAA.

A large area along California's Central Coast is now being considered as a National Marine Sanctuary.

The proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary marks the first time that the public has nominated a stretch of California coast for this designation.

The formal documents were submitted this week to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for consideration on Monday.

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Environment
5:23 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Sea creature that prefers warm water found moving farther up California's coast

Hopkins' Rose Nudibranch - Pink sea slug
Credit Jeff Goddard, UCSB

Central Coast scientists are seeing a number of species show up along the California coast, far north of their usual range. One of these animals is the Hopkins' Rose nudibranch, a pink sea slug.

Jeff Goddard, a project scientist at the UC Santa Barbara Marine Science Intstitute says the Rose nudibranchs are normally found in Southern California, but last year's warmer ocean conditions may have pushed them north. 

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Environment
4:39 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

Widespread reports of shaking following light Central Coast earthquake

Credit USGS 'Did You Feel It?' Map

A light-to-moderate earthquake hit the Central Coast this morning with people throughout Monterey and San Luis Obispo Counties reporting to have felt it. 

The 4.4 temblor struck along the San Andreas Fault east of Greenfield and Soledad.

The quake was also felt in the Central Valley areas of Fresno, Madera and Visalia.

No damage has been reported.

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Environment
3:45 pm
Fri January 16, 2015

Volunteers asked to take photos of upcoming King Tides event in California

King Tide on December 12, 2012 at Port San Luis in San Luis Obispo County.
Credit Gordon Hensley - San Luis Obispo Coastkeeper

Volunteers are set to record thousands of images of the California Coast next week as the highest tides of the year are expected to hit the area on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

The volunteers are part of an effort to help people visualize how sea level rise will impact the lives of coastal Californians. It's called the California King Tides Project, and Central Coast representatives are on board to help document the event.

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Environment
5:28 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

Monterey County reaches settlement over environmental lawsuits

A Salinas Valley strawberry field.
Credit Tom Wilmer

A couple of environmental lawsuits filed against Monterey County were settled Tuesday—at least for the time being.

Landwatch Monterey County and The Open Monterey Project sued back in 2010 following the adoption of the new county's General Plan. Those two lawsuits were combined.

The plaintiffs were concerned with management of the Salinas Valley Groundwater Basin, encroachment of agriculture on the county's hillsides, blockage of wildlife corridors, and other aspects regarding the county's agriculture and wine industries.

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Environment
5:41 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Monarch butterflies under consideration for federal Endangered Species List

Credit Flickr member Greg Hewgill

A process to place the monarch butterfly on the federal Endangered Species List is underway. It's part of an effort to protect it from rapidly declining numbers.

Over the past several years, the annual count for monarch butterflies has seen a gradual upswing at the popular grove in Pismo Beach. Cal Poly Professor Denis Frey has been tabulating the local migration numbers since the early 90s, and has shown wide swings in peak totals, according to the Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove website.

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Environment
3:56 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

Tips to protect plants with freezing temperatures ahead

Credit Randol White - KCBX News

The Central Coast is seeing freezing temperatures this week, creating conditions that can be harmful to some plants.

To protect plants from extreme frost damages, water plants thoroughly.  Todd Davidson is the owner of Sage Ecological Landscapes and Nursery in Los Osos. He says some people may think watering creates ice, but it's actually protecting plants. 

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Environment
12:17 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

Recycling do's and don'ts during the holiday season

Credit Flickr member Colin Delaney

The gift-giving, party-throwing and house-decorating associated with the Christmas holiday season generates a lot of trash and recyclable materials each year. But, what exactly goes into the blue bins and what is for certain headed to the landfill?

Tom Martin has been with San Luis Garbage for more than 20 years. He says the rules surrounding recycling have changed over time, including what to do with all of that wrapping paper.

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Environment
11:57 am
Fri December 12, 2014

Morro Bay National Estuary celebrates its 20th Anniversary

Adrienne Harris, executive director of the Morro Bay National Estuary program
Credit Tom Wilmer

Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2015, the Morro Bay National Estuary Program is a non-regulatory, non-profit organization that brings together citizens, non-profits, government agencies, and landowners to protect and restore Morro Bay.

Estuary program-staff members and volunteers conduct monitoring and research, restore natural habitats, and educate residents and visitors on how to keep Morro Bay clean and healthy.​

Correspondent Tom Wilmer visits with Adrienne Harris, executive director of the Morro Bay National Estuary program for a visit on the waterfront.

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Environment
11:44 am
Tue December 9, 2014

Free home energy tips as we head into the winter months

Credit Empower Central Coast

It's now December. With cooler temperatures on the way and larger energy bills along with them. However, you have access to a service that can help you make efficiency upgrades to your home and it's totally free. Learn more about the EmPower program in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties and how it could potentially save you money.

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Environment
3:14 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

Lawsuit aimed at federal government over fracking in the Santa Barbara Channel

Platform Gail in the Santa Barbara Channel
Credit Flickr member Ken Lund

An environmental group took the first step toward suing the federal government on Thursday, over fracking in the Santa Barbara Channel.

The Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Interior Department for violating federal law in regards to offshore fracking approvals.

The group says the government did not evaluate how the enhanced oil extraction practice may pollute local waters, nor its effects on marine wildlife prior to issuing the approvals to oil companies. 

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Environment
5:22 pm
Mon November 24, 2014

State Water Board says Santa Maria River is 'highly toxic'

Oso Flaco Lake and other estuaries fed by the Santa Maria River are sensitive habitat areas affected by toxic levels of pesticide runoff from surrounding agriculture in the Santa Maria Valley.
Credit Flickr member Rennett Stowe

A new survey by the State Water Board shows the Santa Maria River is highly toxic—and has been for years with some of the highest readings in the state for certain chemicals.

Bryn Phillips is an environmental toxicology specialist with UC Davis who has been working on this ongoing project. He says an increase in pyrethroid pesticide levels is cause for concern.

Recently the river was designated with a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) restriction.

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