Environment

Reports focusing on the latest news and trends affecting the environment along California's Central Coast.

A California native himself, San Luis Obispo resident Dr. Matt Ritter is passionate about the state's native plants. Ritter teaches in the biological sciences department at Cal Poly and just came out with a new book titled California Plants: A Guide to Our Iconic Flora.

KCBX's Greta Mart invited the professor to the KCBX studio this week to talk about his recent work, the county's flowers and why it's important to keep a check on invasive plants.

Greta Mart/KCBX

San Luis Obispo County’s Carrizo Plain National Monument survived last year’s effort by the Trump Administration to shrink or revoke national monuments across the country. But recently, the U.S. Department of the Interior approved construction of a new oil well and a pipeline in the Carrizo Plain National Monument. 

Buffalo River
Thomas Wilmer

The Buffalo National River, situated in Northern Arkansas is free flowing for more than 135 miles. It’s one of North America’s last remaining undammed rivers.

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer on the banks of the Buffalo River for a conversation with National Park Ranger, Joyce Umbach, and Ben Milburn the owner and operator of Buffalo River Outfitters.

Ford Research lab
Thomas Wilmer

Your new Ford might just come equipped with repurposed U.S. currency, flax, wheat, agave fibers, and a litany of organic auto parts. 

48 years ago, on April 22, 1970, millions of people took to the streets to protest the negative impacts of 150 years of industrial development - and the first Earth Day was born. With global ecological awareness growing, the US Congress responded quickly to create the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and pass environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. But here we are, facing catastrophic change and instead of strengthening protections, the United States is moving backwards.

Greta Mart/KCBX

Sudden oak death is a forest disease that’s killed millions of trees across California and Oregon over the past couple of decades. It’s been progressively colonizing new areas, but an annual citizen scientist effort works to stop it. 

slaughtered elephant
Thomas Wilmer

The Trump administration's support of Big Game hunts and recalling the tragic death of Cecil the Lion demanded a repost of the interview Tom Wilmer conducted with two big game, photographic safari guides recorded on location in Botswana.

Children peek out from inside a traditional Mongolian round felt tent or ger in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
katya Cengel

Cal Poly Adjunct Professor, Katya Cengel reports from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia--long known as the land of the eternal blue sky, but rapid urban migration is changing that.

The once nomadic population increasingly  now lives in cities with approximately 45 percent of the population, or one million people, living in the capital of Ulaanbaatar. 

Styrofoam ban fails in California Senate

Jan 30, 2018
Kai Hendry/Flickr

To-go cups and containers made of expanded polystyrene - otherwise known as Styrofoam - are already banned in all of Monterey County, and in many Central Coast cities such as Carpinteria, Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach and Morro Bay. State lawmakers have tried several times to enact a statewide ban over the past decade, but this week the California Senate rejected a bill that would ban restaurants, food vendors and grocery stores from using Styrofoam containers. 

Emma Weitzner

The Weddell seal lives in Antarctica. It’s the southern-most breeding mammal in the world and can dive to depths of 2,000 feet, staying under the water for up to 90 minutes. A team of five Cal Poly graduate students and professors recently returned from a ten-week research trip in Antarctica, studying Weddell seal pups. 

Google Maps

The deadline for public comment on a proposed expansion of oil drilling-related operations in San Luis Obispo County’s Price Canyon is 5 p.m. Friday.

Leo driving his make-and-break engine boat, Maggie around Petty Harbour.
Rebekah Nolan

Newfoundland is an island that has always been defined by fishing. The first settlers came over from England and Ireland to harvest the seemingly boundless supplies of cod that inhabited the grand banks. 

Rachel Showalter

Over the past two years, Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo has been working to develop a comprehensive Zero Waste program. Cal Poly has been acting under state mandates and California State University system policy to improve the consumer waste diversion rate - or the amount of consumer trash that goes to the local landfill.  

California's pioneering plastic bag ban delivering results, say environmental groups

Nov 14, 2017
Greta Mart/KCBX

A year after California enacted a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags, environmental groups say early data shows a significant dip in plastic trash. 

Measure Z fracking ban trial underway in Monterey County

Nov 13, 2017
Krista Almanzan/KAZU

After Monterey County voters approved Measure Z, a fracking ban and limit on other oil extraction processes, in November 2016, oil companies and royalty owners quickly filed six lawsuits against the county. Those have all been consolidated into one trial. Phase one began Monday. 

Google Maps

Tuesday the California Coastal Commission issued an order turning private coastline into a mile-long public beach near Santa Barbara. The Commission sent an environmental cease, desist and restore order to the owners of the Cojo Jalama Ranches near Point Conception.

Electric Vehicle charging station in Door County, Wisconsin
Door County CVB

Jack Moneypenny, President of the Door County Visitors Bureau came up with a brilliant but simple plan that stimulates tourism while simultaneously minimizing the carbon footprint. Join Moneypenny as he shares his electric charging station vision that now serves as a model showcase for the future of ecologically sustainable regional tourism.      

San Luis Obispo extends plastic ban

Oct 25, 2017
Wikimedia Commons/Horia Varlan

Elected officials in San Luis Obispo voted unanimously this week to curb the use plastic disposable straws, water bottles, and cups throughout the city. 

Bree Zender

A newly-released UC Berkeley study followed cases of sudden oak death (SOD) in California and found levels of the pathogen that cause the disease in oak trees has tripled in the last year.

Skinned sea otter found dead in San Simeon

Oct 19, 2017
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services


Officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are asking the public for any information related to the death and illegal skinning of a southern sea otter found on a beach in San Simeon.

Costa Rica flower
Thomas Wilmer

Jim Damalas with Greentique Hotels in Costa Rica talks about the trend setting hotel group’s four distinctive properties, set within four of the country’s five tropical forests, and the group’s intrinsic philosophy of trendsetting environmental sustainability.  

Villa Blanca is set high in the cloud forest, while Si Como No Resort and Wildlife Refuge in Manuel Antonio National Park is Cliffside overlooking the Pacific.

Greta Mart/KCBX

Globules of decades-old bunker oil washed up on Morro Rock Beach and the southern end of Morro Strand State Beach Saturday, after a contractor working on an offshore pipeline accidentally released “a solid ball of oil” trapped inside the pipe and it broke up in whitecap waves. 

Carrizo Plain spared by national monument review

Sep 18, 2017
Greta Mart/KCBX

San Luis Obispo County’s Carrizo Plain National Monument is not on the list of monuments nationwide recommended for elimination or size reduction by U.S. Dept. of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. According to a leaked copy of Zinke’s report to President Trump, none of the six California national monuments on the original review list are up for revision. But Zinke did recommend changes to ten of the 27 national monuments on the review list, including Bears Ears in Utah, Cascade-Siskiyou in Oregon and Gold Butte in Nevada.

Oil production and groundwater aquifers

Sep 6, 2017
Greta Mart/KCBX

Oil companies in California produce more water than oil. That has created a problem: what to do with all of that unwanted water? In most cases that wastewater is injected back into the ground, deep below the aquifer. But in some cases, injections may have contaminated federally protected aquifers that could be clean enough for drinking water.

Greta Mart/KCBX

The future boundaries of the Carrizo Plain National Monument are still in question, although it appears the monument’s protected status won’t be entirely abolished. U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced Thursday he was not recommending the elimination of any national monuments. However, he did say that a "handful" could be reduced in size. 

Central Coast marine sanctuaries under review

Aug 3, 2017
Courtesy of C.King/Simon/MBNMS

Just like the current review of 27 national monuments across America by the Department of the Interior, the federal Department of Commerce is looking to possibly revoke protected designation of 11 marine sanctuaries. 

Jo Licata, Community Outreach Coordinator Hilton San Francisco Union Square
Thomas Wilmer

Jo Licata, Community Outreach Coordinator at the Hilton San Francisco Union square talks about the hotel's second use and higher purpose program that recycles soaps, shampoos, toilet paper, leftover items from conferences, hotel furnishings, and much more. One of Hilton’s many non-profit partnerships is Clean the World Foundation that distributes hygiene supplies worldwide.

KCBX Two-Way: Brent Rose's 27 Monuments mission

Jul 6, 2017
Courtesy of 27monuments.org

On June 30, KCBX News invited an out-of-town guest to the studio - journalist and filmmaker Brent Rose. Rose is the creator of the 27 Monuments Project, his effort to bring attention to the federal government’s current designation review of 27 national monuments around the country. The deadline for the American public to submit comments on the Trump Administration's national monument review is July 10, 2017.

Bree Zender

Congressman Salud Carbajal and former Congresswoman Lois Capps attended a rally in San Luis Obispo on Saturday to protect the status of the Carrizo Plain National Monument. Carrizo is one of 27 national monuments that may be restricted in size or eliminated entirely after President Trump issued an Executive Order in late April for a review of the monuments. 

Greta Mart/KCBX

On Saturday - July 1 - in San Luis Obispo, a rally is planned calling for the protection of the Carrizo Plain National Monument. Former Central Coast congresswoman Lois Capps, current congressman Salud Carbajal and several community leaders say they will gather to bring attention to the Trump administration’s current effort to revoke protective status for 27 national monuments around the U.S. 

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