Environment

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

Jordan Bell

Governor Brown declared a state of emergency for Santa Barbara County Wednesday to aid in cleaning efforts after an oil pipeline rupture at Refugio State Beach.

The ruptured pipeline could have released 105,000 gallons of crude oil into the water off the Santa Barbara County coastline. Crews are working, on and off the shores, to ensure safety and rehabilitate marine life. 

Map: Santa Barbara County Energy Division

Federal, state and local emergency crews were on the scene of a large oil spill along Santa Barbara County's South Coast Tuesday evening.

The US Coast Guard said Tuesday afternoon that the spill stretched roughly four miles in the area of Refugio State Beach.

The Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Services said Tuesday night that both the campground and beach areas were closed at Refugio. There was also a warning at El Capitan State Beach.

Central Coast residents concerned with protecting the area's coastal live oak trees are joining forces in the coming days to stop the spread of a serious disease. Sudden Oak Death (SOD) has been a problem in California for years, but now scientists have tools to track—and possibly slow—its spread.

Volunteers play a crucial role in this process, according to Lauren Brown, a trainer with the 2015 Spring SOD Blitz, a campaign aimed at mapping the location and status of trees throughout the state.

Paul Relis was a student at UC Santa Barbara during the massive 1969 oil spill in the Santa Barbara Channel, and had a front-row seat to much of the public reaction that followed.

Relis went on to lead the Community Environmental Council, was an executive with the state EPA, and lectured for nearly two decades on Environmental Studies at his alma mater, UCSB.

You can hear Relis read from his recently published book, Out of the Wasteland, Thursday night, May 14 at Chaucer’s Bookstore in Santa Barbara starting at 7:00 p.m.

Rachael Williams

Star fish—or as biologists call them, sea stars—appear to be making a comeback along the West Coast. New scientific surveys show a large number of young stars in the coastal waters from the Monterey Bay up to the Washington coast. 

Sea stars have been suffering from a mass wasting disease in recent years. Die-offs like this have happend in the past, but have never been recorded at this magnitude and over such a wide geographic area, according to the UC Santa Cruz Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department.

Spencer Marley

Ray Richardson and other California commercial fishermen are ready to start this year's salmon season, only he faces a shorter window than last year.

"I'm putting the davits on, the gurdies on, and putting the trolling wire on. Then, go to get some ice, put the gear on, and go fishing," Richardson said.

Flickr member Doc Searls

The Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) is scheduled to hold a special meeting Thursday to update guidelines for greenhouse gas emissions within the County. Specifically, the District is looking at pollution generated by business and industry.

The APCD's Molly Pearson said Wednesday that members will vote on one of two options for updated guidelines. The public will get a chance to speak prior to that vote.

California Coastal Commission

California Coastal Commission staff is recommending that the rock wall at Goleta Beach County Park get a 20 year extension to remain in place. 

The 12-hundred foot long wall has been the topic of much debate.

Local environmentalists, including the Santa Barbara Surfrider chapter, say that studies show rock seawalls eventually work against sandy beaches, causing them to disappear. Supporters of the wall say it helps protect key areas of the park, including the lawn. 

Broadcast date: 4/23/2015

Climate change: The problem is serious, but experts believe it is solvable, not with expensive new technology, but with political will and by taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The longer we wait the more expensive and difficult it will be to solve.

Wikipedia user: Coolcaesar

In honor of Earth Day next week, the Princeton Review is out with its national list of the Top 50 Green Colleges—and UCSB comes in at No. 1 for public schools.

UC Santa Barbara ranks No. 3 overall, with private schools Lewis and Clark (Oregon) and Green Mountain (Vermont) making the No. 1 and 2 spots respectively.

Flickr member Allie_Caulfield

The upcoming 2015-2016 sardine fishing season off the Central Coast will be closed in an effort to help rebuild the fish population, according to the Pacific Fisheries Management Council.

Council members made the decision at their current meeting in the Bay Area.

“While this is a sad day for all those dependent on a healthy sardine fishery, it is actually a good thing that this Council is addressing the problem directly, something you don’t always see across the nation or certainly, internationally,” said Council member Frank Lockhart.

Kimberly Walker: Environmental Scientist, Marine Region Fisheries Research and Management Project, California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Central Coast residents and visitors should get a chance in the coming days to see a natural phenomenon that is expected to peak along local beaches.

The annual grunion run is predicted to take place Saturday through Tuesday nights, April 4-7. When the conditions are right, thousands of the small fish beach themselves as part of their mating cycle. There will be another run this month, April 18-21, and two more in May.

Pinnacles National Park

The endangered California condor is having its best spring to date with at least 16 active nests identified statewide by biologists.

More than a third of those nests are within Pinnacles National Park in Monterey County, the park stated on its Facebook page. 

The range of the condor is big, including much of the Western United States and even a portion of Mexico. But, the endangered birds seem to be doing especially well along the Central Coast this year at Pinnacles.

Their are plans to move forward with an effort to create a National Marine Sanctuary for the waters off the coastlines of San Luis Obispo and northern Santa Barbara Counties, following a federal rejection of the nomination earlier this month.

The Northern Chumash Tribal Council would like to preserve the area sandwiched between the Monterey Bay and Channel Islands sanctuaries. The proposed area would be called the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary.

Marine Mammal Center

There is a major spike in the number of starving sea lion pups showing up on Central Coast beaches. While the influx is overwhelming facilities like the Marine Mammal Center in Morro Bay, all rescued animals are still being accepted according to spokesperson Laura Sherr.

The organization says it has rescued more than 500 animals so far this year, more than ever before in its 40 year history.

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