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22
Apr

What will you do for Earth Day this year?  Join BEC at the Big Room for the local premier of a new film "Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch".  Any donation gets you in the door and proceeds benefit three local nonprofit organizations.

03
May

This years theme, The Webs of Life, focuses on the importance of connections within and dependence on nature and one another.  Learn more about the exiting new changes this year and mark your calendars.

29
May

If you shop at the Grocery Outlet, you know that their voluminous wine selection can be pretty daunting. Here's your chance to unlock the Wine Mysteries of the Grocery Outlet and help support BEC at the same time!

01
Jun

Dig-in for this hands-on Lawn Conversion workshop to conserve water, and create bird habitat.  In Chico, water use goes up 60% in the summertime when we start watering our landscaping, so being mindful of what we plant can add up to huge water savings.

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BEC Protects

The Butte Environmental Council (BEC) is a non-profit environmental organization based in Chico, California. Our mission is to preserve and conserve the Earth’s natural resources, with particular attention to environmental issues in Northern California. BEC was formed in 1975 and throughout its 37 years, BEC has had a significant voice in shaping the environment and policies of Butte County and beyond.

BEC in the News

April 17, 2014

Comments:

  • The community’s efforts to keep waterways unpolluted is more important than ever - rdifalco

Highlights and Sticky Notes:The byproducts of homeless encampments—mattresses, tents, sleeping bags, food packaging, empty bottles, clothing and human waste—are increasingly common along Chico’s creeks, and the mess is more than unsightly. Many items at these makeshift homes have the potential to pollute the local waterways and habitats downstream.Members of volunteer cleanup crews, park officials and environmental advocates agree that the problem is worse than ever. They also acknowledge that, in light of the city’s ongoing financial difficulties, the ability to clean up the camps in a timely manner has diminished significantly.Robyn DiFalco, executive director of the Butte Environmental Council, said that in the months leading up to the Bidwell Park and Chico Creeks Cleanup last September, there was a dramatic increase in homeless encampments throughout Chico, and despite a lower than expected volunteer turnout, the cleanup removed about twice as much trash from the creeks as the year before.

“Things reached a level that no one could remember,” she said. “It was worse than it had ever been. We saw so many more mattresses, so many more tires, so many of those big, bulky items.”Since last fall’s cleanup, DiFalco said, she has been encouraged by ongoing discussions between city and county organizations about how to stay on top of the issue. Some locals, including a group of neighbors along Lindo Channel, have organized cleanup efforts of their own, while student volunteers from Chico State and Butte College have also proved helpful.Volunteers also described certain areas with such high concentrations of fecal matter and urine that “they required a hazmat cleanup,” DiFalco said. “When humans use our waterways as a bathroom, it has an impact on water quality; it has an effect on aquatic wildlife as well as terrestrial and amphibian wildlife.”Mark Gailey, a Chicoan who has volunteered for BEC’s cleanup efforts for nearly 25 years, said in an email that the amount of trash in Chico’s waterways “has seemed to grow exponentially—especially in the last few years. The vast majority of this trash … appears to be from abandoned homeless and transient encampments.”“You’re never going to solve it, but you do need to keep responding to it so it doesn’t get out of control,” she said. “The city shouldn’t be expected to do it on their own, nor should volunteers or nonprofits.”Tags: BEC, chico, cleanup, water, parks, creeksby: rdifalco

April 17, 2014

Highlights and Sticky Notes:The city hasn’t forgotten about its Climate Action PlanThis article was published on 04.17.14.In November 2012, the Chico City Council put its official stamp on sustainability by adopting a municipal Climate Action Plan. The blueprint, honed by the city’s Sustainability Task Force, laid out a two-stage approach for addressing the impacts of climate change and meeting greenhouse-gas standards established by the state.STF and CAP have become nearly synonymous acronyms at the direction of City Council, which cut the size of the task force in half—to seven members, officially appointed—and focused the panel on implementing the plan, versus exploring sustainability in general.Mark Stemen, chair of the reincarnated STF, says the city is “on the right track now, and we are making progress” but, in a broader sense, sees the process as “a good five years behind. We lost some momentum; we also lost the opportunity when there was more staff to get things done. But that’s water under the bridge—or carbon in the air, unfortunately.”Flash forward six months and …

Pause.

Budget woes led to restructuring of city staff. At the same time, the council opted to reconfigure the Sustainability Task Force; the STF wouldn’t meet again until December 2013.A tangible display of that impetus is a joint session of the Planning Commission and the STF next month. Uniting the committees means the STF “is getting more integrated into city processes,” Stemen said, and also “is getting the Climate Action Plan in front of the people who implement the [2030] General Plan.” That is particularly significant for Phase II, which has a series of goals related to construction.solar panels on city structures, which produced 2.2 million kilowatt-hours of electricity in the preceding 12 months and 16 million kwh total. Three years ago, aided by grants, the city installed 1,200 LED streetlights that have translated into annual savings of approximately $67,800 in electrical costs plus $6,000 to $7,000 in maintenance costs, according to city staff.Instead of commissioning another full inventory of greenhouse gas emissions, the city will extrapolate numbers based on readily available information: natural gas usage, electricity usage, waste diversion and vehicle fuel usage.“If we’re not moving in the direction of reducing those emissions, then we’re directly working against our own interests.”Tags: chico, BEC, climate action plan, sustainability task forceby: rdifalco

April 11, 2014

County supervisors move to ban controversial gas extraction method

This article was published on .

She said many of the 200 inactive wells have the potential to be stimulated for production via fracking.

When the supervisors took up the discussion, Lambert mentioned the environmental disaster that had taken place in the tiny Mojave Desert town of Hinkley, which led to a total of $628 million in settlements from Pacific Gas & Electric and the basis of the movie Erin Brockovich.

Robyn DiFalco, executive director of the Butte Environmental Council. “A year ago many of us did not know fracking was taking place so extensively in California and we started to wonder about the concern here locally,” she said. “The point I’d like to make today is that there is an imminent threat from fracking in our region and Butte County.”

The controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing to extract underground oil and gas reserves is well on the way to getting banned in Butte County. On Tuesday (April 8), the Board of Supervisors voted in favor of moving forward on crafting a zoning ordinance, as recommended by the county water commission, that would require a use permit for the practice that is more commonly known as fracking.

Lambert said his cousin had died as a result of exposure to hexavalent chromium, which was used in PG&E cooling towers that the company employed in the transmission of natural gas beginning in 1952 and ending in 1966.
After the meeting, DiFalco said she was happy with the outcome.

“We are very excited and a little bit surprised,” she said. “When we began the effort, it seemed like for the supervisors a ban would not be politically acceptable. We had met with the supervisors over the past year to help them understand the practice.”

She said Gosselin had asked her to head up the effort to draft the language of the proposed ordinance.

Tags: BEC, fracking, water, Butte County

BEC News Interests

April 17, 2014

Highlights and Sticky Notes:After viewing the provocative and unbalanced video that KHSL posted on its website about the same meeting, I am writing in appreciation of your more balanced reporting of the proceedings of the Board of Supervisors on April 8.

Out of the 12 to 15 well-informed, well-spoken and rational speakers, reporter Brian Johnson or his editor chose to focus on the inflammatory and heated comments of Dan Levine (who is not a part of Frack-Free Butte County). Mr. Johnson’s choice to link Mr. Levine’s threat that frackers will be met with “armed resistance” to the proposal to ban fracking that was put before the board hurt all of us at Frack-Free Butte County.

What Mr. Levine chooses to do is his business, but irrational threats and fear tactics are not what Frack-Free Butte County is about. We believe in the ballot box and verifiable facts. In my opinion, the KHSL piece was nothing more than pro-fracking propaganda. The residents of this beautiful county deserve better. Thanks again for covering this historic meeting and reporting it intelligently.

Marlene DelRosario
OrovilleI have appreciated the recent articles during the past two issues of the CN&R exposing the multiple threats to our water caused by water use and misuse in the Central Valley.

Twice as much groundwater is being consumed than water is being returned by rain and snow. Most alarmingly, little is being done to control and protect this essential resource. As groundwater goes down, the tree roots may not be able to reach it and Chico’s canopy of beloved trees would die. With time, the land can subside, as in sink! Yes, dead trees and sinking ground.

We need to conserve water, more than just turning off water when brushing our teeth. Massive amounts of water being exported for profit to huge agribusiness in the southern desert, where no one should be growing water-intensive crops, needs to be stopped. Once that is under control, we need to put into place local conservation efforts for all citizens and businesses.

AquAlliance is the group prepared, willing and able to protect the groundwater of this valley. We must support them with our dollars so they can work on legal defenses both in and out of court. Please contact them at www.aqualliance.net.

Kathleen Faith
ChicoThe prospect of the bleak economic situation in this city forcing the Chico Creek Nature Center closed is truly disturbing. I’m a recently returned daughter of Chico, living the past 13 years in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, but finding the draw of Chico’s parks and streams undeniable once I became a mother.

Imagine my surprise upon relocating my family here, to find parks (among other beloved Chico institutions) going under the knife due to government mismanagement of the city budget. Just as the Nature Center was part of my childhood, my daughter now enjoys a weekly visit herself: talking to the birds, getting up close with the rabbit and tortoise, learning the movement of snakes, feeding goats by hand, investigating the native gardens, and learning from the staff. It is such a great resource!

As a mother and native Chicoan, I enjoy all of Chico’s parks, but because I have a physical disability and am a single-income family, the Nature Center is uniquely precious to me: It is an affordable, accessible, child-friendly, educational public space. I hope the Chico City Council understands the value of this place and prioritizes funding to the Chico Creek Nature Center.

Olivia SchmidtTags: fracking, chico, nature centerby: rdifalco

April 11, 2014

Highlights and Sticky Notes:Environmentalists and anglers outraged by Delta pumpingThis article was published on 04.10.14.A decision last week by state and federal agencies to increase the amount of water being pumped from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta has environmentalists and fisheries advocates outraged. The move came on April 1 after several politicians—including Sen. Dianne Feinstein and six San Joaquin Valley congressmen—urged the federal government to allow more freshwater than is normally allowed to be pumped from the two large pumps near Tracy and into San Joaquin Valley for use by farmers in that parched region.But critics say the Central Valley’s chinook salmon are seriously threatened by the pumping increase, which has boosted the volume of water being drawn from the Delta from 1,500 cubic feet per second to 6,500.“[The state’s Department of Water Resources and the federal Bureau of Reclamation] are apparently willing to sacrifice the future of the Sacramento River’s salmon runs for the sake of a few export crops, like lemons and almonds,” said Jim Brobeck, water policy analyst with the Chico-based group AquAlliance.Brobeck and other environmentalists say the action violates environmental laws that strictly curtail water exports from the Delta during the spring to protect chinook salmon.Tags: water, california, salmon, fish, river, delta, endangered speciesby: rdifalco

April 10, 2014

Highlights and Sticky Notes:On March 11, the Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife and the Assembly Budget Subcommittee #3 on Resources and Transportation held a joint informational hearing on the management of California’s groundwater resources.a wide variety of stakeholders gave their perspective on the problems and potential solutions for better management of the state's groundwater resources. the Central Valley Project authorized in 1938 and the State Water Project authorized in 1960, both had as part of their rationale, putting an end to groundwater overdraft in California.  It didn’t work because it didn’t complete the picture here.”The cumulative overdraft, our deficit spending of groundwater, is over 122 million acre-feet.  “That’s Lake Tahoe,”“That’s water that we’ve taken out of our groundwater resources in the Central Valley and not replaced.  Thirty-plus feet of land subsidence.  We have all of this evidence that something’s not going right.”no formal management, which is the majority of groundwater pumping in California, and we are seeing accelerated declines,Tags: water, groundwater, californiaby: rdifalco

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