Monday, September 15, 2008

University by the Sea

It's nearly time for the second annual University by the Sea!

Saturday, October 5, 10 AM to about 6 or 7.

This is a day-long event hosted by Cal State Long Beach in the downtown/east village area. Local luminaries teach classes on various subjects relating to Long Beach, including several classes of interest to environmentally minded folk.

Here are the highlights:

Session 1: 10 - 11 AM.

Breakwater 101
Breakers Building - Wedding Chapel · $5
Surfrider Foundation & 4th District Councilman Patrick O' Donnell, City of Long Beach
Come learn about the Long Beach breakwater - from past to present! Surfrider Foundation will share the breakwater's history - when and why it was built - and discuss how a breakwater configuration could help solve our local water-quality problems. 4th District Councilman Patrick O' Donnell will describe the Army Corps of Engineers Reconnaissance Study process.

Session 2: 11:30-12:30

Plants and People
Utopia Restaurant · $5
Jorge Ochoa, Horticulture Instructor, Long Beach City College
Lecture discussing the benefits of plants to human kind. How plants have shaped people's lives throughout history. To value and understand the life of plants, structure, and functions.

What it Means to be "Green"
Gotama Building Engineers · $5
Nikolas Bruno & Kacie McLamb, Engineers, Gotama Building Engineers Inc.
An academic class on sustainability and a guided tour of a sustainable building.

Session 3: 1-2 PM

Pollution in our Seas - What Happens to the Fish?
Lafayette Building - Tuna Room · $5
Kevin M. Kelley, Professor/Lab Director, CSULB Department of Biological Studies
Powerpoint-based lecture with props for a close-up interactive discussion on how pollution and contaminants impact wildlife in the marine and coastal environment.

Sustaining Your Backyard Garden
East Village Community Garden · $5
Staff, Long Beach Organic
A three-part lecture and Q&A on sustainable living in your backyard: (1) The Apple Guild, (2) Composting, (3) Making the Yard a Wildlife Habitat

What it Means to be "Green"
Gotama Building Engineers · $5
Nikolas Bruno & Kacie McLamb, Engineers, Gotama Building Engineers Inc.
An academic class on sustainability and a guided tour of a sustainable building.

Session 4: 2:30 - 3:30

Green Shopping Guide
Breakers Building - Wedding Chapel · $5
Russ Parsons, Author, "How to Pick a Peach"
Learn the basics of "eat local: eat seasonal" and how shopping at local farmer's markets can lead to better quality, better taste and better value.

Los Angeles River: History, Present & Future
Lafayette Building - Dome Room · $5
Alicia Katano, Education Coordinator, Friends of the L.A. River (FoLAR)
Impacts of urban run-off on river habitat and revitilization projects explored by the front-line fighters for a better L.A. River.

What it Means to be "Green"

Gotama Building Engineers · $5
Nikolas Bruno & Kacie McLamb, Engineers, Gotama Building Engineers Inc.
An academic class on sustainability and a guided tour of a sustainable building.

Session 5: 4-5

Beyond Xeriscape
Utopia Restaurant · $5
Kathleen Thomas, Designer/Horticulturist, CSULB Extension Services
A practical guide to having plants in your life - no matter what color thumb you have. Learn how to create a sustainable, low water use, organic garden, that is simple to care for and looks great!

Session 6: 5:30 - 6:30

Califlora: The Importance of Promoting Native Landscaps in Urban Areas
Utopia Restaurant · $5
Eric Zahn, Plant Ecologist, CSULB
Will demonstrate what native plants are for use in urban gardens and the services they provide. Will do demo on how to care for native plants.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Los Cerritos Channel

As you may know, green sea turtles were recently sighted swimming up the San Gabriel River. They were seen in the area of the Cerritos Channel, an arm of the San Gabriel River estuary. So of course I had to check it out! Sadly, no turtles were seen during my brief visit, but I thought I'd write it up on this blog, because this unlikely area was full of quite a few surprises.

View Larger Map

There is a small park along Cerritos Channel called Channel View Park.
Channel View Park and energy plant

The park is a highly manicured strip of lawn with a bike/pedestrian path, separated from the channel by an ugly chainlink fence. Opportunities to commune with nature here are limited, although if the scenery is appealing in that post-apocolyptic way that comes so easily in southern California:


The huge stacks of a powerplant dominate the landscape. The plant takes in water from the river to cool the engines, and returns heated effluent to the San Gabriel river. Both the intake and effluent have deleterious impacts on the marine environment, and these impacts are closely monitored by a number of agencies. The most severe impacts are the death of marine organisms on intake screens, and the alteration of the thermal regime of the river.

As I mentioned, the park itself doesn't offer much access to nature, though you can see quite a bit from the bridges over the channel on Loynes Drive and Studebaker.

Birdlife was somewhat abundant here, with several of the usual suspects:

Cormorants in formation
Cormorants, either perched on the trash booms or here, flying in V-formation.

Cerritos Eeg
Great egret.

Not shown: belted kingfisher and great blue heron. The vacant lots around the channel show evidence of wild dogs--either strays, or perhaps coyotes!

The contrast between the graceful birds and the imposing industral backgrop can be quite jarring:
Egret and Industry

The bridge on Studebaker offers a glimps into muddier habitat than is typical of other parts of the channel, which are full of rocky riprap:
Octopus habitat

You can see long and elegant smelt swimming at the surface, or even jumping out.

The most exciting sighting of the day were two large-ish octopuses (or octopi--both are correct!) fighting in the shallow water! Sadly, I got no photos to show. But I will be sure to try again sometime soon!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Colorado Lagoon Restoration

Colorado Lagoon

According to an article in today's Grunion Gazette:

The City's Planning Commission is set to certify the Enivornmental Impact Report (EIR) for restoration of Colorado Lagoon!

You can read the entire EIR, which describes the plan and all the expected impacts here:


The primary goal of the restoration is to address the poor water quality that afflicts the lagoon and often prevents swimming and other uses. For example, the EIR describes plans to improve storm drains so that pollutant-laden runoff only enters the lagoon in the largest rains.

However, restoration of natural areas is also included in the plans!

Several areas of wetlands will be formed along the margins of the lagoon, and a "bird island" will be created. Eel grass beds in the open water will be restored.

For more details, also check out the Friends of Colorado Lagoon.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sea turtles in Long Beach!

The Press-Telegram has an article about green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) in Long Beach!

Apparently, about a dozen of the endangered critters are swimming up the San Gabriel river, attracted by the warmth from the powerplant that uses the river to cool its generators.

Read the article here.

Presumably, the turtles are hanging out in the soft-bottomed estuarine portion of the river (south of PCH), and not going into the concrete-lined freshwater portions (pictured below):


I have never seen turtles in the San Gabriel River, but now that I know they are there, I'll be sure to look!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Marine Protected Areas

This post is an update to let you know about a meeting hosted by the Long Beach chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.

The meeting is Wednesday, 7 pm at the Barnes and Nobles Bookstore at the Marina Pacifica Mall (6326 E Pacific Coast Highway, Long Beach, CA):

View Larger Map

The meeting concernes Marine Protected Areas--a statewide initiative to establish zones in the ocean and along the coast to protect marine life. The actual regulations in these areas may include prohibitions on commercial or recreational fishing, and may impact a number of other activities.

It is unclear to me (and seems doubtful) that any such areas will include Long Beach, although plenty of nearby areas may be affected, including areas near the Channel Islands.