Southern California environment news and trends

California boater rescued after collision with whale

File this under close encounters of the aquatic kind. As reported by the Associated Press, a California man had to be rescued after a whale struck his 50-foot sailboat 40 miles off the shore of Mexico.

Max Young, 67, of Sacramento, was forced to activate an emergency beacon to alert the Coast Guard when the whale collision disabled his boat’s steering system and caused the vessel to take on water. He used a mattress to plug a hole caused by the crash and four bilge pumps to bail water while waiting to be rescued.

"He was steering the boat and trying to get it back on course," Young's wife Debra Young told the Associated Press about the initial moments of the ordeal. "It took him a while to realize he didn't have any steerage at all. It took him a bit longer to realize he was taking on water."

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San Jose company set to build solar plant in Baja California

Mercer 20854

Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

A field of solar panels.

Solar energy systems supplier Solfocus has committed to building a 450-megawatt power plant near the border of Mexico and California. A joint operation between San Jose-based Solfocus, Mexican real estate developer Grupo Musa and Synergy Technologies in America, the plant will be built in 50-megawatt tranches. As announced in a press release, construction will begin on the first tranche later this year, with operations scheduled to begin sometime in 2013.

“The project is in direct alignment with the Mexico and U.S. bilateral clean energy agenda. The countries share a common goal of achieving strong economic growth and energy security while addressing climate change and increasing the reliability of energy infrastructure,” said Lic. David Munoz, Director General of the Baja California State Commission of Energy in the release. “Mexico has been successful with wind energy, and now this large solar project will support our energy infrastructure and economic development efforts in the very near future.”

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Conservationists are making recession work for Baja

Where the recent recession looks to have failed numerous development investors around Baja, Calif. and the neighboring Mexican coastline, it’s been a boom for area environmentalists. According to a report in Fronteras, while unfinished constructions like a proposed marina in Santa Rosalillita idly rust away, environmental groups like WiLDCOAST have seized on discounted land prices to create conservation easements and establish new protected areas.

“So in places like San Ignacio Lagoon, Magdalena Bay, the corridor between Loreto and La Paz and in the central Pacific coast, we’ve been able to preserve some really world-class coastal biodiversity areas,” said Serge Dedina, the executive director of WiLDCOAST to Fronteras. "Areas where grey whales go, and where you see whale sharks. Real world class, Africa-style wildlife destinations. So that’s really exciting.”

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