The final federal plan for the Merced River, which snakes through the floor of Yosemite Valley, permits recreational activities and caps the number of visitors to the valley floor.
An earlier draft of the Merced Wild and Scenic Rivers Plan would have ended bike rentals, shut down the ice skating rink, and taken out the historic Sugar Pine Bridge near the Ahwahnee Hotel.
Several groups committed to public access in the park objected, including business owners in nearby gateway communities.
So now the National Park Service has compromised on the ice rink – it’ll stay open but move away from the heart of the river plain, and the bridge, built in 1928, stays put. Yosemite will offer significantly more camping in the valley, and a few more hotel rooms.
The final plan is written to accommodate around 21,000 visitors at peak, a few thousand less than that on most busy days. The National Parks Conservation Association says the plan has succeeded in balancing competing interests.
This week the California Department of Transportation launched an education campaign with 700 electronic highway boards displaying the message: "Serious Drought. Help Save Water."
Leaders from cities, counties, tribes, and states around the U.S. held a closed-door meeting in Los Angeles today to offer federal officials their view on adapting to climate change and preparing for its hazards – including drought.
The Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience has now met twice since being convened by President Barack Obama last fall. The group’s goal is a report to the White House, describing ways that federal agencies can cut red tape, streamline processes, and promote the ability of local agencies to respond to climate change.
Eight governors, including Jerry Brown, are on the task force. Other California participants include Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Santa Barbara Supervisor Salud Carbajal.
Garcetti characterized the conversation as “very specific.” Among the topics discussed were transportation, water policies, infrastructure, and disaster response.
The Metropolitan Water District, which serves 19 million people, has headquarters in downtown Los Angeles.
The water supplier for 19 million Southern Californians declared a “water supply alert” Tuesday, a designation that triggers more rebates for water conservation and underscores the urgency of the state’s thirst.
The move by the board of the Metropolitan Water District isn’t a surprise. At the end of January, water managers said they’d be seeking to double the funds available for conservation rebates, from $20 million to $40 million.
“We are taking an aggressive approach to lowering water use because Southern California must lead by example and take a statewide approach to this challenge,” said Jeffrey Kightlinger, the MWD’s general manager, in a written release. “California is one state. We all have an obligation to do our part and conserve water.”
Some Southern California cities, like Pasadena and Los Angeles, have restrictions in place for outdoor watering. The alert encourages Southern California communities that have not yet made local limits to do so now.
National Park Service
This file photo shows P-32, one of three cubs recently born in the Santa Monica Mountains. P-32 was found to be inbred, according to preliminary DNA evidence. Lack of genetic diversity is one of many problems facing local mountain lion populations. Another is traffic. In recent weeks, cars have killed three mountain lion kittens in Southern California.
Courtesy of National Park Service.
Wildlife experts are pushing for a crossing for mountain lions near the Liberty Canyon exit on the 101 Freeway, seen here. Roads, particularly freeways, are one of the major challenges to the long-term survival of mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains, and a crossing here would connect terrain to the north.
It's not easy being a mountain lion in Southern California.
Three mountain lion kittens local to the region have died after being struck by vehicles in recent weeks. Wildlife experts in the mountains say the two separate incidents reflect the difficulty the big cats face in moving around an urbanized landscape.
“If we want to keep mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains, we need a better system of wildlife crossings,” said Dr. Seth Riley, an urban wildlife expert at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
Essentially, mountain lions in the region lack enough terrain over which to roam.
Riley says Southern California’s mountain lions face more than just the danger of passing cars. Younger males require large swaths of territory; when roads are hard to cross, too many competitors bunch up rather than disperse, so mountain lions kill each other.
An employee wearing a breathing mask works at Exide Technologies, a battery recycling plant has discharged harmful amounts of lead into surrounding communities.
Vernon-based Exide, the battery recycler whose emissions have stirred public concerns about health impacts, has filed a lawsuit in LA Superior Court to have a recently-passed air quality rule scrubbed.
At issue is rule 1420.1, passed by the South Coast Air Quality Management District in January, which tightens limits for arsenic and other toxic chemicals in emissions.
Exide has asked a superior court judge to block enforcement of the rule. The company argues that, under the California Environmental Quality Act, air regulators were "arbitrary and capricious" in making a rule Exide's lawyers call "infeasible."
In a separate legal maneuver, the company has petitioned regulators directly, asking for more flexibility in implementing the rule.
In a written statement, the company’s Senior Director for Commercial Operations in the Recycling Group, E.N. “Bud” DeSart, emphasized that Exide remains committed to meeting emission limits, and does not dispute the need for them.