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Environment & Science

Three ways to green up your Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day, no-one!
Happy Valentine's Day, no-one!

If you're not planning a St Lamentine's Nay for yourself, environmental groups have figured out how to capitalize on your love to get their message out. These are the most clever ploys. 

1. The best things in life are free…go spend time with the person you love. If Encinal Canyon in Malibu is crowded, you can blame Heal the Bay. Their Valentines’ day beach guide for ocean lovers chooses “top spots for healthy romance” along the west coast. Encinal Canyon and the other 9 spots are A water-quality grades on the Heal the Bay Beach Report Card, which is why they made the grade for the list. They also say where to avoid: stay out of The Pit, Santa Barbara. And as a born San Franciscan, Ocean Beach seems awfully, uh, breezy for a V-day cuddle. But Morro Rock is an excellent spot, in my personal experience. Get in the car now! (Or check their report card list for your favorite spot.) A minor but salient fact: 80% of them are in California, so suck it, Pacific Northwest!

2. Throw money at the problem? If you’re looking for last minute gifts that don’t involve stuffed pandas or crappy candy or mediocre flowers, environmental NGOs have your back. If you want to look like a good guy, Sierra Club’s willing to help you out: for 20 bones you can buy yourself a “Wild Place” for a sweetie. Audubon California is selling Valentines at a 6-dollar price point in honor of California’s native birds. And And Audubon National couldn’t pass up the opportunity either to hit people up for donations.

3. Listen to great love stories. And I don’t just mean Harold & Maude. This year the Nature Conservancy is telling one about freshwater mussels. Once upon a time, TNC would like you to know, California became home to freshwater mussels. They’re sneaky, lonely creatures. Male mussels sprout sperm into the water; females catch ‘em, and start hatching larvae. Then the newly-minted mother mussels wave bait like appendages: parts that look like worms, or crawfish. Fish swim up, maybe even lured by the faux-stank of dead things. Then the mussels drop their larvae onto fish, and boom!

The Nature Conservancy’s concerned about how well this romancin’ is working under current ecosystem conditions. As TNC says, “they rely on fish as hosts for reproduction, and lack of flows, poor water quality, and reduced habitat and other factors have taken their toll on these essential bivalves.” California's got its own concerns; the State Water Resources Control Board says they're a water quality sentinel species, and face several threats enumerated here.