Rac Lake in Kings River Canyon photograph by Ansel Adams 1936 (courtesy of the National Archives).
Photographer and Sierra Club Board member Ansel Adams founded the Ventana Chapter as the 14th Chapter at the National meeting of the Board of Directors on May 4, 1963.
April 20 - June 29, 2013 outings
Public Outcry Prompts Legislators to Seek Fracking Moratorium
Does Monterey County need a fracking rig here? Big Oil says yes... we say No! Photograph: Steve Zmak
Sierra Club, along with organized labor, health professionals, farmers, ranchers and other groups, has now stepped up lobbying for a moratorium on any new "fracking" for oil and gas until there is certainty that it does not, and will not, harm public health and the environment. We have asked our legislators to find out what chemicals the industry plans to use in fracking and in what quantities, and how fracking might affect the environment.
Fracking is the process of hydraulic fracturing, an oil and natural gas extraction technique that involves injecting a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and assorted chemicals into the ground... [more]
Fish Rescue Program at the Sleepy Hollow Steelhead Rearing Facility in Carmel Valley
MPWMD staff rescuing steelhead in the Carmel River (Photo courtesy of MPWMD)
by Rita Dalessio
The Monterey Peninsula Water Management District (MPWMD) has been rescuing young Carmel River steelhead (Oncorhychus mykiss) from the drying lower Carmel River as part of an annual program to preserve local stocks of the threatened fish since 1989. Every spring or summer, beginning at the Highway 1 Bridge, District staff follow the retreating river upstream and remove fish from pools before they dry up. The rescued fish are either transported to upstream portions of the Carmel River with proper habitat conditions or to the District's Sleepy Hollow Steelhead Rearing Facility (SHSRF) if river habitat is not available. Fish are reared there until the river flows again in late fall or winter... [more]
New Sierra Club Lawsuit Aims to Protect More Public Lands from Fracking
In the wake of a landmark legal victory against fracking on public lands, Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) filed a new lawsuit on April 18 challenging the auction of an additional 17,000 Bureau of Land Management (BLM) acres in Monterey, San Benito, and Fresno counties for drilling and fracking.
The lawsuit of which the Ventana Chapter is a sponsor, says the government did not fully consider the dangers fracking poses to watersheds, endangered wildlife and air quality before auctioning off the leases in December... [more]
Chapter Executive Committee members met this month with Congressman Sam Farr to discuss our conservation work.
From left to right: Dale Agron, Rich Fox, Rita Dalessio, Congressman Farr, Scott Waltz and Neil Agron.
South Monterey County land near Lockwood-San Ardo Road looking northeast across BLM Lease Parcel 15 towards the Salinas Valley. Parcel 15 was auctioned off in December by BLM in spite of Sierra Club and CBD protests. Sierra Club is considering litigation in federal court. This is an area of prime inner Coast Range habitat with a mosaic of vegetation including Chaparral, Oak and Foothill Pine Woodland. (Photo: Nikki Nedeff)
Sierra Club and CBD Win Major Fracking Lawsuit Victory:
Federal Judge Rules that BLM Failed to Consider Effects of Fracking on Oil Leases
On April 7, Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) won a challenge to Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) September 2011 mineral lease sale, which leased roughly 2700 acres for oil and gas development in Fresno and Monterey counties.
Federal Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal granted the Club’s motion for summary judgment on the primary issue, which was that BLM failed to consider the effects of fracking.
The potential consequences of this ruling are very significant, as Monterey County is believed to have one of the largest deposits of shale oil in the nation.
In issuing his ruling, the judge stated that fracking both makes oil and gas production more likely, and it increases the risk of oil and gas production that does occur... [more]
Chapter Members Meet with CSUMB President Eduardo Ochoa
By Justin Ebrahemi
Ventana Chapter Executive Committee members this month met with California State University Monterey Bay's new president, Dr. Eduardo Ochoa for a friendly introduction to the region. The president, originally from Buenos Aries, Argentina has worked as an engineer, academic administrator, and Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education in the Obama Administration... [more]
Assembly member Mark Stone Advises Science Class in Marina
Marine Debris science class at Learning for Life Charter School in Marina. Natalie Zayas is at the far left and Mark Stone is center back row.
The Learning for Life Charter School in Marina has been a recipient of grants from the Ventana Chapter for the past two years. Their mission is to enable students in grades 7 through 12 who have dropped out of or are at risk of dropping out of traditional schools to become motivated again to learn, to develop a desire to complete their high school education and earn a high school diploma.
Chapter Executive Committee member Dr. Natalie Zayas teaches a science class with a focus on Marine Debris found on local beaches. Her project is to provide actual hands-on science using outdoor settings. The school also brings in professors to tell about varied specialties who guide the students in scientific fact-gathering, assessing, and reporting.
Assembly member Mark Stone addressed the class this semester and discussed his pending legislation against Marine Debris. AB 521, introduced by Stone in February, states the Legislature's intent to enact legislation to create the Plastic Pollution Reduction Producer Responsibility Act to protect California's coasts and oceans, lift the financial burden on local governments and taxpayers, and support California's economy by shifting the financial burden of controlling the pollution to those responsible for it.
California's ocean and coastline are increasingly threatened by pollution from plastic debris. According to a 2012 report by the US Environmental Protection Agency, West Coast communities spend over half a billion dollars a year to clean up litter on their beaches.
Additionally, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez has appointed Assemblymember Stone to serve as the Chair of the newly convened Assembly Select Committee on Coastal Protection. According to Stone, this committee is still formulating an agenda but could address sea level rise, a backlog of Coastal Act violations and focus on updates to cities' local coastal plans.
Spring in Jacks Peak Park
Indian warrior at Jacks Peak Park. Photo by Mary Pendlay
By Mary Pendlay
The fine yellow dust that settles everywhere on our Peninsula in March is a sign of spring, the Monterey Pine, in its native forest atop Jacks Peak, admits it is the guilty party. This year is no different for the growing trees, except that much has happened; although, not in the forest, but outside of it.
Two years ago Monterey County Parks entertained the idea of considering a zipline in the 960 acre forest of Jacks Peak Park. Local hikers and environmental groups rushed to the meetings which quickly made clear Jacks Peak Park is a passive recreational area designed for walks, picnics, exploring and many other quiet activities. The views of Point Lobos and the Santa Lucia Mountains serve as a backdrop to the many plants, birds and animals that thrive in an undisturbed environment, which is the expressed purpose of the Park... [more]
Chapter Submits Comments on US Forest Service Fire Clearance Proposals in Wilderness
Above the South Fork Little Sur. Photo by Mike Splain.
The Chapter, working with other groups has submitted comments on the US Forest Service notice of intent (NOI) to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) associated with the proposed Strategic Community Fuelbreak Improvement Project.
We are concerned that the Proposed Action states that the construction of wilderness portions of the fuelbreaks would utilize motorized equipment (chain saws). A determination of the need for administrative action and the appropriate minimum tool or activity is dependent upon the findings of a Minimum Requirements Analysis (MRA) according to the Wilderness Act of 1964. Until an MRA is completed, it appears premature to select chain saws as the minimum tool... [more]
Future generations thanking Congressman Sam Farr. Photograph: Vicky Hoover
Pinnacles National Park Celebration
Thanks to the hard work of Congressman Sam Farr, in January Pinnacles National Monument was upgraded to National Park status by President Obama. Officials on Monday, February 11, celebrating America's 59th National Park included Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Congressman Farr and California Secretary of Resources John Laird. Nearly 400 people including many Chapter members and National Sierra Club Parks Committee member Vicky Hoover attended this momentous occasion... [more]
Chapter Submits Comments on Collections at Monterey Bay Proposed Mega Hotel Complex in Sand City
Site of proposed Collections at Monterey Bay resort. Photograph: Jane Haines
Responding to the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) released by the City of Sand City for a proposed 342-room hotel on 26 beachfront acres, the Chapter retained attorney Larry Silver and Coastal Ecologist and Botanist Peter R. Baye, Ph.D to submit comments.
The project description is described in two phases. The first phase would be a 139-room hotel and parking garage; the second phase would include a 203-room hotel, two restaurants, a 19,700 square foot restaurant and a Tapas Bar, a 16,800 square foot conference center, a 14,000 square foot spa as well as a juice bar, wine center and parking. There would be a total of 639 parking spaces... [more]
Chapter Approves Trust Fund Grant for Coastal Habitat Restoration Project in Marina
Marina Dunes photo by Steve Zmak
The Chapter has voted to grant the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District (MPRPD) $175,000 from the Marina Coastal Habitat Protection, Conservation, and Restoration Trust Fund to restore coastal habitat at the Marina Dunes Preserve adjacent to Marina State Beach.
The Chapter Marina Committee consists of Natalie Zayas, Scott Waltz, and Steve Zmak who work with the City of Marina (the trust fund administrator) on reviewing grant applications for the trust fund as well as coastal land use issues... [more]
Congressman Sam Farr’s Bill to Establish Pinnacles National Park
Update: President Obama signed this bill into law on Thursday, January 9, 2013.
The high peaks of Pinnacles National Park photo by Steve Zmak.
The bill, HR 3641 passed the US Congress in July and the US Senate in December. This legislation elevates the 26,000 acre Pinnacles National Monument into a National Park. This will be the 59th National Park created by Congress and the first since 2004.
This unique landscape full of soaring rock spires and crags so moved President Theodore Roosevelt that he named the area a National Monument in 1908. The area draws its name from the volcanic spires that were formed by the eruption of the Neenach Volcano over 23 million years ago... [more]
Supervisor Carole Groom appointed California Coastal Commissioner
Speaker of the Assembly John A. Perez appointed San Mateo County Supervisor Carole Groom to the 12-member California Coastal Commission in late November to replace Supervisor Mark Stone who was elected to the Assembly (AD29) on November 6.
Groom is known as a consensus builder from her service on San Mateo City Council and on the San Mateo Planning and Public Works Commission. She also serves on the boards of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the San Mateo County Transportation Authority and SamTrans. She has a track record of working with communities to protect natural resources and public access.
Lennie Roberts, a Sierra Club member and activist in the San Mateo coastal region that works on coastal issues with the Committee for Green Foothills, said “I am confident that in this new role, Ms. Groom will thoughtfully weigh the issues, do her homework, and be sensitive to environmental protection needs along the coast.”
The Ventana Chapter which includes Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties has almost 130 miles of coastline and currently has several items slated to come before the CCC in the next few years.
The mission of the Coastal Commission is to protect, conserve, restore, and enhance environmental and human-based resources of the California coast and ocean for environmentally sustainable and prudent use by current and future generations.
Sierra Club Sues California Department of Conservation Over Dangers of Fracking
Sierra Club, Earth Justice and other environmentalists are suing California oil and gas drilling regulators over hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”. On October 16, California Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) was sued by the Sierra Club and other groups seeking to block approval of new oil and gas wells because regulators have allegedly failed to consider or adequately analyze risks of fracking. The Club sued to force the State to conduct more environmental review as required by CEQA before permitting fracking. Currently the State regularly approves permits for wells without any environmental analysis, tracking or monitoring of public health from fracking by excluding such projects from review.
The lawsuit seeks a court order prohibiting approval of new wells until the state evaluates the risks of fracking which is a highly controversial and dangerous drilling method linked to water contamination and other issues throughout the United States.
Monterey and San Benito Counties have had several exploratory tests for fracking. Upon learning of the lawsuit, Monterey County Supervisor Dave Potter stated: “I applaud the Club’s actions. I am firmly against fracking in Monterey County and agree there are still too many unanswered questions about the impacts to water quality and the environment, with too little oversight at the state and federal levels.” As Chair of the Legislative Committee for the Board of Supervisors, Potter has requested legislative priorities to deal with the concerns about fracking including potential impacts to the environment, clean air and clean water.
Make a contribution to the Sierra Club today - stop fracking in Monterey County!
Your local Sierra Club Chapter and Group needs financial support to carry on our fight to protect the spectacular coast, valleys, and mountains.
We cannot fight for endangered and at risk wildlife without money. We cannot save precious forests, mountains, watersheds, and open spaces without money.
We know that you care about the environment from your membership in the Club. Now we need your help.
Much of the work of the Club consists of non-glamorous, roll-up-your-sleeves labor. Volunteers study EIRs and make comments; activists get government staff reports and keep tabs on proposed developments and policy changes; sometimes the Club files suit.
Please help us continue to protect and preserve the Central Coast. To make a donation please send a check made out to ‘Sierra Club’ to
Sierra Club Ventana Chapter, P O Box 5667, Carmel, CA 93921-5667
Contributions to the Sierra Club are not tax deductible. To send tax deductible contributions, which mainly support legal actions when they become necessary, make your check out to ‘Sierra Club Foundation’ instead.