News Article | April 20, 2017
It's National Park Week, a time to honor America's many outdoor parks and, according to the National Park Service, the country's largest celebration of national heritage. The perfect way to participate in this holiday is to step outside your front door and into a national park. Fortunately, every national park in the country will be free to visit on April 22 and April 23. There are more than 400 national parks throughout the United States. For those that typically charge an entrance fee, that charge will be waived this weekend. The National Park Service provides a list of state parks that are waiving their fees, plus other dates throughout the year when you can enter parks for free. Want to take advantage of this excuse to enjoy the outdoors? There are plenty of ways you can keep the excursion cost low. If you're meeting up with friends or family, carpool together and split the cost of gas. This keeps the travel cheap and cuts down on emissions, too. Make sure to pack plenty of supplies to last as long as you want to spend in the park, including a few reusable bottles filled with water, energy bars and fruit that doesn't require refrigeration, such as bananas or apples. If you're staying through mealtime, bring a cooler with ice packs and sandwiches. For a frugal snack, check out what items you already have in the house that would make good ingredients for a trail mix, such as pretzels, crackers, raisins and nuts. To sweeten up the mix, pick up a bag of discounted Easter candy and toss it in. Preparing plenty of snacks and beverages for your daytrip will ensure that you don't go too long without eating and blow too much money at a rest stop later on. Depending on what park you visit, you may be able to take advantage of one of its free events. Many of the parks are hosting events this weekend, including group hikes, bike rides, nature demonstrations, yoga classes and cleanup days. Check out the website and social media pages of the park near you to see what's in store. The National Park Service created the hashtag #FindYourPark and website FindYourPark.com to give you access to tons of fun events and amazing local parks you may not know existed. [See: 12 Frugal Ways to Save on Vacation.] Since Earth Day also falls on April 22, helping to clean and preserve a national park would be the perfect way to celebrate. You could even host your own informal cleanup day and see how many of your friends you can get to join. Volunteering is a low-cost way to get exercise, bond with others and give back to the community. The National Park Service put together a guide to hosting your own events that promote the outdoors as a tool for improving health and wellness. Here are a few notable events happening around the country this weekend: Earth Day at Grand Canyon . Visitors can join in on a litter clean-up, recycled arts walk, recycled arts and crafts and fun games to celebrate Earth Day at one of the country's most revered landmarks. All the activities are free and open to the public, and will start at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 22. Earth Day at Yosemite National Park. There are plenty of free activities planned in Yosemite National Park this weekend, including performances of an original play called "Shakespeare in Yosemite." The park will also host art activities, ranger-guided walks and educational volunteer projects. Explore Everglades National Park. This national park in Florida has more than a million acres of land and endless possibilities for exploring. A few highlights this weekend include wildlife walks, canal biking, a crocodile and manatee talk and a meteor shower bike ride. Park Rx Day at Golden Gate National Park. On April 23, Crissy Field in Golden Gate National Park will host one of the country's largest events to bring awareness to National ParkRx Day and showcase the health benefits of spending time outdoors. You can also join a family bike tour and bird-watching elsewhere in the park. [See: 10 Fun, Frugal Ways to Spend Your Free Time.] Use this weekend's holidays as an excuse to get outside and explore the national parks near you. Not only is it free, but you'll soak up the benefits that our country's natural treasures have to offer. Jon Lal is the founder and CEO of coupons and cash-back website BeFrugal.com, which saves shoppers an average of $27 per order thanks to coupons plus an average of 7 percent cash back at more than 5,000 stores. Lal founded BeFrugal in 2009 with the mission to provide shoppers with maximum savings for minimum hassle. The company operates from its headquarters in Boston and serves customers globally. You can follow along with Lal on Twitter at @jon_lal.
News Article | May 1, 2017
The 22nd Annual Mammoth Festival of Beers and Bluesapalooza in Mammoth Lakes, California is gearing up for its High Sierra summer party with four days of music and two days of craft beer tasting. It’s Mammoth’s strongest rockin’ blues lineup yet, August 3rd-6th, outdoors among the pines at The Woodsite. More than 20 internationally known bands will perform on two stages. On the Bluesapalooza Main stage, the Beyond Blues Thursday Night (5:15pm-10:00pm) kicks off with Robert Randolph and The Family Band with special guests Flow Tribe and Dreddie Poppins and The Professionals. Friday Night Rock ‘N Blues (3:00pm-10:00pm) features headlining performances from Mavis Staples, Valerie June, Eric Sardinas & Big Motor, Jason Ricci & The Bad Kind, and Saturday’s Bluesapalooza (11:30am-9:30pm) features Walter Trout, Sonny Landreth, Malina Moye, Samantha Fish, Dirty Revival, and Anthony Gomes. Festivalgoers can unwind, kick back and relax on Soulful Sunday (11:00am-5:30pm) with Vintage Trouble, Janiva Magness, Cedric Burnside Project, and Griff Hamlin & The Circle City Horns. On the Minaret Stage, RJ Mischo & Paris Slim, Brother Yusef, The Bald Eagles and additional special guests will have scheduled performances throughout the weekend. “At 8,000 feet, we’re the highest elevation beer and music festival on the West Coast,” says Sean Turner of Mammoth Brewing Company, host brewery of the event. “And it takes place under the pines in one of the most beautiful venues in the West! It’s a great place to come find your new favorite band and your new favorite beer and meet some of the brewers.” And when it comes to craft beer, attendees have a mammoth supply to choose from and taste. The Mammoth Festival of Beers features two days of beer tasting, both Saturday (12pm-5:00pm) and Sunday (12pm-4:00pm), showcasing more than 90 breweries pouring over 200 craft beers, such as Mammoth Brewing Company, Bear Republic, Figueroa Mountain Brewing, Firestone Walker, Green Flash, Hangar 24, Russian River Brewing, Santa Cruz Mountain, San Diego, Sierra Nevada, Stone, and many more. And for the progressive taster, this year’s new-dedicated Barrel-Aged Sour Beer Bar will serve specialty beers all four days of the festival. The event benefits the California Craft Brewers Association, The Infinite Music Foundation and many local nonprofit organizations. Along with the beer and blues, plenty of tasty food from some of Mammoth’s best restaurants will be served in the Blues Food Court satisfying the heartiest of appetites. The popular Cigar Bar returns. And for those that prefer grapes over hops, returning winery J. Lohr will offer their signature wines. Multi-day tickets are the festival’s best buy and very important ticket holders, aka VIP ticket holders, receive early festival entry each day; special VIP bar lines with complimentary Sour Bar Beer tastings; a Lair of the Bear lounge access with special amenities; VIP porta-potties, and more. Advance tickets are on sale now and this year’s event is again expected to sell out. Tickets are available online at http://www.vallitix.com or http://www.MammothBluesBrewsFest.com or phone at 888-825-5484; and locally at the Mammoth Brewing Company Tasting Room. For festival updates and additional information, visit the event’s responsive website, http://www.MammothBluesBrewsFest.com which features music videos; links to bands, breweries and ticketing; a photo gallery; email signup; live social media updates; FAQ section; an informative blog on festival happenings; and more. According to the event producers, this is the best place to obtain up-to-the-minute information about the festival. Or, contact the event hotline, 888-99-BREWS (992-7397). The event venue, The Woodsite, is located at 5701 Minaret Road between Main Street and Meridian Boulevard. Mammoth Lakes is a mountain resort located near Yosemite National Park in the Eastern High Sierra off Highway 395, offering world-class golf courses, mountain biking, fishing, hiking, and resort facilities. For additional information about camping or local accommodations, call 800-GO MAMMOTH or visit http://www.visitmammoth.com or http://www.mammothbluesbrewsfest.com/lodging.
News Article | April 17, 2017
The Interior Department on Thursday ordered additional harassment prevention training for managers and supervisors after an internal report found that men in a maintenance unit at Yellowstone National Park “created a work environment that included unwelcome and inappropriate comments and actions toward women.” According to the report released Wednesday by the department’s inspector general’s office, six women in the park’s maintenance division said they were subjected to derogatory comments, verbal abuse and unequal treatment by male employees. One woman said six pairs of her underwear were stolen from a dresser drawer. Another called Yellowstone “a man’s world” where male behavior “is very dominating.” None of the women were identified in the report. The six-month investigation that led to the report followed a string of congressional hearings and allegations from women employed by the Interior and Agriculture departments who said they have been routinely harassed by male superiors and co-workers, often in remote areas where park employees and wildfire fighting units work. [GOPers say they want to punish alleged sexual predators in government. Ryan Zinke has a test case.] At a hearing in September, Kelly Martin, a fire chief at Yosemite National Park, described “a 30-year progression” of misconduct by men throughout her career, from 1987 to now, where she was spied on in showers, secretly photographed, and pinned against a wall by a man who tried to kiss her. Women rarely complain, Martin told a House Oversight Committee, because “many … do not believe action will be taken.” Fear she said, is a deterrent. “The supervisory response to my three sexual harassment incidents was one of minimizing my experience and attempting to resolve the situation with a mere apology from the perpetrator instead of imposing more appropriate disciplinary action.” The directive from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is the agency’s latest attempt to change that. “I expect each DOI employee to cultivate a work environment of dignity and respect that a reasonable person would not find hostile,” Zinke said in a statement Thursday. “It is our individual and collective responsibility to ensure that our interactions with each other, contractors who support our mission, and the public are free of harassment, discrimination or retaliation.” [After 45 years of harassment of female wildfire fighters, Congress says enough] Like secretaries before him, Zinke said he expects all his employees to refrain from offensive behavior. “Bullying, degrading and intimidating behavior is not acceptable and serves to dishonor the mission and values of our department.” But as lawmakers pointed out at a hearing in which they lambasted Agriculture Department officials for failing to act on a number of complaints, words and intent don’t change a near century of bad behavior. Like Martin, who works for the Department of Interior, firefighter Denice Rice, who works at Eldorado National Forest for the Forest Service, which is part of the Department of Agriculture, said discrimination is a normal part of her work life. At a separate House Oversight Committee hearing in December, Rice said a fire supervisor repeatedly groped her, confided that he dreamed of having sex with her and tried to lift her shirt. When the Forest Service office that handles discipline learned of the incidents, they asked the perpetrator to retire, which he did, and he received full government benefits. Hearing that, Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.) exploded. “The guy should not only have been fired, he should have been arrested!” Palmer shouted at Lenise Lago, deputy chief of the business office at the Forest Service. [As National Parks Service confronts sexual harassment, this park is exhibit A] Class-action lawsuits, consent decrees carried out 40 years ago and directives from departmental leadership have yet to end bias and discrimination against women in the Interior and Agriculture departments, where employees work in some of the most isolated places in the country. Wednesday’s inspector general report grew out of a magazine article in which a worker at Yellowstone alleged that a maintenance supervisor hired a woman solely for sex and looked the other way when she appeared drunk on the job. After interviewing 100 current and former employees, investigators determined that some complaints were inaccurate and unfounded. But some of the employee’s observations, such as misuse of credit cards and “men talking down to women,” checked out. For example, one manager really did say, “We’re not hiring any women this year,” saying that the decision was aimed at protecting female employees. He said in an interview with investigators that his unit did not have “too good a record at this point in time,” regarding its treatment of women. “He did not want the ‘distraction’ of a woman there without direct supervision,” the report said. “He told us, however, that he later changed his mind,” the report said. “He said he offered seasonal positions to two women, but they both declined. We confirmed this statement. As of the date of this report, the unit had no female employees.”
News Article | April 17, 2017
Bay Area-based non-profits Web of Life Field (WOLF) School and Rocketship Education have partnered for the 2016-17 schoolyear to bring 5th grade students from ten Rocketship Bay Area elementary charter schools to WOLF School’s Yosemite-area campus, Camp Tuolumne Trails, for customized residential outdoor science school trips tailored to Rocketship’s economic and curricular needs. Already this partnership has brought 101 students and 20 teachers to camp, with 213 more students and another 20 teachers from Rocketship slated to attend WOLF School through March 2017. Founded in 2007 in the heart of Silicon Valley, Rocketship Education is a non-profit network of public elementary charter schools serving primarily low-income students in neighborhoods where access to excellent schools is limited. While Rocketship has grown to encompass schools around the country, their birthplace remains their largest sector, comprised of ten schools in San Jose, one school in Redwood City, and one school in Concord. This network of schools, referred to as Rocketship Bay Area, together serve over 6,000 TK-5th grade students, 84% of which qualify for free and reduced price meals. More than just running high-quality schools, Rocketship addresses the underlying factors that help to eliminate the achievement gap for students: quality teachers, dedicated leaders, engaged parents, and active communities. This support network aims at developing the whole child, giving students every opportunity to become well-rounded individuals and successful adults. “An integral component in our achieving Rocketship’s mission of closing the achievement gap is getting kids in low-income communities as prepared for the world as their counterparts in any other school district,” says Alyssa Warren, Schools Team Senior Associate for Rocketship Education. “We have vast natural resources in California, yet many of our students have never even left San Jose. Our obligation is to expand student’s horizons beyond their hometown, and an incredible way to do that is through the life-changing outdoor experiences gained at science camp—a rite of passage for many of California’s students. It is one piece of a big puzzle, but it is definitely an important piece.” From 2010-2016, Rocketship Bay Area succeeded in running their own, teacher-led science camp program for 5th grade students at a camp and conference center available for rent called Camp Tuolumne Trails. Located just outside of Yosemite National Park, the camp provides students the chance to connect to California’s public lands and a stunning natural landscape where they can learn hands-on outdoor education. Each year the experience had a profoundly positive impact on their students; so much so, that ahead of the 2016-17 schoolyear, Rocketship began searching for a sustainable solution to make sure that future students could continue to benefit from science camp. Warren continues, “While we teach science in our schools, it is the hands-on learning that makes science come alive. Not only that, students gain immense social skills when they go off together and see each other in a new setting. Camp inspires positive risk-taking, and there is a new level of trust and maturity seen in students after a week of outdoor science school. It allows them to be their truer self. That is why we wanted to find a way to continue offering this to our students for many years to come.” At the urging of Camp Tuolumne Trails’ facility director, Rocketship reached out to an outdoor school also operating at the camp: WOLF School. As it turns out, they were the missing puzzle piece. Since 1989, WOLF School has excelled at providing residential, outdoor education programs for California’s K-12th grade students, and the organization is known for their ability to interweave state standard’s based science curriculum with customized lessons that support both teachers’ classroom instruction and individual student groups. Driven by their mission of “building respect, appreciation, and stewardship within the web of life,” WOLF School believes in the transformative power of the outdoors for all students when given the opportunity to make connections to their environment, themselves, and their communities. Homebased in the Santa Cruz Mountains at Little Basin Cabins and Campgrounds, part of Big Basin Redwoods State Park, WOLF School operates at multiple professionally-managed camps throughout California, including Camp Tuolumne Trails. “We are so thrilled to partner with Rocketship Bay Area,” says WOLF School Director Heather Butler. “One of our biggest goals as an organization seems simple but can be surprisingly difficult: get kids outdoors. We strive to bring the outdoor educational experience to all youth regardless of barriers, and we became motivated to find a way to get Rocketship’s students to camp, to get them outdoors.” Initially concerned at the cost of an outdoor school with the expertise of WOLF School, Rocketship quickly discovered one of WOLF School’s key values: affordability. WOLF School worked to tailor a program that fit within Rocketship’s budget, and Camp Tuolumne Trails owners, the Bill and Paula Baker Foundation, offered a discount to further reduce camp costs. Additionally, WOLF School developed a curriculum specifically for Rocketship Education, meeting their educational requirements and easing the burden from teachers. The outcome: a sustainable solution ensuring the continuation of outdoor education for Rocketship Bay Area’s future 5th grade students. “I was so excited to learn that we would be partnering with WOLF School!” shared Caitlin Malloy, a teacher at Rocketship Brilliant Minds, located in San Jose. “Our week at camp was a never-ending opportunity for students to be curious, ask questions, and investigate the scientific method. They discovered elements about themselves and each other as people, too, and have since carried a new sense of team with them back to our campus. The program could not have gone any better; I would recommend WOLF School to anyone and everyone.” “Rocketship’s students arrive at WOLF School with such appreciative attitudes and astonishing academic preparedness,” Butler adds. “They are so receptive to the experience, and our naturalists are having as much fun teaching as the students are learning.” During the 2016-17 schoolyear, WOLF School will serve Rocketship’s one Redwood City-based school: Redwood City Prep, and nine of Rocketship’s San Jose-based schools: Discovery Prep, Spark Academy, Mateo Sheedy Elementary, Alma Academy, Si Se Puede Academy, Brilliant Minds, Los Suenos Academy, Fuerza Community Prep, and Mosaic Elementary. The future goal is to include Rocketship’s two new Bay Area elementary schools, and to spread this successful model for outdoor education to all of their schools throughout the country. Visit wolfschool.org to learn more about these organizations.
News Article | May 1, 2017
May 1, 2017 -- “The People’s House,” a 22-minute virtual reality documentary highlighting 19 famous areas of the White House as seen through the eyes of President Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama, premiered today at the Tribeca Film Festival. Created by Emmy-Award winning filmmakers Felix & Paul Studios, in collaboration with Facebook and Oculus, the full-length immersive experience (shot entirely in stereoscopic 3D) follows an 8-minute preview released in the final days of the Obama administration. The full length version contains additional personal moments with President and Mrs. Obama, and also includes scenes in the private residence, enhancing the emotional experience and resonance of the piece. Filmed over five days in November and December 2016, the former President and First Lady take audiences on an intimate tour of the White House, guiding them through the hallowed halls of our nation’s most iconic home. “Our goal for this unique VR experience was to document this incredible space and the history that it encapsulates, in a very specific moment in time, and preserve it for future generations,” said Felix Lajeunesse, co-founder and creative director of Felix & Paul Studios. “We are so grateful that President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were able to layer in their personal memories in addition to historic references to contextualize the rooms that are indelibly imprinted on so many minds across the world.” Viewers are given intimate access to explore the extensive and personal history of the White House that includes eight years of the Obama administration and also defining events over the last two centuries. From the Lincoln Bedroom and other never-before-experienced spaces within the private First Residence (including the Treaty Room, referred to by Obama as his “man cave”) to sitting with President Obama in the Oval Office, to exploring the Rose Garden and the Situation Room, "The People’s House” offers personal memories and insights from the former President and First Lady as they prepare to leave the place they called home for close to a decade. Rooms and areas visited include: the Cabinet Room, the Old Family Dining Room, the Red Room, the Green Room, the East Room, the Vermeil Room, the State Dining Room, the Blue Room, the Diplomatic Reception Room, the Treaty Room, the Situation Room, the Lincoln Bedroom, the Roosevelt Room, the Oval Office, the South Lawn, the West Colonnade, the Cross Hall, the North Portico and the Rose Garden. “The People’s House allows anyone to step into the rooms of the White House and hear from the Obamas about their time in the residence,” said Colum Slevin, Head of Experiences, Oculus. “Virtual reality gives us the unique opportunity to transport our audience to moments in history, and we’re delighted this experience has helped preserve the White House for generations to come.” Felix & Paul Studios conceived this project as an exploration of the White House in which the viewer gets transported through space and time, as well as through the President and First Lady’s personal memories. To achieve this, the creative team developed a version of the studio’s proprietary VR camera system that moves through spaces on a custom-designed robotic platform. Additionally, the Felix & Paul Studios team created multiple timelapse-in-motion sequences that accelerate and manipulate the flow of time and movement of light around the viewer, seemingly allowing them to transcend time and space. For their first collaboration in 2016, President Obama became the first sitting United States president to participate in a VR experience put together by the White House, filmed over Father's Day weekend at Yosemite National Park in honour of the National Park Service’s Centennial, in partnership with Felix & Paul Studios, Oculus and National Geographic. “The People’s House” is available today in virtual reality on the Samsung Gear VR, powered by Oculus, and on the Oculus Rift and is also available as a Facebook 360 video. A media kit including a 2D trailer, still photos and additional assets for the piece can be found here. Felix & Paul Studios is the industry leader in the field of high-end cinematic virtual reality with an unparalleled reputation for producing the highest quality experiences in this emerging new medium. The studio combines technological innovation with a unique, pioneering and in-depth approach to the new art of virtual reality storytelling—creating ground-breaking original cinematic experiences (MIYUBI, the Nomads series, Strangers) and collaborations with existing franchises (Jurassic World, Cirque du Soleil, Fox Searchlight’s Wild) and world-renowned personalities and leaders (President Barack Obama, LeBron James, President Bill Clinton). The company is the world’s only full spectrum VR studio, showcasing end-to-end creative and technological know-how and proprietary tools within one company—including best-in-class spherical 3D camera systems, production and post-production software and processes, and specialized audio capture, design and processing through its Headspace Studios subsidiary. Headquartered in Montreal, Canada with offices in Los Angeles, Felix & Paul Studios has a highly experienced team of over 50 VR specialists and is backed by Comcast Ventures, the Phi Group, LD Ventures and Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec.
News Article | February 15, 2017
Restore Hetch Hetchy today announced that world champion rock climber and author Hans Florine, who holds or shares several world records for climbing the 'nose’ of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley, will keynote its 9th annual fundraising dinner on Saturday, March 11th. Restore Hetch Hetchy will also present the John Muir Heritage Award to founding board members Mark Cederborg and Mark Palley. “I am excited to share some of my experiences with supporters of the restoration of the Hetch Hetchy Valley,” said Florine. “To me, Yosemite Valley is the Mecca – the center of the climbing universe - and yet Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Valley is all but unknown due to the limited access to its walls. We are missing out on the sister of the greatest climbing area in the world." The dinner, which celebrates Restore Hetch Hetchy’s plans for returning Hetch Hetchy Valley to Yosemite National Park, will be held at the historic Berkeley City Club, a stunning venue designed by famed architect Julia Morgan, who also designed Hearst Castle. “We are honored that Hans is joining us at our annual dinner. The climbing community has been a long time supporter of our efforts. Climbers know the tremendous opportunities restoration of the valley offers not only to their community, but also to hikers, picnickers … and non-climbing visitors who simply want to stand waist-deep in grass and flowers ‘while the great pines sway dreamily’ as John Muir once did,” said Restore Hetch Hetchy Executive Director Spreck Rosekrans. “We are also proud to honor Mark Cederborg and Mark Palley who, over the years, have been instrumental to advancing our mission of restoring Hetch Hetchy and making Yosemite whole once again.” Hans Florine is a speed climber, professional speaker, author and thought leader in speed and efficiency. Florine has repeatedly set and broken one of the most coveted speed records in the world: The Nose of El Capitan, a 2,900-foot monolith in Yosemite Valley. In 2012, Hans, alongside climbing partner Alex Honnold, took the record again in 2 hours and 23 minutes, lowering the previous record by a full 13 minutes. He also holds numerous speed records in Yosemite National Park and all over the globe. Hans won the first International Speed Climbing Championships in 1991 and has held the U.S. National title eleven times. He won gold at the ESPN X-Games three years in a row. As a speaker, Hans challenges audiences to rethink what “speed” really means and is the author of “Speed is Power,” an audio program full of ideas, examples, and tools to utilize the fundamentals of speed in business and life. Hans is also the co-author of “Speed Climbing,” now in its second edition and producer of the award-winning documentary, “Wall Rats.” Hans is an athlete/ambassador for Outdoor Research, KineSYS, Honey Stinger, NUUN Hydration, Blue Water Ropes, La Sportiva, Petal and DFX Sports. He is an ambassador for The Access Fund, an active member of The American Alpine Club and supporting member of the Yosemite Fund, Leave No Trace and South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL). Mark Cederborg, currently serving as Vice Chair of Restore Hetch Hetchy, is a Restoration Specialist, Manager and Principal at Hanford ARC. Mark’s experience in habitat restoration has guided and inspired Restore Hetch Hetchy since its inception. Mark authored the Dam Removal and Valley Restoration chapters of “Finding the Way back to Hetch Hetchy Valley” (Restore Hetch Hetchy, 2005). Mark Palley, currently serving as Secretary of Restore Hetch Hetchy, is a civil litigation attorney and a founding partner of an Oakland law firm called Marion's Inn. Mark’s legal expertise has served Restore Hetch Hetchy throughout the life of the organization – from drafting our bylaws to advising our legal campaign in the California courts. The 7th annual Restore Hetch Hetchy Dinner will take place on March 11 at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Avenue, Berkeley, CA. Reception begins at 6:00 pm, followed by dinner at 7:00 pm. For information on purchasing tickets, contact Julene Freitas: julene(at)hetchhetchy(dot)org / 510-893-3400 and for more information on Restore Hetch Hetchy, go to: http://www.hetchhetchy.org/ INTERVIEWS: We will gladly arrange interviews with Restore Hetch Hetchy Executive Director Spreck Rosekrans. ABOUT RESTORE HETCH HETCHY: The mission of Restore Hetch Hetchy is to return the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park to its natural splendor while continuing to meet the water and power needs of all communities that depend on the Tuolumne River. Restore Hetch Hetchy is presently engaged in litigation with the City and County of San Francisco, arguing that storing water in an iconic glacier carved valley violates the California Constitution’s mandate that all methods of diversion be reasonable. Restore Hetch Hetchy intends to show the court that not one drop of water supply need be lost in restoration.
News Article | March 1, 2017
The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Ryan Zinke’s nomination to lead the Interior Department by a 68 to 31 vote. Zinke will head a department that manages a fifth of the land in the United States, about 500 million surface acres, a total that doesn’t include millions more acres and natural resources underground. Interior has an enormous environmental footprint, with agencies that decide how resources such as coal are managed and which animals are eligible for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Republicans called the former Montana congressman and Navy SEAL a strong choice for Interior, as an avid hunter with Western roots who understands how federal regulations on the cultivation of coal, natural gas and minerals on public lands can hurt corporate revenue and reduce jobs. “I believe Representative Zinke is a solid choice for this position,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that approved his nomination in a partisan vote more than a month ago. “While we may not agree on every issue … I believe he will work with us in a thoughtful manner that is reflective of a true partnership.” [Ryan Zinke is one step closer to becoming interior secretary] Democrats were wary of Zinke despite his declaration that he believes humans contribute to climate change. “Man has had an influence,” he said under questioning by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Zinke’s assertion that the level of human contribution is unknown, despite the near unanimous opinions of climate scientists who say it’s overwhelming, didn’t help. Liberals worried that Zinke would open more land to exploitation at the expense of wildlife and their declining habitat. The nominee put to rest one liberal concern early in his confirmation hearing. “I am absolutely against transfer or sale of public land,” Zinke said in response to a question from Sanders. That stance puts the first-term congressman on par with President Trump, who has also said he wants to keep federal land. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) expressed concern that Zinke will support calls to rescind the Obama administration’s designation of 1.3 million acres in Utah as the Bears Ears National Monument, a status long pursued by Native American tribes and conservationists. At his hearing, Ryan told committee members that traveling to Utah was one of his priorities. “I’m not convinced that Congressman Zinke is going to show the leadership on these issues that is necessary,” Cantwell, the committee’s ranking minority member, said in her floor speech. “We need someone who’s going to stand up and say the outdoor economy is worth it.” Zinke’s confirmation came more than a month after the committee’s approval partly because of politics, and Murkowski and Cantwell’s speeches on the Senate floor reflected the broad partisan divide. Zinke was approved by a 16-6 committee vote largely along party lines. All of the committee’s 12 Republicans voted in Zinke’s favor. Zinke told the committee that one of his first priorities would be to fix the crumbling infrastructure at parks under the National Park Service. He said President Trump’s ambitious infrastructure spending plans should “prioritize the estimated $12.5 billion in backlog of maintenance and repair” at hundreds of national parks such as Yosemite National Park, the Mall, Memorial Bridge and the George Washington Memorial Parkway. But the nominee gave little indication on how he would act on other issues. Zinke spoke little about his stance on the Endangered Species Act, which a Senate committee recent held hearings on “modernizing.” Conservation groups voiced suspicion that the true aim is to gut the act. [The Endangered Species Act might be headed for the threatened list] In his opening remarks during a hearing in February, the committee’s chairman, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), said the act “is not working today,” adding that “states, counties, wildlife managers, home builders, construction companies, farmers, ranchers and other stakeholders” have made that clear in complaints about how it impedes land management plans, housing development and cattle grazing, particularly in western states, such as Wyoming. House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) said he wants to repeal the act, according to an Associated Press report. “It’s been used to control the land. We’ve missed the entire purpose of the Endangered Species Act. It has been hijacked,” he said. Republicans said the act too often falls short of its goals. Barrasso pointed out that of more than 1,600 species listed as threatened or endangered since the Act’s inception, fewer than 50 have been removed. That’s about 3 percent of the total, the chairman said. “As a doctor, if I admit 100 patients to the hospital and only three recover enough to be discharged, I would deserve to lose my medical license,” Barrasso said. More from Energy and Environment: The West’s largest coal-fired power plant is closing. Not even Trump can save it. Scott Pruitt, longtime adversary of EPA, confirmed to lead the agency Members of Congress met to discuss the cost of climate change. They ended up debating its existence For more, you can sign up for our weekly newsletter here and follow us on Twitter here.
News Article | February 17, 2017
Lake Oroville and its dam in Northern California are critical components in California's complex water-delivery system. Damage to spillways that are used to drop water levels in the lake and relieve pressure on the dam prompted evacuation orders covering nearly 200,000 people. Here's a look at Lake Oroville and its place in California's water system Lake Oroville is the starting point for California's State Water Project, which provides drinking water to 23 million of the state's 39 million people and irrigates 750,000 acres of farms. It is the largest reservoir in the system, which was built in the 1960s and early 1970s to carry rain and snowpack from the Sierra Nevada mountains to parts of the San Francisco Bay area, Central Valley and Southern California. Lake Oroville, completed in 1967, is a cornerstone of the system of 34 reservoirs, lakes and storage facilities, built and operated by California's Department of Water Resources. It feeds into the Feather River - about 70 miles north of Sacramento - as well as the Sacramento River and the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. From there it travels south on the 444-mile California Aqueduct. Oroville's storage capacity of 3.5 million acre-feet of water is enough to supply urban California for up to six months, said Peter Gleick, president emeritus of the Pacific Institute, a water research organization based in Oakland, California. "The risk of losing Oroville is very, very low" he said. "The consequences would be catastrophic." When reservoirs get too full, their operators release extra water down long channels, or spillways, designed to carry it downstream in a safe, controlled way. Oroville Dam has a main concrete spillway that normally is used to release floodwaters into the Feather River downstream. A second spillway mainly made of earth serves as an emergency backup. It also was supposed to be able to handle high flows from the dam, but it had never been used before Saturday. The force of water siphoned from the lake has damaged both spillways. After five years of drought, a wet winter has strained the system at Lake Oroville, which is receiving runoff from melting snow in the Sierra Nevada as well as from the latest in a series of heavy storms. Dam operators noticed chunks of concrete in the main spillway on Feb. 7. When workers stopped releasing water to investigate, they found that concrete patches the size of football fields had washed out of the channel. With the reservoir nearing the top of the 770-foot-high dam, dam operators were forced to keep using the main spillway despite increasing damage to it from the rushing water. The dam reached capacity Saturday, sending water surging over the second, emergency spillway. Operators on Sunday noticed water was gouging a hole in the earthen emergency spillway as well. Fearing that the emergency spillway could fail and send torrents of water rushing downstream uncontrolled, authorities ordered the evacuation Sunday evening. The Central Valley Project, operated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, irrigates more than 3 million acres of farms and provides enough drinking water for more than 1 million people. The system of 22 reservoirs was built from 1937 to the 1950s, extending about 400 miles from the Cascade Mountains near Redding to the Tehachapi Mountains near Bakersfield. It includes Shasta Lake, the only reservoir in California that's larger than Oroville. The Colorado River supplies 19 million urban dwellers in Southern California through a 242-mile aqueduct from Lake Havasu, Arizona, to the state's coastal regions that was completed by Metropolitan Water District of Southern California in 1941. The Colorado also farms California's Imperial Valley - a major source of the nation's winter vegetables - through the 80-mile All-American Canal that hugs the state's border with Mexico. Other significant pieces of the state system include the Los Angeles Aqueduct, which carries water from Mono Lake to the city of Los Angeles, and the Hetch Hetchy reservoir in Yosemite National Park, which supplies the San Francisco Bay area. You Might Also Like
News Article | February 17, 2017
WATCH: The 'Firefall' Offers A Grand Glimpse Of A Glow In Flow It's been a long week. Take a moment — or even a minute! — to watch something beautiful. Around the third week of February each year, Horsetail Fall lights up Yosemite National Park with a spectacle of orange and red. The phenomenon, which has taken on the decidedly majestic nickname "firefall," is an optical trick of the sunset when a host of conditions are just right. If the waterfall is flowing with snowmelt, if Earth is aligned with the sun just so — as it is this time of year — and if the skies are clear enough to let that sunlight through, the fall appears to flare with the fiery glow of lava. It kindles into life for just about 10 minutes a day. The tiny window doesn't dissuade the swarm of zoom lens-toting photographers from descending on the spot each year — photographers such as Michael Frye, who spoke with NPR's Audie Cornish about the sight in 2012. "It's this narrow ribbon of water falling from this high cliff, the eastern buttress of [the El Capitan rock formation]," he says. "Just that narrow little ribbon of water is lit and everything else around it is dark. And with the right light, that water can turn orange or even red." Thankfully, Frye and his fellow photographers — and videographers — have taken the trouble to send back dispatches of these glowing minutes. After all, how but for them could we retrieve this end-of-week reprieve of our own? Short of flying to the firefall ourselves, of course. Maybe next year.
News Article | February 16, 2017
Our reader photo of the day comes courtesy of photographer Rollie Rodriguez, who shot this gorgeous kitty in California's Yosemite National Park. Elusive and nocturnal, bobcats are not that easy to come by, so thanks to our intrepid photographer for sharing this fetching feline! Would you like to see your nature photo featured as the TreeHugger photo of the day? Join TreeHugger’s Reader Photo Pool on Flickr and add your pictures to the group.