Thursday, May 21, 2015
Saturday, April 25, 2015
A ten-year study of the bi-state population released last year showed it was holding it was own. Only one subpopulation showed significant decline and appeared “to be the only one with compelling evidence within the bi-state that is currently at risk of extinction.” The study, led by US Geological Survey biologist Peter Coates, concludes that “the preponderance of evidence suggests that sage-grouse populations are stable within bi-state DPS in its entirety over the period of 2003–2012.”
The bi-state distinct population segment (DPS), which was proposed for listing as “threatened” in 2013, is an isolated and important subset of a species that is eligible for protection under the Endangered Species Act. The 2013 listing proposal cited the small population size and “inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms,” coupled with multiple threats from livestock grazing, invasive plants such as cheat grass, fire, energy development, mining, infrastructure and urbanization of habitat.
“The Service’s backpedalling in claiming that unfinished management plans and voluntary, cooperative agreements will protect the species is untrue, and smacks of political expediency” said Michael Connor, California director of Western Watersheds Project.
Given the known threats to bi-state sage grouse, the conservation measures proposed today do not protect adequate protection. Specific shortcomings include: 1) failure to protect sage grouse nests with adequate grass cover to hide eggs from predators; 2) calling for livestock to reduce flammable cheat grass — a practice has not been proven to be effective; 3) no restrictions on geothermal leases that would cover 143,000 acres of habitat; 4) no restrictions on mining; and 5) no requirement to limit overall disturbance density to under 3 percent of habitat.
This important population of sage grouse remains in serious trouble and efforts to restrict hardcore mining, geothermal development and off-road vehicle access within it's habitat have been inadequate.
Saturday, March 21, 2015
Amorphous titanium, the “corpse flower”, is unusual for a few reasons. It may live up to 40-60 years but will only flower a handful of times. That is about to happen at CSU Sacramento where the plant is on display in the Biology Department. Why a “corpse flower”? Its blooms produce volatile compounds that smell like rotting flesh and help it attract pollinators.
I can’t speak to that but hope to find out for myself soon. I’ve seen a member of the Arum family before at a botanical garden in Java but the “treat” of experiencing it in bloom escaped me. If you can’t wait or don’t want to get too close you can check out this live stream.
For me, it’s fair to say that I’ll hold my breath for a more direct experience!
The corpse plant was still being coy yesterday
Word has gotten out widely
Life cycle for Titan arum, aka the “corpse flower”.
Friday, March 20, 2015
I drove down and over the inner coast range for a visit home yesterday. A lovely day of clear skies with much color all around. This was the last day of winter after four years of drought and perhaps the warmest year on record. The hills looked one more warm day away from burning straight to summer brown. Large nearly empty reservoirs showed vast edges of well established grass cover too. The canals were full and still carried water south.
What will my next trip down reveal?
Monday, March 02, 2015
|Feeding site on the American River at Xmas. Food & water (!) brought in regularly.|
Saturday, February 14, 2015
An excellent video by George Nyberg documents this research and is available on YouTube. Mike’s long term research and experience also helps dispel myths about rattlesnake threats and documents their behavior during courtship. This is a must see video for everyone spending time on the American River Parkway. With proper caution one can appreciate these amazing hunters and native residents to the Parkway. Mike may be able to join us on a future Friends of the River Banks event to share his knowledge of reptiles on the Parkway.
I found Mike out at Effie Yeaw on a warm February afternoon yesterday. He’s detected some activity already but the snakes haven’t started moving about yet. This is earlier than usual which typically is in mid March. So far, we don’t have any documented sightings of rattlesnakes at Sutter's Landing Park but it’s likely that they are out there in drier upland habitat. Be on the lookout for them during the warmer months and enjoy and document any observations from a safe distance.
I helped a rattlesnake cross the bike trail last fall near the CalExpo fire across the river from Sutter's Landing Park. Note the missing rattles on the snake which is unusual. Probably the result of an encounter with a coyote or heat from the recent fire. It appeared healthy otherwise.