Month: December 2012

Quick Mends: Army Corps levels 43 acres of Sepulveda Basin habitat

This fly-fisherman just about set the river on fire! Maybe we should send this snap to "Ghost Hunters."
This fly-fisherman is staking carp, a non-native species of the Los Angeles River. Would all carp be killed in the river once reconstruction begins?

I was shocked to read this story in the Los Angeles Times today that begins: “An area that just a week ago was lush habitat on the Sepulveda Basin’s wild side, home to one of the most diverse bird populations in Southern California, has been reduced to dirt and broken limbs — by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.”

Read the entire story by Louis Sahagun here.

With the public comment period for the long-awaited ARBOR study coming up this spring, the Corps may have a public relations nightmare on its hands. In this historic moment, the pubic will weigh in on which of four alternative reconstruction plans makes the most sense. That plan will then be sent to Washington for approval and funding. Make no mistake, the river will be changed, no matter which plan moves forward. The Corps and the city of Los Angeles are partners in the redevelopment.

As one highly placed city official emailed me recently (in other words, before this happened), “Remember that the fundamental purpose of the Study is to improve the ecosystem values in the LA River — and that means riparian habitat that is good for wildlife, including fish species.”

Just last week, I walked part of the river with a Corps biologist, who told me that she studied maps from the late 1800s to see which plants were prevalent along the river during that time. Re-establishing those plants along the river will undoubtedly be part of all four alternatives.

Up until this happened, Sepulveda Basin was the beautiful place where environmentalists, river advocates, Los Angeles and the Corps had found common ground.  But with the Audubon Society calling for an investigation into the loss of habitat for 250 species of birds, as well as mammals, reptiles and fish, my guess would be the trust the Corps has been building within the community has been sheared by their bulldozer’s edge. Developing.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Winter fly fishing rocks in the San Gabriels

Brrr, it’s cold out there, and even colder in the many fishable canyons of So. Cal’s San Gabriel mountains. Here’s how to have some fun:

1. Play hooky any Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Skip Friday and forgettabout the weekend. There are always several thousand people who have the same idea at the same time. Crowds = lousy fishing.

2. Dress warmly in layers. Long underwear is a blessing this time of year.

3. Take it easy on the way down. Watch for gravel, sand and rocks that might give way. They will. Count on it.

4. Start with dries and move to nymphs. I know what you’re thinking: no hatch = no surface action. You might be surprised. Of the 10 fish I caught on my recent canyon adventure, two were on dries. Pick the usual suspects. Parachute Adams and his friends.

5. When you do reach into your fly box for a nymph, give that beadhead yellow sallie a try. I know it’s an underused Stone Fly, but the other eight fish I caught were all on this fly. Must be the legs.

6. Smaller is better. Even with all of our rain, flows are down. Size 14-16 or above, please.

7. Pack a lunch and extra water.

8. Bring a friend, someone who will make you laugh at some of those tiny trout you’re bound to hook.

9. Don’t wear hiking boots on slippery rocks. Just because the water’s cold, any rock in the water is still as slippery as it is in summer.

10. Turn your cellphone off. Keep your camera on. I know, you’re saying that there’s no service up there anyway. True, but it’s the principle.

11. Post your pics, so we can all see how good you look grippin’ ‘n’ grinnin’.

12. Keep an extra water and energy snack in the car.

Baker’s dozen: Get down. Get tired. Get silly. Get grateful. Repeat.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Assemblyman Gatto wins funding for initial piezoelectric test

Interesting press release from Mike Gatto:

After two years of work, Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) has found a new partner in the fight for green transportation and domestically produced alternative energy.  Building on an idea of Gatto’s, the California Energy Commission (CEC) has announced that it will fund preliminary research on the potential of using California’s roadways to generate green electricity.
The research will focus on the large-scale energy-harvesting capabilities of piezoelectric materials, which are currently used in everything from lighters to smart phones.  The research stems from a bill authored by Gatto, AB 306, which passed the legislature in 2011 with bipartisan support but was vetoed by Governor Brown because of a lack of funding for the project.  In the veto message, the Governor encouraged Gatto to work through the CEC’s grant process to obtain funding for the project, and a year later, the assemblyman has successfully secured the funding.
“I am excited to see movement on this important research,” said Gatto.  “California is the car capitol of the world.  Just think how much energy we could create if we can harness some of the wasted energy produced by cars and trucks as they rumble down the roads.”
The science of piezoelectric roads works as follows: When a car or truck passes over pavement, the pavement vibrates.  By placing relatively inexpensive piezoelectric sensors underneath a road, the vibrations can be converted into electricity to power roadside lights, call boxes, and neighboring communities.  It may sound like something out of science fiction, but this technology has been used for years in sonar, and is used every day in touch-screen phones to convert pressure into electrical impulses.  There is no extra energy needed for the car to transverse piezoelectric highways, because the sensors are located in the pavement itself.
Several countries have experimented with a road-based version of piezoelectric technology, including Israel, which has already placed this technology under some of their highways.  In 2009, the East Japan Railway Company installed piezoelectric flooring in their Tokyo railway station.  The energy generated by passing pedestrians is sufficient to power all the displays in the station.  More recently, Italy has signed a contract to place the technology under a stretch of the Venice-to-Trieste Autostrada and a dance club in San Francisco has piloted the technology under their dance floor to run their lighting.  Then-Mayor Gavin Newsom worked on piloting the technology in pedestrian walkways in downtown San Francisco.
“Now, California can join the ranks of nations who are actively seeking uses for this exciting new technology,” said Gatto.  “Thirty years ago, very few people would have believed that black silicon panels left in the desert could generate ‘solar’ power.  And just ten years ago, people were skeptical when you described a Bluetooth device.  This technology is very real.  I’m glad the state is taking steps to keep California on the cutting edge of energy policy and I’m very pleased the CEC has embraced the possibility.”
The Energy Commission should complete initial research on the technology by the end of January, 2013 and will determine, based on their findings, if a small-scale-test project will be conducted by the State.
See you on the river, Jim Burns

L.A. mayor announces largest solar contract in DWP history

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announces two major solar projects while at Occidental College. (Jim Burns)
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announces two major solar projects while at Occidental College. (Jim Burns)

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced the creation of two large solar projects today while at Occidental College.

“Today, we’re signing the largest solar contract in the history of the DWP,” Villaraigosa said. “Our contract with the K Road-Moapa Solar Project will provide 250 megawatts of solar power. That’s enough energy to power over 113,000 homes.”

K Road will develop the solar arrays on the Moapa River Indian Reservation in southern Nevada.

The contract with the Copper Mountain Solar Project will send up to an additional 210 megawatts to Los Angeles, enough to power another 76,000 homes. These two projects join the city’s other major solar projects, the Adelanto Solar Project, Kern County and the Feed-in Tariff program, which provides a financial incentive to homeowners who install on-grid photovoltaic systems.

The mayor chose Occidental College because of its new $6.8 million, 1-megawatt solar array, a project whose innovative design takes a distinctively liberal arts approach to green power with its blending of technology and art, according to the college.

With the almost-completed hillside array as a backdrop, he told a group of around 50 that the city’s goal for renewable energy use is 33 percent by 2020. Los Angeles gets about 40 percent of its energy from coal.

“We’re the only public utility that I know of in the entire state that isn’t just talking about a goal, but we have a real plan to get there. The fact that we’re at 20 percent and will be at 25 (percent) by 2015 is indicative of the milestones necessary to get to 33 (percent).”

Sierra Club President Allison Chin lauded the contracts as well as Villaraigosa from the podium.

“The Moapa Solar Project will be a boost to the Paiutes and the Sierra Club’s ongoing efforts to replace coal with clean energy in southern Nevada. The Pauite families are suffering from high numbers of asthma attacks, heart conditions and even cancer that’s associated with coal pollution,” she said.

The Sierra Club and the Moapa Band of Paiutes, located near the Reid Gardner plant, have called for its closure, but in August the federal Environmental Protection Agency green-lighted NV Energy to continue operations, as long as it installs controls to reduce the air pollution.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Earth Quotes: John Voelker’s ‘Testament of a Fisherman’

Cellphones take on a whole different identity in a landfill! (Courtesy Treehugger)
Cellphones take on a whole different identity in a landfill! (Courtesy Treehugger)

John Voelker, aka Robert Traver, did a whole lot in his life, ranging from lawyering, to writing the best-selling novel,  “Anatomy of a Murder” in the late 1950s. And he loved fly fishing.As you can see, he wrote in an age when the telephone was a stationary object. Once you’ve read his excellent testament, please take a moment to fill out the survey.

Do you leave your cellphone at home when you fish? (Then how do you shoot your “grip ‘n’ grin” hero shots?).

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Testament of a Fisherman

“I fish because I love to; because I love the environs that trout are found, which are invariably beautiful,

and hate the environs where crowds of people are found, which are invariably ugly; because of all the

television commercials, cocktail parties and assorted social posturing I thus escape; because, in a world

where most men spend their lives doing things they hate, my fishing is at once an endless source of

delight and an act of small rebellion; because trout do not lie or cheat and cannot be bought or bribed or

impressed by power, but respond only to quietude and humility and endless patience; because I suspect

that men are going along this way for the last time, and I for one don’t want to waste the trip; because

mercifully there are no telephones on fishing waters; because only in the woods can I find solitude without

loneliness; because bourbon out of an old tin cup tastes better out there; because maybe someday I will

catch a mermaid; and, finally, not because I regard fishing as being so terribly important but because I

suspect that so many other concerns of men are equally unimportant — and not nearly so much fun”