Kayaking the Santa Ana River
By Garry Brown
This year has been a celebration of all things water with the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act. Waterkeepers around the country are reminding everyone of their right to swim, drink and fish in healthy waterways that belong to all of us.
Here in Orange County, we love our sun, sand and ocean. Orange County Coastkeeper’s mission, to protect and preserve the region’s marine habitats and watersheds, requires enforcing the Clean Water Act to make sure our beaches stay open for all to enjoy. But, we have more than just beaches here. Like many other parts of the country, we have a healthy, flowing river—the Santa Ana River—that could potentially be enjoyed by everyone.
The Santa Ana River has tremendous historical significance for this region. From the Native American tribes that once inhabited the lands to the Spanish pueblos and ranchos which gave root to many Orange County cities to the orange groves that dominated the region for many decades, Orange County has depended on this river. After the 1938 flood that devastated the region, the Army Corps of Engineers completed Prado Dam, in 1941 to keep Orange County safe of future threats from the river. Since then, the river bed has mainly been viewed as a flood control channel.
The Santa Ana River is an important supply for recharging the groundwater basin that provides drinking water for most of north and central Orange County. But, the public does not have access to swim or fish in this river. For more than 30 years, the county has made it illegal for the public to recreate in the Santa Ana River. The county ordinance states, “it shall be unlawful for any person to wade, bathe, skin dive, swim, float, launch or occupy any paddleboard, surfboard, kayak, canoe, boat, tube, or similar craft, or any object or device capable of transporting a person on or in any creek, channel, canal, river, ditch, pipe or aqueduct within the jurisdiction and control of the Orange County Flood Control District.”
In order to reintroduce and reconnect Orange County residents to their river, I came up with the idea to run a kayak program on the river. It would be guided and involve having a naturalist speak about the watershed and provide some history about the river. But first, we had to ask permission from the County Board of Supervisors for an exemption to the aforementioned ordinance, which would then allow us to apply for a permit with the County. The permit would grant us access to the river in order to operate the kayak program. Once all was said and done, we received a permit that would last for only seven weeks, in the hottest and driest part of the year. With the help of volunteer guides, and a great network of dedicated paddlers living in the area, we were able to put together two trips on Sept. 9 and Sept. 16 to kayak a two-mile stretch down the river near the area of Featherly Regional Park in Yorba Linda, CA.
Despite the low flow, and lack of whitewater, one of our guides stated, “It was great to not have to drive over three hours to the Kern River in order to get my boat wet.” Having a place to enjoy his sport locally meant a lot to him, and we received a lot of interest from many other local whitewater paddlers. Another couple that got to join us for a trip thanked us for the “amazing day,” and that it was, “so nice to see such beauty in our own backyard.”
It is clear after running these trips that there is a need and desire to have public access made available to the Santa Ana River. Along with Inland Empire Waterkeeper and its Santa Ana River Initiative, we hope to provide unique outdoor places to spend time with family, connect with nature and gather with the community. For now, we will carry on in our mission to show the powers-that-be, that this river is alive, belongs to the residents of Orange County and is more than a flood control channel.
Visit EcoWatch’s CLEAN WATER ACT page for more related news on this topic.
Garry Brown grew up in Orange County and remembers abundant abalone, catching bonito and barracuda from the piers and inside the harbors, and digging for clams in the sand along Newport Beach. Realizing that his sons could not enjoy the same harbors and near shore waters as he had, Garry founded Orange County Coastkeeper in 1999. Orange County Coastkeeper was the 27th Waterkeeper program to be licensed in the U.S. As executive director, Brown has built Coastkeeper into an effective, proactive organization whose mission is to protect and preserve the region’s marine habitats and watersheds through education, advocacy, restoration, research and enforcement.
In a dramatic rescue captured on camera, a Florida man ran into a pond and pried open an alligator's mouth in order to rescue his beloved puppy, all without dropping his cigar.
- 'He had green eyes': Florida man will paint alligator that attacked him ›
- Florida alligator attack: A woman was attacked by a 10-foot alligator ... ›
- Weird presidential pets include alligator, tiger cub, dog named Satan ... ›
- Alligators make terrible pets: 'You're basically dealing with a dinosaur.' ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
- Coronavirus Plastic Waste Polluting the Environment - EcoWatch ›
- Scuba Divers Make Face Masks out of Recycled Ocean Plastic ... ›
By Bret Wilkins
In a year in which the United States has already suffered 16 climate-driven extreme weather events causing more than $1 billion in economic damages, and as millions of American workers face loss of essential unemployment benefits due to congressional inaction, a report published Monday reveals the Trump administration has given fossil fuel companies as much as $15.2 billion in direct relief — and tens of billions more indirectly — through federal COVID-19 recovery programs since March.
- 'We Need People's Bailout, Not Polluters' Bailout': Climate Groups ... ›
- Corporate Polluters Have Received Tens of Millions in PPP Loans ... ›
- Trump Bails Out Oil Industry, Not U.S. Families, as Coronavirus ... ›
- Former Federal Reserve Governor Rebukes Fed for Fossil Fuel Bail ... ›
By Ashia Aubourg
As Thanksgiving approaches, some Indigenous organizations and activists caution against perpetuating further injustices towards Native communities. Indigenous activist Mariah Gladstone, for example, encourages eaters to celebrate the harvest time in ways that do not involve stereotypes and pilgrim stories.
- Why Face Masks Belong at Your Thanksgiving Gathering + 7 Things ... ›
- Reasons to Be Thankful — 8 Food and Farm 'Good News' Stories ... ›
- Why I'm Going to Standing Rock for Thanksgiving - EcoWatch ›
By Alex Middleton
Losing weight and reducing fat is a hard battle to fight. Thankfully, there are fat burner supplements that help you gain your target body and goal. However, how would you know which supplement is right for you?