Environment

Western monarch butterflies could disappear

Each year, thousands of monarch butterflies from across the west make their way to the California coast where they spend their winter, including making migratory stops at East Bay parks. For the past two decades, volunteer citizen scientists have been counting them during the Annual Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count, organized by the Xerces Society. Christina Garcia, a naturalist at the East Bay Regional Park District, has been counting butterflies at Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont for over 20 years. This…

Climate change puts Richmond’s plant and animal populations in a state of flux

Faster-than-average warming is bringing changes to Richmond’s ecosystems. Temperatures and sea levels are rising. Fog patterns are shifting. Richmond’s plants and animals are facing a future of altered habitats. Anna’s hummingbird feeding on pallid manzanita nectar in a stand of maritime chaparral at Sobrante Ridge Regional Preserve To the west lies 32 miles of shoreline, the longest of any city in the Bay Area. To the east lie the hills: Sobrante Ridge and Wildcat Canyon. These open spaces contain salt…

Will Olympia oysters survive in the Bay?

We waded through murky bay waters and patches of deep mud under the light of the moon and our headlamps. Cool water sloshed over the tops of our boots and covered our toes. We moved slowly and carefully across the slick bottom of the bay. The tide was going out, nearing its lowest mark, and the oyster reef balls had begun to appear as the receding waters exposed them.  Watershed project volunteers huddled around the reef balls with scrub brushes,…

Can a Richmond man’s love of water save the ocean?

For Norman Hantzsche, everything is about water. He spends his free time swimming in open water. At work, he endeavors to make dirty water clean. Most days, he is no more than a few steps from the San Francisco Bay. Hantzsche both lives and works at Richmond’s shoreline. On at least one occasion, he has found himself swimming home from work. Lately, he has turned his focus toward cleaning up the ocean. His new nonprofit Plavel Water is addressing two problems…

Chevron must replace pipes at Richmond refinery, purchase supplies for Richmond Fire Department: EPA settlement

As Wanda Cooper biked home through the thick haze of smoke rising from a fire at the Chevron oil refinery, her eyes began to burn and her throat to close up. “I couldn’t hardly breathe,” she says. Six years after a pipeline fire at Chevron U.S.A. Inc.’s oil refinery in Richmond sent Cooper and thousands more to the emergency room, the company agreed last month to spend more than $160 million to make major safety improvements at all of its…

Community-oriented process to monitor air quality kicks off tomorrow

Richmond is about to begin a unique process to identify a group of community leaders to work with the state and local air resources boards to determine key drivers of the city’s pollution and put together a plan to reduce it. This Wednesday, Nov. 7, leaders of community environmental organizations and other members of the public are invited by County Supervisor John Gioia to attend a meeting on the new plan at the Richmond City Recreation Complex on MacDonald Avenue….

Richmond leads way in effort to prevent trash from entering the bay

Most Bay Area cities are trying to staunch the flow of trash into the bay through storm drains, but some cities are leading the pack. Richmond has already reduced 80 percent of its trash entering storm drains, thanks to a mix of trash bans, trash-filters and community projects. “The City of Richmond has made a lot of progress,” said Allison Chan, associate director of policy at the nonprofit Save the Bay, an advocate of reducing trash pollution. “Of the cities…