Archive for the ‘Delta & Environment’ Category

Sheriff’s Marine Patrol continues search for Delta boater missing since Thursday morning

Friday, May 29th, 2020

Photo by CCCSheriff.

By Jimmy Lee, Director of Public Affairs, Contra Costa County, Office of the Sheriff

A search for a missing boater is continuing this morning by the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff Marine Patrol Unit.

On Thursday, May 28, 2020, at about 10:30 in the morning, the Sheriff’s Office received a report of a missing boater who had gone into the waters in the San Joaquin River, north of Webb Tract.

The Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office Marine Patrol Unit responded and were assisted by Solano County, Sacramento County, San Joaquin County and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Umut Felik, a 27-year-old man from San Francisco, was swimming when he apparently had trouble staying above the water. At one point he went underwater and did not resurface. His friends on a boat went into the water to search for him but were not able to find him. They reported the incident to the Sheriff’s Office.

A search of the area with a sonar was suspended at 8 PM. Felik was not located.

Anyone with any information on this incident to asked to contact the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office Marine Patrol Unit at (925) 427-8507.

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Save Mt. Diablo expands efforts to protect the 150-mile long Diablo Range

Thursday, April 9th, 2020

View of the Diablo Range from the top of San Benito Mountain, at 5,241 feet the Diablo Range’s highest peak. The Diablo Range covers 12 counties and 5,400 square miles, but most people have never heard of it. Copyright Stephen Joseph; used with permission.

California’s next big conservation story, right in our backyards

Cover of the Spring 2020 issue of Bay Nature magazine. Credit Bay Nature.

By Laura Kindsvater, Communications Intern, Save Mount Diablo

Save Mount Diablo has launched a campaign to connect Mount Diablo to the whole of the Diablo Range, a 150-mile long mountain range and biodiversity refuge that’s next door to millions of people, but that most people know nothing about.

“The Diablo Range is the missing piece of the California conservation map,” says Save Mount Diablo Land Conservation Director Seth Adams. “It’s California’s next great conservation story.”

“Seventy-five percent of the ecologically important area around Mount Diablo has been preserved,” explains Edward “Ted” Sortwell Clement, Jr., Save Mount Diablo’s Executive Director, “while in the full 150-mile range, only 24 percent of the landscape has any protection. We’re going to change that. Save Mount Diablo’s first step is defining the range as a whole for the conservation community and the public and educating them about its importance.”

Save Mount Diablo’s public educational efforts will include the full 150-mile Diablo Range. As part of this campaign, Save Mount Diablo helped to sponsor a newly published cover story and supplement about the Diablo Range in Bay Nature magazine, with the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority. “The Spine of California,” by Bay Nature Digital Editor Eric Simons, explores the most rugged, plant-rich stretch of California you’ve never heard of.

The cover story is the first article ever published specifically about the Diablo Range, and it includes the first ever published map of the public and protected lands of the Diablo Range. “Our first effort is to put this place on the map,” notes Adams.

Panoche Valley and the Panoche Hills, part of the Diablo Range. The Diablo Range is threatened by both alternative and fossil-fuel based energy development, and in the Panoche Valley, large solar farms are beginning to pop up. Credit Al Johnson.

Also, as part of the campaign, Save Mount Diablo recently expanded the geographic area in which it now does its land use advocacy; it now includes the three northern counties of 12 crossed by the Diablo Range. The organization’s primary acquisition focus remains north of Highway 580 and around the main peaks of Mount Diablo. The organization recently announced two acquisition projects on the main peaks, the 154-acre Trail Ride Association conservation easement on North Peak for which it needs to raise a little over $1,040,000 and the $650,000 Smith Canyon project adjacent to Curry Canyon.

Map showing the northern Diablo Range. Save Mount Diablo recently expanded the area in which it works down to the Santa Clara County line. In addition to Contra Costa County between Highway 680 and the Byron Highway, Save Mount Diablo’s area of interest now encompasses portions of southeastern Alameda County and southwestern San Joaquin County, including a critical wildlife corridor linking Mount Diablo to the rest of the Diablo Range and a vulnerable region of spectacular biodiversity (Cedar Mountain, Corral Hollow, and the greater Mines Road area). Map prepared in collaboration by Save Mount Diablo and Nomad Ecology, LLC.

In addition to working in Contra Costa County between Highway 680 and the Byron Highway, Save Mount Diablo now also works in southeastern Alameda and southwestern San Joaquin Counties.

This area includes an essential, 10-mile-wide wildlife corridor (Altamont Pass is part of it) that connects Mount Diablo to the rest of the Diablo Range. It also includes one of the most important and vulnerable biodiversity hotspots in California.

Save Mount Diablo Executive Director Ted Clement and Land Conservation Director Seth Adams waving from on top of San Benito Mountain, at 5,241 feet the highest point in the Diablo Range. Credit Al Johnson.

According to Simons, “The 150-mile range of mountains from the Carquinez Strait to the oil fields of the southern San Joaquin Valley holds some of the largest remaining wild places in California. It is a rugged, remote, difficult realm, a biodiversity ark incised by the San Andreas Fault. It is a historic mixing place, where Central Valley Yokuts and coastal Ohlones traded and danced, where California’s ever-more-diverse future residents will seek escape and recreation. And it is nearly unparalleled in ecological significance.”

The Diablo Range stretches from the Carquinez Strait all the way to the Antelope Valley in Kern County and contains some of the largest remaining unprotected wild places in California. The mountain range is huge, rugged, and remote. Bounded by Highway 101 to the west and Interstate 5 to the east, the 150-mile long, 40- to 50-mile wide area is a blank spot on the map for the public focused on its outer grassland foothills. “Five miles in and 500 feet up,” Adams says, “oaks and chaparral appear, and it’s Mount Diablo multiplied.”

In the southern Diablo Range is a huge area of serpentine geology and associated soils. These soils are toxic to most plants, but home to many rare plant species that have evolved to handle the toxicity. Some of these plants are “serpentine endemics”—they can live nowhere else. Pictured here: the serpentine barrens at San Benito Mountain. Copyright Stephen Joseph; used with permission.

The Diablo Range covers 5,400 square miles and has many peaks, some of which are taller than Mount Diablo. The tallest one is San Benito Mountain at 5,241 feet. Mount Diablo measures at 3,849 feet.

The range is extremely important for wildlife, crossed only by two major highways at Altamont and Pacheco Passes. It serves as a reservoir of biodiversity, a core habitat for wildlife in California.

Although golden eagle populations are declining in western North America, they’re stable in California because of the Diablo Range.

Serpentine ecosystems at San Benito Mountain. Copyright Stephen Joseph; used with permission.

The northern Diablo Range supports the highest density of golden eagles on the planet. The Diablo Range could also be the source for replenishing the genetic diversity of mountain lion populations in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Tule elk, nearly hunted to extinction in the 1970s, have recovered quickly in the Diablo Range. Bay checkerspot butterflies have their last stronghold along Coyote Ridge just above San Jose. And the Diablo Range offers great habitat for California condors to expand into as they recover from the brink of extinction.

Headwaters of the San Benito River. Credit Al Johnson.

The Diablo Range is threatened by energy development (both alternative and fossil fuel-based energy), suburban sprawl, and proposed dams and reservoirs. Wind turbines endanger golden eagles and other birds. And the Panoche Valley, part of the Diablo Range, now has a 4,800-acre solar farm.

This mountain range harbors incredible biodiversity that supports many rare, endemic (plants or animals found nowhere else), or disjunct species (plants that are cut off from other populations and not expected to be there). It contains large swaths of land with serpentine soils, on which rare plant species that live nowhere else grow. And some of the soils are “vertic clays,” which also support rare and endemic plant species.

Save Mount Diablo Executive Director Ted Clement and the Diablo Range. Copyright Stephen Joseph; used with permission

Although the Diablo Range is right next to some large cities, large areas of it have limited to no cell phone coverage, light pollution, or major roads, an indication of its habitat connectivity.

Read more about the Diablo Range and Save Mount Diablo’s work to protect it in the Bay Nature cover story.

The Panoche Hills, part of the Diablo Range. Credit Al Johnson.

About Save Mount Diablo

Save Mount Diablo is a nationally accredited, nonprofit land trust founded in 1971 with a mission to preserve Mount Diablo’s peaks, surrounding foothills, and watersheds through land acquisition and preservation strategies designed to protect the mountain’s natural beauty, biological diversity, and historic and agricultural heritage; enhance our area’s quality of life; and provide recreational opportunities consistent with the protection of natural resources. Learn more at

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Contra Costa’s green future? Sierra Club to hold Green New Deal Town Hall Feb 21 in Antioch

Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

The Green New Deal is a proposed package of legislation first introduced in Congress by freshman Member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey. It has aroused support and controversy in equal measures.  The legislative proposal is their comprehensive approach to address claims of climate change and has become a central discussion point in the 2020 election. It is being championed by self-described democratic socialist Senator Bernie Sanders, one of the front runners in the Democratic presidential primary race.

The two bills that make up the package are House Resolution 109 and Senate Resolution 59. In the Senate, Markey introduced the bill and it was defeated with no votes in favor and 57 votes against, and 43 Senators voting present in protest to there not being any debate or expert testimony. The House bill has not yet received a vote. However, the House Select Committee on Climate Crisis was created to study the list of proposals contained in the legislation.

But what does it mean for Contra Costa County?

The Sierra Club, one of America’s leading environmental protection organizations, is hosting a Town Hall in Antioch to discuss the plan and how Contra Costa communities will benefit and be impacted.

The event will take place on Friday, February 21st from 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm at the Antioch Community Center, 4703 Lone Tree Way, Antioch.

Featured speakers include Dr. Mark Stemen, professor of geography, planning, and civics from California State University, Chico. Stemen is a noted authority and a highly entertaining speaker who is much in demand.

Also speaking will be youth leaders from the Sunrise Movement of Northern California. The Sunrise Movement is at the vanguard of environmental activism, their tactics of organizing have demanded attention from both elected officials and the public.

In addition, Deirdre Des Jardins, principal with California Water Research, will discuss water challenges for the Delta Region. From the Sierra Club, Helen Fitzmaurice will speak about the importance and ways to educate schools and students on climate change. Public officials and candidates have also been invited.

In response to the proposed legislation it was announced on Wednesday, Feb. 12 that a new website was launched to expose the dangers of the Green New Deal by America Rising Squared, which, according to their website, is an organization “dedicated to promoting the principles of freedom, limited government, free enterprise, and a strong national security, and pushing back against big government liberal policies and the special interests that support them.”

The Green New Deal Town Hall in Antioch promises to be a stimulating and exciting discussion of Contra Costa County’s future.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.


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Annual Coastal Cleanup Day at Antioch Marina Saturday, Sept. 21

Tuesday, September 10th, 2019

Volunteers are needed for the Annual Antioch Coastal Cleanup Day to be held Saturday, September 21 from 9:00 AM to Noon.

It’s part of the 35th Annual California Coastal Cleanup Day, which is the state’s largest volunteer event. This year, there will be one location for Antioch, the Antioch Marina.

We are doing another boat based (i.e. canoe and kayak) cleanup of the shoreline for the Friday before, September 20th, check-in at 8:30am, on the water from 9-11am. Space is limited for this event. You can bring your own kayak or canoe, or Delta Kayak Adventures will have some kayaks available for $10/person.

To volunteer, visit and sign up using the form on the tab named “Volunteer Registration”. If you have more in your group than the form allows, email Julie Haas-Wajdowicz at with the information on your group.

For questions regarding the event, contact the Environmental Resource Line at 925-779-6137 or email

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Contra Costa Sheriff’s Marine Patrol continues search for missing Delta boater

Sunday, August 25th, 2019

By Jimmy Lee, Director of Public Affairs, Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff

Sunday morning at about 2:18 a.m., Delta Station Deputy Sheriffs responded to Indian Slough for a missing person detail. Two men were fishing on an inflatable raft at Indian Slough when the raft apparently had a malfunction. One of the men swam to shore, but the other person was unaccounted for.

A CHP helicopter, U.S. Coast Guard and Contra Costa Fire Protection District arrived on scene with boats and aerial support, however, the missing man was not located

Sheriff’s Office Marine Patrol Unit later arrived on scene and took over the investigation and search. Anyone with any information on the incident is asked to contact Sheriff’s Office dispatch at (925) 646-2441.

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Rattlesnake Advisory: Rattlesnake safety in the Regional Parks

Thursday, June 13th, 2019

Photo from Snakes of the EBRPD brochure.

As the weather heats up, rattlesnakes become more active in many of our parks, their natural habitat. They like to explore when the weather gets warm which can lead to more encounters with humans and dogs. The East Bay Regional Park District is advising that the public take snake safety precautions when visiting Regional Parks.

Safety Tips for Visiting Regional Parks

  1. Always hike with a friend so you can help each other in case of emergency.
  2. Look at the ground ahead of you as you are walking.
  3. Look carefully around and under logs and rocks before sitting down.
  4. Avoid placing your hands or feet where you can’t see clearly.
  5. Check the area around picnic tables, campsites, and barbecues before using them. If you encounter a rattlesnake in these areas, notify park staff.
  6. Keep pets on the designated trails and away from snakes if they see one.
  7. Bring plenty of water for yourself and your pets as many parks do not have a direct water supply.

What to Do If You See a Rattlesnake

Leave it alone – do not try to capture or harm it. All park wildlife is protected by law. If you see a snake on a trail, wait for it to cross and do not approach. Then move carefully and slowly away.

What to Do If Bitten by a Snake

  1. If bitten by a rattlesnake, stay calm and send someone to call 911. Remain calm by lying down with the affected limb lower than the heart. Do not waste precious time on tourniquets, “sucking,” or snake bite kits. If you are by yourself, walk calmly to the nearest source of help to dial 911. Do not run.
  2. If bitten by any other kind of snake, wash the wound with soap and water or an antiseptic and seek medical attention.
  3. If you are not sure what kind of snake bit you, check the bite for two puncture marks (in rare cases one puncture mark) associated with intense, burning pain. This is typical of a rattle snake bite. Other snakebites may leave multiple teeth marks without associated burning pain.

Snakes are an important resource in the natural environment. They are prime controlling agents of rodent, insect, and other reptile populations. They must be enjoyed from afar and left where they are found. It is illegal to collect, kill, or remove any plants or animals from the East Bay Regional Park District. Please help us to protect wildlife and their environment for present and future generations. Additional information is available at or download a PDF version of our Common Snakes.

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Delta Blitz operation on Sunday, May 26

Saturday, May 25th, 2019

Photo by CCCSheriff.

By Jimmy Lee, Director of Public Affairs, Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff

With the start of boating season this weekend, the Marine Services Unit of the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff is hosting a Delta Blitz on Sunday, May 26, 2019.

Numerous local, state, and federal agencies will be taking part in this operation and will focus on boating safety, education and enforcement in the Delta.

The ‘ABC’s of Boating’, a handbook of boating rules, is available from most boating shops. Boaters can go to the California Division of Boating and Waterways website at for information on boating safety and the California Boater Card. If anyone has any questions about boating safety, please contact the Marine Services Unit at (925) 427-8507.

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State withdraws twin tunnel WaterFix approvals, initiates planning, permitting for smaller single tunnel

Thursday, May 2nd, 2019

Photo: CA Dep’t of Water Resources

SACRAMENTO – The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today is taking formal steps to withdraw proposed permits for the WaterFix project and begin a renewed environmental review and planning process for a smaller, single tunnel project that will protect a critical source of water supplies for California.

Today’s actions implement Governor Gavin Newsom’s direction earlier this year to modernize the state’s water delivery infrastructure by pursuing a smaller, single tunnel project through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The project is needed to protect water supplies from sea-level rise and saltwater intrusion into the Delta, as well as earthquake risk. It will be designed to protect water supply reliability while limiting impacts on local Delta communities and fish.

This action follows the Governor’s recent executive order directing state agencies to develop a comprehensive statewide strategy to build a climate-resilient water system.

“A smaller project, coordinated with a wide variety of actions to strengthen existing levee protections, protect Delta water quality, recharge depleted groundwater reserves, and strengthen local water supplies across the state, will build California’s water supply resilience,” said Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot.

DWR Director Karla Nemeth took action today to rescind various permitting applications for the WaterFix project, including those in front of the State Water Resources Control Board, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and federal agencies responsible for compliance with the Endangered Species Act. Documents related to these actions are available here.

DWR will work with local public water agencies that are partners in the conveyance project to incorporate the latest science and innovation to design the new conveyance project, and work with Delta communities and other stakeholders to limit local impacts of the project.

Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay), co-chair of the California Delta Legislative Caucus, issued the following statement today after the state Department of Water Resources officially withdrew its permit application to build the twin tunnels.

“It’s very encouraging that after all these years we are finally being heard by the Governor’s Office. The withdrawal of the permit application acknowledges that alternative solutions have been either overlooked or ignored. I look forward to working with the Governor and Secretary Crowfoot to build a comprehensive water plan that is a benefit for all Californians.”

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