Respect Tomales Bay – TBOC makes a huge effort, cleaning up legacy trash left by others.

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Ten days ago while walking the mudflats at the mouth of Walker Creek I came across a most interesting find.

A large amount of abandoned oyster racks and grow out bags.

Now, those of you that follow my efforts on Tomales Bay might say, “Richard, what is so interesting about abandoned oyster racks and grow out bags? You have been finding and ranting about that stuff for a few years now…yawn.”

Well, let me tell you what is so interesting about this particular find.

As you may know by now, a series of unpermitted fences meant to redirect the flow of Walker Creek have blighted The Bay for upwards of 15 years. You can read about these structures here, here, here and here for starters.

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Here are two images showing one such fence before removal, as it was on 17 January, 2015.

Now removed Walker Creek diverting pile of plastic and oyster shells.

Now removed Walker Creek diverting pile of plastic and oyster shells.

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Those fences were removed last year before an epic series of storms graced the area with much needed rain, rain that made its way down Walker Creek with a full head of steam. Instead of being shunted to the north by a wall of plastic bags, PVC pipes, concrete pilings, plastic-coated copper wire and zip-ties – all that lovely water was once again allowed to run freely.

The huge volume of water that poured naturally through what had for 15 or more years been a mudflat uncovered an enormous amount of abandoned iron racks and plastic bags (many filled with dead non-native oysters). This debris was left there after the 1982 epic flood that buried much, if not all of the oysters being farmed by International Shellfish Corporation.

Of course I made photographs and recorded Lat/Lon waypoints of this find.

I shared this information with all the current growers (including TBOC, on whose lease this legacy debris had remained hidden all these years), as well as some of the alphabet soup of agencies responsible for caring for the precious coastline – CFGC, CFDW, CCC amongst them.

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Map showing debris and where it was located (click on map for larger image)

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Unable to lift out this mess myself due to an injured back (from lifting non-oyster farming debris out of the bay a month prior), I gave this information to the growers and agencies and hoped that someone would take the ball and run, before the tides once again covered it back up.

The next day, most, if not all of the TBOC crew was onsite pulling this gear out of the mud, piling it along the newly formed channel. How awesome is that!

A big thank you to TBOC for stepping up to remove gear that was on public land which they lease, though not their gear. They recovered 223 bags, some still with dated tags from 1980 on them, as well as many hundreds of pounds of sharp, rusty iron racks.

Let’s hope other growers on the bay follow this lead and remove legacy gear from public land they now lease, littered with gear from years ago. Ideally the agencies tasked with regulating aquaculture on public lands will pitch in to help current growers deal with messes left by those that came before them.

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Debris recovered and removed by TBOC!

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Image showing location where legacy debris was removed by TBOC staff. Red line shows location of former unpermitted creek-deflecting berm.

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Image showing location where legacy debris was removed by TBOC staff. Red line shows location of former unpermitted creek-deflecting berm.

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Removing the vast amount of Oyster Farming Legacy (OFL – rhymes with awful) is not as simple as heading out and picking up this stuff. Some permits are needed in order to do needed cleanup work in the coastal zone. Permits that TBOC had in hand to effect the (almost) complete removal of the last of their creek-deflecting structures.

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What must now happen is for the Fish & Game Commission and Department of Fish & Wildlife to step up and take responsibility for their growers of days gone by (some under their watch, some before their watch began) and do the necessary leg work to secure permits for the removal of the remaining OFL blighting Tomales Bay, as well as make the removal happen. Growing shellfish along the coast is OK by me, as long as it is done truly sustainably, by those practicing Authentic Stewardship.

Now more than ever we need to protect the environment.

Undoing the damages from past practices, as well as incorporating Best Management Proactices (BMPs) into leases and redesigning the cleanup fund escrow system to remove the numerous conflict of interest issues, as well as to give it teeth make good sense. This is especially important in light of the new application to practice aquaculture in Tomales Bay that has been recently submitted.
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Below are images showing some of the debris still left all around Tomales Bay by growers of yesteryear needing to be removed by Authentic Stewards.

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Some of the many dozens of sharp, rusty iron racks littering Tomales Bay, presenting a danger to all who boat there.

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Some of the many dozens of sharp, rusty iron racks littering Tomales Bay, presenting a danger to all who boat there.

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Four telephone-sized treated pilings and ten or so sharp rusty racks, all abandoned in The Bay long ago.

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140+ treated pilings abandoned long ago near Tom’s Point.

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Century old bat-ray fence abandoned long ago, now causing sedimentation in the southern bay as well as providing hard substrate for the invasive oyster drill to colonize upon as well as lay many, many thousands of eggs. These oyster drills prey upon the threatened native Olympia Oyster

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Rescue training on Tomales Bay using helicopter

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Looking down towards the dock at Dillon Beach a few hours ago, saw a large helo hovering.

Closer inspection revealed a gaggle of large jet skis and several “victims” awaiting rescue.

Glad to know they keep their skills honed.

Thank you rescue team!

As always, click on an image for a larger version.
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Water rescue training off Dillon Beach

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Water rescue training off Dillon Beach

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Water rescue training off Dillon Beach

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Water rescue training off Dillon Beach

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Water rescue training off Dillon Beach

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Water rescue training off Dillon Beach

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Water rescue training off Dillon Beach

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Birds of Tomales Bay – Greater Scaup

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Tomales Bay is covered with rafts of ducks lately.

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Venturing north along route 1 one can see numerous groups of diving ducks, huddled, nervous, searching for food.

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If you look closely at the left edge of the image below, you’ll see a pale bird, second from the left with a spray of water kicked up behind it from a bird that just dived under.

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That is a leucistic hen. She lacks pigment in her feathers, hence she is more pale than the rest. Leucism is different than albinism. You can read about that here. And see a wide variety of leucitic animals here.

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Enjoy some more images below. Better yet, head outside and take a gander yourself. There is nothing better than the real thing. As always, click on an image to see a larger version.

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Cows over Tomales

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Mixed weather and a back still on the mend from a bad strain 3 weeks ago means a day of exploration.

Today I drove up a road I’ve driven past hundreds of times and met several cows and a sweet view of the bay.

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Cows over Tomales Bay
©Richard James – coastodian.org

Cows over Tomales Bay
©Richard James – coastodian.org

Cows over Tomales Bay
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Geoduck clam cultivation in Puget Sound, is Tomales Bay next?

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I support responsible, sustainable shellfish aquaculture, practiced in the public waters by authentic stewards of the land and sea.

The recent application from San Andreas Shellfish of Dillon Beach to cultivate, among other species Geoduck Clams in Tomales Bay is cause for concern.

Read about the lease application process here.

Citizens of the Puget Sound area have for many years been working hard to protect their beautiful coastal seascape from commercial geoduck clam cultivation. This practice, quite profitable to some, pollutes far and wide, contributing significant amounts of plastic to an already toxic sea, as well as turning an otherwise sublime natural scene, into a dystopian nightmare.

The images that follow show what the practice of geoduck clam cultivation does to the environment. Do these images portray authentic stewardship?

Tomales Bay is already significantly degraded by the current and past practice of oyster, clam and mussel cultivation. Over 140 years of aquaculture have left a deep, disgraceful legacy in Tomales Bay. Before any new leases are approved, the California Fish & Game Commission and California Department of Fish & Wildlife shall clean up the tons of debris littering the bay, the Oyster Farming Legacy (OFL – rhymes with awful).

See the OFL still polluting Tomales Bay here.

If you feel strongly about protecting the unique beauty of Tomales Bay, please write the following people and let them know you want them to clean up the Oyster Farming Legacy trash blighting Tomales Bay before any new leases are approved.

Diane Windham – Southwest Regional Aquaculture Coordinator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – Sacramento, CA
diane.windham@noaa.gov

Randy Lovell – State Aquaculture Coordinator – ‎California Dept of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) – Sacramento, CA
randy.lovell@wildlife.ca.gov

Valerie Termini – Executive Director of California Fish & Game Commission (CFGC) – Sacramento, CA
fgc@fgc.ca.gov

Click on an image to see a larger version.
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Image courtesy http://coalitiontoprotectpugetsoundhabitat.org

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Image courtesy http://coalitiontoprotectpugetsoundhabitat.org

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Image courtesy http://coalitiontoprotectpugetsoundhabitat.org

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Image courtesy http://coalitiontoprotectpugetsoundhabitat.org

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Image courtesy http://coalitiontoprotectpugetsoundhabitat.org

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Image courtesy http://coalitiontoprotectpugetsoundhabitat.org

High pressure water jets are used to liquify the substrate to loosen the clam for harvest. Damaging or destroying any other organisms in the area.

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Image courtesy http://coalitiontoprotectpugetsoundhabitat.org

High pressure water jets are used to liquify the substrate to loosen the clam for harvest. Damaging or destroying any other organisms in the area.

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Image courtesy http://coalitiontoprotectpugetsoundhabitat.org

What Puget Sound looks like after harvest is complete.

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Oakland’s Lake Merritt – first flush on 16 October, 2016

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Being somewhat learned about trash, and less so about water, I called the guys at the boat store where I buy my kayaks in Oakland, California Canoe & Kayak last October just as a huge storm was bearing down on us.

“Where will I find the trash.” I asked?

“Lake Merritt!” , was the reply, without hesitation.

So off I went, cameras, umbrella and rain gear packed.

Not only does the first big rain of the year make roads slick with oil, it also scours the streets and drains of all the trash left by humans in the wrong place, carrying it to wards the sea. Or, in this case, Lake Merritt.

The inlets that bring storm drain run off from the streets of Oakland to Lake Merritt look a swirling pools of detritus.

Imagine walking 4 miles down South Beach after a storm, compressed into three-hundred square feet.

This is where much of the 8.5 million tons of plastic that we humans dump into the oceans each year (and growing) comes from.

We need to fix this. Soon.

Maybe TOTUS (Twit Of The United States) has some answers on ow to make Lake Merritt fabulous again?

Sure glad Tomales Bay looks nothing like this.

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New Application to cultivate Shellfish in Tomales Bay

Click on the words above “New Application to cultivate Shellfish in Tomales Bay” to see this entire post.

On Thursday February 9th at a regular meeting of the California Fish & Game Commission (CFGC) in Rohnert Park, the CFGC received an application from Robert Brodsky and his company, San Andreas Shellfish. The application is to lease, from the public trust, approximately 45 acres of state water bottoms for the cultivation of shellfish within Tomales Bay. The application may be viewed here.

Below you can see one of the maps from the application that shows the area the application wishes to lease in bright yellow, superimposed upon a photograph of the area from above.

To see a larger version, click the image, on new page click the “1981×1180” above image and below the word donate

The general area up for consideration in the lease is the eastern portion of the bay between Tom’s Point and Lawson’s Landing.

The species which Mr. Brodsky would like to be able to cultivate are: Pacific Oyster, Atlantic Oyster, Kumamoto Oyster, Mediterranean Mussels, Goeduck Clam and Purple Hinged Scallop.

If granted, the lease could be a maximum of 25 years, per Fish and Game Code 15405.

Before a lease is granted, the following must occur:

1 The CFGC will refer the application to the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW). CDFW will evaluate the application and make a recommendation on whether or not the proposed activities are in the public interest (per Fish and Game Code 15404)

Once the evaluation is complete, the CDFW will provide a recommendation to the Commission.

2 CFGC will place the item on the agenda of the next CFGC meeting. The public will be able to comment on the item at this time regarding public interest.

If the CFGC determines that the area applied for is available for lease and that the lease would be in the public interest, CFGC shall publish a notice that the area is being considered for leasing. No aquaculture lease for state water bottoms will be approved until the Commission has held a public hearing at least 90 days after notice thereof has been published in a newspaper of general circulation within the county involved.

In addition, California requires state and local agencies to perform environmental impact analyses when granting permits. Potential environmental impacts are addressed primarily through the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review of the proposed facility. Although not a permit, CEQA compliance is mandatory for state, local, and other agencies subject to the jurisdiction of California to evaluate the environmental implications of their actions.

After the CEQA process is complete, the CFGC will again:
3 Place the item on the agenda of a CFGC meeting where the Public may comment on the CEQA evaluation and final approval of the lease.

At this time, the CFGC will make a decision on whether to certify the CEQA document and whether to approve the lease.

Should a lease be approved, the applicant will also need a variety of permits and other authorizations, including from the Coastal Commission and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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Read the next related post on this topic here.

10 January 2017 – who opened the Box of Rain?

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Some images from around West Marin and Sonoma county from today and yesterday.

Enjoy. Click on an image to see a larger version.

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White House Pool parking lot, submerged on 10 January, 2017.
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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High tide (lower) was at 11:29
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Very large woody debris jam below Leo T. Cronin viewing pools on Lagunitas Creek at Shafter Bridge on 10 January, 2017.
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Very large woody debris jam below Leo T. Cronin viewing pools on Lagunitas Creek at Shafter Bridge on 10 January, 2017.
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Wood Beach at mouth of Russian River on 9 January, 2017.
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Nicasio Reservoir spillway on 9 January, 2017.
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Roy’s Pools on San Geronimo Creek (below golf course) on 10 January, 2017.
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Roy’s Pools on San Geronimo Creek (below golf course) on 10 January, 2017.
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Ink Wells on San Geronimo Creek on 10 January, 2017.
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Ink Wells on San Geronimo Creek on 10 January, 2017.
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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