Respect Tomales Bay – Stewardiness defined

Click on the words above “Respect Tomales Bay – Stewardiness defined” to see this entire post.

Last week The Tomales Bay Watershed Council hosted another fine “State of the Bay Conference at The Inverness Yacht Club.

I was kindly given a few minutes to present some of my findings from the past 3 years of paddling and cleaning Tomales Bay.

See the slides from my presentation, annotated after the fact at the below link:

Download (PDF, 14.13MB)

The main points of my presentation may be distilled to the following:

the coastodian board of directors are very cool

Steven Colbert knows what truthiness is all about

Download (PDF, 63KB)

Aldo Leopold knew what it means to be an environmental steward

the coastodian has witnessed firsthand in Tomales Bay the epitome of stewardiness

Tomales Bay oyster growers, some of them anyhow, over the past 3 years have moved the needle on the stewardometer.

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The California Fish & Game Commission continues to fail miserably in meeting their responsibility to protect and safeguard the public water bottoms they lease to private entities for private profit. One only need travel the length of Tomales Bay by small boat, from north to south to witness a sad century of dereliction of duty in the form of abandoned oyster farming infrastructure. Infrastructure that continues to pose a serious threat to the health of this jewel we call Tomales Bay.

Invasive plants such as jubata, pampas and ice plant pose a troubling threat to the biodiversity of West Marin. Without a strong, collaborative effort to safely eradicate these unwanted, unwelcome, invasive pests, West Marin will soon look more like Bodega Bay, Stinson Beach, Argentina, South Africa. We love West Marin because of the beautiful and diverse ecosystem. These  invasive plants threaten this beauty and we must act NOW!

Not long ago, one learned of a special beach, fantastic fishing lake/river or magical mushrooming spot from an elder who trusted us with this special knowledge only after we earned their trust.

With the advent of social media and frankly too damn many people, beautiful places like Tomales Bay are being overrun by people who see no difference between the shore of Tomales Bay and the trash-filled Oakland Estuary. These careless visitors venture west, have their fun, then leave a mess in the very place whose beauty brought them on a long journey to visit.

Today myself and a friend participated in an annual litter pickup known as “Litter bugs me”, started by Rigdon Currie 18 years ago. This year the cleanup extended beyond the side of the road into Tomales Bay. Two of us paddled from Chicken Ranch Beach to White House Pool, collecting all manner of trash, including 5 tires, several beach balls, a 5-gallon bucket of broken glass.

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As always, click on an image to see a larger version

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

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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Chris plucks one of five tires collected from the cherished waters of Tomales Bay

Chris plucks one of five tires collected from the cherished waters of Tomales Bay

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Salvage kayak "Deep Respect" drifts on a flood tide in southern Tomales Bay

Salvage kayak “Deep Respect” drifts on a flood tide in southern Tomales Bay

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Respect Tomales Bay – Conservation Corps North Bay Cleans Up Marconi Cove!

Click the words above “Respect Tomales Bay – Conservation Corps North Bay…” to see this entire post.


A couple years ago while boating on Tomales Bay, I came across what I learned is called Marconi Cove.

It is state owned property that has been “left to rot” for some time now, large debris littering the place. A former gas station occupies the property along with much other debris that really shouldn’t be wasting away and spoiling Tomales Bay.

As always, click on an image to see a larger version.
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A few of the hundreds of abandoned tires at Marconi Cove - Tomales Bay ©Richard James - coastodian.org

A few of the hundreds of abandoned tires at Marconi Cove – Tomales Bay
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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A few of the hundreds of abandoned tires at Marconi Cove - Tomales Bay ©Richard James - coastodian.org

A few of the hundreds of abandoned tires at Marconi Cove – Tomales Bay
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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A few of the hundreds of abandoned tires at Marconi Cove - Tomales Bay ©Richard James - coastodian.org

A few of the hundreds of abandoned tires at Marconi Cove – Tomales Bay
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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A few of the hundreds of abandoned tires at Marconi Cove - Tomales Bay ©Richard James - coastodian.org

A few of the hundreds of abandoned tires at Marconi Cove – Tomales Bay
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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A few of the hundreds of abandoned tires at Marconi Cove - Tomales Bay ©Richard James - coastodian.org

A few of the hundreds of abandoned tires at Marconi Cove – Tomales Bay
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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The good news is that nearly one hundred large truck tires have been hauled away.

Brandon Benton and his crew of hard working youth at the North Bay Conservation Corps learned of this mess from Dale Dualin at NPS-Point Reyes Seashore.

Over a few weeks, Brandon and crew dis-assembled and hauled off the mess you see in the following images.

A big shout out to both Brandon and Dale – Thanks guys!

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CCNB crew cleaning up abandoned tires at Marconi Cove, Tomales Bay ©Brandon Benton - Conservation Corps North Bay

CCNB crew cleaning up abandoned tires at Marconi Cove, Tomales Bay
©Brandon Benton – Conservation Corps North Bay

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CCNB crew cleaning up abandoned tires at Marconi Cove, Tomales Bay ©Brandon Benton - Conservation Corps North Bay

CCNB crew cleaning up abandoned tires at Marconi Cove, Tomales Bay
©Brandon Benton – Conservation Corps North Bay

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CCNB crew cleaning up abandoned tires at Marconi Cove, Tomales Bay ©Brandon Benton - Conservation Corps North Bay

CCNB crew cleaning up abandoned tires at Marconi Cove, Tomales Bay
©Brandon Benton – Conservation Corps North Bay

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CCNB crew cleaning up abandoned tires at Marconi Cove, Tomales Bay ©Brandon Benton - Conservation Corps North Bay

CCNB crew cleaning up abandoned tires at Marconi Cove, Tomales Bay
©Brandon Benton – Conservation Corps North Bay

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CCNB crew cleaning up abandoned tires at Marconi Cove, Tomales Bay ©Brandon Benton - Conservation Corps North Bay

CCNB crew cleaning up abandoned tires at Marconi Cove, Tomales Bay
©Brandon Benton – Conservation Corps North Bay

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CCNB crew cleaning up abandoned tires at Marconi Cove, Tomales Bay ©Brandon Benton - Conservation Corps North Bay

CCNB crew cleaning up abandoned tires at Marconi Cove, Tomales Bay
©Brandon Benton – Conservation Corps North Bay

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As always, click on an image to see a larger version.

Marconi Cove - Tomales Bay - Without so many tires spoiling the view! ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Marconi Cove – Tomales Bay – Without so many tires spoiling the view!
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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There are still well over a hundred tires cemented into a wall (what were they thinking????) that need to be removed.

That is a project for another day.

Concrete and tire wall still blighting Marconi Cove - Tomales Bay ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Concrete and tire wall still blighting Marconi Cove – Tomales Bay
©Richard James – coastodian.org

Concrete and tire wall still blighting Marconi Cove - Tomales Bay ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Concrete and tire wall still blighting Marconi Cove – Tomales Bay
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Now, if only we can get the folks at Cove Mussel Company to clean up their dilapidated, unused oyster racks and other mess….

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As always, click on an image to see a larger version.

Unused iron racks, blighting Marconi Cove, Tomales Bay ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Unused iron racks, blighting Marconi Cove, Tomales Bay
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Unused iron racks, blighting Marconi Cove, Tomales Bay ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Unused iron racks, blighting Marconi Cove, Tomales Bay
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Unused iron racks, blighting Marconi Cove, Tomales Bay ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Unused iron racks, blighting Marconi Cove, Tomales Bay
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Unused iron racks, blighting Marconi Cove, Tomales Bay ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Unused iron racks, blighting Marconi Cove, Tomales Bay
©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Previous related post may be found here.

See the first post in this series “Respect our Tomales Bay” here.

Jenner by the sea – Same as it ever was

Click the words above “Jenner by the sea – Same as it ever was” to see this entire post.

Once in a lifetime may we all see such beauty as Drakes Estero at dusk, surrounded by hundreds of godwits. Serenaded by a single loon. In this respect my life is complete.

On the first day of 2015 I was blessed with the beauty of Drakes Estero sans mariculture.

1 January, 2015 - Black Turnstones over Drakes Estero. ©Richard James

1 January, 2015 – Black Turnstones over Drakes Estero. ©Richard James

On the last day of 2015, I had the company of Dan Gurney, fellow boater and nature aficionado as we toured the estuary at the mouth of the Russian River.

This is a common venue for Dan and my first trip to these calm waters.

We put in at the boat ramp near the visitor center and made our way towards the mouth, careful not to venture out to the sea. Our boats and skills not suited for the crashing waves.

Besides enjoying the birds, seals and sounds, our destination was the beach north of the mouth, covered with driftwood and countless pieces of plastic, bottles and other mindless items. Inquisitive harbor seals swam close to us, noses in the air, inspecting us for food or threat, then silently sliding back beneath the cloak of the sea-surface.

We beach our boats, bags in hand we set off to the north, ready to return the scene to a more fitting state, free from out trash. Though we would later learn we had not pulled our boats far enough out of the rising waters.

Dan and I had previously met 2-3 times on Tomales Bay, he with a larger group of boaters, and I out walking the shores, filling my boat with trash, oyster farming debris and derelict drifting duck decoys. This was the first time he and I had boated and walked the shore, intent on cleaning up the place.

Instead of 10-15 minutes and back in the boat to paddle up to Penny Island for a bite to eat, we spent the next 90 minutes gathering foam bits, tennis balls, plastic and glass beverage containers and this lone steelhead.

A large meal, unnoticed by gulls, vultures and eagles. The all white gums of this fish told me it is a steelhead, chinook are all black, coho are black & white.

A large meal, unnoticed by gulls, vultures and eagles. The all white gums of this fish told me it is a steelhead, chinook gums are all black, coho gums black & white.

Perhaps the sand coating had sealed in the scent sufficiently to hide this meal from being discovered. I carried it out to the surf and the gulls and vultures quickly took notice.

Dan was a bit worried, as we had left our boats unattended for quite a while (and had not secured them very well either)

After piling up trash into caches for retrieval later, we hustled back to find our boats swirling in an eddy, off-shore, being herded by Dan’s good friend Bob. Bob boats here nearly every day and knows the land, as well as the boats. He was kind enough to push them to shore where we secured them and spent a while talking about all manner of seaside topics.

After returning to our caches to recover them, lashing everything (except one large truck tire we left up high for another caring individual to pack out), we carefully made our way to Penny Island for a late lunch.

Dan was nice enough to share his sandwich, for I had only arrived with drinks and pastries from Tomales Bakery. We devoured our meal as buffleheads and mergansers floated by.

Once the sun had dipped behind the ridge, the temp dropped and my wet wetsuit became downright chilly. (the day started out quite chilly, the drive up from Inverness was on ice-coated roads. My usual put-in along Walker Creek was occupied by Cheda’s tow truck hoisting the Hog Island Oyster delivery van from the creek, a sheepish driver pacing the shoulder)

Dan and I quickly paddled to the boat ramp to disgorge our discoveries and load boats back on to cars for the drive back.

 

See below what washes down the Russian River on a daily basis.

 

Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was…
Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was…
Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was…

Water dissolving…and water removing
There is water at the bottom of the ocean
Carry the water at the bottom of the ocean
Remove the water at the bottom of the ocean!

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/in the silent water
Under the rocks and stones/there is water underground.

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/after the money’s gone
Once in a lifetime/water flowing underground.

 

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56 tennis balls on second ever ikea bag. This one in great shape, sure to help haul hundreds of pounds of trash off many beaches.

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56 shoes, soles or footbeds

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Second syringe of the litter season.

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First ever unicorn.

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Save our Tomales Bay – 34 King sized tides, king sized mess

Please click on the above text “Save our Tomales Bay – 34 King sized tides, king sized mess” to see this entire post

Wednesday was the King Tide of the year. A full moon, aligned with sun and earth create conditions that produce the highest and lowest tides of the year. With a near non-existent swell, a perfect day to be on Tomales Bay.

Looking west across Tomales Bay at Inverness Ridge during the King Tide of 25 Nov 2015.

Looking west across Tomales Bay at Inverness Ridge during the King Tide of 25 Nov 2015.

These high tides allow me and my boat to easily access areas with high concentrations of plastic trash.

On my way south while in the Tomales Bay Ecological Preserve [where ducks must be careful], I spotted what I thought was a white plastic bag. Grounding my boat on the mud near one of the “blinds” used by duck hunters, I waded across knee deep water in my wetsuit towards the item of interest, taking care to lift my large padded camera bag strapped to my chest away from the splashing saltwater.

Alas, as I neared the bright white item, it became clear it was only a raft of pure white foam, drifting south with the flood tide. Laughing at myself, I turned back towards the boat to continue my venture to the south. As I got to my boat and maneuvered myself to drop my butt into the seat, I stepped off the submerged mudflat, into the channel. I bobbed up and down, a champagne cork, my feet gaining no purchase on the bottom. I cried out in alarm as the water reached halfway up the black appendage strapped to my front, cradling my baby, the camera. Up and down I bobbed, more and more alarmed I became that my camera would be reduced to junk. Pushing upward on the black blob to keep at bay the watery tentacles splashing all around, I had to let go of the boat, toss the paddle to higher ground and pull myself ashore. Which I did without problem. The immediate danger of a swamped camera handled, I grabbed the paddle and started sloshing south to track my now drifting boat as it carried on towards Bolinas without me.

Splashing as I ran in calf deep water, occasionally jumping over deep sub-channels, I put 30 meters between myself and the approaching boat. This gave me time to remove most of my wet upper garments and the camera bag. I was preparing to go for a swim and haul the boat ashore. As I disassembled the camera bag and all the hydrophobic items therein, it became clear that the boat would soon come to me, within reach of the shore. So I continued to get all parts precious laid out in the sun on the bird-pellet, fox dung festooned log that would be my rest stop for the next hour. As the sun dried my camera, jacket and bag, the boat came right to me and was soon tied to my drying log, where it bobbed and tried to get away more than once as the wind buffeted it, me and my drying items.

Lessons learned from this: have more dry towels in dry bags, watch were I walk, bring a wind-shell always.

Have a look below at what I plucked from the southern corners of Tomales Bay.

Four more tires!

One, only one oyster grow out bag [me thinks the growers are paying more attention and losing less gear!]

Plus the usual assortment of plastic wrappers, cans, bottles, tennis balls, shotgun paraphernalia.

These images are presented not for self-promotion. Rather, they are to show people who think of Tomales Bay as this untarnished jewel [jewel yes, untarnished, hardly], that our planet is being trashed by us, some of us much more than others. If we are to slow down the yearly flow of 8 million metric tons of plastic that enters the oceans each year, we need to radically change how we live our lives. So Mr. Green Airstream, please continue to pocket your butts, I’ll continue sharing what I find in Tomales Bay, whether that is abandoned oyster gear, cigarette butts, or Common Snipe and Leopard Sharks. See this comment for background on why I felt compelled to write this last paragraph.

As always, click on an image to see a larger version.

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Debris removed from Southern Tomales Bay on 25 Nov. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Debris removed from Southern Tomales Bay on 25 Nov. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Three tires is a full load it seems.  ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Three tires is a full load it seems. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Four tires is indeed a full load. All on the rim, meaning very heavy.  ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Four tires is indeed a full load. All on the rim, meaning very heavy. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Placed within easy reach, awaiting pickup, hopfully by the owner of that grow-out bag....Tod.  ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Placed within easy reach, awaiting pickup, hopfully by the owner of that grow-out bag….Tod. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

Speaking of tires, still waiting to hear from someone on who to contact to remove the hundreds of tires blighting Marconi Cove. A big shout out to Hog Island Oyster Company for pulling out dozens from the boat ramp area!

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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Debris removed from Southern Tomales Bay on 25 Nov. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Debris removed from Southern Tomales Bay on 25 Nov. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Debris removed from Southern Tomales Bay on 25 Nov. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Debris removed from Southern Tomales Bay on 25 Nov. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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How about biodegradable corn starch shotgun shells and shot cups (AKA wads).   ©Richard James - coastodian.org

How about biodegradable corn starch shotgun shells and shot cups (AKA wads). ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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How about recycling containers, or, using a reusable water container?   ©Richard James - coastodian.org

How about recycling containers, or, using a reusable water container? ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Hope the party was happy. Wildlife has another thought on this senseless tradition of releasing balloons. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Hope the party was happy. Wildlife has another thought on this senseless tradition of releasing balloons. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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©Richard James - coastodian.org

©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Lots of unhappy (or lazy) dogs that failed to retrieve these balls. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

Lots of unhappy (or lazy) dogs that failed to retrieve these balls. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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No shots were fired in the taking of this Pintail. ©Richard James - coastodian.org

No shots were fired in the taking of this Pintail. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Next relate post may be found here.

Previous related post may be found here.

See the first post in this series “Save our Tomales Bay” here.

Save our Tomales Bay – Part 33 Litter, litter everywhere, not a bite to eat

Please click on the above text “Litter, litter everywhere, not a bite to eat” to see this entire post

Gorgeous day to be out on Tomales Bay.

Tomales Bay - looking south. Please pardon iphone image on rocking boat. ©Richard James coastodian.org

Tomales Bay – looking south. Please pardon iphone image on rocking boat. ©Richard James coastodian.org

Flat water and light wind made for delicious paddling. The water was pretty turbid from the recent winds, so visibility down below was poor, even with polarized glasses. So I only saw clouds of mud kicked up by rays and sharks, instead of seeing actual rays and sharks.

Did see eight common snipe (or at least that is what they looked like to me). Have not seen many of this bird, they like to keep a low profile. I’ll bring a long lens next time I head over to this area of the bay and try to record some images to share.

Found three tires, two of them on the rim, one of which was pretty well ensconced in poison oak (so I left it for later). Speaking of tires, a big shout out to Hogi Island Oyster Company for collecting dozens of abandoned tires from the boat launch at Marconi Cove. It looks a lot better there. Thank you. Don’t de-spare, there are still plenty of tires despoiling the shore at the south end of Marconi Cove. Perhaps 150 or more.

tires littering Tomales Bay at Marconi Cove.

tires littering Tomales Bay at Marconi Cove.

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tires littering Tomales Bay at Marconi Cove.

tires littering Tomales Bay at Marconi Cove.

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Two oyster bags, full of medium oysters, all dead. As well as a shellfish purse full of mussels. I think somebody must have “borrowed” this from up by Walker Creek and moved it south for a personal mussel farm, as it had a custom float attached.

Also found my second paddle which I plan to give to a friend.

Find of the day was an intact vintage Pepsi Cola bottle.

See below for the sadly large haul for a short day on the water.

As always, click on an image to see a larger version.

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Litter from southern Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

Litter from southern Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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oyster farmers litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

oyster farmers litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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car owners litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

car owners litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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car owners litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

car owners litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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oyster farmers litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

oyster farmers litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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dog owners and bottle smashers litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

dog owners and bottle smashers litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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Drugstore shoppers and skin protectors litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

Drugstore shoppers and skin protectors litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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Duck hunters litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

Duck hunters litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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Rope owners and junkfood eaters littter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

Rope owners and junkfood eaters littter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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Shoeless people litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

Shoeless people litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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plastic lovers and frisbee throwers litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

plastic lovers and frisbee throwers litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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Thirsty people litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

Thirsty people litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

Thirsty people litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

Thirsty people litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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Thirsty people litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

Thirsty people litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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Thirsty people litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

Thirsty people litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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oyster farmers and foam lovers litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

oyster farmers and foam lovers litter in Tomales Bay ©Richard James coastodian.org

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New signage in Tomales Bay ©RIchard James coastodian.org

New signage in Tomales Bay ©RIchard James coastodian.org

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Next related post may be found here.

Previous related post may be found here.

See the first post in this series “Save our Tomales Bay” here.

Save our Tomales Bay – Part 31 Tires do NOT belong in the bay

Click on the text above “Save our Tomales Bay – Part 31 Tires do NOT belong in the bay” to see this entire post.

Today is coastal cleanup day. Good to see people getting out and taking care of the planet.

I usually take this day off from picking up trash.

It would be better if this event took place in December, or January, when the beaches are covered with garbage. Having it in September gives people a false sense of the situation. There is relatively little trash on California beaches in September.

I know, having the masses out on beaches during the stormy months is more hazardous. Well, life, when you live it, is hazardous. So I vote for this event to be on January 19th instead.

We could celebrate my late friend BZM’s birthday too, as opposed to his death on this day in ’99. caaw caaw!

Last week I pulled 4 tires (still on the rim) and one model T style tire (30″ white wall, no rim) out of the bay.
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Plus two oyster grow out bags, courtesy Tomales Bay Oyster Company.

A joyful lunch was then enjoyed, thanks to Monica. Thanks Monica.
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It sure would be great if people stopped tossing their engines, tires, couches and TV’s into Tomales Bay.

Wouldn’t you agree?

Please, when you read this, go find the person nearest you, look them in the eye and say “Please don’t toss any engines, tires, couches or TV’s into Tomales Bay.”

Thanks.

Speaking of tires in Tomales Bay

Who else thinks Tomales Bay would be better off if this garbage at Marconi Cove were removed? By my count there are over 200 tires at this site.

Have a look below, then let me know who we should write to ask about cleaning up this disgraceful situation.

Tomales Bay deserves better than this!

Thanks again.

tires littering Tomales Bay at Marconi Cove.

tires littering Tomales Bay at Marconi Cove.

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tires littering Tomales Bay at Marconi Cove.

tires littering Tomales Bay at Marconi Cove.

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tires littering Tomales Bay at Marconi Cove.

tires littering Tomales Bay at Marconi Cove.

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tires littering Tomales Bay at Marconi Cove.

tires littering Tomales Bay at Marconi Cove.

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tires littering Tomales Bay at Marconi Cove.

tires littering Tomales Bay at Marconi Cove.

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tires littering Tomales Bay at Marconi Cove.

tires littering Tomales Bay at Marconi Cove.

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Next related post may be found here.

Previous related post may be found here.

See the first post in this series “Save our Tomales Bay” here.

Save our Tomales Bay – part 13.2 Hog Island Oysters gets it done!

Click the words “Save our Tomales Bay…” above to see this post in its entirety.

The folks up at Hog Island saw my recent going on about the bumper crop of tractor tires spoiling the beauty of Tomales Bay near Millerton Point.

They went down this morning, Zane Finger and one other and pulled out 6 tires between them. 5 Big ones and 1 auto-sized tire.

See below what two experienced water-workers can get done in short order.

Two workers from Hog Island Oyster Company drove to Millerton Point on 20 January, 2014 and recovered six discarded tires from Tomales Bay. - - Bravo!

Two workers from Hog Island Oyster Company drove to Millerton Point on 20 January, 2014 and recovered six discarded tires from Tomales Bay.


Bravo!


Click image for a larger version

Huge thanks to Hog Island Oysters for coming down from Marshall to get these tires from a hopefully bygone era of thoughtless discarding of items no longer wanted.

Lower right of this image shows where I attached the floats (yellow pin to the right) and where it drifted with the high tide the next morning a third of a mile away. - - Kudos to Hog Island Oysters for taking a leadership role in cleaning up their oyster debris, as well as the errant trash of others.

Lower right of this image shows where I attached the floats (yellow pin to the right) and where it drifted with the high tide the next morning a third of a mile away.


Kudos to Hog Island Oysters for taking a leadership role in cleaning up their oyster debris, as well as the errant trash of others.


Click image for a larger version

See the short video below for how much work it is for one less experienced water worker to get 1 large tire out of Tomales Bay.


Next installment of this series may be found here.

See the first post in this series “Save our Tomales Bay” here.

Save our Tomales Bay – part 13.1 Tractor tire floats!

Click the words “Save our Tomales Bay…” above to see this post in its entirety.

It worked!

The tire drifted and made landfall on the beach at Millerton Point about a third of a mile WSW.

Now to get it to the parking lot at Millerton.

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Click image for a larger version

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Click image for a larger version

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Next related post may be found here.

Previous related post may be found here.

See the first post in this series “Save our Tomales Bay” here.

Save our Tomales Bay – part 13 (Tractor tires)

Click on the words “DBOC Denied. Nature Affirmed!” to see this post in its entirety.

Seeing tires in Tomales Bay makes me sad. Seeing them in any body of water makes me sad. That humans can be so selfish to think it is ok to dispose of their trash in our collective treasures such as Tomales Bay is deeply troubling.

After posting about pulling four tires out of the muck (with some help, TYVM), I received some notes from readers. One from a person that works to eradicate non-native plants from our waterways. She told of seeing untold amounts of trash in SF Bay as she does her work. Another from someone that works in San Rafael and wanted to know of any tips I had for pulling tires from the muck. My tire knowledge is all learned on the job.

Pull up a chair and see my latest idea.

Not far from the most recent tires I recovered (read about that here), I found 8 more strewn about the landscape. Most of them in the muck of the bay, some close to shore. All huge tractor tires, bigger than those found on an 18-wheeler.

I did not want to wrestle those out of the mud, to the shore and up the hill to where park officials could take over to get them to a more suitable place.

After some thought, I was reminded of my time building foot-bridges in Ethiopia. We had to use what we found on site in the form of sand, water and rocks when we mixed concrete for foundations. The sand was usually dug out of the river we were bridging. Yet, it was very muddy, and muddy sand makes for weak concrete. So we had to wash it.


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Two women washing river sand in buckets. We mixed concrete on site with hand cracked gravel, locally hewn rocks, river water and cement that was trucked in and hand-carried to the work site. Keranyo, Addis Ababa

Two women washing river sand in buckets. We mixed concrete on site with hand cracked gravel, locally hewn rocks, river water and cement that was trucked in and hand-carried to the work site. Keranyo, Addis Ababa


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Two women washing river sand in buckets. We mixed concrete on site with hand cracked gravel, locally hewn rocks, river water and cement that was trucked in and hand-carried to the work site. Keranyo, Addis Ababa

Two women washing river sand in buckets. We mixed concrete on site with hand cracked gravel, locally hewn rocks, river water and cement that was trucked in and hand-carried to the work site. Keranyo, Addis Ababa


With two languages (English and Amharic) as a barrier, explaining the need to wash the sand was quite a task. Initially the locals were moving the sand to an area, washing it, then moving it to where we mixed it with gravel. Very inefficient.

After doing it the hard way for too long, I came upon an idea to reduce movement of dirty sand and wash it in place, in the river. I later had someone make some teaching aids in Amharic, one of them read “Let the water do the work“.


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Ethiopians washing a bag of sand in the river. When heavy rains come, this trickle turns to a torrent. Many lives are lost attempting to cross to get to school, market, clinic. Marye, Ethiopia.

Ethiopians washing a bag of sand in the river. When heavy rains come, this trickle turns to a torrent. Many lives are lost attempting to cross to get to school, market, clinic. Marye, Ethiopia.


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Ethiopians (and one yank) washing a bag of sand in the river. When heavy rains come, this trickle turns to a torrent. Many lives are lost attempting to cross to get to school, market, clinic. Marye, Ethiopia.

Ethiopians (and one yank) washing a bag of sand in the river. When heavy rains come, this trickle turns to a torrent. Many lives are lost attempting to cross to get to school, market, clinic. Marye, Ethiopia.


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Ethiopians washing a bag of sand in the river. When heavy rains come, this trickle turns to a torrent. Many lives are lost attempting to cross to get to school, market, clinic. Marye, Ethiopia.

Ethiopians washing a bag of sand in the river. When heavy rains come, this trickle turns to a torrent. Many lives are lost attempting to cross to get to school, market, clinic. Marye, Ethiopia.

With these memories in mind, I had an idea to let the water do the work with these tires.

I collected 4 large plastic fishing floats I had gathered off the outside beaches of Point Reyes, crab fishing rope from the same area, and a plastic trowel, again collected from the beach.

Along with these items I packed into a dry bag a portable electric drill, 4 batteries (my drill is old and the batteries don’t hold much charge), a 1/2 inch bit, a headlamp, towels, gloves and a knife.

With all of the above stowed in or on my scow (what I call my kayak), I paddled over to Millerton Point as both sun and tide were dropping.

Two tires came into view and I picked one to test my idea on. After carrying my tools across squishy, sticky mud to the tire, I walked back 100 feet to my scow and pulled it further away into deeper water to tie to a post from an old oyster fence. Having learned the hard way doing work during a dropping tide, I knew if I left my boat near the work-site, I’d be dragging it a hundred yards or more to water deep enough to float.


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Using the drill, I bored two holes in four locations and secured the floats to the tire.

With my found trowel and bare hands, I then scooped probably 70 pounds of horribly stinky mud out of the tire to help it float. You can see some of the mud in the foreground of the last image with the floats attached.


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I’ve no idea if these four floats will float the tire and allow it to be brought to an area for extraction.

I hope the water will do the work and will go out tomorrow to see if the tides pushed this test tire away from where it has likely sat for many years.

If you want to see some bridge building, go here to visit the website of the NGO I volunteered with.

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Next related post may be found here.

Previous related post may be found here.

See the first post in this series “Save our Tomales Bay” here.

Save our Tomales Bay – part 12 (Millerton style)

Click on the words above “Save our Tomales Bay…” to see this post as it was meant to be seen.

This past weekend we experienced King Tides, exceptionally high (and low) tides that happen this time of year.

To see some even higher tides, go here.

The water was so high I was able to launch my boat from the bridge at Chicken Ranch.

My goal was to head south into some formerly diked off areas to the east that only flood deep enough to get into during high tides. With the added benefit of the high water floating all the human-made plastic for easy finding and retrieval.

Down near Bivalve I recovered a second swim area buoy that had gotten loose and drifted far from its’ usual spot. I found the first one last year, a few hundred meters south of this one.

Paddling back I ran into Dan from Sebastopol, we’d met a few weeks prior a bit north of here. We visited briefly as we recounted how we each enjoyed the high tides. I had to split off to pick up some trash I had cached. Dan was with a large group of paddlers from Petaluma. My plan was to pick up my cache, then stop by Millerton (where they had put in) and visit on my way back as they pulled their boats to the car. As we parted, Dan shouted that he found another duck decoy just then. He found one as well on our first meeting. I too have a pair of found plastic ducks, one pintail and one mallard.

Yet, there was too much trash to pick up and I missed him by moments.

I still stopped at Millerton, a place I had not visited on the water in all my travels in Tomales Bay.

As I approached the shore I began counting tires, one, two three. Large ones. Tractor tires. All within 200 feet of the where the trail hits the water. I was nonplused. All these years I had been out to remote areas of Point Reyes Seashore gathering trash likely never to be seen except by divers or other intrepid adventurers, and here these tires lay in the mud. On the shore for what appears to be decades by the looks of them, not 200 feet from the cars bringing all the dog owners to this busy beach.

I may have missed Dan, I was not going to miss the opportunity to clear the Bay of these huge tires.

Tires all over the shore, and this in the parking lot, two days running. Is this status quo for Millerton?

Tires all over the shore, and this in the parking lot, two days running.
Is this status quo for Millerton?

I had to dig them out of the mud, stand them up, scoop 20-30 pounds of mud out of them and roll them to the hill that leads to the parking lot. As I rolled the first one along the bumpy shore, A man out with his family picnicking got up and walked over to me,

“Do you need some help?” he asked.

“That would be great” was my reply.

“But you are going to get very muddy.” I offered.

“No problem.” was Armando’s response.

Together we rolled it, wobbly, up the hill. He took it the rest of the way to the parking lot. I was off to get another.

“If you get more, my sons and I can help.”

Armando from Berkeley told me he loves to come to this beach with his family. When he saw me struggling with the huge tire, he became inspired.

He and I rolled a second tire, as big as the first up to the lot. I was not sure I was up to a third so I suggested he enjoy the new year day with his family and thanked him for his help.

As I neared my boat, I was drawn to a third tire, laying in the shallow water, filled with mud. This one required a lever and fulcrum to pull it out of the mud. Fiddling with sticks and logs to make my mechanical advantage, Kevin “KC” form Inverness Park saw me and he too asked if he could help. He was dressed even nicer than Armando was. I explained the mud and he would not be deterred. He stripped off his jacket and came right over to help. Together we got another large tire up the hill and out of the Bay.

His wife snapped these photos of us.

KC and I roll a tractor tire out of Tomales Bay to the parking lot for removal.

KC and I roll a tractor tire out of Tomales Bay to the parking lot for removal.


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Afterwards he then offered me a cold beer (which I gladly accepted) and he opened it for me, as my hands were still coated with thick black mud, bleeding profusely from where the barnacles had sliced them.

Thank you KC.

I plucked a fourth tire, this one a tiny 18-wheeler that was on dry ground and rolled it up the hill solo.

This makes fifteen tires pulled from the bay so far.

There are still at least 2-3 more here, as well as a large rear axle from some ancient vehicle of some sort laying in the tiny creek nearby.

I placed the swim buoy in with them. Later I called the state dispatcher for parks and the folks from Samuel Taylor had them taken care of by that evening.

This six cylinder GM engine in the water earlier sure looked out of place. Clearly left by some lazy SOB that had backed his truck up to the cliff next to route 1 and pushed it over, saving a trip over the hill to the recycler. His problem was now everyone’s problem. This is the third block I have found in Tomales Bay. The other two are likely remnants of boat wrecks, both on the west shore.

Just what every body of water needs - NOT.

Just what every body of water needs – NOT.


Oyster grow-out bag filled with bottles and cans. My first toaster and fourth TV.

Oyster grow-out bag filled with bottles and cans. My first toaster and fourth TV.


Four tires, a buoy and two oyster grow-out bags.

Four tires, a buoy and two oyster grow-out bags.

A few days later I paid a visit to Hog Island Oysters, having been invited to come talk about my clean-up efforts and the goals of Hog Island in terms of reducing the amount of plastic the oyster farms inject into the environment.

John Finger explained that in the past, a yearly cleanup had taken place to pick up oyster gear from around the bay.

Hog Island is committed to running a clean operation, reducing plastic loss and recovering as much as possible that is lost.

After seeing what I was digging out of the wrack on a regular basis, he decided that once a year was not enough. So he plans to work with the other growers to make a concerted effort four times per year. If I can, I’ll go out before the planned cleanup to see what is there to get, as well as to visit after the cleanup to see if the participants are actually recovering their gear.

I am going to reduce the number of “Save our Tomales Bay” reports for a while. A wait and see approach, if you will.

Let us hope that all the Tomales Bay Oyster growers step up and help manage the mess that their operations are creating, hopefully figuring out how to prevent the mess in the first place.

I’ll still be out there picking up stuff and photographing it.

In the meantime, enjoy this green heron I drifted by on christmas day.

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Now this is what I expect to see in a Bay as gorgeous as Tomales!

Coming soon, we’ll pay a visit to Drakes Estero to see what a “sustainable oyster operation” looks like under the surface.

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Next related post may be found here.

Previous related post may be found here.

See the first post in this series “Save our Tomales Bay” here.