Since 1892, the Sierra Club has been the largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States. Ventana Chapter members are approximately 6000 of your friends and neighbors. Inspired by nature, we work together to protect our 127 miles of coastline, hundreds of thousands of acres of wild lands and our dwindling water supplies. (Ventana Wilderness from Bottchers Gap, Ventana Chapter file photo).
2022 Celebrates the 130th Anniversary of the Sierra Club
Trees with Snow on Branches, "Half Dome, Apple Orchard, Yosemite,” California by Ansel Adams, founder of Ventana Chapter Sierra Club in 1963. (Photo courtesy of the US National Archives and Records Administration).
1890s The Sierra Club is founded on May 28, 1892, with John Muir as its first president. It quickly mobilizes to defeat a proposal to reduce the boundaries of Yosemite National Park. The Sierra Club urges strengthening of public forest policy and supports the creation of new national parks, including Grand Canyon.
1900s The Sierra Club begins an organized outings program, with annual trips to the Sierra Nevada. President Theodore Roosevelt visits Yosemite National Park with John Muir and, two years later, the Sierra Club’s campaign to return management of Yosemite Valley to the federal government from the State of California succeeds.
1910s The National Park Service is created, with Stephen Mather, a Sierra Club member, as its first director. The California legislature passes a law to support construction of the John Muir Trail in the Sierra Nevada.
1920s Sequoia National Park is expanded, and the Sierra Club successfully opposes dam sites in the Kings River region. Aurelia Squire Harwood becomes the first woman to serve as the Sierra Club’s president.
1930s Sierra Club members introduce modern rock-climbing techniques to the US. Photographer Ansel Adams visits Washington, D.C., to lobby Congress and the president to preserve Kings Canyon. The 210-mile John Muir Trail is completed.
1940s Kings Canyon National Park is established. The Sierra Club opposes an attempt to repeal the Antiquities Act, which is used to establish national monuments. The Sierra Club successfully defeats proposed dams in Kings Canyon and Glacier National Parks. During World War II, many Club members use their backcountry skiing and mountaineering skills in the US Army’s 10th Mountain Division.
1950s Grand Teton National Park and Olympic National Park are enlarged at the Sierra Club’s urging. A long but ultimately successful campaign stops dam construction in Dinosaur National Monument. The Sierra Club organizes its first volunteer-service outings.
1960s The landmark Wilderness Act is passed by Congress after a long campaign by the Sierra Club and others, marking the first time that public lands (9.1 million acres) are permanently protected from development. The Sierra Club also mobilizes public opinion to stop two dams in the Grand Canyon. But the cost of victory was high: Decision-makers chose to power the flow of water to the Southwest by building a massive coal-fired power plant on Navajo land. For more than four decades, the plant exposed members of the Navajo Nation to unacceptably high levels of air pollution. According to the Clean Air Task force, the plan caused an estimated 16 premature deaths, 25 heart attacks, 300 asthma attacks, and 15 asthma emergency room visits every year it operated.
1970s The Sierra Club helps organize the first Earth Day. Efforts of the Sierra Club and others—including Black community organizers who fought against destructive “urban renewal” projects—lead to passage of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Water Pollution Control Act. The Sierra Club also joins a successful effort to strengthen the Clean Air Act and works to pass the Endangered American Wilderness Act, which protects 1.3 million acres.
1980s A decade-long Sierra Club campaign leads to passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act—the largest land and water protection legislation in history. It instantly doubles the size of the national park system and protects more than 157 million acres of public lands in Alaska. The Sierra Club helps defeat Reagan administration attacks on the Clean Air Act and other environmental laws. The Sierra Club forms a political committee and makes its first electoral endorsements.
1990s The Sierra Club leads a grassroots effort to reauthorize the Clean Air Act and successfully lobbies Congress to pass the California Desert Protection Act, which establishes 7.6 million acres of new desert wilderness and expands both Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Parks. The Sierra Student Coalition is organized. The Sierra Club forms an Environmental Justice program to address the disproportionate environmental burdens on low-income communities and communities of color.
2000s The Sierra Club defeats a plan to allow commercial logging in Giant Sequoia National Monument and stops the construction of 170 proposed new coal-fired power plants. The Sierra Club successfully advocates for the Omnibus Public Land Management Act—the largest public-lands conservation effort in 20 years.
2010s The Sierra Club works with President Obama to protect more than 4 million acres of public lands. The Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign becomes the most successful environmental initiative in history and is complemented by the Ready For 100 campaign, which encourages more than 100 US municipalities to formally commit to transition to 100% clean, renewable energy for generating electricity.
Monarch Butterfly Numbers Are on the Rise Locally and in Mexico
Some good news this year is that various press outlets both nationally and locally are reporting an increase in Monarch butterflies in several locations. The Monterey Herald reported earlier this year that volunteer community scientists recorded about 14,000 butterflies at the Pacific Grove Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in November 2021, according to Natalie Johnston, the volunteer and community science coordinator of the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History. There were no recorded butterfly clusters in 2020 so this was quite a rebound.
On May 25 Associated Press reported a 35 percent increase in Monarch butterflies arriving this year in the protected areas in the forested mountaintops of Mexico. Their annual butterfly count does not count the number of butterflies but rather the number of acres they cover. Last year’s acreage was 5.2 acres and this year it was 7 acres.
Positive Steps Happening Now in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Published by Clayton Daughenbaugh for the Sierra Club National Wilderness Committee
We've had a series of big developments in the campaign to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that are worth celebrating.
In the last two weeks, all oil companies that held leases within the boundary of the Refuge have withdrawn their lease agreements. Chevron and Hillcorps held leases through the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC) and actually paid 10 million dollars to exit their arrangement. They acquired the leases on ASRC land from a historic deal that would have allowed them to develop them when drilling proceeded on the federal lands in the coastal plain. Keep in mind that the federal lease sale held in 2020 by the Trump administration only brought in 12 million dollars, meaning that these companies paid almost as much to get out as was generated in a lease sale. Then, just last week, 88 Energy withdrew their federal leases which they acquired during the Trump lease sale. 88 Energy was the only oil company to lease exploration rights in 2020, with the rest of the leases bought by either the State of Alaska or a small real estate speculator.
Why are oil companies leaving when oil is reaching historic high prices? We have brought a tremendous amount of pressure to bear. Over the last three years, this campaign has focused on corporate work aimed at cutting off essential finance and insurance to the industry in the refuge, while at the same time forcing the administration to publish a supplemental environmental impact statement via advocacy and smart, strategic litigation. In addition, we have also effectively advocated for revoking the leasing program in the halls of congress. We've sent a clear message that along with our partners; we will stop them on every axis.
Furthermore, we secured a new commitment from a major international insurance company to exclude underwriting or bonding for oil and gas companies drilling in the Arctic Refuge. Sompo joined 13 other companies in making this commitment, amplifying the pressure we are already putting on American insurers. This announcement came on the heels of a campaign arch of phone calls, emails, and an in person rally at the headquarters of Travelers insurance during their Annual General Meeting (AGM). We also directed the same pressure, minus the in person action, at The Hartford during their AGM. Each insurer we remove from the board means one less place for oil companies to turn to get required insurance. For the rest of this year, we'll continue to escalate with American insurers until we have taken all of their options away from oil developers. This should help influence any future lease sales and to remove opposition from a legislative or administrative solution.
This team has done a tremendous job both as a stand alone and in collaboration with our partners.
Chapter Support For Protection of Work Memorial Park in Del Rey Oaks
Scenic and biologically diverse, Work Memorial Park in Del Rey Oaks needs protection from planned construction in the nearby areas of the former Fort Ord, urban and airport runoff and the commercial use of Work Memorial Park for large truck traffic.
(Ventana Chapter file photo).
Work Memorial Park is one of the three large parks in Del Rey Oaks and the location for significant federally recognized wetlands. Upstream, it is connected by the Arroyo Del Rey stream to the Frog Pond Preserve (part of Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District) and the “17 acres” wetland area just east of General Jim Moore Blvd. Downstream, Work Memorial Park waters flow into Laguna Grande Regional Park, Roberts Lake, and finally into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Work Memorial and the 17 acre wetland areas are important and sensitive habitats that represents two of the last natural drainages in the cities of Seaside, Del Rey Oaks, and Monterey.
Unfortunately, Work Memorial Park and the Arroyo Del Rey watershed are under many threats. The runoff from Hwy 68 and 218, the planned construction in the nearby areas of the former Fort Ord, the urban and airport runoff, and the commercial use of Work Memorial Park for large truck traffic are just a few.
Sustainable Del Rey Oaks (SDRO) contacted the Chapter and brought this to our attention. What was needed was a professionally conducted wetland delineation and habitat assessment to understand what habitats and species are present, the current health of these habitats, and what our paths forward may be to protect and restore these wetlands. These studies are woefully lacking in many areas of our County and yet, without them, it is difficult to bring the credibility and pressure needed to ensure that sensitive habitats are protected when development projects are proposed.
The Chapter retained The Biotic Resources Group, a local environmental assessment firm to conduct a study. The scope of work included a wetland delineation (federal standard) and habitat assessment of the study area (Work Memorial Park, Arroyo del Rey, and the 17-Acre Parcel). The habitat assessment tasks included mapping plant community types, identifying occurrences of invasive, non-native plant species, and documenting sensitive species and/or habitat.
The assessment has been completed and the overview states the Biotic Resource Group conducted a formal wetland evaluation and reported their findings in two complementary documents. The SDRO Arroyo Del Rey and Work Memorial Park Study Delineation of Jurisdictional Federal Waters (Delineation) follows the US Army Corp of Engineers format; whereas the SDRO Arroyo Del Rey and Work Memorial Study Baseline Report (Baseline) is more expansive, including descriptions of plant communities, threatened and invasive, and recommendations for habitat management. The 54.9 acres studied includes Work Memorial Park, the Arroyo Del Rey stream itself, the “17 Acres” parcel, and to a lesser degree, the Frog Pond Preserve. The study identified 10.162 acres of wetland habitat, as well as 9 different sensitive plant habitats. It also identified 21 non-native invasive plants.
Shuttered Cemex Site in Marina Now Under Negotiations for Future Use as Public Coastal Acreage
Current Cemex plant now in the process of being repurposed as public land.
By Kathy Biala
On Dec. 31, 2017 the CA Coastal Commission, along with the State Lands Commission and the City of Marina approved a settlement agreement with Cemex, that would end the last active sandmining operation on any U.S. shore. This agreement requires Cemex to sell the property, at a reduced purchase price, to a non-profit or governmental entity approved by the Commission for conservation, public access and low impact recreation in perpetuity. This was a historic moment.
Per the agreement, all sand extraction has ceased as of Dec. 31, 2020 and now the last sales of the remaining stockpiles of sand on the property will occur and the remaining staff will be transitioned out. The agreement requires a restoration plan be completed in three years from the cessation of the sandmining operations (by 2023).
However, this Cemex property remains a site of concern for the public, as the proposed CalAm slant well desalination project is planned on this very same property, with several large well head structures on the near foredunes and pipes traversing the property. A legal easement to do so was established by CalAm and Cemex several years ago.
The CA Coastal Commission has twice recommended denial of the CalAm project on environmental and environmental justice issues; CalAm withdrew their application the night before the second and final hearing on the project. The current reapplication has been deemed incomplete by the CCC, and further hearing on the project has been stalled as a result.
Protecting populations of threatened western snowy plovers at the Cemex site and along the Central Coast beaches are a priority for Ventana Chapter.
The elements of the Cemex Settlement Agreement are not affected by the outcomes of the CalAm desalination project. The Coastal Commission staff report continued compliance with all aspects of the agreement; the land restoration plan is currently being reviewed by the CCC and other required agencies, and restoration activities will be overseen by the CCC. Full restoration will likely continue beyond 2023. Ventana Chapter has a mitigation fund of hundreds of thousands of dollars that could be used towards restoration.
The Cemex site is to be sold to public agencies and negotiations are now occurring. The coastal property site that is under the Settlement Agreement is approximately 100 acres and will soon become a publicly owned, protected natural environment for threatened and endangered species to thrive. This will also contribute to further beach access points to residents of Marina and tourists to experience and enjoy pristine coastline habitats.
U. S. Senate Committee Unveils Historic Outdoor Recreation Package
By Ian Brickey
May 3, 2022
Park Funding Measures Will Boost Community Health, Help Tackle Climate Change
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee began its mark-up of a major outdoor recreation legislative package, which includes the Outdoors for All Act. If passed, the Outdoors for All Act would permanently authorize the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) program, which is the only program administered by the Department of the Interior to promote the development of equity-focused parks and green space projects in urban communities. The committee is expected to send the bill to the full House in the coming days.
Multiple studies show that nearby access to parks and green and natural spaces increases community health outcomes while boosting local economies and helping achieve the goal of protecting 30% of lands and waters by 2030 necessary to stop the most damaging effects of climate change.
In response, Jackie Ostfeld, director of Sierra Club’s Outdoors for All Campaign, released the following statement:
“Parks and green spaces make our communities more resilient. They offer clean air, provide shade to cool neighborhoods, and allow all people, regardless of age, race, or privilege, to make a direct connection with nature. As we face a national mental health crisis and the increasingly devastating effects of the climate crisis, the mental and physical health benefits of nature are more critical than ever. Passing the Outdoors for All Act will allow more communities across the country, especially in urban areas, to finally enjoy the benefits only these natural places can provide, while helping build up the green infrastructure we need to take on climate change.”
Lower Chilnualna Falls Photo by Richard Stover
By Debbie Bulger
One of my favorite Wawona-area hikes in Yosemite National Park is Chilnualna Falls. During a rest day between two snow tours, Richard Stover and I visited the lower falls. The longer hike to the upper falls is a full day affair which we have done in the past.
The lower part of the trail has a lot of rockwork. Photo by Richard Stover
The highlight for me is the careful rockwork including several “staircases in the sky” on the lower portion of the trail.
Mountain Quail have straight topknots instead of the comma-shaped ones of our local quail..
Photo by Richard Stover
A bonus on our way back was a covey of Mountain Quail with their straight topknots.
The south fork of Chilnualna Creek in winter. Photo by Richard Stover
The snow on the South Fork of Chilnualna Creek enhanced our festive mood.
We had fun practicing pronouncing the name of this lovely creek with its falls.
What IS 30 X 30 and Why?
By Vicky Hoover and Anne Henny
A global movement seeks to conserve 30 percent of lands and coastal waters by the year 2030—or “30 by 30”.
Biologists tell us we’re in a global crisis for biodiversity, as countless species of animals and plants could be extinct in 50 to 100 years—unless we drastically change our sprawling land use and protect far more wild habitat; probably at least “Half Earth” is needed as places where nature can dominate. Aiming for 30 percent over the next decade is seen as an achievable “stepping stone” toward an eventual 50 percent—called “Nature Needs Half”. The Sierra Club has joined the global Nature Needs Half initiative.
We need to preserve Nature so that Nature can preserve us – as, truly, Nature is our support system.
California became the first state to adopt “30 by 30” as official state policy, in an October 2020 Executive Order by Governor Gavin Newsom. And in January 2021, a week after his inauguration, President Biden gave a national 30 by 30 executive order—his program is dubbed “America the Beautiful.”
In addition to fighting species extinction, “30 by 30” directly addresses climate change: protecting natural lands enhances the carbon sequestration ability of lands and waters – whether unlogged forests, undisturbed desert soils, grasslands, or marine habitats.
Thus, 30 by 30 connects the fight for biodiversity and the fight to mitigate the climate crisis. Sierra Club volunteers and staff have long pushed both these goals, and now 30 by 30 embraces both and ties them together.
At present some 12 percent of the nation and about 22 percent of California (with more than average protected public lands) is considered “conserved”.
Carbajal Reintroduces Central Coast Heritage Protection A
Protects 250,000 acres of public land in Carrizo Plain National Monument and Los Padres National Forest from development
February 11, 2021
Santa Barbara, CA – Today, Rep. Salud Carbajal (CA-24) reintroduced the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act, which would designate nearly 250,000 acres of public land in the Los Padres National Forest and Carrizo Plain National Monument as wilderness. The wilderness designation is the highest form of federal protection and prohibits any development on these precious public lands. The bill also establishes a 400-mile long Condor National Recreation trail, stretching from Los Angeles to Monterey County.
The Central Coast Heritage Protection Act designates four new wilderness areas in the Carrizo Plain National Monument and expands nine existing wilderness areas in Los Padres National Forest. This would prevent new roads, vehicles, or permanent structures from being erected and prevents oil and gas drilling from taking place on any of these protected areas. The bill also designates Condor Ridge and Black Mountain as new scenic areas and designates the Condor Trail as a National Recreation Trail within the Los Padres National Forest.
The bill is supported by nearly 500 Central Coast landowners, businesses, elected officials, farmers, ranchers, civic leaders, wineries, recreationalists, and outfitters. The public lands this bill would protect is home to a wide array of plant and animal life and the bill will help to sustain the ecological future of 468 species of wildlife and more than 1,200 plant species.
Read full article here
Sierra Club Supports Conversion of the Moss Landing Power Plant
with a Clean Energy Battery Energy Storage System (BESS)
August 2, 2020
July 28, 2020
Chair Roberts and Commissioners
Monterey County Planning Commission
1441 Schilling Place
Salinas, California 93901
RE:SUPPORT -- Dynegy Moss Landing LLC (Vistra Energy Project)
Dear Chair Roberts and Members of the Planning Commission,
Sierra Club members and supporters have long opposed this damaging gas plant, and we strongly urge approval of the BESS (Battery Energy Storage System) so that we can finally retire Moss Landing in a timely manner, and replace it with clean, safe clean energy resources.
Currently, Moss Landing operates as a reliability-must-run ("RMR") facility: a designation by the State grid operator for energy facilities that are needed to keep the lights on, but would otherwise retire since they are no longer economic. The high costs of keeping this facility operating is currently being borne by ratepayers.
Moss Landing’s replacement with a BESS will reduce ratepayer costs by replacing it with clean energy resources that can provide the same, and more cost-effective, reliability services. Specifically, the BESS would be charged when California has more solar than we can use during the day, and use that electricity in peak times when electricity is most expensive. Along with eliminating the once-through-cooling ("OTC") practice at Moss Landing, using clean energy from batteries during peak times will reduce local air pollution, further integrate clean energy onto our grid, and decrease our reliance on expensive gas being fired up at peak times instead.
The BESS will also create good-paying union jobs through a project labor agreement, which will ensure these batteries are installed safely and appropriately by qualified workers. At a time when our communities and the clean energy workforce are being heavily impacted by COVID-19, these career opportunities will put people back to work and provide the strong local economic benefits we need right now.
This project is a win for ratepayers, workers, and the environment, and we urge its approval without delay. Any delay could put the project at risk, require the State to extend the life of Moss Landing for years, and dampen the momentum we need to build the clean energy we need to meet the State’s climate and air quality mandates.
Thank you for your work on moving this important project forward.
Luis Amezcua, Senior Campaign Representative
Rita Dalessio, Ventana Chapter Conservation Chair
Prevention of Zoonotic Pandemics: Ecologic Factors
by David Bezanson, Ph.D.
Many opportunities exist for us to decrease the probability of future novel viral infections. Our actions may improve environmental quality and the sustainability of our economy while decreasing the odds of lockdown , social isolation, and being terrorized by killer viruses.
Seventy five percent of novel infections in humans are zoonotic, i.e., from non-human species (1). Recent examples include avian flu, HIV, swine flu, SARS, and COVID-19. In addition to other pathogens, many thousands of viruses are carried by species with permissive immune systems. Species that are most likely to transmit viruses to humans are those that in frequent contact with us. This may be direct, e.g., via biting, or indirect, e.g., by infecting livestock. Rats and bats have adapted to living near humans and are common sources of zoonoses (2,3,4).
Numerous human activities increase risk of zoonotic infections.
travel, especially international (4)
overpopulation and high-density communities
habitat destruction, e.g., deforestation, development, and extractive industries (5,6,7)
replacement of complex old growth forests with monoculture tree plantations
combustion of woody biomass (e.g., for electricity)
hunting and fishing
raising livestock, especially in confined animal farming operations (8)
working in slaughterhouses and butcher shops
consumption of animal goods for shoes, clothing, edibles, furniture, etc.
organized animal fighting
wildlife markets - a.k.a. wet markets
deficient personal and public hygiene
The scale of the above activities has increased dramatically in the last half century. Globalization has elevated per capita consumption of services and goods, resource use, pollution, and environmental destruction. Global overpopulation exacerbates the magnitude and transmission potential of the above.
Climate change renders habitats uncongenial for many species. In search of cooler habitats, terrestrial and marine species in the northern hemisphere migrate toward the Arctic, carrying pathogens. As development and deforestation destroy more habitat, species live in closer proximity to urban areas and expose more humans to pathogens. In areas of decreasing animal biodiversity, the surviving species are more likely to harbor pathogens (9).
Sierra Club Conservation Policies provide a broad overview of most of the above factors (10). These interact to accelerate climate change, impair the biosphere, decrease clean natural resources, diminish biodiversity, and promote zoonoses (11).
Some forms of many of the above risk factors are illegal in many nations. Illegal deforestation is common in South America and Southeast Asia. This has increased during the current global recession (12).
Organized animal fighting is legal in many nations, but illegal in the USA. However, illegal fights are widespread in the USA (13).
Corporations shut down some of their slaughterhouses in the USA during the COVID-19 invasion. However, POTUS declared these to be an essential business, ordered their reopening, and declared that employers were exempt from liability should workers contract COVID-19. Reopening resulted in outbreaks of COVID-19 among laborers (14).
Illegal fishing and hunting is a problem in most nations, including the USA. This is intertwined with illegal wildlife trafficking. The USA is the second largest consumer of dead and alive wildlife trafficking goods.
Wildlife markets are legal in many nations including the USA. They are most prevalent in New York and California. In wet markets, customers order caged animals to be slaughtered on the spot (15). Many articles about these have photos. If you have a “strong stomach” take a glance. Goggles, masks, and gloves are not the norm. Federal legislation is being drafted to curb wet markets and wildlife trafficking in the USA and ban bills are being drafted in New York and California (16).
Many bills have been introduced in Congress during the past 18 months to preserve habitats, natural resources, and biodiversity. View these on www.congress.gov : H.Res.922, S.3759, HR.6043, S.Res.372/H.Res.835, HR.3742, HR.5435, HR.2795/S.1499, HR.2748, HR.6738, S.1081, S.1482, HR.2546, HR.4160, and HR.4341. Those that decrease habitat protection include HR.2105 and HR.5859. Many protective bills have been introduced in the California legislature, e.g., AB3030.
Many environmental organizations, including Sierra Club chapters, have advocated the development of high-density, micro-housing-dominant urban areas proximal to mass transit. These have many environmental benefits. However, they increase risk of transmission of infectious viruses.
Policies that increase opportunities for long-term remote digital work and learning can curb origination and transmission of zoonoses.
Individual Activism (17)
If enough of us boycott risk-escalating activities, services, and products; this will decrease the profits of illegal and legal habitat-destroying businesses. As they downsize or become extinct, this will curtail the extinction of species.
Purchasing stocks of companies in industries with high environmental impact, so that one may attend shareholder meetings and cast votes to make their operations more planet-friendly, has had little impact. Divestment is more effective. Check your portfolio of funds and stocks (18 - also see the Deforestation Free Funds section on that site).
Be aware of proposed legislation and municipal policies which affect the risk of zoonoses. Lobby your representatives. The foremost responsibility of government is to promote public health and safety. Environmentalists have a voter turnout rate that is lower than the general population (19). Evaluate candidates and vote for those who have the greenest platforms and track record.
Together, we can prevent the probability of future novel zoonotic infections.
Sierra Club Response to the Murder of George Floyd
A few folks have asked me about what Sierra Club's formal response to the murder of George Floyd has been. I've pasted below links to several documents shared by national that provide that response.
Sierra Club Statement on the Murder of George Floyd:
Mike Brune's Blog on "From Outrage to Justice":
Hop Hopkins' column about COVID and racism:: in America
A Washington Post Article about green groups' response to George Floyd's Murder:
A letter Sierra Club signed onto calling for congressional action on police violence:
Sierra Club California
Sierra Club California Supports the Establishment and Implementation of Bird-Safe Building Standards
A volunteer with NYC Audubon's Project Safe Flight holds a dead female Common Yellowthroat in front of the Time Warner Center in Manhattan. Photo: Francois Portmannion.
By Jane Mio, Ventana Chapter Delegate
On February 22nd, 2020 the California Sierra Club Conservation Committee took an important step to address the #2 reason for the North America bird population’s steep decline. The Resolution 'Support Bird-Safe Material and Design Features for California Building Standards' became the California Sierra Club's position thanks to the delegates' unanimous vote.
We all have heard and witnessed the heartbreaking occurrence of this #2 reason: birds colliding with window glass, which causes the annual death of approximately 1 Billion local and migratory birds in North America.
To prevent this deathly bird trap the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) published in 2015 the Bird-Safe Building Design (BSD) standards, which lays out various measures and guidelines necessary to protect birds from glass collisions such as reduction of excessive glass façades, description of providing birds with visual clues on glass surfaces and best exterior and interior lighting practices. The BSD Standards received nation wide promotion from Federal and State agencies, ABC, the Audubon Society and multiple well-respected ornithologists such as David A. Sibley. Consequently they have been integrated nationwide into Cities and Counties Planning Department building permits.
It is of utmost importance that the BSD Standards become part of the California building permit process, because the State is in the Pacific Migratory Flyway. A vast majority of the 386 Western Hemisphere (neo-tropical) migratory bird species depend on the California habitats for their survival due to the State's very rich, diverse mosaic of natural communities, which ranks first out of 50 States. The California building boom with its design trend of exceeding 50% of the buildings' glass façades is harmful for local and migratory birds. This is because many of the 175 important habitat sites are adjacent to cities and man-made infrastructure.
North America already lost approximately 3 Billion birds in the last 50 years; that is 1 in 4 birds, according to the recent Cornell Lab/American Bird Conservancy study. This is an urgent call that we protect our California 600 bird species, which is about two-thirds of all bird species in North America and that we demonstrate responsible stewardship of the Pacific Migratory Flyway. Applying the BSD Standards shows a positive human response to the biological fact: birds don't recognize man-made glass as their death trap.
Link for the entire report on 'Support Bird-Safe Material and Design Features for California Building Standards':
Make a contribution to the Sierra Club today - stop fracking in Monterey County!
Your local Sierra Club Chapter and Group needs financial support to carry on our fight to protect the spectacular coast, valleys, and mountains.
We cannot fight for endangered and at risk wildlife without money. We cannot save precious forests, mountains, watersheds, and open spaces without money.
We know that you care about the environment from your membership in the Club. Now we need your help.
Much of the work of the Club consists of non-glamorous, roll-up-your-sleeves labor. Volunteers study EIRs and make comments; activists get government staff reports and keep tabs on proposed developments and policy changes; sometimes the Club files suit.
Please help us continue to protect and preserve the Central Coast. To make a donation please send a check made out to ‘Sierra Club' to
Sierra Club Ventana Chapter, P O Box 5667, Carmel, CA 93921-5667
Contributions to the Sierra Club are not tax deductible. To send tax deductible contributions, which mainly support legal actions when they become necessary, make your check out to ‘Sierra Club Foundation' instead.