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Upcoming Events

28
Oct

A Fall Water Series focused on understanding the momentous water issues of our time.
First forum: The Water Bond (and what this means for the North State)

12
Dec

SAVE THE DATE!  BEC's annual holiday party for members, board, staff and interns will take place on Friday, December 12, 2014 from 5:00pm-7:00pm.

19
Sep

It's time to clean our beloved park and creeks again! Join us for the annual Bidwell Park and Chico Creeks Clean-Up.

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Newsletter Archive

BEC Protects

The Butte Environmental Council (BEC) is a non-profit environmental organization based in Chico, California. Our mission is to preserve and conserve the Earth’s natural resources, with particular attention to environmental issues in Northern California. BEC was formed in 1975 and throughout its 37 years, BEC has had a significant voice in shaping the environment and policies of Butte County and beyond.

BEC in the News

October 6, 2014

Highlights and Sticky Notes:It towers to the treetops, collapsing onto itself to create grassy caves. Dense and aggressive, it chokes out vegetation and clogs the waterways.
Arundo donax has plagued parts of Chico for years but its established concentration in Little Chico Creek has reached a crisis point, critics say.
Now, the city is partnering with the state Department of Water Resources and the geography department at Chico State University to do something about it, although tackling the invasive weed to the point of eradication will take years.The reasoning for its eradication is both environmental and also because of its immense fire danger. Walking through a stretch of Little Chico Creek this week, Chico State professor Mark Stemen ducked under the thick canopy and used caution as he walked on slick carpets of the snapped-off reed.He noted where homeless people have made sleeping spaces under Arundo canopies. Fire pits stand out charred and black in the middle of the caves.Councilor Randall Stone is also advocating for action and requesting the council take up the matter Tuesday.Susan Mason with the California Native Plant Society said it was never as bad in those locations as now in Little Chico Creek.On Saturday, Stemen and a group of students mapped 45 different locations, ranging from a single plant to a solid bank the length of a football field. In total, they identified 2,702 feet of stream infestation in Little Chico Creek.The city also hopes to address Arundo on its own parcels, making them models and educating plants on other landowners' property, perhaps with the help of Butte Environmental Council.Tags: BEC, chico, water, weed, creek, fire, arundoby: rdifalco

September 30, 2014

Highlights and Sticky Notes:Residents asked the city to remove 25 sycamores of different varieties, but considered a nuisance and safety hazard.Commissioner Mark Herrera asked the commission to use this situation as a stand to call for an urban forester to be hired by the city. His motion called for no further discussion of tree-related items until an urban forester was on staff. It has been over a year since the city had an urban forester.While Herrera's motion failed, it prompted the Park Commission's discussion about how important the urban forester is to the city, tree-related permits and what's happening to Chico's urban forest.
To punctuate his stance, Herrera left the council chambers at that point. Before leaving, he apologized to the applying residents for delaying their matter, but stressed the urban forest's significance to the community. The discussion also prompted Mark Stemen, chair of the city's Sustainability Task Force, to again criticize the Park Commission for failing to move forward on the Urban Forest Management Plan, which he said is basically done, but needs the commission's stamp of approval. He said this discussion might not have happened if the plan had been in place.
Tags: BEC, chico, treesby: rdifalco

September 23, 2014

Highlights and Sticky Notes:CHICO >> Four liquid amber trees removed from the parking lot of the Rite-Aid on Mangrove Avenue must be replaced with new trees, and shouldn't have been removed without an approved replanting program, a city official said TuesdayAfter some discussion about what trees were in the public right of way and private property, the city said the city's trees could not be and were not removed, but those on private property were.Mark Stemen, a board member with the Butte Environmental Council, was happy to hear trees would be replanted but said they cannot make up for the established trees that were lost.
"Once again this is the trouble you get when you don't have the urban forester position filled," he said. "Four individuals were massacred because of short staffing ... It's not just cops, cops, cops. We have holes in our city staff around the issue of the environment."Tags: BEC, chico, treeby: rdifalco

BEC News Interests

October 22, 2014

Highlights and Sticky Notes:Councilors also voted unanimously to support the development of a plan to abate the growth of arundo donax, an invasive weed, in Little Chico Creek. When prompted to take action on a citizens' request to require the posting of salary, wage and benefit information for each employee, on the city's website, city staff told them such a database has been created and is now available from the city's homepage, only it has employee identification numbers instead of names.Tags: chico, water, Little Chico Creek, arundo, watershedby: rdifalco

October 20, 2014

Highlights and Sticky Notes:Regulation only works if regulators are strong
My appreciation to Enterprise-Record for printing "Regulator sought donation from California utility" on Oct. and "California utility faces penalty in judge-shopping" on Oct. 8.
The campaign to protect Butte County's water — by banning fracking and similar activities, including dumping of toxic fracking wastewater, in Butte County — has been countered by oil/gas industry claims that these activities in California are already strictly regulated by California law.
Regulation is law that is enforced. These articles expose "too-cozy" relationships that exist between the regulators and the regulated. Similar reports have been published all over this county, as well as abroad. A "revolving-door" system often places industry-connected individuals in the government agencies that regulate those industries, and guarantees lucrative industry employment to "regulators" whose actions are favorable to the industries.Butte County is still mostly rural/agricultural — we are still in touch with our air, our soil, our water. We know some things about planting and cultivating and tending and harvesting, and we don't mind getting our hands dirty now and then. And we know better than to trust the foxes to guard our henhouses.
— Chuck Greenwood, BangorTags: fracking, water, Butte Countyby: rdifalco

October 8, 2014

Highlights and Sticky Notes:CHICO >> A storm drain may be sending toxic graywater into Little Chico Creek, a group of Chico State students discovered over the weekend.While walking a stretch of the creek bed from Highway 99 to Pomona Avenue on Saturday, students stumbled on what appeared to be a stretch of sewage settled in a low section of the otherwise bone-dry creek bed. Fed by a steady grey trickle from a city storm drain pipe just south of Normal Avenue and Ninth Street, the water collects into a large scummy mass.With dark scum floating on the top, the brackish water appears to be two feet at its deepest, estimated Mark Stemen, the Chico State professor accompanying the group. While students looking for invasive weeds were worried about waste they might find related to homeless encampments, nothing prepared them for having to navigate the pool, which stretched 60 feet from bank to bank.
Tags: no_tagby: rdifalco

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