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Upcoming Events


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)


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.


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 23, 2014

Highlights and Sticky Notes:An Oroville group concerned about area ground contamination has made new strides in a bid to test soil around the city for cancer-causing dioxin.

The Oroville Dioxin Education Committee (ODEC), whose goal is to “educate and prepare community members, to raise awareness, and to lead the effort to safeguard our community against dioxin,” recently received $3,000 in grants from The Rose Foundation, an Oakland-based organization concerned with environmental health issues.Don Rust, Oroville planning and development services director, said he has met with representatives from the Butte Environmental Council—which formed ODEC last year—to talk about the grants, but warned they may not meet ODEC’s needs.

“It can’t go to dioxin testing,” he said. “It goes to brownfield assessment. Basically this is for people to volunteer to help clear their properties so they can be developed.”Mark Stemen, a Chico State professor and president of the BEC board of directors, offered an analogy comparing the EPA grants with those from the Rose Foundation.

“BEC’s grant allows them to look for the needle in the haystack,” he said. “Oroville’s grant helps them build a new barn for the haystack.”Still, he said, the two projects are “compatible and complementary,” and that BEC has received letters of support from both the Butte County Public Health Department and Supervisor Bill Connelly.Tags: BEC, Oroville, Dioxin, toxicityby: rdifalco

October 23, 2014

Highlights and Sticky Notes:Best cleansing of the creeks

BEC’s Big Chico Creek Cleanup

The sheer amount of garbage pulled out of Chico’s waterways during the cleanup on Sept. 20 was mind-boggling (nearly 20 tons!), and we’re thankful an organization like the Butte Environmental Council was around to organize it. We’re also thankful that so many community members (nearly 450!) volunteered to help the cause. The effort has never been more important, because our creeks were more littered with trash than ever before. (This year’s haul almost doubled the previous record.) And trash littering the banks of our creeks is more than gross and unattractive; our refuse floats downstream, harming aquatic habitats in the Sacramento River and eventually the Pacific Ocean. So, cheers to BEC and the volunteers who diverted that stuff to the landfill. The community and its waterways are much better for it.Tags: BEC, chico, water, Bidwell Park, creeks, trash, recycling, volunteersby: rdifalco

October 23, 2014

Highlights and Sticky Notes:There's a plan for water transfers could move up to 511,000 acre-feet of water each year for the next 10 years from the Sacramento Valley to the San Joaquin Valley and the Bay Area.The Bureau of Reclamation received a very clear message Tuesday night that people in the Sacramento Valley don't like that.More than 100 people attended Tuesday's meeting in Chico.The document says that maximum would be allowed in dry and critically dry years, and up to 360,000 acre-feet during other years through 2024.One of the alternatives in the plan is to not farm land in Northern California. "How about some crop idling in the area of (water) demand," Vlamis said.Recent rules by the State Water Resources Control Board require local groups to create sustainable water budgets by 2022. Robyn DiFalco, director of the Butte Environmental Council ( said it "seems clear the San Joaquin Valley proposes to balance their water budget with Sacramento Valley water."Tags: BEC, water, california, Bureau of Reclamation, transfer, sacramento riverby: 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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