October 1, 2020

California Bans Anticoagulant Rodenticides

Governor Newsom has signed AB1788, a bill banning the use of certain poisonous chemicals used to control rat populations. These anti-coagulant rodenticides have been proven to move up the food chain, with fatal consequences for predators. The bill prohibits the use of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs) in California, which currently affect wildlife such as mountain lions, bobcats and owls throughout the state.

“Mountain lions and wildlife in California face so many challenges. Our freeways are such deadly barriers, the LA cougars are inbreeding themselves out of existence, which is why we are building a wildlife crossing across the 101. But we also need to fix this poison problem to ensure a future for these cats,” said Beth Pratt, California regional executive director at the National Wildlife Federation who gave remarks at the signing. “The National Park Service has been studying cougars in the LA area for almost 20 years and in this small population, six cats have been already been killed by rodenticides — and it’s a horrible, cruel death for these magnificent animals .”

“Rodenticides are deadly for California’s mountain lions and other precious wildlife across the state,” said Governor Newsom in a statement. “My father was a naturalist and a strong advocate for the preservation of mountain lions, and I grew up loving these cats and caring about their well-being. He would be proud to know that California is taking action to protect mountain lion populations and other wildlife from the toxic effects of rodenticides.” 

The bill is particularly important for mountain lions like P-22, the famous mountain lion who lives within Los Angeles' Griffith Park and almost died from rodenticide exposure, and whose image appears on the bill. Previous studies by the state found the chemical in 70 percent to 90 percent of all tested wildlife, potentially causing hemorrhaging and death in the animals. Conservation groups previously warned that use of these chemicals could cause enormous die-offs or even extinction of wildlife species in California, the most biodiverse state in the country. The ban is also a public health victory, as estimates show that 15,000 children are exposed to rodenticide

September 6, 2020

Clean Power Alliance (CPA) to become Debt Free, will Provide Incentives for EV Chargers

In 2017, Los Angeles County loaned the Clean Power Alliance (CPA) $10M to launch its very first operations. Today, CPA serves more than 1 million customers across Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, including over 7,500 residences and 1,500 businesses in Agoura Hills.  CPA provides cleaner power at competitive rates, and a suite of customer programs. This month, CPA will be repaying that $10M loan and be debt-free. It’s an impressive return on investment on many levels and will be an asset to our communities for years to come.
Clean Power Alliance signs on for 60-MW solar, 152-MWh storage project in  California | News Break
This week CPA entered into contracts for two new, long-term solar and storage projects—a 300 MW solar project with 180 MW of storage in Tulare County and a 65 MW solar project with 25 MW of storage in Kern County. Together, the projects will cover approximately 8.5% of CPA’s overall demand. The 15-year contracts will help CPA meet its customers’ large renewable energy demand while lowering costs and creating over 1,000 new construction jobs. These two projects join the ten long-term renewable energy contracts that CPA’s Board has approved to date. Both projects are expected to be up and running by the end of 2023.
California has set a 100% renewable energy goal by 2045.

In other news, through the efforts of CPA, millions of dollars in incentives for publicly-available EV chargers will be coming in 2021 through the CalEVIP program, with particular set-asides for disadvantaged communities. This program will help clean our air and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Clean Power Alliance  is the largest of several Community Choice Aggregates in California and gives residents a cleaner, greener and cheaper choice of where their electricity comes from and the ability to move away from big investor-owned utilities to more sustainable options.  CPA is the locally-run electricity provider for Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. 

September 2, 2020

A "Summer of Kittens"

Five Mountain Lion Dens Found in a Three-Month Period

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif.— It’s been one mountain lion kitten den after another this summer for National Park Service biologists in the Santa Monica Mountains and Simi Hills. In total, 13 kittens were born to five mountain lion mothers between May and August 2020. For photos and video, click HERE

This is the first time this many mountain lion dens have been found within such a short period of time during the 18-year study, in which a total of 21 litters of kittens have been marked at the den site by researchers. Previously, the highest number of dens found in one year was four (across 10 months in 2015). Three additional litters have been found when the kittens were older (at least six months old) and had already left the den site. 

“This level of reproduction is a great thing to see, especially since half of our mountains burned almost two years ago during the Woolsey Fire,” said Jeff Sikich, a wildlife biologist who has been studying the mountain lion population at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. “It will be interesting to see how these kittens use the landscape in the coming years and navigate the many challenges, both natural and human-caused, they will face as they grow older and disperse.”

Each visit to a den occurs while the mother is away hunting for food, feeding, or just resting. A biologist will track her movements via telemetry, while colleagues approach the den area. Once the den is found, the researchers will conduct the workup on the kittens a short distance away from the den. This typically takes less than an hour.

The biologists perform a general health check, determine the sex of each kitten, take various body measurements, including weight, obtain biological samples, and place one uniquely numbered and colored ear tag in each of the kittens. This tag helps to identify them in the future with remote cameras and when recaptured for the placement of a radio-collar. The kittens are all returned to the den before their mother comes back.

August 26, 2020

Wildlife Conservation Board Provides $5 Million Grant to Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing

In reaching their decision, the WCB followed their staff recommendation, shown below.

A Biodiversity Hotspot

"The Santa Monica Mountains is one of the largest and most significant examples of Mediterranean-type ecosystems in the world. The mountains are located in one of just 35 'biodiversity hotspots' worldwide, and the only one in the continental United States. Currently, it is home to over 1,000 plant species in 26 distinct natural communities. These communities provide habitat for nearly 400 species of birds, 35 species of reptiles and amphibians, and numerous mammal species that include bobcats, coyotes, and mountain lions. The Santa Monica Mountains is also home to more than 50 threatened or endangered plants and animals, which is among the highest concentrations of such listed species in the United States.


The Los Angeles freeway system, most critically, US 101 transiting through the Santa Monica Mountains, acts as a significant barrier to genetic movement for mountain lions and all wildlife. Re-connecting the entire region is of significant ecological importance. Along with providing connectivity that will help ensure the sustainability of

the overall biodiversity of the region, the most prominent and time-sensitive threat this project addresses is the likely extinction of the local mountain lion population in the Santa Monica Mountains. The permanent loss of the southern California mountain lion would be devastating for conservation, but more importantly for the entire ecosystem because, as apex predators, they play a key role in the health of the landscape."

Liberty Canyon is "Ideal Location"


 "The Liberty Canyon area, near the city of Agoura Hills, has been identified as the ideal location for a wildlife crossing over US 101. Prime habitat, contiguous with large swaths of protected habitat north and south of this connection, has already been protected on both sides of the freeway. Connecting these areas would give mountain lions and numerous other species living in these highly fragmented habitats the room they need to roam, mate, and thrive.Decades of local, regional, and statewide scientific study, research projects, and planning have informed the purpose and need for the wildlife crossing at Liberty Canyon. These efforts determined that building a wildlife crossing over the ten lanes of freeway and an access road is the optimal solution to connecting habitat north and south of the freeway. The crossing design has been developed through conceptual design and environmental document phases. It proposes a multi-option crossing zone that leverages the underpass wildlife connectivity restoration funded by a prior WCB grant immediately to the east of the proposed crossing site."

Riparian Restoration is Included


 "To complement the overpass, Liberty Canyon riparian areas that were channelized by a large dirt fill area placed when the freeway was built will be restored, with the fill being used to create the southern approach landscape. The new topography will allow the riparian corridor to be restored and expanded to the west, directing wildlife passage toward the overpass landscape. The crossing topography will restore the “nose” of the mountain previously lost to the freeway, effectively restoring a portion of the mountain that was removed. The wildlife crossing will connect native chaparral and coastal sage scrub habitat to the north and south of US 101 by providing restored habitats, without impacting existing riparian areas on the south of the freeway. In addition, the fill from a former development pad will be relocated to restore the former natural mountain slopes over the freeway, allowing a channelized stream to be restored to natural sinuosity within the restored riparian woodland. The remainder of the new topography will be restored as coastal sage scrub and oak savannah habitats, including new habitat that will be constructed over the wildlife bridge itself."

NWF  to Manage the Wildlife Crossing

 "The National Wildlife Federation (NWF), in conjunction with Caltrans,has adopted a Management Plan that guides management actions for the property, including management of the property. If at any time during the 25-year life of the project, NWF does not manage and maintain the project improvements, the Grant Agreement requires that it refund to the State of California an amortized amount of funds based on the number of years left on the project life."

June 19, 2020

Water District to Expand Solar Facility

Las Virgenes Municipal Water District is currently expanding the capacity of its existing solar generation facility off Las Virgenes Road, south of the Calabasas Bark Park, from 1.0 to 5.0 megawatts. The project is being constructed through a public-private partnership and will save the District’s ratepayers over $10 million in energy costs over the project’s lifespan. Upon completion, the project will contribute to the District’s existing renewable energy portfolio, which includes a digester gas to energy facility, to entirely offset the energy demands of treating the region’s wastewater at the Tapia Water Reclamation Facility.

Another benefit this brings our area is more resilience during power shut offs, wildfires and high winds, especially when storage is added to keep the solar energy operating 24-7. Having access to water supply and treatment even when we don’t have power is a smart investment. The City of Thousand Oaks has had their wastewater plant operating on solar energy for several years. They are off the grid. Ideally, our schools and public buildings would be able to do the same. Keeping the lights on, air conditioning during heat waves or smoke filled skies, access to communication, places for people to recharge their cars and their iPhones, etc would bring resilience and support for all ages when the power goes off.