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Kids Can Make A Difference For Endangered Rivers

News from American Rivers - Sat, 04/12/2014 - 4:00am

How can kids make a difference for our endangered rivers? | press4kids

Last week, we released our annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® report. My favorite interview was with press4kids, a daily news app for kids and schools.

I was happy to get the call because I love any chance to get children excited about rivers and nature. Not only do our kids need more connection with nature (as Richard Louv with Children and Nature Network so eloquently writes), they need to know that their voices make a difference and that there is hope for the places we care about.

So how can kids help America’s Most Endangered Rivers?

  1. Kids can write to their members of Congress

    You can take action on one of the ten Most Endangered Rivers here. But our elected officials also need to hear about the importance of whatever river flows through your town. It matters, whether it’s a small stream or a big river. Kids, share your stories and speak from the heart about why protecting and restoring your river is important.

  2. Kids can organize a river cleanup

    We’ve all seen the plastic bags and fast food wrappers tangled in the brush along a stream bank. Kids can organize river cleanups with their friends, family, school, faith, and community groups to pick up trash and beautify the stretch of river in their town. It’s a great way to build community pride.

  3. Kids can have adventures!

    This is the most important one – get out there and enjoy your river! Everyone from The Atlantic to our local Trackers camp is talking about the importance of giving kids freedom to roam and play outside.

Spending time in nature has scores of benefits for kids and families – outdoor play is linked to better grades, better health and behavior, less obesity, and happier kids.

Plus, if we don’t have a whole army of kids, millions of them, falling in love with rivers and wild places then we’re all going to be in bad shape. Because these kids will someday be adults, making decisions and voting, and you need to love something in order to fight for it.

As parents, we don’t need to travel great distances or spend a lot of money on a big trip or a lot of gear. We just need to step outside and see what our neighborhood has to offer. Maybe it’s a cool old tree. Maybe it’s a wild overgrown alley. Maybe it’s worms in the dirt or hunting rainbows after a storm.

Giving kids a love of the outdoors now is essential if we want healthy rivers in the future. So get out there and have fun!

30 Days of Biking, Day 11: Home

If you’ve ever returned to a childhood home after years away, you remember how things shrank. Homes, schools, parks, neighborhoods, distances. The formerly gigantic fence you dreamed of climbing over to escape for an adventure hits you about shoulder height. The trees may be taller (or gone entirely), but other things are smaller.

That sense of things being smaller than I remembered didn’t hit during today’s ride through a tiny bit of my old stomping/commuting grounds in Spokane, though, roughly 19 months after moving to Seattle.

What’s gotten bigger? The bike connections, that’s what.

What with set-up for the Spokane Bike Swap that runs Saturday and Sunday I didn’t have time to check out every new connection I want to ride. The new Spokane River Centennial Trail connection through Kendall Yards is still on my list but I’ll ride that Sunday with Belles and Baskets.

I rode just a tiny bit of what used to be an everyday route from WSU Spokane at the Riverpoint Campus on the Spokane River up the South Hill.

When I turned south up Sherman Avenue, which takes me over the freeway between Sprague and 5th, lo and behold: new bike lanes! They complete a connection with the bike lanes installed on Sherman and Southeast Boulevard farther up; the city finished those not longer after we moved to that neighborhood and our whole family rode in a celebration with the mayor and neighbors.

Bike lanes do still come to an end (and sidewalks could use some work in places) but the connections are growing.

For 6 years I rode to work on a bike lane that came to a stop sign preceded by “BIKE LANE ENDS” signage. Note that bicycling does not end at this point — just the lane.

Now that lane continues. It connects with an east/west lane running along 5th — a low-traffic street and a connector paralleling the south edge of the freeway.

My usual route home lay up the hill, but I rode 5th regularly to reach the South Perry Farmers’ Market before going home. To catch up with my sweetheart for a date at South Perry Pizza. To shop at Title Nine and Two Wheel Transit. Or, as today, to stop at The Shop for some good locally roasted coffee.

Spokane’s network isn’t complete by a long shot. No city or town today can claim a complete network clearly designed and signed for people on bikes to get where they’re going as an accepted element in traffic.

But riding on that new bike lane I felt as if my home had gotten bigger, not smaller, while I was away. Keep rolling, Spokane.




Related Reading

Your Turn

  • Have you gone back to bike somewhere you used to ride regularly? What did you notice most?


The post 30 Days of Biking, Day 11: Home appeared first on Washington Bikes.

Finding Wetlands in a Drought

News from American Rivers - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 10:00am

Today’s guest blog about the #1 San Joaquin River- a part of our America’s Most Endangered Rivers® series- is from Alison Jones. Alison is the Director of No Water No Life® and a professional photographer. Today Alison tells us about experiencing the magnificent wetlands that are fed by the river.

Tell the California Water Resources Control Board to stand up for healthy flows on the San Joaquin River | © Alison Jones

The phone rang. That snowy Saturday I was editing photos of Ethiopia’s Omo River. “Alison, you must cover California’s drought for No Water No Life®. It’s beyond regional. U.S. and Asian markets depend on that produce.” I envisioned photographs of a three-year drought: monotones of white salt on sand. 

Within 24 hours however, I connected California’s plight with our project’s case-study watersheds. Management solutions for California could help other watersheds. So, escaping an unusually wet East Coast winter, I packed cameras and sunglasses to document an arid valley 3,000 miles away. I didn’t expect to enjoy it.

On the plane, I read The Mountains of California written by John Muir 120 years ago. “Every glacier in the world is smaller than it once was. All the world is growing warmer…” What would he say today? Surface area of Sierra Nevada glaciers is 55% less, and development still increases along rivers below. Rivers? Oh, actually, the Central Valley now has fewer rivers and more canals.

Then unexpectedly, with expedition advice from American Rivers, my story grew beyond the desolation of drought to include hope. Droughts come and go in California. They may get worse. But there are mitigating solutions. Restoration of streams, riparian zones, and wetlands matters as much as reduced water consumption.

As American Pelicans paddled through Mendota Pool, I read that wetlands hold 10 to 1,000 times the living matter in nearby dry land. At dusk, a Great-horned Owl hunted above as I framed reflections in San Luis National Wildlife Refuge. What a relief from miles of empty concrete canals! I thanked the sedge grasses rubbing my ankles for absorbing pollutants from nearby crop fields, hog farms, and dairy-cattle pens.

An insect hatch sounded like rain on my windshield. I wished for higher levees to better view Pacific Flyway waterfowl in the bottomlands. Someday I hope to see Aleutian Crackling Geese and tule elk now protected in San Joaquin National Wildlife Refuge.

In 2006, Jared Diamond, Paul Ehrlich, Sandra Postel, Peter Raven, and Edward O. Wilson et al. told the Supreme Court [PDF], “More than a source of water and fish, the nation’s rivers, lakes, and wetlands store flood waters and reduce economic devastation due to flooding. They recharge groundwater, filter pollutants, and purify drinking water. And they provide the habitats that sustain a diversity of species, which themselves perform important ecological functions.” 

Despite such support, more than 90% of California’s historic riparian and wetlands habitats are gone [PDF]. Today, the San Joaquin’s riparian habitat is scant. But these traces of willows, shrubs, and grasses support the highest diversity of wildlife in the Central Valley. Wood ducks, river otters, warblers, eagles, spawning salmon, and formerly California bear follow these wooded highways for safety, food, and spawning.

The drought brought me here. I saw trickles lead to less water, not more. Nature seems turned inside out. Yet American Rivers, other stewards, scientists, stakeholders, and policymakers are working together to address needs of natural and human communities. Just as John Muir wrote in 1885 about accumulating snowflakes in the Sierra, grassroots efforts can affect policy— “Come, we are feeble; let us help one another. We are many, and together we will be strong. Marching in close, deep ranks, let us … set the landscapes free.”

Please help save the San Joaquin River and its tributaries by sending a letter to the California Water Resources Control Board asking them to take a stand to support healthy flows in the San Joaquin River and maintain a sustainable future water supply for the benefit of local communities, farmers, and salmon!

Finding the Flow in the San Joaquin Basin

News from American Rivers - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 4:00am

Today’s guest blog about the #1 San Joaquin River and its tributaries (including the Tuolumne River)— a part of our America’s Most Endangered Rivers® series— is from Cindy Charles. Cindy is a fly fisher and the long time Conservation Chair of the Golden West Women Flyfishers and has been past Vice President of Conservation for the Northern California Council Federation of Fly Fishers. She was the first woman to have received the National Federation of Fly Fishers Conservation Award in 2007. Cindy grew up and resides in San Francisco and also spends weekends at her cabin outside of Groveland from where she regularly fishes on the Tuolumne and Merced Rivers, both tributaries of the San Joaquin River.

Tell the California Water Resources Control Board to take a stand to support healthy flows in the San Joaquin River | © Cindy Charles

The Tuolumne River is my special river— it was the river where I caught my first trout at Camp Mather as a kid on the Middle Fork, and where I caught my first trout on a fly as an adult. I have been lucky to explore and fish many, many of its wonderfully scenic spots and have had some of the best days of my life on this water. The Tuolumne River was instrumental in why I have spent my time working for its restoration as well as for conservation efforts for a wide range of rivers and creeks throughout California.

While I have fished the Tuolumne River from top to bottom, it is the lower Tuolumne which is so often overlooked, yet can be remarkably evocative of what California used to be. This section of river is below the Don Pedro and La Grange dams and runs to the confluence with the San Joaquin River. Sadly, this section of river is lacking in at least half its natural flow, given that water at this point has been diverted for use by the Turlock and Modesto Irrigation Districts for major agricultural use in the Central Valley as well as by the City of San Francisco and its water customers.

But the first time I floated this section in a canoe to fish, it was after the 1997 flood when water came over the Don Pedro dam spillway. Several high water years followed, when the dam releases allowed for higher water flows even during the very hot Central Valley summers. In those years of plentiful water, the fishing was AMAZING.

I floated down the river from Basso Bridge to the Turlock Campground many times, and there were plenty of strong, large, feisty, colorful wild rainbow trout to catch. It was truly a hidden and somewhat secret fishing spot, yet literally not far from downtown Modesto or even the Bay Area, thereby being very accessible. There were fish in every fishy looking spot. My friend and I caught and released many trophy-sized trout, and I marveled at how the fish were definitely on par with the more famous blue ribbon trout streams of California. In addition to the fish, it was wonderful to float down the river corridor— a piece of remnant California riparian habitat sandwiched in-between orchards, dairy farms, and other development— and see vibrant birdlife, beavers, and old trees.

When the drier years came, and since the flows in that part of the Tuolumne are governed by an arbitrary flow schedule that is not adequate to sustain trout over the hot summers, the trout numbers fell off year after year. I actually have not had a great fishing day on the lower Tuolumne in some years. The fish are barely there anymore and I miss them a lot.

Yet, it is clear to me that given adequate flows, the fish— including wild trout, Central Valley steelhead, and fall-run Chinook salmon— can recover and thrive once again. More water equals more fish, and I hold on to the hope that we can make the much needed flow changes sooner rather than later to give the fish a chance to come back in numbers. A fishless river is a tragedy.

Please help save the San Joaquin River and its tributaries by sending a letter to the California Water Resources Control Board asking them to take a stand to support healthy flows in the San Joaquin River and maintain a sustainable future water supply for the benefit of local communities, farmers, and salmon.

Connecticut Senate Moves Forward on GE Grass Ban

News from Beyond Pesticides - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 9:01pm
(Beyond Pesticides, April 11, 2014) Connecticut State Senate bill no.443, an act that bans the sale of genetically engineered (GE) grass seeds, passed the state Senate on Wednesday by a vote of 25-11. The bill shows Connecticut legislators are taking seriously the risks that increased pesticide use in residential areas pose to the health of […]

30 Days of Biking, Day 10: Snohomish

Whitehorse Trail in Arlington, WA–I need to borrow a mountain bike for this one but I’ll get there.

I’m hatching plans to go ride my bike in Snohomish County. It’s important.

First, the back story. The Centennial Trail has been on my list for a while. In more ways than one, you might say: Once upon a time my advocacy efforts were dedicated to the North Idaho Centennial Trail Committee, back when I lived in Post Falls, as a companion and connection to the Spokane River Centennial Trail in Spokane County.

So I rode the North Idaho Centennial Trail, then the Spokane side.

Then I moved to western Washington and discovered the existence of yet another one: the Centennial Trail in Snohomish County.

It’s been on my list for quite a while because of the many recommendations I’ve heard. And then the terrible mudslide hit along Highway 530. Both yesterday and today increased my determination to get my bike up to Snohomish and ride.

Yesterday morning at the first meeting of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation, Gov. Jay Inslee opened by asking us, in addition to the charge laid before the task force, to consider how we might give special attention to Snohomish County. It offers tremendous recreational opportunities and tourism is the third largest sector of the local economy.

This morning in the Transportation Policy Board meeting at Puget Sound Regional Council, we considered a proposal to direct federal funds to Snohomish County. Snohomish County Council members Ken Klein and Terry Ryan and Arlington City Council member Debora Nelson all spoke movingly about the way Arlington, Oso, and Darrington are working together in the finest tradition of American community spirit to recover.

I shared the governor’s remarks along with our efforts at Washington Bikes to share information with bike travelers looking for great places to ride. I pledged our commitment to highlight Snohomish County as a destination, said I’m planning bike trips there, and asked everyone in the room to consider a trip to Snohomish County to spend money in the local economy as an immediate way of helping them recover.

I invite you to join me in planning your own trip to Snohomish County and then sharing your riding experiences with us. We’ll feature your pictures, video, blog post, maps, reviews of restaurants and places to stay–anything you can do to help attract others.

If you’d like to participate, either by telling us about your ride or by receiving updates from us when we have bike travel information to share, fill out the contact information below. You’ll be making a difference for Snohomish County, and thus for all of Washington.

Your Turn

  • If you’ve already ridden in Snohomish County, give us your recommendations in the comments below.
  • If you haven’t, will you start planning a trip now?

And now, please fill out the form. We’ll make sure you hear from us about bicycling in Snohomish County.


The post 30 Days of Biking, Day 10: Snohomish appeared first on Washington Bikes.

State Poster Contest Winners and Vote for the National Winner

News from the Bicycle Alliance of Washington - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 11:55am

Thank you to everyone around the state who participated in the 2014 Washington State 5th Grade Bicycle Poster Contest! Over 100 students participated creating beautiful and inspiring posters. We are pleased to present the state poster contest winners.

The 2014 Washington State 5th Grade Bicycle Poster Winner is Ashley Vaile from Tukes Valley Middle School in Battle Ground, WA.

Her parents described her thorough process of thinking through and practicing the facial expression, the type of trees to ride through, and the feel to convey the “simple pleasures of a bike ride.” For all her hard work and delightful illustration, Ashley wins a bike, light, helmet, LED reflective strap, membership to Washington Bikes, and her poster will be featured on a set of notecards produced by Washington Bikes.

Ashley’s poster now is entered into the national contest! Between April 10th and 15th, anyone can vote on Saris Cycling Racks’ Facebook page for the national winner. If Ashley wins, her and a parent get to go to the National Bike Summit in Washington, DC in 2015 and Battle Ground wins a bicycle rack and HUB encouragement system from Saris.

2nd Place for Washington State goes to Gianna Waleske of Ft. Colville Elementary in Colville, WA.


3rd Place for Washington State goes to Jon Daracunas of Dry Creek Elementary in Port Angeles, WA.


See the other school winners, winners from past years, and read about the contest on our Poster Contest Page. You can also come by our Seattle office before the end May to see all the posters submitted to Washington Bikes. You will be able to vote on your favorite posters before May 16th for the People’s Choice Award. We will also be producing specialty note card sets of these creative posters for our store so you can share the inspiration with your friends.


The post State Poster Contest Winners and Vote for the National Winner appeared first on Washington Bikes.

30 Days of Biking rekindles a love for biking

Penny Webb is a creative writer, Fund Development Director at Northwest Institute of Literary Arts, a contributing writer for Whidbey Life Magazine, and a former staff member of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington (now WAbikes). She lives on Whidbey Island with her son and daughter. A born-again cyclist, Penny is participating in 30 Days of Biking and has been regaling us with her tales. We share her first week with you: Day 1: Almost forgot. Daughter and I scrambled off the couch, then hauled the bikes down from the garage ceiling (ladder required), then couldn’t find the bike pump…twilight descending, tires pretty flat, we switched bikes–she rode the Schwinn beach bike and I rode her little Hard Rock, which had more air. Around the block, spring in our noses, then a view of the toenail moon in the azure sky. Gorgeous. Back home, bikes back inside. Found the bike pump.

Day 2: Tires inflated, spiders relocated. Roped in the boy, also. The whole fam-dam-ily blew down the neighborhood hill, sweet cut grass filling our lungs. Then, the return: Bad knees and a heavy one-speed are not a good match. Tomorrow, I break out The Jake.

Day 3: Rain break. Can’t find my helmet so cram my head into my daughter’s. Kids choose to stay in the bandroom/garage (aka “hanging bike studios”) and jam. I mount The Jake for its inaugural ride of 2014 and she fits like a glove. Unfortunately, my gloves are fingerless and I’m numb in minutes. Make it down to the highway and breeze back up the hill. Well, breeze might be an overstatement. But, yes, gears are a good thing. Note to self: find the winter gloves pronto.

Day 4: Gorgeous spring day, spent inside working. Work over, rain starts. Momentary sunbreak now….just enough time to take the Schwinn for a spin before we head over town for my bro’s big art show. So excited! ‪#‎aroundtheblockcounts‬.

Day 5: I keep missing the rain-free windows! Oh, well. The Jake has fenders for a reason. Will take a tootle in a few, then off to work. Keep up the good work, everyone!  Day 5 addendum: didn’t make it out before work, so Son and I took our bikes out at 10pm in the pitch dark and somehow navigated around the block. I swear I could barely see the road it is SO DARK tonight! Gotta love the Island.

Day 6: Son and I road the long block at twilight, thankfully. This time I could see the road!

Day 7: Hurt my back mowing the calf-high lawn. Damn. In celebration of the sunshine and the first day of spring vacation for my kids, I am drinking a Corona and taking ibuprofen. I know, I know: two wrongs don’t make a right. Will shoot for the twilight ride again tonight with my offspring.

Penny and a host of others are sharing their adventures on our 30 Days of Biking event page on Facebook. Join us in the fun and you can follow Penny’s rekindled joy for bicycling!

The post 30 Days of Biking rekindles a love for biking appeared first on Washington Bikes.

Pesticide Law Violations Uncovered in Oregon Timberland Spraying

News from Beyond Pesticides - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 5:17am
(Beyond Pesticides, April 10, 2014) – The results of an on-going investigation into allegations of improper pesticide spraying on timberland near residential areas in Southern Oregon confirmed what residents of the small towns had known since the day they were unwillingly sprayed with dangerous pesticides—the applications were illegal. Statements released on April 8, 2014, by […]

Still A Few Large Steelhead Left In The Merced River… But For How Long?

News from American Rivers - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 4:00am

Today’s guest blog about the #1 San Joaquin River and its tributaries (including the Merced River)— a part of our America’s Most Endangered Rivers® series— is from Michael Martin. Michael is a fly fisher currently serving as Director of the Merced River Conservation Committee. He has spent his career as a fisheries scientist working to protect California’s fish and wildlife resources, and is now an adjunct professor in China working on global pollution and fisheries problems. Michael lives near the Merced River and loves to fish.

Michael Martin fishing on the Lower Merced River, CA

The biggest rainbow trout I ever caught was on a cold March morning on the Merced River.

She was a monster: an 11 lb, 30 ½ inch steelhead trout. I was alone on the river, and it took me a good 20 minutes to land her, but what an incredible 20 minutes! It was in a great long run and pool on the river, so she could run 150 yards downstream and 100 yards upstream, and she did that a couple times. One and one half football field full bore without a pause.

The reel sizzled. WOW.

She was so big that she could easily have broken my leader. That’s the real art in fly fishing: you can’t pull them in too hard; you have to find level balance between fish and human. When I finally pulled her into the shallows, I peered at her in amazement and then released her to do what she had to do. Thank you, Ms. Fish; you made my day!

I love the Zen that exists between the fisher and fish. One sees lots of other predators on the river— river otters, bald eagles, osprey, cormorants, mergansers— all of them fishing. The whole ecosystem is whirling around you in full swing, and you go out and get in the middle of it. Many days you don’t catch a fish. But whether you do or you don’t, being absorbed in the ecosystem is more than satisfying; it speaks to our foundations as a part of the natural world.

It takes a special enthusiasm (and some might say craziness) to go out again and again. This is what makes me tick as a fly fisher. Each day on a river is always a different experience. Whether I catch anything or not, I relish the outdoor experience of being in wild nature: looking at the bugs, identifying the insect hatches, seeing “wild” wildlife, enjoying the fresh air, the snowstorms, breaking surface ice to fish, the rain, and, yes, even sunny, warm days.

Historically, the Merced was a mighty river. Dubbed the “River of Our Lady of Mercy” by the Spanish in 1806, it has been reduced to a small percentage of its historic flows because of diversion, damming, and mining, and as a result it contains a pitifully small percentage of the historic population of fishes. But even now, one can still find a lot of fish.

As a professional fishery scientist, my interest and passion is in providing agencies, NGOs, and interested citizens well thought out and balanced fisheries and environmental plans and actions that can result in recovering and restoring damaged anadromous fish populations in the San Joaquin River watershed.

I would like to see reasonable changes in how the San Joaquin River and its tributaries, including the Merced River, are managed to benefit anadromous fish, including fall chinook salmon, steelhead trout, and Pacific lamprey. The Public Trust Doctrine of California says to protect streams first for “instream” uses, and then divert water for other beneficial uses of water, including domestic supply and agriculture, when there is available or excess water.

I’ve been a fly fisherman for 60 years, and have fished all over the world. At home, I return to my home river, the Merced, always keeping in mind that rivers and associated habitats are essential to what it means to be human. I hope that most Americans share my interests and will help to keep our rivers and waterways protected for ourselves, our children, and future generations.

Please help save the San Joaquin River and its tributaries by sending a letter to the Senate asking them to take a stand to support healthy flows in the San Joaquin River and maintain a sustainable future water supply for the benefit of local communities, farmers, and salmon.

King County Prop 1: Why maintaining Metro bus service is a climate solution

News from Climate Solutions - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 11:39pm
On Earth Day—April 22—King County, WA voters should resoundingly pass Proposition 1 to keep Metro bus service at current levels, and send a strong message of support for our region’s environment, economy, and citizens.

30 Days of Biking, Day Nine: Outdoors

News from the Bicycle Alliance of Washington - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 10:00pm

Day Nine in the 30 Days of Biking, 30 Words, 30 Pictures series

A ticket to outdoor adventures: Some of the bike maps we have in our Pioneer Square store & bike travel information center.

A serious question for you: What do you think of when I say “outdoor recreation”?

Why I’m asking and why “outdoors” is today’s word: I started my multimodal day at 6:20 a.m. with a short bike ride to the bus stop in dawn’s early light, a fast trip on Sound Transit #522 to downtown, and a carpool trip in a hybrid to Olympia for the first meeting of Gov. Inslee’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation, which I’m honored to co-chair.

Given the purpose of the trip and the other person in the car–fellow task force member Marc Berejka of REI–we talked all the way down about the outdoors. In both that discussion and in some of the remarks you’ll hear from task force members and citizens in TVW’s video coverage of the meeting, the evolving nature of outdoor experiences came up.

Outdoor recreation has long been understood to include hiking, climbing, camping, hunting, fishing, skiing, kayaking, mountain biking — the list goes on and on. As we discussed today, in addition to — or for some, instead of — seeking out an experience in the great outdoors away from it all, many Washingtonians get an outdoor experience in an urban park or along a trail corridor. They’re playing bike polo. They’re inline skating. They’re walking along a creek in a small local green space listening to the frogs croak.

The task force gives me reason to ponder whether I think of much of my bicycling as being an outdoor experience. Goofy question, right? I’m not in a spin class, I’m outside.

And yet — and yet –

When I ride my bike to get somewhere it’s functional. It’s an act of utility. It’s transportation.

I negotiate traffic lights, I take the lane position that makes me most predictable and visible, I choose my route for some purpose and that purpose is often geared around efficiency. Shortest distance from point A to point B. Fewest climbs (I can dream). Quieter streets. More miles on separated facilities because I find them pleasant.

And yet — and yet –

When I’m riding my bike to get places I notice the way the light changes for the same time of day across the seasons. I cue into the weatherI smell flowers coming into bloom. I choose streets with more trees and green, growing things over bare concrete. I’ll go out of my way to ride along water whenever available. I’ll listen to frogs, spot birds, wonder what belonged to the bushy tail I just saw whisk across the sidewalk or the trail.

Today didn’t have a lot of riding in it, given the schedule. After I got back from Olympia I worked until after 7 p.m. trying to catch up, then rode on city streets to the bus stop at 4th and Jackson.

The 512 to Everett comes before my 522; I looked at its destination and thought about the bike trips I’m planning to take in and through Snohomish County. (Since I’m from Spokane I need to ride the “other” Centennial Trail — the one in Snohomish County — to go with my many trips along the Spokane River Centennial Trail.)

My bus rolled up, I racked my bike, and read my Kindle heading north.

But when I got off the bus, pulled my bike off the rack, and headed down Lake City Way to my neighborhood, I paid attention to the outdoor experience I was having.

I looked at the street trees. I smelled the air. I smiled at the families out enjoying the tiny little pocket park down the street from our house.

I ride by that park every day. I see the regulars getting in what my dad called a “daily constitutional” walking a certain number of times around the edge of the park on a little paved trail that can’t be more than a quarter of a mile long. I see twenty-somethings playing Frisbee or working up an informal game of touch football. Parents sit and watch their kids on the swings, or get up and push them.

On my bike I have it all, even if sometimes it’s only for a few blocks. I get my heart and lungs pumping, I immerse myself in the outdoor world instead of separating myself from it, I live more intensely and more joyfully. I’m outdoors.

Related Reading & Viewing

Your Turn

  • What are some of your most memorable outdoor experiences?
  • If you bike mostly “for utility” do you also think of the outdoor experience you’re having?
  • If you bike mostly away from it all for the outdoor experience, what does that give you that you carry into your everyday life?

The post 30 Days of Biking, Day Nine: Outdoors appeared first on Washington Bikes.

Interior Department Adopts a More Balanced Approach toward Land Management

News from NRDC - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 10:00pm
WASHINGTON (April 10, 2014) – The Interior Department today unveiled a new, more balanced approach toward managing our public lands, a policy shift that will give equal weight to the protection of our natural resources.

Building a more sustainable mousetrap: UW Environmental Innovation Challenge

News from Climate Solutions - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 2:35pm
At the University of Washington, competing teams of students sought novel solutions to seemingly intractable environmental problems, from reducing packaging waste, to finding new paths for recycling, to creating new renewable energy systems.

Years of Living Dangerously - Preview the first episode!

News from Climate Solutions - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 10:35am
Check out the first episode of this inspiring and visually stunning new documentary series. "Years of Living Dangerously" gives us the opportunity to change the way America talks about the climate crisis.

A Desert Runs Through It – A Photographer’s View

News from American Rivers - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 10:00am

Today’s guest blog about the #1 San Joaquin River- a part of our America’s Most Endangered Rivers® series- is from Alison Jones. Alison is the Director of No Water No Life® and a professional photographer. Today Alison tells us about the most impactful moment of her eight day expedition through the Central Valley of California.

© Alison Jones, No Water No Life

Tell the California Water Board to get serious about long-term solutions for the San Joaquin that supports all users and a healthy river.

On the seventh day of exploring impacts of drought in California’s Central Valley, I slipped down some loose rocks into a San Joaquin riverbed. Shadows of Mendota’s bridge on San Mateo Road were lengthening. The early-evening hush of the desert was overtaking the power of the sun’s heat. There was just enough light to photograph a snake-like bed of sand swallowing the San Joaquin River.

Sierra Nevada Mountain glaciers no longer melt into the basin of California’s long-lost Corcoran Lake of 750,000 years ago. That vast inland sea spilled into the Pacific half a million years ago, but it left a rich legacy. Over the last 10,000 years glacial melt, winter rains, and Sierra snow carved the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers and added further nutrients to one of the world’s most plentiful breadbaskets.

The San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers flowed freely until 1919 when human engineers began redesigning California into a sprawling network of levees, aqueducts, canals, pumps, dams, and reservoirs. Today, the Central Valley Project (1930) and State Water Project (1957) supplies water to 22 million Californians, irrigates 4 million acres, and provides hydro-electricity, flood control, and recreation. Built in 1941, Fresno’s Friant Dam irrigates over a million acres of farmland, but it leaves 60 miles of the San Joaquin River dry.

“Picture a river running through a desert. Now picture a desert running through a river.”

I read that concept two days earlier at the Delta Visitor Center. It was now in my camera’s viewfinder. Amidst a whine of mosquitoes, I considered this crippled river, nature’s persistence versus man’s ingenuity, and how one balances nature’s productivity with human productivity.

Sudden splashes from behind were an alert that I’d hiked out alone from a dirt road. But then I saw telltale stripes flashing and fish thrashing, framed by willow roots in shallow water. There were four or five – maybe even seven – each at least 18 inches long. Flipping over each other, they fled my shadow into the far end of their stagnant puddle, leaving me with only ripples to photograph. Striped bass, introduced to the California Delta in the 1800’s, are a saltwater species that seek freshwater for spawning.

Can they survive this three-year drought? It’s unlikely that there will be further significant rain this year, so human intervention would be needed. That’s not likely, given today’s unprecedented clamoring for water by municipalities and farmers.

There are, however, signs of hope. In 2009, Friant Dam began releasing “restoration flows,” determined by water users’ negotiated agreements. In December 2013, National Marine Fisheries Service announced it might re-introduce spring Chinook salmon to the San Joaquin. Salmon thrive in big, broad rivers, but struggle in drought and heat. However, restored flows and recognition of common interests suggest that Chinook salmon may again reach the Sierra Nevada.

American Rivers’ 2014 focus is on the San Joaquin River. With their efforts, coordinated with other stakeholders, the San Joaquin River between Mendota and Fresno will hopefully become more than a fish trap in desert sand.

Please help us make Alison’s vision a reality by telling the California Water Board to protect water flows in the San Joaquin!

GiveBIG Rides Again on May 6!

On Tuesday, May 6, friends and supporters of Washington Bikes will for the third year in a row have the opportunity to support greater bicycle safety and access through Seattle Foundation’s GiveBIG campaign. GiveBIG is a one day online charitable giving event to inspire people to make a generous gift to nonprofit organizations making the Puget Sound region a healthier, more vital place to live.

Each donation made to WA Bikes between midnight and midnight (Pacific Time) on May 6, will receive a pro-rated portion of the matching funds (“stretch”) pool. The amount of the match will depend on the size of the stretch pool and how much is raised in total donations on GiveBIG day. For example, if a nonprofit receives 4% of the total donations during GiveBIG, then it will receive 4% of the pool of funds.

Another exciting dimension of the GiveBIG campaign is the Golden Ticket awards. Throughout the day of GiveBIG, donors will be chosen at random to have an additional $1,000 given to a charity of their choice. Golden Ticket award winners will also be eligible to win other prizes, like $100 Starbucks gift cards!

In order for your donation to qualify for the stretch pool and Golden Ticket, you must donate through  WA Bikes’ profile page on Seattle Foundation’s website. Anyone with an internet connection and a credit card can make a gift on GiveBIG day. It’s simple–and you don’t have to live in Seattle or the Puget Sound region to participate!

Keep in mind any donation WA Bikes receives can be matched through an employer matching program–we encourage you to submit a record of your donation to your employer for matching funds. Employer matches will not be applied in calculating the nonprofit’s share of the GiveBIG stretch pool.

WA Bikes Board Member John Pope is mapping USBR 10 stretching from Skagit County to Spokane County and the Idaho border–an exciting U.S. Bike Route you’ll be able to enjoy–thanks to your generous giving!

So mark your calendar for Tues, May 6, and support bicycle education for kids and adults, greater bicycle safety, enhanced transportation choices, a strong bike tourism economy, and a rising chorus of bicycle advocates across the state from the State Legislature to local business chambers of commerce. For 27 years we’ve worked making Washington a more bicycle-friendly state where cycling is inclusive and accessible to everyone from 8 to 80.

On May 16, 2013, supporters of better bicycling, walking, and neighborhood safety joined with Governor Inslee to sign the Neighborhood Safe Streets Bill into law, a three year effort achieved thanks to your financial support!

To learn more, visit the GiveBIG FAQ page. Thank you in advance for your continued support!

The post GiveBIG Rides Again on May 6! appeared first on Washington Bikes.

National Parks Conservation Association Honors Park Champions at Annual Salute to the Parks Gala

News from National Parks Conservation - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 7:45am
Country-Rock Songstress Doreen Taylor to debut new song in support of NPCA; bring awareness to parks