LVM's Environmental Action Blog

The purpose of this blog is to convey the importance that life choices and daily decisions have on the environment. I will, as a member of the kayaking community, effectively convey the importance and immediacy of environmental issues written in the paddling vernacular.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

missing in action

This post has been a long time in coming, because lvmenvironmental has been on hiatus. Back in town and within reliable reach of internet access, the game is on again. The plan for this year has been to move toward participating in environmental construction, specifically restoration and renovation: out of academia and into the proverbial "real world." Check out Sustainable Structures to see where the first steps were made. For now: stay tuned and keep it evil.

photo by mefford williams

Thursday, October 13, 2005

california water

an on location report from lvm environmental

photo by shanna powell

California water has been made famous around the whitewater world. The spring Sierra snowmelt season invites religious whitewater paddlers to a yearly pilgrimage, taking videos, photographs, and stories home to every corner of the United States and multiple continents beyond. Much like climbing’s Yosemite, paddling’s High Sierra season has made these mountains world-famous again: both elements, granite and water, are extraordinarily valuable.
The value of California’s water is undeniable. One only needs to glance eastward to the arid environment of Nevada: a state living in the dry shadow of California’s High Sierra. California (155,959 square miles) is home to 35 million people while Nevada's (109,826 square miles) population is less than 2.4 million. [U.S. Census Bureau, 2004]
The Sierra is separated from the Pacific by the Central Valley, the Coast Mountain Ranges respectively, and act as a vital source of water for the major cities: Los Angeles, San Louis Obispo, Sacramento, and the mighty Bay Area.
Los Angeles draws water through an aqueduct of the same name from as far away as Mono Basin, past the town of Bishop on the East side of the Sierra: over 350 miles away. The aqueduct was completed in 1941 by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, at the top draining watersheds belonging to the terminal ‘Dead Sea of California’, Mono Lake. This Lake only loses water through evaporation; in a climate of 15% humidity, annual evaporation averages around 45 vertical inches. From 1941 to when the amount of water taken from the lake began being regulated: 1994, the lake’s surface fell 42 vertical feet losing over half its original volume, doubling salinity levels to more than 2 and 1/2 times that of the Pacific. The impacts diminished and threatened many species of wildlife, some of them endemic to Mono Lake. Water regulations limiting LADWP diversions brought on by environmental groups determined to save Mono Lake have forced water conservation measures into nearly every household; Los Angeles has subsequently lowered consumption levels while population continues to grow.

California's Dead Sea:

photo by mefford williams

The rivers grow out of Sierra, white trains headed for the Pacific; aqueducts, agriculture, livestock have changed the San Joaquin and Sacramento Valleys from a grass and marshland of epic proportions home to the once prolific Grizzly bear: an animal that now only lives on the State Flag. California’s businesses, homes, and economy are bank rolled by Sierra rivers and reservoirs. The New San Pedro Dam on the Tuolumne River holds 1.9 million acre-feet when full; the rivers annual volume is 2.0 million acre-feet.

the Tuolumne between O'Shaughnessy and New Don Pedro:

photo by mefford williams

The Bay Area draws water from as high as the O’Shaughnessy dam on the Tuolumne, a foul word in the mouths of monkey-wrenchers, which floods Hetch Hetchy Valley, the glaciated sister of Yosemite Valley. San Francisco owns the Cherry and Eleanor reservoirs; the whole water system supplies among other receivers, a $2 billion agricultural industry. The debate surrounding the Hetch Hetchy removal efforts still rages on the pages of newspapers in the Tuolumne watershed; Restore Hetch Hetchy and the environmental community have even whispered about trading downstream portions of Tuolumne River which is designated Wild and Scenic. By adding height on other down stream dams, the water storage loss from removing the Hetch Hetchy Dam could be accumulated elsewhere.
California represents a preview (for some a parallel) of what we all might see when fresh water resources are competed over by multiple consumers. Kayakers boof around on the pinnacles of above what is the 5th largest economy in the world: quite a valuable playground.

Who owns the water on your home run?

photo by mefford williams

Thursday, June 23, 2005

good green fun at salida's fibark festival

photo by Mefford Williams
The Fibark Whitewater Festival that takes place annually in the beautiful Colorado mountain town of Salida is well known throughout the kayaking universe as a quality festival as well as rodeo, slalom, and wild water racing event.
You're welcome to scope out the details of the event, the festival, the results, the usual on another website as we here at lvmenvironmental are bringing you a different and quite inspiring spin on Fibark:
Two sponsors of the event New Belgium Brewing Company and Blue Sun BioDiesel have helped to bring not only environmental awareness to kayakers and other attendees of the event, but to put to practice some green initiatives in the usually wasteful festival atmosphere.
The generators used for cooling the beer and some other electrical needs for the weekend were run using Blue Sun's BioDiesel, a Colorado based company. BioDiesel as you may already know is a combustible fuel made from some type of vegetation (corn, soy beans, coconut, etc.) that can be run in diesel engines.
New Belgium and their flagship beer, Fat Tire Ale, brought their already environmentally minded beer producing practices to the table as well as biodegradable "plastic" beer cups made from cornstarch.
The brewery is 100% wind powered, uses half the industry average of water to produce their product (eight barrels of water for one barrel of beer), is a participant in the United States Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB) pilot program. The company has their own in house Sustainability Coordinator, the "Sustainability Goddess."
lvmenvironmental would like to say 'cheers' to New Belgium for their environmental initiatives and interest in supporting the sport of kayaking.
Hopefully we will see like-minded sponsors popping-up in many future kayaking festivals.

photo by Mefford Williams

Monday, April 25, 2005

lvm interns win coveted film award

poster by Ashley Strickland

The ‘Strive Not to Drive Festival’ was put on by Asheville-Buncombe county to encourage the use of alternative transportation. Ashley Strickland and I entered a video, Cycle, which took First Place as well as audience vote for "Best Message". In a bold move the interns have made Penstock Productions an award winning film company. Daniel is a very proud papa, and we are super excited.
Look for the video on the upcoming LVM #16 as well as on the next LVM Greatest Hits DVD. The video will also be enjoying some time in circulation on the Asheville public access channel and will be a feature presentation at Freshman Orientation for many years to come at UNC Asheville.
Check out Land of Sky and Getting Around WNC for more details.