Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Will Environmental Watchdogs Adopt Underfunded CA State Parks?

This was a fun one, primarily because it sent me way out to Livermore's Carnegie State Vehicle Recreation Area, about as far as one can travel from Oakland and still be in the East Bay. It's an off-highway vehicle park in a beautiful area, and a pair of environmental groups didn't believe its users and management were being proper stewards of the environment -- so they sued. It may be an isolated incident, or it may be a sign of what's to come. As the CA State Parks budget crisis deepens and recent cuts settle in, will parks have a hard time meeting their environmental mandates? If so, will environmental groups continue to intervene for protection of the parks' valuable resources? No one can predict the future, but my research suggested it's more than likely -- another interesting development in the soap opera that is California's budget.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


I just wrote this piece for Adam Perry at his online literary journal Stays. Saw it as an opportunity to try my hand at the first-person adventure narrative thing, I guess. Results? Cloudy ... like the skies over Lassen when we visited, as you'll read in the story. But yeah, I think it's pretty alright -- and, for these purposes, an ideal illustration of the simple joys of human-powered exploration.

And it begins ...


Within the first half-mile, I felt the weight. So did my friend Tom, who was out of shape. I’m not sure if Ben did; he was too tough to show. The trail was still wide, the parking lot barely out of sight. We stopped to yank on our shoulder straps, bounce up and down on our toes, and let the packs settle on our hips. This eased the pinching on our collarbones. The soreness in our shoulders was surprisingly prompt — they’d toted hardback books across campus, but never this; never food and clothes and gear and fuel, and too much of each, for five nights in the wild. Never the foldable metal shovel and clay poker chips we’d foolishly brought along, yet not without some pride. They weighed heavy on our backs now, but I wouldn’t undo it; they’d come in handy.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

From the Chron: First Salmon Season in Three Years Opens

After two years of all-out bans, the Northern California salmon sport-fishing season reopened on Saturday to poor weather, few bites, and mixed emotions. Read more about it here.