Coastline, Cows and Carbon Farming

Jon Gay is something of a software engineering legend — he’s a co-creator of Flash, the groundbreaking and globally popular multimedia platform. But these days he spends a lot of his time in West County working with a decidedly different kind of material: cow manure. He and his wife, Misty, are four years deep into a project to restore life and balance to a worn-down coastal farm, Bay Hill Ranch. And maybe, just tip the scales a little for climate change.

How California is saving its sea life

From California’s beaches and bluffs, the Pacific Ocean looks like a vast, flat empty sheet. But under the surface, just below the boundary between air and water, entire worlds of life crowd the rocks and vast sea floor, and swim, undulate and float in the liquid above. Twenty years ago, state legislators took the unprecedented, bipartisan step of setting off protected areas in California’s coastal waters. The efforts, new studies show, appear to be paying off with promising signs of rebounding sea life and growing resilience.

Don't Count on Recycling. There's Something Better.

Some time in 2016, on a warm summer day, a patron entered Santa Rosa’s D Street Starbucks, ordered an iced drink, and when they were finished, thoughtfully dropped the plastic cup with a straw into a plastic recycle bin. By late 2017, the straw was likely revolving inside the Giant Pacific Garbage Patch, the infamous pile of mostly plastic waste twice the size of Texas floating in the middle of the ocean. How a recycled straw finds its way from green Northern California to the desolate middle of the Pacific involves the strange and complicated path our recycled waste takes in the global economy. Now, a local company is leading the way with patented alternatives that just might make a difference.

Indigenous Youth Reboot Acorns to Revive Food Sovereignty

In late fall, the parched hills of Northern California are wilting hot, but relief can be found in the dark patches of shade cast by towering native oaks. Some are hundreds of years old, with spreading limbs as thick as human torsos. This is the season Indigenous people once harvested vast stores of ripe acorns, a staple food in native diets for thousands of years. Now, a small group of Pomo and Miwok youth from nearby tribal communities are gathering beneath oak groves here once again to harvest the acorns produced in abundance by the ancient wild trees. These acorns are destined for Acorn Energy Bites, a modern, tasty two-bite health snack the young people began selling this summer. Getting them to customers involved consulting tribal elders, learning ancient harvesting methods, and navigating cultural and bureaucratic challenges.

After Wildfires, Volunteers Gather, Nurse Acorns to Replace Lost Oak Forests

Consider the acorn. By kindergarten, most children know that the smooth, brown shell hides a secret: it’s a ‘baby oak with a lunch box,’ recalls Brent Reed, now Ecological Program Manager with Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation. Inside its weather and insect-resistant coat, every acorn is a live packet of waiting pre-programed cells, primed for growth. October’s wildfires ripped through and devastated more than 31,000 acres of prime, old oak woodlands. What if acorns from surviving forests could be gathered for planting the following year in areas where forest was lost?