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OWAC is a non-profit association of media professionals who communicate the vast array of outdoor recreational opportunities and related issues
in California and the surrounding western region.
“I was here last Saturday, and this place was packed.” Chris Reeves, our river pilot from Tributary Whitewater Tours, was amazed how quiet the Oxbow put-in location was by the edge of the Middle Fork of the American River. Chris is used to guiding busy weekend trips, but it was a beautiful Monday morning, and we practically had the river to ourselves.
I rummaged through a pile of wetsuits, lifejackets and helmets to properly suit up for the adventure ahead. My friends and I were attending an Outdoor Writers Association of California conference and had chosen this sixteen mile river adventure from among several conference activities. It had been years since I had been on a white water trip, and I was excited for the adventure ahead.
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In search of solutions to the extreme threat to California’s forests and watersheds, correspondent Tom Wilmer met with Bob Kingman, the Sierra Nevada Conservancy’s Assistant Executive Officer in Auburn, California. He then visits with Sean O’Brien in San Luis Obispo about urban forested Monterey Pines in conjunction with Cal Fire in Cambria.
More than 60 percent of California’s water supply comes from the Sierras. High-intensity fires such as The 2013 Rim Fire generated greenhouse gas emissions equal to what 2.3 million vehicles produce annually. During the rainy season, the subsequent massive run off and erosion created in-filled reservoirs, and severely degraded water quality.
Sean and Dana O’Brien in San Luis Obispo are sequestering carbon, and helping to minimize the threat of forest fires through their urban-forested Pacific Coast Lumber mill operation, and A Place to Grow Recycled Greenhouses. The O’Briens work in concert with Cal Fire’s efforts to remove dead and dying Monterey Pines in and around the coastal village of Cambria, California.
Read the full story and listen to the podcast here.
When I looked at the list of outdoor activities for this year’s Outdoor Writers Association of California (OWAC) spring conference, a rafting trip down the American River practically jumped off the page. “Let’s do this!” I said to Kathy. “I haven’t rafted the American River since 1973, when I was a graduate student at Sacramento State.” I had also worked as a paid intern for the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors during that time and learned firsthand about a fledgling organization called Friends of the River. Friends of the River was mounting a campaign to stop the proposed Auburn Dam project. It seemed that certain political heavyweights were pushing to bury the breathtakingly pristine north and middle forks of the American River under several hundred feet of water. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed and the project was eventually abandoned. Natural treasures like the American River Canyon are never completely safe, however. Like a bad cold that just won’t go away, the plan to build Auburn Dam still rears its ugly head from time to time.
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Have you ever thought of yourself as an enemy of the environment? I haven’t. Nevertheless, sometimes things happen to remind me that any of us can make an innocent or not so innocent mistake that could kill or endanger a helpless critter or pollute the environment.
Sometimes as we zip down a lake in our boat, a candy wrapper, potato chip bag, or soda can flies out — or a $200 pair of sunglasses. This may not seem too bad compared to a dirty diaper, cooler, or garbage bag, though it’s sometimes costly if it’s your sunglasses.
I’m still amazed when I see piles of garbage on the shorelines of our beaches and lakes. I wonder who in the world leaves that stuff behind and who they think will pick it up. If the critters don’t spread it around first, the rising water levels and surf will move it in every direction. All the culprits had to do was bend over - which they would do for a dime - put their stuff in a bag and dispose of it in a trash can, or take it home and dump it.
My name is Lara Kaylor and I have worked as a journalist for more than a decade covering everything from the outdoors to small town politics. I joined OWAC in 2007.