Editorial: A Train-Load of Trouble Rolls Toward Oakland FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享From the San Francisco Chronicle:The plan to ship 9 million tons of coal annually through West Oakland must be stopped. It’s bad enough that it’s environmentally threatening, fiscally dubious, and the product of duplicity and political chicanery.Even worse is the fact that a significant amount of public money is being invested in this ill-advised scheme.“This is a very bad idea on many, many levels,” said state Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, author of legislation attempting to stop the coal-export facility at the former Oakland Army Base.“It undermines everything we’ve been doing for the past decade now to try to contain climate change,” Hancock added. “No. 1, it makes us look hypocritical.”And more than a little foolish — if not craven.Remember, Gov. Jerry Brown was at the international climate talks in Paris last December to extol the state’s innovation in reducing carbon emissions — and to implore the rest of the world to follow suit.A coal plant in China — where much of the coal going through the new Oakland depot would presumably be headed — would have the same impact on global warming as one in the Golden State.We invoke the governor’s own words of wisdom from last year:“It doesn’t make sense to be shutting down coal plants and then export it for somebody else to burn in a more dirty way,” he said. “But what we need is a national plan to reduce all fossil fuels. Certainly, coal would be at the top.”The climate impact alone should be enough to give anyone pause about a plan to ship coal on railroad lines from Utah to be loaded at the new Oakland shipping facility. But then there is the concern about local pollution, which is one of the reasons Mayor Libby Schaaf, Oakland City Council members and the Port of Oakland oppose the project.“Stop it immediately,” Schaaf wrote in a May 2015 email to the project’s well-connected developer, Phil Tagami, adding, “If you don’t do that soon we will all have to spend time and energy in a public battle that no one needs and will distract us from the important work at hand.”The battle has only escalated since then.It’s important to note that Tagami for years had vigorously denied rumors that coal shipments would be part of this $800 million cargo facility. In a December 2013 newsletter, he accused critics of spreading misinformation because his real estate firm had “no interest or involvement in the pursuit of coal-related operations at the former Oakland Army Base.”It’s now abundantly clear that coal is a key element of at least the near-term plans for the rail-to-ship transfer facility. In a March 14 Open Forum piece, a partner in Tagami’s company suggested that the “political threats to block coal” amount to “a taking of vested rights.”“Today it’s coal; tomorrow it’ll be wood pellets; and next week it will be genetically modified grain,” wrote Mark McClure of California Capital and Investment Group.Yes, today it is coal — one commodity the developer had specifically promised to exclude, in response to concerns about of its local and global environmental impacts.The questionable policies go well beyond Oakland. The Utah Legislature, looking to help get its state’s coal to foreign markets, just voted to commit $53 million in state money to help build that deep-water port in Oakland.Here’s where that deal really smells:The money is coming out of a fund from federal mining royalties that is supposed to be go to local projects in rural communities for roads, parks, public buildings, water and sewer systems. To get around that legal requirement, Utah legislators approved a scheme to dip into sales-tax revenue earmarked for transportation for the $53 million, put it in a newly created account — and then immediately reimburse it from the royalty fund.Utah’s Senate Democratic leader, Gene Davis, was quoted in the Salt Lake City Tribune as calling it “a shell game.”From a fiscal standpoint, considering the world’s shift away from coal — even in China — perhaps the best question of all was posed by Rep. Joel Briscoe, a Salt Lake City Democrat: “If this is such a great financial investment … where are the banks stepping up to fund this program?”California’s leaders need to intensify the pressure to keep coal shipments out of Oakland, whether it takes legislation, lawsuits or the project overseers simply recognizing the need to keep a promise.A trainload of trouble rolls toward Oakland
Our beginner’s guide to surfing the South dishes the best places to catch a wave, stand-up paddleboard, and kite surf.Fact: Man cannot live on mountain sports alone. Rock climbing and mountain biking are noble pursuits, but every once in a while, your body and soul crave the beach. That’s not to say a weekend at the beach has to be a 72-hour marathon of umbrella drinks and trashy novels. The Right Coast is alive with adventure sports, and you shouldn’t let your lack of sea legs deter you from taking part in the surf. We found three different islands a short drive from the Southern Appalachians, where you can pick up the basics of the hottest coastal sports. Learn to SUP outside of Charleston, surf your first wave on Virginia Beach, and catch the wind on Cape Hatteras. This isn’t a beach vacation. This is cross training.Standup PaddleboardingFolly Beach, Charleston, S.C. What makes Folly Beach, an island 15 minutes from downtown Charleston, the ideal place to learn how to standup paddleboard? In a word, variety. Three miles of river and countless tidal creeks separate Folly from the mainland, offering unlimited potential for laid-back, eco-minded excursions. On the other side of the island, the Atlantic Ocean graces Folly with predominantly mellow waves ideal for SUP surf sessions. Wanna see dolphins? Check. Full moon paddle? Check. SUP yoga? SUP surf? SUP races? Check, check, and check.“SUP is blowing up, and we have pristine conditions here on Folly,” says Jon Ory, owner of Charleston SUP Safaris, which operates a smorgasbord of SUP adventures from a shop adjacent to the Folly Boat Ramp, adding that Folly’s break is ideal for SUP surf sessions. “If it’s a knee-high day, which is typically what Folly sees, you’ll get into the waves easier with a paddle and SUP. Those ankle biter waves are a lot of fun on a SUP.”But most of Ory’s clients stick to the inland side of Folly, where the river runs for three miles and tidal creeks wind through the marsh grass. The ecosystem is teeming with wildlife, from the jumping mullets just off the nose of your board to the visiting shorebirds. The river even has a surprisingly large number of bottlenose dolphins, and manatee have even been seen playing near the boat ramp in recent years.For more information about Folly Beach visit www.follybeach.comFor the True Beginner, The Dolphin TourThis two-hour excursion starts with ground school, where you’ll learn the basics of SUP before setting out on the river. If it’s a fit group, you can do a 3.5-mile loop exploring the sinuous creeks that stretch away from the Folly River’s main channel. Beach the boards on a couple of sandbar banks to get up close and personal with the marsh and its wildlife, and keep an eye out for the prized bottlenose dolphin.For the More Adventurous, Morris Island Lighthouse SafariThe Morris Island Lighthouse used to be connected to Folly, but years of erosion and hurricanes have severed the ties between the two nubs of land. If you’ve got the chops, you can set out for a four-hour, 12-mile round trip paddle to this seldom-visited beacon. Be prepared to maneuver the board in and out of currents and tides. Once at the lighthouse, you’ll get to shell the remote beach and watch dolphins feeding at the mouth of the Folly River.Folly Vibe: Folly is the quintessential surf town, with only a handful of restaurants, bars, and requisite cheesy tourist shops on the main drag leading to the beach. Stay at Tides, a modern hotel on the beach next to the pier. Taco Boy has pricey, but good surf-inspired Mexican. Find gear and guides at Charleston SUP Safaris.SurfingSandbridge, Virginia Beach, Va.Virginia Beach has been a hotbed of surfing for more than 50 years, hosting the longest running surf competition on the East Coast (East Coast Surfing Championship). The breaks in front of the boardwalk near the hotels are obviously the most popular, crowded with locals looking for consistent waves and tourists just getting their surfing legs beneath them. Locals at First Street, arguably the best break on the beach, have been known to get territorial on occasion. But you won’t have to worry about that if you head 25 minutes south of the resorts to the sleepy community of Sandbridge, where a mellow wave eases beginners into the art of surfing.“The type of wave we have makes first-time surfers really comfortable,” says Ross Summerall, a Virginia Beach local, long-time surfer, and general manager of Surf and Adventure Company in Sandbridge. “It’s a natural beach break that occasionally gets big, but mostly, it’s knee to waist high, and one of the most consistent breaks in Virginia Beach. It’s a long-boarder’s paradise.”The break is so beginner friendly, Billabong partners with Surf and Adventure Company to host a series of camps for kids and adults.For the True Beginner, Private Lesson Just like in the classic film Point Break, learning to surf begins on the beach, where you’ll learn the fundamentals, get the safety break down, and watch more experienced surfers in action. In the water, you’ll wield a soft-top long board in knee-high surf inside a surfer-only designated zone within Sandbridge’s Little Island Park, complete with lifeguards. It doesn’t get much safer. “Learning to surf can be intimidating. There’s a lot to worry about in the surf–the board, the leash, the break–but there’s always an instructor within arm’s length,” Summerall says.For the More Adventurous, False Cape Bike and Surf Trip False Cape State Park, three miles south of Little Island Park, is a mile-wide stretch of public land separating the calm Back Bay from the Atlantic Ocean. The 4,000-acre park has six miles of pristine beach that are only accessible by bike, hiking trail, or park-led tram. Translation: the beaches and breaks are wide open and crowd free. Surf and Adventure Company organizes surf and bike trips to False Cape, hauling your boards and gear on trams, allowing you to pedal to the break unfettered. The company also arranges for nature talks with False Cape rangers. Surf and Adventure is planning to do one False Cape trip a month. If you’re a newbie, you can even use the trip to take your first lesson on the crowd-free beaches of False Cape.Sandbridge Vibe: Even though Sandbridge is technically incorporated into Virginia Beach, it’s a world apart. Instead of the bustling resort hub of VB, Sandbridge is a five-mile strip of land with two roads and a community of 500 beach houses, most of which are vacation rentals. The community is laid back and family oriented. Find a rental condo or house at visitvirginiabeach.com. Grab local oysters at Sandbridge Island Restaurant and Raw Bar. Guided trips and lessons are found at Surf and Adventure Company.Kite SurfingHatteras Island, Outer Banks, N.C.Trip Foreman wants you to understand one thing about kite surfing: “It’s not as hard as you think.”Foreman helped pioneer this sport on the Outer Banks, where athletes, strapped to boards, harness the power of the wind with kites. He was holding onto the first kite that went up on Hatteras Island, which had long been a hotbed of wind surfing because of the ideal weather patterns (read: windy). The kite surfer and co-owner of REAL Watersports admits kite surfing looks intimidating to the uninitiated, but insists that the equipment and teaching methods have finally made the sport accessible to the common man.“In ’98, when we all first started playing with kite boarding, it was hard. The only people who could kite surf were 25-year-old watermen who were too stubborn to quit,” Foreman says. “But now, the equipment is more user friendly. Anyone who can learn how to snowboard can learn how to kite surf.”And if you’re going to learn, you want to learn in Hatteras, a barrier island that catches wind in all directions, enabling kite surfers to play an average of 22 days a month. This is where the Wright Brothers first took flight, after all. Even better than the windy conditions, is the Pamlico Sound, a flat body of water separating Hatteras from the mainland that’s waist-deep as far as the eye can see.“Pamlico is the best place to learn in the world,” Foreman says. “Shallow, windy…it’s like a custom-built practice pool for kite boarding.”For the True Beginner, Zero to Hero CampREAL Watersports has developed the Zero to Hero camp, a three-day immersion in kite surfing that’s designed to turn you into a proficient kiter who can buy or rent a kite and practice on your own. You’ll go from land-based practice to ripping 20 miles per hour across the Pamlico Sound in a single weekend. “The learning curve is surprisingly fast,” Foreman says. “Three days and it clicks, similar to snowboarding.”If you’re curious, but not sure if kite surfing is for you, sign up for the 1.5-hour Ground Control lesson, where you’ll learn the fundamentals of kiting and get the chance to wield one of the powerful stunt kites that propel boarders across the water up to 30 miles per hour. “Once you hold onto that large kite and feel the power, you’ll be hooked,” Foreman says.For the More AdventurousOnce you’ve mastered the “kiddie pool” of the Pamlico Sound, head across the street for advanced lessons on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, where the ocean offers more of a challenge because you don’t have the consistent surface beneath your board. The waves and swell offer a challenge, but the ultimate goal for many beginner and intermediate kite surfers is catching big air. “There’s nothing like jumping 20 feet in the air with a kite,” Foreman says. “You can get up so high, you can see over the island into the sound. Everything becomes really small from up there.”Hatteras Vibe: Hatteras is a largely undeveloped barrier island with seemingly endless stretches of wild beach and dunes. A handful of small “villages” are scattered along the interior of the island. Buxton sits in the middle, making for a good base camp for exploration. Grab fresh sushi at Diamond Shoals. You’ll find plenty of hotel options, but you’d be remiss if you didn’t camp on the National Seashore. Check out the Cape Point Campground in Buxton. Sign up for lessons with REAL Watersports.
A closeup of a leaf on a potentially blight-resistant American chestnut hybrid showing the leaf’s distinctive canoe shape and curved teeth. Photo Courtesy of The American Chestnut Foundation. Scientists are Restoring Appalachia’s Most Important Tree: The Chestnut. A wild landscape repopulated with cultivated or genetically engineered versions of these species would necessarily be less wild. But if scientists and the public accept this as the price of revival it means the Foundation is not just fighting for American chestnuts but creating a model to fight for American forests. The idea: Cross Chinese-American hybrids with successive generations of American chestnuts that still grow wild and that, though doomed to die of blight, sometimes live long enough to produce nuts. Repeatedly crossing these trees with one another should concentrate resistance, Burnham said, producing a new perfect tree for a permanently infected landscape. The blight—accidentally imported in Asian chestnut trees—was first identified in a New York City park in 1904, and its devastation of southern forests coincided with the economic collapse of the Great Depression. It’s a devotion inspired by the magnificence of the chestnut—so numerous, productive and beautiful that it was sometimes called the “perfect tree”—and by the tragedy of its destruction. “The chestnut has a great story,” Sisco said. Meanwhile, scientists are working on another controversial approach—the creation of a genetically modified American chestnut. The blight works by emitting an acid that kills chestnut tissue, making it easier for the fungus to consume. By borrowing a gene from wheat that neutralizes this acid, Powell and Maynard (who recently retired), have produced a pure-bred American tree as resistant as most Chinese chestnuts. Which is what drives Powell to expand his project’s reach to other species. “I’m trying to get a center set up for tree restoration,” he said, adding that establishing methods to fight other invasive pests, “is a very big deal to us.” But this sense of mission also comes from the knowledge that chestnuts are not alone. American forests, said Stacy Clark, a research forester with the U.S. Forest Service, “are under siege from invasive exotoics.” It sometimes seems, she added, that the most spectacular trees—Fraser firs, hemlocks, elms, ashes and dogwoods—are the most vulnerable. This has helped satisfy many critics who didn’t like the idea of introducing an engineered tree into forests, Powell said, including some members of the Foundation. It also may include researchers at the Forest Restoration Alliance, based in Waynesville, N.C., and modeled after the Chestnut Foundation. This group is seeking resistance to both the balsam wooly adelgid, an insect that wiped out historic stands of mature Fraser firs and continues to plague the Christmas tree industry, and the hemlock wooly adelgid, which has devastated that tree’s population through most of the East. Farm families earned much-needed cash gathering nuts for shipment to Eastern cities. They built cabins, coffins, fences and furniture from the tree’s straight-grained, rot-resistant wood. They worked for timber companies that realized so much profit from extracting the tree’s tannic acid that earnings from pulp and timber sales were gravy. The trees grew largest here—more than a dozen feet wide at the base and ten times that high—and most abundantly. In some swaths of forest, chestnuts accounted for one in every four mature hardwood. At six years old, it is already more than 20 feet tall, with a straight, stout trunk. The bark shows the merest ripple at the point where Sisco tested the tree by injecting it with Cryphonectria Parasitica, also known as chestnut blight. “It’s a very long-term project,” Sisco said. “There’s been some friendly competition with us over the years because we were going on two different tracks and they wanted to make sure their efforts weren’t wasted,” Powell said. “But now they are fully behind it.” “I’m blessed, or cursed, with a one-track mind,” he said, and he is encouraged by the recent successes in chestnut breeding. “After 33 years on this thing,” he said, “it makes me happy that I feel like I didn’t waste my life.” Select the most resistant specimens from each crossing. The result, he predicted, would be trees that look just like American chestnuts—that are just as tall and straight, just as loaded with flowers and nuts—yet are able to fight off blight like their distant Chinese ancestors. This gave Burnham stock to work with. He advocated a method of breeding called backcrossing that he had used with corn and that has been the driving strategy of the Foundation’s work since its founding in 1983. It’s a goal that Sisco, working with trees that are 15/16ths American chestnut, is now closing in on. So are scientists at the Foundation’s national research farm in Meadowview Va., and at orchards run by several of its state chapters, most notably Pennsylvania’s. “Pennsylvania is by far the farthest along,” Jarrett said. “Double whammy,” Jarrett said. Early restoration efforts ended after several decades of frustration and dwindling public support—but not before scientists developed a few promising strains by crossing American chestnuts with their Chinese counterparts, which are at least partly resistant because they evolved with the blight. And then another step: allowing this stock to produce the two or three billion chestnuts needed for it to reclaim its dominant place in Eastern forests. U.S. Forest Service has established 13 plots of 15/16ths American chestnuts in National Forests in the South. And though the point of this research is to test conditions for replanting, not to begin reforestation, the performance of these trees has been encouraging, said the Forest Service researcher Clark. In the oldest of these plots, planted in 2009, between 50 and 80 percent of the trees have escaped infection and the tallest are now nearly 40 feet tall. But another big step remains: producing enough highly resistant trees, with enough genetic diversity, that they can fill seed orchards and interbreed freely. The small mound of pollen that Paul Sisco pours from a pill vial comes from an American chestnut hybrid that he calls “my lucky tree,” “my trophy,” “my champion.” The Ozark chinquapin is a relative of the American chestnut, he said, and its restoration is “something we can almost immediately step into.” His team has also made progress on altering elms to resist Dutch elm disease. “We know how to get the gene in the elm,” he said. “All we have to do is pick the right gene.” In the fall, they carpeted the woods with starchy, protein-rich nuts that sustained wildlife, livestock and people. One elderly mountain resident told Freinkel that chestnut harvest season was the only time of the year he wasn’t hungry. So far, the Alliance has focused on building breeding stocks from naturally resistant specimens, said the group’s director, Fred Hain, a retired N.C. State University professor. But he has an open mind about genetic modification, he said. “I think it has more potential than just about any approach out there.” The hope is that the Hershey Kiss-shaped nuts produced by this crossing will grow into trees with even greater resistance than their parents, and that they will emerge as prime stock for the repopulation of chestnuts in Appalachian forests. It’s a goal Sisco has been pursuing for more than 20 years. Although they must still receive approval from three federal agencies, which is expected to take at least two years, they have prepared for the approval process with tests that have so far revealed no potential negative impacts to surrounding trees and no changes to the nuts and flowers. Even if researchers do not borrow his team’s methods, Powell said, they can follow the regulatory path that they have created. Chestnut blight, a misfortune throughout its range, was a calamity in the southern Appalachians, where the species was a keystone of the ecosystem, culture and economy, Susan Freinkel wrote in her 2007 book, American Chestnut: The Life, Death and Rebirth of the Perfect Tree. “The trees are performing very well in terms of height and survival,” Clark said. “If we can show we can save a single species at a time, and that species has a great impact, I think it leads to scientists studying other species seeing that there are feasible solutions out there,” said Ben Jarrett, the Foundation’s Southeast regional science coordinator. Powell said his work can also be applied to other vulnerable tree species. This includes a Forest Service scientist in Indiana who is working to develop a genetically modified ash tree with built-in resistance to the emerald ash borer, an invasive insect that has killed millions of trees in the eastern United States. Sisco, on the other hand, is focused strictly on the chestnut. The blight’s destruction of roughly 4 billion American chestnuts in the early 20th century has been called the country’s greatest ecological disaster. The breeding of Sisco’s star tree at an American Chestnut Foundation orchard south of Asheville may turn out to be a milestone in its reversal.
The school year is currently slated to start in Palm Beach County on Monday, Aug. 10 The 2020-2021 school year in Palm Beach County will be delayed, according to Dr. Donald Fennoy, the superintendent of the School District of Palm Beach County.On Thursday morning, the school board voted 7-0 to start the 2020-21 academic year with distance learning for all students.“The board’s will and pleasure right now is to delay it, and it will be delayed,” Fennoy said.WATCH SUPERINTENDENT INTERVIEW: