Monday, May 20, 2024

How are we doing on Vision Zero? Average

Vision Zero

2024 Traffic Fatality Monthly Report

Looks like another average year of traffic death on the streets of San Francisco. 

Let's face it: Vision Zero is a slogan, not a realistic safety policy.

Last year's post: SF and Vision Zero: "How are we doing?"

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Mountain biking and animal habitat

From the Berkeley Daily Planet:

Mountain Biking and Trail-Building Destroy Wildlife Habitat!
Mike Vandeman, Ph.D.
May 13, 2024

The major harm that mountain biking does is that it greatly extends the human footprint (distance that one can travel) in wildlife habitat. E-bikes multiply that footprint even more. Neither should be allowed on any unpaved trail. Wildlife, if they are to survive, MUST receive top priority!

What were you thinking? Mountain biking and trail-building destroy wildlife habitat! Mountain biking is environmentally, socially, and medically destructive! There is no good reason to allow bicycles on any unpaved trail

Bicycles should not be allowed in any natural area. They are inanimate objects and have no rights. There is also no right to mountain bike. That was settled in federal court in 1996:

It's dishonest of mountain bikers to say that they don't have access to trails closed to bikes. They have EXACTLY the same access as everyone else---on foot! Why isn't that good enough for mountain bikers? They are all capable of walking....

Why do mountain bikers insist on creating illegal trails? It's simple: they ride so fast that they see almost nothing of what they are passing. Therefore, they quickly get bored with any given trail and want another and another, endlessly! (In other words, mountain biking is inherently boring!)

A favorite myth of mountain bikers is that mountain biking is no more harmful to wildlife, people, and the environment than hiking, and that science supports that view. Of course, it's not true. 

To settle the matter, I read all of the research they cited, and I wrote a review of the research on mountain biking impacts (see I found that of the seven studies they cited, (1) all were written by mountain bikers, and (2) in every case, the authors misinterpreted their own data to come to the conclusion that they favored. They also studiously avoided mentioning another scientific study that did not favor mountain biking and came to the opposite conclusions.

Mountain bikers also love to build new trails, legally or illegally. Of course trail-building destroys wildlife habitat, not just in the trail bed, but in a wide swath to both sides of the trail! 

Grizzlies can hear a human from one mile away and smell us from 5 miles away. Thus, a 10-mile trail represents 100 square miles of destroyed or degraded habitat that animals are inhibited from using. 

Mountain biking, trail building, and trail maintenance all increase the number of people in the park, thereby preventing the animals' full use of their habitat. See for details.

Mountain biking accelerates erosion, creates V-shaped ruts, kills small animals and plants on and next to the trail, drives wildlife and other trail users out of the area, and, worst of all, teaches kids that the rough treatment of nature is okay (it's NOT!). What's good about THAT?

To see exactly what harm mountain biking does to the land, watch this 5-minute video:

In addition to all of this, it is extremely dangerous: 

The latest craze among mountain bikers is the creation of "pump tracks" (bike parks). They are alleged to teach bicycling skills, but what they actually teach are "skills" (skidding, jumping ("getting air"), racing, etc.) that are appropriate nowhere! If you believe that these "skills" won't be practiced throughout the rest of the park and in all other parks, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you!...

For more information:

The common thread among those who want more recreation in our parks is total ignorance about and disinterest in the wildlife whose homes these parks are. Yes, if humans are the only beings that matter, it is simply a conflict among humans. Even then, allowing bikes on trails harms the MAJORITY of park users---hikers and equestrians---who can no longer safely and peacefully enjoy their parks.

The parks aren't gymnasiums or racetracks or even human playgrounds. They are WILDLIFE HABITAT, which is precisely why they are attractive to humans. Activities such as mountain biking that destroy habitat violate the charter of the parks.

Even kayaking and rafting, which give humans access to the entirety of a water body, prevent the wildlife that live there from making full use of their habitat and should not be allowed. Of course those who think that only humans matter won't understand what I am talking about, an indication of the sad state of our culture and educational system.

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Sunday, May 19, 2024

The Democratic Party's train fiasco rolls on

Kansas City Star:

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg has said that high speed rail could soon be a major mode of transportation in the U.S.

High-speed rail was hailed as the future of transportation in the United States at a conference this week. There have been multiple proposals for high-speed rail in the United States over the years, but none have yet been built. 

Construction began last month on the country's first high-speed rail line, linking Las Vegas and southern California. The company building the route has predicted that trains will be running in time for the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. 

And in the coming years, similar high-speed rail routes could allow people to travel between major cities across the U.S. without having to drive or fly to their destinations. 

In December, President Joe Biden's administration announced more than $8 billion in funding for 10 passenger rail projects including for "the first world-class, high-speed rail projects in our country's history." 

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the administration's investments mean his children may "never know a world without high-speed rail" in the U.S. "Our twins are 2 and a half years old. I was on drop-off duty this morning and they have begun—I have no idea why—they've been asking me about my work," he said at the U.S. High-Speed Rail annual conference in Washington D.C. this week. 
"I tell them I work on cars, that I work on planes and that I work on trains, and I'm working on making those trains go faster. And one of the things I really love is the thought that they're 2 and a half now, and if we hit our marks, they will never know a world without high-speed rail in the United States."
At the conference, House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi said high-speed rail routes would also help solve problems to do with housing and other issues: 

"One of the biggest challenges in our country, at the kitchen table, because of cost, is housing, housing, housing," she said. "All over the country. Mass transit and high-speed rail is an answer to that." She added: "If you're talking clean air, this is an answer. If you're talking about a measure of job creation, this is an answer. Any subject you can bring up from environmental protection to, you name it, high-speed rail and mass transit is an answer to it." 

Advocates say high-speed rail would reduce pollution, fuel consumption and cut traffic if people are able to ride the trains instead of driving or flying. They also say it would create many jobs in the construction phase and afterward.

Opponents often cite the massive costs associated with it. U.S. High-Speed Rail CEO Andy Kunz said the recent federal investments are "a huge boost" to bringing high-speed rail to the U.S.: 

"But let's not kid ourselves. We're going to need hundreds of billions of dollars and major policy reforms to develop a high-speed rail network worthy of our great country," Kunz said. "The U.S. High-Speed Rail Association and our growing advocacy coalition are laser-focused on addressing these challenges and seizing the historic opportunities before us."

See also Unions are the powerhouse behind California’s troubled bullet train: They only care about jobs for their members and The San Francisco connection: $6 billion tunnel to get $100 billion train to $2 billion bus station.

And this High-speed rail? Oh no, Joe!

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This day in history: Lawrence of Arabia

Lawrence of Arabia dies in a motorcycle accident

Lawrence was an avid motorcyclist; he owned seven different Brough Superiors, dubbed the “Rolls-Royces of Motorcycles.” On the morning of May 13, 1935, Lawrence sped through the English countryside on his Brough Superior SS100 motorbike.

He suddenly saw two boys on bicycles on the narrow country road and swerved to avoid them. However, he clipped one of the bikes and was thrown forward over the handlebars. Lawrence never recovered from his massive brain injuries and died at the age of 46 on May 19.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Good news after the bad

You live in a good neighborhood when you see a story like this:

In a show of unity against hatred, around 100 San Francisco residents rallied in Alamo Square this past weekend to support dog walker Terry Williams, who was the victim of two racist incidents. 

According to The Standard, Williams found a package on his porch containing a blackface doll with a noose around its neck, smeared with racist slurs, on April 26. 

The San Francisco Police Department is actively investigating the incidents as hate crimes and has yet to make any arrests....

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Saturday, May 11, 2024

13 times Trump said the coronavirus will "go away"

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Thursday, May 09, 2024

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Hillary on Trump

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Wednesday, May 08, 2024

Masks and civil disobedience

Letter to the editor in today's New York Times:

To the Editor:

Akosua Barthwell Evans, a 1968 protester at Columbia, states: “Times have changed, but I have a lot of respect for the protesters who are using peaceful means to fight injustice and who have the courage to take personal risks to try to make a difference in the world” (“Witness: Portraits of the People Living the News,” Sunday Opinion, May 5).

There is no courage in hiding behind masks as many of the recent protesters have done. There is no bravery in demanding that there be no punishment for breaking the law or violating campus policies and causing many others to feel intimidated or uneasy, as so many of the recent protesters have asked for in their “demands.”

Civil disobedience means one is willing to accept the consequences for one’s actions and let the chips fall where they may.

Nathaniel Helfgot
Teaneck, N.J.


Trump wants to go to jail

Daily Kos

Kevin Drum: Does Jail await Donald Trump?

Quick question: at this point, does anyone truly think Donald Trump doesn't want to get jailed for contempt? He's obviously angling pretty hard for it, and he likely thinks it would be a big campaign boost. 

He'd be just like Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr.! The MAGA base would swoon over Donald heroically facing off with the Deep State and sticking up for his rights.

Either that or he really is literally unable to keep his yap shut. But I don't think so.

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"Obama was too Black, and Biden Is too old"

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Thursday, May 02, 2024

Trump at work

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Wednesday, May 01, 2024

Rare and beautiful

Photographer accidentally snaps rare bird: ‘It’s mind-blowing’

Michael Sanchez was setting up his new camera to capture a waterfall at Oregon’s Hug Point at sunrise when he spotted a little bird hopping around. He snapped a few photos, and didn’t think much more of it.

A week later, those snapshots have made him the star – and the envy – of the local birding community. 

Sanchez, who is from Vancouver, Washington, may have inadvertently captured the first images of an extremely rare blue rock-thrush in North America....

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Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Republicans and animals

Nick Anderson

Thanks to Daily Kos

‘She’s DOA’: Noem’s dog tale sinks chances of being Trump’s VP

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We're number two!

The 10 U.S. Cities With the Best Public Transportation:

1. New York
2. San Francisco
3. Boston
4. Jersey City
5. Washington D.C.
6. Philadelphia
7. Chicago
8. Newark
9. Seattle
10. Arlington

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Saturday, April 27, 2024

Biden's "small ball" strategy throws strikes

President with Ketanji Brown Jackson and V.P. Harris

Kevin Drum on President Biden's "small ball" politics:

1. Hearing aids. Allows low-cost hearing aids to be purchased without a prescription.

2. Insulin. Limits the cost of insulin to $35 per month for people on Medicare and for most people with private insurance.

3. Junk fees. Widespread efforts to rein in the hidden fees charged by banks, airlines, hotels and hundreds of other industries.

4. Overtime. Makes overtime pay mandatory for salaried workers earning up to $58,000. Affects about 4 million workers.

5. Robocalls. New rule cuts down on illegal overseas robocalls.

6. Surprise health care billing. Bans hospitals from charging huge fees for out-of-network specialists.

7. Late fees. Cuts the typical credit card late payment fee from $32 to $8.

8. Airline refunds. Requires airlines to automatically make refunds if flights are delayed or canceled.

9. Noncompetes. Bans employers from requiring noncompete agreements when they hire workers.

10. "Click to cancel." Proposed rule that makes it as easy to cancel an online service as it is to sign up.

11. Ticket fees up front. Requires ticket sellers to disclose all fees up front, not late in the purchase process.

Rob's comment:
As a former catcher, l see Biden throwing lots of called strikes.

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Friday, April 26, 2024

Civil War

Daily Kos

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Trump Juror Excuses


Thursday, April 25, 2024

The Brits and Trump

Nate White on why Brits don't like Trump:

A few things spring to mind. Trump lacks certain qualities which the British traditionally esteem. For instance, he has no class, no charm, no coolness, no credibility, no compassion, no wit, no warmth, no wisdom, no subtlety, no sensitivity, no self-awareness, no humility, no honour and no grace, all qualities with which his predecessor was generously blessed. For us the stark contrast does rather throw Trump’s limitations into embarrassingly sharp relief.

Plus, we like a laugh. While Trump may be laughable, he has never once said anything wry, witty or even faintly amusing – not once, ever. I don’t say that rhetorically, I mean it quite literally: not once, not ever. 

And that fact is particularly disturbing to the British sensibility. For us to lack humour is almost inhuman. But with Trump, it’s a fact. He doesn’t even seem to understand what a joke is. His idea of a joke is a crass comment, an illiterate insult, a casual act of cruelty.

Trump is never funny and he never laughs; he only crows or jeers. And scarily, he doesn’t just talk in crude, witless insults – he actually thinks in them. His mind is a simple bot-like algorithm of petty prejudices and knee-jerk nastiness.

There is never any under-layer of irony, complexity, nuance or depth. It’s all surface. Some Americans might see this as refreshingly upfront. Well, we don’t. We see it as having no inner world, no soul. And in Britain we traditionally side with David, not Goliath. All our heroes are plucky underdogs: Robin Hood, Dick Whittington, Oliver Twist. 

Trump is neither plucky nor an underdog. He is the exact opposite. He’s not even a spoiled rich-boy, or a greedy fat-cat. He’s more a fat white slug. A Jabba the Hutt of privilege.

And worse, he is that most unforgivable of all things to the British: a bully. That is, except when he is among bullies; then he suddenly transforms into a snivelling sidekick instead. There are unspoken rules to this stuff – the Queensberry rules of basic decency – and he breaks them all. He punches down – which a gentleman should, would, could never do – and every blow he aims is below the belt. He particularly likes to kick the vulnerable or voiceless – and he kicks them when they are down.

So the fact that a significant minority – perhaps a third – of Americans look at what he does, listen to what he says, and then think ‘Yeah, he seems like my kind of guy’ is a matter of some confusion and no little distress to British people....

This last point is what especially confuses and dismays British people and many other people, too; his faults seem pretty hard to miss. After all, it’s impossible to read a single tweet, or hear him speak a sentence or two, without staring deep into the abyss. He turns being artless into an art form; he is a Picasso of pettiness; a Shakespeare of shit....

God knows there have always been stupid people in the world, and plenty of nasty people, too. But rarely has stupidity been so nasty or nastiness so stupid. He makes Nixon look trustworthy and George W look smart. In fact, if Frankenstein decided to make a monster assembled entirely from human flaws – he would make a Trump....


Sunday, April 21, 2024

After 60 years, full JFK assassination story still under wraps

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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Bible-thumping MAGA

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Message to Iran

In today's NY Times:

To the Editor:

If Israel has to send drones into Iran again, it should drop leaflets saying, in Persian, English and Hebrew:

“Israel stands with the people of Iran! Overthrow your authoritarian government, stop funding Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and Houthi terrorism, and rejoin the community of nations as our partners in peace.”

Stephen A. Silver
San Francisco

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After pointless Repug delay, aid for Ukraine

The Ukraine vote was 311-112, and that was the closest of the four. All of this was massively popular and bipartisan, but it still took months just to get a vote.

And yet—the bills did eventually pass. It's appalling that it took so long thanks to a small band of malcontents, but they did pass. 

Somehow, in our usual chaotic, backhanded, slapdash way, the United States once again has managed to do something big. This keeps happening despite everything. 

We keep saying that the country is ungovernable these days, but in the end, usually after thrashing around for an embarrassingly long time, we govern.

So what's the point? As best as I can tell, the end result is this: (a) we get as much done as we ever have, but (b) a lot more people get pissed off about it. 

I don't even know if this is a conscious strategy, but it's what the Republican Party has been all about ever since Newt Gingrich took over....

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Daniel Dennett

From Daniel Dennett's obituary in today's NY Times:
An outspoken atheist, he at times seemed to denigrate religion. “There’s simply no polite way to tell people they’ve dedicated their lives to an illusion,” he said in a 2013 interview with The New York Times.
According to Mr. Dennett, the human mind is no more than a brain operating as a series of algorithmic functions, akin to a computer. To believe otherwise is “profoundly naïve and anti-scientific,” he told The Times...

Rob's comment:
"Seemed"? That's pseudo-objectivity, since Dennett made it clear he was an atheist. Maybe you can be an atheist without "denigrating religion," but how much intellectual respect should religion get from atheists? None, actually.

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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Rep. Jamie Raskin and Rep. James Comer

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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Nobody knows more than Trump

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

From Axios 

by Haley Britzky

Campaign finance: "I think nobody knows more about campaign finance than I do, because I'm the biggest contributor." (1999.)

TV ratings: "I know more about people who get ratings than anyone." (October 2012.)

ISIS: "I know more about ISIS than the generals do." (November 2015.)

Social media: "I understand social media. I understand the power of Twitter. I understand the power of Facebook maybe better than almost anybody, based on my results, right?" (November 2015.)

Courts: "I know more about courts than any human being on Earth." (November 2015.)

Lawsuits: "[W]ho knows more about lawsuits than I do? I'm the king." (January 2016.)

Politicians: "I understand politicians better than anybody." (no link)

The visa system: "[N]obody knows the system better than me. I know the H1B. I know the H2B. ... Nobody else on this dais knows how to change it like I do, believe me." (March 2016.)

Trade: "Nobody knows more about trade than me." (March 2016.)

The U.S. government system: "[N]obody knows the system better than I do." (April 2016.)

Renewable energy: "I know more about renewables than any human being on Earth." (April 2016.)

Taxes: "I think nobody knows more about taxes than I do, maybe in the history of the world." (May 2016.)

Debt: "I’m the king of debt. I’m great with debt. Nobody knows debt better than me." (June 2016.)

Money: "I understand money better than anybody." (June 2016.)

Infrastructure: "[L]ook, as a builder, nobody in the history of this country has ever known so much about infrastructure as Donald Trump." (July 2016.)

Sen. Cory Booker: "I know more about Cory than he knows about himself." (July 2016.)

Borders: Trump said in 2016 that Sheriff Joe Arpaio said he was endorsing him for president because "you know more about this stuff than anybody."

Democrats: "I think I know more about the other side than almost anybody." (November 2016.)

Construction: "[N]obody knows more about construction than I do." (May 2018.)

The economy: "I think I know about it better than [the Federal Reserve]." (October 2018.)

Technology: "Technology — nobody knows more about technology than me." (December 2018.)

Drones: "I know more about drones than anybody. I know about every form of safety that you can have." (January 2019.)

Drone technology: "Having a drone fly overhead — and I think nobody knows much more about technology, this type of technology certainly, than I do." (January 2019.)


Saturday, April 13, 2024

Blaming Newsom

The 99 Cents Only chain is closing up shop. LA Times columnist Gustavo Arellano headed out to talk to a few customers about it:
“I blame [Gavin] Newsom,” said Rick Juarez, 53, referencing the California governor as he entered the store to stock up on batteries. He had shopped at this location for “at least” 20 years. “Too many taxes, too high the minimum wage. These companies just can’t compete, and so they have to close. And it’s poor people like us who end up suffering.”
I know, I know: this is just one random guy. Who cares? But it's hard to get so many things wrong in such a short comment: California's corporate tax rate is 8.84% and hasn't changed in 30 years. Newsom temporarily lowered corporate taxes in 2021 and swatted down a proposed tax hike last year.

California's minimum wage is tied to inflation. Newsom has nothing to do with it. And anyway, 99 Cents Only operates all over the west, not just in California.

But sure, blame Newsom. Why not? Someone on the radio probably says everything is all his fault.

Later: Newsom does share the blame for the state's dumb high-speed rail project: Newsom on high-speed rail: Same old crap. So does President Biden.

Kevin Drum, on the other hand, has always been good on the issue: California’s train to nowhere is such a dumb waste of money.

Rob's comment:
Here in San Francisco, I've posted about Gavin Newsom for years. Mostly I supported him after he tackled the city's homeless problem that helped him become mayor in days of yore.

City progressives never forgave Newsom, a liberal Democrat, for successfully beating them to the punch on an issue on which city residents clearly wanted action from city hall.

Pictured above is a one of the more creative anti-Newsom demonstrations in 2007. 

One thing you can say about Newsom: he can take criticism, which he got a lot of here in Progressive Land, almost all of which came from the city's left.

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Daily Kos

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Friday, April 12, 2024

Identity Crisis

Buried frescos uncovered

Nice abs, dude

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Thursday, April 11, 2024

Where condors soar

From the Washington Post:

Biden will expand two national monuments in California

President Biden plans to expand the boundaries of two national monuments in California in the coming weeks, aiming to bolster his conservation record and increase access to nature for disadvantaged communities, according to two people briefed on the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly.

Biden is expected to sign proclamations expanding the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument and the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument, both of which were originally designated by President Barack Obama, the two people said. The exact timing and location of the announcement has not yet been finalized, although it could coincide with Earth Day on April 22, they said.

John D. Podesta, senior adviser to the president for international climate policy, suggested that the expansions were imminent during a climate summit Thursday hosted by Washington Post Live.

“I worked for President Clinton, for President Obama. They both had tremendous conservation records,” Podesta said. “President Biden is just surpassing that in terms of what he’s able to do in the first term. And I think we’ve got more to come, including better use and better protection of public lands.”

Conservation groups, Native American tribes and California lawmakers have all called on Biden to expand these monuments. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) have championed legislation to enlarge the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, east of Los Angeles, but the measure has stalled in the divided Congress. 

Biden plans to use his executive authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act to bypass the gridlock on Capitol Hill.

Legislation from Padilla and Chu would increase the monument’s size by a third, adding 109,167 acres of Angeles National Forest land to the 346,179-acre monument. It is unclear whether the presidential proclamation would propose the same boundaries as the lawmakers’ bill.

The measure seeks to improve access to nature for Latino and low-income communities in eastern Los Angeles, which lacks parks and other green spaces. The Angeles National Forest is within a 90-minute drive for 18 million people, and it receives more than 4.6 million visitors annually — more than Yosemite, according to Forest Service data. 

On clear winter days, its trails offer stunning vistas of snow-studded peaks for hikers, mountain bikers and campers.

“The national forest provides a critical respite for escaping the urban blight and getting into the outdoors,” said Daniel Rossman, Southern California mountains landscape director for the Wilderness Society, which supports the monument expansion.

In November, the Agriculture Department held a public hearing on the proposed expansion — typically a precursor to a presidential proclamation. Most of the roughly 250 attendees voiced strong support for the proposal, saying it would protect scenic rivers and other sensitive landscapes for generations to come.

“The San Gabriel Mountains are among the most pristine and beautiful public lands in the country, with more visitors annually than Yellowstone, and they are right next to one of the nation’s densest and most park-deprived population centers,” Chu said in an emailed statement.

Chu, who stood beside Obama when he designated the monument in 2014, added that she would be “absolutely elated” for Biden to expand its boundaries and unlock “additional federal support and resources.”

The Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation and other Native American tribes have spearheaded the campaign to expand the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument. They have called for adding roughly 3,925 acres and changing the name of the additional area from “Walker Ridge” to “Molok Luyuk,” which means “Condor Ridge” in the Patwin language.

Molok Luyuk and surrounding lands were part of the ancestral homeland of the Hill Patwin people. Condors once soared in the skies there, but their population has declined due to lead poisoning, habitat destruction and poaching.

Reps. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) and Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) have led legislation to enlarge the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument and allow for tribal co-management of the site. The measure passed the House in 2022, when Democrats controlled the chamber, but has since stalled.

Biden has set an ambitious goal of conserving 30 percent of America’s lands and waters by 2030. He has designated five new national monuments, many of which are on lands that area tribes consider sacred. 

Most recently, the president in August created the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni National Monument near the Grand Canyon, safeguarding the site from new uranium mining.

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Tuesday, April 09, 2024

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