Coastal Post Online

September 2001

Moo Town News

Where Have All the Environmentalists Gone?

By Judy Borello

Out here in West Marin, we have become inundated with groups and committees addressing the real problems, potential problems, and personal perceptions of "not so real" problems surrounding Tomales Bay. To list a few, there is The Tomales Bay Association, Environmental Action Committee, Tomales Bay Advisory, Sierra Club Marin, the Tomales Bay Shellfish Advisory Committee, the Waterkeepers of Northern California, the Tomales Bay Watershed Council, Septac, State Health, San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control board, EPA, and the list goes on.

Mud Flat Bay

In the early 1970s, the Army Corps of Engineers offered to dredge Tomales Bay free of charge. A few environmental groups at the time turned it down. Ten to 15 years later, one of the environmental groups hired a professional (through a grant) to study the bay and give recommendations. I was at the meeting when the professional told the crowd the first and primary recommendation was to dredge the bay, only this time it would cost upwards of $4 million. The bay is silting in at a very high rates. Periodically, nature flexes its muscles, such as the January 4, 1982 flood when Redwood Canyon, on the west shore of Tomales Bay, dumped thousands of tons of silt into the drink. What happened in 15 hours by Mother Nature couldn't be duplicated by cows for the next thousand years.

The problems many of us perceive are the carcinogens going into the bay that are way more lethal than coliform. The MTBE which is put in gasoline for cars and boats in the State of California, pushed upon us by the Environmental Protection Agency, has proven to be very toxic to the water (Tomales Bay). Chemicals of this type are very dangerous to the fish and water fowl surrounding our beloved bay but this is hardly ever addressed.

Browsing the Tomales Bay Association's newsletter for Summer 2001, I noticed that in Olema, the Olema Farmhouse Restaurant wants to extend their deck, and Harriman's Point Reyes Seashore Lodge and the Olema Ranch Campground have expansion plans. All of the environmental concerns about these projects don't come close to rivaling those of the low-cost housing project in the middle of the historic village of Point Reyes Station and its environmental detriment on the creek, the bay, and the overloading of the population of the village itself. This is the same organization which is contemplating a lawsuit against North Marin Water District. Their belief is that, because of a drought condition, North Marin will allot more water to people and not the fish. Well, what's going to happen when the town grows by one-third overnight and water supply is needed. There are so many crucial environmental concerns with this housing project that it boggles the mind, the septic, the water, the creek, the beloved, bay, the red-legged toad, the rodents, the fish, etc.

This EAH proposed project is the largest and most profound environmental project that has come down the pipe in decades. Where are the environmentalist groups? Is it because a few of the proponents of the project are friends of the heads of these organizations? If it is, that's the most hypocritical agenda of all. They (the environmental groups) who claim to have a real concern and love for the environment should never compromise their integrity because of friendships, and turn their head like they don't see the repercussions of this project which will last forever. Once this project is completed, there won't be any turning back. The risks are too great and the pay-off too little!

P.S. Well, while we're on environmental issues: smokers pick up your butts, dog lovers clean up your pet's mess, horse people clean up the horse plops, and everyone be responsible for your own trashing of the community, beaches, and bay.



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