New Briefing Added! Protect California – The California Coastal Act

With special guest Mary Shallenberger, chair of the California Coastal Commission!

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Protect California Briefing: Freight Traffic

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New Film Makes the Case for State Parks

Three young film makers have given proof to the notion that behind every cloud there is a silver lining.

In this case, the cloud is the decision by Governor Jerry Brown and the legislature to cut the Department of Parks and Recreation’s budget and prompt impending closure of 70 state parks.

The silver lining is how the film makers–Lauren Valentino, Jarratt Moody and Cory Brown–responded. So outraged were they by the closure plan that they set out in a converted shuttle bus, with camera equipment to boot, to visit all 70 of the parks over four months. The result is “The First 70″, a moving documentary tribute to the magnificent parks and the role they play in California’s economy and culture.

The film elegantly describes the parks funding crisis and allows the parks and people who care about parks say the rest. The scenery is breathtaking. So much so that after viewing it, one is left even more dumbfounded that the Governor insists on closing them–even though closing ultimately will cost the state’s economy more than it will save.

Sierra Club California co-sponsored a showing of the half-hour film on May 1 in Sacramento to an audience of about 500 that included a good number of Club members and one legislator,  Assembly member Jared Huffman. Huffman, who has sponsored legislation to try to help find new funds for the system, has a brief cameo in the film.

The film should be required viewing for every legislator who voted for the budget last year that began the $22 million in state parks cuts. Indeed, Governor Brown, whose twitter tweets would suggest he enjoys good books, good movies, and good food, ought to see the movie.

You can watch a brief trailer  of the film online. Learn more about the film makers, upcoming screenings and how the film was made at the film’s website.

You can also read more about the parks closures and efforts local groups have made to save the parks in a special section of Bay Nature, a San Francisco Bay Area magazine. Journalist Joan Hamilton wrote the entire section, entitled “The Parks and the People.” It has been dropped in hard-copy form at all of the offices of the state legislature. Let’s hope the lawmakers read it.

While all of the park-saving efforts detailed in the Bay Nature publication are inspiring, one thing remains clear: The governor and the legislature will need to act to permanently fix the park funding crisis. A fine first step would be to restore the budget cuts and keep all 278 state parks open.

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Legislation Calls for Banning Harmful Toxins

Have you ever taken a whiff of an odor so strong that you cannot associate it with anything else but something poisonous?  Well, that would be the case if you live close to driveways, parking lots, or children’s playgrounds that have been sealed with coal-tar sealant.

Coal-tar pavement sealant is a liquid substance that is sprayed or painted on some asphalt pavement.  It has been linked to public health threats and contamination in our lakes and waterways.

Runoff from surfaces containing coal-tar sealant, and windblown particles from the sealant, can have harmful effects on aquatic life, causing difficulty swimming, liver problems, impairments to immune systems and even death.  Humans can also be exposed to this toxin by inhaling dust generated by foot and auto traffic.  The chemicals in coal-tar sealant can pose cancer risks, and have been linked to attention deficit disorder and asthma in children.  It is so toxic that some states and communities have taken either statewide or local action to ban its use.

This year Assembly Bill 1704, introduced by Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), can help California outlaw the use and sale of coal-tar sealant if passed.  Sierra Club California worked closely with our allies and the author’s office and managed to get this bill out of its first committee recently. It is now heading to an appropriations committee that will assess if this proposed law’s costs to the state, if any, can be absorbed.

There is much work that still needs to be done, but we are excited with the progress of the effort to ban the use of this toxic substance.  There are less toxic alternatives available and in broad use.

If you would like to help us on this issue, please call your state Assemblymember today and urge him or her to support this bill once it gets to the floor for votes.  You can find your legislator’s name and contact information by clicking here.

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Protect California Briefing: Timber Harvest Plans

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May 3, 2012 – Protect California Briefing

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May 1st – The First 70 Sacramento Screening

We are pleased to announce that on May 1st, 2012, the Crest Theater in downtown Sacramento is hosting a free screening of The First 70. The screening will be followed by a Question and Answer session with filmmakers Lauren Valentino, Jarrett Moody, and Cory Brown of Heath Hen Films.

The First 70 is a short (approximately 28 minutes) independent film that chronicles the filmmakers’ journey through California as they document the closure of 70 state parks. The documentary has breathtaking footage of parks and insightful interviews with people working to keep the state parks open.

First 70 Sacramento ScreeningCalaveras Big Trees State Park
Tuesday, May 1
Crest Theater
1013 K Street
Sacramento, CA

Doors open at 6:00 p.m.

Screening begins at 6:10 p.m.

A limited number of seats are available for this free screening, so please be sure to RSVP. Once your RSVP is received, an email confirmation will be sent to you. Please print and bring your confirmation letter with you to the Crest Theater for admittance to the screening. Please note that seating is limited and on a first come, first served basis.

We hope to see you on May 1st in Sacramento!

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April 26th, 2012 – Protect California Briefing

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April 19, 2012 – Protect California Environmental Briefing

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April 12th Environmental Briefing

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