A gas-mask wearing demonstrator during the first Earth Day celebration in 1970. (Associated Press)
Happy Earth Day!
To start, a quick quiz:
1. Who said the following quote:
“Restoring nature to its natural state is a cause beyond party and beyond factions. It has become a common cause of all the people of this country. It is a cause of particular concern to young Americans, because they, more than we, will wreak the grim consequences of our failure to act on programs which are needed now if we are to prevent disaster later.”
2. Which organization contributed the most money and support to the first Earth Day?
(Yup, you guessed it: you gotta read the post to find the answers.)
Last October California began a dramatic overhaul of its severely overcrowded prison system. Assembly Bill 109 – known as realignment – had the objective of shedding more than 30,000 inmates from in-state prisons and significantly cutting the prison budget. At the time the law took effect, there were more than 143,000 inmates behind bars in California’s 33 prisons. That’s almost twice the system’s design capacity. Meanwhile, California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation received about $10 billion a year from the state’s thinning general fund – over 11 percent of last year’s entire spending plan, more than was spent on the University of California and California State University systems combined. Continue reading →
About two-thirds of Californians drink, bathe, brush their teeth, and flush their toilets with water that comes from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. That’s roughly 25 million people who get at least some portion of their hydration from one big triangular watering hole.
But ask most folks what the Delta is, and you’re guaranteed to get a lot of blank stares. One recent poll found that about 4 out 5 people in California had pretty much no idea about it.
It’s pretty easy to take for granted that water magically pours out of the tap when you turn your faucet on. But chances are, that H20 has gone through a pretty serious journey to reach you – and it’s probably worth knowing where it comes from, and how safe the supply is. Continue reading →
Mark Twain is credited with the famous remark: “Whiskey’s for drinking, water’s for fighting about.”
And there is pretty much no better example than the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, which over the last 150 years has undergone epic transformation and been the epicenter of equally epic political battles.
Scroll through the timeline to get a sense of the modern evolution (or de-evolution, depending on how you look at it) of California’s largest water source.
(It may be easier to view in fullscreen mode: to do so, click on button at the bottom right-hand corner of the timeline)
Natural-Bridges State Beach, near Santa Cruz (credit: Ca. Dept. of Parks and Recreation)
“These state parks are our cathedrals. This is what defines us as Californians to the rest of the world. But they are not cheap to run. And so I think Californians need to decide whether it’s worth it to them to save these parks … I think it begs a much deeper question of what we value as Californians.”
- Ruth Coleman, California state parks director
INCLUDES: INTERACTIVE MAPS AND KQED MULTIMEDIA LINKS
Click on the photo to explore KQED's radio and interactive series on California's parks.
California has a lot of state parks. 278 to be exact – more than any other state in the U.S. Some are tiny specks on the map – mini historic sites that you may have driven by without even noticing. Others are vast swaths of land – thousands of preserved acres of old growth forest, sweeping vistas, pristine beaches. Size and stature aside, each has it’s own significance, and the majority were spearheaded as a result of citizen-led campaigns to make the land public and accessible to anyone who wanted to visit. Continue reading →
In 2010, California voters rejected Proposition 21, which would have added an $18 annual surcharge to vehicle license fees and raised about $500 million annually to fund state park and wildlife conservation programs. Now, without the funding, nearly a quarter of the entire system’s sites – almost 70 parks – are in danger of being closed down. During difficult economic times, it’s no surprise that public resources like state parks are given low priority, especially compared to more urgent services like public safety. Continue reading →