Posts Tagged ‘endangered species act’

The Otter Project

For some of us, the 80’s were hard.  They meant ill-advised side ponytails, far too much spandex, and awkward high school social interactions.  Yet, no matter how rough it may have been for humans, the sea otters living off the California coast had a much tougher go of things.

In 1987, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, under the advice of Ronald Reagan and Strom Thurmond established a “No-Otter Zone” spanning from Point Conception south to the Mexican Border.  The Zone was created in response to complaints from the fishing industry that the otters were a threat to commercial species, and from oil companies worried that having such a cute and cuddly ocean ambassador would impede their drilling activities.

Even though the otters were protected by the Endangered Species Act as well as the Marine Mammal Protection Act, these animals were translocated to an “experimental” colony around San Nicholas Island in efforts to manage their populations.  The reasoning for the move was that in the event of an oil spill, large numbers of otters would perish, leaving the stocks depleted.  Having a reserve colony off the distant Channel Island could in effect save the bloodline and preserve genetic diversity.

Sadly, the translocation project was an abject failure.  Many otters died, disappeared, or swam back to their previous homes.  In 1993, only 12 otters out of the expected 150 lived off of the island.  The FWS found itself moving otters back at the cost of nearly $10,000 per animal, and encountered dead or sick otters that could have suffered adverse effects from transportation.  The FWS decided to stop containing the otters, but also did nothing to alter the law.

After years of lawsuits brought by both fisherman and environmentalists, the No-Otter Zone remains in effect although not enforced.  Otters are moving back into the the territory, but are still considered vulnerable until the legislation is officially repealed.

To advocate for protecting the otters, community members are invited to attend the FWS’s upcoming hearing in Santa Barbara on October4 from 5-8pm at the Fleischman Auditorium at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.  In addition, supporters are encouraged to write the FWS and local senators and representatives asking for a repeal of the No-Otter Zone.

For more information, visit the Otter Project’s Website to see how you can help one of California’s most famous residents!


April 22, 2011 marks the 41st annual Earth Day. Founded during the birth of the environmental movement, Earth Day arose as a symbol of the nation’s new-found ecological awareness. Establishment of the holiday followed the publication of Rachael Carson’s seminal work, Silent Spring in 1962 which exposed the extent of pollution in the United States.  This book was considered a wake-up call to communities across the country as well as throughout the world, selling over 500,000 copies across 24 countries and appearing the New York Times Best Seller List.

During the 70’s, the culture of anti-war and and civil rights activism gave rise to this new environmental consciousness.  After witnessing the catastrophic Santa Barbara, California oil spill in 1969, Wisconsin senator Gaylord Nelson was inspired to join forces with Congressman Pete McCloskey and Denis Hayes to establish Earth Day as a national observance.

The first Earth Day witnessed protests across the country where millions of Americans demonstrated in universities and local government agencies to assert their rights to clean, sustainable living conditions.  These rallies were cited as the impetus for the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.  Today, the Earth Day Network sponsors environmental advocacy projects year-round, including healthy school initiatives, civic leadership programs, climate change awareness, and encouraging women’s rights in the green economy.

This year’s Earth Day is dubbed “A Billion Acts of Green”, themed after their organization’s grassroots campaign to devote pledges to environmental sustainability.  Suggestions for activities range from donating money to fight deforestation through their Canopy Project to Arts for the Earth, a celebration of environmental artists and design competition.  For a complete list of ideas plus downloadable pdf files to help organize and host your own Earth Day celebration, visit the Earth Day Network website.

Bambu Batu’s home city of San Luis Obispo will be celebrating on April 23 in El Chorro Regional Park from 10am-5pm.  The Park — surrounded by the El Chorro Botanical Garden, Steve Weiss AIDS Memorial Grove, and Dairy Creek Golf Course — will host an outdoor village of 15o exhibitor spaces, ten prominent locations, and two stages.  Free admission and transportation by the Regional Transit Authority to the event will be available throughout the county.  Join the global village and honor the planet with some fun outside!