Saturday, June 18, 2016

Sunday Reading: Jacarandas, POLA, Reagan vs. Berkeley, and Coyotes

Love 'em or hate 'em? Jacaranda Trees are enchanting and messy, and Julia Weck goes into great depth on them in this LAist article.

I knew that one 19th century gardener in San Diego had been responsible for planting hundreds of the trees, but I did not know there were 49 species, that there were 148,530 in 2010 (oh, come on! Someone counted them?) and that no two trees flower on exactly the same schedule.

Weck goes through the entire history of jacarandas in Southern California. Read this and astound your friends the next time someone starts whining about "those damn purple flowers" that stick to your car. You will be a fountain of knowledge about jacarandas. The only thing that Weck fails to mention is the fact that the seed pods make great pretend hand grenades for 10-year-olds. Trust me on that.

The Port of Los Angeles is in the Smithsonian. Yup, my favorite magazine wants to know if we can really meet our goal of having a zero-emission freight service by 2050. Did you know that POLA has decreased particulate emissions by 83% since 2005? The article lists the ways we accomplished that, then goes into future plans. We are pretty impressive.

This month marks the 50th anniversary of Ronald Reagan's rise to power as California's governor, since it was 50 years ago on June 7th that he clinched the Republican nomination for that office. He went on to defeat Pat Brown, the father of Jerry Brown. Those were turbulent times.

The UC Berkeley News published a retrospective back in 2004, on the occasion of Ronald Reagan's death. It is interesting to read, even now, 12 years later. The article looked at Reagan and how he targeted that University and its student protesters to present himself as the defender of law and order. This was the very beginning of student demonstrations against the Viet Nam War, and those actions horrified most folks back then. Demonstrate against our own government? Were those kids crazy?

Those were emotional times, too, with right and left as polarized as they are today--though along different lines. Reading about it with an added 40 years of perspective was enlightening.

Tracking coyotes through the number of sightings in city neighborhoods. You'd think there would be a database somewhere, right? Depends. I think the city of Claremont was doing that a dozen years ago, but Los Angeles and the South Bay are just now getting on the bandwagon. In this Daily Breeze article, one expert scolds, "This needed to be done five years ago, not now."

According to the Breeze, no one knows how big the coyote population was in 2000, or 2008, or now. There's no data, just dozens of sightings. We didn't even keep records on coyote attacks on humans till 2011.

I live next to a canyon, where the first lone coyote was spotted over a year ago. Predictably (in retrospect), he invited his friends and now we have families of coyotes prowling our parking lots at night. Cats have gone missing. Those of us with dogs thing twice before walking them after dark.

The article is mostly based on information from one expert, Niamh Quinn. Coyote behavior, city responses (or lack thereof) and what we can expect in future are topics covered.

However, LACurbed points to a map from KCET showing that someone HAS been keeping track of coyote reports. KCET's map is from the Urban Wildlands Group, color-coded by year. I clicked on some dots that went back to 2003. There are NO sightings listed in Torrance, only a few in San Pedro, so I have to assume the data is rather randomly collected, or favors certain areas (the north) over others. And, when I went to Urban Wildland's website, the latest news on the home page was dated 2015. (Did not see a date on the KCET story).

KCET also has a 10 minute video about what is being done to track coyote in Los Angeles. And surprise! The first thing we learn is that we don't know very much about urban coyotes.

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