Monday, November 28, 2016

December 2016: Sierra Santa Margarita Group Report, Palm and Pine

Sierra Santa Margarita Group
Michael H. Momeni, PhD
Environmental Nuclear Scientist

What Is Our Mission?
Our mission is embedded in the objectives of the Sierra Club: “To practice and promote the responsible use of the earth’s ecosystem and resources; protect, restore the quality of the natural environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out those objectives.”
We are often challenged by those whose principle objective is to exploit the natural resources at any expense to our environment.  Our tasks are apolitical and solely based on our objectives.  We intend to protect the environment irrespective of the success or failure of any political party.
However, our tasks are more difficult when the moto of a political party would be fully adverse to our mission.  We have had these challenges in the past.  We have been deterred, but we have not changed our mission.

Honoring Dr. Gordon Pratt and Cecilia Lono Pierce

We acknowledge the generosity of Dr. Pratt and Cecilia Lono Pierce in support of our organization.


Transportation Task Group

To reduce the impact of exhaust from automobiles in this region, we have to advocate for a cost-effective mass transit system within our communities and between nearby cities.  Our long term objective is to push for a rapid electric train connecting our region to San Diego and Los Angeles and their existing mass transit systems.

Our short term objective is to have a local mass-transit system in Southwest Riverside County. The Temecula-Murrieta area and the unincorporated regions together have a population of about 250,000, but we do not have a local mass-transit system.  The Riverside Transit Agency provides inter-city mass-transit linking the cities in Riverside County. 

The existing Red Trolley operates with a very limited schedule and provides limited service to Temecula. We have requested an expansion of the Trolley schedule and routes to cover major portions of the city.  

Unless we provide our people with other options, we can’t foresee them not using their personal cars for local transportation.  

Ex-Com Election
We have elected three members to our Executive Committee; the deadline for the receipt of ballots was November 30, 2016. The results will be announced during our next monthly meeting in January.

Local Political Activity

Our Group enthusiastically recommended Tim Sheridan, a supporter of Sierra Club principles, for Congress in the recent elections; however, CA's 42nd District remained in the hands of a long-term, firmly-entrenched incumbent.

A summary of our Activities:

1. Primal Pastures on Oct. 15, 2016
We toured Primal Pastures; Farmer John, our tour guide, detailed the objectives for the operation. The operation is a small family farm located in Murrieta, California. Their goal is to produce wholesome meat that is grown humanely, responsibly and sustainably.

Tour of Primal Pastures

2. Temecula Olive Oil Ranch

We had a great educational afternoon, November 6, 2016.  In addition we had good music, good food, olive oil tasting and raffle.  It was a good opportunity to meet and socialize, and listen to a talented vocalist, Kelly Wilson.


Thom Curry of Temecula Olive Oil Company was our tour guide.  We learned briefly how the ranch was created, the microclimate of the site, the type of olive trees, and the process of extracting olive oil from the fruits. 


Tour of Temecula Olive Ranch

3. California Energy System in Transition, Regional Perspectives and Local Opportunities

Scott Flint was our speaker at November 10, 2016 monthly meeting. Scott is Program Manager at the California Energy Commission (CEC), in Sacramento, the primary energy policy and planning entity of the state. Its mission is to reduce energy costs and environmental impacts of energy use and ensuring a safe, resilient, and reliable supply of energy to the state.

  • California climate goals and how they are driving changes to the Energy System;
  • Environmental performance of the energy system for the last ten years;
  • The CEC’s multi-faceted approach to achieving climate goals (efficiency, rooftop and distributed solar, utility scale facilities, wind repowering, and transmission). 

4. Meadows View: AmeriCorps

Meadow Day, October 29, 2016, was organized by Teri Biancardi.  The panel of speakers discussed alternative approaches to land management in areas at risk of desertification. These include erosion control, soil remediation and native plant regeneration strategies, which are currently being implemented in the community open space by an AmeriCorps team, who is deployed to the area for
six weeks.

From the left: Teri Biancardi, Carmen Fields, Zach Chastain, Anisha Borthakur, Cody Autaubo

Teri Biancardi discussed methods for erosion control, soil remediation, and native plant regeneration. 

A summary of the other activities:

October 5, 2016: Thompson Middle School’s successful Eco-Fair was attended by over 500 7th grade students.  Several agencies provided interactive information. The focus was on tracking of the wildlife and the Murrieta Creek Regional Trail next to the school.

Also, Pam Nelson, Teri Biancardi and Laurie Webster, members of the Altair Team, investigated the proposed development in detail through the eyes of the city planning staff, developers and the councilmen/woman.  The development impinges on the already restricted wildlife corridors and freeway crossing.  

November 5, 2016:  Pam, Scott and Caren tabled at the annual Family Wildlife Day at the Santa Rosa Plateau.

November 21, 2016:  Twenty people participated in the fifth workshop of our Teachers’ Environmental Education program.  Topics were environmental science through lessons, field trips, community outings and field monitoring.

December 11, 2016:  Our Holiday party is at Vail Lake Resort once a “wild west” cattle range. The site has recently been opened to the public.  We’ll have a hay ride tour of the site, music and food.

January 12, 2017: the speaker for our monthly meeting is Dr. Norrie Robbins. She is interested on assisting school children to better understand the physical and biological elements of our environment. Her presentation will include the physical make-up of our Santa Margarita river watershed, earthquake faults, and other earth-changing themes.

The published issue of Palm and Pine, please see page 6:

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Temecula Olive Oil Ranch

Our guests of honor were Dr. Gordon Pratt and his wife Cecilia Lono Pierce.
Sierra Santa Margarita group acknowledges the great generosity of Dr. Pratt and Cecilia Lono Pierce supporting our organization.  We thank both of you.

Dr. Gordon Pratt did his undergraduate in Biology at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts and his Masters in Molecular Biology isolating mRNA from female blowflies at Queen’s University in Kingston Ontario, Canada.  He later did his Ph.D. on the systematics of the dotted blues (Euphilotes) at the University of California at Riverside.  These butterflies potentially evolved in sympatry through food plant shifts onto buckwheat species with different bloom times.  From there he went to the University of Delaware to do a postdoc on sympatric speciation through host plant shifts in Enchenopa binotata (treehoppers).  In the mid-1990s Dr. Pratt returned to the University of California at Riverside and continued his research on butterflies and their food plants.  During his time at the University of California Dr. Pratt taught an extension course on butterfly ecology, studied insect and plant diversities on military installations, and endangered butterflies of southern California.  In 2013 Pratt retired from the University of California but still works on butterflies and their food plants of southern California.

Cecilia Lono Pierce, his wife, has helped collecting many of the seeds they have harvested from their garden.  She has contributed to maintaining their garden.  They also obtained the seeds for the plants they grow and sell from their garden.  Her contribution to their garden has reduced the workload for both of them.  Therefore; this has contributed to Dr. Pratt ability to invest more time in his other interests.  

They have authored papers together on the biology of specific butterflies. 

Sierra Club of Santa Margarita group and friends had a great afternoon on November 6th; we had fun, adventure and lessons about how to grow olive trees and make olive oil. We met at the Temecula Olive Oil Company Ranch in Aguanga, California.  In addition to good time, we had live music, appetizers and good food, olive oil tasting and a raffle.  It was really a good opportunity to meet and socialize, and listen to a talented vocalist.

Thom Curry of Temecula Olive Oil Company was our tour guide.  We learned briefly how the ranch was created, the microclimate of the site, the type of olive trees, and the process of extracting olive oil from the fruits.  We also learned something about the facts and fictions about marketing of olive oil.

Who is Thom Curry?

He has a sense of humor about his business.  He said:

I grew up a “Navy Brat” moving around the country every couple of years, as far away from farming as possible. After attending college in San Diego, I ended up in the wine business for over 20 years. During that time I learned a bit about farming grapes and started a small winery. My wife and I became enamored with the culture and cultivation of olive trees and decided to dabble a bit. I became involved with the COOC Taste Panel and we started selling our first olive oil in the small winery tasting room. We have continued to grow from there.
About my Grove:

we have several groves all over Southern California, but our home ranch is the Olive View Ranch in the bustling metropolis of Aguanga, California. We have planted over 30 different varieties of olives on this beautiful 26 acre former cattle ranch. We operate two unique mills there and we offer tours and educational opportunities for the public.

What is my perfect day?

Every day is perfect in Southern California, but conducting a tour at the ranch in Aguanga is so much fun. Visiting some of our new plantings in the area to see the progress of trees that are being planted for the first time in California is rewarding. I like to nip in to one of our tasting rooms to see how much people really enjoy the fruits of our labors. No day is complete without family, my wife and girls are my life. Every day with them is perfect.

We are grateful to Pam Nelson for organizing the event and her preparation of foods and drink.  It was a great success. Thank you very much.  With gratitude to great entertainment by the talented vocalist Kelly Wilson; she is daughter of Pam Nelson. 

Acknowledgement:  Some of the pictures included in this post were captures by Scott Smith.  Thank you.