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Marin’s Floating Islands
Two floating islands have popped up over the Marin County Civic Center Lagoon
. These waterborne installations serve as biofilters to help improve the quality of life in the water and its surrounding vegetation.
These aren’t the first floating islands designed to improve the quality of aquatic life in the Bay Area: both Walnut Creek and Marysville adopted similar platforms as part of the Civic Center Watershed Restoration (CCWR) project, the brainchild of Environmental Forum of Marin students Alex Kahl, Aurora Mahassine and Dan Monte.
The design, by Bioneer John Todd, is supposed to take advantage of the lagoon’s natural environment and marry its ecosystem with indigenous wisdom from around the world. The island, which supports plant life, floats on top of the lagoon. It receives its water from the lagoon’s surface, and in return the water is enriched with the plant’s nitrogen cycle. Fish, insects and birds all benefit from the floating islands, and since the plants are native, no foreign plant infestations endanger the lagoon.
CCWR receives support from Floating Island West, Marin Supervisor Damon Connolly, the Frank Lloyd Wright Conservancy and volunteers from the Marin School of Environmental Leadership and the Santa Venetia Neighborhood Asociation. Local plant species to accompany the floating islands are provided by the Watershed Nursery in Richmond.
New Napa Open Space
Some of the wild side of the 6,500-acre Cedar Roughs Wilderness is due for some public exposure as the State Wildlife Conservation Board approved a $1.4 million grant to send nearly 450 acres to the Napa County Regional Park and Open Space District (NCPOSD).
The land purchase is the first steppingstone toward providing complete, uninterrupted public access to Cedar Roughs Wilderness by bridging the gap between it and Berryessa-Knoxville Road. Envisioned 10 years ago by the Land Trust of Napa County, grant funding for these particular parcels of land wasn’t possible until 2014, when the California Department of Fish and Wildlife completed a Conceptual Area Protection plan, highlighting possible conservation opportunities in the Blue Ridge-Berryessa region.
NCPOSD finalized the purchase in October 2015. Use permits, environmental surveys and a new trail connecting the land to the Bureau of Reclamation’s Smittle Creek Day Use Area parking lot are in the works before the park officially opens. It’s expected to take three years to complete.
Who Needs a HERO?
Homeowners with leaky water pipes or solar panel-ready roofs in Healdsburg, Cloverdale and Windsor can now cash in on these long-term investments by using the Property Assessed Clean Energy program
(PACE) hosted by HERO program
Designed to appeal to homeowners who want to make water and energy-saving repairs to their property, the PACE program offers a maintenance assessment that pays off through property tax payments. Owners will immediately save on utility bills, and the assessment fee is paid off in five to 20 years.
Already adopted by Sebastopol and Sonoma, the HERO program addresses Governor Jerry Brown’s mandate to reduce urban water consumption by 25 percent. To date, water efficiency projects HERO helped finance estimate 1.4 billion gallons of water saved currently available to 10.5 million households in 344 communities across the state.
HERO’s high-efficiency low-flow toilets, faucets and showerheads; drip irrigation systems; rainwater catchment; gray water systems; and artificial turf programs saved an estimated 1.4 billion gallons of water, according to HERO-financed studies.
The HERO program is completely voluntary and PACE financing is cost neutral to participating local governments.