Skip to comments.Fairy shrimps and bears hot topics for species protection
Posted on 01/25/2006 7:59:14 AM PST by GreenFreeper
From barely visible fairy shrimp to highly visible black bears, we share our Napa Valley home with a rich diversity of animals, birds, fish, insects and plants. Some of them are listed as threatened or endangered. As our houses and vineyards press outward from the valley floor, we are moving deeper into our wild neighbors' spaces, and discovering that sharing habitats is not always easy.
The recent killing of four black bears at a Pope Valley vineyard drew attention to a critical question: How do we balance the need for protecting our agricultural land and crops while also preserving critical habitat for native, rare, threatened or endangered species?
The bear-killing, which was done legally to protect vineyard land, incited a strong public outcry in favor of protecting the bears, even among some other vineyard owners. It also raised curiosity about what rare, threatened or endangered species live in Napa County, and what we should do to protect them.
A recent panel discussion on "Living with Endangered Species" held at the Napa Valley Museum brought together a diverse group representing a range of environmental and agriculture expertise to explore these issues. The panel discussion reflected on the museum's most recent, stunning exhibit, "Witness: Endangered Species of North America," based on the book of the same title and curated by photographers Susan Middleton and David Littschwager. Middleton was on hand to lead a tour of the exhibit, then served as moderator of the panel discussion.
Panel members included Dr. Rainer Hoenicke, an environmental scientist with the San Francisco Estuary Institute; Stephen Rae, managing partner of MUSCI Natural Resource Assessment; Laurette Rogers, project coordinator of the Bay Institute's California Freshwater Shrimp Project; Tom Gamble, owner of Davies and Gamble and member of the Napa County Farm Bureau; Volker Eisele, owner of the Volker Eisele Family estate and organic farmer; and Davie Pia, owner of Pia Vineyards Management and member of the Rutherford Dust Restoration Team.
Each panel member gave a brief talk, then fielded questions from the audience. The bear incident was still fresh in people's minds, so the primary focus was the interface between agriculture and wildlife.
"In Napa County, our human activities don't need to interfere with wildlife," said Hoeneke. "Most farmers recognize we can pursue economic activities while living with wildlife."
Eisele, who farms 400 acres, echoed these sentiments. "Coyotes run freely on our land, they have their dens right next to the vineyards," he says. "We have a six-foot fence with no barbed wire. The mountain lions have learned to use the fence by driving deer against it. The quail and hares provide food for large raptors. And yes, we do have black bears, and sometimes they cause damage - but that's nothing compared to the thrill of having them. We get more damage from 'alien species' like feral pigs and turkeys."
Eisele got a good laugh from the audience when he was asked what he does about pests. "We do nothing, we ignore everything!" he quipped.
Gamble offered some thoughts in response to letters to the editor published recently in the Napa Valley Register. "Some critics of the bear killings suggest that fences be put around vineyards," he said. "However, growers have been criticized for installing fencing because the type of fencing typically installed impairs animal migration, thus isolating wildlife populations and encouraging inbreeding of those populations."
Gamble mentioned a neighbor who is experimenting with an innovative fencing solution: roll-up fencing. The six-foot-high fence, made of a flexible plastic or nylon material, is put in place in the spring and removed after harvest, allowing free movement for wildlife during half the year.
Fence or no fence, Gamble sees an inextricable connection between expanding urbanization and loss of wildlife habitat. "Preserving agriculture and open space is the best way to preserve wildlife," said Gamble.
Eisele noted that California loses 50,000 acres of agricultural land every year. "That is not sustainable," he said. "Europeans have learned one thing: Agricultural land is 'holy.' If you want to have a food base, you don't put a house on it. I don't understand why people here don't fight harder to stop the loss of agricultural land."
Every panel member spoke about the importance of education.
"We need more education," said Eisele. "Organizations like Acorn Soupe are doing a wonderful job of bringing this kind of thinking to children in school."
Rogers, whose core focus is educating children, was giving a presentation to a class about why watershed restoration is critical to protecting various species, and a student asked "What do we do to save the species?" She suggested the class adopt an endangered species to save. The majority were enamored by the infinitesimal but fascinating fairy shrimp.
"I have to admit, I have 'species bias,'" said Rogers. "I might have chosen something else, something more majestic, like a mountain lion," she laughed. "But we studied it and together we all fell in love with it. Pick a species, any species, and find out all about it, and you will fall in love with it!"
Rogers described her fairy shrimp project as a good example of project-based learning. She works with ranchers in Napa, including Stags Leap Wine Cellar, as well as ranchers in Sonoma and Marin Counties, to help protect fairy shrimp habitats on private property. Transparent and tiny, they are difficult to see but command a $10,000 fine if you're caught taking one.
Some panelists shared their personal experiences with watershed and habitat restoration. Pia described how the Rutherford Dust Society (www.rutherforddust.org) was created to bring 28 private landowners in the Rutherford appellation together to voluntarily restore a four-mile section of the Napa River. The group hired a consultant to develop a conceptual plan, then applied for grants to help fund the work. "When you get involved in the river, you find so many things you didn't know about," says Pia. "I can finally say 'geomorphology.'"
The Rutherford Dust Society is now beginning to apply for permits, and their success to date has inspired other appellations further upstream to explore doing something similar. It's a difficult prospect for some landowners, however. "It will be painful," said Pia. "There will be setbacks, and some will lose vineyards and trees."
The two-hour panel discussion was followed by a wine and cheese reception for panelists and guests to "enjoy friendly arguments with fine wine," according to the Museum's energetic curator of education, Miki Hsu Leavey.
This event was a successful first step for the museum in promoting community dialogue on challenging issues. A second panel discussion is slated to take place in several months. There are also plans to exhibit the results of a land-use themed challenge to local artists later in the year.
"This is the first of a series of panel discussions we hope to have focusing on the Napa Valley and its environment," said Leavey. The Napa Valley Museum is dedicated to promoting the cultural and environmental heritage of the Napa Valley.
For more information about upcoming exhibits and events at the Napa Valley Museum, visit www.napavalleymuseum.org, or call 944-0500.
For a list of threatened and endangered species in Napa, visit Napa County Resource Conservation District Web site at www.naparcd.org. Click on "Biology" and then "Threatened and endangered species."
Pia described how the Rutherford Dust Society (www.rutherforddust.org) was created to bring 28 private landowners in the Rutherford appellation together to voluntarily restore a four-mile section of the Napa River.
Fairy shrimp: Ooh! That crab boil is tho hot!
What utter hogwash!
Save the Sand!!
No we have to worry about gay shrimp?
shoot shovel and shut up.
I don't think they mentioned that anywhere in the article.
I would want Fairy Shrimp blood on my hands ;)
Hmmmm....I wonder what they taste like in scampi sauce?
They'd be a bit of a hassle, because you'd need a lot of them.
Perhaps they'd be nice in an Alfredo sauce over some angel hair pasta.
The bear-killing, which was done legally to protect vineyard land, incited a strong public outcry in favor of protecting the bears...While they never explicitly called the bears "endangered", the context and placement of them certainly implies it.
Bears don't need protection from man, it's the other way around.
I wath gonna thay you are tho thick but wath afraid you'd think i wath commenting on your phythical fitneth.
They're going to be up to their spandex clad butts in bears within a few short years.
I thought they were short guys from Greenwich Village.
The Fairy Shrimp was the name of bar located in Laguna Beach back in the seventies. Or was it the Little Shrimp?
...or San Francisco
Don't ask, don't tell.
Everyone wants to protect the big fury charismatic species. Nothing new there. Heck, deer are becoming a bigger pest than rodents and still people want to eliminate deer hunting. Ahh the balance of emotion vs. logic creates problems every time.
"Perhaps they'd be nice in an Alfredo sauce over some angel hair pasta."
Whoever took the photograph used a microscope, it would take thousands to make a teaspoon full!
You know, those look suspiciously like Sea-Monkeys(TM).
I should know, because my daughter just had to have some for Christmas.
In-fill and D-e-v-e-l-o-p-e-r-s; tax base for towns/cities/schools/. Is progress measured in population with disregard to all else? D-e-v-e-l-o-p-m-e-n-t in in-appropriate areas for taxes to city/towns/schools. Progress is a two-edged sword what do you need and what do you want? It isnt just animal habitat it is people habitat that is being crowded out by D-e-v-e-l-o-p-e-r-s for short time jobs, leaving scorched earth behind them as the D-e-v-e-l-op-e-r rarely resides in the place where flora and fauna have been removed for the new housing development. Try to stop these people and you run into an unbelievable machine run by Bureaucrats down town who take no responsibility as the D-e-v-e-l-o-p-e-r-s write the ordinances for the most part.
Why are you doing that?
Yup. Flippin' deer keep jumping my fence and eating my garden. I'm just waiting for a one-day-only in-town deer hunt! :-)
(Not really, since there are way too many drinking hunters in this town.)
Fairy shrimp are totally useless except to some university AH. They only live a few days or weeks in mud puddles after a rain and don't serve as a food source for anything that I know of.
The only purpose they serve is to provide enviro whackos a means of stopping all development or grading. Those AHs run out and file suit to stop development if they can find any depression in the land that could collect a few gallons of water if it rains.
"I'm just waiting for a one-day-only in-town deer hunt!"
Get a crossbow and fill your freezer!
Spray scrape and burn!!!
The underlying motive here is to maintain a playground for the few with the means and time to enjoy it.
Was this copied from the S.F. Examiner?
They are, however, much tastier than sand. Mmmm, bear kabobs...
Yeah, but it would be worth it.
Endangered species just taste so good.
I dont care.
Because I get so darn irate over tax payer abuse for carpet baggers who could care less of how they leave the land as long as city and developers get their money.
I'm with you there, but I just found it unusual.
Interesting article. When fairness mixed with intellegience is applied can be a win/win situation.
Y'all been pinged to this Bear Roast yet...
The Dust Restoration Team?
I caught that too. The farmers in the Central Valley are being forced to spend Billions and Billions to reduce dust, Oh My...
Maybe they're an important food source for other animals, especially fishes.
Sounds reasonable but I don't know of any fish that live in the extremely saline playa lakes.
You have nailed the Fairy Shrimp bs. In N California, it usually doesn't rain from about May until late Sept or sometime in October, and often not until November.
In the world before the evil man came along, these fairy shrimp died (unless Herons or Egrets ate them as an appetizer) when their little winter/spring seasonal pools dried up.
"Fairy shrimp are totally useless except to some university AH. They only live a few days or weeks in mud puddles after a rain and don't serve as a food source for anything that I know of."
"The only purpose they serve is to provide enviro whackos a means of stopping all development or grading. Those AHs run out and file suit to stop development if they can find any depression in the land that could collect a few gallons of water if it rains."
Fish don'e live in temporary mud puddles after a rain.
A little background on some of these very elite and often trust fund liberal winos er vineyard owners. Up to about 3-4 years ago, these people were big funders and supporters of the Sierra Club and other enviral organizations.
They woke up to the reality that the SC would put most of them out of business. They had a green rebellion and took over control of the local Sierra Club. Since then, the local SC under their control for the most part seeks ways to work with local farmers and land ownners.
Hidden in this woodpile of super rich lefties are whackos like Robert Redford and Nancy Pelosi and her husband:
It is really hard to find an old family owned vineyard/winery in Napa county unlike the Sonoma county vineyard area, where the same families have owned the land and vineyards for decades and generations. Super rich elites from NY and Follywood have been buying up old family vineyards for the past two decades in Napa county. What they haven't bought, often has been bought by some mega corporation. Then, the VIPs of that organization can fly out here to make sure that everything is a ok.
As noted above, many of these new vineyard/land owners are very elite and wealthy, and they are big and long time liberals. Some come from old trust fund families. Does Procter and Gamble ring any bells. One of the Gamble trust funders is quoted in this article. In fair balance he seems like a nice fellow.
The undiscussed goal of many of these elites is to use our tax exempting system to create ways to protect their estates from taxes. Then, they and their heirs can live on the estates tax free and forever.
In the future we may see the creation of the Napa Valley Rutherford Dust Preservation, Fairy Shrimp Preservation, Red Legged Frog Preservation, Blue Heron Preservation, Napa River Steelhead Preservation combined into one massive reserve.
This reserve will be made up from the so called donation of the vineyards by these 28 landowners. The owners and their heirs will then live tax free forever on the new reserve. They will still grow grapes and produce wine under a special tax free grant for the kind donation of their land and maybe 10% of the profits going back to the county and various so called green organizations. This was called fascism in Germany and Italy from the 1930's until WWII was over.
The good news is the local Sierra Club has been castrated and made into a nice lap kitty instead of the feral mountain lion, it used to be.
I just did some more research. It turns out that ducks and other waterfowl are the main predators of fairy shrimp, but are also responsible for propagating their eggs. They're also an important food source for the tadpoles of spadefoot toads, who wait until after the rainfall to mate and lay eggs.
The ducks don't need them and if all the tadpols and toads eat was fairies they would have all died out centuries ago.
If a species is endangered, kill it and it won't be endangered any more.