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Archive for October, 2007

What to do with Concord Naval Weapons Station?

Concord City Council to choose Concord Naval Weapons Station alternatives, Tues., Oct. 9, 6:30 p.m.

Make a huge difference for Mount Diablo and its foothills, wildlife and recreational opportunities! With your help we scored a victory on Oct. 2 (see below). The Oct. 9 Concord City Council meeting is even more important.

** Please Attend Council Meeting: The Concord City Council will consider Project Alternatives for the Concord Naval Weapons Station Reuse Plan on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 6:30 p.m. at City Council Chambers, 1950 Parkside Dr., Concord.

Save Mount Diablo and the Community Coalition for a Sustainable Concord have proposed our own alternative to preserve natural landscapes. The city’s consultants have prepared two new alternatives which include most of our requests (Alternatives 6 and 7) — but the City Council might refuse to include them!

Please attend the Concord City Council meeting and support the Community Coalition and inclusion of “Alternatives 6 and 7,” which would retain 72 percent to 81 percent of the base as parks, sports fields and open space. And please contact the City to strengthen your support.

It’s very important that we make a strong showing at this meeting. This past Tuesday, Oct. 2, we were successful when the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) voted 18-2 to include Alternatives 6 & 7, but there will be strong pressure on the city council to include just the alternatives with heavy development. Thank you to those of you who attended the CAC meeting.

While your attendance is most important, a letter, fax or e-mail would also be helpful.

Write/Fax/E-mail: Concord City Council (Mark Peterson, Mayor; Bill Shinn, Vice Mayor; Helen M. Allen, Laura Hoffmeister, Guy Bjerke (Council members)): City of Concord, 1950 Parkside Dr., Concord, CA 94519; Fax: 925-671-3375; If you are a resident of Concord, be sure to include that information in your letter or e-mail.
** Sample letter/e-mail:

The City of Concord is planning the reuse of the 5,100-acre Concord Naval Weapons Station — the largest development project in the East Bay.
** More about Concord Naval Weapons Station:

The project could create a traffic nightmare from East County to the Bay Bridge, with development wall to wall, or it could protect thousands of acres of open space. The City’s alternatives currently being considered would add 6,250 to 13,000 new residential units (and related traffic) to Concord.

Save Mount Diablo is part of the Community Coalition for a Sustainable Concord (Community Coalition). The Coalition is a collection of affordable housing, interfaith, labor, conservation & neighborhood organizations seeking a plan that preserves the Weapons Station’s natural resources and scenic hillsides.

We support a new “Community Coalition alternative,” protecting 80 percent of the base for parks, open space, and recreation.
** Read our complete platform:

We support the creation of a major new regional park east of Mount Diablo Creek, a 300-foot buffer to the creek, and an urban linear park along the Station’s western boundary. Transit-oriented development should be centered on North Concord BART, north of Highway 4 and in “Bunker City” between the urban park and the creek buffer.

At the Oct. 2 Community Advisory Committee meeting, the City included two more alternatives to reflect specific requests of the CAC and the public. “Alternatives 6 and 7” are based on the Community Coalition platform and would achieve a healthy balance between development and preservation of the Weapons Station’s natural resources.

Please attend the City Council meeting on Oct. 9 to ensure parks & open space are balanced with proposed development.

Thank you. We really appreciate your help. /SAVE MOUNT DIABLO STAFF

** To learn more about Save Mount Diablo:

This sounds like a pretty good plan for the Weapons Station. What do you think? /Gary

Posted on Friday, October 5th, 2007
Under: Open space | No Comments »

Go birding with Mount Diablo Audubon Society

Mount Diablo Audubon Society is having a Membership Drive!
It will be this Saturday, Oct. 6, at the Wild Birds Unlimited store, 692 Contra Costa Blvd., Pleasant Hill, Calif. (at the intersection of Golf Links Road, just across from Sun Valley Mall).

A $25 membership entitles you to a monthly publication about all the local Audubon activities, many bird walks each month, informative e-mails, and supports our outreach programs to local schools.

Wild Birds Unlimited is giving $8.99 bags of gourmet birdseed to each NEW member. Your membership only costs you about $16, and you get to support the local environmental movement and nature education for the kids.

Also present on that day will be a BALD EAGLE and a GRAY WOLF for you to get up close and personal with and check out. (Jimm Edgar, President, Mount Diablo Audubon Society)

This is a GREAT organization, and its members know all the good birding spots in the East Bay. Membership with this fun bunch is a REALLY good deal. So join, already! /Gary

Find out more about Mount Diablo Audubon Society at:

Posted on Thursday, October 4th, 2007
Under: Birds | 1 Comment »

See what chocolate can do to YOUR dog

This should be very interesting to dog owners.
An interactive page on the National Geographic web site charts the harmful effects of canine chocolate consumption. You may think that chocolate is a treat for your pups, but what is sweet to us could actually be killing them.

Here are just a few of the eye-openers:
** 3 ounces of dark chocolate could bring on vomiting in a 50-pound dog.
** Seizures and tremors could result from just 5 ounces of baking chocolate in a 110-pound Rottweiler.
** 2 ounces of dark chocolate can lead to potential death in a Yorkshire terrier.

This comprehensive, easy-to-follow chart on the Nat Geo site tracks all dog sizes from a 3-pound pinscher to a 190-pound mastiff, educating you about your own dog’s specific response. Though many are aware of chocolate’s harm on dogs, most people have no clue as to the factors contributing to a dog’s reaction.

Weight of dog and the quantity and type of chocolate are key — and you need to know that.

Interactive chart on dogs and chocolate:

Posted on Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007
Under: dogs | No Comments »

California Anti-Cruelty Measure collecting signatures

It’s way past time to stop cruelty to 20 million factory farming animals.
This week, a broad coalition, including animal protection groups, veterinarians, environmentalists, and food safety advocates, begins collecting signatures to put an anti-cruelty initiative on the California ballot for November 2008.

Californians for Humane Farms will collect more than 650,000 signatures to place the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act on the general election ballot. The measure will help prevent cruelty to nearly 20 million animals confined in industrial factory farms in California, as well as protect California’s environment.

The Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act provides basic protections requiring that animals be able to turn around and extend their limbs. It will prevent the use of inhumane factory farming practices such as keeping animals confined in small crates or cages — specifically, veal crates for calves, battery cages for egg-laying hens, and gestation crates for breeding pigs.

“It is exceedingly cruel to confine animals in cages so small they can’t turn around and extend their limbs,” stated Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. “California citizens can help prevent farm animal cruelty by volunteering to gather signatures to put this historic initiative on the ballot.”

The Humane Society of the United States and Farm Sanctuary are two of the groups sponsoring the initiative. The two organizations led a successful ballot initiative in Florida in 2002 which banned gestation crates for breeding pigs (55%-45%) and in Arizona in 2006 which banned crates for breeding pigs and veal calves (62%-38%). In 2007, the Oregon legislature banned gestation crates.

** Veal crates are narrow wooden enclosures that prevent calves from turning around or lying down comfortably. The calves are typically chained by their necks and suffer immensely.

** California factory farms confine approximately 19 million hens per year in barren battery cages that are so small, the birds can’t even spread their wings. Each bird has less space than a single sheet of paper on which to live.
I remember writing a story about an egg farm in Gilroy, Calif., a couple of years ago. I was shocked when I entered a warehouse bigger than a couple of football fields. The stench was incredible. It was almost pitch black except for a few bare bulbs here and there so employees could see enough to remove dead hens from cages and toss them on the floor. I tripped over those dead bodies as I moved throughout the building.
Each tiny cage was stuffed with 6-8 hens, jammed in together so tight they were piled on top of each other. The top chickens were white. The ones on the bottom were black because they were covered with chicken poop from the hens on top. The chickens couldn’t move except to poop and lay eggs and barely stick their heads through the sides of the wire cages to peck at food as it passed by on a conveyor belt. It was horrible.
Underneath the cages another moving conveyor belt caught the eggs that fell from each cage and transported them to another room where they were prepared for delivery to local markets … and your refrigerator.
Needless to say, I’m definitely adding my signature to put this anti-cruelty initiative on the ballot.

** During their four-month pregnancies, nearly 20,000 female breeding pigs in California are confined in barren gestation crates—individual metal enclosures only 2 feet wide. The crates are so small, the animals cannot even turn around.

** The measure will prevent out-of-state factory farm operators from setting up shop in our state with veal crates, battery cages and gestation crates.

** Confining animals in crates or cages results in a high density of animals in industrial factory farms, leading to more animal waste and pollution of air and water, as well as risk of disease transmission such as salmonella.

The Humane Society of the United States:

Farm Sanctuary:

Sign a petition to put this initiative on the ballot when you have a chance. Thanks. /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007
Under: Animal protection legislation | No Comments »

Got raccoon problems? Here’s help …

Looks like it’s “that” time of year again.
I’m starting to get lots of calls about “torn up lawns,” “big holes in the yard,” and other raccoon-type problems. Does this sound familiar? Maybe you need a copy of my free 7-page Gary’s Raccoon Help.

It is filled with lots of humane ideas on how to protect your yard and get along with your wild neighbors at the same time. These ideas have been used successfully by my readers to humanely solve raccoon problems for years. It also explains what is going on with the raccoons and why they’re doing all this stuff.

You can get a free copy of Gary’s Raccoon Help by sending me an e-mail at

I’ll send you one back by return e-mail. (I’m also putting together a Gary’s People Help for the local raccoons.) /Gary

Posted on Monday, October 1st, 2007
Under: Raccoons | 4 Comments »