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    New exhibition at Birch Aquarium strives to save seadragons 
    Nov 17, 2018 | 460 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    A leafy seadragon. / Photo by Erik Jepsen
    A leafy seadragon. / Photo by Erik Jepsen
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    The exhibition, which has yet to be named, will be home to Weedy and Leafy Seadragons, as well as several species of seahorses and pipefish. 
    The exhibition, which has yet to be named, will be home to Weedy and Leafy Seadragons, as well as several species of seahorses and pipefish. 
    slideshow
    Next summer Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego is launching a new permanent exhibition that brings seadragon conservation to the forefront. The exhibition, which has yet to be named, will be home to Weedy and Leafy Seadragons, as well as several species of seahorses and pipefish.  The centerpiece of the exhibition will be one of the most expansive seadragon habitats in the world. The 18-foot-wide, 9-foot-tall exhibit will hold 5,375 gallons of water — thats 70 bathtubs. More than being a stunning display, the habitat has been designed to create the ideal environment to breed Leafy Seadragons, something that has never been done in captivity before.  “We have had great success propagating seahorses for more than 20 years, but Leafy Seadragons have never been bred in an aquarium environment,” said Jennifer Nero Moffatt, the aquarium’s senior director of animal care, science and conservation. “The life history of seadragons is somewhat similar to their seahorse relatives, but a lot is still being learned,” Moffatt continued. “Seadragons in courtship can be seen mirroring one another, nodding and nudging one another and gracefully swimming to the surface where egg transfer can occur. We have designed an environment that allows for the depth, the exercise, the social and behavioral requirements we feel will promote the best possibility of a successful egg transfer,” Moffatt said. From an expanded seahorse nursery to a hands-on camouflage experience for young learners, and a sneak peek into the behind-the-scenes Seadragon Lab, the exhibition will immerse aquarium guests into the underwater lives of seahorses and seadragons, while giving them a peek into the work Birch Aquarium’s world-class Husbandry Team is doing to ensure that these species survive into the future.  The husbandry of these species is increasingly vital due to the impacts of climate change, warming oceans, and illegal collection of wild populations, whose numbers are still widely unknown. Joining as partners with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Birch Aquarium’s seahorse and seadragon conservation efforts are part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperatively managed program that oversees the population management of select species within AZA member institutions and enhances conservation of species in the wild. Each SSP Program coordinates the individual activities of participating member institutions through a variety of species conservation, research, husbandry, management, and educational initiatives. “Investment in the protection, conservation and breeding of critical species is essential for their survival. We are thrilled to be able to support these beautiful and charismatic fish,” said Moffatt. “They are ambassadors for the oceans and help to communicate to our guests the need for protection and conservation programs, like ours.” This exhibition is made possible by donations from the community. Additional opportunities to support this groundbreaking exhibition are still available. Those interested in giving may contact Katarina Trojnar at ktrojnar@ucsd.edu or 858-534-1966. Slated to open shortly before Memorial Day, the new seadragon exhibition will replace The Infinity Cube installation, as well as There’s Something About Seahorses, which opened in 2009. It will be the fourth major exhibition Birch Aquarium has opened in three years and the largest indoor aquarium addition since the grand opening in 1992.  Once open, the seadragon exhibition will be included in the cost of Birch Aquarium admission, which is $19.50 for adults, $15 for children (3-17). Annual memberships are also available. For more information, visit aquarium.ucsd.edu. 
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    Ecotourism expert shares vision for reinvigorating Mission Bay Park
    Nov 16, 2018 | 4054 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Boaters, standup paddle boarders and bicyclists take advantage of a beautiful fall day at Mission Bay.
THOMAS MELVILLE / BEACH & BAY PRESS
    Boaters, standup paddle boarders and bicyclists take advantage of a beautiful fall day at Mission Bay. THOMAS MELVILLE / BEACH & BAY PRESS
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    Ecotourism specialist Andy Drumm says San Diego’s Mission Bay Park has stagnated. At a recent Citizens Coordinate for Century 3 (C-3) breakfast event, he presented a case for turning to an ecotourism model to reinvigorate it. Ecotourism is defined by the International Ecotourism Society as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserve the environment and improve the well-being of local people.” “The biggest growth segment in tourism is the nature-focused category,” says Drumm, Drumm referenced Butler’s Tourism Area Life Cycle to explain the evolution of a nature-based tourist destination, which includes exploration, involvement, development, consolidation and then stagnation. At this point, the quality and popularity of a destination will decline without a sustainable, ecotourism makeover. In addition to maintaining and nurturing natural resources, Drumm says ecotourism is better for the economy. Lowering volume and density, monitoring and managing impacts and encouraging more local input leads to a higher income multiplier, higher tourist spending and a higher ratio of jobs per tourist. Simply put, ecotourists spend more than conventional tourists. To capture this segment of the tourism market, however, Mission Bay Park needs help. “Failing to capture the economic value of ecosystem services often leads to the degradation of natural resources,” says Drumm. He warned the audience against letting Mission Bay Park go the way of a small fishing village in India’s Kerala State, where tourism collapsed after environmental degradation took hold, as was the case for Italy’s Adriatic coast and Germany’s Black Forest. Perhaps the most serious danger, he says, is a lack of understanding of the benefits of biodiversity. Among his many suggestions for Mission Bay Park were to protect and restore areas of biodiversity (resilience, shoreline protection, water purification, ecotourism value, etc.) and improve the quality of the visitor experience to include environmental interpretation and monitoring. “Bringing about rejuvenation for Mission Bay Park also requires the public and private sectors working together,” says Drumm.    Among his directives for the private sector were improving relations with park management to ensure fulfillment of environmental values; participating in the design, construction and operational phases of development; and developing strategic alliances and business partnerships among recreational businesses and nature-focused, sustainable-ecosystem-model organizations. It is up to the public sector, he says, to promote awareness of the critical role of biodiversity and ecosystem services in maintaining and enlarging tourism’s contribution to economic development; create zones to distinguish between natural areas and more traditional recreational areas; and to develop a comprehensive park tourism plan with multi-stakeholder involvement, among many other crucial tasks. C-3 organized a lunch with Mission Bay stakeholders as a follow up to the breakfast and plans to continue promoting ecotourism and comprehensive planning in the area. Founded in 1961, C-3’s mission is to advocate, educate and develop solutions for maintaining high standards of environmental quality, physical design, economic benefit and social progress. C-3 gathers and disseminates information, facilitates civic dialogue and encourages well-thought-out opinions. Its founders said the overall goal is to make San Diego a “handsome community.”  
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    City’s preliminary plans underway to improve Capehart Dog Park in PB
    by DAVE SCHWAB
    Nov 15, 2018 | 4798 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    The off-leash Capehart Dog Park at 4747 Soledad Mountain Road needs a lot of improvements. / DAVE SCHWAB / BEACH & BAY PRESS
    The off-leash Capehart Dog Park at 4747 Soledad Mountain Road needs a lot of improvements. / DAVE SCHWAB / BEACH & BAY PRESS
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    Dog lovers in Pacific Beach take heart. Long sought-after repairs to Capehart Dog Park are being reconsidered. But it could take time – and considerable dollars.   A recently released preliminary estimate of costs for improving both the large- and small-dog areas of Capehart at 4747 Soledad Mountain Road were pegged by the City at about $612,000. “The City is in the preliminary stages of developing a potential project scope for improvements to Capehart Dog Park,” said City spokesman Tim Graham. “The community is very interested in having the area improved, and we’ve been working with Marcella Bothwell to find a design that will meet the community’s wishes.” Bothwell, a physician, community volunteer and San Diego Park and Recreation Board member who owns four dogs, said improvements to the popular dog park near the PB-La Jolla border are long overdue.  “The community recognizes the need for creating more dog parks, and for maintenance of the dog parks that we have,” said Bothwell, noting the City’s preliminary plan is “reasonable, but very expensive.” Bothwell said improving Capehart must go through the Public Works Department. “It’s a capital improvement project,” she said. “The plan is currently unfunded,” pointed out Graham, adding, “Unfortunately, at this particular time, it’s a little early to provide an update that has concrete next steps.” It's been a dozen years since Capehart won out over Kate Sessions to become Pacific Beach’s only off-leash dog park. But due to continuing drought conditions and watering restrictions, as well as heavy usage by dogs large and small, Capehart's two separate fenced-in areas have both been almost completely denuded of turf. And the dog park suffers from erosion and other issues. “The major problem is the large dog park,” said Bothwell. “It was never graded properly. So now, when it rains, water runoff goes down and you lose all the topsoil in the large dog area which has a huge drainage problem.” There is another big problem. “It’s going to cost as much to repair [Capehart] as it cost to put it in in the first place in 2006,” said Bothwell, who has stepped up to guide Capehart improvements. Preliminary work for dog-park improvements was originally spearheaded by beach-area residents Ron McChesney and Chris Cott, who formed Friends of Capehart Off-Leash Small Dog Park, as well as starting a GoFundMe fundraiser to re-sod Capehart. A new plan overview prepared for Capehart improvements points out updates are necessary for dog health and safety, ADA improvements and the safety and comfort of residents who use the park. “The goal is to have an approved ‘Master Improvement Plan’ containing a list of ‘agreed to projects’ that can be finalized as there is funding and resources available,” the new Capehart preliminary plan states, adding, “The plan will be posted at the park, linked to the Pacific Beach Town Council website and a Capehart Dog Park ‘email list.’”  Bothwell added a GoFundMe account will be put in place for donations toward City-approved projects listed.  “This effort is being coordinated through the Pacific Beach Town Council, and they have provided us with guidance, connections, and a non-profit/tax-deductible fundraising vehicle on their website to perform some of the work,” said Bothwell. “It is planned that this will be a public/private partnership between the City of San Diego, San Diego Parks and Recreation, the Capehart Dog Park (a subcommittee within the Pacific Beach Town Council) and patrons of the park,” Bothwell said. Bothwell added recognition signage will be evaluated for large Capehart Park-improvement donors. The Capehart link to the town council is at pbtowncouncil.org/about/capehart-dog-park/.
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    How will Community Choice Energy work in San Diego?
    by DAVE SCHWAB
    Nov 14, 2018 | 14471 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    How Community Choice Energy works.
    How Community Choice Energy works.
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    Now that Mayor Kevin Faulconer has sanctioned forming a new joint-powers entity to purchase electrical power to achieve 100 percent renewable energy citywide by 2035, the question becomes: How will that be implemented, and what are the risks? After three years of research and analysis, Faulconer selected Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) as the preferred pathway to reach the 100 percent renewable energy goal in the City’s landmark Climate Action Plan. The proposed new CCA entity, which must first be approved by the City Council, is expected to create healthy competition benefiting San Diegans. Forming a new CCA entity is expected to lower energy costs by 5 percent or more for ratepayers, plus help the City reach its renewable energy goal by 2035 – a decade ahead of the state’s goal. “I want San Diego to lead this region into a cleaner future,” Faulconer said. “This gives consumers a real choice, lowers energy costs for all San Diegans, and keeps our city on the cutting edge of environmental protection. We are a city where our environment is central to our quality of life and Community Choice will ensure we leave behind a better and cleaner San Diego than the one we inherited. What is Community Choice Energy? Community Choice Energy or Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) envisions bringing local control and freedom of choice and competition into the electricity marketplace. Currently, San Diego has only one electricity provider, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E).  Community Choice allows cities and counties to purchase power on behalf of their residents and businesses to provide cleaner power options at a competitive price. Under community choice, SDG&E would continue to deliver the power over their power lines, provide customer service and handle the billing.   A local community choice program is designed to offer a choice of providers to create competition encouraging innovation and improved pricing. But not everyone is sold on CCAs, like the Clear the Air Coalition, a group of business, environmental and taxpayer leaders, who advocate a cautious approach to changing San Diego’s existing electrical power distribution system.  Contacted by Beach & Bay Press, SDG&E spokesperson Tony Manolatos referenced the following story “San Diego Should Carefully Weigh the Costs and Benefits of Government-Controlled Energy” published at clearair.us, which he said “covers all the main points.” “The City of San Diego should carefully weigh the costs and benefits of government-controlled energy before flipping the switch and moving residents and businesses into such a program,” states the story. “If the city decides to form a CCA, would it actually help San Diego reach its clean air goals faster and cheaper than current state laws require? … To date, CCAs have been reluctant to purchase long-term contracts for renewable energy, or build new facilities. As a result, CCAs mostly buy and sell existing green energy, a practice that does not create new local jobs or clean our air any faster. … The evidence indicates a San Diego CCA would not meet the city’s goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2035, or create many new jobs, but it would create risk for taxpayers, who are ultimately the backstop of any government-controlled energy program.” Community choice proponent Tyson Siegele represents But It Just Might work.com, a clean energy advocacy group. Noting SDG&E under law is, “not allowed to oppose community choice energy,” Siegele pointed out SDG&E’s parent company, Sempra, “is not a regulated utility” and therefore is allowed to oppose community choice. Nonetheless, Siegele noted that, “In theory, SDG&E shouldn’t lose any money if community choice happens, or doesn’t.” But Siegele was quick to point out San Diego pays some of the highest per-kilowat per-unit rates for electricity in the state adding, “Californians have, on average, a 50 percent higher electricity cost than the nationwide average.” Argued Siegele, “We’ve had a massive ramp-up in the number of community choice energy programs in the past five years statewide. It just makes sense to give our communities more control over where their energy comes from, and what it costs.” But even if successful, a transition to community choice by San Diego will take some time, said Siegele. “In all likelihood, the entire process will take a little more than two years, and the shortest time it could be effect would be January of 2021,” he said.   Community Choice Energy Timeline December 2018: Resolution of intent available for docketing at City Council. Spring 2019: Begin formal meetings with potential JPA partners to negotiate structure and guiding principles. Summer 2019: City Council action to officially form new JPA. Fall 2019: JPA begins hiring staff, including CEO and CFO. Staff develops implementation plan for submittal to CPUC. 2020: JPA continues to establish operations. CPUC approval expected. 2021: CCA begins service to customers with phased-in approach throughout the year.
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    Mission Bay’s Boogie Ellis commits to play at Duke
    Nov 12, 2018 | 11442 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    At the signing ceremony are Justin Moore, a former point guard for MBHS who played for Georgia Tech, Boogie Ellis, and Mission Bay boys basketball coach Marshawn Cherry. 
    At the signing ceremony are Justin Moore, a former point guard for MBHS who played for Georgia Tech, Boogie Ellis, and Mission Bay boys basketball coach Marshawn Cherry. 
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    Mission Bay High School boys basketball combo guard Rejean (Boogie) Ellis announced that he has committed to play basketball for Duke University. During the ceremony at the MBHS gym on Friday Nov. 9, Ellis said, "After talking with God, my family, coach Marshawn Cherry, and my trainer, I decided to go to Duke University."  Ranked as one of the 30 best players in the class of 2019, Ellis received scholarship offers from several schools including Duke, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Southern California, San Diego State University, and University of Memphis. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, and UNC-Chapel Hill coach Roy Williams, visited Mission Bay to actively recruit Ellis. Mission Bay boys basketball coach Cherry said: “Ellis has a great work ethic and love for the game. He had the drive and determination to be the best player to come out of San Diego."
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