Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District

We inspire and partner with our community to protect the natural resources and agricultural future of our District.

Fungus: The Plastic of the Future

In this episode of Upgrade, Motherboard dives head first into the R+D world surrounding the development of fungi as a viable replacement for plastic, and the people who hope it can lead to a better and more sustainable future.



Nikki Silvestri, “Food Systems, Communities, and You”

Keynote Address of the second-annual We the Future Social Justice Conference, co-hosted by Santa Rosa Junior College and North Bay Organizing Project on April 13, 2018.

Former Executive Director of People’s Grocery in Oakland and Green for All, a national organization advocating for a “green economy” to combat poverty, Nikki Silvestri of Soil and Shadow addresses questions such as: What is our responsibility to the food system in these chaotic political times, when so much environmental progress is at risk? How do we care for our communities as the ecosystem continues to change? Learn about these questions and the path forward as we imagine a future that works for all, and feeds us well.

Recorded in Carole L. Ellis Auditorium, SRJC Petaluma Campus, Friday April 13, 2018, 11:00am – 12:00pm

This event was sponsorship by the SRJC Office of Student Equity, Sonoma Family Meal, and a grant from the Santa Rosa Junior College Foundation Randolph Newman Cultural Enrichment Endowment.

House Ag Committee Passes Farm Bill, Members of Congress Speak Out


The farm bill is a near trillion dollar, 600-plus page legislative package that governs all aspects of the American food and agriculture system and comes up for debate only once every five or so years. With the current farm bill expiring at the end of September, the farm bill reauthorization process has officially kicked off here in the nation’s capital, and the House is the first out the gate.

On Wednesday, April 18, the House Agriculture Committee “marked-up” and passed Chairman Mike Conaway’s (R-TX) draft farm bill by a vote of 26 to 20 – all Republicans voted to support and all Democrats voted to oppose the bill. And while the Committee was successful in passing its version of the farm bill (albeit on a strict party line vote), there was no real markup nor substantial debate over the policies put forth in the draft bill. The draft bill came out just days before the scheduled markup, it did not go through regular order through markup in the various subcommittees and then on to the full committee, and it went through the full committee in the shortest amount of time ever for a farm bill — hardly a stellar case of democracy in action.

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Source:  National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, April 20, 2018

Can Dirt Save the Earth?

When John Wick and his wife, Peggy Rathmann, bought their ranch in Marin County, Calif., in 1998, it was mostly because they needed more space. Rathmann is an acclaimed children’s book author — “Officer Buckle and Gloria” won a Caldecott Medal in 1996 — and their apartment in San Francisco had become cluttered with her illustrations. They picked out the 540-acre ranch in Nicasio mostly for its large barn, which they planned to remake into a spacious studio. Wick, a former construction foreman — they met when he oversaw a renovation of her bathroom — was eager to tackle the project. He knew the area well, having grown up one town away, in Woodacre, where he had what he describes as a “free-range” childhood: little supervision and lots of biking, rope-swinging and playing in the area’s fields and glens.

The couple quickly settled into their bucolic new surroundings. Wick began fixing leaks in the barn. Rathmann loved watching the many animals, including ravens, deer and the occasional gopher, from the large porch. She even trained the resident towhees, small brown birds, to eat seed from her hand. So smitten were they with the wildlife, in fact, that they decided to return their ranch to a wilder state. For nearly a century, this had been dairy country, and the rounded, coastal hills were terraced from decades of grazing. Wick and Rathmann would often come home and find, to their annoyance, cows standing on their porch. The first step they took toward what they imagined would be a more pristine state was to revoke the access enjoyed by the rancher whose cows wandered their property.

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Source:  Moises Velasquez-Manoff, New York Times Magazine, April 18, 2018

In a warming world, ticks thrive in more places than ever before, making Lyme disease the first epidemic of climate change

Image result for ticks

Evolution has endowed the big-footed snowshoe hare with a particularly nifty skill. Over a period of about 10 weeks, as autumn days shorten in the high peaks and boreal forests, the nimble nocturnal hare transforms itself. Where it was once a tawny brown to match the pine needles and twigs amid which it forages, the hare turns silvery white, just in time for the falling of winter snow. This transformation is no inconsequential feat. Lepus americanus, as it is formally known, is able to jump 10 feet and run at a speed of 27 miles per hour, propelled by powerful hind legs and a fierce instinct to live. But it nonetheless ends up, 86 per cent of the time by one study, as a meal for a lynx, red fox, coyote, or even a goshawk or great horned owl. The change of coat is a way to remain invisible, to hide in the brush or fly over the snow unseen, long enough at least to keep the species going.

Snowshoe hares are widely spread throughout the colder, higher reaches of North America – in the wilderness of western Montana, on the coniferous slopes of Alaska, and in the forbidding reaches of the Canadian Yukon. The Yukon is part of the Beringia, an ancient swathe of territory that linked Siberia and North America by a land bridge that, with the passing of the last Ice Age 11,000 years ago, gave way to the Bering Strait. All manner of mammals, plants and insects ferried east and west across that bridge, creating, over thousands of years, the rich boreal forest. But in this place, north of the 60-degree latitude, the axiom of life coloured by stinging cold, early snow and concrete ribbons of ice has been upended in the cosmic blink of an eye. The average temperature has increased by 2 degrees Celsius in the past half century, and by 4 degrees Celsius in the winter. Glaciers are rapidly receding, releasing ancient torrents of water into Kluane Lake, a 150-square-mile reflecting pool that has been called a crown jewel of the Yukon. Lightning storms, ice jams, forest fires, rain – these things are suddenly more common. Permafrost is disappearing.

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Source:  Excerpted from Lyme: The First Epidemic of Climate Change by Mary Beth Pfeiffer. Copyright © 2018 Mary Beth Pfeiffer.

This Plastic-Eating Enzyme Could Save The Planet From Pollution

Scientists in Japan have created an enzyme that’s able to eat through plastic. That’s right: This enzyme might be key in eating through the planet’s pollution, including plastic bottles. How does this work? This natural bacteria, formed at recycling centers, is able to digest plastics made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and is now able to “chew” through it more efficiently. Findings from American and British scientists were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday.

PET has been a common choice for food and beverage packaging. It’s lightweight, can be reused after proper and careful cleaning, and is approved by the FDA. However, if these plastics are thrown away instead of recycled, they can last for centuries before breaking down. Only 25 percent of plastic produced in the United States ends up being recycled.

This is beneficial for two reasons. Many plastic containers can only be recycled once or twice before it’s downcycled into fabric. It can also form more of a closed-loop for fuel-based plastics; instead of using more fossil fuels, they can truly make these plastics sustainable with the enzymes.

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Source:  Brian Spaen, Green Matters, April 17, 2018