December 2016: Sierra Santa Margarita Group Report,

Palm and Pine Sierra Santa Margarita Group

Michael H. Momeni, PhD
Environmental Nuclear Scientist

What Is Our Mission?
Our mission is embedded in the objectives of the Sierra Club: “To practice and promote the responsible use of the earth’s ecosystem and resources; protect, restore the quality of the natural environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out those objectives.”

We are often challenged by those whose principle objective is to exploit the natural resources at any expense to our environment.  Our tasks are apolitical and solely based on our objectives.  We intend to protect the environment irrespective of the success or failure of any political party.

However, our tasks are more difficult when the moto of a political party would be fully adverse to our mission.  We have had these challenges in the past.  We have been deterred, but we have not changed our mission.

Honoring Dr. Gordon Pratt and Cecilia Lono Pierce
We acknowledge the generosity of Dr. Pratt and Cecilia Lono Pierce in support of our organization.
Transportation Task Group:

To reduce the impact of exhaust from automobiles in this region, we have to advocate for a cost-effective mass transit system within our communities and between nearby cities.  Our long term objective is to push for a rapid electric train connecting our region to San Diego and Los Angeles and their existing mass transit systems.

Our short term objective is to have a local mass-transit system in Southwest Riverside County. The Temecula-Murrieta area and the unincorporated regions together have a population of about 250,000, but we do not have a local mass-transit system.  The Riverside Transit Agency provides inter-city mass-transit linking the cities in Riverside County.

The existing Red Trolley operates with a very limited schedule and provides limited service to Temecula. We have requested an expansion of the Trolley schedule and routes to cover major portions of the city.  

Unless we provide our people with other options, we can’t foresee them not using their personal cars for local transportation.  

Ex-Com Election

We have elected three members to our Executive Committee; the deadline for the receipt of ballots was November 30, 2016. The results will be announced during our next monthly meeting in January.

Local Political Activity

Our Group enthusiastically recommended Tim Sheridan, a supporter of Sierra Club principles, for Congress in the recent elections; however, CA's 42nd District remained in the hands of a long-term, firmly-entrenched incumbent.

A summary of our Activities:

1. Primal Pastures on Oct. 15, 2016

We toured Primal Pastures; Farmer John, our tour guide, detailed the objectives for the operation. The operation is a small family farm located in Murrieta, California. Their goal is to produce wholesome meat that is grown humanely, responsibly and sustainably.


                                Tour of Primal Pastures

2. Temecula Olive Oil Ranch

We had a great educational afternoon, November 6, 2016.  In addition we had good music, good food, olive oil tasting and raffle.  It was a good opportunity to meet and socialize, and listen to a talented vocalist, Kelly Wilson.
Thom Curry of Temecula Olive Oil Company was our tour guide.  We learned briefly how the ranch was created, the microclimate of the site, the type of olive trees, and the process of extracting olive oil from the fruits.  


                                  Tour of Temecula Olive Ranch

3. California Energy System in Transition, Regional Perspectives and Local Opportunities

Scott Flint was our speaker at November 10, 2016 monthly meeting. Scott is Program Manager at the California Energy Commission (CEC), in Sacramento, the primary energy policy and planning entity of the state. Its mission is to reduce energy costs and environmental impacts of energy use and ensuring a safe, resilient, and reliable supply of energy to the state.

California climate goals and how they are driving changes to the Energy System;

Environmental performance of the energy system for the last ten years;

The CEC’s multi-faceted approach to achieving climate goals (efficiency, rooftop and distributed solar, utility scale facilities, wind repowering, and transmission).

4. Meadows View: AmeriCorps

Meadow Day, October 29, 2016, was organized by Teri Biancardi.  The panel of speakers discussed alternative approaches to land management in areas at risk of desertification. These include erosion control, soil remediation and native plant regeneration strategies, which are currently being implemented in the community open space by an AmeriCorps team, who is deployed to the area for six weeks.



                From the left: Teri Biancardi, Carmen Fields,
              Zach Chastain, Anisha Borthakur, Cody Autaubo

Teri Biancardi discussed methods for erosion control, soil remediation, and native plant regeneration.

A summary of the other activities:

October 5, 2016: Thompson Middle School’s successful Eco-Fair was attended by over 500 7th grade students.  Several agencies provided interactive information. The focus was on tracking of the wildlife and the Murrieta Creek Regional Trail next to the school.

Also, Pam Nelson, Teri Biancardi and Laurie Webster, members of the Altair Team, investigated the proposed development in detail through the eyes of the city planning staff, developers and the councilmen/woman.  The development impinges on the already restricted wildlife corridors and freeway crossing.  

November 5, 2016:  Pam, Scott and Caren tabled at the annual Family Wildlife Day at the Santa Rosa Plateau.

November 21, 2016:  Twenty people participated in the fifth workshop of our Teachers’ Environmental Education program.  Topics were environmental science through lessons, field trips, community outings and field monitoring.

December 11, 2016:  Our Holiday party is at Vail Lake Resort once a “wild west” cattle range. The site has recently been opened to the public.  We’ll have a hay ride tour of the site, music and food.

January 12, 2017: The Land and People of the Santa Margarita Watershed'  6:30 pm 

Temecula Library,  30600 Pauba Rd, Temecula CA 92592

                   The speaker for our monthly meeting is

                      Dr.  Eleanora Robbins.

She is interested on assisting school children to better understand the physical and biological elements of our environment. Her presentation will include the physical make-up of our Santa Margarita river watershed, earthquake faults, and other earth-changing themes.

The geology of the Santa Margarita watershed is fascinating--and in some respects it resembles many characteristics of the East African Rift Valley.  The cities of Temecula and Murrieta lie in a tectonically active rift.  Volcanic rocks and cryptic structures show that high heat flow has been evident over eons of time.  Overprinted on the geological processes are anthropogenic behaviors that increase down dropping and flooding.  Soils of ancient villages show that Luiseno and Cahuilla people populated the Santa Margarita watershed, as do their reservation-based and urban descendants today.

Eleanora (Doc) Robbins, PhD is a bio-geologist, retired to San Diego from the Washington, DC area.  As a volunteer, she has run Science Explorers Club monthly since 2001 on Indian reservations in San Diego County.  In this program, she teaches outdoors science to 5-11 year olds.  Activities cover geology, hydrology, biology, botany, and soil science.  Her degrees are BS (1964 Ohio State Univ.), MS (1972 Univ. Arizona), and PhD (1982 Penn State Univ.).  She started her professional career in the Peace Corps as a geologist with the Geological Survey of Tanzania; on vacation, she mapped in the East African Rift Valley for Lewis Leakey.  Then she was a researcher for the US Geological Survey for 34 years, working on mineral deposits, coal, and petroleum.  In San Diego, she served as adjunct faculty for 14 years at San Diego State Univ.  Her current research on the sulfur cycle of the San Diego River is with the San Diego River Park Foundation.