"Study nature, not books."
Weeks 1 and 2 look at Monterey Bay and will be as close to marine biology as we get in 2012. We'll visit local rocky intertidal habitats with differing degrees of protection and discuss human impacts on the bay.
Elkhorn Slough will be the focus in Week 3, with tours on land and by kayak. This large estuary has been heavily impacted by agricultural runoff, including DDT, and nutrient loading. It is actively being researched by a number of institutions coordinated through the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve and Elkhorn Slough Foundation. We'll explore this area on land with Executive Director Mark Silberstein and by kayaks from the sea.
Weeks 4-6 follow the 'upside down' Salinas River2 that historically ran underground in summer and flooded in the winter rainy season. Today, major dams have turned this natural hydrology upside down by releasing water in the summer for agricultural use and retaining it in winter for flood control. This wreaks havoc with endangered steelhead trout that have not managed to invert their migratory behavior. The Salinas River is a critical watershed and has been seriously degraded by development effects on riparian habitat and non-point pollution derived from agriculture, the largest industry in Monterey County.
Carmel River trips in Weeks 6-7 will explore issues local and regional water-supply and steelhead trout issues. We'll be guided through these issues by Jason Burnett, a former associate deputy administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency and currently a Carmel councilman and candidate for mayor. Ray March, author of River in Ruin, will provide a historical and holistic overview. Fisheries biologist from NOAA and Monterey Peninsula Water Management District will lead us on a trip to the Carmel River, including San Clemente dam, which is scheduled to be removed, and Los Padres dam and the upper Carmel River.
Projects in Weeks 8-10 can be either individual or group. We'll work out the format and details during the course.
1. Tolley, K (1994) "Study Nature, Not Books": The Nature Study Curriculum 1891-1932, presented at the Ann. Meeting of Amer. Educ. Res. Assoc., New Orleans, LA, April 5-8., 1994, 20p.
2. Fisher, AB (1945) The Salinas: Upside-Down River. Rivers of America Series, Farrar & Reinhart, NY.