Friday, October 23, 2015

Friday Must Reads: Bay Wetlands Restoration Dramatically Boosts Bird Populations; Monster El Niño Brings Threat of East Bay Hills Mudslides

By Robert Gammon
Fri, Oct 23, 2015 at 9:54 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A sweeping effort to restore wetlands around San Francisco Bay during the past decade has resulted in a dramatic increase in shorebird populations, the Mercury News$ reports, citing a new US Geological Survey study. The number of shorebirds has doubled — from 100,000 to 200,000 — following a landmark 2003 deal to transform 15,000 acres of old salt ponds around the bay into wetlands. The federal and state governments have spent $93 million on the restoration effort, but will need to spend about $1 billion to finish the job, which scientists say should also help protect the Bay Area as sea levels rise due to climate change.

2. The monster El Niño weather pattern forming off the West Coast promises to not only bring torrential rains to the Bay Area this winter, but also the threat of mudslides in the bone dry Oakland and East Bay hills, the Chron$ reports, citing a California Geological Survey report. Areas in the state that have been devastated by wildfires this summer face a special threat from mudslides this winter. This year’s El Niño is expected to rival that of 1997-98, when mudslides and flooding ravaged California.

click to enlarge Hurricane Patricia's expected path. - NOAA
  • NOAA
  • Hurricane Patricia's expected path.
3. The most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere is bearing down on southwestern Mexico today and threatening the lives of thousands of people, the AP reports (via SF Gate). Hurricane Patricia is a Godzilla-sized Category 5 storm with sustained wind speeds of nearly 200 miles per hour. The UN’s World Meteorological Organization is comparing Patricia’s strength with that of Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,300 dead or missing in the Philippines in 2013.

4. The virulent bacteria outbreak that struck the South Bay this week has spread to Alameda County and has sickened more than one hundred people in the region, the Chron reports. The outbreak of the highly contagious pathogen shigella began in a San Jose Mexican seafood restaurant and continues to spread.


5. AC Transit has agreed to pay $2.5 million to an Oakland cyclist who suffered a brain injury and a fractured face when she was hit by a bus in Emeryville in 2012, the Chron reports.

6. Airbnb apologized for putting up a series of obnoxious posters and billboards this week around San Francisco that mocked city services, the Chron reports. The company was ridiculed mercilessly on social media for the signs before it took them down. The signs are part of Airbnb’s multimillion-dollar campaign to defeat a ballot measure in San Francisco that seeks to ban property owners from turning apartments and homes into full-time hotels.

7. And drivers for the on-demand ride companies Uber and Lyft apparently don’t like their low-paying jobs much because they tend to quit them after a very short time, the Chron reports, citing a new survey.
  

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