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Monitor Notes: Digital Democracy (featuring LWVC), High-Speed Rail, Headwaters, Heat Pumps, “Green Fire”

Welcome to Monitor Notes, a weekly roundup of news items, event announcements, and updates on past Bay Area Monitor articles.


Public Participation Knowledge

During the coronavirus pandemic, virtually every meeting has gone virtual. So consider joining an 11 a.m. webinar this Thursday, April 30 for information on state and local groups’ shift to remote meetings and how these changes affect public participation and press oversight. The one-hour webinar, organized by the First Amendment Coalition and the Northern California Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, will include updates from the League of Women Voters of California’s Gloria Chun Hoo (pictured), as well as other legal and media professionals. Register here.


Back on the Rails

The California High-Speed Rail Authority is asking for public comments about a draft environmental document affecting a section of the project connecting Silicon Valley with the Central Valley. Specifically, the doc covers the 90-mile extent of the project from Scott Boulevard in Santa Clara to Carlucci Road in Merced County. This segment includes stations at San Jose Diridon and Gilroy, which will later provide links with regional and local mass transit. Open houses and a public hearing about the draft are occurring in May, with comments due by June 8.


Headwater Start

Curious about the care of California’s forests? PPIC’s Water Policy Center is hosting a midday webinar on Thursday, April 30 about “The Benefits of Headwater Management.” The topic is important because rain in headwater forests in the western Sierra Nevada and southern Cascade mountain ranges produce more than half of California’s surface water supply. But these dense, dry areas are vulnerable to major wildfires and droughts. Also concerning is that COVID-19 has “upended” many governmental functions and efforts, including hands-on forest management to reduce wildfire risks, according to the PPIC. During the webinar, the policy think tank will share a new report about making forests more resilient, with experts from UC Berkeley and other organizations weighing in.


Electric Power of Good

The Monitor has covered the push toward electric homes as a solution to slow the effects of climate change and help protect California’s future. But with a greening grid that varies by region and utility, how big are the climate benefits in each pocket of the country? That’s a question the Sierra Club set out to answer, assessing the impact in every state of converting homes heated by gas to electricity. They found that electric heat pumps — installed to replace gas furnaces or water heaters — can lower greenhouse gas emissions more than 45 percent over the next 10 years for the average house. In some states, the greenhouse gas savings are the same as giving up a car. Find out where by clicking here.


Movie Night

In case you were too busy riding a bike or planting a tree on Earth Day, there are even more ways to celebrate our planet. Solano Land Trust hosted a virtual Earth Day film fest and panel discussion last week that you can still access. The film, “Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time,” headlined the event and was followed by a panel discussion with the film’s executive director Nicole Braddock, filmmaker Steve Dunsky, and Aldo Leopold Foundation executive director Buddy Huffaker. “Green Fire” is about Leopold’s career influence, tracing how he shaped the modern conservation movement and continues to inspire projects. Watch the film and listen to the panel.


Monitor Notes is produced by Cecily O’Connor. To receive it by email, scroll to the bottom of this page, enter your email address in the box under “RECEIVE EMAIL UPDATES,” and click the red “SIGN UP” button.


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