Golf course slowly turning into public park
By STEPHANIE WARSMITH
Akron Beacon Journal
Tuesday, August 28
AKRON, Ohio (AP) — As Summit Metro Parks biologist Mike Johnson walked along the former Valley View Golf Course property where a stream is being added, he suddenly looked down, plucked up a dirt-covered golf ball and held it in the air.
“I found an artifact!” Johnson said, laughing.
Park staff and contractors working on the ambitious project to turn the golf course into parkland have found thousands of golf balls, which they affectionately refer to as “turtle eggs.”
The massive golf ball collection — which park leaders aren’t yet sure what they’ll do with — is among the interesting discoveries so far in the effort to return the golf course to its original, natural state.
The desire for the Valley View property to be part of Summit County’s park system dates back nearly 100 years.
A 1925 master plan for the county’s parks mentions this area along the Cuyahoga River, saying, “its great and impressive beauty are certainly beyond question; and to save that scenery for all time for the benefit and enjoyment of the people would be an accomplishment justifying unusual effort and worthy of great praise.”
“It always had been identified,” Moskos said. “It just took 100 years to secure the land.”
Metro Parks bought the property, which had been a golf course for more than 50 years, for $4 million in October 2016. The 200-acre property connects three parks — Cascade Valley, Gorge and Sand Run — and creates the district’s second-largest contiguous area, at just under 1,700 acres.
After park officials secured the property, they began the complex task of undoing what had been done over 50 years to keep the land lush, green and free of water.
The work started with killing the turf, which wasn’t native to the area. Davey Golf, a division of Kent-based Davey Tree, put on applications in the fall, spring and summer — turning the green into brown.
Next came the removal of trees not native to the United States, including about 300 Norway spruce.
“It looked like the war on Christmas,” Moskos said of the removal of the pine trees, which were turned into mulch.
After this, it was time to plant. About 600 volunteers planted more than 100,000 oak, walnut, sycamore and cherry nuts last October, with the goal of turning about half of the park into woodlands.
This tactic had the dual benefit of involving the public and saving money, with the cost of planting trees originally pegged at about $900,000. It went so well that Johnson said the parks will always use this technique for planting trees. Small trees, each about a foot tall, already are visible among the prairie-like collection of wildflowers and grasses that now line the property.
Work is underway to restore wetlands and streams that were taken out to make room for the golf course, with tiles and pipes used to drain water away.
Park officials were excited when a dumpster dive produced a map and photographs showing where the pipes were installed, a discovery that saved time and helped focus their efforts.
“We’re starting to form a stream channel,” Johnson said on the recent tour, pointing to an area that had been excavated, with piles of rocks in several areas. “When this is done, no one will know we did this.”
Corine Peugh, a project manager for Davey Tree, which is helping oversee the restoration effort, and her crew were working on installing a culvert on the property on a recent afternoon. “It’s a great project,” she said. “Once it’s all said and done, it will be a really nice, natural area.”
The next step will involve restoring the Cuyahoga River, including removing debris heaped up along the banks to keep the water off the golf course. A well-known bridge over the river will be removed so the river can be widened, with a new bridge built.
Park officials also plan to add amenities to the property for the public’s enjoyment.
The former clubhouse, built in an 1851 dairy barn, will be converted into an education and visitors center. The three-story structure, which had been sectioned off for the clubhouse, will be opened up to expose the wood beams in the top of the barn and create a wide, open space.
Park officials want the center to be attractive to the refugees from the nearby North Hill and plan to build a stage they can use for cultural dances and have space for them to sell their wares. Outdoor spaces also will be available adjacent to the center.
The plans also include an event center and boathouse, intended to store kayaks and canoes. Metro Parks is coordinating with Cuyahoga Valley National Park and a local livery about uses for the river.
“The boathouse will allow people to rent a canoe, store it on site, get on a train and ride the train back,” Moskos said, referring to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. “It’s mind-blowing to me.”
Trails will be added throughout the park to connect with existing trails.
When the barn is renovated, possibly as early as next year, access will be allowed to the site, although work will still be in progress.
The entire project, which is being broken into phases and has mostly been funded by grants, may take as long as 25 years, Moskos said.
The park district has sought input from the public for the project and plans to seek more as the effort continues. Johnson said there may be other opportunities for the public to help like with the tree planting.
As the project advances, many from the Akron area are watching with anticipation and dreaming about the possibilities.
Kyle Kutuchief, program director for the Knight Foundation, one of the agencies that has helped to fund the project, has recently caught glimpses of the park while jogging on the towpath and kayaking on the river. He can imagine dropping a kayak into the river at the park and rowing to Szalay’s Farm or Peninsula and taking the towpath to the Gorge or from Cuyahoga Falls to downtown Akron.
“The connectivity — it’s going to be really cool,” he said. “Everybody wins.”
Information from: Akron Beacon Journal, http://www.ohio.com
Will John McCain be the last Republican leader in the Senate to address climate change?
August 28, 2018
Director, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and Associate Professor of Practice, Duke University
Tim Profeta does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
“He was just doing his job.”
When I asked a longtime staffer to Sen. John McCain why the senator battled to address climate change in the early 2000s, that was his answer.
A simple answer, but one essential to understanding how McCain led those early efforts to combat the challenge when no one else would step forward.
Although others had brought climate change as an issue to the Senate, McCain, a Republican, and democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman were the first to bring climate legislation that aimed to reduce emissions. That attempt was their bipartisan 2003 Climate Stewardship Act. As Lieberman’s counsel for the environment, I helped write this legislation.
Science informed McCain’s policy
In 2000, McCain was the chair of the Senate Committee for Commerce, Science and Transportation, which had jurisdiction over the U.S. Global Climate Research Program. That program, established in 1990, aimed to assist “the Nation and the world to understand, assess, predict and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change.”
McCain wanted to oversee the program’s activities and began a series of hearings on it. He sought out and gained insights from institutions he trusted in the hearings — including the U.S. Navy, McCain’s former professional home and a hub of defining research at the time – to learn more about climate science.
Armed with knowledge of the science, McCain proceeded to “do his job” to take on the challenge posed by climate change.
The hearings he called sparked conversations that led him to develop and co-sponsor, with Lieberman, the first legislation aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by industries across the economy.
The legislation attempted to institute a market-based program to reduce emissions from electricity, manufacturing and transportation sectors of the economy. Those sectors represented 85 percent of U.S. emissions that at that time contributed to climate change.
This legislative step was particularly difficult for McCain as a Republican. Climate change legislation was, and remains, a tough political challenge as it requires regulating the sources of energy that underlie so much of our economy.
In 2000, the only recorded vote in the U.S. Senate on climate change was a 1997 resolution that passed unanimously. It was an effort to stop the U.S. from agreeing to what lawmakers believed to be unfavorable terms in the Kyoto Protocol.
Many key Republican constituencies were at the time particularly resistant to any form of greenhouse gas regulation.
As the senators began to pull together their proposal, building support for the bill required concessions to the political needs of certain senators. But for McCain, who had a history of bipartisan problem-solving, the only prodding he needed was the scientific evidence and his responsibility to respond to it.
Advocating for their bill
Sens. McCain and Lieberman decided that the best way to change the politics of the issue was to force senators to become educated and accountable for their positions.
To do this, they drew on a political strategy that had worked before for them with their bipartisan campaign finance bill. They directed their staff to develop legislation in consultation with all political players and bring it to a vote as soon as possible. The support of a range of interests meant that politicians could more easily support the bill, and the quick vote was designed to force the senators to take a position.
The opportunity for a vote arose in mid-2003 as the Senate turned to comprehensive energy legislation. And in that effort, McCain’s tactical skill and resolve were on display.
The 2003 Senate debate about energy policy was the first major legislation that Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, managed. It represented an important effort to secure the new leader’s authority over his colleagues.
But it did not go well. The bill floundered on the floor. In order to get it passed, Frist engaged in legislative maneuvering that including asking for a rare thing, the Senate’s unanimous vote, or “consent,” to replace the energy legislation with the previous year’s bill that had passed the Senate. It was a legislative “Hail Mary.”
There are few moments of true political leverage in the Senate like a “must pass” request for unanimous consent. The only way for Frist to achieve it was for all 100 senators to sign off. That meant each senator had the power to stop the bill.
McCain recognized this moment of political leverage and seized it to advance the 2003 climate change legislation. He and Lieberman would say no to Frist’s request for unanimous consent, unless Frist would allow a vote on their bill.
After I informed the Senate leadership that McCain and Lieberman might have an objection, I sprinted to the staff phones and called McCain’s office – a Republican was better for holding a bill being managed by a Republican.
Within minutes, McCain was on the floor of the Senate, demanding that his climate bill be scheduled for a vote before anything could move forward. His request was granted, and Sen. Frist promised an up-or-down vote on the bill before the end of the year.
By resisting the political pressure from his own majority leader, Sen. McCain demonstrated his political spine. And in doing so, he showed his tactical skill, negotiating a commitment for a recorded vote on the final passage of the climate bill.
One hundred senators would have to publicly state their position on climate change.
Recharging the climate debate
Three months later, McCain and Lieberman brought their legislation to the floor and secured 43 votes in favor, plus the pledge of support from absent Sen. John Edwards.
It was a loss, but still important as the first step in the McCain-Lieberman strategy to get lawmakers to declare where they stood on climate change.
Forty-four senators were now on the record favoring the bill, and the remaining 56 could be held politically accountable. And it was a far cry from the 95-0 vote count against the Kyoto climate change treaty from 1997 that stood previously as a litmus test on the issue.
Despite its failure to pass, the McCain-Lieberman bill breathed life into legislative efforts to respond to climate change.
The momentum for climate legislation built through the decade, with the development of the 2005 and 2007 Climate Stewardship Innovation Acts, neither of which passed. The 2008 presidential race was significant in that both candidates, Sens. McCain and Obama, supported serious climate change measures.
With President Obama’s election, it looked like 2009 marked the moment the nation would finally address climate change concretely. But a combination of political polarization, leadership failures and economic recession conspired to frustrate the climate legislation of 2009-2010.
Since the 2010 midterm elections, climate legislation has not re-emerged.
As a result, we now have arrived at a point not unlike 2001, with political paralysis on Capitol Hill on the issue of climate change. Right now, there is no clear legislative leader who, like McCain, will step up and tackle such a politically risky problem. Perhaps we’ll get the chance to see another bipartisan leader emerge.
Los Angeles wants to use the Hoover Dam as a giant battery. The hurdles could be more historical than technical
August 29, 2018
The shrinking supply of Colorado River water is evident at the Hoover Dam on the border of Arizona and Nevada.
Anthony F. Arrigo
Associate Professor, Writing Rhetoric and Communication, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
Anthony F. Arrigo does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
University of Massachusetts provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
Los Angeles is looking into whether it should spend an estimated US$3 billion on a massive, 20-mile underground pumped hydropower storage system that would be connected to the iconic Hoover Dam on the Colorado River outside of Las Vegas.
If it does get built, this system would essentially serve as a giant battery to store power.
Having written a book about the aggressive propaganda program behind the Hoover Dam’s construction in the 1920s and 1930s, I can say that the technical and financial challenges of this plan are sure to pale in comparison to the legal and political roadblocks that will have to be overcome.
Among the biggest obstacles are the long-running fights over the Colorado River and its water, and that the Colorado is a shrinking river due to climate change and long-term drought.
Los Angeles has two basic motives for this plan.
First, the water level of Lake Mead, the nearly 250-square-mile reservoir that provides water to Arizona, California and Nevada, continues to drop due to long-term drought. The lower water levels are reducing the power that Hoover Dam’s electrical turbines generate.
Second, California has mandated statewide cuts in fossil-fuel use and increases in renewable energy production.
Solar and wind energy seem ideal, but have one major drawback: wild fluctuations. When there’s calm wind or no sunshine, there isn’t enough power to keep the lights on. When it’s sunny and windy, there can actually be too much power for the grid to function smoothly. Even in tandem, they are not reliable enough for utily-scale electricity, without some way to store excess energy.
The proposed plan would use wind and solar power to pump water from below Hoover Dam back upstream, depositing water into Lake Mead to be released again at a future time. The idea is to use the stored water to both offset renewable energy fluctuations, and supplement the grid during peak electrical demand.
It would do this by pumping water when electricity generated from solar or wind power is cheap and abundant, and releasing water through Hoover Dam when demand for power is high or renewable sources aren’t generating much energy – essentially turning Lake Mead into a giant battery.
The concept of using pumped hydropower to store energy is not new. The earliest examples date to the late 1800s in Europe, and the early 1900s in the U.S.
Many countries including Spain, Norway, Switzerland and the U.S. already use large pumped hydro storage systems. The world’s biggest is located along the West Virginia-Virginia border.
One key difference here is that this proposed project would use wind and solar electricity to pump the water. Another is the Hoover Dam’s complicated history. The biggest hurdle, I predict, would be negotiating a new use for the Colorado River’s water at a time when the region is growing more parched.
The Colorado River
The river is regulated by a document called the Colorado River Compact, an agreement forged among seven Western and Southwestern states in 1922 that dictates how much of the river’s water each state may use. The compact has helped to constrain what likely would have been endless litigation over the water.
This pact took years to negotiate, with many failed attempts along the way. Arizona took 44 years to officially ratify the agreement, and it has repeatedly sued its neighbors over the river, with some cases ending up at the Supreme Court.
In fact, Arizona nearly declared war against California in 1934 when its governor sent the Arizona National Guard to the border to “defend” against encroaching Bureau of Reclamation engineers scouting locations for Parker Dam, 155 miles downstream from Hoover Dam on the Colorado River.
Despite the compact, litigation over access to Colorado River water continues to this day. This endless conflict is why historian Philip L. Fradkin calls the Colorado “the most used, most dramatic, and the most litigated and politicized river in this country, if not the world.”
To make matters worse, Western states have long been wary of the motives of Los Angeles and California when it comes to water. Consequently, the current proposal, which calls for the Los Angeles Department of Power and Water to be put in charge of a massive new hydropower project in Nevada, would likely be met with a large dose of skepticism.
Proponents of the Hoover Dam battery concept say it would be an environmentally friendly way to generate more electricity without using fossil fuels. Yet there are more considerations here, too.
First, the project calls for nearly 20 miles of new underground pipes to run from below the dam back into Lake Mead. The water that it takes to fill those pipes along with the water that is circulated in perpetuity will take some coveted Colorado River water permanently out of the downstream flow.
Second, the time hardly seems right. The Colorado is in decline. With climate scientists predicting that the volume of water in the Colorado River will continue to decrease, states that rely on the river are bracing for potentially drastic cuts to water supplies.
Moreover, the Bureau of Reclamation states that Hoover Dam produces 4 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, which sounds like a lot. But that’s only enough to cover 1.3 million households, or roughly a third of all Angelenos.
Considering that Hoover Dam hydropower is distributed across Southern California, Arizona and Nevada, it actually provides only a small slice of the overall energy consumed in the West.
That is why, regardless of whether or not this project moves forward, I contend that the competing interests of the river’s many stakeholders will prove to be as durable a roadblock as any technical or budgetary constraint.