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Feb 12th
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Saving Sea Otters, One Check Mark at a Time

sea_otterCalifornia’s cutest marine mammals get a legislative boost
Sea otter lovers, rejoice—the threatened ocean critters have hope on the horizon in form of Assembly Bill 971 (AB 971). Santa Cruz’s State Assemblymember Bill Monning (D-17th District) authored the bill, which was introduced in March and approved by the Assembly earlier this week in a 72-3 vote.

The bill will keep an existing voluntary contribution check box on the California tax form for another five years, directing what’s garnered to the California Sea Otter Fund. The collected funds are divvied up to organizations and researchers working to protect and replenish sea otter populations. The Fund is the single largest contributor to sea otter research in California.

“Californians have shown their support for sea otter research and preservation by selecting a voluntary contribution on their state tax returns year after year,” Monning tells Good Times. “The passage of this bill will allow for this choice to continue as an option.”

Less than 3,000 sea otters live off of California’s coast today—only one-fifth of the historic population. Why they’re disappearing and how to solve it remain challenging problems for Golden State scientists and conservationists.

For Monning, sea otter decline is worrisome for several reasons. “This bill is important to me because the sea otter is the proverbial ‘canary in the [coal] mine’ for our ocean habitat,” he says. “A healthy otter population is critical to the health of all marine mammals and the health of our vital tourism industry. I am pleased with the bipartisan support we have mobilized."

Rachel Goodman, Monning’s district director, expounds on these issues, noting that “sea otters are a key species in the Monterey Bay ocean ecosystem, keeping the sea urchin population in balance so we can have healthy kelp forests.”

In order to stay on the tax collections form, the Sea Otter Fund must raise a minimum amount (around $250,000) each year. The minimum for 2011 is $260,890. According to Goodman, the collection numbers are on track to meet the threshold. “Enough people seem to realize that sea otters are in trouble and funds [are needed] to study why they are not recovering well,” she says.

The bill, which was co-sponsored by Defenders of Wildlife and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, now moves on to the Senate, where the Senate Policy Committee will consider it before July 8 and the entire Senate will vote on it between then and September.

Learn more about the California Sea Otter Fund.

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Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

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