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					                                                                                                      Fall 2010

Department of Environmental Studies
From Our Department Chair
Submitted by Dr. Dudley Burton                     take state-wide the environmental initiatives he
                                                   championed as Mayor in San Francisco.
        After a long period in which environ-
mental values have been dismissed, rebutted,               California voters defeated Proposition
or reviled, we are now in a period in which        23, the proposal to roll back the implementation
“green jobs” are touted as salvation for the       of AB32, Arnold Schwartzenegger’s landmark
economy. We should all know that both these        global warming legislation.
perspectives have their limitations. It is going            It is great that the political world is fi-
to take fundamental changes to wean us off         nally recognizing the social and economic poten-
our petroleum addiction. But we must start         tials of energy conservation, renewable energy,
somewhere, even if we should have done it          and planning to control greenhouse gases. Envi-
40 years ago.                                      ronmental Studies students should be pleased
                                                   that they understand the science and politics be-
                                                   hind these choices, and even more pleased that
                                                   they have opportunities to establish productive
                                                   careers dealing with these matters.
                                                           Best wishes as the semester proceeds!

Professor Burton snowshoeing in the Tahoe area

       In the Sacramento area, Mayor Kevin
Johnson has had a long series of meetings to
make Sacramento the “Emerald Valley.”
Governor-elect Jerry Brown claims that green
jobs are at the heart of solving California’s
budget and economic problems. Lieutenant
                                                       Enjoying Farmers Market on a Sunday in down-
Governor Elect Gavin Newsome wants to
                                                       town Sacramento
Faculty Corner
Submitted by Dr. Mary              good advice…do what you          think and believe…to know     duce and meat in open-air
                                   love! If you live simply and
Brentwood:                         within your means you don’t
                                                                    the truth. Socrates said,     markets. I have included pic-
                                                                    “An unexamined life is not    tures of recycling bins in
                                   have to worry about the          worth living.”                Varenna and Corniglia along
          Be Happy,                money.
     Be Curious, Find                       My former job was                I hope your educa- La Cinque Terra.
             Truth                 implementing environmental       tion brings you to the reali-          After I retire, at the
                                                   laws with the    zation that you have the      end of January, I am going to
                                                   federal gov-     tools to think critically and Bali. Hopefully that is just the
                                                   ernment. It      that you use those tools to beginning of my exploration
                                                   was a great      discover the truth. Many of of our Earth…because I am
                                                   learning ex-     you have heard me say         curious!
                                                   perience and     over and over in class,
                                                                                                           I want to thank my
                                                   I had a lot of   Wikipedia! is not a source
                                                                                                  colleagues in the Environ-
                                                   adventures       for discovering the truth.
                                                                                                  mental Studies Department
                                                   doing my         The point is your generation
                                                                                                  and all my students for a won-
                                                   part to save     is particularly challenged to
                                                                                                  derful experience that I will
                                                   salmon from      discover the truth because
                                                   extinction.      of all the information, opin- never forget.
                                                   What was         ion and miss-information
                                                   missing was      that is on the internet and
                                                   the freedom      media.                                 GO FORTH
                                                   and auton-                I encourage you to         AND DO GOOD!
                                                   omy I have       find time to travel to differ-
                                                   being a pro-     ent parts of the world. It’s
                                                   fessor. My       important to get out of our
                                                   choice to        Western cultural bubble to
                                                   leave my         see that not everyone in the
                                                   federal job      world lives as excessively
           Professor Brentwood at Bellagio          and teach       as we do…and, guess
                                                    meant a sub-    what, they are happy. Two
                    This is my     stantial cut in pay but I        years ago I went to Italy
last opportunity to write for couldn’t be happier with my           for 3 weeks. What we
the newsletter. As some of         choice.                          would call a supermarket is
you know I am retiring af-                                          very rare. In fact I never
                                            Life really is too
ter this semester. Retire-                                          saw one. People there
                                   short to not do what fulfills
ment usually causes one to                                          shop daily for fresh pro-
                                   you. I am reminded of this
reflect on their time spent in
                                   when I sadly think of some                                        Recycling in Varenna
an organization. When I
                                   of my students, much
think about my 12 year
                                   younger than I, who have
career at Sac State the first
                                   passed away over the
thing that comes to mind is,
it’s the best job in the           years.
world. Every morning that I                 I encourage you to
walk on campus to start my take your education seri-
day I am always reminded           ously. It’s not just a means
of how happy I am to be            to get a job. You are be-
here and how thankful I am ing exposed to ideas, phi-
to have the best job in the        losophies and knowledge
world. This is a great feel- that hopefully cause you to
ing. My hope is that every         be curious about the world
one of you has the same            and life. Your education
feeling when you walk into         provides you with a base
your job every day. I know of information to examine
it’s a cliché but it is also       who you are and what you
                                                                                                      Recycling in Corniglia
Faculty Corner

Submitted by Dr. Michelle Stevens:                               Congress for Middle Eastern Studies organizers Mathew
                                                                 Hall and Tony Miller (Centre for Middle Eastern Plants
                                                                 (CMEP), Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh) to arrange for
                                                                 two symposia featuring 10 Iraqi scientists presenting on
                                                                 conditions in southern Iraq. As conference planning pro-
                                                                 ceeded, the situation in Iraq worsened dramatically:
                                                                 Shat al Arab flows were so reduced that extremely pol-
                                                                 luted and hyper saline water occurred as far north as
                                                                 Basrah. Conference organization took a lot of time to
              Hima Mesopotamia:                                  arrange, as Iraqi’s have no credit cards and limited
                                                                 internet. Spanish visas’ weren’t obtained until the week
       Water and Peace in the Middle East                        before the Conference, when Spain won Soccer’s World
                                                                 Cup and officials were in an ebullient and expansive
         My research trajectory has been a source of             mood. When one of the Iraqi scientists congratulated a
amazement, humility, excitement and enrichment in my life. I     Spanish official on winning the World Cup, he was imme-
am embarked on two very exciting research trajectories.          diately granted an entrance visa.
One is starting a nonprofit corporation Hima Mesopotamia:
                                                                          Two other major things occurred to me in this
Water and Peace in the Middle East and collaborative inter-
                                                                 time period: 1) I needed to go to Turkey to find grass-
national research on the Tigris and Euphrates River water-
                                                                 roots efforts in the Tigris and Euphrates watersheds to
sheds; the other is historic ecology of the north Delta north-
                                                                 determine exactly what condition the construction, eco-
western Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta using fish faunal
                                                                 system and people were in; and 2) I decided to start a
archaeological records and traditional management assess-
                                                                 nonprofit organization to attain the international stature,
ment techniques. While these two topics seem very dispa-
                                                                 funding and resources to be effective in my research.
rate, the ultimate intention is to write a book comparing and
contrasting cultural and ecological systems in the two Twin            During the WOCMES Conference, I initiated a
River watersheds.                                             round table or talking circle to brainstorm actions to pro-
                                                              vide equitable water resource allocation in the Tigris
         In April 2009, I was the invited guest speaker for
                                                              Euphrates watershed. Among the suggestions, partici-
the 4th annual scientific conference on the rehabilitation of
                                                              pants recommended telling people’s stories, and using
the Mesopotamian Marshes in Basrah, Iraq. I was asked by
                                                              art, poetry, video and music to inform the world of the
Iraqi scientists to help focus international attention on the
                                                              situation on the Tigris River particularly. I also was able
serious threat of water withdrawals from upstream dam
                                                              to interview Iraqi scientists on their lives and perspectives
construction, primarily in Turkey, Iran and Syria. A petition
                                                              on the marshes. At the WOCMES Conference in Spain, I
had been signed by over 500 scientists to draw the atten-
                                                              met Turkish scientists at a session on Climate Change, who
tion of the world to the threat posed by inequitable riparian
                                                              put me in touch with the Turkish environmental group
water rights sharing in the Tigress and Euphrates water-
                                                              Doga Dernegi (DD). With either amazing good luck or
sheds. However, it appeared obvious to me that this was not
                                                              destiny, I met with two staff scientists and the president
going to be an effective approach to the challenge of pro-
                                                              of DD, who were very interested in my work making link-
longed drought and further upstream water diversions.
                                                              ages with the Mesopotamian Marshes and Iraqi people.
         Dr. Yousef and Dr. Malik, Basrah Marine Science      I spend 10 days in the Euphrates watershed and 10
Center, contacted me about helping them organize a con-       days in the Tigris watershed visiting dams and dam,
ference outside of Iraq to inform the international community evaluating conditions in the watershed, and almost get-
on the emergency conditions of high salinities, human suffer- ting arrested by the Turkish army (see my blog at:
ing and loss of biodiversity in the Shat al Arab, Mesopota- )
mian Marshes, and northern Gulf. I contacted the World
Faculty Corner
                                                                                            This is Hasenkeyf on the Tigris
                                                                                            River. Hasankeyf ıs a UNESCO
                                                                                            world heritage site, and will be
                                                                                            inundated by Ilusu Dam. The gov-
                                                                                            ernment offered to resettle the
                                                                                            3,000 inhabitants of the town, but
                                                                                            will only give them 15,000 L for
                                                                                            their homes and wants 70,000 L
                                                                                            for the new homes with no garden
                                                                                            space, which no one can afford. For
                                                                                            50 years the government has
                                                                                            wanted to build the dam, and re-
                                                                                            stricted any new home construction
                                                                                            and forbid any modifications to
                                                                                            existing historic buildings. A rock
                                                                                            fell of one of the cliffs and killed a
                                                                                            tourist a couple years ago, so tour-
                                                                                            ism was banned. This leaves people
                                                                                            in a very great hardship situation.
                                                                                            There are no jobs and no way to
                                                                                            make a living; they are fighting for
                                                                                            their lives!

          After these meetings, they arranged my travels and research for the next three weeks in first the Euphrates and
then the Tigris watersheds. I visited dams and talked to engineers, evaluated ecological and social conditions on each
watershed, and was almost getting arrested by the Turkish army (see Much of
what I did was FORBIDDEN by the Turkish government, making me grateful for freedom of speech and assembly in the
U.S. I will refer more to the research trajectories I am taking on dam construction and operation; analysis of riparian
dependent bird, fish and aquatic species; human rights violations; conservation and restoration of key species in the twin
river watersheds; and the social and ethnographic aspects of dam and reservoir construction. After my trip to Turkey,
it became even more important to establish Doga Dernegi to help protect the nature and culture of the Tigris and Eu-
phrates Rivers. The primary objectives and purposes of this corporation shall be to provide a holistic perspective on the
Tigris and Euphrates watersheds, addressing current environmental and social issues. Drought, over allocation of water
resources in the watershed, dam construction and hydro-electric development has caused the dramatic loss of ecosystem
services, biodiversity and cultural integrity throughout the watershed. Proposed dam construction, such as Ilusu Dam, will
exacerbate problems already in crises in the watershed and undo international efforts supporting cultural and ecologi-
cal restoration. Transboundary water issues are likely to destabilize a region already fraught with war and suffering.
Hima Mesopotamia will engage in efforts to increase effective communication on local, national, and international levels
and in the areas of culture, society, and science. If you are interested in sponsoring a talk, help with a fund raising ac-
tivity to promote the work of Hima Mesopotamia, or being on our mailing list, contact me at; check
out our web site at; and follow my blog at

         With the aid of a Masters Student, Emily Zaloza, and environmental studies intern Scott Tidball, I am complet-
ing a chapter and journal article on the Historic Ecology of the North Delta. It is rather exciting, as to my knowledge no
one has used the archeological fish faunal record to evaluate past water flows, and to then project the impact of Tradi-
tional Resource Management on higher and more consistent flows on the Cosumnes and McColumne drainages. We are
writing a chapter Historic Ecology of the northern Sacramento- San Joaquin Bay Delta: The past informs the future - Inte-
grating Physical Processes with Cultural Practices to Inform Ecological Restoration in a book edited by Pei Lin Yu Rivers,
Fish and the People Tradition, Science, and Historical Ecology of River Fisheries in the American West, Accepted for
publication by University of Utah Press.
Faculty Corner

Submitted by Professor Virginia Matzek

       Field Methods (ENVS 121)has been doing research this semester in the Sacramento River National
Wildlife Refuge. Students are measuring soil and biomass carbon storage in restored riparian forests in the
SRNWR as part of Dr. Virginia Matzek's research. The class has also investigated water chemistry, stream dis-
charge, and aquatic invertebrate diversity in the American River just upstream from campus, and will do
groundwater monitoring later in the semester. Check out the "ENVS 121 Field Methods" Facebook group for
more photos of the students in action this year:!/group.php?

        Field Methods is one of our most impacted classes because it is limited to 15 students. We have re-
cently gotten approval and funding from the dean's office to add more sections of ENVS 121 in the future, so
students can proceed more quickly to graduation!

                                           Above left: “Team Estro-
                                           gen” shows off the girl
                                           power that helped them
                                           measure 9 multistemmed
                                           willows; above right:
                                           Natalie and Alyssa pon-
                                           der their invertebrates in
                                           the microscope; right:
                                           Terry Singleton and
                                           Monica Dean measure
                                           flow rate with the bucket
                                           meter; left: Taking
                                           measurements at Pine
                                           Creek. All photos taken
                                           during ENVS 121 field-

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