Environmental consciousness was the theme of the 2008 Regional Green Summit in Woodland on Saturday.
The summit was held at the Woodland Community and Senior Center and lasted all day. It featured over 40 panelist speakers on topics ranging from environmental justice to water quality. Several of the panelists and moderators were members of UC Davis research units.
The goal of the event was to raise questions about the environmental concerns in Yolo County and to discuss possible solutions with local community members.
David Bunn, who works at the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center, was one of the moderators of the day.
“I was impressed with how many people decided to show up on such a warm sunny day,” Bunn said. “It’s the first summit of its kind for the region.“
Tuleyome, an organization founded in 2002 to educate people and protect the watersheds and natural resources of the Putah-Cache bioregion, produced the summit. The Putah-Cache region lies just west of Davis and Woodland. Tuleyome also promotes sustainable agriculture, another theme of the Green Summit.
Debra Chase, executive director of Tuleyome, said in a written statement that the event was an important step to educating the public about pressing environmental concerns in Yolo County.
The summit was not intended to generate immediate solutions, but rather to generate discussion on issues like sustainable neighborhood design and water needs in the region.
Present at the summit were federal, state and local authorities, as well as many important sponsors such as the Sierra Club.
Bunn moderated a discussion about problems affecting species and habitats in Yolo.
“There are some very good examples of habitat restoration in this area,” Bunn said. “Still, the vast majority of agriculture in California is not doing anything to restore habitats. There are many opportunities to do so.“
According to Bunn there are areas of the Davis campus that could be improved.
“The areas around Hutchison and Dairy roads are poor examples of habitat restoration,” Bunn said, citing the lack of native grasses as an example. “There are very tangible things that can be done right now by students.“
Among the panelists in the discussion were Andy Engilis, curator of the UC Davis Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology, and Andrew Fulks from UC Davis Putah Creek Riparian Reserve.
Melanie Truan of the UC Davis Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology was a panelist under Bunn’s moderation.
“The university at Davis plays an extremely important role in the surrounding community,” Truan said. “The community really looks to the university for guidance in all areas. It’s important for students to know this, and that there are lots of opportunities to learn and become involved.“
Truan was especially impressed with Engilis‘ presentaion. Engilis examined the value of wildlife along Putah Creek through research and bio-monitoring.
“Very little had been previously known regarding Putah Creek’s value to wildlife in the area,” Truan said. “Engilis showed that Putah Creek is a very important resource.“
Eldridge Moores, professor emeritus in the UC Davis department of geology, was also a panelist. According to Truan, Moores is the most important geology authority in California.
“It was very important that he was there,” Truan said.
Deborah Salon of the UC Davis Institution of Transportation Studies was another moderator present on Sunday.
“The summit brought community members together with high-level experts,” Salon said. “I thought it was a cool idea.“
David Kram, a junior community and regional development major at Davis, attended the summit as a student.
“Just saying I was from UC Davis gave me some credibility at the summit,” Kram said. “And I wasn’t even involved in it.“
RONNY SMITH can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.