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Kate Poole, Senior Attorney, San Francisco

Kate Poole

I’m yet another displaced Midwesterner lured West by notions of open space, unspoiled wildness, and boundless potential. All of my romantic notions were confirmed in my first job “out West” as a park ranger at Dinosaur National Monument. I had many incredible experiences as a park ranger – which I highly recommend to anyone – but one of the most educational was the chance to participate in recovering peregrine falcons. Peregrines are amazing creatures that dive for prey at speeds up to 200 miles/hour, making it the fastest animal on the planet. But peregrines were nearly wiped out by DDT poisoning in the middle of the last century, which weakened their egg shells so much that they would break during incubation, preventing the birds from reproducing. The rangers at Dinosaur helped sustain the struggling peregrine population by rappelling down to the falcons’ eyrie after the adults laid their eggs, removing the fragile eggs to a hatchery, and returning the teenage birds to the eyrie after they hatched for lessons in how to fly and survive from their parents. After being pushed to the brink of extinction, peregrines are now off the threatened species list, thanks to the concerted efforts of many people over many years.

In 2004, I was fortunate enough to join the dedicated staff of NRDC’s Water Program and to continue working to protect the special places and attributes that define the West. Dragging century-old western water policy into the 21st Century is a daunting challenge, but so was recovering from the celebration of DDT that caused Paul Muller to receive the Nobel Prize for its discovery in 1948. I can’t wait to show my children a San Joaquin River that runs red with salmon, a California where every backyard has a rain barrel and every bathroom has an ultra-low flow toilet, a Bay-Delta teeming with native fish and wildlife, and a Central Valley that rewards farmers for pursuing drought-tolerant farming practices and installing efficient irrigation technology.

Recent Posts

A New and Improved California Water Action Plan?

Posted January 14, 2016 by Kate Poole

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Today, Governor Brown unveiled an update to the California Water Action Plan, the Brown Administration's roadmap for improving the state's ailing water system. As part of this unveiling, the Administration invited feedback on how they're doing on water issues, stating...continued

A New Year Brings a New Chance for Fish and Farmers to Thrive in the Yellowstone River Basin

Posted January 6, 2016 by Kate Poole

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Earlier this week, a group of federal agencies, irrigation districts, and conservation groups agreed to a settlement that provides a real opportunity to improve operations on the Yellowstone River for fish, anglers, farmers, and federal agencies that have struggled for...continued

How California Can Improve Its Drought Response in 2016

Posted December 21, 2015 by Kate Poole

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The most difficult part of solving any problem is admitting that it exists. Only then can real progress be made. For many years, we witnessed climate deniers hold the world back from tackling climate change because they rejected the notion...continued

California is Failing to Protect Water Quality in the San Francisco Bay-Delta

Posted October 29, 2015 by Kate Poole

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California is not just dragging its feet when it comes to updating and enforcing water quality standards for the beleaguered San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary. Instead, the State appears to be up to its neck in cement, paralyzed in its ability...continued

I Work For Them

Posted September 23, 2015 by Kate Poole

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Three amazing high school students spoke at last week's State of the San Francisco Estuary conference. They broke my heart. But they also inspired me to work harder tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that, to protect...continued

What to Look For in the New Delta Tunnels Plan

Posted July 13, 2015 by Kate Poole

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Late last week, the Brown Administration released its latest analysis of the proposal to build two massive tunnels under California's Bay-Delta estuary -- the largest estuary on the west coast of the Americas -- to divert water from the Sacramento...continued

Is 2% Enough To Save the Salmon Industry?

Posted June 12, 2015 by Kate Poole

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Less than 2%. That's how much water has been provided from the entire Central Valley in 2015 to help salmon and other fish survive the drought. Here's a pie chart prepared by staff from the State Water Resources Control Board...continued

What the Numbers Reveal About California's Water Priorities

Posted May 18, 2015 by Kate Poole

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California's drought and the responses to it have prompted a lot of finger pointing about who is responsible for the state's current water shortages. But what do the facts tell us? First and foremost, the facts confirm that the lack...continued

Competing Water Futures for California

Posted November 17, 2014 by Kate Poole

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California is at a crossroads.  One path offers green cities, sustainable farms, flowing rivers, and thriving fish and wildlife.  The other promises desiccated rivers, waterless taps, bird-free skies, and the parched remnants of fields abandoned after the wells run dry. ...continued

PLF Asks the Supreme Court to Put the Demands of the Few Over the Needs of the Many

Posted October 9, 2014 by Kate Poole

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Last week, the Pacific Legal Foundation asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling validating the 2008 delta smelt biological opinion (“BiOp”). The 2008 BiOp analyzes the impact of two of the country’s largest...continued

Revised Water Bond Is the Right Response to California's Drought

Posted August 12, 2014 by Kate Poole

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A broad array of stakeholders and interest groups, including NRDC, joined Governor Brown today to call for action on a proposed water bond that is slimmed down, focused on a key set of investments, and far superior to the $11.1...continued

Toledo's Toxic Drinking Water - Could It Happen in California?

Posted August 5, 2014 by Kate Poole

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It’s enough to make your stomach turn:  thick, gooey, green glop covering portions of Lake Erie and poisoning the drinking water supplies of Toledo and its neighbors.  Credit: Ohio DNR, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/ Poor Toledo.  Could never happen here in California, right?...continued

The Proposed Bay Delta Conservation Plan Is the Wrong Approach for California

Posted July 29, 2014 by Kate Poole

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As California struggles to respond to one of the worst droughts in generations, we need to do more than shorten our showers and turn off the faucet while brushing our teeth.   California’s water system is broken: The San Francisco Bay-...continued

California's Misguided Water Policy - Latest Approach Attracts Troubling Bedfellows

Posted May 15, 2014 by Kate Poole

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The people of California and the State’s leaders have long prided themselves on innovation when it comes to protecting the environment.  In many areas, this reputation is well-deserved.  For example:   California passed and is successfully implementing the first comprehensive law...continued

Draining the Delta Will Not Fix California's Drought

Posted March 18, 2014 by Kate Poole

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California’s drought is affecting everyone – cities, farmers, and our environment are all suffering from lack of water.  We all eat food, we all depend on our cities to sustain California’s vibrant culture and economy, and we all rely on...continued

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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