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Newsletter: Essential California: Salt marshes will vanish in less than a century if seas keep rising and California keeps building

A USGS scientist measures wetland elevation at the San Francisco Bay estuary.
(USGS)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Thursday, Feb. 22, and here’s what’s happening across California:

TOP STORIES

On one side, there’s the rising ocean. On the other, rising buildings. Squeezed between the two are California’s salt marshes — a unique ecosystem filled with pickleweed and cordgrass, shorebirds and many endangered species. Coastal wetlands such as Bolinas Lagoon in Marin County, the marshes along Morro Bay and the ecological preserve in Newport Beach can purify the air, cleanse urban runoff before it flows into the sea and reduce flooding by absorbing storm surges like a sponge. But there’s little room left for this ecosystem along the changing Pacific Coast, as the sea continues to rise and Californians continue to develop the shore. Los Angeles Times

Graham dies

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The Rev. Billy Graham, the most dominant American pastor of the second half of the 20th century, who counseled presidents, filled stadiums and lifted evangelism into the religious mainstream through the power of his voice and personality, died at his home in Montreat, N.C., early Wednesday, his official website announced. He was 99. Los Angeles Times

On skid row

After a week without food, skid row activist Kaleb Havens is still hungry to make a statement about the housing shortage. Havens also chained himself to a fence on skid row, at 5th Street and Central Avenue, to protest conditions in the homeless capital of the Western Hemisphere and to call attention to the need for a response that matches the size of the emergency. Columnist Steve Lopez checked in. Los Angeles Times

L.A. STORIES

School shooting fears: Just 48 hours after a gunman slaughtered 17 students and teachers in Parkland, Fla., a security officer at a Los Angeles County high school overheard a troubling threat. A student was plotting to create similar carnage at El Camino High School in Whittier, authorities said. Los Angeles Times

Charged: A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy was charged Wednesday with sexually assaulting six female inmates in a Lynwood jail facility. Giancarlo Scotti, 31, faces six felony counts and two misdemeanor counts of sexual activity with a detainee in a detention facility, according to the district attorney’s office. His attorney said his client plans to plead not guilty. Los Angeles Times

Wow! Marvel Studios and Ryan Coogler’s blockbuster superhero movie “Black Panther” has become a legitimate global juggernaut, grossing a jaw-dropping $427 million in worldwide ticket sales and defying movie business assumptions. Los Angeles Times

Coming attraction: Uber brings to L.A. its Express Pool service, which sounds kind of like a bus. Los Angeles Times

IMMIGRATION AND THE BORDER

Changing demographics: The San Gabriel Valley’s Asian American population grew by 22% between 2000 and 2010, while the region’s white population shrank by 17%, according to a study released Wednesday by Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles. Los Angeles Times

Wall news: “The federal government began work Wednesday to replace a section of border wall in California, the first wall contract awarded in the Trump administration outside of eight prototypes that were built last year in San Diego.Associated Press

POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT

Debate night! Five Democrats looking to replace retiring Republican Rep. Darrell Issa squared off at a debate in San Juan Capistrano on Tuesday night, struggling to differentiate themselves in a crowded and open race. Los Angeles Times

It’s a crisis: The mayors of California’s 11 largest cities are pushing for $1.5 billion in state money to address homelessness. Los Angeles Times

Party’s over? The Los Angeles City Council approved a measure that seeks to crack down on so-called party houses by imposing new fines on both event hosts and homeowners. Los Angeles Times

Some wonkery: “The essence of California’s pension crisis was on display last week when the California Public Employees’ Retirement System made a relatively small change in its amortization policy,” writes Dan Walters. Cal Matters

CRIME AND COURTS

In Temple City: Despite being on the state’s list of people barred from owning firearms, an L.A. County man was able to accumulate an arsenal of 28 guns before authorities recently seized the weapons, officials announced Wednesday. Los Angeles Times

On the 101: A sexual assault suspect killed himself by drinking poison during a police chase on the 101 Freeway in Ventura County early Wednesday, authorities said. Los Angeles Times

The inmate business: “As California transitions away from mass incarceration, a notorious private prison company has landed a multimillion-dollar state contract to provide inmate reentry services.” East Bay Express

New video: “A BART police officer ran down the street and repeatedly yelled ‘let me see your hands’ before fatally shooting a man who was wrestling with another person near the West Oakland station, new video footage reviewed by The Chronicle shows.” San Francisco Chronicle

THE ENVIRONMENT

Perdue in CA: Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue gets grounded in California. Los Angeles Times

Don’t over-water: “California’s top water officials are considering permanent conservation rules that would outlaw hosing down driveways, over-watering lawns and running sprinklers on grassy street medians.The Desert Sun

CALIFORNIA CULTURE

More Weinstein Co. drama: Former Obama administration official Maria Contreras-Sweet moved closer to reviving her proposed purchase of Weinstein Co.'s assets, in the first sign of life for the sale process since the New York attorney general’s office sued the company. Los Angeles Times

Hollywoodland: “Almost every one of hundreds of women questioned in an exclusive survey by USA TODAY say they have experienced some form of sexual harassment or assault during their careers in Hollywood.” USA Today

Plus: “Tom Schumacher, the executive behind the new ‘Frozen’ musical, has been accused of explicit sexual language and harassment in the workplace.” Wall Street Journal

Awards season: Finalists for the 2017 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes include Joyce Carol Oates, Ron Chernow, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jesmyn Ward. The awards will be presented on the campus of USC on April 20, the eve of the L.A. Times Festival of Books. Los Angeles Times

Nice: Times may be tough, but this past weekend in L.A. was a great one for life-affirming punk rock. Los Angeles Times

CALIFORNIA ALMANAC

Los Angeles area: Partly cloudy, 59, Thursday. Sunny, 62, Friday. San Diego: Showers, 59, Thursday. Partly cloudy, 58, Friday. San Francisco area: Showers, 52, Thursday. Sunny, 54, Friday. Sacramento: Showers, 54, Thursday. Sunny, 57, Friday. More weather is here.

AND FINALLY

Today’s California memory comes from Sandra Phillips:

“I remember as a child driving past the Winchester Mystery House before it was turned into a tourist attraction. The house was set way back from the road and was weatherbeaten and rather frightening. The old wood fence in front was partly broken. I saw it later and it was painted and repaired. What a disappointment. It has stayed in my memory for a long, long time.”

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. Send us an email to let us know what you love or fondly remember about our state. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to Benjamin Oreskes and Shelby Grad. Also follow them on Twitter @boreskes and @shelbygrad.


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