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Sep 01st
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Environment

News - Environment

Something Wilder

Something Wilder

Cherished state park offers a window into the past and sheds light on energy solutions

“It’s something that you’re never going to see anywhere else, and it’s totally unique,” says Wilder Ranch docent Mike Dalbey. He’s talking about the water-powered tools in the Wilder Ranch State Park, which is home to a 19th century saw mill, lathe, drill bit, coffee grinder, and grindstone—all powered by Pelton Water Wheels.

Wilder Ranch's water-powered machine shop dates back to the 1890s and is the last one operating in the State of California. Dalbey, who has helped to restore some of the tools himself, says his favorite part is the lichens growing on one of the wheels—something he calls “high technology as the substrate for organic life.”

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News - Environment

Hatch and Release

Hatch and Release

The Monterey Bay Trout and Salmon Project is back in the water after a few dry years

Following three years of no salmon and no salmon fishing, local fishermen can once again take up their poles on April 3. Among those excited for the opening of salmon season is the Monterey Bay Salmon & Trout Project (MBSTP), which plans to recommence its King Salmon release program after a three-year hiatus.

Founded in 1976, the MBSTP is a non-profit run almost entirely by volunteers (there is only one paid staff member) with the mission of restoring, conserving, and enhancing native Coho salmon and Steelhead populations and their habitats in the greater Monterey Bay area. MBSTP Treasurer Larry Wolf says that the voluntary aspect makes it “an uplifting program,” and he describes the MBSTP as “one of those programs that was instituted because people thought they could do a better job than government could to take care of our local environment.”

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News - Environment

New Lagoon

New Lagoon

UCSC’s Natural Reserve System works to restore Younger Lagoon

It’s a beautiful, mild mid-December day and Gage Dayton is standing on a gently sloping hill overlooking Younger Lagoon, a natural reserve site, as he looks politely, if a bit sternly, at a surfer. The surfer, a man in his early twenties clad in a black hooded wetsuit, is, for his part, looking both embarrassed and uncomfortable; he’s in a distinctly awkward spot, positioned several feet off the ground, halfway over a fence. His two friends, also clad in wetsuits and clutching their surfboards, are standing behind him, looking similarly abashed.

“No hopping here, guys,” Dayton says mildly. “Sorry. This is a reserve.” The surfers haven’t moved; they look at him a bit skeptically. “The UC Santa Cruz police have actually been starting to patrol down here, unfortunately,” he adds.

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News - Environment

In Slow We Trust

In Slow We Trust

A walk with Dr. Wallace J. Nichols illuminates the Slow Coast Movement, the ‘long now’ and what's really in a name

We all know the area. That long stretch of Highway 1 that weaves along the cliffs, between hills, forests and farmland beginning just north of Santa Cruz at Wilder Ranch and ending south of Half Moon Bay just past San Gregorio. It's a region of undeniable beauty and tangible calm. A place where time seems to move a little slower, perhaps on an older more natural cycle. A certain Dr. Wallace 'J' Nichols, his partner Dana Nichols and other like-minded people in the area are working on keeping it that way.

"We're lucky here," says Nichols, walking in the crisp morning air along Swanton Road with his black and white Newfoundland, Fisher. "This isn't about rebuilding something, it's about hanging onto it."

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News - Environment

Swine on the Mind

Swine on the Mind

Opinions are split when it comes to the size of the H1N1 pandemic, but most doctors still recommend the vaccine

After ramping up a vaccination campaign larger than any since polio, public health agencies now say swine flu is on its way out. While some doctors question whether swine flu was ever truly as widespread as it was made out to be, warnings that H1N1 could infect half of all Americans and befell 90,000 came from the highest health authorities, the largest media outlets—even the President.

In late November, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that H1N1 cases have appeared in all regions of the country, besides a few isolated areas like Hawaii, and has claimed about 4,000 lives so far. The World Health Organization (WHO) also announced “early signs of a peak” in the U.S., saying it expects infections to continue to decline.

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News - Environment

Defining the Elusive “Green” Fish

Defining the Elusive “Green” Fish

Recently passed Sustainable Seafood Bill seeks to inform consumers and reward environmentally friendly fishers

While the declining state of fisheries in California threatens to put us all in Homer Simpson's shoes during a Treehouse of Horror moment ("Oh, I wish I wish I hadn't killed that fish!"), Assemblyman Bill Monning's recently passed Sustainable Seafood Bill is a good start in the other direction.

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News - Environment

Staying Rooted

Staying RootedRenowned UCSC Arboretum carries on in the midst of brutal budget cuts

Standing in the Aroma Garden of the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum, I inhale the pleasant scents of mint and honey. “Stand here for a second,” urges Stephen McCabe, director of education at the Arboretum. Following his suggestion, I stand downwind of an Escallonia viscosa, a lush, leafy plant that exudes a welcoming maple syrup-like aroma. “Sometimes I can smell this from 20 feet away,” McCabe says.
Established in 1964 as a research and education facility, the Arboretum boasts not only the Aroma Garden, but also the world’s largest collections of South African and Australian plants outside of their native countries, an unsurpassed assortment of conifers, the most diverse array of eucalyptus existing in a single, easily accessible area and native flora from such disparate regions as New Zealand, Chile and California. Along with being pleasing to the senses, these plant collections function as demonstration gardens. “People can come here and see how the plants grow,” says McCabe. “They can go to the native garden or the Australian garden and see how big something will be or what it will look like with other plants out in the garden.”
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News - Environment

Saving Our Outside Lands

Saving Our Outside Lands

Land Trust of Santa Cruz County goes forward with 20-year conservation plan

Stephen Slade can remember a time just three decades ago when Campbell was a tiny rural community, reachable only by rough dirt roads. Terry Corwin grew up in Southern California, surrounded by orange groves that have almost entirely vanished.

“Most people that are growing up in California,” Slade says, “will have a memory of a landscape that is going to be completely altered. I grew up in Modesto and when I go back there now it’s like, ‘Where am I?’ The Central Valley is rapidly changing.”

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News - Environment

Oil Used Up

Oil Used Up

Workshop teaches skills for a low-energy future

“Generally we don’t go up to people and say, ‘Do you know that the world as you know it is coming to an end?’” Michael Levy is a reasonable man. He’s not going to try to convince you that the Apocalypse is nigh or of some other doomsday scenario. He just believes that our current standard of living in the United States and other industrialized nations is unsustainable.

That’s why a year and a half ago he founded Transition Santa Cruz (TSC), part of the growing worldwide transition movement. Originating in England in 2005, and now with hundreds of chapters worldwide, transition initiatives are grassroots local movements. They seek to educate their communities about the possibility that energy resources like oil will soon grow so scarce and expensive that they will be unavailable to the vast majority of people, a development that will radically alter our current lifestyle, which for the past century or more has relied heavily on the availability of low-cost oil, coal, and natural gas.

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News - Environment

A Day of Action

A Day of Action

Local activists take part in Climate Action Day

Creating international policies to curb climate change is no walk in the park. But that is just what world leaders aim to do this December, when the United Nations Climate Change Conference converges on Copenhagen, Denmark. The goal of the conference is to draft an international resolution that will replace the Kyoto Protocol, which is set to expire in 2012.

Half a world away, here in Santa Cruz, it may be hard to imagine what impact an individual could have on the conference. But according to Micah Posner of People Power, making a difference is simple. All Santa Cruzans have to do is head downtown to the clock tower at 2 p.m. this Saturday to hear speeches from City Supervisor Mark Stone, City Climate Czar Ross Clark and bear witness to the trial of a private automobile.

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Mercury Enters Libra

It’s the week of Burning Man, the temporary, intentional, alternative, art-filled community on the playas of Nevada. Mercury, messenger of the Sun, enters Libra this week. Libra is the equalizer, a sign of balance and right human relations. Sometimes with Libra, we can be indecisive and confused while learning how to make balanced and right choices. Sometimes to keep the peace we communicate only what others want to hear. Eventually, we learn how to speak from the heart.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Banter and Spark

Engaging actors, wry script distinguish lightweight rom-com ‘What If’

 

Back to Silicon Beach

With a new wave of startups, the future of Santa Cruz tech looks more promising than ever
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Himalayan Kitchen

Chef Purna Regmi on the secrets of Nepalese cooking

 

What’s the nicest thing you’ve done for someone this week?

Germany  |  Beekeeper

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

A Cab To Be Coveted

I first tasted Villa del Monte’s 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon at a Fourth of July party, where the hosts had bought a case of it because they love it and didn’t want to run out. It’s one of those wines that will grab you—in the best way—with its full body and rich fruit characteristics.