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Sep 01st
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Environment

News - Environment

Grid Fever

Grid Fever

Desalination plant gets green light. Will energy use spike water rates?
The Santa Cruz City Council has unanimously endorsed an agreement for a desalination plant, sparking community concerns about energy and environmental impacts.

Their March 23 decision gave the green light for project design and planning, but does not commit the city to construct the plant, says Mayor Mike Rotkin. The agreement also outlines a water-sharing plan with the Soquel Creek Water District, giving Santa Cruz primary rights to use the facility.

“The city council is on record at this point for moving forward with the desalination plant, although we won’t approve construction until we have seen the environmental review,” says Rotkin.  

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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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The Meaning of ‘LIFE’

With a new documentary film about his work, and huge exhibits on both coasts, acclaimed Santa Cruz nature photographer Frans Lanting is having a landmark year. But his crusade for conservation doesn’t leave much time for looking back

 

Seasons of Opportunity

Everything in our world has a specific time (a season) in which to accomplish a specific work—a “season” that begins (opportunity) and ends (time’s up). I can feel the season is changing. The leaves turning colors, the air cooler, sunbeams casting shadows in different places. It feels like a seasonal change has begun in the northern hemisphere. Christmas is in four months, and 2015 is swiftly speeding by. Soon it will be autumn and time for the many Festivals of Light. Each season offers new opportunities. Then the season ends and new seasons take its place. Humanity, too, is given “seasons” of opportunity. We are in one of those opportunities now, to bring something new (Uranus) into our world, especially in the United States. Times of opportunity can be seen in the astrology chart. In the U.S. chart, Uranus (change) joins Chiron (wound/healing). This symbolizes a need to heal the wounds of humanity. Uranus offers new archetypes, new ways of doing things. The Uranus/Chiron (Aries/Pisces) message is, “The people of the U.S. are suffering. New actions are needed to bring healing and well-being to humanity. So the U.S. can fulfill its spiritual task of standing within the light and leading humanity within and toward the light.” Thursday, Aquarius Moon, Mercury enters Libra. The message, “To bring forth the new order in the world, begin with acts of Goodwill.” Goodwill produces right relations with everyone and everything. The result is a world of progressive well-being and peacefulness (which is neither passive nor the opposite of war). Saturday is the full moon, the solar light of Virgo streaming into the Earth. Our waiting now begins, for the birth of new light at winter solstice. The mother (hiding the light of the soul, the holy child), identifying the feminine principle, says, “I am the mother and the child. I, God (Father), I Matter (Mother), We are One.”

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of August 28

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
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Land of Plenty

Farm to Fork benefit dinner for UCSC’s Agroecology Center, plus a zippy salsa from Teresa’s Salsa that loves every food it meets

 

If you knew you had one week to live, what would you do?

Make peace with myself, which would allow me to be at peace with others. Diane Fisher, Santa Cruz, Network Engineer

 

Comanche Cellars

Michael Simons, owner and winemaker of Comanche Cellars, once had a trusted steed called Comanche, which was part of his paper route and his rodeo circuit, from the tender age of 10. In memory of this beautiful horse, he named his winery Comanche, and Comanche’s shoes grace the label of each handcrafted bottle.

 

Cantine Winepub

Aptos wine and tapas spot keeps it casual