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Apr 16th
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Environment

News - Environment

A Turning Tide?

A Turning Tide?

Marches and talks keep up the momentum around GMOs

The fight for GMO labeling in California may have suffered a hefty blow with Proposition 37's loss last November. The initiative, which proposed mandatory labeling of genetically engineered food, was rejected with 51.4 percent of the vote.

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News - Environment

Field to Vase

Field to Vase

Open house provides opportunity for residents to meet their local flower growers

Valentine’s Day is a high point of the year for those in the cut flower business. So when, one year in the late ’90s, the bouquet-riddled holiday failed to deliver for Kitayama Brothers Farms, the family behind the decades-old rose-growing business knew something was wrong. 

“It was the writing on the wall,” recalls Stuart Kitayama, operations manager for the Watsonville-based company. “Those of us who had been hoping things would just get better finally said ‘it’s time to change.’”

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News - Environment

Making the Grade

Making the Grade

The quest to identify sources of high levels of bacteria at Cowell Beach continues

With straight As on Heal the Bay’s annual “beach report card” for 10 out of 13 Santa Cruz County beaches—Main Beach, Seabright, and even Cowell Beach at the Stairs, to name a few—it would seem that Santa Cruz boasts a high coastal GPA. But in recent years, one Santa Cruz beach just can’t seem to pass: Cowell Beach west of the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf.

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News - Environment

Powered by You

Powered by You

Community Choice Aggregation gives local energy a chance

Come June, the public will be let in on a secret. It's the secret to buying and selling renewable energy at a competitive price.

Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) is a local government-run electricity program that operates as a nonprofit entity, according to the Santa Cruz County Commission on the Environment. CCA agencies can aggregate local, renewable resources generated in a consortium of counties and cities and sell it back to these districts, which form a joint powers authority.

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News - Environment

No Big Surprises

No Big Surprises

The highly anticipated draft Environmental Impact Report for desal is finally out. Will it change anything?

When scwd2, the group pursuing the proposed joint desalination plant for the Santa Cruz Water Department and Soquel Creek Water District, set up a booth at the Santa Cruz Earth Day festival in 2012, its reception was less than warm.

Signature gathering for Measure P, the “right to vote” on desal ballot measure, was in full swing, as were tensions over the controversial project, which would produce up to 2.5 million gallons per day of desalinated water and cost an estimated $100 million. What were representatives of an energy-intensive desal plant doing among the recycling and conservation booths? That was the attitude Melanie Mow Schumacher, public outreach coordinator for scwd2 (pronounced “squid squared”), remembers sensing.

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News - Environment

Growing Berries Without Bromide

Growing Berries Without Bromide

Researchers test a new alternative to a controversial chemical

The scarecrows perched in Santa Cruz strawberry fields do little to scare away the birds, much less the insects and fungi harbored in the soil. Everything likes to eat strawberries, which makes growing them a risky business.

This predicament led UC Santa Cruz professor Carol Shennan to take an unconventional approach to pest management. Nine years ago, the fatal plant disease Verticillium wilt was wiping out strawberry plants at the university farm. Chemicals hardly phase the pathogen, and Shennan saw little improvement with crop rotation, which is typically used to treat infested fields. A visiting plant pathologist from the Netherlands recommended a little-known organic technique called anaerobic soil disinfestation, and, with so few other options, Shennan decided to give it a try. 

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News - Environment

Bring Your Own Bag

Bring Your Own Bag

Single-use plastic bag bans are underway

Shoppers in Capitola, Watsonville, the City of Santa Cruz, and the unincorporated parts of the county are, by now, becoming accustomed to the absence of plastic bags.

On Sept. 20, 2011, Santa Cruz County became the first local jurisdiction to pass an ordinance that banned single-use plastic bags and implemented a fee for paper bags, which took effect last spring. Watsonville, Capitola, and Santa Cruz followed suit with similar actions: Watsonville’s ordinance went into effect last September, and, as of last month, the bans in Capitola and the City of Santa Cruz are now in place.

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News - Environment

Land of Lions

Land of Lions

New research provides foundation to look at protecting mountain lions, particularly when it comes to Highway 17

An adult male mountain lion called simply “Number 16” by the Santa Cruz Puma Project led a scientifically interesting life for the more than two-year period he was tracked by the UC Santa Cruz-based research project.

According to Chris Wilmers, associate professor of environmental studies at UCSC and head of the Puma Project, the group initially caught and collared Number 16 in Loch Lomond. He then proceeded to cross Highway 17 several times, where he was eventually was hit, but survived. In an unusual move for an adult male, Number 16 then shifted his home range to the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park. Recently, the lion’s tracking collar went on “mortality mode.” The day before Wilmers spoke to Good Times, the researchers found his skeleton.

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News - Environment

Stop and Go

Stop and Go

Where does the Highway 1 expansion project stand?

Commuters will be cruising new lanes on Highway 1 between Morrissey Boulevard and Soquel Avenue by mid-April, according to Bruce Shewchuk, the resident engineer overseeing the project for the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC). However, the freeway will not be three lanes in each direction until August.

“There may be some landscaping to be completed,” says Shewchuk. “But the [La Fonda] bridge will be open and all the lanes useable by late summer.”

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News - Environment

Looking to the Labor

Looking to the Labor

Cesar Chavez Day provides a good reminder for locavores to thank the farmworkers

The county’s seven farmers’ markets are signs of growing interest in buying local and knowing where one’s food comes from. But the cheery bustle of these local food hubs is still worlds away from the dusty, sun-drenched farm fields of the outlying county. As consumers pick from the colorful produce at the market, how many also think of the hands that picked it from the field?

This question worries Sarah Broker, who says she gets frustrated when people congratulate themselves for buying local food but overlook those who labored for it.

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Growing Hope

Campos Seguros combats sexual assault in the Watsonville farmworker community Farm work was a way of life for Rocio Camargo, who grew up in Watsonville as the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Her parents met while working the fields 30 years ago, and her father went on to run Fuentes Berry Farms.

 

Cardinal Grand Cross in the Sky

Following Holy Week (passion, death and burial of the Pisces World Teacher) and Easter Sunday (Resurrection Festival), from April 19 to the 23, the long-awaited and discussed Cardinal Cross of Change appears in the sky, composed of Cardinal signs Aries, Libra, Cancer, and Capricorn, with planets (13-14 degrees) Uranus (in Aries), Jupiter (in Cancer), Mars (in Libra) and Pluto (in Capricorn), an actual geometrical square or cross configuration. Cardinal signs mark the seasons of change, initiating new realities.

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

Animal Magnetism

Bear, mouse dare to be friends in charming ‘Ernest and Celestine’ It’s not exactly Romeo and Juliet. It’s not even a romance, although it is a love story about two individuals separated by prejudice who find the courage to form an unshakable bond despite the rules and traditions that keep them apart.
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Foodie File: Red Apple Cafe

Breakfast takes center stage at Gracia Krakauer's Red Apple Cafe Before they moved to Aptos, Gracia and her husband Dan Krakauer would visit friends in Santa Cruz County and eat at the Red Apple Café all the time. Then they moved up here from Santa Monica five years ago, and bought the Aptos location (there’s a separate one in Watsonville) from the family who owned it for two decades.

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management

 

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

 

Trout Gulch Vineyards

Cinsault 2012—la grande plage diurne The most popular wines on store shelves are those most generally known and available—Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are all superb for sure. But when you come across a more unusual varietal, like Trout Gulch Vineyards’ Cinsault ($18), it opens up a whole new world.