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Sep 01st
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Environment

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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News - Environment

Extreme Clean

Extreme Clean

The evolution of Santa Cruz’s DIY cleanup crew

It takes the group less than 10 minutes to find around a dozen syringes stashed in an unmarked paper sack. The bag appears innocuous, lying in grass just three feet from a high-traffic thoroughfare, Delaware Avenue, near the park at Natural Bridges State Beach.

So begins a typical Saturday for Santa Cruz's DIY waste-collection effort, The Clean Team.

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News - Environment

Islands In The Sun

Islands In The Sun

Former Santa Cruz reporter brings national attention to a local nonprofit’s mission to save endangered species 

On thousands of islands all over the planet, rare and exotic species are being killed off at overwhelming rates by non-native predators such as rats, feral cats, pigs and goats that were introduced into those ecosystems by humans over the centuries.

With the mission to prevent these at-risk species from becoming extinct, the Santa Cruz-based nonprofit Island Conservation (IC) works to remove predators that are harming native fauna, often by tracking and killing them using poison, traps, and high-powered rifles.

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News - Environment

Mini Microbes Make A Big Splash

Mini Microbes Make A Big Splash

Local scientist earns prestigious ocean research award to continue microbe research

In a lab bursting with state-of-the art equipment and analytical instruments, Alexandra Worden pores over the latest genetic data from microbes freshly scooped out of sunny ocean waters. Around her, a team of UC Santa Cruz graduate students, visiting scientists, and interns are hard at work delving into the mysteries of these tiny organisms.

Worden is an internationally recognized scientist whose bustling research lab at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) is a mecca for studying ocean microbes—invisibly small creatures essential to ocean ecosystems and the planet's health.

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News - Environment

Gold Rush, Take Two

Gold Rush, Take Two

Is California’s Central Coast prepared for a potential fracking boom?

It has only been in recent years that drilling techniques have been developed to tap the enormous gas reserves trapped in Marcellus Shale beneath the Appalachian Mountains. Now, the rolling hills are scattered with thousands of new wells that utilize high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing—a method that injects water and chemicals into the surrounding rock to create fissures through which oil and gas can flow.  

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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