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Oct 01st
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Environment

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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News - Environment

Searching For Safety

Searching For Safety

An upcoming public safety meeting aims to improve coordination between local agencies

There has been a surge in community concern over public safety and the environment due to drug dens—like one among the rocks at Cowell Beach that was documented by surf instructor Dylan Greiner and aired on television news several weeks ago—where used syringes and human waste litter the area and wash onto the beach and into the surf.

Michael Becker, co-president of the community action group Take Back Santa Cruz, says photos and videos of the problem zones being shared on social media sites and the local news have prompted a significant increase in the number of community members voicing concerns and getting involved.

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News - Environment

Fruit Finders

Fruit Finders

The Santa Cruz Fruit Tree Project’s urban gleaning effort grows

It’s impossible to gauge the exact amount of fruit and vegetables that go to waste every year in California, but a 2010 University of Southern California study estimated it to be millions of tons. Most of our rotting fruit lies on the floors of orchards and fields, but plenty also goes unused in yards and public spaces in urban areas.

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News - Environment

Sonic Waves

Sonic Waves

PG&E's fault line research could blast marine mammals with sound

Marine mammals including whales, dolphins, seals and sea otters that live and migrate along the Central California coast could be in for some mind-rattling commotion come November if Pacific Gas & Electric Co. receives clearance next month for a controversial research project. California's largest electric company is seeking permits to conduct high-energy and possibly harmful seismic testing in the waters just offshore of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant in San Luis Obispo County.

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News - Environment

Growing The Genome Project

Growing The Genome Project

UCSC releases a more readable version of the human genome

“It’s funny, biology is such a mass discipline,” says Jim Kent. “What we focus on is often as much of a reflection on ourselves as it is on anything.” As director of the UC Santa Cruz Genome Browser Project and head of the ENCODE Data Coordination Center, Kent sets quite an example for channeling cultural fascination with science into real-world application.

“Back in the 1960s, when the focus was on energy and physics, people figured out the energy centers of the cell,” says Kent. But in 2012—a time of immense, international collaboration between biologists and computer engineers—the “culture of the age” culminated in September with a much more accessible and informative translation of the entire human genome than was previously available.

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News - Environment

Desalination And You

Desalination And You

How prepared are locals to vote on the city’s most contentious issue?

This Nov. 6, Santa Cruzans will not only cast their votes for a new president or an incumbent one, but also for local city council candidates and ballot measures. Citizens may dedicate much of their political consternation to the presidential election, but there are important decisions to be made at home, too.

The implications run deep and the controversy runs high when it comes to one issue being raised in the local election, in particular: desalination. Because of a potentially dire water shortage in times of drought, the city is looking in the coming years to move forward with—or nix—the building of a $115 million desalination plant, says Bill Kocher, the city’s water director. The plant would be built in the City of Santa Cruz, and would hopefully be finished by 2016, says Mike Rotkin, former city councilmember and co-founder of the Sustainable Water Coalition, which advocates for conservation, water storage and water augmentation measures in Santa Cruz.

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News - Environment

Pedaling A New Path

Pedaling A New Path

A change in leadership pumps new energy into People Power

Ten years later, Micah Posner has called it quits.

After more than a decade at the helm, and 20 years of being involved, the former People Power director has stepped down from the role to run for a seat on the Santa Cruz City Council.

Taking his place is 26-year-old Amelia Conlen, who has now been working as the fourth director of People Power for a little more than two weeks. Although Posner plans to remain on the steering committee of the organization, which pegs itself as “Santa Cruz County's advocate for human-powered transportation,” he says he is counting on Conlen to revitalize the group.

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News - Environment

A Forest Of Regeneration

A Forest Of Regeneration

A hike through Nisene Marks with the history dude

Sandy Lydon, known around Santa Cruz County as “the History Dude,” sits on the back of his white pickup truck in The Forest of Nisene Marks visitor parking lot, a map of the state park spread out beside him. He is explaining some of the earlier history of the land—a thing he knows quite a bit about, having studied, written and taught about the subject over the past 40 years.

“I’ve been kind of the history guy here, officially and not,” he says. Among other things, Lydon is also Emeritus Historian of Cabrillo College, a former KCBA television weather anchor, and a crusader against “hooey history”—a battle first taken up by a mid-20th century Santa Cruz Sentinel history columnist.  I rendezvous with Lydon for a preview of the history walk he will lead at the park’s Saturday, Aug. 4 50th anniversary celebration.

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News - Environment

Battleground State

Battleground State

California is ground zero for the GMO debate as the Prop. 37 campaign ramps up

Taking the temperature of an issue that has been bubbling since inception is difficult to do—but it’s safe to say this one is about to tip into a rapid boil.

As part of a statewide campaign to question genetically modified (GMO) food safety, the “Truth about GMOs” tour will present speakers Jeffrey Smith and Ocean Robbins at the Louden Nelson Community Center on Wednesday, Aug. 1. The speaking tour is timed to highlight the issue as voters prepare to decide on Prop. 37, a measure on the November ballot that, if passed, would put the words “Genetically Engineered” or “Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering” on the packaging of food that contains GMOs come July 2014. 

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On the Waterfront

As the wharf celebrates its centennial, a personal reflection on its essential place in Santa Cruz’s history

 

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, occurs this year during Libra, the sign of creating right relations with all aspects life and with earth’s kingdoms. We contemplate (the Libra meditation) forgiveness, which means, “to give for another.” Forgiveness is not pardon. It’s a sacrifice (fire in the heart, giving from the heart). Forgiveness is giving up for the good of the other. This is the law of evolution (the path of return).

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of September 26

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
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Melinda’s

New Capitola bakery takes gluten-free goods to the next level

 

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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

 

Apricot Wine for Dessert

Thomas Kruse Winery, a participant in the new Santa Clara Wine Trail, has been around for a long time—since 1971, to be exact. When our little group arrived to try some wine at the Kruses’ low-key tasting room, Thomas Kruse and his wife Karen were there to greet us. Theirs is a small operation, and they’re proud to offer quality wine at affordable prices. “Because we are small and low-tech, it’s easy to relate to the whole winemaking process,” says Karen—and the Kruses take pride in making wine “just like it has been made for centuries.”