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Apr 26th
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Environment

News - Environment

An Unprecedented Measure

An Unprecedented Measure

Potential Twin Lakes closure leaves residents uneasy

It’s a foggy Monday morning as Laura Kasa surveys the scene at Twin Lakes State Beach. There is no trace left of the crowds that dotted the shoreline over the weekend—except, that is, for the piles of trash waiting to be hauled away.

The Save Our Shores executive director peers into a garbage can, muttering about the plastic containers that poke out from the pile and the small number of trash and recycling receptacles at the entrance.

“When I drove by Seabright Beach yesterday, it was packed,” Kasa says. “What’s it going to be like in July?”

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News - Environment

Otters Online

Otters Online

Santa Cruz-based website aims to educate and inspire the public about sea otters

If you live in California, you’ve probably heard about the plight of sea otters. You may have even donated a few income tax dollars to them, via Assembly Bill 971, approved almost unanimously last June by California legislators. But Drew Wharton, founder of seaotters.com, thinks that the fight to ensure the future of the southern (or California) sea otter can’t stop there.

Launched on the 23rd anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the Santa Cruz-based website aims to make the research surrounding sea otter conservation efforts more accessible.

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News - Environment

The Closure Conundrum

The Closure Conundrum

How creative grassroots efforts may keep local state parks open

“How do you close a forest?”

A man in his mid-twenties, dressed in baggy jeans and sneakers, asks his friend this question as they pass a group of climbing students on a trail in Castle Rock State Park. The park—preserved since 1968—is slated for closure July 1, along with 69 others statewide.

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News - Environment

Homemade in California

Homemade in California

Proposed California law would allow for the sale of non-perishable homemade foods

When Kathryn Lukas started her artisan organic sauerkraut business, Farmhouse Culture, the local worked out of a friend’s cellar. She couldn’t afford rent on the commercial kitchen required under California's food safety regulatory laws, but because she had previously owned a restaurant she knew enough to craft her own commercial kitchen.

However, she soon realized that it would be at least a year before the permitting process for her kitchen was complete. As soon as she could, Lukas purchased an existing 2,500-square-foot commercial kitchen. She couldn’t quite afford the kitchen, so she rented it out hourly to other small-scale food producers in Santa Cruz.

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News - Environment

Banning the Bag

Banning the Bag

If and when local cities plan to follow in the county’s footsteps

Many local shoppers are accustomed to no longer hearing the once common question of “paper or plastic?” as they check out at the market. This is because of grocery stores like New Leaf Community Markets, which offer only paper bags and encourage shoppers to bring in reusable, multi-use bags. Across California, reusable shopping bags have become a staple of environmentalism and consumer responsibility in many counties.

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News - Environment

Step by Step

Step by Step

Styrofoam ban may expand its reach

The City of Santa Cruz’s “Environmentally Acceptable Food Packaging Ordinance” (EAFPO), passed in January 2008, boiled down to 15 “findings and intents,” 14 “definitions,” and one major enemy: polystyrene foam.

Polystyrene foam is found in many forms: the cup that breaks into a million pieces; food containers that get tossed aside; and the seemingly endless fluorescent sea of squeaky peanuts that fill delivery packages. The material has found its way into our everyday culture, usually as a means for convenience.

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News - Environment

The Faces of Fishing

The Faces of Fishing

Local fishing family hopes to bring the Fishermen’s Association into the 21st century

Exposure to the elements, manual labor, and sleepless shifts that can last for days on end make fishing a rare career aspiration in this digital day and age. In fact, Captain Joe Stoops, the newly appointed president of the Santa Cruz Commercial Fishermen’s Association (SCCFA), calls his much-loved career “a thing of the past” and says he went through 14 deck hands in 2011 alone.

“There’s not a lot of young kids getting into this,” he says. “People don’t have calluses anymore.”

Stoops, motioning with his visibly callused hands, adds that the amount of fishermen in Santa Cruz today is less than a third of the number present 20 years ago.

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News - Environment

A Salty Vote

A Salty VoteWith desal heading toward the ballot, the debate rages on

In Santa Cruz, which relies almost entirely on surface water, scarce rainfall and a warm winter have water department employees and residents, alike, worried about the year’s water supply. The recent dry spell tied in interestingly to the prevailing debate over the city’s proposed desalination plant, which they insist will be necessary to protect the city from inevitable droughts.

The proposed Westside desalination facility—a joint effort of the Santa Cruz Water Department and neighboring Soquel Creek Water District—would produce 2.5 million gallons of water per day by removing salt and other minerals from seawater and making it safe for human consumption. But many are worried about the project’s impacts on both the taxpayer’s wallet and the environment.

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News - Environment

Neighborhood Watch

Neighborhood Watch

Twenty-year plan for Ocean Street in jeopardy

The corner of Ocean and Barson streets in Santa Cruz is flooded with tourist traffic in the summer, and drowned by average rainfall most winters (although this year has been dry). But the state's decision to close the more than 400 redevelopment agencies across California, including Santa Cruz’s, could mean that residents of the Lower Ocean neighborhood have to wait more than a generation for much-needed improvements around their homes.

The city's redevelopment agency has 37 projects listed as “under way,” meaning they are already funded. However, their ambitious 20-year plan for the Ocean Street area is an example of how unclear the road forward is, even for those items pegged as under way. The city currently has $2.5 million in bonds to spend on this project over the next five years. But City Councilmember David Terrazas says that's a small fraction of the money needed to complete the many ideas in the Ocean Street Area Concept, which was developed by Berkeley consulting group Design, Community and Environment.

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News - Environment

Our World, Under Water?

Our World, Under Water?

New and improved Climate Action Plan gets community and city support, but still has some critics

A bicycle-drawn rowboat glided down Pacific Avenue on Tuesday, Jan. 24, with a school of human jellyfish, anemones and a sea turtle dancing along behind. The aquatic parade, which snaked along the canals of Downtown Santa Cruz, was an “Underwater Tour” that depicted what the city may look like someday if the city does not take all possible actions to mitigate climate change and its impacts.  

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We Can Rebuild You

A look back at how downtown Santa Cruz recovered from the 1989 earthquake

 

International Earth Day—Mother Earth Day

Every April 22, humanity celebrates International Mother Earth Day and Earth Day. As more than a billion people participate in Earth Day activities every year, Earth Day has become the world’s largest civic observance. The massive concern to build right relations between humanity and the living being we call Earth is evidence of humanity’s love of the Mother. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed April 22 International Mother Earth Day, with a significant resolution affirming “the interdependence existing among human beings, other living species (the kingdoms—mineral, plant, animal and human) and the planet itself, the Earth which we all inhabit.” The Earth is our home. Celebrating Earth Day helps us define new emerging processes (economic, social, political) focused on the well-being of the kingdoms. Through these, humanity seeks to raise the quality of life, foster equality and begin to establish right relations with the Earth. We dedicate ourselves to bringing forth balance and a relationship of harmony with all of nature. Learn about planting a billion trees (the Canopy Project); participate in 1.5 billion acts of green. Disassociation (toward Earth) is no longer viable. We lose our connection to life itself. Participation is viable—an anchor, refuge and service for all of life on Earth. Visit earthday.org; harmonywithnatureun.org; and un.org/en/events/motherearthday for more information. From Farmers Almanac, “On Earth Day, enjoy the tonic of fresh air, contact with the soil, companionship with nature! Go barefooted. Walk through woods, find wildflowers and green moss. Remain outside, no matter the weather!” Nature, Earth’s most balanced kingdom, heals us. The New Group of World Servers is preparing for the May 3 Wesak Buddha Taurus solar festival. We prepare through asking for and offering forgiveness. Forgiveness purifies and like nature, heals.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Mission Critical

How reading Lisa Jensen’s reviews taught me to love film
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Oral Fixations

Blown away by a Tuesday night dinner at Oswald

 

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Hydrogen-gas cars that are coming this summer. Scott Oliver, Santa Cruz, Professor

 

Sarah’s Vineyard

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Munch

East Coast meets West Coast in new meat lover’s paradise