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Sep 03rd
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Environment

News - Environment

Capitola Looks Forward

Capitola Looks Forward

From begonias to possible FEMA relief, the city moves on from the floods

Capitola has a couple different things to look forward to these days, including both the 59th Annual Begonia Festival, as well as the possibility of receiving federal relief from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help repair damages it suffered from flooding in March.

The damage done in Capitola was due to a series of storms that raged throughout California, altogether causing about $44.5 million in needed repairs—just above FEMA’s $44 million requirement for damage caused by any one event. However, FEMA soon determined that the storms were isolated incidents rather than one larger disaster, and announced in June that they would not be giving relief. This left Santa Cruz County with an estimated $17 million in damages.

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News - Environment

Wells for Women

Wells for Women

Seeking to change life in a Kenyan village
Therese Hjelm speaks directly and with purpose. Her wide eyes rarely break contact, and her voice is steady and pleasant. With this demeanor, it’s not hard to imagine her easily convincing people to donate to her cause.

That cause is this: she wants to raise enough money to build two wells in the Ewaso Nyiro region of Kenya, so that local girls can spend their time going to school instead of walking six to eight miles each way to the nearest river, where they obtain all of the water their village uses for drinking and for all other purposes.

“The Masai women have an indentation here on their head,” Hjelm says, pointing to the top of her forehead, “because they have a strap that they hook up to the water buckets that they’re carrying. You can imagine walking seven, eight, nine, 10 miles with these on their back. I mean, it’s amazing. The women are so strong. They’re incredible.”

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News - Environment

Where to Turn?

Where to Turn?

The question arises for protestors as SmartMeters are installed in Santa Cruz County

Some 90 million SmartMeters are already in use around the world, with more on their way. Santa Cruz County, one of the last places in PG&E’s service area to receive the automated metering technology, had become something of a SmartMeter safe haven.

But although Santa Cruz County imposed a SmartMeter moratorium last June, recent events have gotten locals wondering just how effective that dissenting effort will be in the fight to keep SmartMeters at bay.

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News - Environment

Migration Destinations

Migration Destinations

Do sea creatures have their own traffic rules?
Beneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean, fast-moving highways of migrating predators cross the hemisphere to feed and mate.

Researchers from UC Santa Cruz recently mapped these migratory routes, which intersect in two distinct hotspots—one off the West Coast in the California Current, and the other in the North Pacific Transition Zone between Hawaii and Alaska. Published June 22 by the academic journal Nature, the findings offer the first large-scale analysis of oceanic migratory systems, and provide a glimpse into the critical need for conservation in high-traffic areas.

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News - Environment

Fishing for a Living

Fishing for a Living

A look at the realities of commercial fishing in the Santa Cruz Harbor
"The fleet is dying. There's nobody left," says Christian Zajac, spinning a fishing hook in his hands and standing on the deck of his 1932 Monterey-style fishing boat.

Zajac has been fishing black cod, salmon and rockfish in the Santa Cruz Harbor for 30 years, and has seen the Diaspora of fishermen first hand. He says the decline began within the last 15 years when restrictions were placed on fishing for rockfish in designated areas along the coast, and then plummeted further as the salmon population declined.

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News - Environment

Learning to Adapt

Learning to Adapt

Climate change is happening—how prepared is Santa Cruz to deal with the impacts?
When Chuck Tremper wrote his book “As the Oceans Rise: Meeting the Challenges of Global Warming” in 2008, he had hopes that the tome would soon be outdated.

But, three years later, seated on the sunny deck of Ecology Action’s new headquarters (Tremper is the nonprofit’s vice president of general services), he laments that his earlier vision proved too optimistic. “The remarkable and sad thing about the book,” he says,  “is that almost nothing has changed—I could write that book today and it wouldn’t be very different.”

We may not be a sustainable “Civilization 2.0” quite yet, as the book anticipated, but Tremper admits that the Santa Cruz area has made some strides. Among them was the 2007 Climate Action Compact, a commitment to leadership on climate change signed by the city and county of Santa Cruz and UC Santa Cruz, and its subsequent effects.

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News - Environment

Water Talks

Water Talks

An academic approach to the water conservation conversation
Water municipalities are like submarines. They bumble along with abundant supplies and little concerns until they hit a rock, or maybe several rocks—or at least so says Australian researcher Zoe Sofoulis. In her analogy, these “rocks” are things like environmental changes and public awareness. It's when that submarine hits those rocks that the structure begins to give way and shift.

Sofoulis, an adjunct research fellow at the University of Western Sydney, recently put an academic spin on the issue of water conservation for the three-dozen Santa Cruzans who gathered at India Joze Restaurant on Wednesday, June 8 to hear her speak. The event was titled "Changing our Relationship to Water," and was organized by Transition Santa Cruz.

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News - Environment

From Military Service to Nature Conservationist

From Military Service to Nature Conservationist

State Conservation Corp initiates first veterans’ backcountry trail crew
Assimilating back into society after serving in the military is anything but an easy process. But thanks to a new partnership between a California agency and the Veterans Green Corp (VGC), there’s a new, nature-filled way for veterans to spend this transition period—and give our state parks some much-needed TLC while they’re at it.

This year, the California Conservation Corps' (CCC) Backcountry Trails Program, which is aimed at preserving California's wilderness areas by making them safer and more accessible to the public, partnered with VGC to establish the first ever veterans’ Backcountry Trail Crew. The crew is comprised of 15 men and women, including nine military veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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News - Environment

A Green Blueprint

A Green Blueprint

New 25-year conservation plan looks at the county’s ecological future
A long history of environmental protection in Santa Cruz County has helped spare much of its land from development. More than a century ago, Big Basin—the first state park in California—was founded in the Santa Cruz Mountains, saving a large number of old-growth redwoods from logging. Today, 27 percent of the county’s land is in parks, public land, or is otherwise protected through conservation easements.

Nevertheless, many in Santa Cruz see the natural environment as under threat. The Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, a local environmental nonprofit established in 1978, estimates that by 2035, the population in the Monterey Bay region will increase by 146,000, 35,000 of which will be in Santa Cruz County. More people means increased urban and rural development—more houses, more roads, and greater stress on already taxed natural resources. Add to this the unknowns of climate change, and Santa Cruz County could be facing a challenging future.

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News - Environment

Shuttering State Parks

Shuttering State Parks

Come September, Castle Rock, Twin Lakes, Portola Redwoods and Mission Park will be closed
The bad news Californians were expecting was finally released by California State Parks on Friday May 13, when they announced the list of 70 state parks scheduled for closure next fiscal year. The closures result from the $11 million cut to the Park Department’s operating budget, which was adopted by the legislature and signed by the governor in March. Regional state parks scheduled for closure in September include Castle Rock State Park, a favorite of rock climbers and hikers up on Skyline Drive, Twin Lakes State Beach, which means the state will no longer be providing lifeguards, Portola Redwoods, and Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park.

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Mercury Enters Libra

It’s the week of Burning Man, the temporary, intentional, alternative, art-filled community on the playas of Nevada. Mercury, messenger of the Sun, enters Libra this week. Libra is the equalizer, a sign of balance and right human relations. Sometimes with Libra, we can be indecisive and confused while learning how to make balanced and right choices. Sometimes to keep the peace we communicate only what others want to hear. Eventually, we learn how to speak from the heart.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Banter and Spark

Engaging actors, wry script distinguish lightweight rom-com ‘What If’

 

Back to Silicon Beach

With a new wave of startups, the future of Santa Cruz tech looks more promising than ever
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Foodie File: Beer Thirty

Cups runneth over at Soquel’s new beer garden

 

What’s the nicest thing you’ve done for someone this week?

Germany  |  Beekeeper

 

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

 

A Cab To Be Coveted

I first tasted Villa del Monte’s 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon at a Fourth of July party, where the hosts had bought a case of it because they love it and didn’t want to run out. It’s one of those wines that will grab you—in the best way—with its full body and rich fruit characteristics.