Ecosystem health

Looking back on 2013: Environmental issues in the headlines

Looking back on 2013: Environmental issues in the headlines

With 2013 declared the driest year on record in California, water supply and drought top last year's list of environmental issues affecting Santa Cruz County. Below I list some of the milestones of environmental change for 2013:

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Forest scientist dispels common myths about old-growth redwood forests

Forest scientist dispels common myths about old-growth redwood forests

When the subject is coast redwoods, people seem to come out of the woodwork to hear a talk, especially when an expert is doing the talking.

On Dec. 10, Dr. Will Russell drew some 125 folks to hear his talk, "Logging, Fire, and the Recovery of Old-growth Coast Redwoods," at Cubberley Community Center in Palo Alto. The Committee for Green Foothills sponsored the event.

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Fracking Fears: County to review state's draft regulations

Fracking Fears: County to review state's draft regulations

"As the nation develops greater awareness of fracking technology, we have growing concerns about what's pumped into the ground, how it impacts water supplies, and how it undercuts our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," said county Supervisor John Leopold. "Add secrecy to the mix, and we have a real need for reasonable and effective regulation."

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Santa Cruz scientist initiates global effort to Save the Frogs!

Santa Cruz scientist initiates global effort to Save the Frogs!

Ecologist Kerry Kriger -- founder and director of the nonprofit Save the Frogs! -- is leading an international campaign to reverse the unprecedented and worldwide decline of frogs and other amphibians including toads, newts and salamanders.

"Frogs and other amphibians are the most threatened group of animals on the planet," said Kriger, who believes the trend can be reversed if people get involved and take action.

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Why buy organic? It's the pesticides, stupid

Why buy organic? It's the pesticides, stupid

A recent study by Stanford researchers concluded that organic food is probably no more nutritious than conventional food. This claim generated a nationwide controversy, with many saying the study missed the point.

"The whole point of organic food is that it's more environmentally sustainable," said Michael Pollan, the influential author and organic food advocate. "The reason organic is important has a lot more to do with how the soil is managed and the exposure to pesticides, not just in the eater's diet, but to the farmworker."

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Elderly Aptos couples envision preserving their giant redwoods

Elderly Aptos couples envision preserving their giant redwoods

The only way to get to Dan and Pat Miller’s house in Aptos is to walk across a 3-ft wide wooden bridge spanning the steep canyon above Mangels Creek. As I cross the bridge, I feel like I’m walking back in time into a fairy tale. The Millers’ house, built in 1931, is dwarfed by the five giant old redwood trees that encircle it.

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Salmon will return if given the chance

Salmon will return if given the chance

It’s not all gloom and doom for the Pacific Coast salmon, whose plight has become a crisis. More than 650 scientists, students, land managers and policymakers attended the 30th annual Salmonid Restoration Conference in Davis April 4 -7 to share their work and ideas about restoring watersheds to bring back the salmon (www.calsalmon.org).

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All eyes now on conservation plan

All eyes now on conservation plan

On Dec. 16, Peninsula Open Space Trust [POST] and Sempervirens Fund became the official owners of the 8,532-acre property known as Cemex Redwoods, the largest expanse of unprotected redwood forest in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The $30 million purchase from Cemex, the largest producer of cement in North America, was jointly announced Dec. 8 by the five conservation groups partnering in the deal [POST, Sempervirens Fund, the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, LTSCC, Save the Redwoods League and the Nature Conservancy].

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How Should a Water Utility Manage Its Forest for Water Quality Protection?

Most water utilities are not as fortunate as San Jose Water Company, which owns more than 10,000 acres of relatively undisturbed watershed, much of it forested. Most water utilities own very little land, so they have little control over how their watersheds are managed. They must rely on expensive water treatment facilities to ensure that drinking water meets Safe Drinking Water Act standards.

 

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