October is a great time to hike in the redwoods. Even during Indian summer heat waves, the air is cool beneath the big trees. Leaf color in the forest understory is starting to change. Sword ferns, redwood sorrel and hazelnuts are still green, but big-leaf maples and sycamores are turning yellow and poison oak is turning bright red.Read More
Forests & watersheds
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:Read More
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.Read More
When Linda Wallace, a manager for a telecommunications company, goes home at night she doesn't look forward to poring over the fine print of a complicated legislative bill. But that's just what she and a group of her neighbors in the Summit Road/Highway 17 area have been doing for the past month.
AB 904 (Chesbro), a timber bill being considered by the state legislature, is of great concern to these mountain residents. They fear that if AB 904 becomes state law, it will clear the way for a contentious logging plan -- which CalFire rejected in 2007 -- to go forward again.Read More
Santa Clara, San Mateo and Santa Cruz Counties' redwood forests, known as the Southern Subdistrict, are highly valued for their timber, wildlife habitat and carbon sequestration -- but also as places for people to live and enjoy the outdoors. Many mountain communities and the entire county of Santa Cruz also depend upon forested watersheds for their drinking water.
But a bill in the California Legislature would remove critical protections that counties in this region have relied on for decades.
When the San Lorenzo Valley Water District initiated its watershed education grant program in 2003, it was not without controversy. Was it appropriate for a public agency to use public funds for watershed education?Read More
San Lorenzo Valley Water District is preparing to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars from its redwood forested watershed lands -- without cutting a single tree.
By conducting a rigorous inventory of the vast amounts of carbon stored in its forests, the district can qualify to sell carbon credits through the California Cap and Trade Program, a key piece of the state's Global Warming Solutions Act, also known as AB32.Read More
It's the time of year to pause and reflect -- I list below some of the 2012 events that helped shape our Santa Cruz environment.Read More
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.Read More
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).Read More
It’s hard to imagine that the iconic coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) could be vulnerable to extinction. After all, redwoods have demonstrated legendary resilience to some fairly severe onslaughts. Even after massive clear-cutting, redwood forests have rebounded--as they have over the past century in the Santa Cruz Mountains--with a force reminiscent of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. Redwoods are also renowned for their resistance to both fire and disease.
Yet, redwoods are at risk.Read More
Did you know that the world’s forests, including California’s coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) are helping in a big way to combat climate change? As forests grow, they pull vast amounts of carbon out of the air and store it within their enormous biomass. Forests cover about 30 percent of the earth’s surface, so climate change scientists are looking at the forests with renewed interest to help solve the world’s carbon problem.Read More
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].Read More
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.