RBDA Meeting, Wednesday, Jan. 12,
|Wild Mushrooms: Food Fun with Fungi
Does your mouth water as you stroll around your land, eyeing the riotous variety of mushrooms looming up through the loam? At the Jan. 12 RBDA meeting, cookbook author William Rubel will discuss how to incorporate into your cuisine the tastiest and most easily identifiable ’shrooms that grow in the Bonny Doon hills, such as the boletus edulis (which Italians call porcini), chanterelle, the fabulous matsutake, the many colorful russulas and the plentiful but often overlooked suillus. He will tell you how to make fabulous mushrooms taste even more fabulous, and how to make the mushrooms people ignore taste delicious. He will also cover the basics of mushroom identification, biology and ecology. Bring to the meeting any mushrooms that you’re curious about, although we need to stress that our speaker’s expertise is in mushroom cuisine, not in mushroom identification.
Rubel, who is at work on a book on open hearth cooking, has traveled around the world studying mushroom cuisine with noted mushroom maven and author David Arora.
So start off the new millennium with a lesson on an ancient activity, gathering and preparing wild mushrooms.
Despite an organized effort and legal action to force PG&E to be more reasonable and sensitive in its vegetation removal around its transmission lines in the Molina/Robles area of Bonny Doon, the utility was pretty much able to do what it wanted.
The result is the removal of over 700 trees, areas denuded and clear cut, and a very sketchy plan for re-vegetation. Homes once shielded from the road are now in plain sight, protected manzanita has been damaged and uprooted, and a once beautiful neighborhood has been despoiled for years to come. And even sadder is that PG&E has set its sights on many miles more of Bonny Doon.
The main problem is that the law gives PG&E too much leeway in their cutting. The electric distribution utility acts as judge, jury and executioner for whatever trees it wants to remove, and it wants to remove anything that could touch the lines or hinder its access to them for the next 15 years. Even when there are applicable state laws, Public Utility Commission guidelines and right-of-way limitations that would seem to limit the cutting, PG&E tries and usually succeeds in doing what it wants. However, a court suit has been filed by Molina/Robles area residents seeking damages for PG&E’s excesses.
We don’t want to see the electric lines jeopardized or fires started by falling trees or branches. But PG&E could be a lot more sensitive where the lines pass through neighborhoods. Unlike in wilderness areas, the lines in inhabited areas are pretty accessible, and people will quickly inform PG&E when and where a line is down.
Is that too much to ask?
For information on PG&E’s future tree removal plans in Bonny Doon, or on the progress of the lawsuit, e-mail email@example.com. For some background, click here.
County Takes Closer Look at Biotech Goat Manure
Finally showing some concern over the huge bacterial content of the runoff coming off Santa Cruz Biotechnology Inc's goat pharm above Highway 1 during November rains, the county Board of Supervisors has ordered the Environmental Health Dept. to test the runoff from the feedlot-like facility on a monthly basis. If the coliform count exceeds 400 parts per million, the supes want to know, and want additional tests performed.
In November, the supes told SCBI that a huge horse barn and associated infrastructure on the upper terrace of its property won’t be approved except as part of SCBI’s Master Plan, which is under environmental review. Opponents of the goat biotech facility pointed out that the barn’s design makes it very easy to convert into still another goat shed. SCBI has been ordered by the county not to enlarge its 1,700 goat herd unless they are approved by the Master Plan.
New Logging Laws Must Pass Court Test
After a multi-year, multi-level process to try to balance the interests of timber companies, timberland owners, other rural residents and property owners, wildlife and the environment, the county Board of Supervisors has passed a series of laws governing where trees may be harvested. Of course, with so many conflicting interests, and with a subject that in real life is a lot more complicated than it is on paper, many are unhappy with the new regulations. And so the arena has now changed to the court system.
Big Creek Lumber, the county’s lone remaining saw mill and biggest timber operator, is challenging the new ordinances, just like it did (unsuccessfully) in San Mateo County, claiming the county has overstepped its bounds and extended its authority into areas reserved to the state. Broadly, the new laws ban logging on properties zoned Special Use (SU), but allow SU land owners to convert to Timber Production Zone (TPZ) zoning; stiffen the standards for rural road surfaces; create a buffer zone along streams; and strictly limit helicopter logging operations. A rule creating a buffer zone around homes was put off for consideration until March 23.
Excuse Me, I Thought This Was an Eco RESERVE!
We’ve waited for 3 years now for a management plan for the Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve, hoping that it would allow public use while still protecting the unique ecology there.
Instead, the reserve has been open for day use for months, and still there’s no completed plan that conforms to the mandates of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). No trails are marked, no signage and there’s little monitoring to keep people out of sensitive areas (you’d think the fencing should be a clue).
There have been some problems, mostly people climbing on the famed "moon rocks," especially at night. One group even chopped down trees to start a bonfire there.
We know Reserve Manager Jeannine DeWald of state Fish and Game has too much on her plate with the large territory she is responsible for, but the reserve is too sensitive an area to just turn people loose on without an approved plan and proper monitoring.
With all the parkland here for people to roam around, we would like to see the reserve closed until the plan is complete.
Clean Up Bonny Doon
Have you noticed the increasing litter along our roads? It is especially obvious along Empire Grade near "Twin Gates," the entrances to Gray Whale Ranch Park and UCSC’s Upper Meadows.
We will ask the county and the state Parks Dept. to schedule regular cleanups there, but the rest of our roads are largely up to us. Some ideas:
Do you put out your garbage for collection? Be certain your lids are securely fastened.
Do you walk regularly? Bring a bag with you.
Want to get to know your neighbors better? Organize a biannual road cleanup. And while you’re out there, once the ground is soaked, it’s a terrific time to pull up any French broom, before it goes to seed in the spring.
Bonny Dooner Ted Cantrall has put together a French broom webpage which you should check out. Ted also offers a wonderful Bonny Doon rainfall page, complete with archives, which, if you care to sign up, will update you by email on rainfall statistics (assuming we ever have any rain). Click here for the link to that page.
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Winery Application Goes to Planners
A Planning Commission hearing on the Redwood Meadows Ranch Winery application could take place sometime between late January and late March. The winery’s owners, Bill and Robin Cunningham, are seeking a coastal permit, a grading permit and a commercial use permit for a winery with a maximum annual production of 50- to 100,000 gallons, a 15,000 square foot winery, an 1,800 square foot wine tasting building, an 886 square foot office, a vineyard, an olive grove, 12 events per year with up to 195 people, 24 events per year with up to 150 people, and 24 events of up to 100 people. Neighboring property owners, organized as Concerned Homeowners of Redwood Meadows (CHRM), strongly oppose the proposal. They fear that it would have a significant impact on their secluded neighborhood, which shares a private road (Brisa del Mar) into the ranch with the proposed facility. CHRM says that they knew when they bought their parcels that a winery would be built at Redwood Meadows, but were led to believe it would be smaller than the present proposal. And they say they didn’t know it would be rented for social events.
The Cunninghams challenge that, claiming that renderings and statements made to the lot owners clearly indicated they planned a winery like what they are proposing. They also contend that the lot owners signed disclaimers stating they knew the winery would be open to the public. To the Cunninghams, staging events is an integral part of a winery’s functions, helping to promote marketing of the wine.
County law doesn’t spell out whether using a winery for social events like weddings is integral to winery operation. The Planning Commission will be asked to make that decision at its hearing.
The RBDA Executive Board opposes the use of the winery for events except for those specifically related to selling wine, like tastings or dinners for restaurateurs or wine merchants. We feel that the impact on the neighborhood from traffic and noise is unacceptable.
Our thinking is this: a winery is essentially a manufacturing facility sited historically on agricultural land by historical use and to avoid the need to transport large amounts of grapes. But since this proposed winery is much larger than the vineyard capacity, that ecological and economic benefit doesn’t exist. To rent the winery for events just adds a second non-agricultural use to what is supposed to be an agricultural open space. County planner Mike Ferry estimated the planned vineyard would only yield enough grapes for about 10,000 cases. The Cunninghams say the county has no basis for this and hasn’t talked to them about it. They concede that most of the grapes to make their wine would have to be trucked in, but say that is typical of what most wineries do.
Ferry wrote that "the size of the winery, tasting room and parking area seem to be a function of the events rather than the actual production of wine." The Cunninghams vehemently refute this.
CHRM and the RBDA board think that the studies of the vineyard and winery’s water use on wells that serve the homes at the ranch are inadequate, as are the noise studies, and have opposed the county Planning Department’s Revised Initial Study that found that an Environmental Impact Report is unnecessary. Both the Cunninghams and CHRM are seeking community support of their position, including letters to the Planning Commission (701 Ocean St., Santa Cruz 95060) and attendance at the hearing when it is scheduled. Please send a copy of your letter to CHRM at 12 Politzer Drive, Menlo Park, CA 94025, or to the Cunninghams at 3875 Bonny Doon Road, SC 95060. To reach CHRM, call 466-0815 (day) or 650/322-0488 (24-hour message phone). Or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. To reach the Cunninghams, call 458-2864 or e-mail them at email@example.com.
Wanted: Someone Who Wants Bonny Doon to Stay Rural
The RBDA’s annual meeting each January is when board members are up for re-election. This year, the terms of Miriam Beames, Fred Bryck and Val Haley expire. Because of the increasing time demands of her job as a botanist and the already considerable amount of time she devotes to her role as docent coordinator of the Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve, Val is not going to re-run, although she plans to stay actively involved with RBDA issues. If you have the time (approximately 5 to 10 hours a week) and an interest in helping preserve the bucolic nature of Bonny Doon, contact a member of the Board’s nominating committee, Bill Hornaday (421-0167) or Val Haley (425-1587).
As the population and economy races on, development pressures are always increasing. If you like Bonny Doon the way it is, participating on the board is the best way to ensure it.
Mail Still Disappearing
Did you take our advice last year and get a locked mailbox? If not, you may have regretted it already. Another wave of mail theft hit in early November, along Pine Flat and Martin Roads, Smith Grade and perhaps other areas. One Dooner reported seeing a man in a full-size, lowered white Dodge pickup going through boxes.
Keep your eyes open and try to get a full license plate number, or else the sheriff won’t take any action. And get your box locked. This is a nationwide problem organized by professional thieves, not a bunch of amateurs.
Lanting Slide Show to Highlight FONC Celebration
Friends of the North Coast, an organization that has helped preserve
the glorious land along Santa Cruz’s Pacific Ocean shores, has been revived.
To note the remarkable achievements in creating Wilder/Gray Whale State
Parks and putting Coast Dairies & Land out of reach of developers,
FONC has scheduled a celebration for February 19 at Cabrillo College Theater.
World famous nature photographer Frans Lanting (a Bonny Dooner), will join
fellow Bonny Doon photographer Frank Balthis in presenting a new and much
anticipated slide show, occasional Dooner and noted guitarist Martin Simpson
will provide music, plus guest speakers and a lot more. Watch for news
and ticket info in local media and on the FONC website, www.fonc.org.
RMC Rumbling Beneath the Surface
RMC Pacific Materials’ applications to expand their cement plant and limestone quarry are creeping along. The plant expansion would have gone to hearings soon, but the county’s plan reviewer has resigned, which will set it back until a new one gets up to speed.
The quarry expansion application has been stalled while RMC’s lawyers argue with the Planning Dept. over supplying key information the county says it needs before it can begin reviewing the proposal. We’re staying on top of it.
Bonny Doon's voice in preserving our special quality of life, The Highlander,
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