The Amazing Life of Elephant Seals
Professor Burney Le Boeuf
UCSC Marine Sciences Institute
RBDA Executive Board Election
RBDA Annual Meeting
10 January 2007, 7:30 PM
Multi-Purpose Room, Bonny Doon School
ICE CREAM GRADE & PINE FLAT ROAD
|Harems on the Beach
It’s the time of year when lovely 2,000-pound females fling themselves onto our beaches and form harems of two and more with a single male. Yes, elephant seal breeding season has begun at Año Nuevo.
The breeding and birthing process occurs between December and mid-March, offering a chance to view the seals up close and onshore for an extended length of time. Three to six days after the females arrive beachside and form harems, they give birth to pups that were conceived the previous year. Each female typically gives birth to one pup, then nurses the pup for just under a month. The pups are big eaters, growing from about 75 pounds to 250-350 pounds in that short nursing month. About the time females are done nursing, mating for the next season begins.
Come to the RBDA Annual Meeting Jan. 10 to find out the purpose of harems and everything else about elephant seals from our distinguished guest speaker, UCSC Associate Vice Chancellor Burney Le Boeuf, a renowned research professor in Biology and faculty member of the Institute for Marine Sciences since 1968. Author of three books and over 150 peer-reviewed articles, Le Boeuf is the perfect speaker to tell us more about elephant seals’ social and reproductive behavior, and their amazing diving, foraging and migrations.
UCSC Expansion Plans Go Ahead Despite Lawsuits
Even with three ongoing lawsuits regarding the UCSC 2005-2020 Long Range Development Plan (LRDP), the university is moving ahead with several projects under the plan.
UCSC, which is in the unique position of being the agency reviewing its own building plans, says that the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the LRDP cites no reasons not to proceed (a so-called Negative Declaration). That is, it claims no separate EIR for the projects is necessary. Yet it is the adequacy of the LRDP EIR that is challenged by the lawsuits, one by the City of Santa Cruz, with the County Board of Supervisors’ support, and another by CLUE, the Coalition for Limiting University Expansion, which has been joined in name by the RBDA. A third lawsuit by local individuals challenges the UC system’s method of allocating student increases to its various campuses. The biggest of the new projects is a huge Biomedical Sciences building. CLUE Attorney Stephan Volker has challenged the Negative Declaration for the building plans on several grounds, citing CEQA, the California Environmental Quality Act, which requires a draft EIR for a project if the public points out areas where the environment may be impacted.
Another project with environmental implications is the widening of Heller Drive, which leads into the campus from the West Entrance, to allow for bike paths. The roadway drains into the east fork of Moore Creek, and many trees will need to be removed and retaining walls dismantled and rebuilt, yet UCSC claims no EIR is necessary to study the possible effects.
Both the City and CLUE are considering whether to request injunctions against proceeding with any projects under the LRDP until the court cases are settled and it is determined if the final LRDP EIR approved by the UC Regents is legally valid.
Negotiations on settling the suits are getting underway, but the process is cumbersome and, in many ways, unprecedented. It’s still unclear whom the UC President’s office will select to handle their negotiations, what authority they may have, and what role the local UCSC officials will play. In the meantime, UC has had to change lawyers because of a possible conflict of interest of their original law firm.
New interim Chancellor George Blumenthal has embarked on a series of meetings with community groups to learn what exactly Santa Cruz citizens want and how the impacts of UCSC growth may be mitigated. This is something previous chancellors were much less willing to undertake. Nevertheless, it may well turn out that any mitigations are just band-aids and that the lawsuits, or possibly legislative intervention, are the only things that will have a significant effect on preventing Santa Cruz from becoming a “company town.”
Nudists sold separately
According to a November 13 story in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, Ralph Edwards, the owner of Red, White and Blue Beach, plans to sell his property. Originally purchased from the Scaroni family in 1965, the 170-acre property is located off Highway 1, six miles north of Santa Cruz, and is mostly known for its pristine beach that is a favorite destination for the clothing-optional set. The beach is listed on the Travel Channel as one of the top 10 best nude beaches in the world and attracts 60,000 people a year, only six percent of whom are local.
The location of the property and its proximity to protected lands make it a logical acquisition target for conservation organizations and public agencies seeking to fill in the last strategic gaps in the long stretches of North Coast land that have already been set aside permanently for open space, agriculture, and public recreation.
According to an anonymous local realtor, this is not the first time the owner has floated the idea of selling this property. As of yet no price has been named and Mr. Edwards is said to be interested in selling it privately. Among the many factors that determine the property’s value, potential for development and subdivision are critical. The Sentinel story included quotes from Mr. Edward’s suggesting that such potential is quite limited. He is quoted as saying his past attempts to build condominiums or open a mobile home park were rejected and that the nudist operation was the only thing he could get permitted. He also suggested that a likely future for the property is as a private estate where someone might live like “a movie star, as he has since 1965,” according to the Sentinel. This is consistent with North Coast zoning policies that limit development and subdivisions.
Bonny Doon’s First West Nile Virus Case
In early October an RBDA board member found a dead Burrowing Owl in the lower Smith Grade area and submitted it to the Santa Cruz Mosquito and Vector Control (MVC) staff for testing. Paul Binding, MVC District Manager, confirms that the owl tested positive for West Nile virus. “Owls have a large flight area, so it could have been infected elsewhere,” said Binding. West Nile virus spread to Santa Cruz County in August, discovered through an American Goldfinch found in Aptos and a Steller’s Jay found in Scotts Valley. To date, a total of seven dead birds have tested positive for the virus in this county. No cases in horses or humans have been reported. No infected pools of mosquitoes have been located through surveillance or standing water inspections.
According to the California Dept. of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) website, West Nile is a virus that spreads to humans and animals by mosquitoes that become infected with the virus when they feed on infected birds. Other species can become infected but are not contagious. People most at risk are the elderly, very young, and those with compromised immune systems. Otherwise, virus symptoms may go unnoticed or undiagnosed.
Horses are the most affected domestic animal. According to the CDFA web site, few horses exhibit any signs of illness, but of those that develop the virus almost 50% die or must be put down. Contact your veterinarian about vaccines available for horses. “Immunization shots are typically given in the spring. Two shots, a couple of weeks apart,” explains Binding. In contrast to a relatively low rate of the virus in Santa Cruz, Santa Clara County has been designated a West Nile virus hotspot. Five human cases have been diagnosed, along with dozens of infected mosquito pools and dead birds reported. A curious difference, given that mosquitoes tend to live longer in Santa Cruz County, says Binding, increasing their chance of biting multiple times to contract and pass along the virus. Binding theorizes that our lower rates of West Nile may be due to our relatively lower temperatures‹high temperature accelerates viral development. “Also, only one in 150 human cases becomes serious,” says Binding, “so we may have cases, just not serious [ones].” No adulticide spraying or fogging is planned in the county. MVC staff will continue to spray larvicides from backpack blowers in the sloughs and are available by request for onsite inspections and advice. At a minimum, Binding recommends dumping out any standing water or placing mosquito “dunks” (available at most hardware stores) in it. If this is livestock drinking water, dunks are reportedly not harmful to animals.
Dead birds should be reported to the West Nile virus hotline at (877) WNV-BIRD or to the Santa Cruz MVC at (831) 454-2590. Online information on how to protect yourself and prevent mosquitoes in your area is available through santacruzhealth.org/fightthebite. The Santa Cruz County MVC site has area-specific information at agdept.com/mvc.html, including the newly posted 2005 annual report (see agdept.com/content/annrpt05.pdf).
RBDA Board Elections
The primary purpose of the Jan. 10 Annual Meeting is to elect new board officers. Four seats are up for election, with the terms of Ted Benhari, Jodi Frediani, Yana Jacobs and Alec Webster expiring. All RBDA members in good standing (dues paid within 30 days of the meeting, or people whose membership lapsed within 30 days of the meeting and who pay their dues by the meeting date) are eligible to vote in the election.
This year we are happy to have an increased interest in RBDA member involvement, with more candidates than board positions. The following are brief personal statements from each candidate, who were nominated at the November RBDA meeting. Time will be given at the Annual Meeting for members to ask the candidates questions before the vote is taken.
As the RBDA enters its 50th year, we can all be proud that it has well fulfilled its goal of keeping Bonny Doon rural and natural. Our population has grown only slowly, and the exceptional beauties of this part of Central California are still evident. Except in a few areas, Bonny Doon remains much more rural than it is suburban, and we still have no commercial buildings other than the Bonny Doon Vineyards Tasting Room. I am proud to have played a part in this for nine of the last 11 years, and seek your support for an additional two-year term. One of my goals will be to increase participation in the RBDA, despite overall societal trends in the opposite direction. To preserve what we have, we must continue to be committed to our goal, because there are always powerful forces at work against it, and we have too much to lose to stop now.
I have lived in Bonny Doon for the past 38 years. I currently live on Smith Grade where I’ve been since 1970. I fell in love with this area long ago and the love continues. I am a hiker and horse owner and thoroughly enjoy the coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions and various raptors that frequent my neighborhood. I was a founding member of Save the Gray Whale Parklands, Friends of the North Coast and Save Our Agricultural Land. I have been active in forest and watershed protection for the past 26 years and continue to do so with the Santa Cruz Group of the Sierra Club. As a continuing member of the RBDA Board, I will do my best to keep Bonny Doon rural.
My wife Diana and I fell in love with the North Coast of Santa Cruz years ago, and we purchased property here in Bonny Doon in 1997. We have followed Bonny Doon events and the challenges facing this area in the Highlander ever since. In 2000 we started building our home here in Bonny Doon. Through the permitting and construction process we learned a great deal more about some of the special geologic and biotic resources in this area and the manner in which these resources needed to be protected.
This last summer while volunteering on the fuel reduction work in the Ecological Reserve I met some members of the RBDA. It was through that association that I was solicited to serve on the board. I believe that I can contribute to the efforts of the RBDA to preserve the rural nature of Bonny Doon and would be honored to serve as a member of the board.
In 1983 I purchased my family home in Bonny Doon, and I raised my two sons here. For the past 25 years I have worked for the County Mental Health Department, first as a Crisis Intervention Team Specialist and currently as the Manager of Adult and Older Adult Services. My husband is a high school teacher with the Santa Cruz City Schools alternative education program. My family owns an organic farm in Pescadero and leases farmland at Wilder and Swanton. My love for and sense of community stretch from the 2,200-foot elevation at Empire Grade to the coast and marshes along the Pacific. But Bonny Doon is where my heart and soul reside. I have always been a lover of nature, backpacker, bird watcher and gardener. I am deeply committed to keeping Bonny Doon rural, even as I have watched the roads get paved, houses go up all around me and speedsters race down Empire Grade. I’d like to continue offering my skills through a third term on the Board: I have a trained ear at “listening to both sides.” I am committed to seeking the truth. I am outrageously honest and passionate, but I am able to be diplomatic while debating an issue. I am a hard worker and work best as part of a team.
My grandfather came here in 1947 and bought land. Much of my life has been spent here. We used to come up here from the Bay Area to visit my grandfather regularly. I moved here permanently in 1982. I’m for road safety, regular mowing of roadways, and road improvement in general. Equal access for all on trail systems is a cornerstone of my political endeavor.
LAFCO Studying Proposed Fire Protection District
LAFCO, the Local Agency Formation Commission, is now in the process of soliciting comments from all the agencies that may be affected by the creation of a new Bonny Doon Fire Protection District (BDFPD), such as adjoining fire departments and the Santa Cruz County Fire Dept., which at present includes Bonny Doon.
The petitions, signed by about 1,150 Bonny Dooners, were submitted by the Bonny Doon Volunteer Fire Team Board of Directors to LAFCO on Oct. 31, and the county Elections Dept. certified that they contained more than the required 25% of registered voters.
LAFCO then began what is expected to be a several months-long study of the ramifications of the new district formation.
Meanwhile, the BDFPD Committee will be preparing a proposed budget to submit to LAFCO’s review. Finally, there will be public hearings and a vote of LAFCO’s board, the county Board of Supervisors, and the new district’s registered voters and property owners before it can become a reality.
RBDA Annual Meeting Agenda JAN. 10, 2007
1) RBDA Business
2) Membership vote on raising annual dues to $20/ individual and
$15/person for more than one member at an address.
3) RBDA Executive Board Elections
4) Featured Program: The Amazing Life of Elephant Seals, Professor Burney Le Boeuf,
UCSC Marine Sciences Institute
RBDA Board Actions DEC. 6, 2006
1. Approved minutes of Oct. 18, 2006 Board meeting
Met with County Supervisor-Elect Neal Coonerty to share RBDA and Bonny Doon issues and concerns.
RBDA Chair on the Radio
Ted Benhari, RBDA chairman, will be discussing Bonny Doon issues, particularly UCSC expansion, as the guest on Bruce Bratton’s radio show University Grapevine on KZSC, 88.1 FM, from 4 to 4:30 pm on Thursday, Jan. 4. It is also available as streaming audio on the web at kzsc.org
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The Bonny Doon Planning District
If you live in or own property within this district, roughly from Empire Grade to the ocean and from San Vicente Creek to the City of Santa Cruz border, you are eligible to be an RBDA member.
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