January/February 2010 issue


RBDA General Meeting
Tuesday, January 12, 2010, 7:30 PM
Bonny Doon School Multipurpose Room
Ice Cream Grade & Pine Flat Road

Climbing Through Time
The coastal terraces that march up from the Pacific to Empire Grade tell the story of eons of natural changes that have occurred in Bonny Doon. Geologists consider them a world-class research site.

That story will be recounted by geologist Marjorie Schulz, who has been part of a U.S. Geological Survey research team that has been studying the soils on the marine terraces in Wilder Ranch State Park and on nearby private land, at the RBDA Annual meeting January 12. (NOTE: This is a Tuesday, not a Wednesday as is usual for our meetings, because of our speaker’s schedule.)

Ms. Schulz and her USGS scientific team use the different ages of the terraces to study mineral weathering on a geologic time scale. Along the way they have discovered remarkable things, says Ms. Schulz, who will talk about the geologic formation of the terraces and what the soils forming on them reveal.

Ms. Schulz, who goes by “Jorie,” has been working at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park for more than 20 years. She began in the Branch of Marine Geology, where she studied deep-sea manganese oxide deposits, then transferred to her current position in Water Resources Discipline and now collaborates with geochemists and soil scientists studying water-rock interaction. This group has been studying the soils of the Santa Cruz area marine terraces for the last 10 years.

Her talk is called “Marine Terraces of the Santa Cruz Area: A Staircase Through Time,” and we feel we are on a very firm foundation when we say that if you have any interest in the natural history of the North Coast, you will find it fascinating.

Making Bonny Doon Fire Safe

With wildfire season over we can begin, as a community, to take steps to avert another disaster. Now is the best time to be sure that you have 100 feet of defensible space around your home and your access roads are safely passable for fire engines. Clearing now, you can either chip the slash with some hope that it will compost with the winter rains and provide mulch, or burn the slash safely.

There are several valuable resources available online about what to do, e.g. tinyurl.com/4s9yk2. More importantly, there is also a framework for wildfire protection, a local Fire Safe Council. There are over 150 local Fire Safe Councils in California, under the umbrella of the California Fire Safe Council, firesafecouncil.org/. A local Fire Safe Council is a non-profit organization whose mission is mobilizing neighbors to protect their homes, communities, and environments from wildfire. Fire Safe Councils promote education, pool resources, and apply for grants to fund community efforts to increase fire safety. A Council can cover an area as small as the Pineridge neighborhood, or as large as Santa Clara County.

Since the enactment of the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003, a number of federal agencies have been working to reduce the threat of wildfire to communities like ours. The rubric for doing so is a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP). In late 2007 CalFire and the Resource Conservation Districts of San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties began drafting this document. The first draft is slated for completion in mid-January, followed by a month-long public comment period, and then submission to the County Board of Supervisors for approval.

With a CWPP in place the way is clear for us to obtain grant funding. Precedence will be given to projects noted in the CWPP document. Currently, there are preliminary proposals to allow landowners to opt into a shaded fuel break program along the main arteries in Bonny Doon; to develop a neighborhood based outreach and education program around defensible space and safe access roads; and to perform wildfire risk assessment along the periphery of Bonny Doon, where we border wildlands owned by timber and mining companies, State Parks and local water districts.

The grants are all funneled through the California Fire Safe Council. To achieve the highest precedence, the applications should originate from local community organizations. On the evening of Jan. 20 there will be an open meeting to discuss the Fire Safe Council concept. We hope to build a community consensus on the wildfire threats to Bonny Doon and the steps to ease them, and establish a Bonny Doon Fire Safe Council. A board of directors will be elected at the meeting. This will be an opportunity for all stakeholders in our community to come together and be heard. With a consensus and a council we can amend the Bonny Doon projects in the CWPP and start down the road toward grant funding.

Even without grant funding, there is a very great deal that we can do to help ourselves as a community. Please join us Jan. 20, at 7 pm at the Bonny Doon Elementary Multi-Purpose Room, Ice Cream Grade and Pine Flat Road.

If you have questions, please email prebdfsc@eshu.net.

Famed Explorer at March 2 RBDA Meeting

We are excited to announce that famed National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and Wildlife Conservation Society conservationist Michael Fay has agreed to present a slide show and talk on Tuesday, March 2 about what he learned during his yearlong, 700-mile hike through California’s and Oregon’s redwood forests in 2007-2008. Called the Redwood Transect, his journey and findings were presented in the October 2009 National Geographic cover story.

Mr. Fay is a world renowned explorer who is perhaps best known for his Megatransect, a 2,000-mile conservation trek across Africa, which led directly to influencing the country of Gabon to set aside large tracts of land in a national park system to preserve the unique fauna and flora of that western Africa nation.

RBDA Board Elections

At the Tuesday, Jan. 12 RBDA meeting 3 people will be elected to the open seats on the RBDA Executive Board. The expiring terms are those of Ben Harmon, who has done such an outstanding job as our Membership Coordinator for most of the past 10 years and will be very much missed; Joe Christy, who has done a superb job as our chairman this past year; and Jan Hilkert, who was forced by increasing work demands to resign. Only Joe is running for re-election, but the Board is very pleased that two very talented and committed people, Pat Morrison and Lad Wallace, whom we appointed in December to fill out Jan’s term, have stepped up to replace them.


The mission of the RBDA is “To Keep Bonny Doon Rural and Natural.” Every discussion with a neighbor brings a new perspective, so I must reconsider what that mission means, and every issue that the RBDA faces challenges me to re-examine how best to advance it.

Nature is governed by forces far greater than anything that humans can conceive, acting over time scales beyond our comprehension. Our pioneer ancestors showed that we can transform our environment in a single lifetime, but in the long run, nature will resume its majestic course. It may be generations before balance is restored, or the restoration may be catastrophically quick. To keep Bonny Doon natural, we must have the humility to accept our small part in the grandeur around us, and realize that we have a responsibility to live in harmony with the land.

Without people, Bonny Doon would be certainly be natural, as it was before humans arrived just a few millennia ago, but it would not be rural. What makes Bonny Doon rural is the sparse community settled here. Few services are provided us and nearly every winter we are physically cut off for a time. To live here requires self-reliance. In my time on the Board, much of the community has been forced off the mountain twice by wildland fires. To keep Bonny Doon rural, we must truly be a community, in the most ancient sense of sharing the gift that nature provides us by allowing us to live here.

To keep Bonny Doon rural and natural we must wisely balance the needs of our environment and our community when they appear to conflict, for we are part of nature and it defines our community.


In the ’70s and ’80s, usually in the winter, my husband Karl and I would leave our creekside home in Boulder Creek in search of sun. These excursions often took us to Bonny Doon. I know Bonny Doon has grown, but it looks pretty much the same to me now as it did then. I believe this is due to the foresight, dedication and sensitive development practices of its inhabitants.

In 1993, looking for someplace bucolic and safe to raise our son, we bought land on Martin Road. To build on this environ-mentally sensitive site we had to obtain a development permit and a building permit. I became familiar with the many components required to successfully navigate the county permitting process. While we found it frustrating at times, we came to appreciate the philosophy and intent behind the requirements. We learned a lot about the sensitive habitat and the diversity of our area. I have come to recognize the fine balance between allowing people to live and enjoy this beautiful area while protecting its natural beauty, resources and habitat.

I became aware of the Rural Bonny Doon Association almost immediately upon moving to the area. I developed an appreciation for those who volunteer their time to bring information to the community and ensure Bonny Doon remains rural and natural. I’ve always imagined that when my son was grown and things slowed down in my life I would give my time to this organization whose philosophy matches my own. I find myself at this point now.

I’ve worked in public education most of my life. Before my son was born I was an Elementary School Counselor in San Jose. The last 13 years I have been an Instructional Aide and Substitute Teacher at Pacific School in Davenport. I bring to the RBDA a strong relationship with many members of the Davenport/North Coast with whom we share concerns.

I am honored and enthused about serving on the RBDA Executive Board.


My wife Lisa, son Ben and I have been residents of Bonny Doon since 2002. Lisa and I left Aptos in 1986 and spent the next 15 years abroad in the Caribbean and Spain before returning to the only place we could imagine living stateside.

I have a broad background in corporate financial management, starting in 1984 when I was Controller for O’Neill, Inc. in Capitola. Upon returning to the Santa Cruz area, I became Chief Financial Officer for Bonny Doon Vineyards during its most robust period of growth. In 2006 as CFO I took public Akeena Solar, a solar installation and equipment company. Most recently I have been consulting for renewable energy and energy efficiency companies in the area. I also bring years of experience working for community not-for profits, most recently having served for 3 years on the BOD of Pacific Collegiate School.

My interest in environmental protection started in my youth in Southern California, when I became a member of the Audubon Society at age 10 and participated in the Christmas Bird Counts for many years. I look forward to helping the Rural Bonny Doon Association in whatever capacity best matches the needs of the organization with my skills and experience.

Community Service Officer for Bonny Doon

At the Nov. 11 RBDA meeting Sheriff Phil Wowak explained the workings of law enforcement in Bonny Doon, and the impending assignment of a Community Service Office (CSO) to our area.

He acknowledged that the ever-tightening budgets have prevented assigning a deputy full-time to the North Coast/Bonny Doon. Instead, Sgts. Jim Ross and Stefan Fish, who were at the meeting, share responsibility for our area, combined with their assignments in the San Lorenzo Valley and Live Oak, respectively.

Since Sgt. Ross works out of the Sheriff substation in Felton, he is likely to be the first responder to crime reports here. If you see a crime or a suspicious activity occurring, you should call 9-1-1, and they will route it to the closest deputy.

Starting in January, according to Sheriff Wowak, a CSO will be assigned to Bonny Doon. The CSO doesn’t respond to crime calls, but rather works with chronic situations—a rash of burglaries, for example—to seek long-term solutions. He/she also keeps track of what's happening in an area, gets to know residents, and tries to institute policies that will contribute to overall community safety. The CSO works under the supervising Sheriff’s deputy’s direction, and will also handle such things as abandoned vehicle abatement.

For non-emergency situations, Sgt. Ross can be reached at 461-7400 or shf247@co.santa-cruz.ca.us, and Sgt. Fish at    464-6230    or    shf107@co.santacruz.ca.us.

Finances and Membership Renewals

A year ago, the Board looked at the RBDA’s dire financial situation and issued an impassioned plea. To our delight and gratitude, Bonny Doon's citizens came back with a passionate response: new members joined, we received a record number of renewals and some extremely generous donations.

Thanks to last year’s outpouring, the RBDA can coast for another year, but it’s not fiscally prudent to operate at a deficit. Our membership needs to continue at about 200 people for yearly income to match expenses.

Your Board is hoping that if you’re a member, you’ll continue to support the RBDA by renewing. Remember, unless you signed up for a multi-year membership, all memberships expire on January 31!

If you’re not currently an RBDA member, we hope that you’ll consider if our efforts to keep Bonny Doon the place we love, and to bring you news of matters that vitally affect all of us, are worth $15 (or $20, depending on your household status) per year.

Our projected annual income with about 200 paid members and some sponsorships is about $3,400.

Our expenses: printing and mailing The Highlander, approximately $2,200; meeting room rental, $200 and liability insurance, $770, printing and mailing renewal notices, $200, totals about $3,400.

That’s why it’s vital to our continued financial viability that members renew.

While we certainly hope for and gratefully welcome donations, we cannot include them in our estimate.

The Board very much appreciates your thoughtful attention to the RBDA's situation and asks for your continuing support.

Join the RBDA!

Crucial EIR For UCSC Expansion Released

The long-awaited Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the expansion of City of Santa Cruz water and sewer services to UCSC’s Upper Campus has been released. This document will play a major role in whether LAFCO, the Local Agency Formation Committee, approves UCSC’s and the City’s application to extend these services to the portion of the campus outside the City limits, in Bonny Doon. Without LAFCO approval, UCSC will have to either sue or give up the effort to build on the undeveloped upper campus behind Bonny Doon’s Cave Gulch neighborhood.

In concert with others, the RBDA has been fighting for years to keep this type of urban development out of Bonny Doon.

The public has until January 19 to comment on the DEIR, after which a Final EIR will be published for certification by the City, which is acting (much to our chagrin!) as the lead agency for the EIR. The LAFCO commissioners will have the discretion to question all parts of the EIR, not just those pertaining to water and sewer.

But it is water that will be key to their decision. A Water Supply Assessment done by the City Water Dept., and included in the DEIR, acknowledges that supplies are inadequate when rainfall is less than “normal,” which really means “average.” In many, if not most years, rainfall is well above or well below average. Compounding the problem is that Santa Cruz has limited storage capacity, so it’s very difficult to bank the rainfall from the wet years. The result is that quite often, like 2009, water use restrictions are put in place. If the City grants UCSC another 300 million gallons a year for its expansion, all other City users will be subject to even more stringent rationing.

The DEIR is available at ci.santacruz.ca.us/index.aspx?page=1379

Gas from Slash?

At the Dec. 2 RBDA Board meeting, long-time Bonny Doon resident William Meyer presented his proposal for creating fuels from biomass throughout the County.

Mr. Meyer, who has a background in engineering, envisions a non-profit entity that would collect tree trimmings from private landowners and timbering operations—which could improve fire safety in the county—along with other unwanted or useless biomass that would otherwise be taken to the landfill, and turning it into fuel like ethanol or biodiesel. He has done a considerable amount of research and has talked with a number of groups and individuals to gain support for the project, which he calls CATARE, Co-operative for Applying Technology, Agriculture and Renewable Energy.

Mr. Meyer is trying to obtain funding for a feasibility study of his idea. If this is something you are interested in, contact him at 426-6908 or williammeyer@hotmail.com.

Want to Protect Our Parks?

Volunteers are needed to collect signatures to place an initiative on the November 2010 ballot which would create a stable funding source to protect State parks. 700,000 signatures are needed by mid-April.

If you want to help gather signatures, you can learn how at any of three local meetings. The first is Wednesday, Jan. 6 from 2 to 4 pm at Felton Community Hall, 6191 Highway 9. The second is that evening from 6 to 8 pm, at the Louden Nelson Community Center, Room 3, 301 Center St., Santa Cruz. The third opportunity is Thursday, Jan. 7 at 5:30 pm at the main branch of the Santa Cruz Library, 224 Church St., Santa Cruz.

RBDA Board 12/2/09 Actions
1. Approved sponsoring a Jan. 20 meeting about forming a Fire Safe Council in Bonny Doon.
2. [    ]
3. Accepted the resignation of Jan Hilkert and appointed Lad Wallace to fill out the remainder of her term.

Join the RBDA!

Support Our Sponsors

Frans Lanting Gallery
Limited Edition Fine Prints, Books, Calendars
by Wildlife & Nature Photographer
Frans Lanting
207 McPherson St., Suite D, Santa Cruz
429-1331, www.lanting.com

Boyce-Abel Associates & Land Planning
Facilitating & Mediating for Families with Land
& Other Real Property Transfers
1003 Smith Grade, Bonny Doon CA 95060

Baisinger Art Glass Studio
Therese Baisinger
Contemporary Lighting
Functional Art Glass Serviceware
Glass Sculpture
Interesting commissions accepted

The Flower Ladies
Flower Arrangements for Weddings & Special Occasions
www.theflowerladies.com 831-423-0261

Become One of Our Sponsors
Sponsorships: $100 a year
Send check and text to:
P.O. Box 551, Felton CA 95018

The Highlander
The Rural Bonny Doon Association Newsletter
102 Sunlit Lane • Bonny Doon, CA 95060
Box 551 • Felton, CA 95018

Bonny Doon's voice in preserving our special quality of life, 
The Highlander is mailed free to Bonny Doon residents prior to the 
RBDA General Meetings, which are usually held on second Wednesdays of 
January, March, May, July, September and November.
We encourage you to participate. 

 Send mail correspondence to the Highlander Editor at the above address, 
or by email, below.

Contact the RBDA Board in one email

The Bonny Doon Planning District
Bonny Doon Planning District map

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.

Please support the RBDA!
Dues payments count for a full year from date received.
Dues mostly go for printing and mailing The Highlander,
your voice for keeping Bonny Doon rural and natural.
Those who make additional contributions qualify as:

CONTRIBUTORS ($ 25 + dues)
SUSTAINERS ($50 + dues), or
PATRONS ($ 100 + dues)

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