March/April 2011 issue

The Wild World of Frogs

Dr. Kerry Kriger,



Emergency Communications

County Sheriff Phil Wowak

RBDA General Meeting
Wednesday March 9, 2011, 7:30 PM
Bonny Doon School Multipurpose Room
Ice Cream Grade & Pine Flat Road

Frog Evangelist Coming to March RBDA Meeting

Our March 9 general meeting will feature a talk entitled “The Wild World of Frogs,” presented by Dr. Kerry Kriger, founder of SAVE THE FROGS!

How long do frogs live? How many types of frogs are there? What’s the difference between a frog and a toad? Why are frogs disappearing worldwide and what can be done to save them? Dr. Kriger answers all these questions and more as he introduces the audience to The Wild World of Frogs. The presentation features many of Dr. Kriger’s photos of amphibians from around the world, and there will be a question and answer session following the presentation.

Dr. Kriger began his career in Australia, studying chytrid fungus, which causes a devastating skin disease attacking at least 287 species of amphibians around the world. Over the last 40 years this fungus has lead to over 100 species extinctions. That work naturally led him to found SAVE THE FROGS! in 2008 in order to promote amphibian conservation globally (

Locally, Dr. Kriger and SAVE THE FROGS!, in cooperation with the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, funded by Patagonia, have been working to restore the California Red-Legged Frog, (Rana Draytonii) habitat at Antonelli Pond. The next work day, to which all ages are invited, is Sunday, March 6, from 1-4pm. Volunteers will meet at the pond and help de-weed and plant native vegetation. (Go to actions/antonelli/~ for more information, including what to wear and what to bring.)

Nationally, Dr. Kriger is organizing a rally on April 29, the 3rd Annual Save The Frogs Day, to sound the alarm about Atrazine, a common pesticide which causes cancer in laboratory animals, and, even at infinitesimal concentrations, changes male frogs into females.

A lot has changed since Mark Twain wrote “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” Twain’s California Red-Legged Frog is now a Federally listed Threatened Species. Winter has brought the sounds of rain and of the California RedLegged Frog to Bonny Doon. For audio clips of the various sounds of this frog, go to

Join us in March to for a fascinating glimpse into the lives of frogs today and their frightening future.


Update on Changes to Zoning Rules

As we reported last time, the County Planning Department’s “Minor Exceptions To Certain Zoning Requirements “ (ME2CZR) ordinance revisions returned to the Board of Supervisors Jan. 25. After meetings with local environmental and community organizations, including the RBDA and Sierra Club, the January draft amendments included several improvements.

First of all, the appeals process for variances granted as minor exceptions by Planning Staff has been brought in line with that for other variances. Appeals can now escalate from the Zoning Administrator to the Planning Commission and thence to the Board of Supervisors, if necessary.

The issue of the cost burden of appeals has now been clarified to rest squarely on the project applicant.

In the interests of greater transparency, variances granted as minor exceptions will now be posted regularly on the Planning Department web site (, similar to the Zoning Administrator’s and Planning Commission’s agendas. We view this as a great advance. While initial project notifications are typically signed near the site and sent by mail to neighbors within 300 feet, now, when a variance is granted without a public hearing, the community at large will be notified, so that all those affected can learn of the decision. If an appeal is made, then the affected portion of the project will be halted until the appeal is resolved.

Lastly, since Planning expects that most of the requests for minor exceptions will be in densely built-up areas like Live Oak and Pleasure Point, and concerns still remain both for the public and for some supervisors about the relevance of the ordinance amendments for rural areas, the ordinance will first be implemented within the urban services boundary. After 24 months Planning will return to the Board of Supervisors with a report and proposal before the Board considers expanding it to the entire County.

This is not the end of this phase of the regulatory reform; questions about California Environmental Quality Act compliance and protection of riparian corridors persist. Therefore, the Board has sent the proposal to the Planning Commission for a further hearing, before it holds its own final hearing on the proposal on March 15.

We are hopeful that Planning will be able to further rationalize the permit process to ease the burden on citizens, while continuing the new conversation with environmental and community organizations to ensure that our natural heritage is respected and preserved. One noteworthy indication of that direction is Planning Director Kathy Previsich’s new proposal to include an examination of environmental regulations in section 16 of County Code, and the development of a guidance document to better protect the environment by standardizing the interpretation of code by individual planners.


Western Pine Beetles Threaten Ponderosas

The Problem

The 2008 Martin Fire killed many of the mature ponderosa pines in its path. Scorching weakened those that survived and left them vulnerable to pests, especially the western pine beetle. The beetles have killed scores of ponderosas in Bonny Doon since then and the attack continues, threatening to eliminate two generations of their only local host, Bonny Doon’s unique race of ponderosa pines.

A single couple of beetles initially attack a tree. During mating they exude powerful pheromones which quickly attract hundreds more couples. The beetles burrow under the bark to lay their eggs, starting about halfway up the trunk and working their way upward to where the tree finally thins to less than 6 inches in diameter. Their larvae devour the water-carrying layer of wood and introduce blue stain fungus which further reduces water transport and ultimately kills the tree.

Courtesy of Erich Vallery, USDA Forest Service, and Bugwood.orgIn response, ponderosas produce pitch tubes in order to flush the beetles. If the masses are cream colored, the tree was likely successful in pitching out the attacking beetles. If the pitch masses are reddish, however, the beetles have prevailed. Unfortunately, most ponderosas in Bonny Doon have been under water stress and have not produced enough pitch to defend themselves. Another sign of attack is woodpecker feeding that leaves smooth patches without bark. Well after the beetles have killed the tree, the tree’s foliage fades in color, progressing from green to yellow to brown.

In as little as two months, thousands of tiny holes will indicate that the larvae have matured and moved on. In our climate, there can be multiple generations per year.


1. The trees most likely to be attacked are those stressed by fire damage or root disease. Thinning to reduce competition for water may help. Stand sanitation, in which recently attacked and high-risk green trees are removed before the dormant beetles have a chance to emerge, attack, and further build their population is recommended. The next western pine beetle flight is predicted for April and May, but may be sooner at lower elevations.

2. Felling green ponderosa pines may create brood material for another pest, pine engraver beetles, to build populations and attack surrounding, stressed pines. All green pines stems greater than 3 inches in diameter should therefore be treated by reducing to less than 4 foot lengths, removing branches, then either scattering in sunny locations or burning.

3. While thinning and sanitizing, do so conservatively and please keep in mind the increased danger to the stand from wind. Avoid wounding remaining trees to reduce the threat to them from fungus. Minimize downed fuel build up to avoid intense fires and schedule your burns to minimize their intensity.

4. Since the  Reserve and surrounding properties are within two additional Zones of Infestation (Sudden Oak Death and Coastal Pitch Canker) care should be taken to minimize the risk of introducing or spreading those pests. Tools, equipment, vehicles, and shoes should be clean of mud, small woody debris, and/or pitch, and hand tools and shoes should be treated with Lysol prior to entering and leaving the forested area. Lysol minimizes the risk for spreading both pitch canker and sudden oak death.

5. While there are pesticides which may be valuable in combating this problem, they should be used only after consulting with The Santa Cruz County Agricultural Commissioner ( and in accordance with laws and regulations controlling their use.

On Feb. 28, the Bonny Doon Fire Safe Council held a Neighborhood Meeting to discuss the problem and some possible assistance provided by the California Forest Improvement Program (CFIP). The salient points of that meeting will be presented at our March meeting.

If you would like to read more about the Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa), you can read the Plant Guide produced by the US Department of Agriculture, at plants;  Note: this is a PDF file. There is also:

RBDA Executive Board Changes

There are 2 new members of the RBDA Board. At our January Annual Meeting Jacob Pollock was elected to the seat vacated by Ted Benhari, and Miriam Beames, Tom Hearn and Marty Demare were re-elected. Shortly afterward Miriam Beames resigned her position and the Board appointed Salem Magarian to her seat. He will have to run for the remaining year at next year’s Annual Meeting.

Ted served on the board for 14 of the last 16 years and, for many of us, has come to define dedicated community service. He has generously offered to continue helping with the publication of the Highlander, much to the relief of Lad Wallace, who has taken on the task of editing the newsletter.

Although we all will miss Miriam’s involvement, we are pleased that Salem is prepared to take up the gauntlet. Tom and Marty will continue to provide the Board with much needed continuity and their deep knowledge of the issues our community must address.

The Board selected its officers for 2011. Joe Christy continues as chair, Pat Morrison as vice chair. Tom Hearn as Treasurer and Marty Demare as Corresponding Secretary. Lad is now Highlander Editor and Jacob Pollock takes Lad’s role as Membership Coordinator. Salem will serve as Recording Secretary.


Search for Fugitive Prompts Communication Concerns

On Feb. 1 a 6-hour manhunt for fugitive Juan Mendoza Cruz ended early the next morning without an arrest, with the authorities believing Cruz had fled the Bonny Doon area. The search included a Sheriff’s Office helicopter, 25 deputies and Santa Cruz police officers, and 2 search dogs.

Some residents called authorities indicating that Cruz was well known to them and that he had done work for them, ranging from watching pets while owners were absent, to yard and handyman work.

Newspaper reports indicated that reverse 911 calls were sent to neighbors at 2:50 p.m. and 4:25 p.m. Monday to notify them of the search, and to ask them to “shelter in place,” meaning that they should minimize unnecessary car trips or walks. Some very close neighbors reported that they received no call and were unaware of the potentially dangerous situation.

There is a certain amount of concern in the community regarding the manner and effectiveness of communication by the Sheriff’s office. In response to queries from our Board, Sheriff Phil Wowak has offered to attend our March meeting to “...answer all questions and take away any suggestions your association might have.” Please take this opportunity to provide Sheriff Wowak with the benefit of your comments.

In the aftermath of the Martin Fire, our community was able to work with the CDF regarding communication with our residents. With the Lockheed fire the next year, we saw a substantially improved information flow which served Bonny Doon very well during that stressful time. We have good evidence that voicing our concerns and constructive suggestions to our local public safety officials can result in a better informed and prepared community.


New LAFCO Water Policy May Affect UCSC Expansion

Despite an attempt by City of Santa Cruz officials to weaken it, the Local Agency Formation Commission, (LAFCO) on Feb. 2 approved a new Water Policy that could have a significant effect on UCSC’s attempts to build on its Upper Campus.

The LAFCO commissioners unanimously ignored the City’s request to narrowly limit the policy so that applicants merely had to show “good planning,” in the words of City Water Director Bill Kocher, to provide necessary water, rather than actual “wet water.”

Instead, the commissioners adopted language requiring that a proposed project’s water supply be “adequate, reliable, and sustainable.” Further, the new policy, which will guide all future LAFCO deliberations on whether to approve a project, requires that “the project will not adversely affect sustainable yields in groundwater basins, flows in rivers and streams, water quality in surface water bodies and groundwater basins, and endangered species.”

The new policy raises the bar for UCSC’s application to extend City water service to its Upper Campus, which lies outside the City limits, in Bonny Doon. Without an approved desalination plant, and with state and national agencies demanding that the City restrict its diversion of stream sources to provide better conditions for aquatic life, the amount of water the City will have available is far from certain.

At the same Feb. 2 meeting, LAFCO Executive Director Pat McCormick told the commissioners that more staff work needs to be done on the UCSC application. As a result, he told them that a date for a public hearing on the application couldn’t yet be set.

Meanwhile, in mid-February, the Community Water Coalition’s attorney, Jonathan Wittwer, filed an appeal to a Superior Court dismissal of its suit. The appeal states that the LAFCO applications by the University, and an accompanying one by the City to extend its water service boundary, were not in compliance with State LAFCO law.

A second suit, brought by the citizens’ group Habitat and Watershed Caretakers (HAWC), charges that the Final Environmental Impact Report related to the applications to LAFCO violates the State’s Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). That suit is headed for a Superior Court hearing in April.


Introducing New Board Member Salem Magarian

OMG! Is Bonny Doon amazing, or what? Here we are in the sixth day of rain, recharging our aquifers, supplying the forest and our gardens, and keeping our wells happy. But what is this snow? Beauty comes in many forms in our wonderland. How lucky we are to live in this natural paradise.

That about sums up my reasons to accept the offer to be on the RBDA Board and fill the seat recently vacated by Miriam Beames. I completely share the RBDA mission to preserve the natural and rural setting of our community. Although preservation of the natural environment and wise stewardship of any building and development is a core advocacy role for the RBDA Board, I am particularly interested in many new opportunities to enhance and interact with our natural setting. Among the upcoming issues are the future use of the CEMEX property, and the vision Coast Dairies has of a continuous natural open space corridor from Bonny Doon to Davenport and the north coast. There are many challenges in negotiating these processes that are far beyond the scope of the RBDA, but it is clear that the RBDA is the voice of our community in matters such as these.

I have lived in Bonny Doon for 5 years, after 15 years in Santa Cruz. Laurie Patton Magarian and I got married on our property in Bonny Doon 2 years ago. I was born and raised in Florida and have been heading west since age 18, spending 20 years in Utah getting hooked on nature and outside adventures while becoming a father and pediatrician. I have worked as a pediatrician at Dominican Hospital since 1993 and currently direct the outpatient Dominican Pediatric Clinic.

I look forward to hearing from you about how you would like the RBDA to advocate for preserving our natural setting and promote our health, mental and spiritual well-being, and caring involvement with nature.

—Salem Magarian

Coast Dairies Update

In the last issue of The Highlander we wrote that the March meeting of the Coastal Commission here in Santa Cruz might include a decision that would end years of dispute over the transfer of ownership of the Coast Dairies properties. The Trust for Public Land, with the County of Santa Cruz on their side, has long disputed the need to obtain a Coastal Development Permit for the transfer.

But in a Feb. 8 letter, TPL reluctantly agreed to apply for a consolidated permit that would be processed and acted upon by the Coastal Commission, bypassing the usual County permit process. With concurrence from commission staff, the County Planning Director had placed the proposal on the Board of Supervisors’ February agenda to obtain their approval, but the item was pulled from the agenda. If and when the proposal is returned to the Board of Supervisors and they give their approval, the Trust for Public Land can begin the permit process and the public will have its long awaited opportunity to influence the future uses of the property.

Cement Plant News

There will be a Community Meeting regarding the future of the cement plant site on Tuesday, March 22 at 6:30 pm at Pacific Elementary School in Davenport.

The meeting will be led by Supervisor Neal Coonerty and local inventor and engineer, JoeBen Bevirt of Joby Energy,


RBDA Membership Drops

The current paid-up membership for the organization has dropped substantially since the end of January, down from over 200 just prior to the close of last year. you may recall that we adopted a new membership policy 2 years ago wherein memberships expire at the end of January of each year. This move greatly simplified the task of tracking when memberships lapsed, and the thought was that it would also be easier to just remind everyone in the Jan./ Feb. edition of The Highlander to send in their donation. This also saves the expense of mailing reminders out to members who have let their membership lapse. So far, this plan has not worked very well, so we’re again requesting you send in your donations if you have not done so recently.

For those of you who are not members: If you support the concept of keeping Bonny Doon rural and natural, and enjoy getting The Highlander and listening to the speakers and presentations we sponsor, now is the time to help support this community organization. Just to sustain the organization at the current level, over 200 paid memberships are required, so we truly need your support. Please see here for membership information and form.

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

The Flower Ladies
Flower Arrangements for Weddings & Special Occasions

Santa Cruz Waldorf School

K-8 School Engaging the mind, firing the imagination and strengthening the will
2190 Empire Grade, Bonny Doon CA 95060

Joby Energy, Inc.
Airborne turbines to harness high-altitude winds for low-cost, renewable energy.
340 Woodpecker Ridge, Bonny Doon CA 95060


Become One of Our Sponsors
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The Highlander
The Rural Bonny Doon Association Newsletter
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.

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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!
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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:

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