May/June 2010 issue

Mountain Gardening
Jan Nelson, Manager, The Plantworks Nursery
Wednesday, May 12, 2010 — 7:30 PM
Plant Swap: 6:30 - 7:30 PM

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

Jan Nelson, “The Mountain Gardener”

Gardening in the Santa Cruz Mountains is often difficult due to our soil, weather and geology. When we put a plant or seed in the ground will it flourish? What are the conditions that make us unique and sometimes cause us problems in the garden? More importantly, what can we do to have successful gardens here?

Over the past 20 years, as the manager of The Plantworks Nursery in Ben Lomond, and also as a landscape designer, Jan Nelson has been able to share her plant knowledge, ideas and experience. She says that during this time she has been asked every conceivable type of question about what, when, where and how to grow plants successfully here, so she knows a lot about our unique soils, climate, weather, pests, weeds, critter control, plant selection and landscape design.

Jan is an Advanced California Nursery Professional, a member of APLD (Association of Professional Landscape Designers) and for the past 4 years has been the author of the weekly gardening column called “The Mountain Gardener’” for the Valley Press/Banner, providing advice, inspiration and gardening tips. She shares these columns in her gardening blog, “The Mountain Gardener- Landscaping tips for Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties”.
It is from this problem solving and inspirational approach that she also has started to write a guide specifically for the gardener in the Santa Cruz Mountains. “Handbook for Gardeners in the Santa Cruz Mountains” will contain all the information needed by a gardener in one place. She plans it to be an easy-to-read guide that local gardeners can refer to time and time again. Her goal is for readers to come away inspired and confident when out in their gardens.

Join Jan Tuesday, May 12 at 7:30 pm for a talk about gardening in our area and bring your questions. Subjects will include planting for wildlife, firescaping, critter control, native plants and anything else you want to cover.

Swap Your Plants!

Preceding Jan’s presentation will be the first ever “Bonny Doon Neighborhood Plant Swap.” Stick those plants you are dividing in a pot! Your extras may be a welcome addition to your neighbor’s garden! Meet new Dooners and see old friends while you exchange plants and tips. Jan is bringing some favorites from her yard to share! The swap will begin at 6:30 p.m. outside the Multi-purpose Room and all plants must be tucked safely in your vehicles by 7:30 when the meeting begins.

The LBAM Apocalypse Redux

The Light Brown Apple Moth (LBAM) is rearing its head again. TV commercials are depicting the pest eating children’s lunches, raising the specter of Mothra. In Bonny Doon, we wait to see if the State’s response will be scaled back to be commensurate with the true threat and in line with its new, more conciliatory public statements.

After the uproar in Spring 2008 about spraying to eradicate the LBAM [see the March and May 2008 Highlanders], spraying was halted, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) was ordered to undertake an Environmental Impact Report on its program (PEIR). A draft was released and public comments collected last August.

The root of the LBAM problem appeared to be the economic impacts on agriculture stemming from trade barriers aimed at LBAMs when international trade in citrus fruits took off late in the last century. Since there is serious debate about how great a threat LBAMs really pose, 2 groups petitioned the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) last year to reclassify LBAM as a non-actionable/non-reportable pest. APHIS maintained that it should not deregulate the LBAM, and submitted its response for scientific review to the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies of Sciences this winter.In mid-March, the CDFA released the final PEIR and over the objections of Santa Cruz County and State Senator Joe Simitian, among others, quickly certified the report and made public its plans. The PEIR, which runs to more than 2,000 pages, addresses in depth the many issues raised by the speakers in the March RBDA 2008 forum and again in the public comment period; see chapter 2 of the PEIR ( for a summary. There is much apparently sound science in the PEIR, certainly beyond our competence to assess. The arguments presented make even more sense politically than scientifically; the PEIR dismisses the many reports of impacts on human health as anecdotal and unquantifiable, and it attributes the contemporaneous seabird die-offs to red tide without examining the likely connection between the heavy phosphate loads in the post-spray runoff and the red tide algal bloom. More curiously, it devotes considerable space to justifying the inclusion of economic considerations in an “environmental” analysis.

Somewhat earlier, the NRC released its review of the APHIS proposal to deny the petition to change policy and deregulate the LBAM. The NRC found that APHIS “met the minimal requirements to support the contentions that LBAM is not native to the United States… and may cause some level of economic harm (although projections of potential environmental impacts are less well founded). Thus, APHIS was within its authority in determining that LBAM is of ‘potential economic importance’ and in continuing to classify it as quarantine-significant/actionable.”

However, it “found that APHIS did not ‘fully consider and address the specific arguments’ and did not ‘conduct a thorough and balanced analysis’ supporting the conclusions in its Response. Full consideration would have included a more detailed economic analysis and a more complete response to the argument against eradication. Overall, [...] the APHIS Response would greatly benefit from the use of more robust science to support its position.” In other words, the national APHIS response to LBAM eradication opponents suffered from the very same flaws that California DFA found in the opponents’ arguments. The public comment period on the decision runs through May 14 (

After certifying the PEIR, CDFA released its plans for the response to LBAMs going forward. It conceded that eradication is infeasible, as is the aerial spraying it used two years ago. Instead, it has settled on the aerial release of sterile males and ground application of twist ties containing LBAM pheromone, with the use of organically approved insecticides, ground application of pheromones in a gummy matrix, and the release of parasitic moths as fallbacks. All but the last aim at disrupting the mating and reproduction of LBAMs. The first involves aircraft releasing hundreds of thousands of sterile moths at altitudes of roughly 300 feet. The second involves a fairly tightly controlled distribution of moth pheromones, while the remaining 3 have more questionable efficacy and more unpredictable secondary effects.

Santa Cruz County remains under internal California, national and international agricultural quarantine. No CDFA LBAM control actions have been scheduled yet for Santa Cruz County, Bonny Doon, and the North Coast. Assemblymember Bill Monning has introduced a bill to require that the “inert” ingredients of agricultural chemicals, of great concern in the less targeted pheromone treatments, be disclosed to the public. The RBDA Board will remain vigilant on the issue—neither the moth nor the trade wars are going away in the foreseeable future.

Supervisor Election June 8

There is a 3-way race for 3rd District County Supervisor, including incumbent Neal Coonerty, who has filled the seat for the past 4 years. Here are statements from the 3 contenders:


I deeply appreciate the trust you’ve placed in me over the last 4 years. During my first term I’ve worked hard to tackle some incredibly challenging problems.

My accomplishments include:
Successfully bringing a CalFire station to Bonny Doon for the first time.
Working with County Public Works to get Bonny Doon its fair share of road repair.
Working hard to acquire the rail line so its ownership will always be with the people of Santa Cruz.

Stopping the state’s Light Brown Apple Moth program from spraying our community by successfully taking them to court.

Helping to secure $2.7 million of state and federal funds to rebuild the Davenport water system.

Santa Cruz County faces serious challenges and I have the proven leadership to make a difference for the people of the 3rd District.

I hope I have earned your endorsement, support, and June 8 vote.


Until recently, my grandparents owned 40 acres off of Pine Flat which they purchased prior to WWII.

I am very fond of the area both in memory and in its current character. As a supervisor, I will address crime, the budget, and will seek to improve the standard of ethics within the practices of the County government. I never entertained the idea of politics until I was moved by a speech by (then) Presidential Candidate Obama. I realized that I cannot expect our government to improve unless I start here at home. The majority of our community shares similar values but how these are expressed at a County level has become fractured. I believe that with openness and vigorous commitment on my part, we can take the next step. I encourage you to contact me to discuss these issues and welcome any and all open candidate forums.


Be gentle with the Earth…
Santa Cruz County, the richest place in the world, but decades of poor management and reactive vision have a huge toll.  The County is $12 million in deficit currently, up from $6 million last year. We must now, more than ever, make the highest and best use of our resources and depend on ourselves, living here within our local means and local economy. A rational basis must support our actions and expenditures. Our Community must be safe first.  There is no rational basis for a Santa Cruz “Sanctuary City” policy, like in Watsonville.  Likewise, there is no rationality supporting a $100 million global warming desalination plant in Santa Cruz. There are better and more cost effective alternatives.

UCSC Expansion Update

Even as its funding and incoming freshmen enrollment are shrinking, the process for UCSC to enlarge its campus footprint into Bonny Doon continues.

UCSC and the City of Santa Cruz have applied to LAFCO, the Local Agency Formation Commission, for expansion of city water and sewer service to the Upper Campus, which is outside the City limits, and is designated by both County and City General Plans as outside the boundary for urban development. The Draft Environmental Impact Report for the service expansion was published earlier this year, and numerous individuals and organizations, including the RBDA, criticized its shortcomings. The City’s hired report authors are now revising the EIR to address the objections raised during the public comment period, and it will either be re-released as a draft, or, more likely, as a Final EIR, which the City Council must approve at a public hearing.

In the meantime, according to the terms of the Comprehensive Settlement Agreement, which ended numerous lawsuits regarding issues surrounding the expansion, the City and County must negotiate an agreement for the City to expand its so-called Sphere of Influence. At the instigation of the Community Water Coalition, a group concerned about the over-commitment of scarce water supplies, the Board of Supervisors agreed to actually negotiate the terms of the agreement in the interest of the public. The Supervisors will take public input on the matter at their May 18 meeting.

For their part, the LAFCO commissioners have indicated that they would prefer to see the City actually annex the Upper Campus, rather than simply expand the boundaries of its Sphere of Influence. This has various legal ramifications. At the least it brings the City limit right into Bonny Doon, to the east of the Cave Gulch neighborhood.

What Is Worth Saving?

A great deal of Santa Cruz County land is already preserved as open space, from the Elkhorn Slough to Big Basin State Park, including Nisene Marks, Wilder/Gray Whale, Henry Cowell, Fall Creek and Coast Dairies, and other special habitats like the Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve. In addition, hundreds of acres of farmland and forest have been placed in conservation easements.

Is there anything more that should be saved from development? To answer this question, the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County has been hosting a series of forums to craft what it calls The Conservation Blueprint. The Land Trust hopes that the Blueprint will lead to increased protection of our land, water, flora, fauna and quality of life. According to its web site, the Blueprint will combine comprehensive scientific analysis with extensive community input to identify the highest priorities for conservation in the county.

Three of the forums took place in late April, and the last is scheduled for Tuesday, May 4 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Highlands Park Senior Center in the San Lorenzo Valley. We realize that you may be reading this after that has occurred. Nevertheless, you can learn more about the Conservation Blueprint at, or call the Land Trust at 429-6116.

Cemex Keeps Quarry Option Open

If Cemex wants to mine the Bonny Doon quarry again someday, it was required by County Mining Code to declare the mine idle and file an Interim Management Plan (IMP), which it did on April 1. Absent the declaration, Cemex would lose its permit to mine the site and the final reclamation process would begin.

The IMP is a temporary plan to address public health, safety and environmental issues relevant to the quarry while it is idle. The IMP can be approved by the Planning Department for a period of up to 5 years. While idle, maintenance and monitoring of the 7 sedimentation ponds located on the operating property are major areas of concern and involve Red-legged Frog habitat. The ponds capture runoff from disturbed areas. If the standpipes that drain them are clogged during storm events and the levees that contain the ponds are damaged, catastrophic failures could result. Vigilance and close County oversight will be needed in the absence of operating personnel, especially before and during storm events. We hope Cemex continues to be good corporate citizens.

Explosives and radioactive tracer compounds have been removed from the quarry site and daily security patrols are still performed.

While the IMP is being reviewed and implemented, County staff and Cemex are developing specific requirements to remedy problems with the permanent Reclamation Plan that were identified in the 2008 permit review and in the quarry expansion EIR. These requirements must be finalized in a public hearing before the Planning Commission.

The Reclamation Plan Amendment is derived in part from information developed for the quarry expansion EIR, but some aspects must be modified since the goal now is stabilization, not expansion, and quarry contours may never advance to the end conditions anticipated in the final closure and reclamation plans.

More sophisticated analysis of slope stability at the quarry has identified the need for contour changes in some areas and buttressing to stabilize existing slides. Revegetation plans have been modified to include different species with a better chance of success and are already being implemented. Changing reclamation requirements for the ponds will require Cemex to modify their federally required Habitat Conservation Plan, a process that can take a long time. Cemex must also remove a large eroded fill and failed culvert where the conveyor line crosses the west branch of Liddell Creek.

Cemex’s respected quarry manager, Rob Walker, stated at the Feb. 23 Board of Supervisors hearing about the closure that “…Cemex remains fully committed to upholding our obligations and requirements under our permits that we have both at the quarry and the plant.” The Supervisors will get another report from their staff at a hearing in May.

Fire Safe Workshop May 15

On Saturday morning, May 15, beginning at 10 a.m., the Bonny Doon Fire Safe Council will hold a Fire Safe Workshop. The workshop will begin with presentations at the Martin Road Fire Station, covering: principles of defensible space, including ladder fuels, mosaic firescaping and the 30 ft. and 100 ft. zones; the Resource Conservation District’s chipping program; the Nature of County Fire’s LE100 inspections; and working in sensitive habitats. The group will continue with a walking tour and discussion of the Martin Road shaded fuel break, environmentally sensitive defensible space on Quail Drive, and roadside Fire Safe activities of the Vineyard Road Association. Space will be limited, so if you are interested in attending please email, or call Joe Christy at 423-7151 by May 8.

RBDA Membership Update

Memberships renewals have dropped off, but there are still approximately 50 members who have yet to renew. However, thanks to the generosity of many who donated above the level of membership renewal, the organization is in good shape financially. We will be sending out renewal reminder notices to those who have not yet renewed. And thanks to all of you for your support of the RBDA!

RBDA Board Actions

1. Agreed to join, with no financial obligation, a petition for writ of mandate, to be brought by Wittwer and Parkin, LLP, on behalf of Save Our Agricultural Land (SOAL) and several private individuals, “challenging the failure of the County of Santa Cruz to require any necessary Coastal Development Permit (CDP) and/or subdivision approval (or to request an opinion of the executive director of the Coastal Commission on CDP issue as required by law) for the transfer from the Trust for Public Land of portions of real property known as Coast Dairies in the North Coast area of Santa Cruz County to the Federal Bureau of Land Management, Agri-Culture, Inc. and Cemex, Inc.”

2. Acted to keep its promise to forward half of the donations received at the General Meeting of March 2 to the Sempervirens Fund.

3. Directed the Treasurer to explore whether another bank will give the Rural Bonny Doon Association’s account better services or a higher rate of interest.

Hey!          Join the RBDA!

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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.

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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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your voice for keeping Bonny Doon rural and natural.
Those who make additional contributions qualify as:

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