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”. blog.jannelsonlandscapedesign.com/
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
(tinyurl.com/255omy5) 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
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
My accomplishments include:
Successfully bringing a CalFire station to Bonny Doon for the first
Working with County Public Works to get Bonny Doon its fair share of
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
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 conservesantacruz.org, or call the Land Trust
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
firstname.lastname@example.org, 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