May/June 1999 issue

• Logging Reform: Necessary or Not?
Big Creek’s Bob Berlage & Forester Steve Staub vs.
Mark Morgenthaler & Larry Prather of the Citizens for Responsible Forest Management
Let the chips fall where they may!

• Waldorf School Expansion
Cave Gulch Neighbors vs. School Officials
This should be educational!

RBDA Meeting
• Wednesday, May 12, 7:30 p.m. • 
Multi-Purpose Room, Bonny Doon School
Logging Rules, Waldorf School Expansion 

The battle over logging in Santa Cruz County has been raging for years, and 
probably always will. Environmentalists are worried about stream destruction 
and negative effects on wildlife, and rural homeowners are concerned about 
logging trucks and helicopters and other impacts on their peaceful lifestyles 
and property. Both groups are prodding county supervisors to change the rules 
for logging to better protect their interests.

Naturally, the timber industry is fighting back. Not only is it opposed to 
increased regulation, it doesn’t even see a need for it.

Some light will shine on these differences at the May 12 RBDA meeting. 
Representing the timber industry will be Bob Berlage, Big Creek Lumber’s 
Forestry and Resource Manager, and Steve Staub, a timber harvest consultant 
who lives in Bonny Doon and has worked for Big Creek and other loggers. In 
the other corner we’ll have two members of the Citizens for Responsible 
Forest Management (CRFM), Mark Morgenthaler and Larry Prather, speaking for  
environmentalists and homeowners. Both were active in pushing the county to  
take more control of local logging. For more on the current situation, see the story below.

Also on the agenda is the Waldorf School’s application to expand its 
elementary school on Empire Grade. Jonathan Wittwer, an attorney for 
neighbors of the school who are opposed to the expansion, will make a case 
for why the application should be denied. Making Waldorf’s case will be Beth 
Hamilton, their own legal counsel, and Beth Holland, who is shepherding their 
application through the county. For more on the Waldorf expansion, see below.

This should be a hot meeting on two topics of great importance to Bonny Doon.  Don’t miss it.

Sawing Through the Rhetoric

Not only are the timber industry and its critics at odds over what changes 
are needed, they don’t even see eye to eye on what the problems are.
The Timber Technical Advisory Committee, the county’s attempt to unify the 
two groups into a middle ground that would protect the major interests of 
loggers, timber land owners, homeowners and the environment, was largely a 
failure. The result is a struggle in the political and legal arena that may 
leave no one satisfied, and everyone but the lawyers and lobbyists a lot 

At the May 12 RBDA meeting representatives of Big Creek Lumber and the 
Citizens for Responsible Forest Management will try to shed more light on 
this complicated and polarizing issue.

Based on a state Appeals Court decision that the California Supreme Court 
declined to review, counties have the right to decide where logging can be 
done, even though the state Board of Forestry (BofF) can set the rules for 
how it can be done. Like Santa Cruz has, counties can ask the BofF to create 
special rules for logging in their jurisdictions.

The major rules changes proposed for Santa Cruz include 300 foot no-cut zones  near residences, 50 foot no-cut buffers around streams, protection for 
old-growth trees, limiting the amount of timber cut more on property not 
zoned for timber production than on lands so designated, and restrictions on 
helicopter logging.

The BofF won’t be making a decision on these rules changes anytime soon. In 
fact, it can’t even meet until new Gov. Gray Davis appoints enough new 
members to constitute a quorum. (The minor changes the BofF approved last 
fall aren’t even in effect, because they never submitted them to the state 
Office of Administrative Law!)

If the BofF doesn’t agree to the new rules changes to a satisfactory degree, 
the Board of Supervisors has two ordinances waiting in the wings which 
strictly limit where logging can be done here.

Meanwhile, Big Creek is suing to overturn the court decision that allows the 
county to regulate the where of logging, and claims the county is also trying 
to regulate the how, which is the state’s domain. Nevertheless, the county 
has submitted the ordinances to the Coastal Commission for review.

The county also passed a temporary ordinance requiring the 50-foot no-cut 
zone to protect streams from siltation, but this law, say local logging 
critics, is being ignored by the state Dept. of Forestry when it approves 
local timber harvest plans. Even the City of Santa Cruz ignored it in a 
proposed timber harvest plan on watershed property it owns, but the new 
progressive City Council shot that plan down.

The Waldorf Story: Too Big for BD?

The Waldorf School, a much admired private facility that follows the 
progressive educational ideas of Rudolf Steiner, has been located for many 
years at 2190 Empire Grade, at the entrance to Bonny Doon.
Its success has been rewarded and the kindergarten through 8th grade school 
has grown. In fact, it now exceeds its permitted 160 students by 55. The 
facility now wants to grow to 245 students, and may have even higher goals: a 
high school that could increase the total to 400 or more. In fact, it has 
acquired two adjoining properties, adding 17 acres. But the current expansion 
application confines the school to its original six acres.

Because so many projects grow incrementally, the county never deals with 
their full impact. The Santa Cruz Biotechnology facility on Back Ranch Road 
is an example. That is why the RBDA executive board has asked the county to 
consider not only the present application, but also the total future growth 
of the school, given the additional 17 acres it controls.

We think that a school of 245 students, let alone one with 400 students, 
violates the voter-approved Measure J, which calls for such facilities to be 
located within the urban services zone, where public utilities are available.
Waldorf already has seven septic systems.

Waldorf’s Cave Gulch neighbors are concerned about septic and water issues, 
and the amount of traffic, which they believe is far higher than Waldorf 
School admits. Empire Grade is a main route for Bonny Doon commuters. 
Increased school traffic not only could cause delays at peak periods, it 
could be dangerous, since speeds there approach 60 mph.

The RBDA board has asked the county to consider all these issues before 
granting the expansion permit. The matter will be discussed at the RBDA 
public meeting May 12 by advocates for both the neighbors and the school. 

Logging Bills Making Headway

Two bills regarding logging reforms, both introduced by our local 
Assemblyman, Fred Keeley, are advancing through the state legislature. AB717 
closes loopholes in the existing timber harvest regulatory process. It 
requires greater cooperation among agencies to protect wildlife and water 
resources affected by timber harvests, makes it easier to sue and prosecute 
those doing illegal logging, and requires foresters to include more useful 
information in their cutting applications.

AB748 forces timber owners to bear the cost of reviewing their cutting 
applications, just as other industries do. Right now this cost is borne by 
the public, amounting to $10 million a year, even though it is the timber 
owner who is profiting.

To support these bills, write to The Honorable Carol Migden, California State 
Assembly, State Capitol, Sacramento CA 95814, or fax her at (916)319-2352.

Beat Back the Broom
By Grey Hayes, California Native Plant Society

French broom is invading Bonny Doon at a frightening rate and needs to be controlled for many reasons.

First, it is a fire hazard. It grows and reproduces rapidly, creating a dense thicket. As plants approach 10 years of age, many of them die, leaving huge quantities of thin, flammable sticks. Also, French Broom has a relatively puny root system: it pulls right out of the ground when the soil is wet. This root system contrasts greatly with the large top of the plant. As the plant gets older it tips over, destabilizing slopes. What appears to be a hillside of vegetation holding the soil in place turns out to be a landslide waiting to happen.

It’s relatively easy to recognize broom: it is blossoming now with many, yellow flowers covering a shrub anywhere from one to 15 feet in height. It often grows alongside roads. Its leaves are hairy and in groups of three. The broom may be pretty, but it is destroying the homes of literally millions of organisms, few of which (a couple of bees and moths) have evolved to feed on it. Deer and rabbits occasionally take a bite. Contrast that with, say, coyote brush or blue blossom (native shrubs) which together support more than 400 organisms. And, those are just two species that are outcompeted when French broom moves into native habitat. French broom is threatening coastal prairie, oak woodland and sand hills habitats, which are the exclusive home to 1,000 native plants and many animals locally, and are all endangered already by lack of management and fragmentation by development.

The plant reproduces so quickly that even if you have just one or two plants now you could have between 500-2,000 plants in the years to come, just from this year’s seed production. The seeds explode from ripe pods, spreading for six feet around the plant. A mature plant makes 1,000 seeds a year. The seeds last at least 37 years in the soil, so every year you wait to kill the few plants may mean years and years of control to come.

The best way to stop the plants is to use what is known as the Bradley method. Start pulling where there are very few plants and work toward the thick patch. Pulling is best accomplished by hand when the soil is very wet. If you have a problem pulling, borrow or buy a weed wrench, which pops the suckers out of the ground with lever action and steel jaws.

When you get to the thick patch, you have a few choices. You could continue to pull, beating the plants back as far as possible each year. Or, you could spray in the same manner, as deeply as you can go each year. You could also chop the bushes down. If you decide to do this, wait until the end of the summer, when it’s most dry and hot. Cutting at any other time is counter-productive, creating luxuriant regrowth and stronger roots. If you cut at the end of summer, chances are good that you will kill around 80% of the plants. Cutting 2" or greater diameter plants almost always kills them. After killing the mature plants, you will be left with an ocean of seedlings the next winter. These are very easy to pull, but very numerous. Easier than pulling is using a hand held propane torch as soon as possible after the seedlings are recognizable. The beauty of this control method is that you won’t kill the grass and won’t have bare soil. You can also herbicide the young plants. If you have left over piles of previous year’s dead broom, burn it where the seedlings are the thickest. This will go a long way toward killing both the seedlings and the seeds in the soil.

The frustrating thing about broom is the ongoing control needed. Breathe deeply and remember that most of the work is in the first five years. Only a few plants a year will sprout thereafter...for 30 years. So don’t let new plants go to seed!
After working in broom patches, inspect yourself carefully for ticks. For public areas, like along roads, organize a group of neighbors (or take it on yourself) and do a broom eradication day a few times a year. More information about French broom and its eradication will soon be available on our Website.

New Wave of Mail Theft

Used to be that the biggest worry about our mailboxes was whether overhormoned teens would decide to play box baseball with them. But now, thanks probably to the surging growth in mail order and credit card buying, Bonny Doon has joined other parts of the country in the growth of a parallel industry, mailbox theft.

A big wave hit last year, then subsided. Now there have been new outbreaks affecting several areas. This is not the work of amateurs, for the most part. The post office police purportedly busted a Russian gang working Bonny Doon last year. One victim had thousands in credit card charges rung up from Fresno to San Leandro a day after the thefts. The thieves’ professionalism was evident in their ability to use a credit card that the victim hadn’t even activated. One method the thieves have been using is to have one person, usually a woman, jogging or cycling, remove the mail and hand it off to another woman following in a brown station wagon.

This is a nationwide trend that is accelerating. The thieves know what to look for, and use sophisticated methods to alter checks and other documents. We can’t stop it, but we can protect ourselves better. If you see a stranger near your or your neighbors’ mailboxes, write down descriptions and license numbers, time and place. Share the information with your neighbors and police. Call the county sheriff (471-1121) and the Postal Inspector (408/938-4802) and make a report.

The post office may be willing to place a neighborhood lock box for you For information, contact Rich Olive at 471-2939. They run about $4,000, so the post office is reluctant to install them. Waiting time is several weeks to several months, if you can get one at all. You can also build or buy a lock box or cut a slot in a large mailbox and put a lock on the door. Call the Post Office at 800/275-8777 for information. Or you can rent a box at the post office. Or you can do nothing and hope it will all disappear. But the only thing likely to disappear is your mail.


No More Mystery Sound

According to ear-witness reports, the "mystery sound" which haunted Bonny  Dooners for years is virtually gone, thanks to the sleuthing efforts of RMC. Apparently the new parts on the noisy Davenport cement plant fan muffler did the trick. A grateful thanks to RMC for its efforts in restoring our sanity...and our sleep. Now if only they could find a "boomless" explosive, and a way to eliminate the machine noise and shrill back-up beeps at the limestone quarry.

A reminder, too, to write to Mardi Wormhoudt, your local supervisor, if you have any problems with noise, dust, or other annoyances from the quarry. If you don’t document it, it didn’t happen. These letters will become important if RMC ever revives its quarry expansion plans.

Gray Whale Committee

Do you think it was just a fluke that the Gray Whale Advisory committee started meeting right after we complained that the state Department of Parks and Recreation was stalling on it? Anyway, the citizens advisory committee is now meeting monthly to help the DPR decide how and where to allow public use in closed areas, and assess the impact in areas already opened.

The Frogs’ "Bud"

Thwarted in its efforts to turn its Highway One quarry into an RV park, Graniterock has unintentionally done a good turn for the endangered red-legged frog. When it resumed mining the sand there instead, the company dug ponds to help wash it before shipping. The frogs loved the pond, so the county required Graniterock to set up conservation methods for the besieged amphibian. Now, a series of ponds, fences and the abandoned railroad tunnel under the highway that lets them avoid becoming road kill has the frogs leaping for joy. Let’s lift one to Graniterock.

More Noxious Nights at Felton Quarry?

Granite Construction wants to lift the limits on the number of nights it can run its asphalt operations at its Felton Quarry off Empire Grade (near Smith Grade). As part of its routine 3-year permit review, it wants to drop the 20-night a year restriction. Neighbors say the all-nighters cause smelly petrochemical fumes to waft around their houses. In addition, the county requires trucks going to and from the quarry at night to use Empire Grade, so the increase could sharply increase the nighttime dump truck traffic there. 

The Planning Commission hears the application May 12 at 9 a.m. To oppose it, show up at the county building, or write to Rachel Lather, Planning Dept., 701 Ocean Street, SC 95060.

The Highlander
The Rural Bonny Doon Association Newsletter
102 Sunlit Lane • Bonny Doon, CA 95060

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

We encourage you to participate. Send correspondence to The Highlander 
Editor at the above address. 

RBDA Executive Board

Chair, Highlander Editor: Ted Benhari 426-5053
Vice Chair: David Deamer 426-5601
Vice Chair: Bill Hornaday 421-0167
Corresponding Secretary: Marilyn Hummel 426-3352
Treasurer: Mark Bedford 458-0235
Membership: Fred Bryck 425-5476
Recording Secretary: Val Haley 425-1587 

What do you think? Send us an email.

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