No need to meet in the heat!
|Coast Dairies: New Property Owners Moving Into Bonny
As the time nears when the Trust for Public Land intends to transfer the Coast Dairies property to State Parks and the Bureau of Land Management, the plan describing its future management has finally been released.
With the expected transfer of the coastal portion of the property to State Parks, locals knew what to expect after years of Parks’ management of other North Coast beaches and farms. But the Coast Dairies Citizens Advisory Group (CAG) members didn’t know what to expect from the implementation of the BLM’s "multiple use" management philosophy as it debuts in Santa Cruz County. Many CAG members were concerned whether uses of the property would not be restricted to activities consistent with the conservation oriented goals of the Save-the-Redwoods League, which acquired the purchase option on the property from developer Brian Sweeney.
The answers to these concerns lie in the Coast Dairies Long-Term Resource Protection and Access Plan that was released June 26. (available as a PDF on line at www.tpl.org, and at the downtown Santa Cruz library and the Davenport Resource Service Center). The Plan is an extremely thorough and well-produced document examining every aspect of the Coast Dairies project. It incorporates much of the information developed by TPL consultants over the past four years and decrees that the entire property be designated an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.
Both short-term and long-term planning and utilization of the property will be severely hampered by budget constraints. On the Coast Dairies property, resource extraction will not be a response to inadequate funding and staffing. Income from user fees or agricultural and grazing leases is minuscule compared to the costs of creating a property-wide management plan and developing visitor-serving facilities. This means that uses of the property will remain much the same as they are now for many years to come. Of more immediate concern is the ability of the government agencies to stretch their resources enough to manage the existing uses of the property and avoid degradation by trespassers. Local fire and rescue teams can expect scant help from the agencies when dealing with expanded public visitation.
In recent years, government land management agencies have leveraged their limited resources by encouraging the participation of user groups such as horseriders, ORV riders and mountain bikers to help create, manage and maintain trails and facilities that serve their interests, and all have had a role in development and maintenance on local public lands. Biking clubs like Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz and Responsible Organized Mountain Pedalers (ROMP) actively promote expansion of trail systems on public properties in our area, and also help with maintenance. Equestrian organizations also seek to increase access. These collaborations expand access opportunities but also open areas to abuse by non-cooperating users that cannot be regulated. Characteristically less organized are those who just seek a trail to walk in solitude and silence.
The BLM seeks to manage properties in a manner consistent with local priorities. In some areas of the country, resource extraction is the foundation of local economies and prevailing attitudes about jobs or profits can lead to management decisions that disregard environmental concerns. This has given the BLM a bad reputation among environmentalists especially with the current administration’s interest in expanding oil and gas exploration.
With the Coast Dairy property, the conservation oriented values of the Save-the-Redwoods League underlie the transfer of the property to the BLM. Beyond that, BLM’s Robert Beehler, Field Office Manager at the Hollister Office, told the March 8 CAG meeting that BLM would seek to manage the property in a way that served the desires of the community as expressed by the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors. To that end a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is being drafted to formalize the conditions that were outlined in a March 4 letter from TPL’s Reed Holderman. Supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt will bring the MOU to the Board of Supervisors for adoption.
Still, some remain apprehensive that deed restrictions or MOU terms will not be honored, given that the current administration has been willing to ignore or abrogate international treaties and obligations and federal agencies can be directed by orders from the chief executive. Save-the-Redwood League’s Katherine Anderton, who represents them on the Coast Dairies Steering Committee, wrote Metro Santa Cruz to reassure locals that deed restrictions would provide protection of natural resources. But attorney Anderton’s assurances were small comfort to nature lovers lacking the wherewithal to sue the U.S. government and reminiscent of the cliché "you can’t litigate stumps." The goals contained in the plan must be accepted by officials back in Washington. Our local Congresspersons sent a letter to the BLM’s director (see below) seeking to emphasize local concerns.
The last meeting of the Citizen’s Advisory Group will be held, Thursday, July 31, at 7:30 p.m. at the Santa Cruz School District office at 2931 Mission St., Santa Cruz. The purpose of this meeting is for you to discuss your comments regarding the draft management plan with State Parks, BLM, and TPL.
Congressmembers Support Coast Dairies Deed Restrictions
Below is a letter sent by the two Congressmembers representing Santa Cruz County, Sam Farr and Anna Eshoo:
Congress of the United States
Also see the map at the bottom of this page
New Information Coming Down the Pipeline
We’ve been trying to keep you informed about the City of Santa Cruz plan to repair/reroute the water pipeline that carries water from Bonny Doon streams and springs down to the City. There hasn’t been much visible movement on the plan this last month, except that Bill Kocher, head of the city’s Water Department has complied with the wishes expressed at a previous meeting with reps from many interested groups, including property owners, RBDA, Friends of the North Coast (FONC) and others.
He’s made available a set of really super maps and tables showing the various pipelines, both existing and proposed alternatives, along with the property lines and owner IDs for the pertinent routes. Pursuant to the requests at that meeting, a complete set is available for every property owner: just contact the City Water Department and arrange to pick them up; the owner will be required to sign a nondisclosure statement because of the official source of the maps. If you are not an owner (or don’t know if you are on the route), ask to see the maps from any of the above-mentioned groups, and in particular from the RBDA. Marty Demare, Don Coyne and a few other RBDA members have copies.
The City has said that the aging pipelines must be replaced, and that environmental impact and dollar-cost considerations dictate that they be moved from their present routes, at least in part. We would like to see the numbers that led to this conclusion, particularly because some of the property owners know that there are serious environmental concerns about the new routes. What are the tradeoffs, and what part will the RBDA and the locals have in the final decisions? We’ll try to keep you up to speed.
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