Jeannine DeWald, Biologist,
Dept. of Fish & Game
Plus: Bylaws Committee Report
Wednesday, Nov. 14, 7:30 p.m.
Multi-Purpose Room, Bonny Doon School
|Boar Wars: Are We Smarter Than Pigs?
While we are worrying about the wild pigs making a mess of our landscaping and forests, complaining and pointing fingers and puzzling about how to deal with them, the pigs are out eating and multiplying. Every year it seems that there are more feral pigs, foraging over wider stretches of Bonny Doon and the North Coast. Nearly everyone agrees that the problem is growing, but there agreement ends.
The State Parks people think the problem is that large private land owners don't do enough to eliminate the pigs, where they claim 90% of the pigs live. Bonny Doon and the North Coast have large tracts of land, those owned by the McCrarys (the Big Creek Lumber family) around Swanton, and the Bonny Doon properties of RMC Pacific Materials (formerly Lone Star Cement), which comprise about half the land in our community, and the huge swath of Coast Dairies. Some of them are diligent about controlling their pig population (the McCrarys discussed their efforts at an RBDA meeting on the subject a few years ago), while others are not.
Others think the large State Parks (Fall Creek, Wilder) are also a big part of the problem, despite their recent eradication efforts. More than 200 pigs have been trapped and killed in Wilder in the last 6 months. That's a lot of pigs. But Parks personnel admit that one sow is capable of generating 200 offspring (and grand-offspring) in just 2 years.
The hunting rules set by the state Fish & Game Dept., despite some easing a couple of years ago, still make it hard to seriously attack the problem. Fish & Game has the option to declare an area a "Pig Eradication Zone," which would make it easier to eliminate pigs, and also ban people from introducing pigs on their land. (Wild or "feral" pigs are mostly domestic pigs who have lost their civilized ways.) But despite some pressure from area residents and Supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt, who has held meetings on the problem to try to advance a solution, Fish & Game has so far declined to act. At the Nov. 14 RBDA meeting, Fish & Game Associate Wild Life Biologist (and Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve Manager) Jeannine DeWald, Resource Ecologist Chris Spohrer of State Parks, and Jim Riveland, a professional pig hunter of many years’ experience, will discuss the causes and possible solutions to the boar menace. Expect a lively discussion, but no one will be allowed to hog the floor.
Proposed Bylaws Changes to be Presented at Nov. 14 Meeting
Especially during the past year, it has become apparent that our RBDA bylaws needed some revision to clear up ambiguities and inconsistencies and to improve the effectiveness of our organization. A Bylaws Committee was appointed in June to study the bylaws and make recommendations for improvements. The committee includes several past RBDA chairpersons and board members, and people with parliamentary experience. Its members are Frank Wylie (chairman), Lisa Akeson, Don Coyne, David Gelphman, Russ Mackey, Pat Pfremmer and Morgan Rankin.
The committee has now completed its study, taking input from members
and RBDA board officers, and unanimously recommended changes. They will
be available at the Nov. 14 RBDA meeting, where they will be discussed.
They will also be on our website and in the January Highlander. At the
January annual meeting they will be brought up for a vote of the membership.
A two-thirds vote at that meeting is necessary for approval. The bylaws
can only be amended at an annual meeting or at a special meeting called
for that purpose.
Official Help for Two Local Creeks
You may not give much thought to where rainwater goes once it runs off your roof, but City, County and State officials do.
After replenishing local forests and aquifers most rain that falls on Bonny Doon finds its way into San Vicente, Laguna or Majors creeks. On October 26, the Regional Water Quality Control Board voted to ask the state to list Majors Creek as impaired. City of Santa Cruz Water Dept. staff asked for the listing saying, "This watershed is experiencing increasingly frequent periods of high turbidity associated with the heavy sedimentation attributed to natural background erosion sources, the large network of unmaintained seasonal roads, logjam related stream bank erosion, feral pig activity and other factors. In addition to the drinking water quality and production challenges posed by these conditions, the channel itself (especially the east branch) is choked with sediment, thereby limiting habitat functions."
When implemented, the listing will require particular care when timber is harvested in the watershed and State Parks will be encouraged to give greater attention to abandoned roads left by logging activities on Gray Whale Ranch.
Over on Laguna Creek, stream flow levels have long been an issue because the City has a right to take all the water in the creek at its diversion dam. But downstream sources add new water and this flow became a new issue when Santa Cruz Biotechnology, Inc. began using large amounts of Laguna Creek water in an unsustainable effort to grow forage around their feedlot. Specifically, water was being taken both from a surface diversion and from a well located adjacent to the creek.
Seeking to maintain stream flow levels, Fish & Game Dept. personnel filed a complaint about the water consumption. The State Water Resources Board launched an investigation and determined that the well was drawing from the underflow of the creek and so SCBI was taking more water than they were entitled to. The Board required that water withdrawn from both sources combined be limited to the amount specified in their diversion right and a flow of 2.5 cfs (cubic feet per second) remain in the creek.
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Sudden Oak Death Syndrome Fungus Threatens Area Ecosystems
Dr. Keyt Fischer gave an effective and disturbing slide show at our Sept. 26th general meeting. She presented information on the fungus Phytophthora ramorum, the cause of Sudden Oak Death Syndrome. Where it came from, how it spreads and how it can be contained remain uncertain. It quickly kills certain trees and, even more insidiously, lingers in other plant species that spread the disease while barely showing symptoms themselves. The pathogen has been found to infect 15 other trees and shrubs common to our area such as madrone, manzanita, rhododendron, huckleberry, bay laurel, big leaf maple, toyon, viburnum, honeysuckle, buckeye and eucalyptus. Trees infected with Sudden Oak Death are characterized by wilted, faded brown foliage. Older leaves become pale green and within weeks turn brown. On close inspection, some varieties exude dark brown sap on the lower trunks. The dead oak trees pose a severe fire risk, especially in dense forests.
The consequences for the ecosystems in the Bonny Doon area are tremendous because these trees and bushes feed and shelter a wide range of animals. We've all seen squirrels and jays tirelessly caching acorns. Some of the millions they "plant" will sprout and of those a few will survive to maturity and produce more acorns. But how will the forest replenish itself if trees die off and produce no more acorns? Many birds, bugs and animals that depend on acorns, berries and blossoms will suffer and some will become locally extinct. Consider chipmunks, rabbits, and wood rats; quail, pigeons and woodpeckers. In turn the bobcats, foxes, coyotes and raptors that prey on them will suffer too. Pigs and deer will find your garden and orchard even more attractive as natural food sources decline.
150 years ago, relatives in the same fungal family were responsible for the Irish potato famine. Another relative has caused widespread damage and local extinctions in Australia over the past 30 years.
In California the dimensions of the problem are actively being researched and documented but is difficult to detect an infestation in many susceptible species. There is no treatment or cure for infected trees. Though difficult to implement in a rural lifestyle, residents can try to slow the spread of the disease by following Dr. Fischer's recommendations, which are echoed in a State Parks flyer:
"Do not collect and transport plant material from tan oak, coast live oak, Shreve's oak, black oak, California huckleberry, California bay, Pacific madrones and rhododendrons. Do not transport soil or firewood. Avoid driving or parking vehicles in areas where they may become contaminated with soil or mud. Avoid areas of damp soil or mud when hiking, biking or horseback riding in areas that have the disease. Before returning to an area that is free of the disease, do the best you can to remove or wash off accumulations of soil and mud from shoes, mountain bikes, pets’ feet, vehicles, etc."The website has color pictures to help you recognize symptoms of the disease. If your property includes a significant number of coastal live oaks you are urged to learn about conservation and restoration practices, especially if you have noticed a decline. General information on SOD is available at www.suddenoakdeath.org.
Maintaining Your Road Frontage
Tom Bolich, the County's Director of Public Works, has announced an ongoing voluntary roadside vegetation control program. This program allows property owners or tenants of land adjacent to County-maintained roads the opportunity to request that the County not use herbicides or mechanical mowing to control roadside vegetation adjacent to their property. In return, those residents who participate in this program agree to control roadside vegetation themselves in accordance with the department's maintenance standards. According to permit engineer Russ Albrecht, that means keeping brush cut back 5 or 6 feet from the roadway. Mark the area you want the crews to leave uncut and unsprayed with stakes, then call Russ at 454-2160 to get an "encroachment permit." The permit is free. Your address will be given to road maintenance crews who will watch for the stakes marking your property and avoid mowing and spraying there.
Now is the time to check drainage ditches and driveway culverts and remove slash and debris the crews might have left when they mowed earlier this summer. Residents along private roads can avoid erosion damage by checking that drainages are not clogged by dead wood and cave-ins. If you have any concerns about dangerous road conditions, please contact our RBDA Roads Committee at email@example.com.
Interested in Serving on the RBDA Board?
Election of officers to the RBDA Executive Board take place at the RBDA annual meeting each January. This year there are three officers’ terms up for election: Miriam Beames, Marty Demare and Frank Wylie. If you want to run for the board, we strongly urge you to contact one of our board members (see list and email contact information below). They will put you in touch with our nominating committee, which will be appointed shortly.
We plan to run introductory statements by all candidates in the Highlander, to give our members time to get to know something about who they will be voting for.
Update your email address
As email has become an increasingly important part of our communication, we want to keep our list of RBDA members’ email addresses current. The list is used to inform members about important, timely events. For example, Deputy Sheriff Stefan Fish recently asked us to post a description of an active burglar and his vehicle.
The RBDA email list is perhaps the only way to spread information quickly around Bonny Doon. Becoming an RBDA member entitles you to have your address on this list.
If your address changes between membership renewals, please contact our membership coordinator, Ben Harmon, at firstname.lastname@example.org to update it.
And this just in!
The county landfill at Dimeo Lane is now accepting household hazardous wastes on Saturdays.
Bonny Doon's voice in preserving our special quality of life, The Highlander,
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The Bonny Doon Planning District
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.
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