Logging the Santa Cruz Mountains,
Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow
Matt Dias, Registered Professional Forester, Big Creek Lumber
RBDA Board Election
Wednesday January 25, 2012 7:30 p.m.
Bonny Doon School Multipurpose Room
Ice Cream Grade & Pine Flat Road
|Big Creek and Our
Big Creek Lumber Company is a small, family-owned business that has been operating on the Central Coast for the past 65 years. The company was instrumental in developing an alternative to clear-cut logging. Big Creek began practicing selective timber harvesting decades before clear-cutting was outlawed in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Big Creek’s own forestlands are green certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and their forest practices were praised by National Geographic Explorer Mike Fay at the March 10, 2010 General Meeting of the RBDA when he reported on his Redwood Transect.
Please join us at our January 25 meeting when Big Creek Registered Professional Forester, Matt Dias, will talk about historical logging, some of the history of the company and their perspective on local timber harvesting. If you are interested in the latest thinking on the forests of Bonny Doon, please join us for what promises to be a thought provoking evening.
CEMEX Land Purchase and Preservation Announced
An early holiday present for Bonny Dooners and all of the Central Coast arrived on December 10 in the form of the announcement by the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County that a purchase agreement was made that would ensure the long-term protection and preservation of the vast 8,500 acre CEMEX property. This is indeed terrific news for us locals and is a major step forward in the Land Trust’s “Living Landscape Initiative,” which is a collaborative effort among five land conservation organizations around the Bay Area and Central Coast. This blueprint for natural preservation and stewardship was presented at the September 2011 RBDA General Meeting by Land Trust executives and can be reviewed on the Land Trust website. This collaborative is what has allowed the collective shared mission of Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST), Save the Redwoods, Sempervirens, and the Santa Cruz Land Trust to be leveraged into being able to raise the funds for this purchase.
The CEMEX property adjoins Bonny Doon in many areas and connects Empire Grade and portions of Bonny Doon Road all the way to Davenport. It contains major watersheds, has areas of old growth redwoods, and has a system of roads that has been used for the quarries, cement operations, and logging. Through a succession of owners it has been a major West Coast cement supplier. During this time, much of the forest has been logged, but never clear-cut. For several years, the forests have been managed and sustainably harvested by Big Creek Lumber.
The $30 million purchase takes advantage of the current economic climate which has made the commercial use of both the cement operations and the open and forested land less viable. This purchase eliminates the possibility of subdivision into private rural trophy homes. The small area in Davenport that includes the actual cement factory and its area of operation are not included in this sale. Most of the money is coming from foundations and land trusts from Silicon Valley, recognizing the need for extensive continuous natural corridors throughout the Bay Area for watershed and wildlife diversity protection. Our local Land Trust of Santa Cruz is raising public funds to complete its committed contribution. Every individual $250 contribution is leveraged to protect 1 acre!
The plan is for the land to be maintained by this Land Trust consortium. This is a new model that is working with great success in South County with the Land Trust’s Byrne-Milliron Forest and the recently acquired Star Creek Ranch. In these times, the older plan to transfer this land as a state park is no longer feasible. The intention is for there to be appropriate broad multi-use public access. The roads and forest are expected to be maintained under a long-term contractual arrangement with Big Creek Lumber. The land is currently being explored, catalogued, and reviewed to bring forth a long-term sustainable management plan and start of legal public access. At this point the land is still off-limits.
Maintaining ownership by the Land Trust (and its partners) allows faster decision making and use decisions that reflect local natural and community needs. The RBDA’s mission of preserving the natural and rural quality of Bonny Doon calls for our involvement with planning. We should have opportunities for multiple access points for walking, hiking, biking, and wilderness rejuvenation all the way from our homes to Davenport, through a very mixed beautiful forest and terrace environment. The forest and watersheds will be protected for future generations.
In the next Highlander we will review the status of the CEMEX land transition in greater detail with a focus on what it means for residents of Bonny Doon and how the RBDA and you can make the most of this opportunity.
Bonny Doon ignored by LAFCO in UCSC Decision
Early last month, the Santa Cruz County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) finally considered the City’s and University’s applications to extend the City’s Sphere of Influence to include the UC proposed North Campus expansion into Bonny Doon and to provide extraterritorial water and sewage service as well.
The City and University successfully framed the debate as providing educational opportunities to more Californians and supporting an improved relationship between the City and the University. Despite the RBDA’s testimony on the serious deleterious impacts on the rural and natural character of Bonny Doon, through increased traffic, student housing in not-quite-boarding houses (see the November/December 2010 Highlander), and destruction of Environmentally Sensitive Habitat, LAFCO commissioners voted 5-2 in favor of 3rd District Supervisor Neal Coonerty’s motion to extend the Sphere of Influence and services to the University’s 240 acre envelope described in UC’s 2005-2020 Long Range Development Plan.
The expansion is to be subject to three conditions: 1) that the City adopt a water neutral policy to balance increased UCSC water usage with decreased usage and increased conservation on the part of other customers; 2) that City Water abide by the Federal Endangered Species Act and accept the National Marine Fisheries Service’s recommendations on reducing draws from North Coast streams and the San Lorenzo River necessitating either augmentation of the City’s water supplies via a desalination plant or a drastic reduction of its water use; and 3) that the City abide by statewide LAFCO policy and annex portions of Crown/Merrill and College 9/10 apartments this year and the 240 acre expansion within two years.
Unfortunately, the LAFCO staff’s proposed condition most directly affecting Bonny Doon, that a planned new road from the Upper Campus to join Empire Grade above Cave Gulch be built before construction starts in that area, was not approved.
The RBDA testified that it is a matter of public safety that the Cave Gulch Road be built to provide access to and emergency egress from this newly developed high-density area of the UCSC campus. When the expansion takes place, there will be significant human presence in a forested area with heavy fuel loads; this coming during a period which climatologists predict will see higher summertime temperatures, lower humidity and decreased rainfall. Roughly 97% of wildfires in the California Coast Ranges start from human activity. The projected climate change will multiply the threat of fire danger in the North Campus and adjacent Bonny Doon. The RBDA requested that the Cave Gulch road be designated for emergency use only, and that the road be gated, consistent with fire access, at both ends. Otherwise, the nearly 50% growth of the UCSC campus into Bonny Doon will grossly increase traffic where the proposed road will intersect just above this narrow, twisty, steep, and dangerous section of Empire Grade.
Anecdotally, we are already seeing increased UCSC traffic as commuters from North County have discovered the shortcut that avoids the traffic bottlenecks through the City by coming through Scotts Valley on Mt. Hermon Road to Felton-Empire Road and thence down Empire Grade to the University. A generally accessible third entrance to campus, combined with the traffic control measures set to be implemented at the Bay Street main campus entrance would surely make that route even more appealing. Constructing similar traffic controls at the Cave Gulch entrance is inconsistent with Bonny Doon’s rural character.
LAFCO staff is slated to return to the commission with a review of the City’s UCSC water neutrality policy and specific language implementing the conditions. With your support, the RBDA will continue to lobby to limit traffic on the new access road, and to better regulate not-quite-boarding houses for students in Bonny Doon. Please renew your membership today!
Coast Dairies Suit Appealed
The Highlander provided you a history of the Coast Dairies property transfer in the September/October 2010 issue. Since then, Coastal Commission staff has been processing an application for a Coastal Development Permit. That process has stalled after staff requested clarification from the Trust for Public Land of current and proposed parcels and boundaries, a necessary part of the process that has been needed for years. The RBDA Board has long felt that a Coastal Development permit was needed, but when the County refused to require one, the Board saw the public’s chance to provide input on future uses of the land slipping away.
Since its founding, the RBDA has always been an advocate of, and voice for, residents’ interests. As much of the Coast Dairies property is in our planning area, the Board voted to join in a legal action seeking to compel the County to require a permit. That action was not successful but Superior Court Judge Timothy Volkmann’s determinations were so deleterious to the public’s interest that the Board voted to support an appeal. That action has now been filed in the Sixth Appellate District and awaits a ruling.
In briefs filed with the Court, the County and Coast Dairies and Land Company claim that our legal action wasn’t “ripe” for adjudication because the transfer hadn’t been attempted. Yet the law says that a proposed action can trigger dispute resolution and TPL long ago made their proposed land division intentions clear by generating conceptual maps of the proposed new parcels, and the federal Bureau of Land Management invested substantial resources in surveying and cataloging the property to inform an update of their Hollister Resource Management Plan.
We hope that the Trust for Public Land’s goal of access will someday be realized and that our members will be on hand during the Coastal Permit process to help inform decisions about where and how that access should happen. Our goal now is to urge Dooners to stay engaged in this long running process which can provide opportunities for ourselves, our children, and their children to enjoy Bonny Doon’s natural beauty including Coast Dairies’ spectacular scenery.
It’s That Time of Year Again!
This is the annual plea to all of our loyal supporters, and to those of you that support us “in principle,” that it’s time to renew your membership or to make a commitment that you may have considered, but just haven’t got around to as yet.
Two years ago the membership ap- proved a change in the way we managed the membership in order to simplify the task of tracking current members so we now have all memberships expire at the end of January, so now it’s time to act.
At present, the organization is on a solid financial footing thanks to the generous outpouring of community support, but the fact is that a large proportion of our support is coming from a precious few members of the community who donate far above the baseline amount of the dues we request.
The RBDA annual budget is almost entirely committed to publishing the High- lander, which goes out to every resident in Bonny Doon whether they own or rent, pay dues or not. We believe this newsletter alone is worthy of the dues we request, but, in addition, we also sponsor community meetings that offer a forum for issues of interest to the community at large, and again, these are open to anyone interested in attending.
The bottom line is that the recurring expenses of publishing the Highlander, and sponsoring the community meetings (room rental and insurance), is not actually sustained by the current membership base, and we need your support to keep us on an even keel.
So here is the familiar refrain: For over 50 years the RBDA has fought to keep Bonny Doon rural and natural. We have fought to restrain nuclear power plants and toxic goat farms on the coast, strip malls at the airport, to limit quarry and cement plant expansion, to support logging regulations, and to restrain event centers and other commercial ventures that were not in keeping with the rural nature of our community. We have worked hard to ensure that you get your mail, that our roads are repaired, and to support fire safety for our community, and we fostered the Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve and many other community enhancing opportunities. For 50 years groups of hard-working volunteers have kept our neighborhoods beautiful and our environment clean. But we can’t continue to do it without your support.
The board took note again at the last General Meeting that approximately half of the folks who attended were not dues paying members. If you like our meetings, if you like this newsletter, and most of all, if you like what the RBDA has done to maintain the environment and the community of Bonny Doon that you love, then please help out in any way possible. If you are a member, please send a donation or talk a neighbor into joining. If you aren’t a member, please consider joining. Twenty dollars isn’t a lot to pay to keep your corner of the world rural and natural.
Unless you joined for multiple years, all memberships expire on January 31, 2012. Please renew today!
Keeping Bonny Doon Rural and Natural
The mission of the RBDA is To Keep Bonny Doon Rural and Natural. Every discussion with a neighbor brings a new perspective, so we must reconsider what that mission means and every issue that the RBDA faces challenges us to re-examine how best to advance it.
Nature is governed by forces far greater than anything that humans can conceive, acting over time scales beyond our comprehension. Our pioneer ancestors showed that we can transform our environment in a single lifetime, but in the long run, nature will resume its majestic course. It may be generations before balance is restored, or the restoration may be catastrophically quick. To keep Bonny Doon natural, we must have the humility to accept our small part in the grandeur around us, and realize that we have a responsibility to live in harmony with the land.
Without people, Bonny Doon would certainly be natural, as it was before humans arrived just a few millennia ago, but it would not be rural. What makes Bonny Doon rural is the community sparsely settled here. Few services are provided us and nearly every winter we are physically cut off. To live here requires self-reliance. To keep Bonny Doon rural, we must truly be a community, in the most ancient sense of sharing the gift that nature provides us by allowing us to live here.
To keep Bonny Doon rural and natural we must wisely balance the needs of our environment and our community when they appear to conflict, for we are part of nature and nature defines our community.
RBDA Board Elections
Elections for the RBDA Executive Board will take place at the Annual Meeting January 25. The terms of three board officers expire in January, those of board members Pat Morrison, Joe Christy and Lad Wallace.
At the Nov. 9 meeting Joe and Lad were nominated. The Board may appoint someone to fill out the third seat until the Annual Meeting next January.
If you are committed to the RBDA mission of keeping Bonny Doon rural and natural, and are interested in serving on the board, please call a current board member or email the board by clicking this link.
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.
Please support the RBDA!
Dues payments count for a full year from date received.
Dues mostly go for printing and mailing The Highlander,
your voice for keeping Bonny Doon rural and natural.
Click here for details!
Those who make additional contributions qualify as:
CONTRIBUTORS ($ 25+ dues)
SUSTAINERS ($50+ dues), or
PATRONS ($ 100+ dues)
Back to the RBDA
To the Highlander index