September/October 2018 issue
Preparing for Wildfire
During the Height of Fire Season
Joe Christy, President, Bonny Doon Fire Safe Council
Wednesday September 12th 7:30 p.m.
Bonny Doon School Multipurpose Room,
Pine Flat Road & Ice Cream Grade
Preparing for Wildfire During the Height of Fire Season
In 2010, Joe Christy, a former chairman of the RBDA, was lucky enough join a truly extraordinary group of Bonny Doon residents in forming the Bonny Doon Fire Safe Council, whose mission is to “educate and mobilize people of Bonny Doon to protect our community, homes and environment from wildfire.” He has served as President since that time, writing a monthly column in the Battle Mountain News on wildfire preparedness. The Bonny Doon Fire Safe Council has secured over $500,000 in grant funding and a somewhat greater amount in in-kind contributions from community members in order to carry out a variety of projects on the landscape and neighborhood scale. In addition, with the generous financial support of our community, the Council works with individual homeowners to make their properties fire safe. He has been trained by the National Fire Prevention Association on Assessing Wildfire Risk in the Home Ignition Zone and currently serves as Vice President of Fire Safe Santa Cruz County.
Please join us at the RBDA Public meeting for a presentation and discussion led by Joe Christy on September 12 about how to prepare and respond to wildfire.
Draft Environmental Impact Report for North Coast Rail Trail Released
like an express train behind schedule, the Santa Cruz
Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) issued the
Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the North
Coast section of the planned Rail Trail.
Faced with a December 2020 deadline to begin construction if they don’t want to lose millions of dollars in funding from the State and the Santa Cruz County Land Trust, the RTC seems to be risking the project flying off the rails by taking the unusual path of preparing a DEIR for a project whose exact location is still unknown.
As we reported last year, the RTC committed the error of assuming that the present track from Wilder Ranch State Park to Davenport was within the proper right-of-way, and planned the path to follow it. But when its surveyors went out they discovered that is not the case. Apparently, over the many years that trains have plied that route, the tracks have followed at least three different paths. That means that the RTC has to negotiate new rights-of-way, and that the DEIR has not studied at least some of the actual areas on which the Rail Trail will be built.
Securing the new rights-of-way is not necessarily a given. Most of the Rail Trail goes through land owned by State Parks and private individuals, most of whom are farmers. Much of the land is leased by the State to other farmers, who have a say in the matter. And right now the farmers are not happy, because the proposed path cuts them off from some of their fields and equipment yards, and makes their operations more difficult and expensive. They also are not delighted that a lot of people will be tramping or cycling through their farms.
The farmers submitted their own idea for where the trail should go, with the southern half, below Davenport, located much closer to Highway One. The RTC studied that route in a cursory way in the DEIR, and rejected it as environmentally inferior to their preferred path along the rail bed. Don’t be surprised if the farmers take the matter to court, which would virtually guarantee that construction won’t start before the December 2020 deadline to not forfeit the State and Land Trust funding.
Opposition to the RTC’s plan is also coming from Santa Cruz Greenway, which is fighting for a trail that excludes trains. While a train on the southern portion of the trail, between Watsonville and Santa Cruz, may make sense despite serious problems including high cost, low ridership, the so-called “last mile” of a commute, parking lot and station construction, the serious physical challenges of fitting a bicycle/pedestrian path and a train track in several areas of the route, the impact of a train on bikers and walkers, and determined neighborhood opposition. However, the economics of repairing and then maintaining tracks between Santa Cruz and Davenport for the occasional tourist train seem prohibitive.
The DEIR studied in detail the RTC’s preferred option of rail plus trail, and the alternative of trail-only. They concluded that removing the rail would be more of an environmentally impactful option than keeping it, despite the fact that the present tracks and ties are much deteriorated and need to be largely replaced and new ties and track periodically installed. An additional problem is that weed killers would be constantly applied to keep vegetation off the tracks.
The RTC’s bias for keeping the rail is evident in their claim that removing the tracks will delay the beginning of the trail’s construction by eight years, in order to obtain the proper permits. At the meeting in late August to present the DEIR and take public comment, the RTC staff admitted the eight-year estimate was little more than a guess. We think it’s very possible that permits can be obtained much more quickly, and that the RTC is putting out that claim as a scare tactic to support its preference for keeping the tracks, which they say is a historic resource.
In addition, keeping the tracks requires that a fence be built to separate it from the bike/pedestrian path. This adds expense and impacts the experience of using the trail. Even if it takes a longer time to complete the trail, we feel that the criteria should not be building it in the shortest time, but making it the best possible experience for the people who will use it for years to come.
EIR can be found at sccrtc.org/projects/multi-modal/monterey-bay-sanctuary-scenic-trail/north-coast-rail-trail/.
All Public comments on the DEIR must be received prior
to 5 p.m. on September 24, 2018. Send written comments
to Cory Caletti, Senior Transportation Planner, at
1523 Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz, California 95060, or
County Reviewing Land Trust’s Pubic Access Plan for San Vicente Redwoods
May and July 2018 editions of The Highlander, we
reported on the newly released Public Access Plan for
San Vicente Redwoods, developed by the Land Trust of
Santa Cruz County (LTSCC). The public access plan
employs an adaptive management approach, where access
to the property will occur in three phases, and
advancement from phase to phase is reliant on
successful management using multiple well-defined
metrics including keeping parking from spilling out
onto Empire Grade and securing necessary funding to
manage, patrol and maintain the property. The LTSCC
planning document is available at landtrustsantacruz.org/svr_publicaccessplan_publicreview-/.
These plans are presently under review at County Planning, and while this process is active, there will be no public meetings. Bryan Largay, Conservation Director at the LTSCC, informed the RBDA that there is no current time line for milestones, including public meetings held by the County, but meetings are expected in the future. Largay encourages people to join their e-mail list to receive updates. Just let the LTSCC know you are interested by sending an email to Access@LandTrustSantaCruz.org.
Construction of trails is anticipated to begin in the spring of 2019, opening Phase I access by the end of 2019. The RBDA Executive Board is still interested in hearing from you about this issue. Do you have any concerns about the LTSCC’s management plan for SVR? What do residents consider an unacceptable impact to their neighborhood? Please share your opinions by contacting any of the Board members, or e-mail us at email@example.com.
an invited contribution by Ryan Coonerty, our Third
District Supervisor. The opinions stated below are
not necessarily those of the RBDA Executive Board.
However, the RBDA is very interested in receiving
feedback about these issues. Please share your
opinions with us by contacting any of the Board
members (see here for
our phone numbers), or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
North Coast Rail Trail
Downtown Streets Team Cleanups on the North Coast
Do You Have a Plan for Pet Evacuation in a Wildfire Emergency?
Small Animal Evacuation
• Keep your pet’s vaccinations current and always keep a collar and tags on your pets.
• Microchip your pets.
• Keep your supplies in a safe, easily accessible location.
• Include your pets in your evacuation drills so they are relaxed about travel and confinement.
• Submit your pet’s information to SPCA’s free Guardian Angel program.
• Check SPCAmc.org for disaster training classes.
• When you receive warning of a pending disaster or evacuation, ensure your pets are wearing collars and tags, bring them inside so you can locate them quickly, and locate your preparedness supplies.
• Bring your animals with you when evacuating. If your animals are in danger, contact the SPCA.
• Locate a current pet friendly hotels and motels listing from the SPCA or contact friends and family about taking you and your pets in.
• Examine your property to ensure fencing is intact and remove dangerous debris.
• Watch for your pet’s personality changes or changes in behavior.• Consult your veterinarian or the SPCA if any behavior problems persist.
Horses and Livestock
• Permanent forms of identification such as microchipping is recommended; make sure to register.
• Other good forms of ID: an tag attached to the horse’s halter or a plastic neck- band engraved or marked with information including owners name(s), address, phone number,backup contact’s name, address, and phone number.
• Temporary identification is encouraged during an evacuation such as a leg band, or spray painting your name and phone number on the horse.
• Keep photographs and medical records accessible. Photographs should be accompanied by detailed descriptions for each horse you own including breed, color, size, markings, scars, and other significant features. Keep copies in a sealed waterproof bag in a safe place. Send a copy to a friend or family member, or keep a copy in digital form on a cloud server for access from a mobile device.
• On each halter attach a luggage tag with the following: the horse’s name, your name, e-mail address, telephone number, and an emergency contact’s telephone number.
• If you have your own horse trailer, keep it road ready by checking the tires, floors and hitch frequently. Make sure your truck is in good working order and that the gas tank is at least half full.
• If you don’t have a horse trailer, make arrangements to have your horse trailered in an emergency. If you can, have several reliable people lined up to help.
• It is vital that your horses are comfortable being loaded into and unloaded from a trailer. If your horses have not been trained to load and unload, train or have them trained and practice the procedure.
• Identify at least two exit routes and a prearranged destination.
• Make arrangements with another horse owner to stable your horses in a safe zone.
• Contact your local animal control agency or local emergency management authorities for information about shelters in your area.
• During mandatory evacuations, shelter sites for animals will be identified by the Office of Emergency Services.
• Consider different types of disasters and whether your horses would be better off in a barn or loose in a field. Your local humane organization or emergency management agency should be able to provide you with information about your community’s disaster response plans.
• Have at least 72 hours worth of fresh water and hay available. Don’t forget the water buckets.
• Prepare a potable basic first-aid kit for y our horses and keep it easily accessible.
• Prepare an emergency kit that includes water buckets, tarpaulins, leg wraps, knife, scissors and wire cutters (see cal-cares. com/personal-family for emergency kit ideas).
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