News, music, movies & restaurants from the editors of the Silicon Valley's #1 weekly newspaper.
Serving San Jose, Palo Alto, Los Gatos, Campbell, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Fremont & nearby cities.


home | metro santa cruz index | columns | nūz

Nūz: Santa Cruz County News Briefs

The anti-spray campaign gets a theme song; Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary gets serious about Marine Protected Areas.

Sing, Sing a Song

Every protest movement needs a theme song, and the growing campaign to stop state agriculture officials from aerially spraying pheromones in nine Bay Area counties is no exception. Being that the anti-spraying campaign has been up and running since August, it's quite a surprise that Ray Newkirk, owner of the Pacific Biofuel station on Ocean Street, was the first to come up with a no-spray ballad.

Well, better late than never, and this song is definitely worth the wait. Provocatively titled "Spray CDFA," Newkirk's song features rousing lyrics such as, "Untested, unwarranted, unwanted by all/ Get pissed on and witness democracy's fall." Wow, Ray. Why don't you just tell us what you really think?

After offering his own suggestion on solving the light brown apple moth infestation, which involves releasing "sterile bureaucrats until they've all fled," Newkirk kicks it up a notch and gets into some heavy political satire. The third verse evokes Orwellian imagery with the lyrics, "The end of America drops from the sky/ Death sprayed in your back yard by jack-booted guys/ They'll kill pets and children; they don't hear your cries/ They couldn't care less if we live or we die."

The song has obvious comedic overtones, but the issue is serious for Newkirk and his compatriots at the California Alliance to Stop the Spray (CASS). Newkirk sees his participation in this movement as a logical furtherance of his work in the alternative energy and organic farming sectors.

"I've been fighting to clean up our air for the last eight years, and now they're going to dump toxins on it," complains Newkirk, who celebrated his biodiesel station's fifth anniversary last week. "I've been eating organic foods since about 1975, when it cost nearly three times as much as conventional products. Health is important and the health of our planet is important. CDFA, USDA and EPA don't seem to actually realize this."

Newkirk's song will be popping the electronic cherry of Metro Santa Cruz's brand spanking new blog. Check it out for yourself at

Federal MPAs on Tap

Fishermen are well known for being a patient bunch, but the six-year on-again, off-again process of delineating Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Monterey Bay's federal waters has tested the fortitude of even this usually unflappable group. Ocean conservationists were likewise tapping their toes impatiently as they engaged in drawn-out negotiations with fishing groups and other ocean-dependent economic interests, often with months-long gaps between developments. Finally, on Friday, Feb. 15, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) Superintendent Paul Michel decided it was time to stop beating around the bush.

In a five-page letter to the MBNMS Advisory Council and members of the MPA working group, Michel sank any doubts and made clear the sanctuary's plan to create a network of marine reserves that will protect fisheries in federal waters, or those beyond three miles offshore (state MPAs, enacted last September, protect areas within the three-mile boundary).

There will still be plenty of time for thumb-twiddling, as the federal MPAs won't actually be established until much later in the year. Michel says he wants to make sure he moves forward in a way that doesn't screw fishermen, incorporates as much community support as possible and allows for completion of a federally mandated environmental analysis (Nūz is guessing the environmental impact will be favorable).

Fueling Michel's decision were more than 12,000 public comments, the mandate handed to him in the 1972 National Marine Sanctuaries Act, a desire to foster research on human impacts on ecosystems using the MPAs as a sort of control group and the success of other protected ecosystems, such as the state's 5-year-old Channel Island MPA network.

Sanctuary staff and pro-MPA stakeholders should be happy to hear this news, which promises to usher in the first of what is planned to be a nationwide system of marine reserves designed to let stressed fishing stocks rebound. Proponents say even fishermen stand to benefit from this decision in the long term.

Monitoring studies of the Channel Island MPA network over the past five years has shown increasing numbers of fatter fish and lobsters, which are laying exponentially more eggs. In the long run, this will purportedly benefit fishing fleets because the bigger fish and crustaceans will eventually make their way outside the protected areas once the population becomes sufficiently plentiful.

Nevertheless, hashing out the details of the Monterey Bay MPA network is sure to be a somewhat messy political process. At least now the course has been set.

Nūz just loves juicy tips about Santa Cruz County politics.

Send a letter to the editor about this story.