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July 8-15, 2009

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Letters to the Editor

Big Creek No Benefactors to Coho

RECENTLY, your paper ran a story titled "Big Fish" (Currents, June 17), about Big Creek Lumber's latest efforts to halt protections for coho salmon. I had thought the piece was going to expose this latest onslaught by our local sawmill. Big Creek, along with the timber industry throughout the state, is set on weakening rules intended to give these fish a slim lifeline to the future. Instead of facts, though, we get a local NMFS scientist, who conducts his research with Big Creek's permission to access Scott Creek coho from their land, praising Big Creek to the heavens.

The amount of misinformation attributed to Sean Hayes and "reps with Big Creek Lumber" boggles the mind: (1) Coho are not just in Scott Creek (at least five streams in Santa Cruz County have had recent coho finds, never mind San Mateo County); (2) only three male coho are known to have returned this year to Scott Creek, not the 30-40 claimed by Hayes, an intolerably low number in its own right; (3) these rules are not just about Big Creek, but about all loggers and all logging in four counties; and (4) Big Creek doesn't self-regulate, they follow the inadequate Forest Practice Rules like everyone else--rules which have been deemed by the agency Hayes works for as insufficient to "provide for the protection and conservation of salmon and steelhead and their freshwater habitats."

A recent study by the Regional Water Board in Santa Rosa concluded that when stream canopy is reduced to 50 percent, water temperatures increase by .5 to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Eighty-five percent canopy retention was the minimum found necessary to keep streams sufficiently cool for sensitive coho. Current rules for some streams in Santa Cruz require only 50 percent canopy and Big Creek thinks that is just fine. The proposed rules would have required a thin, no-harvest buffer adjacent to streams and an additional 70-foot strip with 65 percent canopy. But that means less trees for the mill.

In the official National Marine Fisheries Service letter to the Board of Forestry, dated June 22, 2009, we learn, "Central Coast coho are critically in danger of extinction" and "they are the most imperiled species in the state." The NMFS scientists involved in developing the Coho Recovery Plan, who are intimately familiar with timber operations locally, also say, "Logging practices have been found to be significant factors leading to the degradation, simplification and fragmentation of their habitats. ..." 

Even the Water Board in San Luis Obispo says that more than 70 percent of the stream temperature data they received from our foresters showed warmer temperatures downstream of recent logging operations than upstream.

Perhaps Big Creek should stick to following the Forest Practice Rules and milling logs, rather than claiming they know what is best for fish. And Hayes should stick to his research project and not talk about logging operations he has never seen. And even if Big Creek were deserving of accolades for their logging, they have petitioned and sued NMFS and the State Fish and Game Commission repeatedly to get coho salmon delisted and to lessen habitat protections so they may log more trees. Big Creek may be a Big Fish, but dozens of foresters log in this region and they will all benefit while the fish continue to swim towards extinction.

I am embarrassed for our species. I apologize to the fish (and polar bears, and whales and all the rest) as our own self-interest trumps their right to live.

Jodi Frediani,
Bonny Doon

Worth Our Salt

MR. GEIGER makes some very valid points regarding the University's financial impact on our community, including the need for more and more water ("Desal and Democracy," Bullhorn, July 1). Those problems are very complex and certainly need to be addressed. However, his points about the desalination plant need immediate attention.

An array of solar panels would not only be a clean method of producing fresh water. The DC current from the panels is run through the brine producing oxygen and hydrogen, which is then recombined by burning yielding fresh, clean water. The heat generated from the recombination process could be used for other purposes, for example drying the brine, which then could be marketed, or myriad other uses. Sea salt, a valuable market commodity, is now generated by drying ponds on the San Francisco Bay and other places which interfere with species native to that habitat.

Solar solutions have made tremendous advances, I have solar panels on my roof and the electric portion of my PG&E bill is, on balance, zero for the year. In fact I generate more than I use but PG&E refuses to pay me for it, another issue that needs to be addressed. People need to demand that the political leaders in "progressive" Santa Cruz seek solutions that are compatible with continued existence on earth.

Don Dibble,
Santa Cruz

Talk To Them

AS AN older adult with grown children, I read with interest your article on teens and pornography ("Inside the Pornucopia," Cover Story, May 20). With all the issues surrounding this topic the most important is open, frank communication with your children. These discussions don't begin at 15 or 16 years of age, they begin at 11 or 12 years of age and continue through their high school years. If, as parents, the lines of communication are opened early and are non-judgmental, awkward topics soon become common topics with open communication in both directions. The best place for accurate, honest information is at home.

Wayne Howe,
Santa Rosa


I WORKED with Greg Hall for the past four years and was never aware of his talents as a poet ("Bard Under the Radar," A&E, July 1). What a shame and a loss for me! I wanted to thank you for a beautiful article, as well as state that a more pleasant man couldn't be found. Greg was the person who would take "sick calls" which could be a traumatic experience for the person calling in! Greg was always pleasant, concerned with one's wellness, never short with the caller. We are all saddened by his loss. He will be greatly missed by all.

Lydia Greco, R.N.,

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