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Nūz: Santa Cruz County News Briefs

CDFA welcomes wary Monterey Bay LBAM activists to its next confab, and Day on the Beach enters its 16th year of helping disabled folk enjoy the waves.

Moth Madness Continues

Befuddled wouldn't begin to describe the reaction LBAM spraying opponents have had to the change of tone from state and federal agriculture officials charged with fighting the pest from down under. Not only was the aerial pheromone-spraying program thrown out the window last month, but now the sworn enemies of the LBAM eradication program are being welcomed with open arms to a state-sponsored research conference July 22-24 in Foster City that could help determine the next chapter of the LBAM saga.

Not all opponents agree on how to read the sudden shift in mood. Monterey environmental activist David Dilworth, who won a lawsuit in May forcing CDFA to conduct an environmental study before aerial spraying, worries that the ag officials fresh from doing battle with him in court are insincere in their sudden desire to hear more about his ideas. At next week's conference, Dilworth will advocate tracking the moth to major population clusters and surrounding those areas with traps. He holds a pessimistic view of what the reaction will be from state and federal officials in the room.

"It's my speculation that they're letting me make this presentation so they can shoot at it, like all other alternatives, and then go on their merry way," says Dilworth. "I feel like they've just been forced to make a token acknowledgment that there are other alternatives. I don't think they want to, but I think they're sort of forced into it."

Some critics of the LBAM eradication program are more optimistic. Jeff Rosendale, who owns Rosendale Nursery in Watsonville and co-authored a report advocating for control rather than eradication of the pest, believes the new attitude is authentic.

"I have to say my interactions with CDFA recently have been pretty cordial," says Rosendale, who will be presenting his findings from New Zealand at the conference. "I don't know if I'd say the tide has turned, but there's definitely some sort of shifting of gears happening here. It is interesting that there are speakers coming in from New Zealand and Australia that will be talking about natural controls and the use of natural predators."

Dave Cavanaugh, who has taken the lead on LBAM issues for the Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau, is similarly relieved state and federal ag officials seem to finally be listening to his suggestions.

"This is a step in the right direction," says Cavanaugh. "There is a lot of [scientific] information out there that needs to be weighed and agriculture officials with the state and federal government haven't done this so far."

The official sponsors of the conference are, however, downplaying the significance of this new alliance. Ted Batkin is the chairman of the agricultural consortium California Invasive Pest Coalition, which is co-sponsoring the event with CDFA and USDA. He says the eradication goal is being held fast, with the release of sterile insects now replacing the spraying of pheromones. He suggests not reading too much into the conference.

"This is not a conference about policy. That has already been set," says Batkin. "This is just an attempt to fill in the gaps in research and eliminate the hearsay about the science of this pest. It's an attempt to find answers to questions everyone is now simply guessing at."

This may be true, but Nu_z has an inkling that the conference could usher in some kiss and make up moments that would make for a perfect Hollywood ending to this nasty controversy.

Accessible Thrills

Plenty of locals hit the beach so often that they take the natural wonder of our shores for granted. Disabled residents, who cannot as easily bask in the California sun, are not so fortunate. With its 16th annual Day on the Beach, local nonprofit Shared Adventures will help them hit the waves that tourists, transplants and locals enjoy all summer long. On Saturday, July 19, at Cowell's Beach, volunteers will lay down over 170 pieces of plywood on the sand to offer disabled individuals access to a day's worth of coastal revelry, including water sports such as kayaking, outrigger canoeing and SCUBA diving.

Day on the Beach is the brainchild of Shared Adventures founder Foster Anderson, a quadriplegic survivor of a spinal cord injury from a 1978 motorcycle accident. Anderson explains that the concept of Shared Adventures arose from a yearly celebration he initially held in upstate New York to commemorate the day of his accident. "Every year around the anniversary of my accident, I celebrate it with friends and musicians who share the same friendship with me," he says. "I started it up in upstate New York, and by the 13th year I had about 1,000 people. When I moved to Santa Cruz, I wanted to start something up here."

Organizing the event presents its share of challenges--beginning at 7am on the morning of the 19th, volunteers will lay down the 170 sheets of plywood and set up chairs and registration tables. Anderson emphasizes that there is still a great need for more volunteers to help with setup, administration, water sports and breakdown. With more than 250 disabled participants coming from all over California, there are plenty of volunteer shifts yet to be filled.

It's an enormous undertaking, but Anderson is pleased to share the esteem boost that comes from accomplishing what might seem impossible. "As a quadriplegic, I saw the effect the self-esteem had on me from being able to enjoy something like surfing, kayaking or canoeing," Anderson says. "People would ask, 'How do you do that?' I would tell them that my buddies took me out. I thought [Day on the Beach] was a great way to share this experience, improving your quality of life by building your awareness of the outdoors."

The 16th Annual Day on the Beach takes place on Saturday, July 19, at noon at Cowell's Beach. For information on volunteering, contact Foster Anderson at 831.459.7210 or email [email protected]

Nūz just loves juicy tips about Santa Cruz County politics.

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