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Don't Tread on Me: UCSC's housing plans threaten breeding grounds for the federally listed California red-legged frog.


Road Kill

The Arboretum's gardens may not be the only casualty of UCSC Chancellor M.R.C. Greenwood's building frenzy.

Biologists and Arboretum volunteers say the university's plan to build at least 80 faculty housing units on Inclusion Area D, a 12-acre parcel located on Empire Grade between the Arboretum and Farm and Garden Project, threatens the California red-legged frogs, a federally threatened species.

Biologists say the Arboretum reservoir and the riparian habitat surrounding the it are a key habitat and breeding site for the little hopper.

"Our goal is recovery of the frog," says Fish and Wildlife Service ecologist Ivana Noell. "This is an important population because it's established and doing well on the northern edge of an urban area--frogs could disperse into ponds and creeks into other parts of Santa Cruz."

The frogs are mobile critters, but they are no match for cars and bikes. Arboretum volunteers say dead froggies along Empire Grade are common. They worry new roads leading to the faculty housing units will mean more road kill.

"The red-legged frogs have been roaming the campus in all the 35 years that I have been on campus," says UCSC professor and former 30-year Arboretum director Ray Collett. "They need the space. They don't need more roads."

But volunteers doubt that either dead frogs or staunch opposition from long-time university supporters will be enough to keep "Bulldozer Greenwood" at bay.

"They don't want any interference," says former Arboretum board president William Grant. "It is absolutely behaving badly. They are government employees. They are working for us taxpayers, and they act like they don't have any responsibility to us."

At the Arboretum Associates annual meeting June 24, only Arboretum interim director Ronald Enomoto expressed support for the housing project. Octopus' Garden

It's not as cuddly as sea otters, but as the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary's Draft Kelp Management Report public comment period comes to a close, this may be your last chance to dive into the debate over our kelp forests.

"It's the only chance the public is going to get to talk about kelp harvesting for the next five years," says Vicki Nichols, director of policy and research at Save Our Shores.

While most kelp enthusiasts agree that the report, sponsored by NOAA [the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration], is a step in the right direction, some conservationists and recreational users argue that the plan's call for a 50 percent per year kelp bed harvesting standard is too high.

"This allows clear-cutting," says David Clayton, diving representative for the Sanctuary Advisory Council. "Let's say we had an extremely rough year and winter storms took out 50 percent. Well, this would allow the harvesters to take out the other 50 percent."

The deadline for public comments is Aug. 7, 2000. The Sanctuary Advisory Council will review the comments before submitting the final MBNMS report to the state Department of Fish and Game and the Fish and Game Commission.

The DFG and the FCG will adopt a new kelp management plan this fall.

For a copy of the draft plan, or for a list of upcoming public hearings, call 647-4257, or check out www.mbnms.nos.noaa.gov/special/kelpreport/kelpreport.htm.

Mute Point

If you were unaware that UCSC sought your input on the future of its Terrace Point property, you're not alone.

Despite a promise by Vice Chancellor Tom Vani to give proper notice for all public hearings, word of the first "community workshop" to discuss the university's development plans came in the form of a small ad in the The Sentinel just the weekend before the June 22 meeting. The ad doesn't mention Terrace Point--which UCSC has banned from its vocabulary due to past negative publicity--so it may have failed to catch your eye. A press release announcing the meeting was not issued until June 19.

The California Coastal Commission, which has directed UCSC to involve the city in the planning process, was itself left in the dark. The CCC's Dan Carl, in whose jurisdiction the project falls, says he wasn't told of the workshop until a few days before and therefore was unable to attend.

City councilmember Tim Fitzmaurice, who is on the committee which oversees UCSC's Long Range Master Plan for Long Marine Lab, found out about the meeting eight days before.

"It was not enough public notice," Fitzmaurice tells Nüz. "I protested, but I don't think they took it to heart."

Charlie Eadie, director of campus and community planning, says about 50 people showed up, 15 of whom were aligned with the university.

Members of the ever-vigilant Terrace Point Action Network did manage to show up. Among the plans with which TPAN took issue was the proposed building of 60 housing units.

"It's all tentative," Eadie explains. "These are real preliminary concept diagrams that illustrate different approaches. The drawings don't show actual development."

Fade To Black

Comic Dennis Miller's new gig as an armchair analyst for ABC's Monday Night Football is the talk of the broadcast sports world. But if you don't have cable, fuhgetaboutit.

Starting July 3, county residents unable or unwilling to pay for cable TV will no longer be able to see some of the most popular shows on television. That's the day that KNTV-11 in San Jose drops its ABC affiliation. In addition to MNF, other shows going dark will be "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?," "NYPD Blue" and "The Practice."

ABC spokesperson Susan Sewell tells Nüz that ABC programming will be available through AT&T cable channel 17, and that the network is "exploring having another option in place" for broadcast viewers--the same promise KNTV and ABC have been making for a year and a half.

But industry insiders say they know of no plans by ABC to fill the broadcast void, either by inducing another Central Coast station to switch affiliates or by starting a new station.

For the next year and a half KNTV will wander in the network desert as a Warner Bros. operation concentrating on local news. On Jan. 1, 2002, it is slated to become an NBC affiliate. Unless the station changes its signal pattern, Santa Cruz broadcast viewers will then have two NBC stations (the other being KSBW-8 in Salinas), but no ABC station.

The Central Coast is the nation's 112th largest TV market, with 76 percent cable subscription--leaving 24 percent of the market unserved by ABC.

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From the June 28-July 5, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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