Any agricultural landowner in the county may now operate at least a small winery on his or her property, even when the zoning calls for limited agriculture. In addition, wineries may now – with permanent Planning Commission approval on a winery-by-winery basis – have more than 200 people at their special events, which may be held more frequently than the current standard of 12 times per year.

The Board of Supervisors approved the expenditure of $440,000 to help trout swim upstream past barriers in three South County streams. The money is coming from the California, Coastal Conservancy and is going to Questa Engineering Corporation of Point Richmond, California, to design the changes to existing bridges and drainpipes.

Surfers and ocean lovers can rest easy in the knowledge that the eight-year battle to convert all the homes near the world-famous Rincon beach from outdated septic systems to more ocean-friendly sewer systems appears to be—at least from a legal standpoint—over. Local nonprofit Heal the Ocean happily announced this week that the deadline to appeal last month’s approval of the project by the Carpinteria Sanitary District came and went Monday with nary a voice of dissent. Though the project still needs to be bid out to a contractor—and other odds and ends put together—it looks as though by late 2008 or early 2009 the entire point will be converted to sewer systems.

A backcountry dam was blown up last week to improve habitat for the endangered steelhead trout. The Horse Creek Dam in the San Rafael Wilderness blocked passage of the steelhead and other aquatic species to the seven miles of habitat upstream from the dam. Workers from the state Fish and Game Department worked with members of the California Conservation Corps to blow the edifice sky-high.

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