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LAND AND SEA


A fire had burned 15,687 acres in the Los Padres National Forest east of Santa Barbara County as of press time Tuesday. Forest officials said the fire was 25 percent contained. Investigators suspect the fire was started by a human visitor. No injuries have been reported.

As part of an escalating effort to prevent sewage seepage, the Santa Barbara City Council approved an ambitious sewer lateral inspection program. In response to agitation by Santa Barbara real estate agents, City Hall backed off from its initial proposal to require such inspections every time a property was put up for sale. Instead, such inspections will be required every time a property owner seeks permission to expand a home by 400 square feet or more, or to install two or more plumbing fixtures. Acknowledging the cost of sewer inspections – and repairs – City Hall also adopted a set of incentives designed to partially offset the expense involved.

Carpinteria’s septic tanks will no longer leak into the ocean now that several of its beachside communities are poised to join the Carpinteria Sanitary District and build sewage systems. Heal the Ocean’s Hillary Hauser hailed the districts certification of the final environmental documents Tuesday night, and their decision to pursue annexation of the communities, form assessment districts to sponsor the Septic to Sewer project, and begin construction.

Teva, the Goleta makers of outdoor footwear, are teaming up with ChannelKeeper’s Robert Kennedy, Jr. and a team of IMAX documentary filmmakers to produce a movie on the Grand Canyon. The finished product – which will be narrated by Kennedy – will include footage of a 15-day rafting journey Teva executives plan to take down the Grand Canyon.

Paul Lewis – a 45-year-old long-distance, cold-water swimmer – became the first person to swim the Santa Barbara Channel in more than 20 years. Setting off from Santa Cruz Island accompanied by kayaker Rob Almy, Lewis made the 26-mile crossing in 13 hours and 16 minutes, doing the crawl stroke the entire time. Under the conditions of his sport, Lewis was not allowed to wear a wetsuit of any kind. Aside from his swimsuit, goggles, and swimming cap, the only thing Lewis wore was lanolin, an ointment spread liberally over areas prone to chafing. About every 20 minutes, Lewis fortified himself with a mysterious red liquid supplied by Almy.

Members of Congress joined the Nuclear Security Coalition last week in calling for the fortification of U.S. nuclear waste storage systems against terrorist attacks. According to the group, U.S. nuclear power plants – such as the Diablo Canyon facility in San Luis Obispo County – are generally well secured, but their highly volatile nuclear waste-storage systems are vulnerable. Instead of the underground pools currently used to store nuclear waste, the group proposed using dry storage casks hardened against terrorist attack.

A DNA study of Chumash Indians has yielded tantalizing clues about the origins of early American Indians. John Johnson of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History found DNA matches between local Chumash Indians and ancient remains from as far away as Alaska and Tierra del Fuego. Johnson believes the discovery suggests early Indians may have traveled down the Pacific Coast by boat, rather than trekking inland between Asia and North America.

The oldest woman ever discovered in North America may not be a woman at all. Thigh bones found on Santa Rosa Island in 1959 were originally attributed to a woman who lived 13,000 years ago. However, a recent reexamination of the bones has led John Johnson of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History – where the bones are stored – to acknowledge that “Arlington Springs Woman” was more likely a man.



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