The Santa Cruz Island species battle entered the legal arena on January 10 when animal rights activist Rick Feldman and the San Rafael-based In Defense of Animals filed a complaint against the National Park Service to halt the slaughter of wild turkeys. The Park Service claims that the non-native birds, which have populated the island for 50 years, are threatening the fox recovery program. Feldman argued they are unnecessary casualties, much like the island’s pig population, which was killed for the same reasons and which, according to some reports, kept the turkey population in check by eating their eggs.

As of January 17, the public is officially invited to walk along the new pathways connecting Arroyo Burro (or Hendry’s) Beach to the Douglas Family Preserve. The mostly grant-funded $1.6 million project – part of an effort to restore ecological balance to the Arroyo Burro Estuary – saw the removal of 300 feet of concrete culvert from Mesa Creek and the replacement of countless invasive plants with 6,000 native plants and 2,500 trees and shrubs. Additionally, city work crews sought to stabilize the creek banks using coconut fiber mats rather than wire and concrete.

At the Goleta Water Board’s January 9 meeting, newly elected director Bert Bertrando pushed for the district to resume pumping waste from its central basin, which has now recovered fully from the 1980s drought. The basin’s water is cheaper than State Water, argued Bertrando, who has also urged the district to raise revenues by selling more water, instead of promoting conservation and charging more. Bertrando’s conservation-minded colleagues favored waiting for a geologist’s report on the basin’s full capacity.

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