In response to the discovery of Oriental fruit flies in the Hope
Ranch area last month, the pesticide Dibrom (a trade name for
naled) was applied for the third time to trees and telephone poles
in the region. The eradication program went ahead despite a request
by Mayor Marty Blum that it be halted to allow time for discussion
of gentler alternatives. Blum pointed out that residents have
complained of illness following the pesticide’s application. The
California Department of Food and Agriculture – which ordered the
eradication – said that less harmful pesticides would be

Oil-drilling may be coming to Orcutt in a big way. The Santa
Barbara County Planning Commission seems poised to approve a
request by Brietburn Energy to begin drilling for oil on five acres
of a 10,000-acre spread it owns off Rice Ranch Road. The acreage in
question is remote from neighboring landowners. However, Planning
Commissioner Michael Cooney has expressed concern that hauling the
petroleum along local roads could prove disruptive.

A group of descendants of the various Chumash tribes paddled out
of Oxnard’s Channel Islands Harbor during the pre-dawn hours last
Saturday, setting out in traditional wooden canoes called tomols on
their way to the Channel Islands. The grueling 21-mile journey
wrapped up about 10 hours later at Scorpion Bay on Santa Cruz
Island, the former site of the Chumash village Limuw.

Residents of the City of Santa Barbara recycle about 64 percent
of waste that would otherwise wind up in the Tajiguas Landfill,
eclipsing the state’s latest and greatest diversion record of 52
percent. Santa Barbara County reports similarly high diversion
rates. The city’s high numbers stem from a new method of
calculation adopted this year. Using established methodology, the
city’s diversion rate would be 50 percent. State trash officials
are expected to decide in October whether they’ll accept the new
numbers. BFI, one of the South Coast’s two main trash haulers, has
received 900 postcards and 1,000 phone calls from customers who
believe they could have been overcharged for green waste disposal.
According to BFI’s three-year-old contract with City Hall,
customers are entitled to free service for one green can.
Responding to accusations from BFI’s competitor MarBorg that BFI
was charging customers for the free green cans, City Hall ordered
BFI to offer rebates. It remains unclear how many rebates BFI has
actually approved.

The California condor isn’t out of the woods yet. A coordinator
for the federal condor recovery program told the Fish and Game
Commission last Thursday that while there are nearly 300 California
condors living in the wild, a scant four eggs were hatched last
year, and of those, only one chick survived. Lead poisoning and
trash consumption are the leading problems for the scavenger birds.
Seventeen Red Cross volunteers flew from Santa Barbara to Orlando
on Monday in anticipation of Hurricane Ernesto’s landfall. More are
expected to respond to the “call down” issued Saturday by the
national Red Cross office in cooperation with FEMA. Last year, Red
Cross workers also deployed to Florida several days ahead of
Hurricane Katrina.

Neverland narrowly escaped a fiery end last Friday. Fueled by
brush and grass, a blaze burned through 40 acres of Michael
Jackson’s sprawling Los Olivos ranch, at one point coming within
200 yards of buildings on the property. None of the animals in
Jackson’s extensive and exotic collection were evacuated.
Firefighters managed to contain the blaze by early evening; as of
press time, the cause of the fire was unknown.

Pluto got sacked last week, and Santa Barbarans aren’t happy
about it. After the International Astronomical Union voted to
reclassify the rock orb a “dwarf planet,” the Santa Barbara Museum
of Natural History took an informal poll on its Web site to gauge
local reaction. The results? A triumph of sentiment over science:
80 percent of respondents said Pluto should retain its status as
the puny but plucky runt of the planetary solar system.


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