Hikers, bikers, and equestrians have a new forum for their
long-simmering and often heated debate about the use of Santa
Barbara County’s front country trails, as the multi-jurisdictional
Trails Task Force officially formed on Wednesday. Composed of two
City Parks and Recreation commissioners, two County Parks
commissioners, and two National Forest representatives, the group
hopes to achieve peace among all types of trail users, who often
disagree over trail right-of-way and safety issues. The task force
scheduled its first public work session for February 3 at the
Louise Lowry Davis Center.

Plans to recycle much of the garbage deposited in the Tajiguas
landfill and to convert what can’t be recycled into methane gas got
a jumpstart this week when county supervisors and city
councilmembers voted to pony up $150,000 to hire a consultant to
navigate any regulatory roadblocks. The new plant would employ the
patented technology of Arrowbio, an Israeli garbage conversion
company. Using a sluice, all recyclable waste would be separated
out, with the remainder fed into a bio-distillation processor,
where its natural fermentation process would produce methane. The
two-acre facility would cost about $23 million to build, but could
significantly prolong the lifespan of the landfill, now expected to
reach capacity in 12 years. Because the technology involved does
not use heat to help transform trash into energy, supporters expect
fewer environmental objections.

Recyclers of glass, aluminum, and plastic beverage containers
will have a bit more pocket change, thanks to a statewide increase
in recycling refunds. Containers of 24 ounces or less will now net
recyclers five cents instead of four, while containers holding more
than 24 ounces will be redeemable for 10 cents instead of eight.
The increased refunds go into effect now, although they were signed
into law by Governor Schwarzenegger last year to encourage further
recycling. Milk and wine containers are not subject to refund

A rollaway Dumpster was filled to the brim last week after
members of Santa Barbara ChannelKeeper, along with several other
volunteers, confronted San Pedro Creek in Goleta with trash bags in
hand. Radiators, a steering pump, golf balls, and a suspected
chemical waste dump site were just a few of the nonnative
discoveries made by workers scouring a half-mile portion of the
Goleta Slough tributary. Partially sponsored by the City of Goleta,
the cleanup was organized after ChannelKeeper’s Goleta Stream Team
noticed a higher than normal pollution level in their monthly water
quality sampling.

Following early January’s brutal wintry weather, local, state,
and federal officials toured the county’s hard-hit agricultural
areas last week to survey the damage and discuss possible solutions
with farmers. Representative Lois Capps and State Assemblymember
Pedro Nava also visited Carpinteria avocado farms, offering their
condolences and promising to seek state and federal tax breaks
and/or low-interest loans to offset the estimated $20 million in
total agricultural damage caused by the frost.

With Governor Schwarzenegger having declared a state of
emergency in Santa Barbara County, Capps joined 54 California
representatives in asking the federal Department of Agriculture for
financial aid. Nava called for a special session in Sacramento to
address the dire situation of farmers throughout the state.


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