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Embracing a new Prime Directive

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
January 24, 2001


"The enterprise of conservation is a revolution, an evolution of the spirit. We call to the land -and the land calls back." — Terry Tempest Williams

Space may be the final frontier, but considering all hell is breaking loose here on earth I will deal with the space race question later. Currently I am much more interested in the fact that humans have yet to learn how to live on the only planet available to them. Ironically we are a species of builders who can build anything except stability. That we avoid like the plague.

It's no surprise that human beings are addicted to fashion. Our entire existence is dedicated to moving on to the next best thing regardless of how well the long established "old thing" has served us. When things work we discard them believing that what ever comes next has to be better regardless of a lack of evidence to support such theories. Different is the only justification needed in a world of insatiable appetites and short term memories.

Our relationship to the natural world is no different. When the Spanish missionaries first came to the Southern California 300 years ago the first thing they did was slash and burn everything in sight to make room for "civilization". The assault continues even today. No plant or animal species is safe from the destructive hand of man. No matter the intent, human beings have yet to improve on nature.

Luckily for the people of Encinitas there is a growing commitment to insure that ecological wisdom and sustainability are a major part of the decision making process. This is not to say environmental protection is a top priority, but the city is taking baby steps in the right direction. Encinitas is proving itself to be the environmental leader of San Diego County.

Last week two actions were taken in this city of 60,000 that speak to the communities commitment to future generations. With an eye toward fiscal and biological responsibility, Encinitans are stepping up to do the right thing. As you can imagine this writer could not be happier with this turn of events.

In the "It's about time" department, The Quail Botanical Gardens, have gone organic. Under the visionary direction of Julian Duval, Quail Gardens has taken many steps to befriend the natural order of things, such as dedicating 4 acres of native habitat as part of the gardens permanent exhibit. But that gesture pales in comparison to banning the use of artificial herbicides and pesticides in the gardens.

Following the advice of Organic guru Don "Dr. Curly" Trotter Quail Gardens will be setting an example of how it is possible to have lush landscapes without the use of planet killing chemicals. Not only will this ensure a healthier experience for those visiting the gardens, it will also remove considerable toxins making their way to the Pacific Ocean via Cottonwood Creek and Moonlight Beach. I'm sure those surfing in Encinitas appreciate the wisdom of the folks at Quails Gardens.

Not to be out done, The Encinitas City Council decided they could do the visionary thing as well. In an unanimous vote the council put in place a "natives only" policy for a new park in Leucadia. Using only a pallet of California native species, the city is hoping to create a model for others by making parks more environmentally sustainable by reducing the amount of water needed. Also to be significantly reduced will be the amount of chemicals used to maintain the park.

Community character means a great deal to the residents of Leucadia. Part of that character includes a semi rural lifestyle complete with birds, bees, and butterflies. By adopting a natives only policy for the neighborhood park the city will be creating habitat at time when other cities are going out of their way to destroy what little remains within their boundaries. And yes I am referring to Carlsbad.

There is now no mistaking the fact that the city of Encinitas means business when it comes to protecting the quality of life of all it's residents. Other cities would be wise to follow their lead. Proving that native environments can be restored and that growth does not have to come at the expense of the reason most people moved to California in the first place, Encinitas is going where no Southern California city has gone before.

Going native is a wise choice if a municipality plans to live long and prosper. And it is only logical that the voyage should begin on Vulcan Ave. Mr. Spock would be so proud.

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