Opinion: The Complex Future of the Santa Cruz Mountains

How will possibility of becoming a climate-change hot spot affect this community?

The CZU Lightning Complex fire left scores of homes burned to the ground in and around Boulder Creek. PHOTO: TARMO HANNULA

Editor's Note

Steve Palopoli Profile Photo

It’s going to take a long time to know all the long-term effects of the CZU Lightning Complex fire on the Santa Cruz Mountains and what they will mean for the future. But Liza Monroy’s cover story this week opens with one family who—after evacuating their Boulder Creek home in the fire and being warned of the likelihood of mudslides that could force them to evacuate again—felt they knew enough already. They packed it in and moved out of the area.

Last year, GT reported about the emerging phenomenon of climate refugees, but Monroy’s story adds another level of nuance: How will the possibility of an area becoming a climate-change hot spot affect its community?

The answer, as Monroy reveals, is complex. There has always been a strong sense of place and identity within our mountain communities, and many residents are committed to staying. Some will undoubtedly wait to see just how much the cycle of wildfire danger and storm danger intensifies. And it’s all complicated further by a huge boost—which some readers will find surprising, given recent events—in demand for Santa Cruz Mountains homes. This is a subject we are likely to be talking about for years, but our story this week is a fascinating snapshot of the conversation at a key moment in time.



Letters to the Editor


Re: Losing the Monarchs

Although I applaud this article for bringing awareness around the plight of the western monarch, especially with regards to habitat destruction, it should be noted that Xerces’ recommendations and thoughts about planting milkweed in coastal communities is opinion and not based on science. There is research being done on this subject and Xerces’ opinion is considered somewhat controversial. Please consider offering another side to this before locals start ripping out their milkweed!

— Adriana Gores



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