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The great outdoors 

I've been seeing green lately, and no this isn't another reference to Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers and the recent federal and county crackdown on everyone's favorite county dispensary. They're back up and running, by the way the dispensary, I mean, not the feds, though I suppose they're back up and running too which just goes to show that federal is federal and state is state and ne'er the twain shall meet.

And by "green," I'm not talking about money, either, which should be obvious because I said I've been seeing a lot of it lately.

No, I'm talking about the sort of green that shades tree-huggers and colors folks at Eco Slo and the Sierra Club and other nature-lovey-dovey groups. You know: Green. It's the term you can slap on just about anything these days to get instant bonus points with people who think the sky is falling, or at least that it's filling up with dangerous emissions and is going to melt the icecaps and toast everybody like so many brownies in an Easy Bake Oven. Got milk?

The San Luis Obispo County Community Foundation is looking at an April 16 deadline for its San Luis Obispo County Environmental Awards. I'm most intrigued by the Environmental Achievement of the Year Award, which "honors an individual or group that has made the most important environmental contribution to the Central Coast in the past year."

Apparently, nobody won in 2006. Nobody.

Former county supe Shirley Bianchi took the Sustained Environmental Contribution award (and 2,000 smackeroos) last year for helping found the SLO Land Conservancy, a group that preserves big swaths of nothing except they call it "open space" so everyone can enjoy looking at it instead of orderly rows of houses or what-have-you.

There's also an Environmental Initiative Award, given to people who make "a unique environmental contribution to the community." Last year was a tie between some elephant seal lovers and oak huggers, I think. I wasn't really patient enough to keep reading.

I got stuck on the fact that nobody won for Environmental Achievement of the Year in 2006. Nobody. The prize is $3,000 which is a lot of green for giving the earth a hug or whatever it is you'd have to do to pocket it which further confuses me. Were there no nominees last year? Or did the nominees all seriously suck at contributing to the environment? Did the category even exist? I could find out, but I'm too busy dreaming of everything I could buy with $3,000.

Don't laugh. I could've been nominated. After all, I installed one of those low-flow flush things in my toilet to conserve water, and I turn the lights out when I leave a room about 60 percent of the time, which is better than half, huh? I'm practically an environmental saint. Oh, and I painstakingly write "This is not a jellyfish" in black marker on every plastic baggie I throw away, just it case it ends up in the ocean and tempts some hungry turtle looking for a quick bite.

Whatever. My chance for the prize is gone, I think. This year, there should be plenty of potential takers when it comes to the competition. Wherever I look, I seem to see massive amounts of land being fought over by eco-types.

There's the Dalidio Ranch, which the county's Public Works Department just put off discussing with the Board of Supervisors and all of us locals who want to hear about progress there until late May. If all else fails, delay, delay, delay.

Then there are the Dunes. I don't even want to talk about those, so I'll just move on to the Carrizo Plain, which I don't want to talk about either. They've all been discussed to death, just like snowy plovers and clean water and any number of other environmental cliches that get rounded up like the usual suspects when these awards get announced.

This year, the San Luis Obispo Community Foundation should think outside the box when it considers contenders for the big award. Take the Farm Bureau please! No seriously, folks there have been busy thinking and planning and considering what to do about that confounding viewshed ordinance matter in Cayucos, but in a bold move for Mother Earth they've made some of their decisions in closed-session meetings, which helps save paper because they don't have to make copies of memos and such for members of the group who aren't allowed in. Reduce. Re-use. Recycle. I don't know about those last two, but the bureau has that first one down pat.

To be fair, those Farm Bureau folks also work to keep feeding us healthy vegetables and stuff, and we're part of the environment, right? I know a few people who would say otherwise, but I'd like to think that I have at least as much right to be here as an egret does.

County Supervisor Harry Ovitt deserves a nod, too, particularly for his role in just about everything I've mentioned so far. He's definitely had a unique impact on the environment in the county. Maybe he can snag the Environmental Initiative Award for the initiatives he's taken to make a mark on the local landscape.

If all else fails, someone can nominate Al Gore. I mean, come on. The guy makes one little movie about heat and suddenly he's the planet's savior. People are naming babies after him. Probably. I do know that he got more than few votes for "Best Friend to the Environment" in New Times' recent Best Of readers poll. Oops. I don't think I'm supposed to talk about it.

Finally, it's outside the county and all, but if what I'm hearing about the most recent flood maps for Santa Maria is true, Mayor Larry Lavagnino better start building an ark. Something like 80 percent of that city could potentially be underwater if some big rains came and something bad happened to their levees, according to a revised look at the town from FEMA.

What a tragedy. If Santa Maria ever does flood in the next 100 years, where will SLO County folks go for a large selection of big-box stores? Especially if the Dalidio project hits any snags? I don't want to think about it.

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