River Watch

by David Severn, July 6, 2016

This morning (Sunday) the Great Blue Heron that I often see on the river lofted itself from below the Shenoa bridge when I walked past. As looked down it rose from the company of a raft of 17 redheaded female Mergansers that took notice of me but did not fly off, only slowly moved upstream.

Yesterday I saw a Fedex delivered package at the established drop-off bin for Blackbird Farm. It's situated at the far end of the bridge. The package had been pulled onto the edge of the road and torn open by a critter. Just across the road was a fresh cub-sized pile of bear poop. I assume a relationship between the two.

After my dip that day, and returning back across the bridge a pickup truck driving courteously slow, yet refusing to return my hello wave, proceeded to travel that recently torn up road below Jeff Skol's Shenoa leading to the new owned parcel whose owner was responsible for the road damage. Could have been the new owner himself who did the damage. And that would be Dane Peterson of Fall Creek Vineyard on Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg.

Having discovered the man's identity and vineyard involvement, I remembered something and an alarm went off. Last year, on a walk-about up past Marshall Newman's and Tom Russel's parcels above Shenoa I stumbled on a piece of land being totally denuded of trees. All the trees had been turned into stacks of firewood. This is on what has historically been called Peterson Ridge. With no relation to the new Peterson I'm sure what we can expect is another Philo ridge vineyard.

For me the current rubric, coded "progress", is depressing. I live on Ray's Road, Philo and have since 1982. Even though there were (still are) two small time vacation retreats at the not so distant ends of the forked road it was a relatively slow and quiet place to raise my kids. Since the growth of the wine industry the area has become more densely populated with farm workers and more traffic but still not much of a problem. A couple speedball yahoos and a few citified, rural road ignorants continue to remind my now grandkids to use extreme caution while playing and riding bikes on the road.

In, 2006 after much prompting by the County, the bridge across Navarro River, ostensibly for emergency services to Shenoa, was erected and even that did not significantly increase traffic, even though Highland Ranch won permission to use the bridge year round for it's modest activities. The possibility was always there that Shenoa might kick into some kind of urban-like outpost but that never happened. It just sits there sucking water out of the River all summer long for no known purpose.

But now there are two new major threats to the tranquility of Ray's Road. Blackbird Farm who took over George Gaines modest 36 person Highland Ranch use permit wants to increase it's volume to 292 people, not only creating guest traffic but also all of the construction worker and development traffic as well.  And Dane Peterson's probable vineyard will add an additional slew of construction and operational traffic  to the mix.

Free  Market American style Progress would seem to explain why most people need that couple of glasses wine and bomber joint to stay mellow through all of the insults.

PS I didn't mention because other than the guard dogs they're not much of a problem but my house is surrounded by eight marijuana patches. Further down Ray's Rd. are at least eight more.

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