Mild Dry | No New Cases | Quick Response | Mental Help | Smacking Fiddleheads | Easter Sweets | Hentroversy | KOZT | Family Demise | Asti | Government Committee | Grin Reaper | Ed Notes | Fordplow | Texan Trash | Swimsuit Measurer | Remember Goliad | Phase 3 | Cloverdale Hunters | FERC Concession | Weeding Weeders | Yesterday's Catch | Sacajawea Search | International Brigade | Conservative Joe | Beer March | Can Do | Major Character | Wheelmen | Branch Rickey | First KO | La Llorona | Mr. Met | Late MLK | Mummy Vendor | Voodoo Econ | Kolling Family | Eel Zoom | 25% Complete | Eminent Housing | Hue 1968 | Manifest Dismantling | Boomboxer
DRY AND MILD conditions will continue across northwest California today. Expect a gradual increase in marine layer clouds along with cooler temperatures heading into the weekend. There are low chances for some light rainfall by early next week. (NWS)
NO NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon. (No fooling)
The Fort Bragg Fire Department responded to a structure fire on Friday morning, March 26. The early morning fire will most likely not be front-page news. The reason is that the fire was quickly extinguished and the small home suffered very little damage. There were no flames shooting into the air, or smoke columns you could see from anywhere in town.
Fires like this one are not huge events, but maybe they should be. The small home had Redwood shakes for siding and a shake roof as well. The fire had gotten behind the siding and was quickly climbing to the roof.
Quick action by a passerby (I didn’t get a name) got the occupants out and then hit the wall with a water hose. That was followed by our squad truck, which arrived within four minutes. The crew got to work tearing off shingles and extinguishing the fire. After checking the entire home, including using our Thermal imaging camera in the attic, the occupants were allowed to go back into their unaffected residence. The owner had fire insurance, no one was hurt and as a huge bonus the Fort Bragg Police Department caught the arsonist. No one wants to have a fire, but having one where everything clicks is not as much of a traumatic event.
It takes a team to make all this happen. It started with the alert bystander, who got things rolling in the right direction. Then the City Public Works crew that has volunteer firefighters working for them and allows us to stage our Squad at the Corp yard to use during the day jumped on it and made a world of difference. Other responders that were able to leave work brought in an engine and CAL Fire responded with their engine and crew. The FB Police department took care of ensuring our safety by blocking traffic. They then followed up by catching the person responsible.
As Fire Chief, I’m not only proud of the work from our responders but really everyone involved. A big thank you to all for keeping this incident “un-newsworthy.”
STATEMENT FROM FORT BRAGG POLICE CHIEF JOHN NAULTY...
IN DEFENSE OF FIDDLEHEADS:
Sorry you all feel that Fiddleheads is a violator more than someone who fed people and served the underserved.
For me, making sure Fiddleheads was open and feeding folks accounts for a lot.
I don't know if what we're seeing is a scofflaw who got what he had coming, or if there is reason and thought behind it we haven't considered. What does smacking them this hard accomplish?
Despite the optics I would like to see this organization flourish and stay open.
They certainly do what I cannot, and feeding folks, giving them a warm welcoming place is near and dear to my heart.
— Janet in Little River
ELLIE’S SWEETSHOP/VALLEY HUB: Taking orders for Easter sweets until Friday. To order or for more info visit Ellie’s sweet shop on Facebook.
POINT ARENA, MARCH 27, 1918 (Fort Bragg Advocate)
Two Point Arena hens, valued at $1 each, have stirred up a rumpus in that city which will probably lead to quite costly court proceedings. Joe Casella claims Berri’s stole them from him. Casella swore out a warrant for Berri’s arrest and then regained possession of the hens by means of a search warrant. He was later persuaded to dismiss the charge against Berri. Mrs. Berri now comes to light claiming that she owns the hens and that Casella took them away from her with the search warrant. The latter plaintiff is highly offended and asks for $2 as value of the hens with 7 percent interest, $40 for auto hire, $7.50 for three days wages, and $250 punitive damages. The auto and wage items were run up in a search for the hens.
(Courtesy, Fort Bragg Advocate)
Since I broached the subject of most of my childhood family’s demise (four of the seven in the immediate family; two other, unrelated, adults and our dog), I suppose I should finish it. People want to know: “My God! How did you feel? What did you do? How did you ever…?”
I have a built-in suppresser. When things get extreme, my brain says “slow down; take it easy; only deal with this instant. Later, for the rest of it.” So, when the school principal had me in his office and told me what he had heard on the telephone, poor man, I said nothing at first. Then I asked a question about the event. I knew those waters, I knew the conditions there. I asked if they were “missing” or…
That’s how the suppresser works. You make a little cushion between the first word of something and full acceptance of it. My question gave me a moment to think maybe it was all going to be okay. It didn’t seem to be a likely event. He said—softly, finally—“they found the bodies.” Jarring, but the cushion kept it from being a knockout.
Now I must apologize to you and my late family. I was in a boarding school, a couple hundred miles north of Baltimore. The note at the top of my Facebook page insists on Truth, so here it is:
School and I were never a great match. I’ve always been eager to learn but miserable at the prospect of spending most of a day doing it, sitting still. That school was like the others. I was only there because I had to be. Under the awareness of what I just heard, there was this tiny little carnival sound, like the background sound of a carousel. [I can get away, go home!] I kept the sick note of jubilation out of my voice. “I’ve got to go right home,” I said, soberly, a man suddenly, not just a sixteen-year-old.
“I’ll be outside your cottage in twenty minutes,” he said. Mr. Verdery was going to accompany me!
I stood to leave, opened the door. [Don’t act like a freak! You’ve just learned your family is dead!] As I went through the door, I emitted some sound, some simulacrum of grief, and left the building to cross the quad to my cottage, where I had a cubicle with a bed and locker. The grief-sound became real, and I cried. I kept crying across the quad, into my cottage and for ten or fifteen minutes after that. That was that. I’ve never cried since.
Once, my mother, annoyed, was using a fingernail brush to get gravel and tar and dirt out of my abraded knee, after I attempted to go down a longish steep hill on my tricycle. “Don’t be such a crybaby!” she said, so I stopped. Now, I had to remember how to do it, on this occasion. I mostly can’t cry.
Then began the never-to-be-finished work of absorbing. People who get hysterical, I think, are less stuck. Instead of properly mourning the dead, I consign their passing to that other chamber, the one that disgorges its contents slowly, over a long period. I spent the next decades absorbing the loss of my family, trying to understand how it happened. With no witnesses, I couldn’t figure out what went wrong. My father was a “waterman,” as the term is used in Maryland. He knew about boats and weather and water. What the hell…?
All those years, I was avoiding something, something worse. I was avoiding the glaring truth that whatever the hell happened, it was Daddy’s fault. His boat, his decision, his experience, his responsibility to take everybody safely across Assateague Bay.
Worse still: He died knowing he had committed the ultimate fuckup, killed himself, his friends and his family. He put them in harm’s way, an open boat, a violent March windstorm, unseasonably cold weather, too much weight in the boat for dicey conditions… He weighed all those things and made the exactly wrong decision. My father—alpha male, founder of an industrial facility that made things for The War, ten years gone by, legendary football hardnose, my loud, scary, domineering father, feared and admired—however those last minutes and seconds went down, he committed his charges to cold, violent water, to death by strangulation. He heard it, he saw it, he felt it, and, for all his powers, there was not a goddamned thing he could do about it. That boat had a little deck on the front. You could store a few things under it. The Coast Guard found the boat near Little Egging Island. The anchor had fallen out and anchored it. It was rightside-up. There were life jackets up under the deck, still.
All this was there, worse than the salt water that eventually claimed his consciousness, the sound and sight of his charges--my kid brother, eleven, kid sister, seven--struggling to live, then not. That was the part I couldn’t let myself think about, my dominant universally respected old man, attending his own death and his trusting passengers'.
Tomorrow, April Fool’s Day, is the day my father was born. It’s also the day he and the rest were buried in muddy graves. It rained.
MENDO’S GOVERNMENT COMMITTEE
Dear Supervisor Williams,
Recently on your Facebook page you mentioned attending a county “government committee,” and I went to the official website to look for that — finding its meetings listed on the regular (Legistar) calendar webpage, but little else beyond its agenda.
As a public information service provider in Lake County, I give a lot of attention to the operations of Mendocino County (our two counties do a lot of public business together — our combined Area Agency on Aging is one that I participate in, for example; for another, I am a devotee of the Anderson Valley Advertiser, and share many of the concerns of its readers — although we do not have the coastal timber harvesting industry to deal with, but we share the blessings and burdens of viticulture, especially in the face of a near-certain deep drought year ahead).
I’ve attempted for almost 20 years to get the Lake County administration to address the needs for public access to information about its appointed boards, committees, and commissions (not to mention councils, joint powers authorities, compliance bodies, and special oversight groups like your Measure B Committee), with very little success. So I am more than curious about the particular committee that you lead (according to a lovely person who answered the phone in the Mendocino County Administration department).
Is there a webpage where I could find out more about this committee? Are there citizens serving on the committee from all five supervisory districts? Would you consider adding a policy to the existing "Policy Manual” (https://www.mendocinocounty.org/government/executive-office/policy-manual) explaining how citizens can participate in your advisory groups and stakeholder-involved multi-jurisdictional governance bodies (thinking here of the Mendocino Council of Governments, which is somehow linked to our Lake Area Planning Council, operated by an organization based in Mendocino County)?
I’ve been searching high and low for resources that define the differences between councils, commissions, committees, and boards (advisory or not), in obscure corners of Black’s Law Dictionary and state statutory code, to little avail. One might wonder if the Little Hoover Commission would have a thought or two on this subject, but a search of their website yields no satisfaction on the subject — except in their old dusty oversight of special districts.
Why, I wonder, does the county Board of Supervisors have anything to do with the distribution of Proposition 172 funding, instead of using the formula that was promulgated in the legislation. How can downtown “beautification” be more important than the provision of adequate emergency services and reimbursement for firefighting services from small FPDs and volunteer departments?
What happened to the identified fragility of your emergency communication systems in remote mountainous locations with nearly obsolete equipment that can no longer be repaired (described in a Grand Jury report not too long ago)? All of us in Lake County depend on the reliability of Laughlin Ridge’s transmission tower for National Weather Service emergency broadcasts — that portion reached by the broadcast location, anyway (never mind the southern “half” of our territory out of radio range).
Not to mention water: Where’s the community-based sacrifice of vintners (not to mention cannabis cowboys) for preserving obviously stressed water supplies in Lake Mendocino? Is it true that the lake will not be opened up for boating (obviating the need for Quagga/Zebra Mussel infestation prevention staff)?
We share an Ag Extension Service director, as well: Dr. Mike Jones, who is the founding proponent of our new Lake County Prescribed Burn Association, and we have many friends who participate in Mendocino National Forest programs like “Firescape,” and now the long-term, multi-million-dollar “healthy forest” revegetation and long-term recovery from our several years of wildfire disasters.
I really appreciate the level of attention and investment of your time in broader governance issues than just those that affect your “constituents” in your own personal district territory — and the fact that people in Mendocino County have a variety of platforms for public involvement and participation. It’s inspiring to find that Mendocino County has a healthy working relationship with the voters and taxpayers who do not shirk from civic crises — even while arguing vociferously over how to manage them.
The Essential Public Information Center
9475-A Main Street
Upper Lake, CA 95485
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Thursdays 5-6 pm: Senior Moments
Sundays 2-4 pm: Essential Public Information - Here & Now | What’s Next?
IF THERE was a frost this morning it eluded my notice when I set out at the very crack of dawn for a two-mile shuffle-lurch up and down Anderson Valley Way, but the fans to the near east of my place had tuned up at 5:30am, not relenting until 8.
THE FIRE SEASON hasn't begun, but there's introductory smoke blanketing Cloverdale to Philo. It's from a “controlled burn” in Yorkville, and if it goes outta control as controlled burns have too frequently tended to do, you'll know where it started.
THE HOMELESS? The enormity of the prob is clearly beyond the ability of any single municipality or lightly populated rural jurisdiction like Mendo's to solve by itself, even if the public money were freed up to seriously have a go at getting everyone off the streets who is unable or unwilling to care for himself. Proposals, like Biden's, to lightly boost the income tax on everyone with incomes over $400,000 has naturally been widely denounced as pure bolshevism by the lab rats of the corporate media who manage to overlook the fact that the graduated income tax brought to America by FDR's New Deal has been eroded to the point where the rich either don't pay taxes at all, or pay a piddling amount relative to their incomes. Any truly patriotic American with the big income should be happy to turn over a big hunk of his booty to make America a better place, no?
RUSS EMAL asks the question worrying all us baseball fans: “Valley sport's friends, what are you doing to watch Bay Area Sports on TV? Dish has ended broadcasting the Dubs and the Giants. Where are the games being broadcast on TV? As a second choice, where can it be watched on the internet?”
ABS FISHED OUT: The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has announced that the North Coast abalone season will remain closed for five years, until April 1, 2026, and this is not an April Fool's gag.
DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS
I beg to differ profoundly with the letter by Ralph Bostrom, printed on March 10, 2021 on page 3: “NO LET UP.”
“Texas is just one big pain in the ass no matter how you look at it.” … “The birthplace of white trash.”
These words are reminiscent of the “N”-word (which I do not even spell.)
These words remind us of the very old days when they were still used which we say we abhor.
Isn't there a better way to “reach across the divide”?
Not all Texans are so worthy of this line.
Calling them the enemy later in the piece is even worse!
“Voters need to know who their enemy is! White trash.”
Calling them “the enemy,” or as in “us versus them” only increases the divide. How about some civility?
He refers to a “world beyond war.” Labels like “us and them" increase hostility and assurance of wars.
A policeman measures the distance between a woman's knee and the bottom of her bathing suit after an order was issued that bathing suits must not be over six inches above the knee. Washington D.C., 1922.
Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
FROM THE TEXAS HISTORICAL COMMISSION
After the battle of Coleto Creek, where a Texas army under Col. James Walker Fannin met defeat by Mexicans in superior numbers, the Texas soldiers were held in Presidio La Bahía, supposedly as prisoners of war.
However, by order of Mexican Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, at least 342 of Fannin's men were marched out and executed on this day in 1836. The wounded were shot one by one in the fort compound. Col. Fannin was the last to die.
Because of their profession, Drs. J. H. Barnard, J. E. Field, and Jack Shackelford were spared; about 25 men were saved by a Mexican woman known as "the Angel of Goliad" (likely Francita Alavez). Approximately 30 more Texans escaped by feigning death or by swimming the San Antonio River.
The massacred Texans' corpses were stripped and partly burned but left unburied.
This atrocity three weeks after the fall of the Alamo gave Texans part of the battle cry—"Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!"—under which decisive victory was won at San Jacinto on April 21, 1836.
Later, Gen. Thomas J. Rusk and the Texan Army marched back to Goliad and gathered the remains of Fannin's men from the terrain.
From Presidio La Bahía the remains were carried in procession and given a military burial on June 3, 1836. The site, just east of the presidio, is marked by the Fannin Memorial Monument.
— Austin History Center, Austin Public Library
SUPERVISOR HASCHAK (Third District Supervisor Report):
Stop Phase Three from Devastating Mendocino County
The proposed Phase 3 Cannabis Cultivation Ordinance endangers our environment, communities, and local economy. The expansion proposed by the BOS in both acreage and zoning has the potential to dramatically change what our county will be. I strongly oppose this proposal.
We can already see environmental damage from supposedly small grows. In this time of drought, local residents fear that massive use of water for growing cannabis will dry up wells and springs, leaving people short of water for the essentials of life. Wildlife will suffer as animals become more desperate as riverbeds and waterholes dry up. The cumulative impacts of this expansion need to be studied yet the Board frantically tries to pass this new ordinance before July 1 without doing an environmental impact report. This is our environment where we live.
Communities will change giving us hoop houses instead of pastoral vistas. Food and regular agriculture will not be able to compete as land prices skyrocket. Food production will be converted to cannabis production. Prime ag lands and vulnerable range lands will be rocked over, plastics will cover the land, and hoop houses will multiply. Guard dogs and higher security will dominate our country roads, valleys and hillsides. Code enforcement and law enforcement have already lost control of the situation. These changes will greatly accelerate if the Board passes this ordinance without addressing the dangers. When the boom bursts, which it will, whoever and whatever is left will have a lot of cleaning up to do.
We shape our economy and communities with our policy decisions. That is why you don’t see McDonalds in Mendocino. Phase 3 could devastate mom and pop growers while huge cannabis grows proliferate. Wall Street investors, buying up land for profit are instigating a race to the bottom, damaging our local economy by bringing cheap labor and extracting profits to benefit far-away private equity funds.
Mendocino County has failed to properly implement Phase I and II of the ordinance. Permits were wrongly granted. Out of the 1,100 in the county permit system, only a handful have received state annual licenses which is what is needed to grow legally after January 1, 2022. Code enforcement can’t keep up. Law enforcement has been overwhelmed by illegal grows. Yet somehow some Board members believe that this new ordinance, opening up range land and expanding grow sites will make everything right. Wishful thinking. A much bigger mess is ahead of us if we go down this path.
In a democracy, the elected representatives need to listen to the people. The Planning Commission received over 400 letters. 99% were against this expansion. The Sheriff, Farm Bureau, Municipal Advisory Councils of Laytonville, Redwood Valley and Round Valley, Willits and Mendocino Environmental Centers, Covelo Cannabis Advocacy Group, and many other groups are against this proposal. Big cannabis businesses are for it.
Please make your voices heard by writing to or calling the Board before the April 19 meeting.
If the BOS decides not to listen, then the people need to be able to vote on this issue.
Looking ahead, Mendocino County needs to reject this idea of expansion of acreage and zoning, perform an Environmental Impact Report, and fund code and law enforcement to enforce the rules we have. The future of Mendocino County is at stake.
FRIENDS OF THE EEL
Friends of the Eel River (FOER) has claimed an obscure but important win in our fight to reverse the harms Pacific Gas & Electric’s two Potter Valley Project dams continue to cause critically imperiled Eel River salmon and steelhead. Though it took the threat of a lawsuit, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has conceded it improperly approved an operations plan for new doors on the fish ladder at Cape Horn dam. The Commission failed to take the basic steps required by the Endangered Species Act to ensure listed species won’t be pushed closer to extinction by federal actions.
On March 25, FERC issued a new Order withdrawing the January 28 Order FOER had challenged. Having apparently received a revelation, FERC wrote that “(c)ommission staff has determined that we are required to consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) under section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to ensure that implementation of the Plan is not likely to ‘jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered species or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of such species…’”
“FERC’s about-face is a victory for us and a result of our diligent efforts to protect the Eel River’s native fish,” said Alicia Hamann, FOER’s Executive Director. “FERC is notorious for refusing to consult over the impacts on fish and wildlife of the dams it regulates. We’re very happy to see the Commission acknowledge, even in this small instance, that the Endangered Species Act does impose a legal duty on FERC itself to ask the expert agencies how its projects affect listed species.”
“This should help move all parties involved toward a realistic solution to the Eel River dams,” said FOER Conservation Director Scott Greacen. “FERC’s concession means NMFS will take a long overdue look at Cape Horn dam’s fish ladder, the longest and highest in California, through the prism of the Endangered Species Act. If a truly adequate fish ladder is even possible at Cape Horn dam, we have to know what would it cost compared to just removing the dam.
The Two Basin Partnership now seeking to relicense the Potter Valley Project has proposed removing Scott dam, but so far refused to even consider removing Cape Horn dam. That will have to change.”
CANNABIS IN MENDOCINO COUNTY: AN INTERVIEW WITH SUPERVISOR TED WILLIAMS
According to 5th District Supervisor Ted Williams, because of mitigations in the Phase One Cannabis Cultivation Activity Ordinance that do not require site specific CEQA reviews for cannabis cultivation permits, documentation for a county permit does not fulfill the prerequisite requirements for a grower to become legally licensed by the state of California, a process that requires a site-specific review.
CATCH OF THE DAY, April 1, 2021
ANTHONY BEWLEY, Potter Valley. DUI, probation revocation.
LILIAN CHANEY, Ukiah. Unlawful display of registration, probation revocation.
DONALD HARRISON, Clearlake/Ukiah. Failure to appear.
FOX HOAGLIN, Covelo. Controlled substance, county parole violation.
LAWRENCE JOAQUIN, Covelo. Probation revocation.
WESLEY MAGDALENO-KENT, Ukiah. DUI causing bodily injury, hit&run resulting in death or injury, suspended license (for DUI), probation revocation.
RYAN MCINTYRE, Ukiah. Felon-addict with firearm, ammo possession by prohibited person.
JUSTINE NORTON, Ukiah. Disobeying court order, resisting, failure to appear.
MICAH PILGRAM, Point Arena. Burglary.
ERYCKA SMITH, Willits. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, taking vehicle without owner’s consent, resisting, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
IN SEARCH OF SACAJAWEA
by William J. Hughes
I'm guessing we all know something about her. Lewis And Clark, and all. I now know she was more interpreter than guide, but still there with them.
I've met her -- metaphysically speaking, of course -- but also physically along the Corps of Discovery's western course.
As a prelude to my telling, I should mention that my brother worked at Monticello (you know, Thomas Jefferson's hilltop slave compound) for several years in several positions. I was most privileged to have a close look at a lot of what Thomas Jefferson was -- Lewis and Clark's sponsor of course, Sacajawea never separate for me, always there with them, if not for their entire journey, but certainly there for a lot of my journey of life so far; on through the spirit and native life associations of the 1960s in my own time as a park ranger in Yellowstone and Everglades National Park.
Because of Yellowstone Park, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana are neighborhoods in my life. Three Forks, Montana -- the headwaters of the Missouri, the Madison, Jefferson and Gallatin rivers (you can tell it was the Louisiana purchase) build to the Lewis and Clark waterway west from St. Louis.
And there we stood in the empty Three Forks State Park, right where Shoshone Sacajawea, “bird woman,” taken away from her family and tribe. Of course the ground and the rivers have changed over the years, but it is still pretty raw and real. She is here. Probably the first time I've been where she’s…
Fort Benton, Montana. After open prairie Montana you drop down into a canyon, a gorge like a meteor crater, Fort Benton on the Missouri, the river running deep and cold, full of the Corps’ history here. They saw this without the little town with its grand railroad hotel, without any of us to come anywhere around, they must have felt what we get near to feeling beside the big river with another humiliating statue of Sacajawea behind us; this statue a lesser humiliation of her then Charlottesville, Virginia’s Sacajawea beneath Lewis and Clark clutching at their legs (soon to come down?) and her in this version lying prone beneath them. Remember, this young woman traveled with them with a kid on her back. She got them horses from the Shoshone to get them over the Bitterroot Mountains and in part helped lead them over the mountains in winter. We pay her our respects.
Speaking of the Bitterroot Mountains, once in Montana we stood on Lemhi Pass, between Montana and Idaho where she stood, a large replica of the "peace coin" the Corps carried marked on the ground. From up there, their view ahead, their coin to inform the tribes that they now had a new boss back east -- no votes taken by the tribes of course. Their course ahead of them -- rugged to say the most. We joked, “Let's turn back."
From there we followed them down to what is now the Sacajawea Memorial Area -- a section of tiny forest dedicated to her (we are in her Shoshone Tribe’s neighborhood) by the Daughters of the American Revolution. Quiet, all-encompassing, footpaths and benches.
On down to the Salmon River and Salmon, Idaho, to the Sacajawea Center, unknown to us and unfortunately for us closed. But it's another stop close to her.
Again, I've learned that here, here she was home. And when I get back home to Sacramento, I'm digging around in my pocket for some change and I pull out a darkened/worn nickel. Thomas Jefferson on the cover and on the flip side a replica of the Lewis and Clark coin, 2003, 200 year anniversary of Lewis and Clark, 1803, and my brother was at the Monticello ceremony to commemorate it. So with the coin in hand I get that "meant to be" metaphysically and physically.
Now I have a Sacajawea coin (still available) on my key ring along with a strap of leather from Fort Benton, Montana. One morning I used a Sacajawea coin to pay for morning coffee. The young lady barista at first didn't think it was legal tender and did not know who Sacajawea was. Now she does. I gave her a “Who Was Sacajawea“ book, almost elementary school but tells her tale quite well.
If you know her tale at all you will know that she was eventually reunited with her Shoshone tribe while with Lewis and Clark. The state Capitol in Helena, Montana, has a Charles M. Russell mural in one of the legislative chambers depicting the tribe’s celebration of her return. Monumentally metaphysical and physical. They're with the Shoshone is where the Corps gets the horses across the Bitterroot Mountains courtesy of Sacajawea being able to interpret four languages. No wonder she's on a coin. And if you'd like some more you are now on your own.
That concludes the prelude, all of which will lead me north from Sacramento to northwestern Oregon for Fort Clatslop outside Astoria, and her and them, long journey’s outward and at the mouth of the Columbia River and the vast Pacific. Somewhat my journey’s end with her, with them, that is, until we get back to Salmon, Idaho and the Sacajawea Center and eventually at her resting place on the Wind River residence — better use of it than a reservation -- in Wyoming.
Would like to meander up the Pacific Coast Road North but got to there so I-5 North will be my Missouri River. I brought along the Lewis and Clark journals to finally read on site. The wonder of their journey and then the politics of their journey and the current Lakota Sioux protesting any reenactment of their journey and who in the hell were Napoleon and Thomas Jefferson to make the Louisiana deal? Napoleon — there’s another mural in the Helena state capital that depicts Napoleon signing off on the deal -- first time I've ever seen Napoleon involved -- usually it's Lewis and Clark and Jefferson, period (not a Charles M. Russell).
But before I leave my town, lunch with a friend from those parts in Oregon. He grew up around all the Lewis and Clark and Sacajawea a person could want. He's a fount, a deep well of information and enthusiasm. We both can't wait.
California's Mount Shasta is a large exclamation point on Northern California. Just thinking on Lewis and Clark and Yellowstone National Park. The Corps of Discovery didn't discover it so it slept, except for native inhabitants, until the time for it was right enough for us.
The Oregon border, no mountain looming unless you consider Shakespeare in Ashland.
Going way up, Astoria, Oregon, on the Columbia River and the Pacific. I've been to Portland, somewhat impressed, then on up to Seattle, too too much, Bellingham just enough and out to the San Juan Islands for orcas and the spectacular ocean, then off to Olympic National Park where the ferns were trees and you could have seen a dinosaur. In fact, Jefferson instructed Lewis and Clark to be on the look out for mastodons on their journey. Such creatures as might still exist -- as a Lewis and Clark journal entry might read.
Coming up on Portland on I-5 with all the same old cross-continent crap -- is it Boise?, is it Illinois?, is it Syracuse New York? — every franchise of everything thrown your way, swinging around it on 205, just the same, traffic, but it takes you around 284 east and the mighty Columbia River, big and bold beside a fine country like highway below towering cliffs and forests, Mount Hood, like the snowed over major “hood" of this neighborhood, enchanted cliffs and forests, mushroom people, the Corps of Discovery in their handmade canoes making their way towards the Pacific, near/mere specks on the big water. I can see Sacajawea kneeling balanced in one of the canoes, kneeling perhaps in prayer for what she and her infant son had come to.
Come to Stevenson Washington if you can, just across the Bridge of the Gods -- I kid you not, as Lewis or Clark might have entered in their journals and they were wise guys from New York like myself -- wiser now for seeing this great expanse of a nation’s sacred river, over from Oregon to Washington on this funky, iron, almost railroad bridge, no passport check, no sentry box. So America, relax.
Stevenson, Washington, a river town like one you might find along California's Russian River, or on the Hudson in upper New York, settings of parallel/equal beauty, and those forested islands in the river so signature to here.
Out on a short pier, so I'm going in behind the snow brushed hills, quiet, Covid quiet, the big river, "he just keeps rolling along."
Wouldn't be a lower-level motel without a cop car flashing its lights outside my motel window. Ahh, the "deplorables.”
The morning sun just not warm enough yet to melt the frosted ice on the car windows. But the early sun promises a fine new day, the new day stop at one of those unique Oregon coffee kiosks which always manage to hire very fine looking women. This kiosk is no exception, long slender hand and orange nails handing me out my cup runneth over.
Over the gods only bridge, the big river guiding me along, stopping for a view at a posted tale of some Brit bigshot, a Vicecount Hood and his sponsored Brit ship nosin’ up a river and thus the local Hooded names. What is a Vicecount?
No rain, sun, sun, clouds and the shining river, no boats, all images of them, taking me into Portland. Portland way too much, another pile of too much, a fine setting to be sure, but compared to a river village…
Let's "break on through to the other side,” a two-lane Route 30 west to Astoria, fog and sun and fog and sun along the industrialized Colombia, oceangoing freighters, lumber, forests, cut lumber, then a few more Ace Hardware towns with fewer streetlights, St. Helen's, Knapa, signs for Astoria, Clatsop County (Clatsop the tribe that once lived here) then this great looming iron bridge like Astoria’s own Eifel tower, more glowering than Parisien, only intimidating to me -- maybe ’Nam staff — but it looks ominous, long carnival ride across the river to Washington. I guess a toll and after the Bridge of the Gods back upriver this bridge looks more like the Bridge of the Valkyrie. So riverside and piers and docks and industrial and commercial fishing and logging and a little look around the Ken Kesey, Jack London towne and a sign for it, Clatsop. Sacajawea in the real.
Across a causeway bridge, gray sky, blue sky, a warm sunny day, traffic, traffic, traffic, water, water everywhere, green, green hills, modern life, modern life, turn off for the fort, quiet, quiet, woods, woods, green moss, green ferns, Sacajawea close by now.
Parking lot with two other cars, the visitors center very much open, sat comfortably in the ancient woods in its earth colors of wood.
Having been a park ranger I am on immediate/intimate terms with the ranger at the desk. I've brought them a sketch of Lewis and Clark returning with a mastodon direct from an intern from my brother's Monticello, a photo from up on Lemhi Pass in Idaho and a short story of mine, “Whale of a Tale" about them and a whale. Look it up in the Corps journals.
We rangers share our Sacajawea and Monticello. Now it's time to walk the 100 sign marked yards in the Merlin woods to the fort.
Oh my, Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, Swiss Family Robinson, the small log fort literally nestled in a clearing in the mossy forest, and not exactly a Fort Apache or any cavalry, John Wayney outpost with all their familiar wooden post upright battlements. This William Rogers Clark design would make Frank Lloyd Wright smile, more slanted, more winged, more horizontal in design; not so much the usual upright posts but more straight across with slanting roofs on the two separate sections with the usual straight up front gate. It's actually funky. Just this rather unique construction was worth the trip, worth a surprise. Let's go in.
Fort Stevens is a lot, campgrounds first. How green was my campground -- as lush as the Emerald Isle, with the Pacific close by, out on a sort of peninsula, a long finger that reaches into the Columbia River along the Pacific Coast.
Shore batteries. Battery Russell where some of the shells almost fell, All gray and abandoned likely the grown-over German "Atlantic Wall" gun bunkers of Normandy which you constantly see on the History Channel. Ghostly/grisly reminders of war and young reminders/memories of running around in the abandoned bunkers of Fort Schyler, New York. Here, the green moss and the vines are winning this war.
Peace. Magnificent Peace, up on a wooden observation tower, right at the black rocks seawall/jetty that protects the river’s mouth from the crashing gray ocean. Magnificent.
War. Now the actual For Stevens. Ghost fort remains of skeletal bricks on the green grass, stand-alone chimneys, some buildings still solid but empty, not exactly "living history," an old gray, peeling stone gun emplacement with an actual big gun. Climb the ladder and you can see the Pacific and the river. You can also see Japanese/Americans locked up on this coast because, so they said, of the war raging out on the Pacific. You could picnic in peace on the well-kept lawns. The Hudson’s Bay Company sure did back in those fur trading/taking days. No picnic for the tribes once the invaders decided their fate. The fate of the Union, Fort Stevens very much in use during our Civil War. Lots of goodies out on this coast. Could the rebs have ever? We will never know and there is no visitor center staff to help you know.
Time for a Buoy Beer as promised by my Sacramento pal, and the Astor Pillar back in town. I don't particularly want to go back into Astoria or any such city right now, too languid from the woods and the surf and the silence, but here goes.
Banging around, stranger in town until I find the Buoy Beer on the wharf, closed. So up the hill through the seafaring, lumbering town to up, up to the Astor Pillar caps. You get it, Astoria for John Jacob Astor and the fur trade. They want $5 to park so I just circled the colorful Trajan Column and its park with its vast viewpoints, the pillar itself, I guess, telling an Astoria history.
I'm still not going over that high iron bridge, just parked at the Flavel mansion on its hill, old Victorian Queen Ann blown up on Queen Alice mushrooms, with one enormous redwood, its own mansion of reddish wood that Paul Bunyan couldn't reach. I have no idea who or what Flavel is or was.
I would poke around some more but it's getting dark and I need shelter for the night. Seaside, Oregon will do. What's in a name gets you every time.
It's disappointing. I want a seaside mushroom village, sea nymphs at the gates. This is a mushroomed up resort town, not too big and certainly not too small, but all in all too much. The Hillcrest Inn doesn't ask for much in cash so here I'll build my port for the night. Resort town? Is there ever really enough warm summer here to go swimming in the ocean? I mean, it's freezing in San Francisco further south. This ain't no Santa Monaco or Fort Lauderdale. More like Fort Bragg, California, cold. Lots of windsurfing stuff but lounging in the summer sun?
Plans for sun-up are back on Route 30 to I-5 south or meander down old 101 coast road. Let's have a little legal pre-rolled and decide. Guess which won?
It was good going, rugged coast window shots and turnouts, vista views and lighthouses, the all-encompassing forest all wet with dripping moss and rain, rain, glorious rain as part of this geography journey, twisting and turning, cows and farms, lumbering scars, motels and more motels -- again, can one go swimming in the summer ocean?
Oh hell, stopping for a coffee and before I realize it this roadside kiosks is a Dutch Brothers kiosk. A frickin’ franchise all gussied up fast food style. It's too late, I'm in. It hurts after all the funky kiosk shacks along the way. I give up. But the cup winds up in a verdant rest area beside a talking stream with the mushroom world all around. America the beautiful, my beautiful.
Shabby in a good way, almost the wild west town way, the town after town going down 101 south, big timber, big fishing, narrow twisting road, gas at three bucks plus, attendants to pump -- takes some getting used to -- do I tip or not? In my case, not. Oregon and New Jersey make pump attendants mandatory and that's it. Talk about uniting two rather different Americas.
The American speed merchant I-5 to the east beckons. Coos Bay Oregon you pick up Route 42 East so you still have time to meander before you new blast off for the end of the trail in California for now -- before on to Sacajawea in Idaho and the Wind River Rez residence.
(Journal Note: Too much covid in or out or take or stay or closed, so always the local grocery stores. Yes, some salmon and some crab, but mostly the usual American fare.)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
J’Biden released his $2.2 Trillion infrastructure plan today in which he shows he still believes in magic. We’ll see if he announces infrastructure week every two weeks like the previous prez did.
J’Biden wants to subsidize big oil and big gas industries with gimmicky subsidies for carbon capture that put money (cash not tax offsets) directly into oil and gas industry pockets. Not different from the previous prez.
It has been more than 40 years since the first Earth Day and the free market has failed to solve the environmental crisis. J’Biden fantastically thinks (wishes) that the free market will save us, and fails to take crucial and ambitious steps toward phasing out fossil fuels. Same as the previous prez.
J’Biden says he is going to run in 2024 (as does the previous prez), maybe on this infrastructure spending plan. But $2.2 Trillion is not enough, even if we tax the rich to pay for it. J’Biden’s conservative infrastructure plan is setting the stage and making it easy for a future presidential run by AOC.
I NEVER WAS A BIG GUY. I never was an aggressive guy, but I could be aggressive. It wasn’t my first nature. When boxing is all you’ve done your whole life, that’s what makes you successful. There were a lot of things I didn’t have, but I was good at boxing. My mother told me, “You have to be thankful for what you can do, and stop worrying about what you can’t do.”
THE NEW HOUSE is almost a major character in my story. I am the product of long corridors, empty sunlit rooms, upstair indoor silences, attics explored in solitude, distant noises of gurgling cisterns and pipes, and the noise of wind under the tiles. Also, of endless books.
--C.S. Lewis, 1955; from "Surprised by Joy"
“SOME DAY I'm going to have to stand before God, and if He asks me why I didn't let that [Jackie] Robinson fellow play ball, I don't think saying 'because of the color of his skin' would be a good enough answer.”
Branch Rickey stood by his principles. A religious man, as a young baseball player, he chose not to participate in games played on Sundays. As a manager later in life, he would keep with this same practice, refusing to even come to the ballpark on Sundays.
Branch dedicated much of his working life to baseball, where he was known as a change-maker and innovator. He helped create what is now known as the “farm system” and the batting helmet. Most importantly, he ended the color barrier, the unwritten rule that kept Black athletes from playing in the MLB, when he signed Jackie Robinson.
I WAS A QUIET SORT of boy, but sometimes the kids we used to play with would start fights with my sisters. I would take their part. I didn't know how to fight, then, and lots of times I got whipped. Then sometimes I won — sometimes. One time I remember I was getting whipped by a kid who was bigger than me. I got desperate and swung a hard right with all my might, and knocked the kid out. I was so surprised that I ran all the way home.
TRAVELS IN MEXICO
by Paul Theroux
At the end of the road, which grew sandier until it was covered with a thickness of ribbed sand, the beach was awash with breaking waves -- and sandpipers, plovers, turnstones, and a flock of eight brown pelicans flying in formation overhead, across a sign in the dunes that warned “Turtle Nesting Season.” I left the car on the road and walked along the beach, through Boca Chica State Park, to where the green river poured into the Gulf of Mexico.
No fence, no buildings, nothing but sawgrass and low dunes and birds and nesting turtles.
I was stopped at a checkpoint on the narrow road back to Brownsville, and although the border patrol officer waved me past the barrier, I stopped and asked what he was looking for.
“We're looking for people."
"Do you find them?"
"Now and then. We find them in cars. They cross the river and come down this road. Smugglers have them in vans sometimes."
I have more questions, but the officer interrupted me with an order.
"You can go, sir."
I ended my traverse from Tijuana with the vision of the border as the front line of a battleground — our tall fences, their long tunnels. We want jobs, we depend on cheap labor, and, knowing our weaknesses, the cartels fight to own the border. The migrants were restless young men, tough guys and desperados, ambitious would-be students and field hands, and women who wanted nothing more than a low-paying job in a meatpacking plant or a chicken farm. And weeping mothers, separated from their children, struggling over the fence and walking in the desert to save their families.
One encounter in particular stayed in my memory, like an apparition I have been privileged to experience: Maria, in the Comedor in Nogales, who had related to me how she had left her three small children in Oaxaca. Abandoned by her husband, destitute, with no chance of supporting her family, she had left her children in the care of her mother and crossed the border with four other desperate women.
"I wanted to find work as a cleaner in a hotel," she said softly. Separated from the other women in the Arizona desert, she had become lost, was arrested, roughed up, jailed, and then deported. Her eyes filled with tears when she talked about her children. Later I saw her alone, praying before she ate, an iconic image of piety and hope. Far from her children, she seemed like the tragic mother of a Mexican legend, the ghost La Llorona, the weeping woman, lamenting her loss.
Sometimes a whispered word, or a single image or glimpse of humanity, can be a powerful motivation for looking deeper into the world.
THE LIBERAL CONTEMPT FOR MARTIN LUTHER KING’S FINAL YEAR
by Jeff Cohen & Norman Solomon
The anniversary of his assassination always brings a flood of tributes to Martin Luther King Jr., and this Sunday will surely be no exception. But those tributes — including from countless organizations calling themselves progressive — are routinely evasive about the anti-militarist ideals that King passionately expressed during the final year of his life.
You could call it evasion by omission.
The standard liberal canon waxes fondly nostalgic about King’s “I have a dream” speech in 1963 and his efforts against racial segregation. But in memory lane, the Dr. King who lived his last year is persona non grata.
The pattern is positively Orwellian. King explicitly condemned what he called “the madness of militarism.” And by any reasonable standard, that madness can be diagnosed as pervading U.S. foreign policy in 2021. But today, almost all politicians and mainstream media commentators act as though King never said such things, or if he did then those observations have little to do with today.
But they have everything to do with the USA now in its twentieth year of continuous warfare. The Pentagon’s constant bombing in the Middle East and elsewhere is the scarcely noticed wallpaper in the U.S. media’s echo chamber.
What compounds the madness of militarism in the present day is the silence that stretches eerily and lethally across almost the entire U.S. political spectrum, including the bulk of progressive organizations doing excellent work to challenge economic injustice and institutionalized racism here at home.
But as for the institutionalized militarism that terrorizes, wounds and kills people overseas — overwhelmingly people of color — a sad truth is that most progressive U.S. organizations have little to say about it. At the same time, they eagerly and selectively laud King as a visionary and role model.
King didn’t simply oppose the Vietnam War. In an April 4, 1967 speech at New York’s Riverside Church delivered exactly a year before he was assassinated — titled “Beyond Vietnam” — he referred to the U.S. government as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today” and broadly denounced the racist and imperial underpinnings of U.S. foreign policy. From Vietnam to South Africa to Latin America, King said, our country was on the “wrong side of a world revolution” — suppressing revolutions “of the shirtless and barefoot people” in the Global South, instead of supporting them.
King critiqued the economics of U.S. foreign policy, complaining about “capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries.” And he castigated U.S. federal budgets prioritizing militarism: “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
Mainstream media today pretend that King’s anti-militarism pronouncements were never uttered, but that was not the case in 1967. Condemnation was swift, emphatic and widespread. Life magazine denounced the “Beyond Vietnam” speech as “demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi.” The New York Times and Washington Post both published harsh and patronizing editorials.
Today, it’s not just a problem of elite media — but also a vast spectrum of organizations that are taking a dive in the fight against the warfare state. This problem undermines the political resonance and social mission of countless organizations that do wonderful work but are betraying a crucial part of the living legacy of Dr. King, whom they never tire of claiming to be emulating and venerating.
This crisis is now heightened under the Biden administration. In an ominous echo of the mid-1960s, when King began speaking out against the warfare state, the kind of split between somewhat progressive domestic policies and militaristic foreign policies that occurred under the Lyndon Johnson presidency now appears to be occurring under the presidency of Joe Biden.
In the persistent “guns vs. butter” reckoning, it’s clear that federal funds needed to uplift poor and working-class people as well as our planet keep getting diverted to militarism and war.
Dr. King pointed out that, in effect, what goes around comes around. As he put it, “the bombs in Vietnam explode at home.” But there is a dire shortage of large progressive organizations willing to say that the bombs in Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere have been exploding at home for two decades.
Twenty-first century bombs that have been exploding overseas, courtesy of U.S. taxpayers, also explode at home in terms of the further militarization of the economy, police, culture and consciousness — as well as the misdirection of vital resources to the Pentagon rather than human needs.
“It challenges the imagination to contemplate what lives we could transform if we were to cease killing,” Dr. King said as the Vietnam War raged. The massive U.S. military budget still functions the way King described it — “some demonic, destructive suction tube.” Yet the silences across so much of the U.S. political spectrum, including the liberal establishment and a great many progressive groups, persist in contempt of what Martin Luther King stood for during the final year of his life.
(Jeff Cohen is an activist, author and co-founder of RootsAction.org. He was an associate professor of journalism and the director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College, and founder of the media watch group FAIR. In 2002-2003, he was a producer and pundit at MSNBC. He is the author of Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media.
Norman Solomon is the national director of RootsAction.org and the author of many books including War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from California to the 2016 and 2020 Democratic National Conventions. Solomon is the founder and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY #2
It does seem to be magic with money, dollar prestidigitation worthy of a David Copperfield. Maybe it’s voodoo economics, a term George H.W. Bush used referring to Reagan. Maybe he was right about Ronald, what with zombie thrifts and all, and the huge savings and loan scandal of the eighties.
Although economists say you can’t continue to just print up money, we keep on defiantly doing that magic trick with unknown consequences. A number of money mavens think that it’s not the actual level of debt or the deficit, but how that level is trending in relation to GDP that’s important. It seems to be a simple formula that makes sense, that if economic output minus borrowing costs is greater than taxes minus spending, debt as a % of GDP should decline. Thus sustainability.
These mavens also say that if there is no real growth, deficits have to be reduced or inflation has to be created by the Fed. What, it was half the price yesterday!
Anyway, at times it all seems so dreary, and I like to think that I’m riding on a magic carpet of greenbacks that can turn into gold when I navigate correctly towards the sun. Well maybe I am, but without the gold. Here we are in unchartered financial territory, already being held aloft by the ceaseless conjuring up of cash. It’s a magical mystery tour de force.
Is that a thread unraveling in the carpet? How do I get off this thing? I’m gonna have to do a D.B. Cooper. But wait, I don’t have any kind of parachute, let alone a golden one. Geez, that’s a long way down, isn’t it…..
EEL ZOOM SERIES ON TOPICS OF INTEREST ABOUT THE EEL RIVER WATERSHED
The Eel River Recovery Project (ERRP) will be presenting Eel Zoom Friday afternoons at 5PM from April 9 to May 28 on topics of interest about the Eel River watershed, including forest health, salmon run trends, Sacramento pikeminnow management, how watersheds work, how flow has changed, salmon parks, toxic cyanobacteria and more. Presentations will be made by various experts, but in a fun and playful way suited for the Friday at 5 PM “Happy Hour” timing of presentations.
Since 2012, ERRP Managing Director Patrick Higgins has been assisting citizen scientists around the watershed with monitoring, visiting hundreds of locations and all the while photo and video documenting fish life. Pat will kick off the Eel Zoom series on April 9 by sharing his best pictures and videos in a presentation entitled the Secret Lives of Eel River Fishes Revealed. Topics will include salmon run trends.
On April 16, Native American sage Ernie Merrifield, who was recently featured in the KEET documentary Harmony in the Eel River Basin, will join forest health scientist and organizer Tim Bailey to talk about why we need to work on improving forest and grassland health at the Eel River watershed scale now. On April 23, three scientific experts will make presentations on Eel River Toxic Cyanobacteria. Dr. Keith Bouma-Gregson earned his degree from the University of California Berkeley for his work on Eel River cyanobacteria that he will summarize. Rich Fadness of the North Coast Water Board is also an Eel River cyanobacteria expert, and will talk about lesser known toxic species. His new associate Michael Thomas will also join discussions.
Zoom in on April 30 to learn about the Lower Eel Salmon Parkway, that includes a development of a trail along the old railroad right of way, which would be a segment of the Great Redwood Trail, and restoration of critical salmon holding habitat. Pat Higgins will talk about rejuvenating the river by restoring the cottonwood gallery forests on river terraces to focus river energy and scour a deeper channel and pools. Adam Canter of the Wiyot Tribe Natural Resources Department will talk about the Tribe’s connection to the lower Eel River and their hope for its future. Fortuna City Manager Merritt Perry will express support for this project and talk about how it fits into the City’s recreation plans.
On May 7, Pat will be joined by Potter Valley Tribe EPA Director Gregg Young and Robin Leler of the Redwood Chapter Sierra Club to talk about the possibility of an Upper Eel River Salmon Park. This concept involves transfer of PG&E lands within the Potter Valley Project to the Mendocino National Forest so they can restore salmon habitat between the dams, maximize recreation potential, and also implement forest health.
Controlling the Invasive Pikeminnow will be the subject of a May 14 Zoom. Stillwater Sciences fisheries biologist Abel Brumo assists the Wiyot Tribe in experimental pikeminnow control and will discuss their project. Bureau of Land Management fish biologist Zane Ruddy discovered pikeminnow in the North Fork Eel River and will talk about attempts to control them there. Pat Higgins will summarize South Fork Eel River pikeminnow trends since ERRP studies began in 2016, and make a case for why this species needs to be controlled to allow native fish recovery.
Zoom in on May 21 to listen to Dr. David Dralle, who is part of the Angelo Reserve Critical Zone Observatory study team, and Eli Asarian of Riverbend Sciences present on the topic of How Watersheds Work and Flow Changes Over Time. David will talk about how water storage in hillslopes works and how geology effects flow in the Eel River watershed. Eli will recap the findings of his Eel River flow study sponsored by Friends of Eel River and present hypotheses on why flows changed over time. He will also include discussion of water conservation and watershed restoration that could help augment flows in the future.
The last Eel Zoom presentation on May 28 will feature retired Six Rivers National Forest archaeologist Thomas Keter, who will talk about the little-known North Fork Eel River. He not only studied the archaeology of the watershed, but also helped map its vegetation. Tom concluded that prohibition of Native American burning 160 years ago resulted in major ecological shifts and drops in productivity and extraordinary fire risk.
For more information on how to sign up for these Zoom events, see www.eelriverrecovery.org or the ERRP Facebook page.
Patrick Higgins, Managing Director
Eel River Recovery Project
Loleta, CA 95551
C: (707) 223-7200
H/O: (707) 839-4987
It’s understandable that people formerly experiencing homelessness are reluctant to leave city-provided hotel accommodation for supportive housing, losing 30% or more of their benefits in the process.
The solution is simple: The city should use its power of eminent domain to condemn the hotels and permanently house these residents.
MANIFEST DISMANTLING was hard at work in 2015, during the largest dam removal in California history. Just a few hours south of here on the Carmel River, the concrete San Clemente Dam had been built in 1921 by a real estate company in the Monterey Peninsula in order to provide water to a growing number of Monterey residents. But by the 1940s, it had filled up with so much sediment that another larger dam was built upstream. In the 1990s, the San Clemente Dam was declared not only useless but seismically unsafe due to its proximity to a fault line. An earthquake might have sent not only water but 2.5 million cubic yards of accumulated sediment into the towns downstream.
The dam was problem for more than just humans. Steelhead trout, which live in the ocean but must travel upstream each year to spawn, found the dam’s fish ladder impassable; even if they made it, returning to the ocean meant facing the lethal hundred-foot drop on the way back…And the effects extended downstream: the dam withheld the debris essential for creating the small pools and hidden areas that trout need to survive–either to rest while swimming upstream, or to live for the first few years before heading to the ocean for the first time. In other words, the river’s loss of complexity spelled death for the steelhead. What had once been trout runs in the thousands had dwindled to 249 in 2013.
The cheapest option was basically a Band-Aid solution: a $49 million plan to add more concrete to the dam to stabilize it in the event of an earthquake. Instead California American Water, which owned the dam, partnered with various state and federal agencies to carry out a $84 million plan that not only removed the dam but included habitat restoration for the trout and the California red-legged frog, another threatened species. So much silt had accumulated behind the dam that before the agencies could remove it, they had to reroute the river around the old dam site, which would be used for sediment storage. Thus, the project involved not only tearing down a structure but building a riverbed from scratch…
Meanwhile, those hoping for a dramatic demolition of the dam were met with disappointment. Once the river had been successfully rerouted, six excavators and two sixteen-thousand-pound pneumatic hammers arrived and proceeded to slowly and arduously pick away at the concrete structure, turning it into dust bit by bit. In his piece on the dam removal for the San Francisco Chronicle, Steven Rubenstein quotes the president of the demolition company: “It’s fun to knock things down…I spend a lot of time looking at buildings, trying to figure out the best way to get rid of them.” He adds that “if you didn’t wreck something, you couldn’t build something else in its place.” But Rubenstein notes that in this case, of course, “the idea is to replace the dam with nothing.”
All of this gives the project a strange forward-and-backward feeling. In time-lapse videos of the project in progress, we see people working with the industriousness of ants, set to the majestic music that you’d expect to accompany any great public works project–only this time, the structure is disappearing instead of appearing. Another part of the video features archival footage of the dam being built (just as industriously) in 1921. Over these images–originally meant to depict construction and mastery–a voice narrates the dam’s destruction: “Building dams was once a triumph of humankind’s ability to control nature. As our society evolves we are learning to seek balance rather than control in our relationship with our environment.”
Our idea of progress is so bound up with the idea of putting something new in the world that it can feel counterintuititive to equate progress with destruction, removal, and remediation. But this seeming contradiction actually points to a deeper contradiction: of destruction (e.g., of ecosystems) framed as construction (e.g., of dams). Nineteenth-century views of progress, production, and innovation relied on an image of the land as a blank slate where its current inhabitants and systems were like so many weeds in what was destined to become an American lawn. But if we sincerely recognize all that was already here, both culturally and ecologically, we start to understand that anything framed as construction was actually also destruction.
I am interested in manifest dismantling as a form of purposiveness bound up with remediation, something that requires us to give up the idea that progress can only face forward blindly. It provides a new direction for our work ethic. Remediation certainly takes the same amount of work: in this case, a dam that had taken three years to build took close to the same amount of time to remove. The word “innovation” came up a lot in coverage of the San Clemente Dam removal, since it not only required significant design and engineering, but also unprecedented cooperation and consultation among engineers, scientists, lawyers, local agencies, state agencies, nonprofits, and members of the Ohlone Esselen tribe. Seen through the lens of manifest dismantling, tearing down the dam is indeed a creative act, one that does put something new in the world, even if it’s putting it back.
Of course, manifest dismantling not only messes with what we consider forward and backward — it also requires a kind of Copernican shift of humans away from the center of things. As [Aldo] Leopold put it, we must go "from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it."
In 2002, writer and environmental activist Wendell Berry wrote the intro to an edition of the 1978 book The One-Straw Revolution. Its author, a Japanese farmer named Masanobu Fukuoka, experienced this Copernican shift when he invented what he called "do-nothing farming." Inspired by the productivity of an abandoned lot that he saw filled with grasses and weeds, Fukuoka figured out a method of farming that made use of existing relationships in the land. Instead of flooding fields and sowing rice in the spring, he scattered the seeds directly on the ground in the fall, as they would have fallen naturally. In place of conventional fertilizer, he grew a cover of green clover, and threw the leftover stalks back on top when he was done.
Fukuoka’s method required less labor, no machines, and no chemicals, but it took him decades to perfect and required extremely close attention. If everything was done at precisely the right time, the reward was unmistakable: not only was Fukuoka’s farm more productive and sustainable than neighboring farms, his method was able to remediate poor soils after a few seasons, creating farmable land on rocky outcrops and other inhospitable areas.
In his book, Fukuoka writes that "because the world is moving with such furious energy in the opposite direction, it may appear that I have fallen behind the times." Indeed, just as we associate innovation with the production of something new, we also associate an inventor with creating some new kind of design. But Fukuoka’s "design" was more or less to remove the design altogether. This leads to the uncanny quality of manifest dismantling. As he writes: "That which was viewed as primitive and backward is now unexpectedly seen to be far ahead of modern science. This may seem strange at first, but I do not find it strange at all."
— Jenny Odell, How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy