TONIGHT'S festival of lights at the Botanical Gardens has been canceled because of rain. It will be re-scheduled.
THE PUBLIC REVIEW DRAFT of the Mendocino Redwood Company Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), Natural Community Conservation Plan (NCCP), and Timber Management Plan (TMP) has been released for public comment. Approval of the HCP and NCCP lead to federal and state permits to “take” 11 animal and 33 plant species that are listed as threatened or endangered by federal or state governments. In this context, “take” means “harm, harass, or kill.” These permits will cover all 213,244 acres of the MRC lands and the proposed permit term is 80 years. During this 80-year term, the only allowable public comment on timber operations will be whether a specific Timber Harvest Plan is or is not consistent with the approved property-wide Timber Management Plan or whether there are new, unanticipated significant changes in the environment that require revision of the plan. The permits bind the government and the public for the 80-year term, but the company can walk away from the permits whenever it wants to, for instance, if it sells the property. The MRC Plans have been in development since 2002. The public has been given 88 days to review the multi-volume plan and its associated Environmental Impact Report. Close of comment is scheduled for February 21, 2013. Most of this brief comment period coincides with the Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year holiday season. Oh Joy!
A TEN-DAY NOTICE has been provided that public meetings on the plans will be held on Tuesday, December 11 from 7-9pm at the Redwood Empire Fair Fine Arts Building in Ukiah, and December 12, 2012 from 7-9pm at the CV Starr Center in Fort Bragg.
THE PLANS may be viewed at various public libraries around the County and, if your internet connection can handle huge files, there is a link to the plan at the bottom of the page at http://www.fire.ca.gov/resource_mgt/resource_mgt_EPRP_PTEIR.php or at http://swr.nmfs.noaa.gov/nepa.htm. For a CD copy of the plan, call John Hunter of the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Arcata at 707-822-7201. The addresses to submit comments are included in the plan.
EIGHTY YEARS AGO was 1932. Eighty years from now is 2092. The MRC lands stretch from the headwater streams of the Gualala River watershed to the north Mendocino County line. It took teams of company and agency experts more than 10 years to come up with the plan. The Public gets less than 90 days for review. What could possibly go wrong!
EXCERPTS FROM JUDGE HENDERSON'S remarks at the November 29th hearing at Town Hall in Fort Bragg concerning the proposed cutbacks at the Ten Mile Court in Fort Bragg. (We’ll have a full report on the hearing next week.)
JUDGE HENDERSON opened by introducing judges Reimenschneider, Brennan, Behnke, Mayfield, Nadel, and Moorman. (Judge Nelson was not in attendance, nor was Magistrate Basner.) “If any of you,” the Judge began, “wanted the judges to experience first-hand the problems of driving over the hill during bad weather — I mean, it rained solidly and heavily from Ukiah all the way to Camp 19.”
HENDERSON THEN EXPLAINED their eminence's decision-making process: “Because we have a comfortable number of judges we always try to reach consensus.” Henderson didn't suggest that the “comfortable number of judges” might be part of the problem.) Henderson said the judges had received much opposition to their cutback proposal for Ten Mile. He said the judges realized there were objections to reducing Ten Mile's hours but, he suggested, he hadn't realized there were so many objections, an admission that the judges are totally out of touch with public opinion affecting the lives of some 40% of the people living in Mendocino County.
HENDERSON THEN ANNOUNCED that the Superior Court of Mendocino County “will not reduce court services in Ten Mile” as they'd hope to do. Loud applause from the audience.
“AS PLANNED,” Henderson emphasized. “We have no plans at all to reduce court services — at this time. We stubbed our toe on this one. We are still faced with a budget reduction of around $1 million. We will try to figure out how to do that.”
YES “WE” WILL. And “we” are here to help. Start with the $1 million budget problem. Then assume that each of our nine judges gets a total of about $250k from the taxpayers each year ($186k salary, plus generous benefits). Then look at our neighbor, Lake County. Lake County has five judges. That means Lake County is getting along just fine with four fewer judges for a comparable number of cases. Four times $250k = $1 million. Problem solved!
HENDERSON noted that the courts were not expected to get any of the recently enacted Proposition 30 money, which comes as a surprise to us because it clearly says in the initiative that some of the money would go to the courts. “I can’t say that that’s going to help,” Henderson said.
THIS IS ALL HIGHLY IRRITATING, if not outrageous. So the judges are going back to the drawing board, having made themselves look reasonable by withdrawing this ill-considered proposal that they were fully prepared to stuff down the Coast's throat. When they learned that the Coast wasn't going for it, the judges had to call a public meeting to cool out public opinion. Which was mutinous, and which included all of the County’s top law enforcement officers (the DA, the Sheriff and the three Police Chiefs) and some of them were talking recall of all eight of them if Ten Mile Court was effectively put out of business. What the next sketch off the drawing board of these cosseted shut-ins will look like is anybody’s guess, but it probably won’t be a reduction in the number of judges or judges’ pay. ($186k plus an array of fringes unimagined by Louis the Sun King.)
HENDERSON, the presiding judge, ended by saying it was “ironic” that the judges had made the decision to cut Ten Mile way back only to change their minds after they all had arrived on the Coast. Not bothering to say the obvious: That when the judges realized the people were very, very angry about the matter then they called a public meeting to back off. Prediction: They'll try it again, next time pleading funding shortages but with slightly less cuts at Ten Mile. Their aim is to justify the construction of an oversized new nine-room County Courthouse in Ukiah, and they need as many cases from the Coast as they can get to do that, and if they have to close down Ten Mile to do it they will.
GEOGRAPHICS MAPS & PHOTOS announces the publication of the brand-new Mendocino Coast recreation map covering the entire Mendocino Coast from Gualala to Sinkyone Wilderness. This new map focuses on outdoor recreation sites and trails including hiking, biking, horseback and wheelchair riding in the state parks and Jackson State Forest. The California Coastal Trail is emphasized as well as access trails to the ocean. Additional forms of recreation are covered including arts, beaches, boating, birding, camping, fishing, kayaking, surfing, visitor centers and many others. Close-up maps of Fort Bragg, Noyo Harbor and Mendocino pinpoint the recreation sites as well as shops and services that specialize in recreation. The Mendocino Coast Recreation Map is available on the Coast now at various outlets including the Outdoor Store, Catch-a-Canoe and Bicycles Too, Harvest Market, Out Of This World, Gallery Books, Noyo Fishing Center and Subsurface Progression. More stores are stocking up right now for the holiday season. For more information contact Rixanne Wehren at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Check it out. This is the best out there, and best of all, it's not dominated by wine.)
COMMENT OF THE DAY: “So what comes next? They say that the millennial generation is the most group-oriented, cooperative bunch to come along in the march of Boomers, Xs, and Ys. How much of this is an hallucination of transient computer connectivity, I don't know. The fact that it is so difficult for them financially to even hope to form a household will surely be a defining factor in the choices they make ahead about how exactly to inhabit the landscape. I think they will make out better in this project than their Boomer forerunners, who started out in communes sharing toothbrushes and graduated to dismal McMansions in a geography of nowhere, while dedicating their careers to the looting of posterity. I'm quite sure that many will rediscover a sense of purpose in the re-ordering of social life that lies ahead, which includes a return to different household arrangements and probably much more hierarchical social relations. Implicit in the latter is the now-utterly-incorrect-and-taboo notion of someone knowing their place. The catch is: you need to have a place in order to know your place, and therefore know who you are — and in a society full of people for whom place means nothing, there is little chance of acquiring a real identity, other than the sham raiment of the app-supported avatar life that has taken the place of being human. I had a fugitive thought the other evening walking through my beaten-down small town in the late fall chill. I imagined that instead of the blue tomb-like glow of television emanating from house to house that I could hear the sequential music of parlor pianos, and voices singing to them, and of healthy people coming and going from warm kitchens to fetch firewood, and of groups of people gathered around tables for a meal, and generally of buildings that were truly inhabited, not just storage containers for lives unspent. I grant you it was a fleeting nostalgic fantasy. But isn't nostalgia just a state of being homesick? (— James Kunstler)