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Valley People (July 27, 2022)

THE MEADOW FIRE off deep Peachland Road at Lone Tree and Black Oak ridges was first reported at 12:12pm Tuesday afternoon by a spotter, not a caller. A massive response ensued, involving 196 firefighters, 14 engines, 4 water tenders, 1 helicopter, 3 dozers and a dozen other vehicles. The 196 firefighters included up to 7 hand crews drawn from the Anderson Valley Volunteers, CalFire, the Department of Corrections, and the California Conservation Corps. At 2pm the blaze was described as having burned 20 acres. Two structures — not further described — were destroyed. 16.54 acres burned. Mild winds out of the west drove the fire in an easterly direction into some trees but the fire mostly into open land in steep terrain. The fire was contained by 2pm. Crews remained on site to extinguish hot spots. Cause not yet known. 

THE MEADOW FIRE in deep Peachland was at the site of a dope grow, whether active or not has not yet been revealed.


Here’s some of our crew in a moment of down time on Tuesday’s Meadow Fire, wolfing down some dinner before getting back to work. 

We had a great response from AVFD. Combined with the lucky circumstances that Cal Fire air and ground resources were uncommitted, and that a Cal Fire strike team was returning to the county as the incident was dispatched, forward progress was stopped before the fire could get a foothold in the difficult terrain. 

Thanks very much to the AVFD firefighters who put their lives on hold from the time of dispatch at noon until nearly midnight - and several overnight! And thanks to our first responders who backfilled the ambulance and rescue to make sure that Anderson Valley would be served in the event of a second incident. 

  • Engine 7471 - Boonville - Josh Mathias, BC Clay Eubank, Fred Ehnow
  • Water Tender 7491 - Boonville
    • Day One - BC Angela DeWitt, Ximena Flores 
    • Night One - Kyle Clark BC - Clay Eubank
    • Day Two - Paul Lasicki, Captain Ben Glaus
  • Engine 7484 - Yorkville - Sam Mailliard, Mike Zaugg
  • Engine 7477 - Holmes Ranch, BC Ben Glaus, Ulysses Keevan-Lynch
  • Engine 7468 – Philo, Don Gowan
  • Engine 7463 – Navarro, Paul Lasicki
  • 7400 - Yorkville - Chief Andres Avila
  • Water Tender 7499 - Rancho Navarro - Don Graves
  • Water Tender 7498 - Philo - Kyle Clark
  • Water Tender 7495 - Fish Rock - Sarah McCarter
  • Rescue Coverage in Boonville - Fal Allen, Ondrea Rosen
  • Ambulance Coverage - Antoinette Von Grone, Wayne Howard
  • Support Team - Karin DiFalco, Colin Wilson
  • Logistics - Don Gowan

(AF Fire Department)

CALFIRE'S press office seems on auto-pilot. A week after the Meadow Fire in the east hills of Boonville we're still getting updates. The fire's been out since Tuesday about 2pm.

POST OFFICE smash and grabs at both the Philo and Boonville post offices last week. Someone or someones crudely broke into  boxes in both offices to remove whatever contents are valuable to criminals. Boonville and Philo will now have to be locked at night, an inconvenience to many of us, but these are the times we live in. Postmistress Collette said Monday, “We’ll be locking the door when we leave in the afternoon.” (I was unable to rouse anybody at the Yorkville P.O. so I don’t know if the bad boys (or girls) also hit Yorkville.)  

JULIEANNE! That rare Valley person who doesn’t need a last name. Say “Julieanne” and immediately appears that unmistakeable vision of tall elegance certain to brighten one’s day, as it unfailingly does mine when I find Julieanne behind the counter at Boont Berry Farm. I knew she was a sculptress because she occasionally stops by the newspaper to pick up back issues from which she fashions are really, really fine models for her really, really fine sculptures, among which are Julieanne’s especially fine equine renditions.

FIRE INSURANCE. A local writes: “I got a notice last week that my home insurance was dropping us because of wildfire risk. I'm located on the coast just north of Van Damme state park. I've tried several other insurance companies and no one else will insure us either. Is this happening to other people too? Who is still offering insurance locally? It seems awfully unfair that PG&E is still in business but my family is losing our insurance.”

BUT RAY ALARCON is Johnny on the spot: “I am a Farmers Insurance agent in Mendocino and can try to help you navigate this issue. Yes, some of the smaller companies are either no longer insuring in California or in high risk rated areas and many other companies are not taking on new business in those areas. If it is not acceptable to Farmers I can trying brokering to some others or can place it through the state’s FAIR Plan if that is a viable alternative.”


The card was posted in 1912. Photograph could be near Navarro by the Sea. The card was addressed to Miss Ada Hartly of Boonville (1889-1950), who is buried at the Evergreen Cemetery.

Marshall Newman

TOM'S AVAILABLE: If anyone needs a part time worker or has a gig, please read this. I have a company called Frank's Firewood and we had a great part time worker named Tom Akin. We had to let him go as one of our full time workers is returning after a scheduled leave. I can't say enough good about Tom. He's a super hard worker, dependable and honest, non-drinker and in great shape. He lives in the Valley and of course has his own transportation. His phone is 707 684 9759

LOREN REX: Putting Summer in high gear. CA State Parks - Junior Lifeguard - program has 50 local kids running, swimming, learning to bodyboard and surfing at Big River Beach this Summer. Many thanks to the amazing instructors and community support for making this program such a huge success.

A RECENT STORY in the Chron described on-campus teacher housing at a Bay Area school district. Given the extortionate rents everywhere, even here in the alleged outback, teacher housing as part of the teacher's contract is not unknown. I believe both Laytonville and Covelo provide some staff housing. Over the years, teacher housing has been talked about for Anderson Valley, but actually doing it has never proceeded beyond the talking stage. There's some Boonville space for housing in center field at the high school, and more space in the vast expanse of macadam around the bus barn at the elementary school. But it's not only teachers who struggle to find housing, it's darn near every person who works for wages. 

SORRY to see a for sale sign on the Summit home in central Boonville, and with its sale goes a big hunk of Anderson Valley sports lore amassed by the Summit boys. Between the Summits and their cousins, the Waggoners, the two families represented two generations of the strongest  high school sports teams in Valley history.

THAT SPECTACULAR trumpet vine at Rossi's Hardware is worth a trip to Boonville all by itself.

OLIE ERICKSON, one of many unassuming Valley people who do a lot of good stuff that benefits all of us, recently painted the Boonville firehouse. 

I WAS STARTLED during this morning's (Tuesday) walk when out of the dawn mists I spotted what appeared to be a pack of wolves, all of them contained in a single, impressively sturdy cage, all of them silent, all of them indifferently (presumably) eyeing me as I shuffled past along Anderson Valley Way near Bud Johnson's place. If they aren't wolves, these beautiful creatures are good imitations. I'm guessing wolf-dogs. Pure wolves are illegal in California, half-wolves, if registered, are permitted. The AV Way wolf-dogs must be more wolf than dog because dog-dogs, dumb as they are, would have been barking and jumping all over the place. But these animals, 8-10 of them, just stared, unmoving.

LARRY BENSKY reports from central Berkeley that almost all species of birds that once lived there are gone. “When I first moved here in 1979 there were Bluejays, hummingbirds, Robins, swallows, crows, and hawks. Now all but the crows are gone. So are hundreds of trees, once regularly replaced by a full crew of City arborists and maintenance crews. All gone now, as are their planting and maintenance activities. Berkeley’s privatization has meant crews which occasionally and haphazardly trim trees and occasionally and haphazardly cut them down. Without notice or consultation with residents. Every day on my very limited walks I feed a limited variety of small birds who now nest in rooftops, not trees. But we have more and more rooftops unsuitable for bird nests. And residents don’t have to worry about birds flying into their apartments, We regularly welcomed a few every year, who left the way they came, through windows. New high rise student ghettos don’t have windows that open. So much for nature. So much for Berkeley as refuge from urbanism and its soulless structures and environment.” 

SAME HERE IN BOONVILLE. We have plenty of crows and ravens, fewer birds of other species. I see hummingbirds regularly, an occasional blue jay, but that's it. I suspect the grape industry's heavy use of pesticides and herbicides up here, but in the Bay Area it's all crows, seagulls and pigeons. No sooner had I written that when a bird took off from my bird bath that was none of the above, and way too fast for me to get to my binocs to ID it. The entire natural world is off, as we're informed every day. I noticed years ago that my roses were frying in the bud unless I put them in partial shade. It seemed to me the air was thinner somehow, but checking with much more knowledgeable gardeners, especially my friend Lucille Estes, she said I must be doing something wrong, which I immediately conceded was a strong likelihood. I think the entire situation we find ourselves in is sad, and like every other grandparent I worry that my heirs and assignees will be stepping into a violent, depleted chaos.

A FORT BRAGG correspondent reports, “I have many birds coming to my feeder and the latest is a beautiful bright yellow and black one that I'm trying to get a photo of. Lots of doves around here too. Garbage day seems to attract the crows and seagulls. The hummingbirds have started to show up this past week.”

ALTHEA PATTON WRITES: "Perhaps the Valley birds have moved up into the hills. We have lots of birds and butterflies up here on Signal Ridge. I was lucky enough to have a Western Tanager land on our deck one morning recently. Also lots of Spotted Towhees, Hermit Thrushes, Robins, Hummingbirds, Western Screech Owls, Hawks, Ravens, Vultures & Blue Grouse. Lots of Pigeons too. A few months ago, a vulture flew low over the house with a songbird riding on its wing.”

IF I WERE a bird on the valley floor, I'd certainly head for the hills, what with all the noise and general un-peace down here, not to mention un-belled cats. What we do seem to have in and around Boonville is an awful lot of foxes. I see their scat everywhere on my place and along Anderson Valley Way. Haven't seen much in the way of raccoons, but I'm pretty sure it's a raccoon who disturbs my fish trough in his futile, almost nightly effort to get his insatiable paws on my meager marine life. He raises hell with my water lilies.

BRAD WYLIE'S investigations into early Anderson Valley history recall the first pioneer families to settle here. Pioneer. That term rightly angers, or at least annoys, the descendants of native peoples whose travails and mass disappearances began with the appearance of that first settler, a man named Anderson as it happens, and not the first of that name to discombobulate the Anderson Valley.

PRIOR to the Gold Rush, but only about 30 years prior, the missions in San Rafael and Sonoma were founded, and soon after their founding word got out to the Indians of NorCal that Spanish soldiers were combing the outback for free labor and no-option Christians. 

THERE'S a vague account of a clash between a mission slave hunting expedition and Anderson Valley Indians that occurred in what is now the area around Boonville. I've heard a Spanish sword was found in the hills east of Boonville and now belongs to a local family. 

WE KNOW from archeologist studies that the Anderson Valley watershed was home to at least a thousand people, probably more including nomadic tribes, who thrived here for millennia in an Edenic cocoon of plenty, which came to an abrupt and bloody end only 200 years ago.

THERE are some good histories of the mission period. The best, in my opinion, is Blaise Cendars' Gold, which is mostly about John Sutter, the first white man into the Sacramento Valley who clothed his Indian army in Russian uniforms he'd bought from the Russians as they departed Fort Ross. That fifty years in NorCal before the Gold Rush is fascinating, but the record is so thin that only Cendars' novelistic account of it captures something of what it was like.

HENRY BEESON, a Bear Flagger, ended his days in the Anderson Valley, making his home south of Boonville where the CalFire installation squats in an array of neo-totalitarian architecture. Beeson earned his way as a saddlemaker, at which he was so good his place became busy with buyers from all over.

THE BEAR FLAGGERS are viewed romantically as a noble band of patriots who took California from Mexico, but General Vallejo regarded them as a pack of aimless drifters who rewarded his hospitality by drinking up his liquor and locking him up in his own home.

WELL, there it is. You've got history and then you have true history, and the latter is never as prevalent or as popular as the former. Going by the formal histories of the Anderson Valley this place is one of the most boring, uneventful places there's ever been. But if you get the old timers talking, you soon have confirmation that this place, and its unusual collection of people all the way back to the first post offices and ten thousand years before, is historically as floridly riveting as any, and hurtling faster than ever, seemingly, back — way back.

FOOD BANK NEEDS HELP. Please contact me if you are able and available to volunteer for bag packing (AM) or distribution (2:30-5:30 PM), 2nd & 4th Wednesday every month at the Solar Grange in Philo. Food donations, especially garden produce, appreciated too. It's best if it can be dropped off in the morning when 125 food bags are packed to serve approx 500 people. And, of course, if you need food, please come pick some up for free. We are dedicated to helping everyone have enough healthy food to thrive. Benna Kolinsky, 707/895-3883.

One Comment

  1. Marshall Newman July 27, 2022

    The idiots who did the “smash and grab” thefts at the Boonville and Philo post offices do not deserve to live in Anderson Valley. They should imagine themselves as those they robbed. Violated is how it feels. In addition, they stole some of Anderson Valley’s rural charm, causing the post offices to be locked. Shame on you and shame on those who raised you.

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