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Valley People (February 1, 2023)

THE NAVARRO RIVER is entering a condition that may lead to some backup flooding of Hwy 128 just east of the Hwy 1 bridge by next weekend.

The sandbar at the river mouth is closing up again and causing the estuary level to rise. Over the past couple of weeks the channel has veered sharply southward through a long, shallow course down the beach instead of cutting directly across the sandbar and into the ocean.

The river level and flow rate has been steadily diminishing since the atmospheric river storms ended a couple of weeks ago. Today at 6 PM the river gauge level fell below the 5.0 ft mark as measured about 5 mi. inland. But there is still more water coming down into the estuary than is able to exit through the long, restricted sandbar channel.

So the estuary water level has risen and is only a few feet below where shallow flooding of the highway can occur. The brushy mud flat on the south side of the river west of the bridge is now completely under water. The Navarro Beach access road is still closed to vehicle traffic partly due to driftwood logs and sand making the beach parking area inaccessible and partly because sections of the road are subject to flooding.

It's a matter of equilibrium between inflow and outflow. The inflow is diminishing but so is the outflow. Even when the sandbar completely blocks the river mouth there is still significant outflow through the coarse sand. My guess is that the sandbar will close in entirely within a day or two, and that the estuary will rise somewhat higher than now even with no rain.

But the weather forecast says some rain may start Thursday and continue off and on through Sunday, with a predicted 4-day total just over 1.5". That might be enough to boost the river flow and put a few inches of clear water over the Hwy. 128 roadway between the 0.18 mile marker and about 200 ft. east of there. It would not be enough rain to blow open a new channel through the bar.

I'll be keeping an eye on it over the next few days and post an update if called for.

(Nick Wilson)


After the deluge of atmospheric rivers drenched Anderson Valley, this is definitely not the time to brag about a new fire hydrant. But the hot dry days of summer will be back again and then… We residents along Signal Ridge Road will be prepared for wildfire storms! 

After three years of effort, funds were raised through the Mendocino County Fire Safe Council and the AV Fire Department. Local residents and landowners generously pitched in, too. A contractor was found who was willing and able to put in a pump and piping system to tap into a nearby private lake. Greg Krouse was the guy who took on the project, securing materials at a generous discount from Wyatt Irrigation Supply in Ukiah. Special thanks to Kyle, the manager, for helping facilitate the project. 

Of course, there were some hiccups that dragged out the trenching, like numerous roots to dig through in the forested slope, secret underground electricity lines and unmapped water pipes to navigate, downhill and uphill slopes to calculate and - the heat. August was the hottest month and ice cubes were in big demand.

But with a standpipe installed in front of the Gundling residence one mile up Signal Ridge Road, the job got done. It was tested and tested again by Fire Chief Andres Avila and his crew. It worked every time. A sigh of relief went through the neighborhood. This supply cuts out a 45 minute turn-around trip to Hendy Woods to refill water tenders, the grounds have enough turning space for fire trucks to pull off the road, and the standpipe is connected to millions of gallons of cool fresh water. Not impressive right now, but it will be. “This is huge for Signal Ridge,” says one happy fire chief.

(Heidi Knott-Gundling)


According to Congressman Jared Huffman, he had time to meet with Mill Valley middle school students

Dear community,

Why does Congressman Jared Huffman have time to meet with Mill Valley Middle School students, but not with the Anderson Valley Unified School District and the students at that site? The Anderson Valley Unified School District would benefit from Congressman Jared Huffman's support. 

Huffman: “Engaging with Students: I make a point of offering student town halls throughout the district to hear from students directly. This month, I enjoyed a thoughtful discussion with Mill Valley Middle School students. We talked about how young people can make a difference in government, as well as their thoughts on a number of issues affecting Tribes. I always appreciate opportunities to meet with our young students, and I’m inspired by this future generation of leaders.” 

Annemarie Weibel


SPEAKING of Congressman Press Release, Boonville school superintendent/high school principal, Louise Simson, had gone to considerable effort to mobilize a staff and student reception for his eminence, aka Congressman Huffman. The Congressman himself, shortly before he was due to appear, had an aide call Boonville to say the Congressman could not come. No excuse given.


Back in the 1890's, when the horse and wagon were king and the roads were more like widened deer trails, my great great grandfather, Jeff Vestal, was headed home after a couple of days out on Mountain View Road cutting firewood for the hotel they owned in Boonville, when he met a traveling salesman on his horse and wagon. They were at a turn in the road called the horseshoe turn, narrow, rocky and steep. Now Jeff was never known for his patience but on that day he was tired and dirty and just wanted to get home, which made him even more impatient. It was kind of an unwritten law that the wagon headed up should be the one who backs up out of the way of the wagon traveling down the hill, but Jeff wasn't goin' anywhere and after some heated banter, Jeff got off his wagon and began setting up his camp, right there in the middle of the road. The salesman just frumped and fussed and said "I can wait, besides, you ain't gonna make camp, you’re just bullshittin "... then Jeff built a fire....The salesman, who was now nervously looking at his watch and at the sun getting low in the horizon, adamantly stood his ground, right up till the coffee started bubbling, then it was all over. Cussing and working the horses back up the hill for close to an hour, the salesman finally reached a point in the road where Jeff and his wagon could get past and so my great great grandfather Jeff Vestal, doused the fire out with the coffee, tied up his bedroll and snapped the leather reins of the horse team and he slowly lumbered up the hill. As he passed by the salesman, Jeff politely tipped down the brim of his dusty old hat, gave the salesman a winking nod and he said, " I tried to tell you, locals ALWAYS have the right away around here" Now THAT'S how it was done back in the good old days ! HAHA! 

That is Jeff Vestal standing to the far right with his left hand on his hip, next to his wife, and my great great grandmother, Martha Vestal and then my Great grandma Blossom (June) Vestal in front of the Missouri House Hotel, Boonville.

NOW YOU TELL ME: Most Americans who get their bivalent booster vaccine are not protected against falling sick with Covid. A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found the updated shots were just 48% effective at stopping symptomatic infection caused by the XBB.1.5 subvariant for up to three months. The CDC highlighted that the main purpose of the vaccines is to prevent hospitalization and death rather than transmission, and they are still expected to give high protection against severe illness. But the findings mean the bivalent shots — which the US Government paid $5 billion for last autumn — fall short of the World Health Organization's 50% efficacy threshold for an effective vaccine. When the original Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were developed in 2020, clinical trials indicated they could reduce rates of symptomatic infection by 95%. The shot slowly lost effectiveness as the virus continued to mutate, though.

POSTAL RATES for doomed paper-papers like the mighty AVA keep going up. The PO just hit us again, and we now pay well over $300 a week to get the print version to you at a losing rate of 95 cents per week per paper for out of state papers; 80 cents per week per paper for in-state but out of county papers. We pay about 30 cents per paper per week to get them delivered hither and yon inside Mendocino County. Conclusion: Like the failed capitalists we are, we can go on going slowly broke until, as Hemingway said, we're there, broke. We are tempted to move the whole show on-line, abandoning paper-papers forever, which I do not want to do. But something's gotta give so you out of county print subscribers brace yourselves for a mammoth rise in subscription prices. We have to at least break even to sustain this thing in paper-paper form.


Happy to report that Hendy Woods is open again for both Day Use and Camping. Please be cautious when visiting, particularly if it’s windy.

Hendy Woods Community

LOVED this hed from the MCN chat line, suitable for a noir title: “Loose dog on nameless lane.”


Last week’s quiz saw a great turnout; time for a short break. I am referring to the 29 folks who played last week’s Quiz at Lauren’s at The Buckhorn. A good time was had by all, I’m sure. Jan 26th is the 4th Thursday, so there isn’t a Quiz. But we shall return as always for the first Thursday of the month next week on February 2nd. Hope you can make it. Cheers, Steve Sparks, The Quizmaster.

CONGRESSMAN PRESS RELEASE and Senator Feinstein, the latter even deeper in her non-functioning dotage than Biden, said they'll try to get Congress to pass their Ocean Protection Act, a cynical move without hope of passage to give us rubes the illusion that Democrats Care. Please stop caring. You’re making everything worse. You don't have to be an old timer to recall that Northcoast Democrats have been saving the ocean — annually — for forty years. Remember Richard Charter? That guy passed most of his working life saving the ocean for the Democrats, one year at a time. Last I heard, Charter was gazing at the Pacific from his redwood box at Sea Ranch, exhausted from all those years saving the sea.


Historian Katy Tahja over in Comptche wants map lovers to know she just made a new discovery. It’s the Mendocino National Forest Atlas, 7.5 inch quad (one inch to the mile) topographic maps of the forest, spiral bound on slick paper, 48 of them. What a great invention! No more gigantic maps spread over half your front seat as you bounce down a road trying to find the trailhead for Thomes Gorge west of Newville. The atlas is a neat magazine format easy to use. It came out in 2016. I found mine at Book Juggler in Willits and they are not cheap. I paid $29.95 for mine. I would hope they are for sale at all MNF offices and stations, and a local independent book store could order one for you. 

HELP WANTED at Digging Dog Nursery

Busy National mail-order Nursery in Albion is seeking a part-time person for general office duties, data entry, and customer communications. Proficient telephone, typing & computer skills a must. Part time, pay based on experience. Send resume to:

BOB ABELES: For a long while I’ve been giving Supervisor Williams the benefit of the doubt. No more. Lately, especially since his reelection, he’s gone from playing at being the people’s supervisor to becoming his true self, just another sad cog in the play acting that passes for government in this benighted county. Like everyone else, I’m left to my own devices making sense out of the word salad communications he and our other fine county apparatchiks have been serving up. Smells like the worst kind of bullshit to me: indifference to the needs of the public tied up with a nice sadistic bow (tie).


THE MEDIA were united in expressing shock at Half Moon Bay farmworker housing in the wake of the mass shooting last week as if it were news. Any area of the state with large numbers of farmworkers, including bucolic Mendocino County, will find most farmworkers and their families living in substandard housing. Here in Anderson Valley there are several Creekside-like neighborhoods.

SITE PREP for Niners vs Philadelphia: lock front gate; turn off all computers; take telephones off the hook. Place “Do Not Disturb” signs on all doors; Prepare snacks — Ritz Crackers; Cheez Whiz; Planter's Nuts (with peanuts); six-pack Brown Derby. Unpack black crepe in case of Niner loss.

SUNDAY'S GAME has been described, prosaically, as “physical,” as if the NFL is a flag football league. More creatively, one writer described it as a likely “slobber-knocker.” Niner tight end George Kittle predicts a “body-bag game.” And Niners right tackle Mike McGlinchey smiled and said, “It’s going to be some good, clean family fun.”

THE NINERS were only down 7 when Purdy was hurt. His loss and three really bad penalty calls against the Niners doomed our heroes. The best play of the game, however, was McCaffrey's amazing touchdown run. The defense played well all day despite the score, and if Purdy hadn't been knocked out of the game it would have been interesting to see if he could have carved up the vaunted Philadelphia defense.

TRYING to reality-check my opinion that Biden is obviously senile, I asked a visitor if she thought he was. “No, I don't think he's senile, I think he's elderly.” The AVA being a geriatric operation, I pointed out that the paper's principals were elderly but much more cognitively functioning than Biden, as are any number of elderly Mendo people I could name whose functioning belies their age. She said, “He's just old, Bruce. Live with it.” 

NEW GARDEN CLASS: The Spring Garden: Selecting Seeds & Planning the Design. February 11, 2023 11AM - 3 PM, At the Philo School in Boonville. Contact: mpatpalm@herbalenergetics or 707-895-3007. Limited to 4 people. (Mary Pat Palmer)

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