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Mendocino County Today: March 24, 2013

BYPASS PROTEST UPDATE

by Jennifer Poole, Willits Weekly

www.facebook.com/WillitsWeekly

Initially, seven protesters who didn’t leave were arrested Thursday morning, and later that afternoon. Warbler is still sitting high in the Ponderosa pine tree off Highway 101 this morning. No word on the two other (now confirmed) tree sitters.

BypassProtestSiteProtesters gathered across Highway 101 late yesterday afternoon after an alert went out. As the Press Democrat put it in “Authorities prepare to arrest tree-sitters in Willits bypass fight,” posted at 4:34 pm Thursday: “Caltrans read Senseman her rights and warned her that she would be subject to arrest if she didn't come down from the tree.”

That odd phrasing (usually it's a law enforcement agency reading Miranda rights to those they are in the immediate process of arresting) and the headline (no “authorities” in the usual sense of the word were quoted in the Press Democrat story) spurred a call from Willits Weekly to CHP Public Information Officer Steve Krul Friday morning.

Krul confirmed Caltrans had given a warning to Warbler, but said no one from his law enforcement agency or any other had “read Senseman her rights,” i.e., Miranda rights.

“Caltrans gave the order notifying her she was trespassing,” Krul said, “but we are going to give her plenty of opportunity to come down on her own, now that she’s been warned.

”Our goal here is for her to come down on her own. She’s endangering herself by being up there. Work is being done, now, and the project is moving forward. Our hope is that she will come down on her own, and if she doesn’t, we have plans in place.”

When asked who would decide it was time to implement those plans, Krul said: “I would imagine that would eventually be our decision. I don’t envision Caltrans removing somebody from a tree.”

Krul also said, before making arrests on Thursday, March 21, CHP had given protesters “several dispersal orders,” with “plenty of opportunity to leave on their own.” Most protesters did leave, Krul said, and “that’s what we wanted.”

Initially, seven protesters who didn’t leave were arrested, and later that afternoon, an eighth protester, Ellen Faulkner of Redwood Valley, was also arrested.

Booking logs for March 21 are now up on the Mendocino County Sheriff’s website: www.mendocinosheriff.com/newbooking/pdfs/March_21_2013.pdf

All protesters were booked and released for “602 PC-M TRESPASS OF REAL PROPERTY.”

A call from Save Little Lake Valley's Sara Grusky Thursday night reported that CHP officers on 24-hour guard were also surrounding each of the other two tree-sitters, who were low on food and water, Grusky said, unlike Warbler.

Grusky and others called in questions to the CHP officers at what Grusky called “the #2 tree-sit,” and one question was answered: Officers said they would “assure the safety of the tree-sitters.”

A head count showed about 50 attendees at the rally's peak, with others coming and going, including a reporter from KYBU Radio in Covelo and photographers for the Willits News.

Eleven CHP officers, including an officer carrying camera equipment, stood across the highway, occasionally warning protesters to step away from the highway.

Protesters chanted “Go Home” to the officers, and “Hell, No, We Won't Go,” and sang songs, accompanied by guitar and drum, like Joni Mitchell's “Big Yellow Taxi” (“They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”)

Cars driving by honked and gave thumbs-up signs — or the middle finger — alternatively shouting phrases like “Good Job” and “Thank You” or “Go Home” and “Bypass Yes!”

Unlike the strong show of pro-bypass support from drivers passing the union rallies in front of Safeway last week and this week, a majority of drivers passing by yesterday's rally who “commented,” did support the anti-bypass protesters.

In this morning’s phone call, Warbler reported that Caltrans and contractors had brought in some new “pretty heavy equipment” this morning, and she had had no further communication from Caltrans or the CHP. — Jennifer Poole

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AT THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS meeting on March 12, Transportation Director Howard DeShield reported that the Mendocino County 2012 Pavement Condition Index (PCI), which is updated every three years, shows that approximately 20% of the County’s 660 miles of paved roads are in good condition — that means the other 80% are less than good — some in very poor condition. The PCI scores in Mendocino County (PCI 37) are worse than the state average (PCI 66). [In fact, Mendocino County has the second worst roads in the state.] The conditions in Mendocino County stem from deferred maintenance. Deferring maintenance works for a while but studies show that in the end it costs more — it’s much more costly to rebuild roads than keep good roads in good condition. We, along with everyone else, have fallen into this trap and now perform triage on roads — placing our limited resources on repairs in areas in the worse condition or that pose a safety hazard. The County Engineers Associations of California (CEAC) is leading an effort to define the problem statewide and have been joined by the League of California Cities. Mendocino did contribute our share and we have provided our information to this cooperative effort. To view the updated, full report please visit: http://www.savecaliforniastreets.org/reports.html.

LEFT OUT of this report is the amount of money that the Mendocino Council of Governments (the County’s Transportation Planning Super-Organization) has diverted to the local share of the Willits Bypass all the way back to the 1970s when MCOG type agencies were first formed in every county in the state. Every other year the MCOG board has voted to apply most of the “STIP” (State Transportation Improvement Program) funds to Bypass, undermining its original intent which was to supplement County road maintenance funds. It’s no panacea, of course, and the funds have been dwindling in the last few years during the state’s budget crunch, but the millions that are shifted from local road maintenance are millions that could have gone to 1. Local road improvements and 2. Willits area road, traffic and safety improvements which would have reduced or eliminated the need for the Bypass for a lot less money. Technically, MCOG funds are supposed to be used for “transportation improvement” (paving unpaved roads, improving alternate routes to reduce congestion in high-traffic areas, etc.), not road maintenance, but obviously if money is spent on improvements, that means primary roads are better and need less maintenance, traffic is reduced thereby lowering wear and tear, and more local money is available for necessary local repairs.

NOW THAT CALTRANS has done their clever bait and switch (by selling the public a “bypass” that won’t bypass very much and won’t improvement congestion in Willits very much), not only will local road maintenance budgets be further squeezed (because the non-bypassed roads in the greater Willits area will now have to be maintained by local funds), but Mendocino County roads in general have effectively been made worse by the badly designed Willits bypass.

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BRUCE PATTERSON WRITES from Prineville, Oregon: The AVA is back to arriving either a week or two late (got two issues at once last week). Ain't often my ditties get bumped from the pages by better articles on the same subject. In this case I'm tickled. My kingdom for a fish. Attached is a letter of appreciation and a humble attempt to keep the ball rolling. Anyway, was reading Off the Record and, while wondering at the length and breadth of it, it occurred to me that Bruce is starting to sound like Herb Caen (?). Not the 3 dot style but in the variety of content and the way it's put together. Getting better with age, I reckon. I haven't been writing much at all. Pain's finally subsided enough to where I can concentrate some, and I keep telling myself I'll get back to work but, hey, I am retired and in no hurry. Plenty of other stuff to do. I happened upon your quote from Trish about the folks up here being diverse. It's a blue-collar cowboy/logger/mill worker town and big enough so that's there's all kinds; not as insular as AV's old timers were but a lot has to do with numbers. Anyway, have met so many friendly people (and some unfriendlies) that I'm starting to feel at home. Then — this here's the best part — once you leave town you're outtatown. The country is big, very big, and the roads so empty folks sometimes wave at each other as they pass by. They're downright civilized next to the crazies now clogging 128 and 253 — driving is relaxing. I also read a while back your notice of my old friend Katy's (Tahja) new book on the logging railroads. I promised her I'd write a review but, until now, haven't been able to focus. Hope to come up with a little something soon if you don't mind. My best, Pat. PS. Here's a snapshot of the Crooked River taken about 20 miles northwest of here.

CrookedRiverLETTER ATTACHED: IT’S THE WATER

Esteemed editors, A while back when I read in the AVA about the upcoming workshop organized by the Navarro River Resource Center (congrats, Linda and Patty!) I was schoolboy thrilled. What an excellent way to raise the issues of industrial-sized water use and its relationship to the declining numbers of salmon and steelhead. Wish I could have been there.

Of course I was skeptical, too, having spent 40 years watching the fish disappear and — I’ll use the cliché — knowing that extinction is forever. Having done plenty of reforestation, creek restoration and soil conservation work, I know how easy it’d be to bring these foundational species back from the brink, which makes their likely demise all the more disheartening and aggravating. Complacency only becomes possible after one shuts his or her eyes to possibility.

The 3/13 AVA just arrived in our mailbox (hadn’t had a post office on a stick since I fled the city in the winter ’73). Just finished reading Thom Elkjer’s excellent review of the proceedings and I was grinning so much I let my morning coffee got cold. I’m always grateful to read a piece of journalism illuminated by a writer’s firm grasp on the subject — especially on an issue that’s so dear to my heart. So bravo, Thom, and keep it up.

Also enjoyed hearing from Glenn McGourty, Mendo’s Ag. Advisor. Thought he’d be retired by now. While over the years he’s taken some criticism in these pages, never any from me. In 1989, the absentee boss of the horse ranch I was working bought 60 acres of beaten down and eroded sheep pasture located across from Jack’s Valley Store. My boss wanted to convert 40 acres into dry land hay fields/spring horse pastures and he wanted to grow the best crop we could get. I turned to Glenn, he came out for a look-see, then left me with a plan from A to Z. With my bosses’ permission, I followed each of his instructions and, come spring, the land had disappeared beneath a quilt of clovers and the weed-free mixed grasses (#1 horse salad) topped out at five feet. We harvested 3,700 two-strand bales that first year and, with the help of a little dry season rain, the stubble stayed green deep into August.

Now anytime you trust somebody enough to follow his or her advice and it pays off in spades, what’s to feel but gratitude?

Still, while Glen’s study of vineyard water use is a welcome starting point, it’s not scientific and shouldn’t be called that. No voluntary survey can be scientific. For one thing, wise crooks keep their mouths shut. For another, when evaluating their own individual virtues, people tend to highball them; when discussing their personal vices, they lowball. So it is that when a doctor asks a wheezy patient how many cigarettes he or she smoke per day, not one in ten is going to exaggerate the number. And so, even with the upward adjustments made, Glen’s figure of 3,000 acre feet of public water diverted to private vineyards per year (at present) is highly suspect.

Since I don’t think most people know how much water a single acre foot represents, here’s an illustration. Last September Linda MacElwee saw the Navarro River’s water gauge registering less than 1 cubic foot per second. That figure, I’d venture to say, except during periods of extreme and prolonged drought, is the lowest the Navarro River has run since the end of the last Ice Age. Now take that inch-deep, warm and turgid trickle of Navarro River water and confine it to a flume 12” wide and 12” deep. Tilt the flume so it pours out one cubic foot per second. At that rate it’d take 73 hours for the flume to run through an acre foot of water. In order to contain it, the flume would hafta be a bit over 8 miles long.

Also, while pointing out that the key measure of the health of the river comes in September, Thom overlooked the fact that most vineyards are irrigating, and over-irrigating, all summer long and that plenty of them are, either literally or in effect, pumping out of the river and the creeks. The creeks are the visible parts of the water table, and the water table affects the amount of water running off into the waterways. Thom does speculate on whether the industrial-sized pot gardens supposedly hiding out in the canyons above the river are depleting the water and so — we all occasionally make this mistake — he’s focusing on the mouse while forgetting about the elephant.

Regarding Mendocino Redwood Company’s creek restoration efforts along the North Fork: what’s taking them so long? After five years they’re only “making progress?” With all of the heavy equipment and people they’ve got laying around, they could take a bit of it and do what needs doing not just along the North Fork but also along the South Branch and have it done in a single season. Also, while MRC has got to be more environmentally friendly than Masonite and LP/GP were, that ain’t saying much. In fact, in light of all of the money they’re spending poisoning tan oaks (you talk about mass-producing kindling for firestorms) I wonder if, as with their predecessors, MRC is spending more money advertising their good deeds than they are performing them. In fact, given MRC’s vast capital reserves, if they were really community-minded, forward-looking and serious about leaving their land (and the planet) in better shape than when they bought it, they wouldn’t poison the tanoaks (their proliferation is the direct result of the massive clear-cuts done in the 1970s and 80s) but harvest them. On the site of their shuttered lumber mill in Philo, they’d build an electrical power plant fueled by scrubbed bio-mass, create jobs, help liberate the community from price-gouging PG&E and, not the least, prove themselves to be true 21st Century environmental heroes. Imagine what that would do for their public image.

One more thing: when it comes to restoring the fishery, the single most important (and easiest) thing that can be done is to uncork the river mouth in the fall the way it used to be before the State made it verboten. Better yet, and for a song and prayer, the river mouth could be dredged from the high tide line out past the north point where the ocean floor drops off and current takes over. After dredging there’d be no more crowds of seals gathering every fall to feast on the trapped salmon and steelhead and, since so much of the water needed by the fish has disappeared under the mud, silt and fine gravels washed into the water course by man-made erosion, dredging would allow future gully-washing rain storms to do what they’re supposed to do. The way sticking a finger into the face of a sand dune causes a mini-landslide that climbs and widens with time, so it’d be with the river.

Remember, having raised the issue, all involved should take great pleasure in solving it. So keep your eyes on the prize, your chins up and go ahead on.

Bruce Patterson, Prineville, Oregon

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BOARD OF SUPERVISORS AGENDA ITEM TITLE: Discussion and Possible Direction to Staff Regarding the Teeter Program Debt Mitigation or Elimination Activities Related to the Brooktrails Township Community Services District

PREVIOUS BOARD/BOARD COMMITTEE ACTIONS: March 27, 2012: the Board of Supervisors heard an item on the discontinuance of the Brooktrails Township Community Services District from the Teeter Program and opted to schedule a public hearing in the future; June 11, 2012: the Board held a noticed public hearing on the discontinuance of Teeter Plan privileges for the Brooktrails Township Community Services District (BTCSD) and opted to discontinue the special and direct assessments of the BTCSD from the Teeter Plan. The Board further directed staff to develop and bring back to the Board a method to cost-effectively discontinue the Teeter Plan’s relationship with the Ad Valorum property tax for the BTCSD.

SUMMARY OF REQUEST: The Board of Supervisors will be provided an update on the progress made from prior Board direction regarding discontinuation of the special and direct assessments of the BTCSD. The Board will also be provided an update on the current status of the discontinuation of the ad valorum of the BTCSD from the Teeter Plan. Updates on this issue will be provided by the Treasurer Tax-Collector and the Auditor-Controller.

THE NUMBER of tax-defaulted properties within the Brooktrails district boundary is increasing dramatically. Many of these properties are vacant and are “unbuildable” lots of a low value. Continued efforts to liquidate the properties at auction have produced negligible success. Brooktrails is primarily composed of these lots — with 4,216 vacant out of approximately 6000 parcels in Brooktrails. The County is required to liquidate the properties that become delinquent over time in order to collect on various property assessments and fees. Liquidation of these properties has become problematic due in part to the poor economy, but also because of the disclosure that the value of these parcels may not in fact outweigh the delinquencies and ongoing costs associated with owning such parcels.

COMPLICATING THE PICTURE is the County’s Teeter Program which authorizes the distribution of property tax assessments without regard to the actual collection of tax payments. The County Auditor-Controller pays out the full assessment to all taxing entities even when certain properties become delinquent. The County benefits through use of its taxing authority leverage to liquidate tax-defaulted properties and eventually collects late assessments plus any interest, penalties and fees associated with such delinquencies. However, when these properties are no longer marketable either due to reputation or actual fair market value (properly and openly disclosed to potential buyers), the Teeter program becomes a County General Fund liability that can no longer be sustained.

THIS SITUATION has been reviewed by the County’s Debt Committee, and recommendations have been made to the Board during its June 11, 2012, meeting to address this issue. The Auditor-Controller recommended the discontinuation of the special/direct assessments of the BTCSD, and the Board of Supervisors and County Debt Committee concurred with this recommendation. The Board also directed that staff return with a “method to cost-effectively de-teeter all of Brooktrails Community Services District for fiscal year 2013-2014.” If the Board chose to direct the discontinuation of the Ad Valorem tax from the Teeter Plan for the BTCSD, it would need to do so at a future noticed public hearing.

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CONGRESSMAN JARED HUFFMAN invites you to join him on the Mendocino Coast headlands near Point Arena to announce new legislation to include the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands as part of the California Coastal National Monument. 11am, Friday, March 29, 2013. Meet at Point Arena City Hall parking lot. Wear comfortable shoes and layered clothing Program will include remarks by Congressman Jared Huffman, Jim Kenna, California State Director, Bureau of Land Management, Scott Schneider, Visit Mendocino County, representative from the Trust for Public Lands, Principal Sigrid Hillman. Pacific Community Charter Schools Students will present Congressman Huffman with a book of their photographs and of Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands that includes a letter to President Obama and the First Lady asking for their help with the Coastal National Monument designation. An exhibit of the students’ artwork and a slide show will be at Point Arena City Hall. In case of inclement weather, event will be held indoors. RSVP to Paul Arden, 202-225-5161, paul.arden@mail.house.gov — Visit Mendocino County, 345 N. Franklin St. Fort Bragg, CA 95437

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HUEY P. LONG: “How many men ever went to a barbecue and would let one man take off the table what’s intended for 9/10th of the people to eat? The only way to be able to feed the balance of the people is to make that man come back and bring back some of that grub that he ain’t got no business with!

HueyLongNow we got a barbecue. We have been praying to the Almighty to send us to a feast. We have knelt on our knees morning and nighttime. The Lord has answered the prayer. He has called the barbecue. “Come to my feast,” He said to 125 million American people. But Morgan and Rockefeller and Mellon and Baruch have walked up and took 85% of the victuals off the table!

Now, how are you going to feed the balance of the people? What’s Morgan and Baruch and Rockefeller and Mellon going to do with all that grub? They can’t eat it, they can’t wear the clothes, they can’t live in the houses.

Giv’em a yacht! Giv’em a Palace! Send ‘em to Reno and give them a new wife when they want it, if that’s what they want. [Laughter] But when they’ve got everything on God’s loving earth that they can eat and they can wear and they can live in, and all that their children can live in and wear and eat, and all of their children’s children can use, then we’ve got to call Mr. Morgan and Mr. Mellon and Mr. Rockefeller back and say, come back here, put that stuff back on this table here that you took away from here that you don’t need. Leave something else for the American people to consume. And that’s the program.”

WHERE’S Kingfish now that we need him?

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MIKE WHITNEY COMMENTS: “Americans are generally pragmatic people who judge a system by its results not by the public relations blabber issuing from the business channel. ‘Show me the beef,’ that’s what the average working slob cares about, not some horseshit about ‘the wondrous symmetry of the self-correcting market.’ What a load of malarkey. If we’d applied the theories of the market fundamentalists after Lehman Brothers collapsed, the 10 biggest banks in the country would have been euthanized (as they should have been) and we’d be well on our way to a true recovery. Instead, the economy is still hopelessly mired in a long-term slump that shows no sign of ending. The only thing that’s ‘corrected’ is the profit margins on Wall Street which are at record highs. Get a load of this from the WSWS:

‘As the US government prepares to furlough 1 million federal workers and slash hundreds of billions in social spending, corporate executives in the United States are receiving among the highest payouts in history. USA Today reported Thursday that at least ten CEOs took in $50 million apiece in 2012, largely as a result of cashing in stocks that have soared in value with the rising market. According to the newspaper, “Early 2013 proxy filings detailing 2012 compensation show a growing number of CEOs reaping $50 million or more, gains that could prove unmatched in breadth and size since the Internet IPO craze enriched tech company executives more than a decade ago…

‘Among the top pay packages according to preliminary calculation is that of Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, which included stock options valued at $103.3 million this year, on top of $30 million in other compensation and stock, as well as $10.2 million in vested shares, according to USA Today.’ (“US corporate executives cash in”, World Socialist Web Site)

Geez, I sure hope Mr. Starbucks can make ends meet on a measly $130 mil a year. He might have to cutback on his trips to Walmart, don’t you think?

The whole thing is laughable. This is a free market? Give me a break! The Fed is pumping $85 billion per month into financial assets pushing up stock prices, while everyone else faces the grinding deprivation of austerity. Who can support a system like that? Everything about it is a lie.”

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AV HIGH SENIOR SCOTT JOHNSON’S senior project is raising funds to re-surface the outdoor basketball courts. He is planning a 3 on 3 tournament on Sunday April 14, at the Anderson Valley High School gym. Registration is 8-9am. $25 per player with a 5 member max per team, 9-10am is a Free Throw contest and the games begin at 10am. There will be athletes from Mendocino College and Santa Rosa JC who will be doing a dunk contest during the day, along with BBQ and lots of good food and a great raffle! For more information call 895-2631

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MORE TRUE THAN NOT: A San Franciscan comments: “SF has a reputation for being soft on crime. Hoodlums from outside the city know they can come here, create mayhem, sell drugs and basically act like savages with no threat of arrest by the city cops. Take a walk up Taylor Street just north of Market and observe the open-air drug market running 24/7. The city ramps up Muni inspectors to write tickets for fare cheats, starts a program to give dogs to homeless people and extends paid parking times while police patrols and prosecution of street crimes are obviously made a low priority. City drones like their fat pensions and gravy benefits that let them live in Atherton or Tiburon while we inner citizens are living in a filthy war zone. Even the dumbest tourists can see that the streets are dangerous at all times. Enjoy!”

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JenicaFrederickJENICA FREDERICK, 12, of Cobb in Lake County is the subject of a multiple-county search effort, according to Lake County Sheriff Frank Rivero. The pre-teen has been missing since 7am Thursday. She was last seen on St. Helena Drive in Cobb wearing jeans and a green plaid jacket. She has brown hair and hazel eyes. She has an average build, clear complexion and is 4-foot, 9-inches tall, 116 pounds. She had a pink backpack and wears many colorful bracelets. Search and Rescue along with K-CORPS have been searching for Miss Fredrick since Thursday. Anyone with information is urged to call 263-2690.

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READY FOR THE APOCALYPSE. Are the families stocking up for the end of civilization crackpots or simply canny survivors?

By Ryan Herman

Imagine if suddenly, and completely without warning, the world experienced a total blackout — no electricity, no mobile phones, no banks, no internet, no TV, no emergency services. Nothing

Highways quickly become jammed with cars that have ground to a halt; an airplane falls from the sky; a satellite view of the planet shows it rapidly plunging into darkness.

As it becomes apparent that the lights are never coming back on, nations are plunged into chaos, mass riots break out in major cities and, without electricity, governments are toppled. Into the vacuum step ad-hoc militias, armed and ready to enforce their own rule of law.

This is the apocalyptic premise of the hit American TV series Revolution, which begins on Sky 1 this week. In the first episode, viewers are pulled through this nightmarish chain of events.

So, what would you do? It’s a question that members of a burgeoning subculture known as “Preppers” — people who are prepared for any kind of disaster — have been asking themselves for years.

Preppers look at the world around them and see all kinds of potential threats — economic collapse, global warming, terrorism, nuclear war, dwindling energy supplies, asteroid strikes and, yes, a prolonged blackout.

They’ve largely reached the same conclusion: the end of the world as we know it is just around the corner, and time is running out to gear up for the total collapse of society.

It’s estimated there are three million Preppers in the U.S. alone, and the number is rising.

Furthermore, the recession has seen “Prepping” become a multibillion-dollar industry, with many American Preppers spending thousands every year stocking up on supplies to see them through the impending catastrophe.

DouglasFamilyRon Douglas (pictured above, with his wife, six children and enough supplies to be self-sufficient for a year) has seen business boom in the past 12 months. A founder of the Red Shed Media Group in the States, he’s enjoying what might be described as the “profits of doom’.

Last year, Red Shed organized five Self Reliance Expos, which pulled in 40,000 punters at $10 a head, while its radio network has notched up over two million podcast downloads.

The company also owns the rights to a book called Making the Best of Basics, first published in 1974; it reportedly sold around 20,000 copies last year.

Douglas, in his late thirties, lives in Frederick, Colorado, around 30 miles from Denver. To stage the photograph to the left, it took 15 people over six hours to move all of his stockpile — mostly kept in his basement — out onto his front lawn.

If a disaster resulted in basic necessities such as food and water becoming scarce, the Douglas family would tough it out at home.

If they absolutely had to leave their house, they would get into a modified Chevy Suburban SUV equipped with emergency supplies that can do 850 miles before needing a refill.

Interest in what Douglas has to offer, as well as the Prepper movement as a whole, is growing, fuelled by the success of another TV program, National Geographic’s Doomsday Preppers.

It’s the channel’s highest-rated show in America, and the second series has just started in the UK. One episode features Derek Price, who runs a Wild West theme park called Deadwood in Bear Grass, North Carolina.

The park doubles as his compound in the event of the power grid being knocked out by a solar flare. Within the grounds there’s a golf course that has a series of sniper positions set up behind the greens, from which he could take out any rioters.

During the episode, Haven, Price’s 11-year-old son, is seen being put through his paces as a nightwatchman, clutching a 9mm rifle (albeit with the safety catch on).

The show hasn’t met with broad approval within the Prepper community, perhaps because it sheds light on a more sinister side of the movement, one that generated headlines when it was reported that the mother of Sandy Hook killer Adam Lanza was a Prepper.

Nancy Lanza, Adam’s first victim, was shot four times before her son embarked on a killing spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School, murdering 20 schoolchildren and six teachers before taking his own life.

While there’s no evidence to prove that Nancy’s lifestyle directly contributed to the tragedy of Sandy Hook, it has prompted some commentators to suggest that Preppers are gun-toting, conspiracy-theorizing, right-wing militia.

Much like the Australian punters who last year bet on the world ending after our planet is “consumed by the Sun” (in which case, how would they claim their winnings?), there are radical elements within the Prepper community.

But not all Preppers are armed and dangerous. Many are becoming self-reliant because they care about the environment and want to safeguard the future of the planet. Douglas insists he’s one of them.

“We’re not saying, ‘Hurry up and buy your stuff, because Obama is going to ruin the country.’ We don’t get into the political crap. We just want to teach people the lifestyle.’

In Britain, the strict gun laws shift the focus away from firearms to a more down-to-earth, subsistence approach to Prepping.

“The thing we have to remember about Preppers is they reflect society,” says British Prepper Michael Sanderson, 53.

“There are some who are mentally unstable, but there are also those who are very intelligent, highly qualified and motivated individuals.’

Sanderson — nicknamed “Roach” because friends say he could survive anything — spent 17 years in the military, serving in Northern Ireland and the Falklands. He subsequently became a paramedic and now lives with his wife and two young daughters in Luton.

In his garage he has enough food to feed his family for 12 months. He reckons he has spent around £5,000 on supplies over the past four years, despite saving money by bulk-buying goods such as pasta, flour, yeast, tea and coffee.

He has a trailer attached to his Land Rover containing three months’worth of supplies. In an emergency, he and his family could be on the road within 15 minutes, bound for his camping retreat in Wales, where he keeps further stocks of food and water.

“What I’ve tried to do is draw examples and knowledge from places in the world where bad things have happened to good people,” he says.

“Prepping is about being self-reliant. So if I’m made long-term unemployed, I don’t expect the state to feed my family.’

As Hurricane Katrina demonstrated to Americans how quickly a major city can collapse in the wake of a natural disaster, so England’s riots of 2011 provided many of our own Preppers with a “wake-up call’, followed last year by a false alarm over fuel supplies, which caused panic at the petrol pumps.

“Do I expect the police and the fire brigade to come and save me if we have a resurgence of rioting and looting caused by mass unemployment?” asks Sanderson. “Hundreds of people called the emergency services and nobody came.’

Eric Kripke, the co-creator of Revolution, says this “back to basics” lifestyle is the concept at the heart of his show.

So is there anything we can learn from Preppers about how to survive a possible apocalypse?

“As a survivalist, the rule of threes is paramount,” explains Sanderson.

“We can do without oxygen for three minutes. We can do without a viable water source for three days. We can live without food for three weeks. But after that, you’re dead.” Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

Revolution” begins on Friday, 9pm, Sky 1 HD. “Doomsday Preppers” is on Wednesdays, 8pm, National Geographic

(Courtesy, the London Daily Mail.)

SurvivalKit

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