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Mendocino County Today: June 12, 2013


Thursday, June 13, 2013. 7pm. Ukiah United Methodist Church. 270 North Pine Street, Ukiah.











In Willits, the California Department of Transporta­tion is in the process of paving paradise to put up an unnecessary freeway. It is arguably the most destructive development project to occur in Mendocino County in decades. It would cost more than $300 million and destroy the largest area of wetlands of any Northern California project in the past half-century, while doing remarkably little to alleviate in-town traffic congestion. Learn about the Bypass from people who have been on the frontlines working to stop it.


• Ellen Drell, Willits Environmental Center co-foun­der — With her husband, David, Ms. Drell has helped keep Little Lake Valley safe from the Willits Bypass for more than twenty years. The Willits Environmental Center is a party of the Clean Water Act lawsuit that aims to prevent the Bypass, which will have a federal court hearing on June 21st.

• Amanda "The Warbler" Senseman — Earlier this year, "The Warbler" spent 65 days in a Ponderosa pine tree in the southern interchange area of the Bypass route, helping to block construction and galvanizing an energetic struggle to stop the Bypass. She also conducted a 14-day fast to protest Bypass construction. She will share stories from her time in the tree, what motivated her, and the outcomes of her protests. More info:

• Will Parrish, Anderson Valley Advertiser — Will has written numerous stories about the Bypass struggle, deconstructing the political process that has allowed the Bypass to happen, a process that is hopelessly tilted in CalTrans' favor, and detailing the ecological and social damage the Bypass has already caused and will cause. He also recently completed a short tree sit blocking con­struction of the Bypass.

More info:­ment-from-red-tailed-hawk-the-greatest-gift-mendocino-county-could-give-the-world-is-to-stop-the-willits-bypass/

• Screening of the film "How Caltrans Sold the Willits Bypass" — This 10 minute short film com­piled by Redwood Valley resident Julia Frech breaks down CalTrans' faulty and utterly misleading traffic engineering studies and rationale, which they used to sell the Bypass to policy makers and resource agencies.

Sponsored by: Little Lake Valley Defenders. More info:;


MARSHALL NEWMAN, who has been providing delightful accounts of his life here in Anderson Valley during the 50s, 60s and 70s, lived on a property at the end of Rays Road in Philo that his family named El Ran­cho Navarro. They sold to a Findhorn-like communal group that renamed the place Shenoa, who within a few years sold out to the only people with enough money at the time, the “” crowd. The current owner, one Jeffery Skoll, worth somewhere around $4 billion according to Forbes for his role in co-founding eBay, is a real piece of work. Wealthy almost beyond belief, Skoll seems to have captured the hearts of many outside the Valley with high profile contributions to what he calls “social entrepreneurship.” In Anderson Valley he is more like a ghost. Initially buying Shenoa under the name 91624 Holdings, LLC without telling anyone who he was, he made all employees sign a contract that they would never reveal his name if they were to ever dis­cover it in the course of their work. Eventually, because that's what everyone kept calling it, he did start identi­fying the property as Shenoa. There are eight houses and 14 “cabins” which are more like fully addressed small bungalows. Besides a large cafeteria kitchen and dining room, there is a swimming pool and tennis courts all with myriad access to the river. All of this including the residences are unused and have been for a few years except for possibly one living space used by a mysteri­ous woman by the name of Rebecca. Rebecca seems to be the one calling all the shots for Skoll at Shenoa and most of her shots when it comes to local community members have been unfriendly. A recent stroll along the river on the back side of Golden Eye winery has revealed that Shenoa for some reason has reactivated a long inac­tive water pumping site and is currently taking water out of the river throughout a 3 or 4 inch diameter pipe. With record low flows in the Navarro it would seem that such water usage for one single woman undertaking no agri­cultural activities is obscene. We would try to get ahold of Skoll to find out what's the deal but he has an admin­istrative firewall apparatus built around him that has proved impossible to penetrate. In the Good ol’ USA even the Canadian wealthy do as they damned well please.


AS PREDICTED, late Monday afternoon local fire spotters saw smoke wafting up from the remote hills north of Fish Rock Road in the vicinity of the Mailliard Ranch near what is known as “Camp Creek.” After con­firmation from a CalFire air spotter, local crews based in Yorkville made their way through the steep terrain to the lightning caused tree-fires which were slowly spreading to nearby grass and put them out.


LAST YEAR there was a show down of sorts over pub­lic access to the Navarro River in the Philo area. Signs had been suspended on cables across Indian Creek to stop campers at State owned Indian Creek Campgrounds from accessing the river as well as signs posted on the support structure to the Shenoa bridge and one on a pole dug into the river bed itself. People using the river for summer fun and recreation were often accosted by mem­bers of the Van Zandt Resort clan and told it was private property. At one point David Severn's grandchildren were chased away by a Van Zandt in-law packing a gun on his hip. Severn argued that the California State con­stitution guaranteed public use of California rivers up to the high water mark for all forms of recreation. He pointed out that multiple court rulings upheld this right and challenged those attempting to claim private owner­ship to either back down or go to court. They chose to back down and removed the signs and stated that they would not be chasing anyone away. So it is a new year and though the signs have not been replaced, one man and his son, who were camping at Indian Creek Camp­ground were told by a polite middle aged woman that they were not welcome on the river. We are hoping that this is just a fluke and that not all Van Zandts have been apprised of the current situation and last year’s agreemtn. If not and the run-offs continue we'll have to sic Severn back on them.


  1. burnunit June 12, 2013

    In 1967, when I was an 8th grader at Redwood Valley Junior High, I attended 8th. grade outdoor science camp at El Rancho Navarro. This was in the days before the environmental movement took over what has now become “environmental education” (logger bad – hippie good). Of course, the “environmentalists” never say anything about the thousands of acres of clear cuts by the wine/booze industry. Clear cuts in the manner of complete stripping of the land right down to bare mineral soil. Even the worst of the loggers managed to leave some duff on the ground.
    But I digress, our science camp was run by teachers from RVJH, for better or worse.
    I won’t speak to the worse, but the best was a great teacher by the name of Charlotte Campbell, who actually taught us about the workings of nature while on the trail. And there was a cute little art teacher who taught us how to make plaster masks of our face along the sandy banks of the river. Of course we fine young gentlemen managed to remove her panties from the clothes line behind her cabin. We didn’t know what to do with them once we had them, but at least we had them.

  2. Wraith June 12, 2013

    You guys should take a nice little snapshot of that pipe sucking up our water and delivering it to Skoll’s “estate”, and file an official complaint with the County. Its in violation of code, and the County could act on it if they had an official complaint and evidence. That’s if you actually want to stick it to ‘ole Jeffrey. I’m not one for letting rich people do as they damn well please.

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