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Mendocino County Today: Saturday, July 4, 2015

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THE RECALL of Fort Bragg mayor, Dave Turner, has stalled. Papers suspiciously not filed on time, too many “strong” personalities dominating recall meetings, alienating people unhappy with Turner's arrogant, heedless tenure, during which staffers have been allowed to make crucial Fort Bragg decisions. Are the recallers discouraged? Not really. They're re-grouping.

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Ed Note: If we had a supervisor and a board of supervisors that gave a hoot, a similar compromise could have been worked out here without going to court.

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(Note particularly the “emergency regulations” highlighted in bold.)

Notice Of Proposed Emergency Regulation For Enhanced Conservation Measures And Information In Key Russian River Tributaries (Dutch Bill, Green Valley, Mark West, And Mill Creeks)

by the California State Water Resources Control Board

The Problem

With dry conditions continuing across much of California, many of the State’s key fisheries are now at record low numbers and several species are in danger of extinction. Central California Coast (CCC) coho salmon (coho salmon) and Central California Coast steelhead (steelhead) in the Russian River tributaries are listed as endangered or threatened by federal or state agencies and face a particularly perilous situation, affecting their ability to survive a fourth year of drought. The coho salmon has been highlighted by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) as the eighth most endangered species under its jurisdiction considered at risk of extinction. The Russian River tributaries are prime spawning ground for the anadromous species, and low flows, already a problem before the drought, have been made worse by the extremely dry conditions of the past three years. Increased pumping of surface and groundwater results in disconnected stream systems with low flows, isolated pools with low oxygen levels, and elevated temperatures that kill fish and threaten coho salmon with extinction.

Populations of Russian River coho salmon and steelhead have declined significantly since the 1950s. While they once supported a commercial harvest of more than 13,000 coho salmon annually, by the 1990s coho salmon returning to the Russian River watershed averaged less than 600 fish. After crashing to as few as 2 to 7 fish between 2000 and 2008, the coho salmon population has been increasing due to a captive breeding program. The benefits of that program are now in danger of being lost. While there are no abundance estimates for steelhead in the Russian River watershed, their numbers have declined substantially and Central California Coast steelhead are likely to become in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future.

When it became clear that voluntary water conservation efforts to provide minimal flows for fish would fall short this year, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), working with NMFS, requested that the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) take action to provide the small amount of water necessary to maintain pools that can support summer rearing and migration of coho salmon and steelhead. Coho salmon and steelhead depend on pools in these tributaries to grow during the summer months and then migrate to the ocean from the late fall through spring. The four Russian River tributary watersheds that are affected are: Dutch Bill Creek, Green Valley Creek, Mill Creek, and parts of Mark West Creek.


In 2014, CDFW and NMFS established the California Voluntary Drought Initiative (Drought Initiative). The Drought Initiative targets priority Russian River tributary watersheds, among other watersheds in California, for the development of voluntary agreements between CDFW, landowners, and other parties to provide instream flows for fish, associated monitoring, and access for potential fish rescue efforts. Earlier this year, recognizing the dire conditions facing these important fish species this year, the State Water Board, CDFW and NMFS broadly publicized their plea for voluntary efforts and met with area landowners to secure participation in the Drought Initiative.

Unfortunately, the outreach efforts have had limited success, with only 20 residential landowner agreements providing additional instream flows in place under CDFW’s Drought Initiative as of June 5, 2015. The additional flow represented by these 20 agreements is not enough to make a difference towards the species’ survival.

Proposed Emergency Regulation

The proposed emergency regulation will protect coho salmon and steelhead in four Russian River tributary watersheds: Dutch Bill Creek, Green Valley Creek, Mill Creek and parts of Mark West Creek. The four watersheds have been identified by CDFW and NMFS as a high priority for Central Coast California coho salmon preservation and encompass 130 square miles and about 13,000 landowners.


The regulation would require enhanced conservation measures for all users of water (e.g. residences and businesses, including wineries) diverting from the four watersheds, including groundwater, resulting in more water remaining instream. The regulation also includes reporting for surface and groundwater use. Groundwater is included in the proposed regulation because the close hydraulic connection between groundwater and surface water in the region make groundwater pumping a significant factor in stream flows. Water used for commercial agriculture purposes only would be excluded from the conservation restrictions.

Unless gray water is available for use, the conservation measures eliminate all watering of ornamental lawns; limit watering of all other landscaping to twice a week and only between the hours of 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.; limit car washing to commercial car washes that recirculate water; and prohibit the filling or refilling of decorative ponds and fountains. Water used for community recreation facilities would be permitted, though with limitations. The regulation includes other restrictions as well and applies to non-potable as well as potable water.

The proposed regulation would require diverters, if directed by the State Water Board, to provide information on the sources and uses of both surface and groundwater diverted from the watersheds and applies to all landowners in and suppliers of water from the watersheds. Information obtained through these informational orders will provide the State Water Board with critical information to accurately estimate total water demand, and the burden that this demand places on stream flows, in the four priority tributary watersheds.

The regulation would not impose the enhanced conservation restrictions on water users who are complying with a voluntary agreement, but participation in the voluntary program would not affect any other independent conservation or water use restriction obligations such as an information order or curtailments, if imposed in the future.

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In a separate but related “letter to landowners” with property on the four Russian River Tributaries, the Water Board adds: “The proposed emergency regulation would also prohibit new groundwater wells or surface water diversions (except for winter diversions to offstream storage that first receive an approval from the Deputy Director for the Division of Water Rights) for the duration of the emergency regulation, which is 270 days, unless extended by the State Water Board. Enhanced conservation in combination with no increase in water extractions in these four watersheds should help to provide the minimal amount of water needed to maintain pools essential for rearing coho salmon and steelhead.”

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SO: No private car washing, no lawn watering, reduced landscape watering, and no filling of “decorative” ponds. Plus required reporting of information already required.

The only “new” “emergency” regulation that might have noticeable benefit for fish is in the separate letter to landowners which “prohibits” non-winter surface water diversions. But of course such “prohibitions” are toothless without oversight, monitoring and enforcement.

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To the State Water Resources Control Board

Considering what an important matter this is, it’s both shocking and disquieting how poorly it’s been handled from the start. First of all, with the plethora of communication options available nowadays it’s extremely disturbing that some of the hardworking taxpayers who the water regulations will affect only received the letter three days prior to the meeting in Sacramento while others, who live not 20ft away and are on the same exact watershed, received no notice at all, at least not until after the meeting had already taken place, giving us nowhere near adequate time to respond. That in of itself gives cause for concern as it violates our fundamental rights.

But as if that wasn't enough, the proposed water regulations themselves are severely unbalanced – asking homeowners to sacrifice greatly while vineyards, that use at least three times the water we do, are exempt. Last I heard, the salmon are the endangered species, not a grapevine that can be replaced at any time so why are the hardworking average joe’s who pay thousands a year in taxes being asked to relinquish control of their water usage when the big vineyards can water seven days a week without restriction? I’m certain that the salmon, the supposed reason for these regulations, would greatly appreciate some help from the grape owners who use more water than we ever will.

The entire affair lacks any sort of common sense, especially when you factor in that new vineyards, which will draw from the same depleted watersheds we're being told to conserve, are currently in development. It truly baffles the mind. After all, a person never has more rights than they do in comfort of their own home. To forcibly remove some of those rights and transfer them instead to the government is egregious. I don't dispute that the Coho salmon are important nor that we're in a drought, but if we are in such a serious drought emergency as to sanction regulating what hardworking taxpayers do with the water on their own property then, by rights, development on all new vineyards should be immediately halted. It’s extremely difficult to take the proposed regulations seriously when the grape growers are not only given a free pass to water as they please, but are also able to start new wineries as though there’s no drought at all which will only serve to further deplete the limited water resources. It’s an outrageous abuse of power and a poorly thought out course of action that doesn’t respect let alone consider the needs and feelings of those whose daily lives it will affect. In fact, it seems as though only the vineyards are being taken into consideration, not the drought, not the fish, and certainly not us.

Stop the madness and start using your brains. Then ask yourself: Are the consequences of these actions, which make no logical sense, worth the fallout? Are they worth allowing government intrusion on private properties in a country which is known for being the land of the free and the home of the brave?

The Kraus Family
13393 DuPont Rd.
Sebastopol, CA, 95472


To the State Water Resources Control Board

On the afternoon of June 16th, I received a letter from the State Resources Control Board about emergency regulations for four Russian River Watersheds. I am in the Green Valley Watershed and my property also borders the Dutch Bill Creek Watershed.

Some of my neighbors received this letter stating that a meeting would be held on June 17th in Sacramento at 9 a.m. which gave none of us time to prepare to attend the meeting. Some people received the letter a day or two after the meeting. One of the sentences in the letter states, "the enhanced conservation measure applies to non-economic uses of water..."

You aren't regulating vineyard use of water obviously because the wine industry brings in vast amounts of money to Sonoma County. I have lived in West Sonoma County for 35 years and the proliferation of water use by vineyards and entertainment centers is a disgrace. They are not held accountable. My family and I care deeply about the plight of the Coho and all animals affected by this severe drought. To blame this tragedy on the domestic use of water is absurd. The threat to the Coho is not new information. People have testified for years that the toxic run-off from vineyards pollutes tributaries of the Russian River. Also the drilling of new wells has affected homeowners wells. The vineyard owner who lives across the street from me has 40 acres and is watering his young vines this summer. I have a 30 foot well and most of my neighbors have shallow wells because we live in a water scarce area.

We reject this regulation and the fact that you're insulting our rights as homeowners to participate in discussion AFTER the law is passed. Will vineyard owners be in attendance at the meetings you hold the second week of July? I think not.

Pamela Stone Singer
P.O. Box 684 Occidental, CA 95465


To Daniel Schultz, California State Water Resources Control Board,

Regarding: Emergency Regulations To Address Insufficient Flow For Coho Salmon In Tributaries of the Russian River

We hereby submit these comments in connection with the proposed emergency actions due to insufficient flow for specific fisheries and tributaries to the Russian River and the recent submission to OAL (office of administrative law).

We recommend that the State Water Board withdraw, reconsider and revisit this regulation and that the Office Of Administrative Law not approve it. As discussed below it is the State Water Board that is in defiance of Governor Brown’s Drought Proclamation and Order.

I live in the watershed of Green Valley Creek in the upper reach, the headwaters. It is historically water scarce with lots of serpentine and franciscan formations, notoriously low water bearing.

I am a past member of Salmon United, Trout Unlimited and a longtime advocate of maintaining the historic bounty of salmon in our rivers and streams and a strong fishing industry on the north coast.

I have testified repeatedly that the main cause of decline of salmonids is the dewatering of the tributaries. This is widely acknowledged today but little is being done about it.

Now comes the State Water Resources Control Board proposing to focus its attention and increased regulation on the noncommercial sector of the population, making demands regarding information and monitoring of residential water use. Why? We all know that it is the rapid expansion of acreage of irrigated vineyards in the hills which is draining the creeks and aquifers due to an overindulgence in water well drilling, extraction and diversion.

Many appellations in France (if not all) prohibit irrigation! Grapes are perfectly suited to our summer dry climate and can thrive without irrigation. The only reason there is little acreage of grapes dry-farmed now is that growers/investors get increased tonnage per acre equaling increase revenue equalling increased profits for shareholders.

How long did we expect the generous permitting of irrigated vineyards in the dry hills of West Sonoma County to continue before causing the collapse of the fishery? And in the relentless pursuit of higher returns per acre, varietals have been allowed on land where frost is a problem and precious groundwater is allowed to be sprayed on grapes for frost protection. This floods the soil and drenches leaves with water to prevent freezing. Why couldn't we foresee the inevitable outcome of this?

The State Water Resources Control Board is regulating lawns? What lawns? I challenge you to find ornamental lawns in the Dutch Bill, Green Valley and Atascadero Creek watersheds. It is not grass that is causing the problem, it is irrigated vineyard. A five acre vineyard uses as much water as a five acre ranchette. Would Sonoma County planners allow a density of 40 homes on 200 acres? Never! And water would be one of the main issues. But they readily, willingly allow 200 acres of irrigated grapes with an equivalent water use.

Furthermore, vineyard wells are permitted without full review under the California Environmental Quality Act with compliance essentially imposed only on minimal erosion control measures without insisting on any review of irrigation alternatives and dry farming or any other water conserving alternatives. We believe this is a clear violation of state environmental law.

The solution is obviously not to ignore this travesty and restrain rural residents, it is to take on the hard task of limiting irrigated vineyard acreage in this sensitive part of the county.

We suggest the State Water Resources Control Board table this new regulation and instead:

Hold workshops in the upper reaches of the Russian River to allow residents and growers to engage in our own problem-solving with regulators and planners involved including Water Board staff.

Ban groundwater used for frost protection.

Offer incentives for dry farming and seminars by members of the industry who are enthusiastic about the age-old dry-farming technique.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely, Ann Maurice,
Ad Hoc Committee For Clean Water, Occidental


I hereby submit to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) and to the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) the following comments for consideration in connection with emergency actions.

”I am shocked, shocked, to learn that there is gambling going on at Rick's!"

I am shocked that you did not realize that drilling many and massive wells to facilitate more vineyards and entertainment centers would have a deleterious effect upon the coho salmon. What rock were you hiding under when the pesticide and herbicide runoff caused the deaths of insect and juvenile fish populations alike? Where were you when the frost protection measures of draining creeks caused the death of thousands of juvenile fish, flopping on the dry creek beds in agony.

I am outraged that you think that you have the right to curtail my domestic water use, while going whole hog forward on more destruction of wildlife habitat for the benefit of vineyard owners and their ilk.

Stop the madness. Put an immediate halt to all new vineyard development, use of water for irrigating vineyards, and any new entertainment centers. We are not amused.

Michael T Yezbick

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CATCH OF THE DAY, July 3, 2015

Amezcua, Anaya, Doyle
Amezcua, Anaya, Doyle

LUIS AMEZCUA, Los Angeles/Willits. Leaded cane, billyclub, blackjack, slungshot, sandclub, sap or sandbag, no license, pot possession while driving.

APRIL ANAYA, Ukiah. Battery.

JOHN DOYLE, Ukiah. Suspended license, failure to pay.

Galvez-Bennett, Garcia, Guizar
Galvez-Bennett, Garcia, Guizar

JESSE GALVEZ-BENNETT, Ukiah. Brandishing.

RUBEN GARCIA, Ukiah. DUI, no license.

PEDRO GUIZAR, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. DUI.

Herriot, Juarez, Larson
Herriot, Juarez, Larson

JAMES HERRIOT JR., Albion. Possession of meth, parole violation.

JOEL JUAREZ, Fort Bragg. Sale of meth, drug paraphernalia.

MICHAEL LARSON, Ukiah. Criminal threats of great bodily harm or death.

Martinez, Moreno, Morris
Martinez, Moreno, Morris

ARACELI MARTINEZ, Fort Bragg. Obtaining property on false pretenses.


JAMES MORRIS, Willits. Parole violation.

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Fort Bragg Independence Day Fireworks Celebration

Saturday July 4, 2015

Presented by the 
City of Fort Bragg and the Friends of the Fort Bragg Fireworks

The City and Friends of the Fort Bragg Fireworks will be hosting a fireworks celebration this year. Fireworks will be launched from the southwest end of the Mill Site.


Please note that this year the Fort Bragg Police Department plans to control access to the Noyo Beach area in order to address safety concerns and ensure compliance with existing laws. This plan includes closing Noyo Beach on Friday, July 3, 2015 at 10 p.m. and reopening on Saturday, July 4, 2015 at 2 p.m. Access will be controlled by fencing and barricades on the south side of the bridge. Parking at Noyo Beach will be on a first-come-first-served basis with a fee of $20 collected for parking. Parking proceeds will be used to offset costs associated with the fireworks. After the parking lot is full, the lot will be closed to the public.

Please note that additional parking will be available on the Patton/Carlson and Haun properties at Todd Point and College of the Redwoods on a first-come-first-served basis at a cost of $5. As with the Noyo Beach parking, proceeds will be used to offset costs associated with the fireworks. Vehicles with a valid disabled person’s placard or license plate may park in the Pomo Bluffs Park parking area on a first-come-first-served basis.

Fireworks can be viewed from Pomo Bluffs Park, College of the Redwoods, Patton/Carlson and Haun properties, Noyo Beach, the Noyo Bridge pedestrian walkways (no parking on Noyo Bridge or Main Street), and other public property. Please do not trespass on private property or enter the safety buffer.

The Fort Bragg Police Department Has A Zero Tolerance Policy Towards Trespassing, The Illegal Discharge Of Fireworks, And Open Containers Of Alcohol In Public.

Please be safe, be aware, and have a great time!

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FEDERAL Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, interviewed on PBS Newshour Thursday night (starting at 17:10), was surprisingly inarticulate defending Obamacare. In part that was due to her repeated use of empty blatherspeak phrases: "in terms of," "with regards to," "in the sense of," and "point in time." She also has the fashionable and annoying habit of starting sentences with "so."

Even though Burwell is smart and Obamacare should now be easy to defend, this sort of thing reflects poorly on the administration. Why not create a flab-gab ombudsman to monitor the public presentations of cabinet officials to discreetly notify them when they're guilty of this?

(Rob Anderson, District5Diary)

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There's L.A. Now, there's L.A. Then. More recent crime scene pix feature the classic freeway overpass shot of a dead dude splattered on the pavement. You don't get that in the L.A. Then. We're dealing with flatland and hillside L.A., linked by surface streets. The relative absence of freeways explains the lack of zoom-lens, wide-angle, high-vantage point, Hollywood-Sign-in-the-background art pix. We're in tight. The photo-framing replicates the L.A. of the time. We assume limitless growth, we've engaged the concept, we know we've got growing room. There's valleys to populate, mountain ranges to plunder, slumland to bulldoze. All that is horizontal. Don't forget the vertical. City Hall is the tallest building in L.A. '53, and it's no skyscraper. That's why growth czar Mayor Norris Poulson is always smiling that year. He knows that L.A. will get a major league ball club sooner or later — but he doesn't know that he'll have to pull a huge landgrab and evict impoverished Mexicans in order to break ground for the home field. Whiskey Bill Parker is always smiling in '53. Why? He's got L.A. right where he wants it — which is exactly the way it is Now — back when Then was Now and there was no Then and Now between '53 and '15. It was Whiskey Bill Parker's town, and we just lived in it Then. Now it's 2015 — and Whiskey Bill's 48 years muerto. And L.A. Now is beyond cosmetic repair and control — while L.A. Then is a wiggy land of naivete, beauty and stratification.

— LAPD '53, by James Ellroy

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Mirrors: Photo by Annie Kalantarian
photo by Annie Kalantarian

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When my air conditioner fails in this heat and there is no hope of it coming back on, then out come the pills and the whiskey. Bottoms up. There is no way at my age I can survive by my own skills and wits. Even if I could grow food, I could not preserve it. There are very, very few people who might possibly hang on. Of the many, many people I know only one might pull it off but then when his insulin is gone so is he. I think each person of age should be issued “THE PILL”, and allow them to make their decisions when the time comes. It takes a certain level of caloric intake to maintain enough energy to survive. You cannot fake that. Starvation was the biggest cause of death in WWII among civilians. It will be the same again.

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by Bill Bradd

I grew up where men seldom touched other men, beyond a handshake, and everybody was happy with that arrangement. But, when I came out to the coast, well, people hugged. You see the guy from the stamp club, it’s a big-old hug. I submitted, but if they weren’t opening the wingspan first, well, I went for the handshake, although sometimes a quick question can also deflect.

The scene can go something like this: He steps forward into the narrow passage in the library’s Bookmobile, a rural blessing and much appreciated at otherwise empty crossroads. “Bill!” he shouts out and comes full throttle down the corridor, into the rear of the bus and he’s got a wingspan going. No escaping that.

Ah, but we did overcome the huge prehistoric beasts, we can think quickly. Imagine, if you will, you are a prehistoric knuckler in a smelly animal robe and you are ducking and hiding from the flying creatures with huge claws.

There’s one, it sees you, you run, you go into the swamp of alder trees, you bend over a big limb into a giant whip, and when the beast swoops in for the kill, you let loose the whip and it punctuates the big duffus. Lunchtime, you think.

Outsmarting the situation while cornered in the back of the Bookmobile, about to be engulfed by a hairy guy with a smelly hat, you say immediately, “I hear Doris fell and broke her toe.” He is distracted. His Doris, he just left her out in the station wagon, boiling away in the heat, she hates opening the windows. “The mosquitoes can ruin my day.”

So Doris had deflected the hug. Now you start up on another subject, leaving Doris’s condition for a future entrapment. You say “Nice shirt.” Now he’s checking out his style and he will never return to hugging on this day, with me.

At the closing it’s a TA-TA, and a slight wave of the hand, and, I recommend, the Good Queens Book of Waves from a Carriage. You can still buy a cardboard Queen E. with a stick on element that you put in your backside window, and there she is, wearing the crown, a sickly smile, and a sincere wave, as best as she can manage. Although I doubt if she waves much around the house. “Oh William, you dashing little bastard, here’s a morning wave for you.”

The Wave, that’s the other rural phenomenon. You drive by someone you know, recognize the car and you give the good-morning-neighbor wave.

A friend of mine, a coastal building inspector, was the champion waver.

Ed liked to take you by surprise. He’d be coming up Highway 1 when I’m going into town, he’s in his little county white truck and you really don’t actually notice him until he is passed except, just as he goes by, Ed would give a last minute wave and catch you with your hand on the wheel. Dang, you think, Ed got me again, so you sheepishly wave in the rear-view mirror, a sop, but you know you’ve been beat by a better waver. He knew what you were driving, but those little white trucks all look alike. It was a game with Ed. He’s cruising up to Westport, to listen to some guy try to weasel out of something, and he sees you coming down the road in the white Volvo station wagon. Ever see a cat smile at a mouse.

Then of course there is the non-wave. Here comes Moony. I know his red Toyota, I wave, HI MOONY, and get nothing back. He’s on down the road, and you’re left with, What? Is Moony mad at me? He didn’t see me. Hey Moony, are you okay?

And the deliberate non-affirming-wave. Here comes Midge Crossaunt, her latest outburst in the A.V.A., affirming the water rights of corporations, she doesn’t deserve a wave. I excommunicate you from the church of neighborly wave society. Be lonely. The wave, the non-wave, and the hug. Busy territory in rural settings.

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by Scott M. Peterson

Fort Bragg is only ten miles from Mendocino by map. But a lot further by feel. Caspar bridge is a Mason-Dixon line between two realms. Just flip-flop the compass. You might think a fort was there once upon a time. But there wasn’t.

According to Merriam Webster, a fort is either (a) surrounded by parapets, or (b) a permanent military installation. As history shows, Fort Bragg was neither. From the get-go, it was a lowly outpost. One of thirty such places in the Humboldt Military District. Originally named for the Noyau river. Where a thousand Pomo Indians vanished. California had a serious labor shortage back then. Just like the Old South did. So brown became the new black.

Case in point: the Bloody Island Massacre. Prompted by Pomo enslavement. A couple of forty-niners named Andrew Kelsey and Charles Stone availed themselves to the natives near Clear Lake. Disappearing forty-eight Pomo men off to the gold fields at the crack of a whip. Sparing only Pomo daughters for sex. Until the fall of 1849, when Kelsey and Stone died at the hands of some very pissed-off Pomo parents.

Mendocino was already settled back then. One of the first pioneers here was a fellow named Nathaniel Smith. Also known as ‘Nigger Nat.’ He homesteaded a section east of Highway One known as Fury Town. Then sold it to Northerner named Jerome B. Ford. What followed was a stream of Northerners. All of them abolitionists. Smith remained in Mendocino for many years after that. Working first as a professional hunter. Then as a ferryman at the crossing on Big River. But always for a wage. And always as a free man. There were about 200 Pomo here in 1859. All of them looked after by Captain David Lansing. Without charge. They were all paid too.

Things were different in Fort Bragg. People of color there were treated like animals. From Simpson Lane to Abalobadiah Creek. At the Mendocino Indian Reservation. Populated by 2,000 native souls. Run by a paid agent named Thomas J. Henley. Who – like many Indian agents – helped himself. A native of Missouri, Henley saw nothing wrong with slavery. It’s been documented that “soldiers and employees of the reservation would make incursions into the interior valleys and corral and drive the Indians into the reservation just as they would so many wild hogs or cattle.” The man in charge of the outpost was a U.S. Army officer named Horatio G. Gibson. With the nickname ‘Agnes’ and the task of protecting Indians from the settlers. Gibson named the place after a former commander of his named Braxton Bragg in 1857. The year Gibson turned thirty. Bragg was a military rock star. A Southern slave owner who became a hero killing brown people in the Mexican-American War. Then retired at thirty-eight.

Bragg’s career was the stuff of dreams. By age forty, he owned a profitable sugar plantation in Louisiana. Along with 105 slaves. His military career was something less admirable. One thing he really sucked at was popularity. At one point, getting fragged by an artillery shell planted under his bunk by his own soldiers. Bragg had a reputation for being quarrelsome. Even with himself. Filing requisitions as his own quartermaster, and then refused them as its commanding officer.

Gibson arrived in Fort Bragg with an attitude. In 1855, he’d fought natives in the Rogue River Wars. But got badly wounded in the Battle of Hungry Hill. Where 200 Indians armed with muskets, bows and arrows defeated a detachment of 300 U.S. Army soldiers shooting rifles and artillery. Native casualties numbered fewer than twenty. There were twice that amount on Gibson’s side. Including Gibson. According to the 1925 Coast Artillery Journal, there wasn’t an Indian tribe from the Rockies to the Pacific that Gibson’s regiment didn’t ‘visit’ after the humiliation at Hungry Hill.

Once the Mendocino Reservation was established in 1856, Henley and Gibson got right down to business. Selling a large chunk of Indian land to Alexander McPherson. Who promptly built a sawmill there. Using Pomo workers to cut and haul timber to the mill. And more Pomo workers to sort and transport green lumber to his private yard. With all the proceeds going to himself. Until 1858, when a deputy named G. Canning Smith ratted Henley out. Not for mistreating Indians. But for taking advantage of the U.S. Government. Which got Henley ousted. In 1857, Gibson claimed there’d never been a head count on the Mendocino Reservation. Which is hard to imagine after what happened to him at Hungry Hill. He reported the number of natives at the Mendocino Indian Reservation at maybe 1,000. Leaving a thousand or so Pomo unaccounted for. The following year Gibson got transferred, never to see Fort Bragg again.

Californians think of themselves as abolitionists today. But that wasn’t the case in 1850. As Kelsey and Stone became overnight martyrs, the Golden State embraced slavery. In legislation called An Act for the Government and Protection of Indians. Stating that “Any person could apply to the Justice of Peace to obtain Indian children for indenture.” Yeah, baby. At market rates of $50 a head, why not? The law also stripped Native Americans of any legal rights. Putting them in the same boat as black people. By 1851, politicians advocated outright extermination. Governor Peter Burnett asserted, “That a war of extermination will continue to be waged between the races until the Indian race becomes extinct, must be expected.” For decades afterward, California paid a $25 bounty for Indian scalps. The Act for the Government and Protection of Indians stayed on the books until 1937.

Like Henley and Bragg, Governor Burnett was a Southerner. Born in Tennessee, and raised in Missouri. Burnett hated African Americans and Chinese too. His role in the Provisional Legislature of Oregon forced blacks to leave Oregon. Those who remained were subject to whipping. That law lasted until 1926. He also lobbied for the Chinese Exclusion Act decades after leaving office. A law that wasn’t repealed until 1943. Two institutions were named after Burnett. The Burnett Child Development Center in San Francisco. And the Peter H. Burnett Elementary School in Long Beach. Both were later renamed after prominent African Americans. Leaving Governor Burnett spinning in his grave.

In 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation put the kibosh on slavery. By September of 1864, Union forces were burning Atlanta. So the party was definitely over in Fort Bragg. In October, the entire garrison boarded the steamer Panama and sailed quietly into the night. Leaving only one thing behind. Attitude.

Next it was the Chinese. In 1892, an angry Fort Bragg mob demanded that Chinese workers be fired for digging a railroad tunnel. For being – uh – Chinese. It took a visit from the Sheriff in Ukiah to fix that. “Okay,” he said. “Why don’t all you white folks dig the tunnel instead?” Manual labor was beneath Fort Bragg’s hoi polloi. So the Chinese went back to work. That story is trumpeted today on the Skunk Train website. By its all-white railroad workers.

Around 1920, the Ku Klux Klan showed up in Fort Bragg. For a friendly little cross burning on Bald Hill. I remember reading about that in the local paper a few years back. In that newspaper’s backward glance section. Featuring uplifting stories from the good ole days. Uh-huh. Then there was the Court Report. Where many of the defendants were Chinese. The Court Report is gone. But the backward glance is still there. In the Fort Bragg Advocate. Courtesy of its all-white reporters.

After Redwood Summer in 1990, Fort Bragg started trading on Mendocino’s name. Adding our moniker to its Chamber of Commerce – to promote Fort Bragg businesses. And then charging Mendocino Village merchants for it. Now there’s the MendocinoFun website. Promoting ‘A spoonful of Fort Bragg history’ video. And lots of Fort Bragg businesses. Including the railroad. Which is now closed. Because it needs cheap labor again. The webmaster there is all-white too. What a shock. The Mendocino Beacon is now published in downtown Fort Bragg. By an all-white publisher. With an attitude. Another big surprise.

Don’t get me wrong. There are good things in Fort Bragg too. Like the North Coast Brewing Company, Piaci and the Harbor. But they’re all run by white people. Who don’t mind operating in a nonexistent fort. Or a place named after a Southern slave owner. Look what’s happened in South Carolina and Mississippi. They’ve finally taken the Confederate flag down. So maybe it’s time for a change in Fort Bragg too. I remember a Chamber of Commerce advertising campaign from around 2000. Titled ‘Something to Bragg About.’ For the life of me, I can remember no examples. Identifying with slavery is shameful in my book. Ditto for a fake fort. So think about this, Fort Bragg. Promote yourself by honoring the 1,000 Pomo who went bye-bye. And rename the place Noyau. That’d be something to brag about.

If not, then at least put up Disneyland-style parapets. And hold historic reenactments inside an actual fort. Treating people of color as you always have. Badly.

* * *


by Dan Bacher

Anti-fracking, environmental and watchdog groups responded on July 1 to the release of final fracking regulations developed under Senate Bill 4, pointing out that the rules promote the expansion of fracking in California.

Senate Bill 4, the green light for fracking bill, was signed by Governor Jerry Brown on September 20, 2013. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the California League of Conservation Voters, the Environmental Defense Fund and other corporate "environmental" NGOs provided green cover for the odious legislation. They backed the bill until the very last minute when they finally decided to withdraw support because of amendments from the Western States Petroleum Association and other Big Oil interests that further weakened the already weak legislation.

In a statement, Food and Water Watch said, "Today the Brown Administration finalized regulations on fracking and other dangerous oil extraction techniques that will allow oil and gas companies to continue to conduct these techniques at the expense of California’s water, air, agriculture and public health."

Adam Scow, California Director, Food & Water Watch, stated:

“These regulations will not alter the fundamental way these inherently dangerous oil drilling techniques are conducted and therefore cannot prevent the dangerous and severe consequences that will continue to harm California. For example, the recent Refugio oil spill in Santa Barbara has been tied to offshore oil rigs that have used acidizing and are seeking permits to frack. Moreover, the industry continues to dispose its toxic wastewater into aquifers that could be used for drinking and irrigation purposes.”

“The regulatory process mandated by Senate Bill 4 has been misguided and backwards as it has allowed the industry to frack while and before a study and environmental review were conducted to determine the impacts of these dangerous extraction techniques. As such, this review has no bearing on the regulations, which were developed by the Department of Oil and Gas and Geothermal Resources, an industry-friendly agency charged with promoting oil development.

“A better and more responsible course of action would be for Governor Brown to implement a moratorium on these techniques now. Faced with the Governor’s ongoing failure to protect Californians, it’s no wonder that more and more communities are working to pass local bans on fracking and oil drilling.”

Californians Against Fracking also issued a news release, noting that the California Council on Science and Technology is expected to release its second and third volumes of a report titled “An Independent Scientific Assessment of Well Stimulation in California,” on July 9.

"The first volume, released in January, included no information about health impacts associated with a third of chemicals used in fracking. While CCST delayed the release of the portion of the report that examines the health risks of fracking, it did conclude in the first volume that fracking in California uses high concentrations of chemicals at shallow depths and in close proximity to our drinking water aquifers," according to the release.

"In California, drilling happens in overburdened communities that already suffer from the worst air pollution, have the highest levels of childhood asthma, and generally have the greatest health disparities in the state,” said Barbara Sattler, a board member at the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments and professor at the University of San Francisco. “That regulators would finalize regulations and release a final environmental review before the completion of an independent scientific assessment is simply unacceptable.” also responded to the California’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR)'s release of its final report of the environmental impacts unconventional well stimulation techniques, such as fracking and acidization, in California.

"The environmental impact report (EIR) reveals that these drilling techniques have 'significant and unavoidable impacts' that cannot be mitigated," according to a press release from the group.

In a mockery of science, the EIR, mandated under SB 4, was drafted by DOGGR and released six months after California’s first-ever fracking regulations were finalized, making it impossible for the regulations to reflect the findings of the EIR.

“California has reversed the regulatory process when it comes to fracking,” said Jackie Pomeroy, spokesperson for CAFrackFacts. "State regulators finalized California's fracking regulations a full six months before the environmental impacts of these unconventional well stimulation techniques were understood. We now know that these techniques come with serious risks that cannot be mitigated."

The report found the following significant and unavoidable impacts:

Air Quality: Well stimulation will "increase criteria pollutants ... to levels that violate an air quality standard" and “expose sensitive receptors to substantial pollutant concentrations" (pg 8).

Climate: Well stimulation will "generate greenhouse gas emissions that may have a significant impact on the environment, [and] conflict with an applicable plan, policy or regulation adopted for the purpose of reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases" (pg 14).

Public Safety: Well stimulation will "increase risks to public safety by exposing the public to accidental hazardous materials releases from pipelines," as well as, "create a hazard to the public or environment through crude oil transport and reasonably foreseeable accidents and releases" (pg 14).

While environmental groups blasted the regulations developed under SB 4, the oil industry gushed with an oily torrent of praise for the new rules. Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association and the former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create alleged "marine protected areas" in Southern California, praised DOGGR for rejecting comments calling for a moratorium on the environmentally destructive practice of fracking in California.

Reheis-Boyd noted that "DOGGR has rejected comments calling for a moratorium on well stimulation treatments and confirms the legality of these technologies, which have been practiced safely in California for decades."

"We appreciate the great care DOGGR has taken to explain the reasoning behind the changes that were made in the draft EIR, including the deletion of some mitigation measures that were determined to be infeasible or unnecessary," she said.

We are encouraged by DOGGR's commitment to be as flexible as possible in evaluating the need for specific mitigation measures, given site-specific considerations, and its recognition that the mitigation measures in the final EIR are suggestions rather than mandates," the oil lobbyist/"marine guardian" claimed.

"We also appreciate DOGGR's confirmation that it will work very closely with Kern County and other local lead agencies, with the goal of achieving consensus on the mitigation measures that are appropriate to specific projects," she concluded.

Meanwhile, crews continue to clean up the Santa Barbara Oil spill that began on May 19 when a pipeline owned by Plains All America Pipeline ruptured off Refugio State Beach. The corporate and most "alternative" media continue to suppress any discussion of the root cause of the oil spill - Big Oil's capture of the regulatory apparatus.

WSPA President Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the head of the same oil industry trade association that lobbies for the Plains All American Pipeline corporation, whose corroded pipeline rupture caused a massive oil spill off Refugio State Beach, is the very same person who chaired the panel that created the so-called "marine protected areas" that have been fouled with crude oil.

To read my groundbreaking investigative piece, please go to:


  1. Bruce McEwen July 4, 2015

    Ms. Kalantarian’s witty art and luminous photography always delights — what a brilliant addition to the contributor’s roster!

  2. Jim Updegraff July 4, 2015

    The fracking bill is a small step in the right direction. I’m surprise that anything gets down considering the amount of money the oil tosses around. Part of the problem is tepid support from the Gov.

  3. Jessica Ehlers July 4, 2015

    I was raised in Fort Bragg. I did not learn about it’s real history until I spent an afternoon reading some locally published histories at the Guest House Museum when I was in my early 20s. Pretty amazing history and when I say amazing, I mean horrifying. It’s important to know the history.

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