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Welcome to the Sonoma County Gazette ARCHIVE of PAST EDITIONS. Our NEW WEBSITE is up and running, so GazExtra is serving as your path to archived articles. Thanks for being part of our Sonoma County community...stay in touch...e-mail me - VESTA

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Children's & Maternity Consignment Event,

The North Bay's Largest Children's & Maternity Consignment Event, 
Just Between Friends 
returns March 4-6 to the 
Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 
Hall of Flowers. 
At last Fall’s sale, more than 2,000 shoppers walked through the
door to find incredible deals on more than 20,000 consigned items.

Shop: 30-90% off clothes (0-12 years), toys, games, furniture and more
Consign: Earn 60% automatically
Volunteer: Shop exclusive presale FIRST and earn 65%
Sign up:

Just Between Friends is organizes by a Sonoma County family and benefits our local economy. Item donations benefit Our Kids Sake, a local 501c3 helping the more than 1,000 homeless children throughout Sonoma County. 100% of admission ($2 admission is on Friday only) benefits Active 20-30, helping disadvantaged children from Petaluma to Healdsburg, Sebastopol to Napa and everywhere in between.

Sign up today at

For more information, contact or (707) 456-7JBF.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sticks and Stones by Will Shonbrun

Sticks and Stones…
By Will Shonbrun

Despite the old adage it’s known by most that the impact of words – harsh, accusatory, judgmental or condemnatory – last and fester far longer than bodily bruises. Words matter. Ask the preacher or the politician or the pundit. Ask the dictator. First come the words, then the actions.

Since the latest tragic event in Tucson we are hearing from politicians and pundits alike – some of them – to turn down the inflammatory and violence-oriented rhetoric, to cool the hate speech, and to understand that such words have consequences, as we’ve been told so many times. It happens every time these kinds of brutally insane and heart-wrenching rampages occur.

Of course words matter. It’s an old, old story, but we’ve only to look a short way to past history: the rationale for stolen land because its inhabitants were godless savages; an excuse for slavery, one of the depths of human depravity, because its victims weren’t fully human; the Nazis’ rise to power on the defamation of Jews; the oppression and subjugation against women and minorities and their relegation to second-class status; the McCarthy Era, and the arousing of our nation to go to war in East Asia or the Middle East through fear and the demonization of some “enemy.”

Calls for more civil discourse, less personal attacks, and easing off violent, militant words and symbols are heard throughout the land, as always follows tragic, senseless killings, and while this is the proper and right response, it is undermined by a fundamental hypocrisy in our culture: We are a violent people.

We tell our children that problems cannot and should not be solved by violence, and that our differences cannot be rectified through aggression, but what do we show them on the world stage?

We invade countries that we disagree with when we believe it is in our interest to do so, and we manufacture the reasons and rationales to get our people to accept, support and fight in these wars. But ‘invade’ is a too surgical, too clinical word. It does not describe the reality of the act. A recent example: Before our military set foot in Iraq in 2003 we rained bombs and missiles on sections of the country for two weeks. Remember “shock and awe”?

Those bombs and missiles not only destroyed, rendered into rubble, buildings and infrastructure, they tore apart human beings: families, babies and children of people who just happened to be living in the wrong place, at the wrong time. These were other human beings, no different than our families, friends and neighbors; no different than us. Our military, before and during the invasion of Iraq killed, brutally and violently murdered and maimed a countless number of people no different in their hopes, dreams and desires than you or I. That’s the reality of war. Indiscriminate bombing and so-called collateral killing was done in Vietnam and Cambodia as well, and there’s no reason to believe it will not happen again.

We tell our children not to engage in violence to solve their problems and it’s the first thing we resort to. We exhort our children and our fellow citizens to eschew violence and physical aggression while at the same time manufacturing and selling arms – machinery that kills people and destroys cities and countryside – to practically all the nations of the world. We spend about half of our entire budget fighting and preparing to wage wars. How can we tell our children, tell ourselves, to seek non-violent solutions when our actions belie our words?

We are currently cautioned by our leaders, the putative more reasonable and intelligent ones, to cool the rhetoric and incitement to violence-laden language, while at the same time sending drones to kill designated enemies regardless of who else happens to get killed or wounded in the process. We preach non-violence and at the same time justify the use of torture. Torture! We have a Congressman recently calling for the assassination of Wikileaks’ Julian Assange – not a trial to establish innocence or guilt, but an assassination; a mob hit. This is and other such utterances are the level of discourse from some of our political leaders and extreme right wing pundits.

How can we expect our people to behave respectfully, to debate differences honestly and logically, to keep our national discourse civil when the reality of how we act and what we say projects just the opposite? Only when we stop exhorting and resorting to violence in order to get what we want will we be able to bridge the divides that have grown deeper and wider in our country. Only when our actions mirror our words will we be able to advise our children and tell ourselves and the rest of the world how to live in peace. Will such a time ever come?

Will Shonbrun is a writer who lives in Sonoma, CA.


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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

MEETING: Ban Plastic Grocery Bags in Sonoma County?

Sonoma County Waste Management Agency Meeting

Item #10- Carryout Bags
SCWMA will hear this item Wednesday, January 19th, and may provide further direction to move forward with a ban/regulation on disposable plastic bags! We're hoping for turnout from the public to show public support for banning plastic bags in Sonoma County!
Jan 19: 9am to Noon - Santa Rosa City Hall, 100 Santa Rosa Ave.

Sonoma County Waste Management:

Sonoma County Conservation Action
FB Page:
Web Page:

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Proposed Zoning Changes to Agricultural Lands and Preserves

From: Sonoma Coast 

Dear Neighbor, You may have received a Notice of Public Hearing, at The Permit and Resource Management Department set for this Thursday, January 20, at 1:05pm on what seems to be rather sweeping changes to zoning codes in our area as well as the whole county. Most of us have had no time to figure out what the zoning changes are, let alone understand any benefits or probable consequences. That wouldn't be so bad if it didn't say, "If you challenge the decisions on the project in court, you may be limited to raising only those issues previously raised before the Planning Commission at the [Thursday, January 20] hearing or in written form delivered to the Planning Commission prior to or at the hearing."

There's not much time to respond appropriately except in this way: Please take a moment, now, before the deadline of January 20, 2011, to write a letter responding to the Provisions for Changes to Agricultural Preserve Rules and Agricultural Zoning Code Sections, by saying that you formally object to the provisions listed in the Notice of Public Hearing based on the fact that, notices have been received only in the last 10 days and apparently many parcel owners never received the notice at all.

Because of the short notice and inconsistencies in notification, citizens have had no time to assess possible benefits or consequences.

Mail to:
The Sonoma County Planning Commission
Permit and Resource Management Department
2550 Ventura Avenue, Santa Rosa. 95403



The Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management Department has prepared draft changes to the Sonoma County Uniform Rules for Agricultural Preserves and Farmland Security Zones and to the Zoning Code for agricultural land located in the unincorporated county (ORD10-0001). Area affected: County-wide and all properties subject to a Williamson Act Contract, including the Coastal Zone; Zoning Districts affected: LIA {Land Intensive Agriculture) and LIA CC (Coastal Combining), LEA (Land Extensive Agriculture) and LEA CC (Coastal Combining), DA (Diverse Agriculture) and DA CC (Coastal Combining), RRD (Resources and Rural Development) and RRD CC (Coastal Combining), RRDWA (Resources and Rural Development/Agricultural Preserve) and RRDWA CC (Coastal Combining, AR (Agriculture and Residential) and AR CC {Coastal Combining); Supervisorial Districts: All

The Sonoma County Planning Commission will conduct a public hearing to consider a recommendation on the proposed Rule update and related Zoning Code amendments at 1:05 p.m. on

January 20, 2011 in the hearing room at the Permit and Resource Management Department, 2550 Ventura Avenue, Santa Rosa.

Proposed changes to the Zoning Code include:

--Allowing agricultural processing, subject to a Use Permit, in the AR and AR CC zoning districts;

-Allowing "agricultural homestays" in the LIA and LIA CC, LEA and LEA CC, DA and DA CC zoning districts with a Zoning Permit, subject to standards;

-Clarify lot coverage limits in the amount of land that can be covered by buildings, with exceptions for farm buildings required for the farm operation to meet water quality or other environmental regulations;

-Rezoning of all properties in the RRDWA and RRDWA CC zoning districts to the RRD and RRD CC district, with corresponding clarification of the uses allowed under Williamson Act contracts. This avoids the need to rezone properties going in or phasing out of Williamson Act contracts;

To conform with state law regarding agricultural preserves, modification of the County's Rules for administration of agricultural preserves that include the following:

-Requiring that 50% of contracted land is in agricultural use, open space use, or a combination of the two, depending upon the type of contract;

-Changes in the annual gross income requirements for Type I contracts to $800 per acre;

-Eliminating forestry, residential uses, churches, schools, and public utility structures as qualifying "agricultural uses" and adding the following as qualifying "agricultural uses": commercial raising of ornamental trees, beekeeping, and irrigated pasture crops;

-Allowing certain residences, agricultural processing (such as wineries and canneries), some public utility structures, horse breeding, veterinary services, temporary events, and livestock auction yards as "compatible uses," and eliminating lumber mills, private air strips, churches and schools, and event centers as "compatible uses." These proposed changes are also reflected in the proposed Zoning

Code changes;

-Procedures to establish Farmland Security Zones, subdivision, lot line adjustments, and contract administration.

It is the determination of the department that the Rules Update is categorically exempt from the provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act pursuant to the Provisions of Title 14 of the California Administrative Code, Section 15060(b)(2), General Exemption, and Sections 15307 and 15308, Actions by Regulatory Agencies to protect the environment and natural resources. Changes to the Zoning Code are minor modifications to uses of land that were addressed in the GP 2020 EIR.

Standards are incorporated to ensure impacts are reduced to less than significant.

If you challenge the decisions on the project in court, you may be limited to raising only those issues previously raised before the Planning Commission at the hearing or in written form delivered to the Planning Commission prior to or at the hearing. Prior to the hearing, the project details and environmental documents may be reviewed at, or written comments submitted to the Permit and Resource Management Department, at 2550 Ventura Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA 95403.

Contact David Hardy at 707-565-1924, or via email to dhardy@sonoma

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Too Many Cats and Dogs

I'm reaching out in hopes that you can help us. Our kennels and cat rooms are full. Were doubling and even tripling (if small enough), dogs in kennels. We have adoptable cats waiting in the stray rooms for space to open up so they can be moved to the adoptable rooms.

If you have room for one or 20 please come and get them. If you are close enough we will even deliver! We currently have 37 dogs and 60 cats up for adoption, with more being made available as I write. All of these animals have been examined by a vet, spayed or neutered, vaccinated, wormed, flea treated, micro-chipped, and for cats under 6 mos felv tested, 6 mos and older felv/fiv tested.

We have another 90 dogs and 40 cats on our stray side that you are welcome to as long as their hold time is up. Most of these have not been s/n, chipped or tested. We vaccinate and worm on intake. You can view all our animals on our website, Thank you in advance! Cathy

A bit of inspiration:

And the Gazette's Animal Rescue Resource Guide:

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Sebastopol Gallery - Art Through Two lenses

Art Through Two Lenses

Joann Lustig and John Hanses 
are members of the Sebastopol Gallery 
and will be featured from 
Jan 2 through Feb 20. 
Reception Jan 15, 5-7 pm.

By Teri Sloat
Seduced by nature at an early age, John was 5 when his family moved to a small ranch in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. The property was surrounded for miles by forests and orchards. Hiking, climbing, hunting, and traveling through the woods to a friend’s were the norm.

In the early 1980’s, Hanses began exploring photography in different forms: experimental, landscape, black and white as well as 35 mm SLR color. He then focused on black and white with an old Speed Graphic 4x5, press style camera. Converting a bedroom to a dark room, he began processing film and printing the black and whites himself. Then, in 1985 he shot a bit of color through the 4x5 and found his passion-the color landscape.

John says his first full digital darkroom was about 10 years ago and he has recently upgraded it with state-of-the-art equipment, scanning the film with an Imacon X5 scanner, and printing the hi-res images on an Epson 9900 inkjet printer. All the printing and framing is done in his studio and shop with the help of his wife.

John takes pride in printing on bamboo paper, framing his art with no-added-formaldehyde wood, painted with 0 VOC paints.

THROUGH THE JEWELER’S LOOP: Jewelry designer, Joann Lustig colors her world with gemstones by creating fine gold jewelry using the lost wax process. She sets the stones in the wax and they become part of the design. There are no prongs and no geometrical, hard-edged lines, which makes for a smooth, streamlined, flowing look. Her work is very abstract.

When Lustig met her husband, he was a leather worker who would soon shift careers into jewelry design and eventually share his knowledge with Joann. Together, they built a business with Lustig learning by working on all the elements that her husband did not want to do ( a fact she would discover later to her amusement). She added her eye for color and shape to the designs, adding stones, while her husband would have been happy with no stones at all.

Sadly, Joann’s husband became ill and this duo’s business became just one individual’s work. But before he died he taught her all there was to know about jewelry design. And while she felt the weight of carrying on alone to create the work she and her husband had created together, she has created works of art that are sold from the east to the west coast.

Joann said in an interview, “I feel fortunate to get to do this. I tend to set up displays by birthstones, and use a lot of sapphires since I like the color...and they come in every color. Creating my rings, pendants, and earrings isn’t just jewelry-making. I think of it like painting. When I look at all the different vials of gemstones, I think, ‘What do I want to paint today?’”

Sebastopol Gallery 

150 North Main St. Sebastopol 707. 829.7200 
Open daily 11:00 am to 6:00 pm. 



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Sonoma County Water Agency News

Water Agency Receives
Global Standardization Certifications
 Only one of two water utilities in the nation to receive ISO certifications

By Amy Bolten, Public Affairs

The Sonoma County Water Agency on January 10 joined the ranks of Fortune 500 companies and only one other public water utility in the nation to become certified under the rigorous standards of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The ISO is a global federation of national standards bodies from approximately 100 countries. Today, ISO standards are accepted worldwide as the method by which manufacturers and service providers can achieve maximum convenience and efficiency in the exchange of goods and services. The Water Agency received ISO certification under both the Quality Management System – ISO 9001 and Environmental Management System – ISO 14001.

"The Water Agency has achieved an extraordinary milestone within the public water utility and business industries by successfully receiving ISO certifications,” said Water Agency Board of Directors Chair Efren Carrillo. “The ISO certifications illustrate that the Water Agency is operating and managing our Russian River water supply system according to the most advanced business and industry standards in the world.”

In order to receive the ISO certifications, the Water Agency underwent an intensive four year examination process by independent ISO auditors to identify areas of improvement in water supply operations (ISO 9001) and environmental impacts (ISO 14001). The ISO certification process requires continual review and improvement in both areas, forcing the Water Agency out of a “business as usual” model and into a continual “raising of the bar” operations model. Through these two certifications, the Water Agency underwent a series of improvements including internal standardization, streamlining of internal processes, benchmarking of operational and environmental impacts and increased awareness of customer satisfaction.

“We congratulate the Sonoma County Water Agency's recent attainment of ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certifications,” said Dick Herman, president of the local manufacturing organization 101MFG. “This demonstrates the organization's understanding that quality is a management philosophy that starts with the Water Agency meeting its customers' needs, and extends through constantly improving process, product and people to achieve a plentiful water supply for the future."

ISO 9001 focuses on business performance and customer satisfaction and demonstrates that the Water Agency is operating to a high degree of operational excellence, efficiency and accountability.

ISO 14001 dictates standards regarding the Water Agency's environmental impact and certification ensures that environmental impact, stewardship and awareness has been integrated into every aspect of its water supply operations.

For more information on ISO, please visit

Fore Questions: Amy Bolten (707) 322-8156

Sonoma County Water Agency provides water supply, flood protection and sanitation services for portions of Sonoma and Marin counties. Visit us on the Web at


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Thursday, January 13, 2011

2011 Homless Census Survey needs Volunteeers

Help Needed for the 2011 Homeless Count

The 2011 Homeless Census and Survey is scheduled for January 28th, 2011. All counties that receive HUD funding for Permanent Supportive and Transitional Housing and Services are required to conduct a Point-in-Time Count every two years in the last week of January. Sonoma County agencies receive almost $2.5 Million in HUD funds through our Continuum of Care.

ASR, the Watsonville-based research firm that conducted Sonoma County’s 2009 Count will again oversee this project. 100 Community Volunteers with vehicles are needed. Your participation is critical to the success of this endeavor. For more information and links to sign up,


The project will again rely on homeless people to act as paid guides to reach encampments and places where homeless people gather. Homeless service providers will recommend people for the guide positions. Trainings will be scheduled for the week of January 17th, final dates will be posted at the above website as soon as they are confirmed. Volunteers will work with expert homeless guides recommended by service providers and drive/walk through assigned routes from daybreak to 10am,

Street Count Training:

Friday, January 21:
10:20 to 11:20 am - COTS Mary Isaak Center, 900 Hopper Street, Petaluma
1:00 to 2:00 pm - La Luz Center, 17560 Gregor Street, Sonoma
3:00 to 4:00 pm - Healdsburg Day Labor Center, 405 Grive Street, healdsburg
4:00 to 5:00 pm - Catholic Chrities Family Support Center, 465 A Street, Santa Rosa

Thursday, January 27:
7:00 pm to 8:00 pm - West County Community Services - Russian River Empowerment Center, 16390 Main Street, Guerneville

 Questions: Laura Conner at (877) 728-4545 or

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires that each county that receives Continuum of Care funding for homeless transitional and permanent supportive housing and services conduct a 24-hour face-to-face Point-in-Time Count of homeless people every other year in the last two weeks of January. Applied Survey Research of Watsonville was contracted to conduct the 2009 Count. The Task Force for the Homeless was contracted by the County to conduct these Counts in 2005 and 2007. These reports contain considerable data on the people who were homeless at the time, their circumstances, and the issues that contributed to their situation. Both the 2009 Homeless Census and Survey and 2007 Homeless Count Reports are available below, as well as a summary of 2009 Count figures for the State from Housing California. The aggregate number of homeless people counted at the federal level from all the January 2009 Point-in-Time Counts was 643,000. 

For PDFs of the last surveys and full information, please visit the Sonoma County Task Force on the Homeless at

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mobile Mammograms come to Guerneville

St. Josephs Medical Center offers 
 LOW COST Mammograms 
at the Guerneville SAFEWAY 
on January 28th

Women can conveniently receive a mammography screening at a Guerneville Safeway store on Friday, January 28. Mammograms are provided by St. Joseph’s Medical Center through an innovative program that brings mammography services to patients who may not otherwise have access to these resources.

Low-cost mammograms will be available for only $80.00. Women enrolled in certain medical programs may be eligible for a mammogram at no cost. The screenings are available by appointment to any woman with a physician’s referral.

St. Joseph's Mobile Mammography Unit (MMU) is a full-service, self-contained mammography clinic on wheels featuring state-of-the-art digital mammography technology and service. The MMU is sponsored by such partners as the Safeway Foundation, Avon and Susan G. Komen Foundation.

What: St. Joseph’s Mobile Mammography Unit for breast cancer screenings (by appointment only)

When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, January 28

Where: Safeway store, 16405 River Road, Guerneville

Who: Women of all ages needing a mammogram - to make an appointment, please contact: Phone: toll-free 1 (866) - 430-8222

The full-service mammography clinic, housed in an 18-wheel tractor-trailer, is licensed by the state of California and accredited by the American College of Radiology and the Food and Drug Administration. It meets all requirements for performing screening mammography. The digital images from all screenings are read by licensed radiologists, with results sent to patients and their physicians within two to three weeks of their exams.

About St. Joseph’s Medical Center

St. Joseph’s Medical Center is a not-for-profit, fully accredited, regional hospital with 359 beds, a physician staff of over 400, and more than 2,400 employees. St. Joseph's specializes in cardiovascular care, comprehensive cancer services, and women and children’s services including neonatal intensive care (NICU). St. Joseph’s Medical Center is the largest hospital, as well as the largest private employer in Stockton and San Joaquin County. In addition to being nationally recognized as a quality leader, St. Joseph’s is consistently chosen as the “most preferred hospital” by local consumers. Founded in 1899 by Fr. William O’Connor and administered by the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, St. Joseph's continues to lead the region in medical innovation as well as ongoing clinical research, developing tomorrow's advancements, today. In 2010, St. Joseph’s provided over $50 million in charity care, community benefits, and unreimbursed patient care. St. Joseph’s Medical Center is a member of Catholic Healthcare West (CHW), a system of 42 hospitals and medical centers in California, Arizona and Nevada. For more information, please visit our website at

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Homeless in Guerneville get a Home

Sonoma County Community 
Development Commission Votes YES 
for Homeless in Guerneville

By Vesta Copestakes

The meeting room was packed and it would be easy to say that 50% were FOR the Mill Street Supportive Housing project, and 50% were AGAINST it. The proposed housing project has divided community members on how to best serve homeless people while still serving their community. Each side expressed both their compassion for homeless people, as well as concern for the community of Guerneville.

The most challenging aspect of the Mill Street Housing is that it is located in downtown Guerneville and close to bars, restaurants and stores. Some people feel this is an advantage because the home is close to services and opportunities to work. Others see it as a knife in the heart of a business and tourist community that is struggling to survive.

Perhaps the biggest difference of opinion is around what this Supportive Housing is supposed to accomplish. Designed to house eight people who are in recovery, or in some way on the path to being productive members of society, the house offers a stable home to help build resident's confidence while they get their lives in order. Support Services are both on-premises as well as nearby. There are rules to follow and everyone is expected to use this opportunity to better themselves - it's not a flop house. There are responsibilities that must be met in order to live there.

Right now Guerneville has an enormous homeless population for such a small community - last count (2009) around 600 people in West County alone. For a town of just under 5,000, that's a large percentage of the local population. The climate is mild, there are plenty of areas to set up a tent, and there is a high level of tolerance in the community. Add to that, the compassion of so many people who have walked in others shoes in their past, and you have an unusually tolerant community where homeless people feel - well - at home! 

Is this good for business? No. People hanging out downtown looking scruffy, and in many cases inebriated on some substance, is a deterrent for visitors.  There is fear that the more Guerneville gets a reputation for being tolerant of this behavior, the more people will come from other towns to stay here. Not tourists - more homeless people. 

People who own homes in the neighborhood of this project are concerned about property values as well as the quality of their neighborhood. Arguments on the success of other projects of this nature are not convincing to people facing what looks like an bad situation getting worse. But as one neighbor to the project said - right now she has to walk past people passed out on the steps to the house that will become this support service, so at this point, the project looks like an improvement on what is going on today. 

What is certain is that there are many people in Guerneville who love their home town and want what is best for everyone. With the yes vote supporting this project, those who oppose it will have to find a way to make this work for everyone.  

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Womens Global Leadership Initiative

Women's Global Leadership Initiative offers lectures, workshop and mentoring opportunities for women. The Leadership Workshop Series is designed to take advantage of the diversity created by the collaboration of women with differing social backgrounds, work experience and education levels.

Women’s Global Leadership Initiative announces the second of three leadership training workshops. The two-day event, “Women as Agents of Change” will be held at Empire College, 3035 Cleveland Av., Santa Rosa. January 22 & 23, 2011. 9:00AM to 4:00PM

Lecture, discussion &a exercise topics will provide insight into leading from the heart, mastering emotions, communication skills, group decision making and lessons in indirect aggression between women.

Fees are reasonable; student discounts and a limited number of scholarships are available. Pre-registration and a $25 non-refundable registration fee are required. For further info and to register and/or apply for scholarships online, visit or call Kathie Klein @ 707-544-5629 for further information.

Women’s Global Leadership Initiative (WGLI) is a non-profit, 501(c) (3) organization, founded by Diana Ruiz in Sonoma County in 2008 and dedicated to unlocking the leadership potential of women who want to make a difference. Our goal is to create a community of women with the confidence and determination to serve as leaders in personal, professional, community, regional and national spheres of influence. By addressing women’s needs for community, support, and education, we believe that they will become credible, active decision-makers who will facilitate positive changes in their families, communities, and the world.

The Mission of Global Leadership Initiative (WGLI) is to promote a values based leadership program that unleashes the power of women to initiate change in their communities.

The Vision of the Women’s Global Leadership Initiative (WGLI) is to collaborate with local partners to:

* Support and encourage individual and community leadership development for women throughout the world.
* Provide education and support for women to actively participate at all decision-making levels of society.

Create and implement a self-sustaining community through mentorship and membership models for the development of women’s leadership.

Why Now?
Our world is in dire straights. Old problems persist, new ones arise. Old solutions no longer produce results that actually change things for the better. For too long, women have been left out of the decision-making process. It is time to make room for fresh, new perspectives. Given the opportunity, women in positions of leadership will make the difference that determines whether communities will decline, or thrive. WGLI is dedicated to unlocking the leadership potential of women who want to make a difference. Now is the time!

“For what is done or learned by one class of women becomes, by virtue of their common womanhood, the property of all women.” - Elizabeth Blackwell

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Habitat for Humanity Challenge for Healdsburg Families

Community Foundation Sonoma County 
Offers Challenge Grant to
Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County

Community Foundation Sonoma County, through the Schulz Donor-Advised Fund, has made a $10,000 Challenge Grant available to Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County (HFHSC) in support of two homes being built by Habitat volunteers and partner families in Healdsburg.

Community activist Jean Schulz, through her fund at the Community Foundation, will match each dollar donated to the Challenge Grant up to $10,000.

HFHSC is currently building the two homes for two low-income families who must contribute 500 hours of sweat equity in the construction of the homes. The construction is done by volunteers and members of the families. The tools and materials required to build the homes must be purchased with funds raised through grants and donations.

The donations toward the Challenge Grant will help to purchase the sheetrock, flooring and other materials needed for the final construction phase of these two energy-efficient homes. Both homes are registered for LEED green building certification at the platinum level.

The families who will purchase these homes include the Martinez family with five children and the Blosser family also with five children. Mr. Martinez works for a winery, and Mr. Blosser is a National Guard leader and Iraq War veteran. Habitat is not only building homes for these families, but is also building hope. Children who live in safe, decent environments do better in school and families become contributing members of the community.

Habitat for Humanity is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and donations are tax deductible. 

To donate to the Challenge Grant, you may go online at, or please send your donation marked “Challenge Grant” to:

Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County
3273 Airway Drive, Suite E
Santa Rosa, CA 95403-2080

For more information, contact Kathy Fong at (707) 578-7707, ext. 110.

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Bodega Bay Wetlands on Bay Flat Road Need Protection

By Rebecca Beavers
We have lived on the sand dunes on Bay Flat Road for the last ten years, long enough to appreciate the unique wonder that is the surrounding ecological system that exists here. The Rail Ponds, originally part of the harbor’s shoreline, were cut off from the harbor during the 1960’s when PG&E’s attempt at a nuclear power plant left Westshore Road built across the wetland. Cut off from the harbor, except for one culvert each, these ponds are still tidally influenced. Trouble has come again to this wetland.

The “Bay Flat Well Project” proposed by the Bodega Bay Public Utility District (BBPUD), will be detrimental to the surrounding Wetlands and Riparian Area. This Bay Flat Well “footprint” is to be on a narrow strip of private properties at the north end of Bodega Harbor between the Rail Ponds and the State Park. The well will be approximately 300 feet north of the Rail Ponds, and 100 feet south of the State Park. The Well project currently involves eminent domain proceedings on six private properties.

In a 2008 BBPUD report assessing the wells in Bodega Bay, Bay Flat Road is shown to be part of the Dunes Well Field. This report states that the “Groundwater flows from north to south across the Dunes well field and discharges into the Bodega Harbor.” And “… additional production proposed near the Dunes Well Field will decrease groundwater discharge to Bodega Harbor…” Nowhere in this document does it mention that this water is flowing into the Rail Ponds. This pond habitat area is home to, Virginia Rail, Sora Rail, California Grey Fox, frogs, snakes, Osprey, herons and egrets to name a few. The Audubon Society has regular walks and viewings at the Rail Ponds.

The proposed wellhead site is located on a sand dune, directly on the San Andreas Rift Zone. The well site is 30 feet south of a basin area, an untouched wildlife wetland habitat extending east to west across the back of our properties and touching the Park to the north. California quail and Grey Fox regularly emerge from this overgrown basin area.

The great number of large old trees in this area provides stability for the dunes and habitat for the abundance of birds. Trenching will be required in these tree roots, yet these trees are not even mentioned in BBPUD’s permit application.

Within the Dunes State Park, north of the proposed well site the BBPUD has two operating wells. In October 1979 the STATE OF CALIFORNIA, created the “SONOMA COAST STATE BEACH AGREEMENT”, allowing BBPUD to place a number of wells within the State Park.

At that time this agreement included requirements for extensive monitoring reports to be delivered to the STATE at the expense of the BBPUD for the purpose of evaluating degradation of the Park. BBPUD was told at that time “The DISTRICT shall limit pumping water from well or wells to 150 gallons total per minute total from all such wells.” In 1986, a State Amendment reduced the amount of water that could be used from the Dunes Well Field. “The District shall limit pumping water from well or wells to an annual average yield of 100 gallons per minute total from all such wells. Weekly or monthly yields of up to twice the annual average will be permitted as long as the annual yield does not exceed 100 gallons per minute.”

The freshwater “lakes” that old-timers claim existed seasonally within the Dunes Park have not been seen for many years. What did the State discover in the required monitoring studies that lead them to amend and reduce the water limit for BBPUD? This is a question that the State Park’s district office has been unable to answer for us.

A recent document from BBPUD states this new well will be shallow, 75 to 100 feet, producing 150gpm. This anticipated water draw will more than double BBPUD’s current average removal from the Dunes Well Field, a large portion of which would have flowed south to the Rail Ponds.

The North edge of the Rail Ponds provides a dense habitat of plants whose root systems are dependent on the freshwater flow from the Dunes to prevent salt water intruding into their roots.

In June 2008 the BBPUD declared itself lead agency and posted a Mitigated Negative Declaration on Bay Flat Road. But CEQA was not properly completed. As a result of omissions no EIR was completed. No wetland or Habitat areas were mentioned on the permit applications. Due to these lapses PRMD asked for further studies.

Ignoring public comment and hoping to force the Well’s approval BBPUD proceeded with eminent domain proceedings against us in the Fall of 2009 In Fall 2010 our attorney asked the PRMD to assume Lead Agency and require a complete EIR as required by CEQA law. The PRMD refused and instead has begun a “subsequent Mitigated Negative Declaration” on BBPUD’s behalf.

December 14, 2010 the BOS voted to assume “original jurisdiction” there will be a hearing before the BOS likely in February 2011. Meanwhile we are held hostage by the BBPUD’s eminent domain suit.

There is no water shortage at this time in Bodega Bay. The new well and water being requested by BBPUD are meant to satisfy the County’s total “buildout” plan for Bodega Bay and satisfy CDPH’s “maximum day demand” requirements for that “buildout”.

Without the protection of an EIR the community will not get to hear the required alternatives that are provided in such a report.

BBPUD’s entire planned capital budget of $315,000 has been spent. The rates have been raised to cover this. Still no permit has been received.

At a recent eminent domain case hearing I told my attorney, “They mean to punish us for revealing the environmental issues.” He said “No—they mean to crush you. If they cared about you they would punish you. They do not care about you or the environment.”

It is the multitude of small wonders such as the Rail Pond wetland habitat that creates the grand scene that is Sonoma’s coast. The remaining freshwater flow to this small wetland jewel is essential to it’s’ survival. Please do not allow your beautiful coast to be further compromised by a push to “buildout”— when apparently a wetland habitat is the only means of facilitating that growth.

It is my sincere hope that for the long term health of the delicate ecosystem that is the Rail Ponds and the Dunes, that the BOS will not allow this unfortunately placed well to proceed.

For more information and to keep track of this on-going project - please visit:

Most Sincerely
Rebecca Beavers

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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Jenner Estuary Project and Russian River Low Flows

Jenner Estuary Project:
SCWA Releases EIR on Project to Control River’s Mouth

By Brenda Adelman

Who in Sonoma County has not witnessed the magnificent splendor of crashing waves at the merging of the Russian River and the sea? Who has not watched the tides wash along the sand, painting brief and ever changing images before immediately disappearing again? Who has not viewed the chubby new seal pups snuggling at their mother’s side, or the gulls joining in wide swoops as they dance in the sky, proof that Mother Nature’s artistry is unmatched and her ordering of the elements, profound.

Natural environment under siege….
This magical spot in Jenner is one of the natural wonders that makes Sonoma County such a wondrous place. Yet gradually our earthly heritage is being chipped away. Gravel-mining projects that tear up habitat, water use practices that cause severe shortages at critical times, ocean conditions that threaten many life forms, riparian destruction that causes water temperatures to rise, bacteria to grow, and algae to form, are all having a detrimental impact on disappearing fish.

Don’t we all appreciate fish, and salmonids especially? Their health is a prime indicator that all is well with both our ocean and river environments. Unfortunately, it is clear that the habitat is in trouble. Given that this estuary project to maintain a closed lagoon is being pushed through in piecemeal fashion, it will not address the big problem, but may instead create new problems for salmonids and other species. The Estuary Project as described here, is unlikely to accomplish the goals of the Biological Opinion, the source of the project.

Low Flow impacts ignored….
The design of structural barriers (man made dunes) to keep the river’s mouth closed all summer is the central focus of the “Russian River Estuary Management Project Draft Environmental Impact Report” (DEIR). The DEIR considers several alternatives for construction of the barrier, with the “Reduced Project Alternative” considered the environmentally superior project. What is NOT studied is lowered flows from Dry Creek to Jenner, which NMFS has determined to be necessary for project feasibility. That will be studied in a separate environmental review, not to be released for at least 1.5 years.

On December 15, 2010, the Board of Supervisors authorized the release of this Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) document. You can purchase a CD of the Estuary Project DEIR for $10 by contacting Jessica Martini-Lamb at: Public comments are due on February 14, 2011. A hearing will be held in Jenner on Tuesday, January 18, 2011, at the Jenner Community Hall at 6 pm (behind the fire house). Please try to attend.

Estuary Project and low flow must be studied together….
The Californian Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires that the whole of a project be considered in one EIR. This DEIR claims that its major purpose is to address the requirements of the Biological Opinion (BO), issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in September, 2008. The BO requires that SCWA apply to the State for a change in minimum flows that would be reduced from 125 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 70 cfs throughout the lower river. Until a permanent change is made, SCWA must apply for low flow on a temporary annual basis. These annual applications can be repeated indefinitely and are not subject to environmental review.

Environmental review of flow changes will be considered separately, as mentioned earlier. Several major studies have been conducted to support that later document, but the results have not even been released to the Regional Water Quality Board or the public. It is likely that the information will be withheld until after the comment period closes for the Estuary DEIR, even though the two projects are closely linked and should really be treated as one.

Jenner properties subject to flood….
The major purpose for lowering Russian River flows is to prevent flooding of a few properties in the Estuary while still keeping the mouth closed. SCWA has historically breached (opened) the estuary at levels from 4.5’ to 9’ as measured at the Visitor’s Center, which is the lowest structure. It floods at 9’. The DEIR concludes that 78 properties would be inundated at 9’, but only nine of those parcels contain structures that would be affected. Seven of the structures are boat docks or ramps and only two structures subject to flooding at 9’ are buildings. The preferred alternative expects to manage levels at 8’ however, so these two buildings would also not be affected. One could conclude that “low flow” serves no purpose whatsoever.

Uncertain correlation between opening mouth and low flows….
In August, 2009, flows at Hacienda near Forestville averaged 63 cfs (lower than the proposed 70 cfs) and yet the river mouth remained open during that entire month. In fact, over the ten year period since 2000, no matter what the flows, the mouth was breached only once each in July (2008) and August (2004). June saw 4 breachings (2000, 2002, 2003, 2009) over the same ten years, September had 4 (2000, 2005, 2008, 2009). Most of those times, the mouth remained open.

In 2010, flows at Hacienda averaged 260 cfs for the entire summer period, even though the State Water Board had issued a Temporary Urgency Flow Order that called for 70 cfs at Hacienda and Dry Creek. In spite of significant reductions in dam releases by SCWA, water from the tributaries and groundwater filled the local streams anyway. In other words, a rainy winter and spring appears to override any manmade controls of flow. It’s possible that ocean conditions may be more responsible for the mouth’s opening and closing than river flows.

Proposed lowered flows, if approved by the State Water Board, will exacerbate very serious water quality problems in the lower river, particularly algal blooms. There is some concern that toxic blue green algae will take hold. Lowered flows would have a major impact on recreation and the local economy, not to mention all the other species that rely on a healthy river system to survive. Yet none of this will be considered until after this project is approved. Please demand that both projects be considered together (Jenner Project and flow alterations).

RRWPC is planning a target letter on this issue to send to County officials. Please contact us at for more information. The LETTER is posted below so that yo can copy the text - and revise it for your own perspective.

Brenda Adelman has been head of RRWPC since it was founded in 1980. She can be reached at


Dear Ms. Martini-Lamb:

I wish to express my concerns about the “Russian River Estuary Management Project: Draft Environmental Impact Report” released on December 15, 2010. Please put my name and address on your notification list for all meetings and documents related to this project.

I utilize the Russian River in the following way(s): property owner, business owner, recreationist and/or tourist, for artistic expression, for spiritual well being, for exercise and personal health, fishing, swimming, and ______________________________________.

I am concerned about the bifurcation (separation) of the Estuary Project from the “Fish Habitat Flows and Water Rights Project”. The stated purposes of both projects is to fulfill requirements of the Biological Opinion (BO), which assumes that river flows must be managed to allow formation of an estuary lagoon to provide habitat for threatened fish.

Please address the issues below:
• CEQA requires that the entire project be considered in one environmental document. “Low flow” is inexorably linked to the Estuary Project through the BO. It is wrong to bifurcate the process.
• Estuary Project only analyzes impacts to Duncans Mills, whereas impacts from closed mouth & flow alteration, affects river as far upstream as Vacation Beach.
• SCWA can’t control flows at Hacienda during wet years as evidenced in 2010 when dam releases were reduced and flows averaged 260 cfs from June through September. This project is only viable during drought years when water quality impacts would be greatest. This should be analyzed in light of BO requirements.
• When flows are lowered in dry years, the river mouth usually stays open anyway as evidenced in August, 2009 when flows averaged 63 cfs all month.
• The preferred project maintains estuary levels at 8’. No buildings would be flooded at this level, making low flow unnecessary for this purpose.
• I am concerned that water quality monitoring studies in 2009 were inadequate, and that data for 2010 has not been made available to the Water Quality Control Board or the public. The outcome of water quality studies will not be available until the EIR on “low flow project” is released in 1.5 years. This is unacceptable.

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Russian River Estuary Management Project

January Meeting An Opportunity 
to Comment on Estuary Changes
By Ann DuBay

On Tuesday, January 18, at 6 p.m., Jenner residents and others interested in the Russian River estuary (where the river flows into the ocean) will have an opportunity to comment on a plan that could change the way the estuary is managed during the summer (between May 15 and October 15).

On the 18th, the Sonoma County Water Agency’s Board of Director’s will hold a public hearing on the Russian River Estuary Management Project (estuary project), which is designed to comply with the requirements of the National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) Russian River Biological Opinion. The purpose of the project is to enhance summer rearing habitat for young steelhead while managing estuary water levels to minimize the risk of flooding to low-lying properties. There are two major components of the estuary project:

1. When the sandbar naturally closes the mouth of the river, the Water Agency will open it by creating a long, wide, shallow outlet channel. The intent of the outlet channel is to create a freshwater lagoon by allowing river water to flow out while preventing salt water from entering the estuary. It’s important for people to understand that the outlet channel plan relies on the sandbar closing naturally. It’s also important to understand that the outlet channel won’t be “constructed” but formed by heavy equipment operators sculpting the sandbar according to a design approved by NMFS and the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG).

2. The second component of the project includes intensive monitoring and studies in the estuary. The studies will provide ongoing information on water quality (including temperature and other measurements critical to fish health), steelhead and salmon prey (primarily the tiny spineless creatures known as invertebrates) and other species (including seals and Dungeness crab). These studies will help the Water Agency, NMFS and the California Department of Fish and Game to determine whether the freshwater lagoon is working as intended and to adapt the plan if necessary.

The estuary project was developed as a partial response to plummeting steelhead and coho populations. These fish, once abundant throughout the West Coast, are disappearing from our waters. In the Biological Opinion, NMFS notes the importance of freshwater lagoons in providing habitat for young steelhead (which live in freshwater for one to two years before heading out to the ocean). Estuary adaptive management is one major component of the 15-year blueprint for ensuring that the Water Agency’s and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers activities don’t harm steelhead, coho or Chinook populations. (The other major components of the biological opinion are habitat enhancement in Dry Creek and reducing minimum flows in the river and Dry Creek during the summer.)

The Water Agency began opening the sandbar when it closes (also known as “breaching”) in the mid-1990s following a county government reorganization. Prior to this, Sonoma County Public Works or residents opened the sandbar. Historically, the Water Agency has breached the sandbar by cutting a simple v-ditch at the narrowest point in the sandbar. Gravity and river flows do the rest – scouring the sandbar and lowering estuary water levels quickly. The estuary project would continue this practice from mid-October to mid-May, but would require the Water Agency to implement the outlet channel from late spring through early autumn (when young steelhead use the estuary as a nursery).

What the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) found
As the lead agency under California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the Water Agency is responsible for analyzing the environmental impacts of the estuary project. A consulting group, Environmental Science Associates (ESA), conducted the analysis for the agency and found that the proposed project would benefit young steelhead and coho by providing additional habitat. The EIR also found that the project may result in potentially significant environmental effects, including:

- Shoreline areas that are currently inundated when the estuary closes could be inundated for longer time periods;
- The levels of nutrients and pathogens in the water could increase;
- Low-lying wells could experience longer periods of saline groundwater conditions;
- The location where harbor seals and other pinnipeds haulout in the river would be inundated for longer time periods;
- The elimination of the tidal channel created by traditional breaching techniques would impact surfing conditions and the rise in estuary levels would inundate some recreational beaches.

The EIR analyzed several alternatives to the estuary project, some which were suggested during the scoping period. Alternatives ranged from “no project” to a reduced project to habitat enhancement to a temporary standpipe. The project, impacts and alternatives are analyzed in detail in the draft EIR, which is available online (, at the Water Agency administrative office and at the Guerneville, Occidental and Sonoma County Central libraries.

Comments will be taken at the January 18 public hearing, 6-9 p.m., at the Jenner Community Center (10398 Highway 1). 

Written comments (please include your name, address and phone number) can be submitted to the Sonoma County Water Agency, attention Jessica Martini Lamb, 404 Aviation Blvd, Santa Rosa, CA 95403 or by emailing

We encourage anyone who is interested in this project to read the draft EIR and submit comments before the comment period closes at 5 p.m. on February 14, 2011.

Ann DuBay is a public information officer for the Sonoma County Water Agency.

The Biological Opinion News
is now available in PDF and on the web

While the title may not be catchy, it reflects the sole purpose of this quarterly e-publication: To inform you and other stakeholders on progress being made on the Russian River Biological Opinion.

The Sonoma County Water Agency and the US Army Corps of Engineers are now in the third year of implementing this 15-year federal plan for improving water supply and flood control operations in order to help restore endangered coho and threatened steelhead. Until now, much of the work has been internal, with a focus on planning, studying and monitoring. This year, many of the projects required in the Biological Opinion transition into the implementation phase.

The Biological Opinion News provides brief updates on these studies and projects, with links to additional information. This first issue, which was formatted and conceived by recent Sonoma State University graduate and Water Agency intern Sara Lewis, is a pdf document, but future issues will be released in an email format that will be easier to access. 

The Biological Opinion News is also available at

For more information and.or to get on the e-mai list for future issues, please contact Ann DuBay at
707-524-8378 or 707-322-8185

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Plastic is Drastic: Save our Oceans - Fish and Birds


Plastic is Drastic! 
In America we throw away one million pieces of plastic  
every 5 seconds.

By Michael “Bug” Deakin
Heritage Salvage

Captain Charles Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation (AMRF) was the first to find the huge, floating plastic dump in 1997. On the foundation's website, he described it as "just absolutely gross – a truly disgusting plastic cesspool. [It] has to be burned into the consciousness of humanity that the ocean is now a plastic wasteland".

Earth’s oceans are comprised of five major gyres, or a confluence of ocean currents driven mainly by wind. The Central Pacific Gyre has collected up the plastic from Pacific Rim countries to form an “island” of plastic waste twice the size of Texas. Because petroleum- based plastics are non-biodegradable and float, any plastic that enters the ocean stays there, continually breaking into smaller pieces until it is ingested by marine life or deposited on the shore.

In the Central Pacific Gyre there were six kilos of plastic for every kilo of plankton near the surface. By 2008, that figure had risen to 45 to one. Plankton is one of the reasons the oceans are the biggest “carbon sink” we have – they help consume carbon through Photosynthesis. In the US we use more than 1 billion plastic bags per day!

Birds like albatrosses eat the larger pieces, which block their stomachs, while smaller pellets can cause fatal intestinal damage in fish. The long-lived Albatross can grow to an 11’ wingspan and reach a documented 50 years of age. They are rarely seen on land and gather on land only to breed, at which time they form large colonies on remote islands. Mating pairs produce a single egg and take turns caring for it. Young albatrosses may fly within three to ten months, depending on the species, but then leave the land behind for some five to ten years until they themselves reach sexual maturity. Here is a comparison of physical size, relative to a 6-foot human!

I use birds as symbols of the ocean because the water planet has no life without live oceans! They are my canary in a coal mine as it were! As one of many species on this planet, we as land based inhabitants have a tendency to forget that our original source of life, our biggest carbon scrubber, our raison’d’étre would be the big blue thing that laps our edges! The ocean is our lifeblood, and the beings that inhabit ocean keep it alive. We have spent more money exploring outer space than we have exploring our oceans, which we consider our fish farm and our handy garbage dump. We are not only guilty of overfishing and destroying habitat, now we are feeding them plastic! Every hour Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles.

This is a Chris Jordan photo of the Albatross chicks at Midway . . . you can see the rest of them on his website at 18x24 .

The baby chicks are being fed the plastic by their parents. They seem to perceive it as some special food and now the chicks are dying by the thousands. Stay tuned here and on KRSH 95.9 and on the Heritage Salvage website for a new plan to bring awareness, and suggest solutions to our growing toxic plastic gyres.

Heritage Salvage and KRSH Radio 95.9 are looking for 3 families with 2 children each still at home to participate in a 3 weeklong study. This exercise will take place in March and will consist of the families tracking and saving all the plastic that they use in a week. The first week will be business as usual, the family must keep every little and large piece of plastic that will no longer be used by them.

(If every American household recycles 1 out of ten HDPE code 2 bottles, they will keep 200 million pounds out of the landfill each year!)

The second week the families will try to cut down using their own common sense and some suggestions from our listeners, and the third week we will be gifting the families and providing them with other alternatives to plastic use. We will be talking about the contest in the Gazette and the Gazette website, through my Green Scene Radio Show and on the KRSH 95.9. We will have the families on the radio and we will be comparing weekly collections of plastic. If you are interested in being one of the families, please contact us at Heritage Salvage at 707 762-6277 or email us at or contact Katie at the KRSH at 707-588-0707 ext 123 or email

There are many more sites and agencies trying to explore possibilities of cleaning up, explaining this drastic situation and working within the system to stop our plastic jones! Here is a compelling site from Planet Green and also the cartoonist Jim Toomey explains it delightfully with his very tongue in underwater cheek Sherman’s Lagoon on Tree Hugger

I will be updating this site as we go, stay tuned for more, I will be concentrating on 1st getting people to stop using single use water bottles.

My proposal to focus energy on the solution rather than the problem is to make the solution financially viable. There are a lot of big hurdles to overcome in this campaign, and firstly, that would be the multi-billion dollar packaging industry! Next time you are at the market, check out all the goods in your cart and count the number of plastic items. The wax milk carton has 3 pieces; your single use water bottle has 3 parts, the lid, the ring and the bottle itself. There were a disturbing number of plastic bottle caps found in all the Albatross stomachs. How many pieces of plastic come out of one plastic disposable pen? How many pens do you toss each year? Much more water is used making plastic bottles than will ever go in to them!

It is up to us, the consumers, to drive this change. Sebastian Nau of Hillside Fire has written a compelling new song titled Calling, listen for it on the KRSH or check out their website It will be our theme song! We are calling all of us!

NEWS BULLETIN . . . this just in!

The law firm of Spinner, Bottlenose and Dolphin has been retained to be chief litigators in huge Plastic Recall . . . a consortium of Ocean Dwellers have launched a massive recall campaign for the human species to take back their plastic . . . the class action lawsuit cites huge unpaid landfill (waterfill) bills, ignoring "dumping is prohibited" signs and grossly misrepresenting the lifespan of plastic. Spinner says this is a no-brainer, the evidence is perfectly evident.

Al Batross, chief spokesbird of Plastic is Drastic, calls it unprecedented. “When the evidence is twice the size of Texas, you can’t exactly sweep it under the rug!” says Batross, “besides, the ocean floor is already littered. Although, they have heard that Texas is now suing for being constantly used as a comparable size marker! "Suffice it to say," says Spinner, "the legal team has not swum around Texas to compare but they say they have a plastic map of Texas somewhere in the Gyre" . . . breaking news reported here at Heritage Salvage, on the Krush or on Kon-Tikileaks!

The Oceanistas have selected a compelling new song “Calling” written by Sebastian Nau and performed by Hillside Fire as their official campaign theme song for PLASTIC RECALL 2011 CAMPAIGN, WE'RE CALLIN, WE'RE CALLIN FOR YOU!

And check out this great Mockumentary narrated by Jeremy Irons, marvelous piece on the plastic bag!

Photo of Adult Albatross feeding a new chick by Gale Mead.

Plastic is drastic, let’s retire the gyres!

Follow the Plastic is Drastic on-going campaign to increase consciousness of our plastic consumption - and information what plastic is - and is not recycleable: We'll be continuing our education project through April 2011.
Green Mary just turned me on to this web site/blog: My Plastic Free Life, where author Beth Terry has been counting her plastic consumption for years - there's so much to learn here and things we may never have thought of until saving every piece of plastic that comes into your life.

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

LandPaths People Powered Parks Program

A Cure for the Closed Park Blues

By Craig Anderson
In what has become something of an annual tradition, State Parks’ recently announced another round of “service reductions”. With this announcement comes the closure of many trailheads, beach access points, and campgrounds.

We are reminded of last year’s threats from Sacramento that Annadel and other local gems would be shuttered. With public funds increasing scarce, it is clear that we need another solution to keep our local parks open and cared for. To combat the ‘closed park blues’, we need ‘People Power.’

On a recent weekend at a 30-acre park of ancient redwoods near Occidental, “people power” was in action. Despite the steady rain, 40 neighbors and other park users from as far away as Santa Rosa and Cazadero gathered to steward this ridgetop forest. By maintaining trails and clearing fuel loads to reduce fire risk, these Friends of the Grove took action to keep the Grove of Old Trees open to the public – and strengthened community connections in the process.

With volunteer help like this, LandPaths, a Sonoma County non-profit, has been providing a new way of “opening” open space and parks since 1997. Today, with the recent defeat of Proposition 21 (the State Parks budget initiative) and with public budgets continuing on a downward spiral, the need for ‘people power’ has never been greater. Through this model, over 5,400 acres of local state, county, and city land that would otherwise be closed to the public is instead open and cared for.

“The enthusiasm for this model is fantastic,” said Caryl Hart, the new Sonoma County Regional Parks Director, while attending a recent Taylor Mountain permit orientation along with 100 other hikers, bikers and horseback riders. “It’s going to have tremendous influence on the future of how we open new parks.”

Barefoot Winery Co-Founders and long-time conservation supporters Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey also received their permits for use. Houlihan commented, “By giving people a stake in the land, LandPaths provides open access where public budgets have fallen short.” This approach engages users in a new paradigm of increased personal and community investment and ownership. Gary Abreim, committee chair of Friends of the Grove, is enthusiastic about the role he plays in providing access, upkeep, and support. “Neighbors and communities have to take a bold step and come together to protect our parks. We can’t count on Washington and Sacramento anymore,” he says.

People Power is not only good for the land and park users, it’s also cost effective. At the Willow Creek addition to Sonoma Coast State Park, users-turned-stewards utilize their access as an opportunity for care and stewardship. Hikers, bikers and equestrians pick up garbage, report on maintenance and safety issues, organize public tours, and even volunteer to assist in trail upkeep & invasive species removal – saving public agencies hundreds of thousands of dollars while keeping parks open.

With People Powered Parks, LandPaths provides public agencies and private landowners not only with volunteers to reduce management costs, but also with the professional oversight and insurance to reduce liability costs. “In my estimation it’s the cheapest date in government; they’re running parks for pennies on the dollar,” says Rick Ryan, Jenner resident, businessman and Willow Creek Park permit holder.

This “cheap date” is quickly garnering attention around the region and state. “We are looking at the public adoption of open space work that LandPaths is pioneering as a model for to help shape the future direction of land trusts statewide” says Bill Leahy, co-chair of the California Council of Land Trusts.

Most of us would like nothing more than to see our park agency budgets restored to functional levels and will continue to work toward that goal. In the meantime, however, we can keep the ‘closed park blues’ at bay with a strong dose of ‘People Power.’

Craig Anderson has been the executive director of LandPaths since 1997. Established in 1996, the organization’s mission is to “Foster a Love of the Land.” LandPaths is powered by hundreds of volunteers and 11 staff from offices at 618 Fourth St, Santa Rosa, CA 95404 (707)544-7284. Additional information and schedules of orientation sessions at all four People Powered Parks are available at

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Monday, January 3, 2011

Actions to Preserve Biological Diversity in Sonoma County

Preserving Biological Diversity
for Sonoma County

By Hattie Brown
Over 50 experts from Sonoma County and beyond collaborated to write the Biodiversity Action Plan: Priority Actions to Preserve Biodiversity in Sonoma County. The Action Plan provides a framework for understanding of countywide biodiversity and determining actions capable of conserving biodiversity for generations to come. Sonoma County is a biodiversity “hotspot” - one of the most biologically diverse places in the United States, and home to numerous unspoiled habitats and a treasury of familiar and rare plant and animal species.

“Sonoma County’s biodiversity is rooted in its large variety of habitats defined by many different soils types, microclimates, and topography,” says Dr. Christina Sloop of the San Francisco Bay Joint Venture, “Unique habitats make for a unique flora and fauna, in many cases found nowhere else on Earth!”

The Action Plan’s objective was to answer questions regarding Sonoma County’s natural heritage: What makes up Sonoma County’s biodiversity? What are the threats to biodiversity? What can we do to reduce the risk of losing our biodiversity?

The Action Plan’s recommendations include educating the community; implementing an overarching “vital signs” monitoring framework; promoting conservation; protecting land through acquisitions and easements; conducting a regional climate change vulnerability analyses for species and ecosystems; and performing a cost analysis of both restoration and development projects. What is really needed is preservation of “large connected pieces [of land] everywhere,” says Wendy Eliot of the Sonoma Land Trust.

Many of the Action Plan’s contributors have formed a consortium, the North Bay Climate Adaptation Initiative (NBCAI), dedicated to understanding the effects of climate change on the biodiversity of the North Bay and the many related “ecosystem services” such as water supply, crop viability, and pollination that local biodiversity fosters. You can find more about NBCAI (, the Biodiversity Action Plan (, online. 

You can download a complete copy of the Action Plan as a PDF at:

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