Email Vesta
Blog Home Page

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, June 28, 2011

4th of July Sonoma County

From purely tradition fireworks displays for huge crowds to unique and eclectic creative play in our small towns - Sonoma County has something for everyone to celebrate our independence from foreign rule. Just think how many other countries would love to say the same and have day to celebrate like we do! It's a good day to count our blessings.

Here's a list of events to enjoy - if you learn of any more - please send them to - THANKS &  HAVE FUN!!

Bodega Bay Block Party ~ Firefighters pancake breakfast (7:30-11:30), flea market (12:30-8:00), business stamp raffle (all day), Fireworks Over the Bay (9:30 pm) ~ 347-9645 ~
Monte Rio ~ Big Rocky Games (11:00-4:00), BBQ (Noon-5:00), water carnival, fireworks (dusk) ~

Guerneville ~ Craft Fair in the Plaza (10:00-6:00); Russian River Rotary BBQ (Noon-7:00); Block Party (All day); Fireworks over the River! ~ 707-869-9000 ~
Penngrove ~ Biggest Little Parade (11:00 am, Main St) & BBQ Picnic (Penngrove Park).
Sebastopol ~ Fireworks Extravaganza &  Music Festival. $4-$8. 5:30-10:00 pm, Karlson Field, Analy High School, 6950 Analy Ave ~ 707-823-3032
Windsor ~ 5:00-10:00 pm, Keiser Park, 700 Windsor River Rd ~&~ Town Green, 701 McClelland Dr ~

Cloverdale ~ Lions Club Fireworks. Dusk, Cloverdale High School, 509 N Cloverdale Blvd
Healdsburg ~ 21st Annual American Legion Fireworks Show. Free. 9:30 pm, Healdsburg High School Athletic Field, 1024 Prince Ave.
Petaluma ~ Free. Gates open 4:00 pm, Sonoma Marin Fairgrounds, 175 Fairgrounds Dr ~ 707-778-4380 ~
Santa Rosa ~ Red White & Boom! $0-$3-$7. Gates 4:00, Festivities 5:00, Fireworks at Dark. Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Rd ~ 576-5270 ~


Read article »

Vacation Sonoma County - WATER for Life & Play

Our summer issues are some of my favorites because we mix PLAY into our topics of discussion. As I like to say … my mission is to educate and inspire. This month is a good mix of both.

It’s also a good reminder to me to get out and play more. I can tell as I go through photographs that I have been playing less and working more. It’s not a healthy mix. Play is as essential to well-being as food and water.

And speaking of water, this month I asked Jen Stanfield of Sonoma County Regional Parks to write about where we can enjoy being both in and on the water…our Russian River Parks.

And Dawn Bell of Monte Rio Parks & Recreation, has written about Monte Rio Beach where you can rent a kayak and paddle to your heart’s content. It’s also where the very BEST 4th of July events occur - all day and into the night. If you haven’t experiencde the 4th River Style - this is your year!

Yes, we have lakes as well...lucky us...and I took you up to Lake Sonoma in the June issue. Take a look at the centerfold map for last month’s ride - in orange - and see about wandering out to that stunning body of water that provides drinking water for our center valley communities. Yes, we use this lake for play as well water. A perfect combination of uses.

For bicyclists - Sarah Hadler of the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition has written about a weekend ride from Santa Rosa to Tomales Bay and back. This is also a stunning motorcycle route as well - and yes, of course - four wheels will get you there as well. Have Fun! ~ Vesta

Vacation Wonderland 
Offers Beaches with More than a Few Amenities

By Dawn E. Bell
The beach in Monte Rio is the only free fully accessible public beach in the entire Russian River area. That’s a pretty big deal and one that the Monte Rio Recreation and Park District (MRRPD) takes very seriously and devotes a good deal of time and energy to its upkeep. There are technically two beaches: Big Rocky and Big Sandy.

Big Sandy Beach – West of the Bridge is a dog friendly beach where visitors take their pets for a walk or swim. Just above this beach is a huge public parking lot, public bathrooms and a boat launch. Gates are open daily for the lower beach from 7AM until 7PM beginning on Memorial weekend and closes for the winter on October 15. The tent area can be rented for events that end by 9PM. The cost to locals (that is, anyone residing in the Russian River area) is a mere $25 per hour.

Big Rocky Beach – East of the Bridge is where you’ll find canoe and kayak rentals and the food concession. The boardwalk takes you right down to the rivers’ edge. You can also inner tubes, and beach chaisr or umbrellas for a nominal fee. In fact, the Monte Rio Beach offers what may be the least expensive canoe and kayak rental on the river; $25 day fee for canoe or double kayak from Memorial weekend until Labor Day.

Big Rocky is also the site where thousands gather for the Independence Weekend celebrations which include two days of Big Rocky Games – organized games and contests for kids of all ages; the historical water parade, the one-of-a-kind water curtain and of course – FIREWORKS!

Visit our website for more information at, or contact MRRPD at 707-865-9956 or


Russian River Fun
Grab your Swimsuit & a’s River Time!!!
By Jen Stanfield, Stewardship Coordinator, Sonoma County Regional Parks

Nothing says summer in Sonoma County like lounging on the banks of the Russian River! Check out one of the seven Sonoma County Regional Parks access points spanning the length of the river from Cloverdale to Guerneville. Unless otherwise noted, the day-use parking fee for the parks listed here is $6, or free with an annual Parks Membership.

Healdsburg Veteran’s Memorial Beach (HVMB) features a lifeguarded swimming lagoon with a view of the historic Healdsburg Bridge. The lagoon is open from Memorail Day to Labor Day. $7 per vehicle for day use, $6 the rest of the year. Special rates for buses or trucks carrying more than nine people. 

HVMB: 13839 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg

Riverfront Regional Park is located a few minutes east of downtown Windsor. This former quarry features two day-use picnic areas, a two-mile multiuse trail around Lake Benoist and a half mile long trail over Redwood Hill.

Riverfront Regional Park: 7821 Eastside Road in Healdsburg

Steelhead Beach offers seasonal fishing and river access for small craft such as drift boats, kayaks and canoes. Once at the park you may hang out on the beach or explore the riparian forest with the Osprey and Willow trails. The trails take you past a number of tree species including big leaf maple, Oregon ash, and cottonwood that thrive in the wet sandy soils of the riverbank.
Steelhead Beach Regional Park: 9000 River Road, Forestville

Sunset Beach encompasses a gravel bar that allows for a variety of experiences on the river: families splashing in the shallow side while canoes navigate the channel on the far side of the bar. There is plenty of space to stake out your own little piece of beach at this park. 

Sunset Beach Regional Park: 11403 River Road, Forestville

For more information visit:; or call the main office of Sonoma County Regional Parks at 707-565-2041


Take a Weekend Bicycle Tour
Santa Rosa to Point Reyes!

By Sarah Hadler
Summer weather has finally arrived and there is no better time to hop on your bikes and explore the beautiful area that we live in. When you live in Sonoma County, there are countless glorious bike rides to enjoy, but one of my favorites takes you down into Marin County to the wonder of Point Reyes National Seashore. My husband and I live in West Santa Rosa, and one weekend when we get the itch to do a short weekend ride, we decide to head south and check out the beauty that the coast has to offer.

We plot our route using the very informative and accessible Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition “Sonoma County Bicycle Map” (, which delineates between high traffic (shoulders, no shoulders), medium traffic (shoulders, no shoulders), low traffic (paved, unpaved) and freeway (no bicycle access). The map also shows grades (5%+, 7%+, 9%+), summits, passes, gates/road ends and where you can find things like restrooms, water, bike shops, food stores, camping, etc. It is the perfect tool for choosing a bicycle route that is suitable for your level of experience. We estimate that the one-way trip is about 52 miles, from front door to tent door!

Since Point Reyes is a popular spot, it is highly recommended to reserve a back-country camping spot in advance (either online, or by phone (415) 663-8054). Make sure that the spot you choose is accessible by bicycle.

After a stop at Oliver’s Market (461 Stony Point Road) to load up on food for the weekend, we head south on Stony Point Road, crossing Hwy 116, and then veer right onto Meecham Road, where we are greeted by bleating goats and sheep. Meecham soon turns right onto Pepper Road and tall eucalyptus trees shade us as we ride. Pepper takes us to Bodega Ave, we turn right and continue into Marin County on the Tomales Petaluma Road.

At Tomales, we head south on Highway 1, skirting Tomales Bay, passing tiny houses, fishing boats and seafood restaurants. We get that ravenous hunger that goes hand in hand with bicycle riding and we pull over next to a fenced-in cow pasture and eat a picnic lunch.

We fly along the coast, breathing in the clean ocean air. We cycle through the lovely town of Point Reyes Station and down to the Bear Valley Visitor Center to pick up our backcountry camping permit for Glen Camp. The park ranger suggests we continue south on Hwy 1 to the Five Brooks Trailhead, and from there, take Stewarts Trail all the way to Glen Camp, “about 7 miles and a lot of uphill”. Off we go! Stewarts Trail is basically a wide dirt and gravel, well-groomed forest road, surrounded by tall trees on all sides. We pedal up and up, whispering when we need to talk, both of us reveling in the silence and ethereal late afternoon light. We reach the summit at Firtop, 1324 feet, and then seize the downhill, cool coastal air filling our lungs. We wind our way down to Glen Camp, pitch our tent and make soup and sandwiches for dinner, enjoying the descending wooded darkness, miles away from electricity and cars.

We wake refreshed the next morning, lazily pack up camp, and head back the way we came in, stopping often to admire the views and catch our breath. We are amazed at what the Point Reyes National Seashore has to offer and vow to come back and explore some more. There are so many variations on this weekend bicycle tour that one could choose to do. If camping is not your thing, there are plenty of inns and vacation rentals in Point Reyes Station, Olema and Inverness from which you could still access the park by bicycle. Next time, I hope we can stay longer; I think a week would be a good start…

Sarah Hadler works for the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition who works to make Sonoma County the best place for you and your family to ride bikes.

Labels: ,

Read article »

Sonoma County Energy Upgrade Program

Energy Upgrade Support
One-stop shop energy program 
helps homeowners improve efficiency

By Lori Houston
The new Energy Upgrade California™ program is helping homeowners turn problems such as faulty water heaters and overly stuffy or chilly rooms into opportunities to reduce their energy costs, live more comfortably, and even get money back on their improvements.

Two Santa Rosa physicians who decided to remodel their 1972 home earlier this year had suspicions that something might be amiss with their 30-year old furnace. They asked their remodeling contractor to take a look at the furnace, which had a habit of making strange sounds.

“When I checked it, we witnessed what is known as ‘flame rollout,’ which is just as bad as it sounds,” says Mike Winter of M. Winter &  Associates. Flames literally erupted from the front of the furnace, indicating a possible crack in the unit’s heat exchanger – a problem that not only affected the furnace’s performance but also represented a significant safety hazard.

“Many homeowners don’t see or think about their furnace so they pink about their furnace so they probably don’t know what kind of shape it’s in,” Winter said. “The newer generation of furnaces are so much more energy efficient. And age definitely affects a furnace’s performance. If it’s more than 20 years old, it should probably be looked at.”

Because the homeowners had also mentioned using space heaters in the bedrooms during colder months due to draftiness, Winter figured the home’s duct system probably wasn’t working correctly either. He told the owners about Energy Upgrade California in Sonoma County, a new program that provides up to $4,000 in incentives for energy upgrade projects that are based on a “whole house” approach.

As a certified Energy Upgrade contractor, Winter performed an energy performance analysis on the 2,220 square-foot home and suggested other improvements, in addition to fixing the furnace problem, that would make the house more comfortable and efficient year round. These improvements included sealing air leaks in the attic to stop heated air from escaping, adding insulation in the attic and crawl space to stabilize indoor temperatures, and replacing old duct work to distribute airflow more evenly throughout the home.

Not only did the homeowners get a cozier house and $4,000 back on their upgrade investment, but they will continue to save money because of as much as a 52-percent reduction in their home’s energy demand, based on Energy Upgrade California modeling software.

“It was rewarding for me as a long-time remodeling contractor to put together a holistic package,” says Winter. “I knew it would dramatically improve the home.”

Energy Upgrade California in Sonoma County is part of a statewide program to encourage exactly this kind of “whole house” approach to home improvements by providing property owners with incentives for projects to increase home energy efficiency. The countywide program brings all the locally available energy incentives and resources together into a “one stop shop” package for property owners.

The local program is administered through a partnership between the Regional Climate Protection Authority (RCPA) and the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program (SCEIP), the popular tax assessment financing program, in collaboration with other local partners.

The Energy Upgrade California incentive program offers two options:
A basic package of key efficiency improvements that yield an average 10-percent energy savings and $1,000 in incentives;

An advanced package that includes an initial whole house energy analysis to determine how the home is wasting energy, identifies specific improvements to stop the energy waste, and estimates potential reduction in energy use as a result of the upgrades to achieve even greater energy savings, with incentives up to $4,000.

Participating contractors work with homeowners to develop a plan that will achieve anywhere from 10-40 percent or more reduction in energy use, depending on their available budget and financing.

“Increasing your home’s efficiency isn’t just switching out light bulbs or buying new appliances. It’s approaching your home as a complete system because the building shell, heating, air-conditioning, water, and other systems can work together to more effectively lower your bills,” explains Chris Cone, Energy Efficiency Implementation Manager for the Climate Protection

Campaign, which is a member of the local Energy Upgrade implementation team.
To date, about two dozen property owners in Sonoma County already have either made improvements to their homes through the local Energy Upgrade program or have projects in the pipeline. Local projects have yielded an average of 34 percent in energy savings and $3,000 in rebates.

On average, project costs start around $5,000 for “basic package” efficiency improvements to achieve at least 10-percent energy savings and range up to $25,000+ for “advanced package” deeper efficiency retrofits that achieve as much as 40-percent energy savings. Adding a renewable energy system such as solar increases the overall cost but also offers additional rebates and incentives.

Ultimately the cost of energy upgrades depends on the size and age of the home and the goals of the homeowner.

Daniel Smith of Zero Energy Associates (ZEA) in Sebastopol, also a certified Energy Upgrade California contractor, recently completed a major upgrade of an older home on Graton Road triggered by a cranky water heater and a bad case of allergies.

“Their water heater and heating system were both ancient and needed to be replaced,” Smith says. “The homeowners were pretty motivated because they knew they were going to have to spend some money soon.”

ZEA conducted a whole house analysis, revealing some challenges and complexities.
“Typical of West Sonoma County, this house had several additions that were made over many years,” Smith says. “As an overall system, the home was ‘broken.’ The various sections were completely disconnected in terms of energy use.”

Before installing any new heating or water systems, Smith’s company spent time modeling different combinations of upgrades measures. In the end, ZEA conducted an extensive upgrade that included installing a high performance duct system and heat pump, a high efficiency heating and cooling system, and a high efficiency water heating system, as well as air sealing and insulating the attic and encapsulating the crawl space under the house to provide a moisture barrier.

Adding the 2.7-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system that the owners wanted yielded a rebate that covered 41 percent of the upgrade cost.

Homeowner Heather Concoff couldn’t be more pleased with the results.

“This is such a jewel of a program,” Concoff says. “The house is so much more comfortable now, this is huge life saver for us. We started saving immediately on our utility bills because we’re producing energy but also saving so much energy.”

Concoff and her husband will pay $350 per month over the next 20 years for the upgrades – less than they were previously spending on their monthly electricity and propane costs – with financing through the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program (SCEIP).

We would never have been able to afford to do this,” Concoff says, noting that home equity financing was not an option due to tighter credit requirements now. “I’d much rather pay for internal improvements than keep paying utility bills. It’s like the difference between renting and owning. If people knew how easy this is and how this it will pay for itself, they would absolutely do this.”

Energy Upgrade California 
in Sonoma County
More information:
Enter “Sonoma” when prompted for county

Basic Upgrade Retrofits (10% energy savings, up to $1,000 in incentives):
• Air sealing
• Attic insulation
• Duct sealing
• Hot-water pipe insulation
• Low-flow showerhead with thermostatic control
• Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
• Combustion safety testing

Advance Upgrade Retrofits
(15-40% energy savings, $1,500-4,000 in incentives):
• High efficiency furnaces
• Energy efficient cooling systems
• Energy efficient water heaters
• Wall insulation
• Energy efficient pool pumps
• Dual pane energy efficient windows
• Cool roofs
• Whole house fans
• Energy-efficient hardwired interior and exterior lighting fixtures
• Other permanent energy efficiency improvements

Local Partners:
• Sonoma County Energy Independence Program (SCEIP)
• Regional Climate Protection Authority (RCPA)
• Working in coordination locally with the following organizations:
• PG&E
• Clean Energy Advocates – City of Santa Rosa
• Climate Protection Campaign
• Solar Sonoma County
• Sonoma County Energy Watch

Participating Local Contractors
who are specifically trained for Energy Upgrade California and meet required qualifications:
• EPIC Design Build
• Duna Construction
• Zero Energy Associates
• Advanced Home Performance
• Applied Building Science
• John Craig Construction, Inc.
• Rising Design & Construction
• Avalon Builders, Inc.
• M. Winter and Associates
• Kilcor Builders & Design, Inc.
• Apperson Energy Management
• Harney Home Performance
• Plus several more pending certification

Labels: ,

Read article »

Computer-Controlled Russian River

By Brenda Adelman
Our beautiful Russian River provides solace for recreationists on lazy summer days, even though essentially controlled by computer models during most of the vacation season. The flows gently rocking kayaks and canoes are managed by the Sonoma County Water Agency, the State Water Board, the National Marine Fisheries Service and correspondingly, State and Federal Water Law. Right now, thanks to late spring rains, the river is still flowing high, and for a little while “mother nature” will remain in charge.

Our river is for sale….
Agency employees are usually good people; they want the best for all of us. But they have legally designated responsibilities and their focus is on meeting their obligations. Although they might deny it, preservation of our beautiful and popular lower Russian River is not usually at the top of their priority list. Their main job is to maintain the water delivery system for their contractors. (Water Agency operations are upstream of Forestville at Wohler and they generally address few downstream concerns.)

As for the Biological Opinion, that Federal document requiring the implementation of “low flow”, in its enthusiasm to promote a closed agoon at the mouth of the river, it fails to consider the potential negative impacts of doing so.

Urban Water Management Plan guarantees water supply to 2035…..
This same inattention to the lower river environment was evident in the Urban Water Management Plan, authorized recently by the Directors of the Sonoma County Water Agency (Board of Supervisors). The document’s top priority was to predict water availability to meet summer demands of their water contractors (Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Cotati, Petaluma, North Marin Water District, Marin Municipal Water District, Sonoma, Valley of the Moon, and Windsor).

Each contractor with 3000 connections or more was required by the State to project their water demands based on their General Plan population projections for the next 25 years. (These projections become self-fulfilling prophesies since they assure that adequate water exists for new development which can then be approved because it has been declared that there is adequate water.) In the past, the Agency did one plan for everyone. Since the major lawsuit on the 2005 Plan, all contractors but Valley of the Moon contrived their own demand projections for their respective districts and most wrote separate plans. This strategy made it much more difficult to file a legal challenge, if one were to occur.

Santa Rosa inflates demand projections for 2015…..
 As an example, Santa Rosa’s projections for the next five years greatly inflated the demand by about 4% annually even though their growth rate for several years has been under 1%. (In 2010, they had requests for about four building permits.) When the UWMP assures that it has enough water to meet contractor demands, contractors are given free rein to use more water. The city’s justification for the big increase is that they saved so much water in 2009-2010 due to water shortages, and the economy and housing market has caused unusual lowered water demand, that they are now allowed to catch up and go beyond what they had used previously.

The responsibility of the Water Agency’s UWMP is to determine water supply reliability under various flow scenarios for all contractors, and they use computer models to make those projections. The outcome is seven different documents using different input assumptions and methods for demand and the County Plan that analyzes water supply. The idea of models is supposedly to predict the future based on past events. But the future is really unknown, so guessing is permitted. And guessing leads to fantasy and wishful thinking. While many of their projections are based on past realities, nevertheless, there is plenty of room to fudge the data and secure the outcome they want.

Computer model validity relies on integrity and assumptions….
There’s a saying, “garbage in and garbage out”. That means that if you don’t use valid assumptions and accurate, meaningful data appropriately, you get “garbage” information. This is quite common. Unfortunately, most people generally have no way of knowing the value of the information. In fact, there are only a few people at each Agency who have deep knowledge about how these models function and whether appropriate information has been fed into it.

So here are some of the assumptions fed into the Water Agency’s model that determined there was enough water for everyone in four back-to-back dry years until 2035:

• They assumed no earthquakes or major disasters would occur and dams would remain intact;

• They assumed that the State Water Board would adopt changes to Decision 1610 (low flow) without modification;

• They assumed that the Potter Valley Project run by PGE would continue to provide the same diversions from the Eel River that currently occur;

• They assumed that PGE would not dismantle or earthquakes destroy the dilapidated structure even though it is in a very poor condition and almost not generating enough energy to make it PGE’s while to continue;

• They assumed that global warming would not cause 3-4 back-to-back drought years equal to 1977;

• They assumed that a pipeline could be financed (about $140 million) and built if habitat enhancement projects in Dry Creek did not satisfy needs of Biological Opinion and projected flows would continue;

• They assumed no dam failures resulting from aging infrastructure;

• Worst of all, they assumed that the water saved by the successful implementation of Decision 1610 WILL BECOME AVAILABLE FOR OTHER USERS.

In regard to the last assumption, it is intriguing that in one section of the document it states that implementation of D1610 will mean they don’t have to send as much water to the lower river from Lake Sonoma. In another section, they said that water saved from lowering stream flow will be stored in Lake Mendocino and can be utilized by other water users. Furthermore, they fail to clearly demonstrate how those water users will be affected by the required lower flows in the upper river (185 cfs to 125 cfs) in trying to obtain that extra water. Water Agency staff have assured us that this has all been calculated by the Model, yet nowhere in the document was the amount of water to be saved and the estimated flows necessary over what period of time was needed to save that water.

Are these assumptions reasonable? You be the judge!

Brenda is the Chair of Russian River Watershed Protection Committee, and may be contacted at

Labels: , ,

Read article »

Monday, June 27, 2011

Wine Banter - July 2011

Spotlight: Arista Winery
I would like to thank the McWilliams family and Mark McWilliams in particular for sharing so enthusiastically his depth of knowledge and the entire Arista team for having treated my numerous guests to a truly complete Sonoma wine country experience with gracious service and exquisite wines served at their stunning estate property.
Read more »


Read article »

When in Windsor - July 2011

2011 Summer Nights On The Green

Thanks to the generosity of its sponsors, the Windsor Town Green is once again host to free events and activities for everyone this summer.

Tuesdays June 14th - August 16th are free movie nights. Starting 15 minutes after sunset a family-friendly movie plays on a giant inflatable screen. Apparently everyone likes watching movies while lying on a blanket under the stars as much as I do because the whole town comes out. Folks put out chairs as early as 10:00 a.m.
Read more »


Read article »


The outermost planets of our solar system, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, pertain to collective experience as well as individual consciousness development.  Uranus reflects collective consciousness, the group mind. It also pertains to individuation, the unique and unconventional. Neptune represents the collective subconscious or group psyche.  It can also indicate how we can connect with transcendent awareness. Pluto is about transformation. It enables us to dig out everything that is stagnant, decaying or toxic and replace it with something new and meaningful. Pluto implores us to engage in self-analytical personal process work that clarifies what should go, what should stay and how to do that.

Read more »


Read article »

Senior Momentum

The Importance Of A Porch 
Summer with a Porch simply has no rival.

It’s not that there aren’t a dozen places where you could do the same things that you can with a porch, it’s that porches have old-time magnetism and charisma.  Some of us remember there was no substitute for ”the porch” when you really needed it!

Read more »


Read article »

Sebastappeal - July 2011

More Information and Education – Public Speaking

The Council’s discussion about leaf-blower use and the erroneous coverage in the regional newspaper made it clear to me that a lot of people do not under the civic process for passing new ordinances.  Having dedicated last month’s column to information and education about the courteous, respectful and responsible use of leaf blowers – my individual effort arising from the Council’s interest in public outreach – I am dedicating this column to outlining the steps in the legislative process, noting opportunities for public input, and to suggesting ways in which citizens can effectively express their points of view at public meetings.

Read more »


Read article »

Your Watershed - July 2011

Checking up on our Russian River Watershed Smarts!

Every year community groups, public agencies, and individuals invest time, money, and ingenuity to take care of the Russian River Watershed. Most of these efforts target water quality and habitat improvement, and annually cost thousands of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Read more »

Labels: ,

Read article »

Rockin' Rio Nido - July 2011

Summertime has arrived - really?
Rio Nido is bustling with activity. Too much activity to mention in this one column. The rains have finally subsided and the sun is out and shining bright.  The Rio Nido Homeowner’s Association has outdone themselves this summer with the long anticipated Memorial Day BBQ with over 700 guests in attendance and the 4th of July BBQ.  Mark your calendars for the RNHOA’s Pancake Breakfast on July 17th, the golf tournament on August 6th, the Pancake Breakfast/Art Festival on August 7th and the Labor Day BBQ on September 4th.
Always good, clean family fun. Rio Nido is the perfect place to hang out all summer long. Well, savor every moment of this years summer as winter seems eternally long.
Read more »


Read article »

Sonoma County Restaurants - July 2011

The Sebastopol Scene: Café Marcella at Woodruff’s
By Cecile Lusby

Talk about out of the way places. Woodruff’s opened five months ago, but I had not seen it because it is not visible from the highway. Now that I’ve been there for lunch, I want the reader to know the address: 966 Gravenstein Highway South, tucked in behind Starbucks and next to Subway in Sebastopol. A friend recommended it when I said I wanted my visiting daughter to enjoy a good new restaurant in Sonoma County. We found it easily, and entered to find a mini-gourmet shop where designer brews, pastas, Koslowski’s jams, assorted chutneys, and fine wines are displayed on tall stainless steel racks near a cooler carrying deli items and Hotlips fruit sodas (boysenberry, cherry).
Read more »


Read article »

Petaluma Rumas - July 2011

Ahhh . . . July
Independence, Hot and Sassy

Summertime and events are Classy!
And a wee reminder here as we venture in to summer, it does seem to have arrived, and the economy gets you thinking about vacationing closer to home . . . if we sagaciously choose our destinations by invoking the local, community, sustainable principles then the dollar that circulates here will strengthen our county economy. The corporate demise of all the gains made by the working class over the last 100 years is no joke! Big Business America wants you back in the industrial age. Now I shall hop off my bully pulpit and suggest some fab local events to attend.
Read more »


Read article »

Occidental Oriented - July 2011

I just returned from a 2 week+ trip to the mid-West, with a 2500 mile drive to Washington, D.C. Now let me start by saying Chicago is a very cool town. Wish we’d somehow reversed the times and spent more than a day there! Micro-breweries abound, walking and recreating along Lake Michigan is stupendous, and the overall vibe is amazing.

But from Illinois, through Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, until Maryland/D.C., I must say I’ve never seen so many overweight and unhealthy-seeming people.
Read more »


Read article »

Monte Rio Musings - July 2011

Small towns are famous for their hospitality and the river community is exceptional at hosting visitors.  Decade after decade, people return here to enjoy the weather, the river, the peace and the people. We do a great job making their stay with us memorable.  We all work so hard during these months and do such a good job creating vacation memories for so many so give yourself a pat on the back and a big and friendly “good job!” to your hard working neighbors.  Now get back to work!  July is a going to be a real zinger!
Read more »


Read article »

Hey, you know what?  I think summer is here because it’s finally hot out!  And that means we get to jump, feet first, into the “Rushin’ River.”  However, this also means that we need to share our River with the hundreds of tourists who flock to our area to escape the daily pressures of city life.  So, just like with bicycles, “share the road”, let’s also “share the river.”  It’s meant for everybody.  And amazingly enough, you’ll find that when you act cordial and patient with the tourists, you end up making some pretty neat friends. 
Read more »


Read article »

Meanwhile in Graton... - July 2011

The Siren Still Sings
The community spoke and the elected officials listened.  June 7th, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors voted to approve the move of the siren with the Graton Fire Protection District (GFPD) to their new facility on Hwy 116.  About 30 people from the Graton area attended the supervisor’s hearing with most endorsing the continued use of the siren.  The supervisors approved the GFPD recommendation to silence the siren from 10 p.m. to 7 p.m. The siren will continue to sound during the night hours for certain kinds of emergencies. 
Read more »


Read article »

Geyserville Grapevine - July 2011

What’s Stirring in the Chamber Pot
I had heard of the Pacific Coast Air Museum but never attended the annual Chamberee that was held there this year on June 16th.  It is right behind the Charles Shultz Santa Rosa  Airport. Admission is just $5 with kids under 12 free.
Read more »


Read article »

Gails Garden - Lilacs - June 2011

What a rainy spring we had, but now finally it’s summer: don’t forget to get your drip and sprinkler systems up and running before the garden dries out any more!

I had a lovely road trip up to Oregon: going north along the coast, visiting my daughter in Portland, then returning home via the Eastern part of the state.  It is a wonderful state with so many great State Parks, rivers, and forests.  I had the great good luck to see trilliums in bloom on the shores of Hyatt Reservoir — the first time I’ve seen them in the wild!

Read more »

Labels: ,

Read article »

Forever Forestville - July 2011

Well, it was late in arriving, but arrive it did with a fun and festive Summer Celebration. It seems to me that the weather delayed Forestville Parade and Youth Park Bar-B-Que brought out the best in everyone around our town, as bands were rescheduled, volunteers recruited, and vendors put on hold, to help with the success of this vital fund raiser. I had a blast working in the food booth and really enjoyed meeting many readers of this column. I can’t wait until next year.

Read more »


Read article »

Fire News - July 2011

Focus on Fire Safety
Fire season in Sonoma County has begun! Please remember to maintain your defensible space around your homes. Defensible space is the area around your home that is properly maintained to slow the advancement of a wildfire. Please visit your local fire station or for more information.
Now that the temperatures are rising and the grasses are starting to dry out, it is becoming easier for wildland type fires to start. Remember to mow high weeds and grasses early and often. The lower temperatures and higher humidities help slow a fire should one start.
Remember to keep hydrated throughout the day on hot days. Dehydration can lead to heat stress or heat stroke and can be contributed to many medical emergencies during extreme heat. Avoid strenuous activities during the afternoons and drink plenty of fluids. While sodas and other beverages are tasty, water is generally the best at helping to stay hydrated.

Read more »


Read article »

OUR County

On the heels of our grueling Budget deliberations, it was great to find out about a new program available to low income qualifying Sonoma County homeowners which will provide solar installations at no cost.  The GRID Alternatives (Generating Renewable Ideas for Development) program is an effort spearheaded by the City of Santa Rosa’s Clean Energy Advocate program and Solar Sonoma County, a clean energy advocacy organization.
Read more »


Read article »

Cloverdale Comments - July 2011

Are Making It Happen!

Cloverdale’s often been called “a city of volunteers”. And with good reason. When it comes to giving time, talent, devotion and donations to community causes, the track record of my neighbors and friends clearly shows what a remarkable, inspiring force for good they are.

So, when I say that the dynamic little team a number of us have come to think of admiringly as our “Dog Park Ladies” is a particularly fine example of Cloverdalian resourcefulness and dedication – well – you can be assured I don’t say it lightly.

Read more »


Read article »

There is an incredibly light sky outside of my airy cyber-hut on this early evening as we approach the Summer Solstice. The longer days always make me feel like I have so much more  time!
Read more »


Read article »

Camp Meeker Beat - July 2011

I’m going to take a wild guess that you are reading this as the summer evening turns to dusk on the beach in Monte Rio as you wait for the fireworks  to start.  If you aren’t, you should be – it’s a blast!  I know Monte Rio is not my beat, but Camp Meeker doesn’t have a fireworks show, and there’s no better  place to be on Saturday night but that fireworks show put on by the Monte Rio VFD.

Read more »


Read article »

Bodega Bay Beat - July 2011

June was a lovely month.  It began with the Bird Walk living up to its name and providing wonderful vistas filled with birds. June 2 there were approximately 200 white pelicans sitting, and then flying in formations that the Blue Angels would envy.  There were two different groups of Canadian geese, eight egrets, warblers and gulls. There were ducks and the usual brush visitors (tit wrens, sparrows).  What a display. Then on a trip to the Head at least two whales were blowing and hanging out.When one breached, not once but twice, the appreciative “ahs” from the watchers surely made the whales feel appreciated.  What a place we live in, here—spring dances at the Grange and various potlucks, and pancakes prepared by and for the Fire Department.
Read more »


Read article »

Ask the Loan Man - July 2011


I have just read a series of industry blogs about how people choose their home loan professional and their Realtor and because these blogs were directed from peer to peer, these guys really let loose and told the honest truth about some of the serious pitfalls and horror stories that befall unwary home buyers and sellers. What I took away from those articles was that these people are passionate about what they do and they believe in what they do and these are the people I want to work with. Since I am a loan professional, I am going to discuss the buyer’s side of things here today.

Read more »


Read article »

Ask Eco Girl - July 2011

Is There Hope for the Planet?

Dear EcoGirl: Seeing all the eco-crises in the world makes me feel discouraged. Is there really hope, or is an early death for the earth just inevitable? Signed, Disheartened

Dear Disheartened: Thanks for your great question, which I’m sure others share. My simple answer is that, yes, the situation is dire, but I also see reasons for hope and believe that better outcomes are always possible.

Read more »

Labels: ,

Read article »

Artist Profile – Amber Moshin

Serendipity plays a huge role in many lives but there are those rare few that make their chances a true adventure.   Did Amber Cartwright ever imagine while working in her Orange County coffee shop that she would one day be traveling in Burgundy sampling the greatest wines in the world with her talented husband, Rick Moshin? 
Read more »

Labels: ,

Read article »

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sonoma County Animal Shelter Cat & Kitten SALE

Every spring our animal shelters are overwhelmed with too many cats and kittens. Please consider taking one home! Here's a link to the shelter and all you have to do is show up on July 3rd to take home a purring cat who really would rather be sleeping on your bed than in a cage!

Labels: ,

Read article »

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Coho Salmon Return to Restored Stream

Endangered Coho Salmon 
Return Quickly to Restored Stream
Salmon spawning in Russian River watershed is encouraging news for new Conservation Bank

By Maura Moody

Fishery biologists and landowners are thrilled by the sighting of the first spawning coho salmon in Devil Creek, part of the East Austin Creek Conservation Bank, last winter resulting in numerous offspring this year (see video and photos listed below). The federally protected salmon returned just months after habitat improvements were completed in the stream, providing heartening news for recovery of coho salmon in the Russian River watershed.

In August of 2010, NOAA Fisheries Service approved the East Austin Creek Conservation Bank designed to permanently preserve and restore 440 acres of prime habitat for the preservation and recovery of federally endangered Central California Coast Coho salmon and threatened steelhead. In September, 15 large natural wood structures were placed in the water for fish habitat and by January, 2011 over 700 trees, including over 300 redwoods, were planted along the creek.

In December, less than three months after placement of the woody debris, two adult coho salmon and a young precocious 2-year-old (jack) were observed in Devil Creek. The female had a clipped adipose fin indicating it was from the Don Claussen Warm Springs Hatchery and part of the Russian River Coho Salmon Broodstock Program. The adult male was apparently wild. The two adult salmon successfully spawned and offspring were observed in the spring of this year.

A conservation bank is a free-market enterprise that offers landowners an economic incentive to protect, preserve and restore habitats for protected species. The conservation bank landowner banks habitat “credits” that may be sold to developer groups, state and local government agencies, and others to compensate for their adverse impacts to threatened or endangered species caused by development.

The East Austin Creek Conservation Bank is located in the lower Russian River drainage and adjacent to the Austin Creek State Recreation Area; an area with perennial flows of cold water that provides good habitat for salmon and steelhead, particularly during the critical summer rearing period. The location of the bank is designated in the draft Central California Coast coho salmon federal recovery plan as a “core recovery area;” the highest priority site for habitat restoration and preservation for critically endangered coho salmon.

The bank owner, Nancy Summers, is conducting extensive restoration work and is also providing habitat for young coho salmon produced from broodstock raised in captivity by the collaborative Russian River Coho Salmon Captive Broodstock Program. The landowner has allowed program staff access to the bank property for in-stream habitat monitoring, spring out-planting of coho salmon this year, monitoring of adult returns and possible additional out-planting in later years. This represents significant collaboration of agency and landowner to conserve endangered species. The preservation and restoration of the property will also have ecosystem benefits by providing habitats to many of the rare and endemic plants and animals that depend on these habitats to thrive.

The Russian River Coho Salmon Captive Broodstock Program represents a broad partnership involving the Department of Fish and Game, National Marine Fisheries Service, the Army Corp of Engineers, the Sonoma County Water Agency, University of California Cooperative Extension, Sonoma County and many private landowners. The group carefully captures juvenile fish, rears them to adulthood at the Don Claussen Warm Springs Hatchery, and spawn coho broodstock. They then release the offspring as young fish in select tributary streams and monitor their growth and survival until they move downstream and into the Pacific Ocean. In November, 2010 over 5000 young coho salmon were released on the East Austin Creek Conservation Bank property.

On the Web:
Video of coho salmon spawning in Devil’s Creek

Russian River Captive Broodstock Program:

Labels: ,

Read article »

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Redistricting Sonoma County

Don’t Let Redistricting
Get Santa Rosa Stuck in Lodi!

The first cut of redistricting maps for a proposed state Senate District carves out Santa Rosa, Cotati, Rohnert Park, and Sebastopol from Sonoma County and joins them in a new district with Lodi, Galt, and Woodland.

The heart of Sonoma County belongs in a blue coastal district, not as an appendage to the Central Valley!

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission has a legal mission to keep intact “communities of interests.” Haven’t they heard we’re united by water, economy, transportation, energy, agriculture, education, local governance and left coast culture?

at the:
Cowell Theatre
Fort Mason Center
Marina Blvd and Buchanan Street Entrance
San Francisco 
Monday, June 27th from 6 to 9 pm

For more information on speaking at the public hearing go to You can also view the draft maps at this site.

Speaking has the greatest impact, but if you can’t attend, please email your comments to

New maps will be released July 12 

– a final decision in August. 
Now is the time to be heard!

Labels: , ,

Read article »