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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

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wine Banter - September 2011

The Harvest is Under Way  
Last week I was informed that the harvest was under way in the Sonoma coast region, which means they are picking fruit throughout Sonoma County. As I mentioned in my last article, the beginning of summer ended with a winter that never really allowed us to have a spring and impacted some of the fruit clusters. My hope is Mother Nature will allow us a few more months of warm days which may help cool climate Syrah to come to fruition. I’m hoping to get out on a crush pad in the next few weeks so I can look at several different varietals to observe some of the color characteristics, as well as the pH  brix and acidity. It’ll be another four or five months before the wines will have settled enough to start tasting from oak or stainless steel to begin to understand where the wines will be 9 months or even 5 years from now.

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When in Windsor - September 2011

LEED Certification for Windsor Fire Station #2 

In 2007, Windsor passed Measure K to fund the design and construction of the award-winning Windsor Fire Station #2. On August 18th, 2011, all the parties involved came together to celebrate the Station’s acceptance as Windsor’s first LEED certified green building.
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Wheel of Light - September 2011

I normally use this space to delineate an important energy pattern that is highlighted for the month. I am going to depart from that format in this article and tell you about a new book that I published in March of this year. Some of you know of it already, some may have purchased it. Whether this is news to you or not, I would like to discuss my book in this month’s article.
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Wellness Corner - September 2011

Welcome to “The Wellness Corner.” 
This is the first installment of a monthly health column on prevention, wellness, and community health. 

My name is Dr. Gary Pace, and I work at the Forestville Wellness Center, the newest addition to the West County Health Centers.  We also operate the Occidental Area Health Center, Russian River Health Center in Guerneville, Forestville Teen Clinic, and the Sebastopol Community Health Center.  As a Federally Qualified Health Center, we are part of a national network of safety net providers.  Our health centers provide comprehensive medical care to all ages, for people with most types of insurance, including Medi-Care, Medi-Cal and the uninsured.

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Only in Guerneville - September 2011

In keeping with this month’s “Learning” theme, I am frantically learning how to juggle my homework, kids’ homework and Newspaper obligations after a nice 3-month break.  But just because school has started doesn’t mean there isn’t any more time for fun!  Check out these cool community events:
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Senior Momentum - September 2011

Colburn Days

It doesn’t make sense to judge elementary school today by memories of sixty-five years ago, because the worlds of then and now are vastly different.  And, unless one’s education expectations are adjusted to fit new education environments – and paradigms – the present educational circumstances could drive you mad.
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Santa Rosa Snippets - September 2011

Hi everyone!  My name is Jo Anne and this is my very first contribution to the Sonoma County Gazette.  I noticed that there wasn’t a contributor from Santa Rosa so I volunteered.  My passion is building a sense of neighborhood and community and I thought that this would be a great way to connect with other people in Santa Rosa.  Thought a good place to start would be with what’s happening in Santa Rosa this month.
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Our Watershed - September 2011

Take Back the Tap
Bottled Water vs. Tap Water

Pristine natural springs, tropical waterfalls and attractive people are all images we associate with bottled water, thanks to the world of advertising. These images suggest that bottled water is cleaner and healthier than tap water. But is it?
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Occidental Oriented - September 2011

Feast or famine—this month there’s more to report than we have room for. Go figure!

Occidental Welcomes Michele Fitterer
There’s a new business in town. Says owner Michele Fitterer, “I am really happy to have a studio to practice my art and massage in Occidental, a community filled with kindness. That's why I think my intuition brought me here.” Finding it a challenge to make a living with her drawing and figure sculpture, Michele decided to study the art of massage therapy, starting at Sebastopol Massage Center and now attending National Holistic Institute in Petaluma. “Everyone is unique, and so is every massage,” concludes Michele.
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Monte Rio Musings - September 2011

Traditionally, the Labor Day weekend has signaled an end to summer.  That being the case, our busy season is drawing to its close.  By the calendar it ends at the Monte Rio beach in mid-October.  According to the Park and Recreation event calendar however, there are many weekends through the end of October and into November scheduled with weddings.
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Mitzvah Moments - September 2011

Earth-Friendly Values
Back-to-school shopping is a great time for Mitzvah Moments. Often buying earth-friendly clothing doesn’t cost a lot more than conventional items. Clothing made from sustainable and eco-friendly fabrics including organic cotton, linen, hemp, and soft, silky bamboo are fashionable, comfortable, and show your concern for the environment and for the people who farm the crops that make your clothes and the people who produce them.

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Meanwhile in Graton - September 2011

A Vision for Graton
It’s the year 2014.  After a trip to the post office, you’ll meet a friend in Graton Park across the street.  You will plan to return to the park for music night.  On your way home, you’ll stop at the new Spiral Foods Co-op on Bowen Street for some locally grown organic produce.
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Geyserville Grapevine - September 2011

Williamson Wine comes to Town

I was on my way to see Rustine, the dog groomer on Geyserville Ave. when I passed the shop that used to be Terroirs beautiful wine tasting room. There was a sign on the window that heralded a new owner , and so I dropped in to find out what was going on. 
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Gail’s Garden - September 2011

I’m enjoying a wonderful crop of my favorite cutting flower this summer: Peruvian Lily, or botanically speaking: Alstroemeria.  I have a number of different varieties in pink, orange, and golden yellow colors: red, purple, and white are also available.  A new variety for me this year is the salmon and gold “Third Harmonic”: it’s producing loads of flowers in a big pot on the deck where it gets daily water and 1/2 day sun.  I throw some coffee grounds on for fertilizer when I think of it. 
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Rockin' Rio Nido - September 2011

Friends of Rio Nido (FRN) undertake the Rio Nido Fountain Rejuvenation Project
The Landmark Rio Nido fountain at the entrance to Rio Nido which has been long forgotten and neglected is finally all cleaned up and painted. The Beautification Committee members of FRN have spent their free time assisting in the restoration of the fountain. Larry Tocmakidis handled the insect removal and power-washing of the fountain. Matt Malik, Elena Chronis, Nancy and Danny Drew all lent their time and talent painting the fountain. Still yet to be determined if the water feature will prevail or perhaps have beautiful native plants adorning it instead. 
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Forever Forestville - September 2011

The Winds of Change
I don’t know if it is because small towns are inherently more stagnant than their urban counterparts (thus the name of this column) but I have noticed that change can be particularly difficult in our little utopia. This has been most apparent to me over the past few years, as I have been involved in various capacities at Forestville School.
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Cloverdale Comments - September 2011

A Gallery Of Great Lessons!
90 minutes of laughter and inspiration. Life-affirming lessons in love, vision, courage, art--even micro-business success! That’s the unexpected gift the subjects for this column recently gave Roz and me.

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Cazadero Communications - September 2011

It’s a lovely afternoon in the redwoods as I write this. The view from my airy cyber-hut shows large trees with a golden light!

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Camp Meeker Beat - September 2011

Oh geez, it’s almost Labor Day.   Another summer been and gone. That’s all right, because this month I’m going to talk more about some summers been and gone nearby. Last month I gave a very, very brief history of Morning Star Ranch, the classic hippie commune that flowered for a few brief years around the Summer of Love, and featuring many refugees from that scene. This month I hop over to the other side of Bohemian Highway to the other major west county commune, Wheeler Ranch.  But first…some timely business.

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Bodega Bay Beat - September 2011

End of Summer
August, the ending of summer, late mornings, time to read; time to relax.  But August is also, the month where we have time to begin to start thinking about beliefs different from ours, whether it is about Bohemian Grove or the celebration of Ramadan (when self-denial is designed to urge believers to resolve conflicts) Those precious minutes are cherished.  August, the month of picnics, swimming in the river, fog on the coast, county fairs, soaring stock markets,  has come and gone, leaving good memories, but old conflicts sadly, remain. But now, refreshed, we are ready to go forward.

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At the Table - Eatz & Biz News - September 2011

Whitetail Wine Bar, 16230 Main St, Guerneville CA. 707/604-7449
This new wine bar that has been creating a buzz in town is modern, minimalistic in decor, stylishly fabulous and a superb addition to G'ville. 
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OUR County - September 2011

If kids can’t read, they can’t succeed…this is the motto for Schools of Hope, an educational initiative that was launched last year by United Way of the Wine Country in partnership with the Volunteer Center. 

Sonoma County has a burgeoning problem which will fuel the existing achievement gap of our Latino population if it is not addressed, and head on.  Statistics show that only 46% of our 3rd grade students read at grade level…and of the 54% who do not, research shows that 90% never will achieve proficiency.  The statistics for English learners are even more concerning, with only a 21% reading at grade level.  As to the gap, 75% of Latino students are not at grade level, compared to 37% of Caucasian/White students…and these numbers are in line with percentages based on economic status.
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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Climate Ride comes to Sonoma County

National Bicycle Ride FUNDRAISER 
benefits Sonoma County Team 
BikeSonoma for the 5-Day, 320 Mile Ride 
from Fortuna to San Francisco

Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition (BikeSonoma) is pleased to announce that the non-profit organization has become a beneficiary of the Climate Ride. Team BikeSonoma, composed of 5 members, will participate in the 5 day, 320-mile bicycle ride to raise funds for Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition.

“All of us at BikeSonoma,” says BikesSonoma Executive Director Gary Helfrich, “are grateful and thrilled to be chosen as a Climate Ride beneficiary. It is an honor to be a part of this high-profile, national event. Plus, it offers a rare opportunity to raise unrestricted funds to support BikeSonoma’s efforts to make Sonoma County an even better place to ride your bike.”

The Climate Ride was founded to inspire and empower citizens to work toward a new energy future. Climate Ride events raise money for a collection of innovative organizations, including BikeSonoma.

The ride, from October 2 -6, 2011, begins in Fortuna and travels south, ending in San Francisco. The 150 riders will be in Sonoma County on October 4th and 5th. Riders are expected to camp in Duncans Mills on the 4th, and to stop for lunch in Sebastopol on October 5th before pedaling on to Olema.

Team BikeSonoma’s current fundraising goal is $17,600 (the goal will increase if more members join the team), and the five members have raised half of that amount so far. Team BikeSonoma members are:

Andy Bunnell, of Graton, is an experienced cyclist and runner who has completed a variety of long bicycle rides, races, as well as marathons. Andy works with at risk boys as a social worker.

Jane Kurtz, of Graton, is a life-long athlete who has participated in many long bicycle rides and some races. She’s a handyperson and a founder of the Graton Community Garden.

Ellen Bauer, of Forestville, bicycled across the United States after graduating from college in the 1980s. She has continued to have an active lifestyle while raising a family. Ellen works for the County of Sonoma’s Department of Health Services.

Drake Pitts, of Santa Rosa is the newest member of Team BikeSonoma. He is a Santa Rosa native, and a 19 year-old student at Santa Rosa Junior College. He was inspired to join the Team after hearing about the Climate Ride at BikeSonoma’s Northern California Bicycle Expo on August 20th.

Sandra Lupien, of Graton, is the Outreach Director at BikeSonoma. She is the Team Captain, and the least experienced cyclist on team BikeSonoma. Lupien has been a dedicated bicycle commuter since 2003, but until recently had not ridden any long distances. Since signing up for Team BikeSonoma, she’s been training, and recently completed the 65 mile route on the Tour d’Organics.

“I am completely inspired,” says Lupien, “by the dedication of my teammates! Their passion for cycling and for BikeSonoma’s cause is incredible. I’m nervous about all those miles – and those hills, too, -- but I know my teammates – and the support of the community -- will pull me through.”

The Climate Ride is the first bicycle tour where pedal strokes help raise money and awareness of a future powered by renewable energy, sustainability, and a green economy. The ride offers people who share a passion for green living and cycling a chance to journey toward making a difference.

BikeSonoma plans to use the funds raised on the Climate Ride to launch a Countywide, ongoing series of family-friendly bike rides.

To support Team BikeSonoma on the Climate Ride, please visit:

Team BikeSonoma is holding a benefit concert featuring the danceable band “Free Peoples” (www. on Friday, September 9th at 7:00 p.m. The event will be at Cahill Winery (5450 Ross Road, Sebastopol), which is accessible by bicycle from the West County Trail. Beer and wine will be available for purchase. Tickets are sliding scale $10 - $25. For information, call 707-545-0153.


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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO's)

Dear Grass-Fed Kowsians,
This weeks show features a subject that affects all of us. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO's) are being introduced into our foods at an increasing pace. Fruit, vegetables, meat, and imminently Salmon, are being okayed for our consumption by the US Government. Pamm Larry of is helping to bring a ballot Initiative, along with the Organic Consumers Association, to the 2012 California State election. Pamm is organizing meeting all across California. There will be a meeting on Monday August 29th 5pm at Guayaki on Hwy. 12 in downtown Sebastopol.

Tune in Friday 7-9pm on KOWS 107.3fm or streaming live at from beautiful downtown Occidental.
Your host,
Phone # during show: 707-874 1073

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Funding for Integrated Water Management Approved

State Approves Funding for North Coast 
andBay Area Projects

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) this month announced final approval for integrated water management funding including $8.2 million for the North Coast region and $30.1 million for the Bay Area region. The North Coast plan designates $1 million for the Sonoma County Water Agency’s (Water Agency) Copeland Creek project. The Bay Area plan includes $765,000 for local water conservation programs and $2 million for the North Bay Water Reuse Authority.

“North Coast and Bay Area integrated regional water management efforts are pivotal to securing state funding for local water supply reliability, habitat restoration, and water conservation projects,” said Water Agency Chair Efren Carrillo. “These funding awards would not have been possible without the active collaboration between local governmental organizations and stakeholders representing the environment, local economy and cultural organizations. Thank you to everyone for their time and dedication to ensuring both the North Coast and Bay Area plans succeed and bring local projects to life.”

The funding is part of Proposition 84, Chapter 2 Integrated Regional Water Management Grant Program, administered by DWR, which provides funding for projects that assist local public agencies meet long-term water needs of the state including the delivery of safe drinking water and the protection of water quality and the environment. The Water Agency is a member of both the North Coast and Bay Area Integrated Regional Water Management Programs.

The $1 million awarded for the Copeland Creek Project will fund Phase 1 projects of a multi-phase effort to improve flood protection and fish habitat, and reduce the sediment that is deposited in the Copeland Creek Watershed. This work will include the use of Conservation Corps Crews and a public outreach and education component.

Of the $2 million for the North Bay Water Reuse Authority, $500,000 will be used for funding the installation of an 18-inch, one-mile long recycled water pipeline from the Sonoma Valley County Sanitation District’s treatment plant. The pipeline, which is currently under construction, will expand the District’s ability to serve recycled water to additional customers for irrigation purposes.

A total of $765,000 will help fund a variety of water conservation rebate programs in the cities of Sonoma, Petaluma, Valley of the Moon and North Marin water districts, and the Sonoma Valley County Sanitation District and Penngrove Sanitation Zone. Rebate programs will help residential and business customers pay for and/or install high efficiency toilets and urinals, high efficiency clothes washers, irrigation upgrades (such as turf removal and drip irrigation conversion) and smart irrigation controllers. Customers are encouraged to contact their local water supplier for more rebate information.

“This funding reflects the success of the North Coast integrated regional water management process,” said North Coast IRWM Policy Review Panel Chair and City of Rohnert Park Vice Mayor Jake Mackenzie. “We've shown other parts of the state how to work cooperatively and be recognized for that.”

Learn more about the North Coast IRWM Plan:

Learn more about the Bay Area IRWM Plan:


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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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Healthy Chinook Salmon Requires Conservation

Catch and Release Story

On August 2, 2011 I was fishing on the Skeena river in British Columbia when I hooked this 60 lb. Chinook Salmon. The massive buck was caught while back-trolling a plug with guide Gordon Mckean of West Coast Fishing Adventures. The fish measured 49.5 "length and had a 30" girth. After a 20 minute battle of chasing downriver the fish was released unharmed and swam back to his spawning grounds. Watching him swim back up-river is one of my most rewarding moments as an angler.

With a handful of rivers for anglers to explore in Northern California and the Northwest this season, there will always be some big fish brought to shore. Whether you choose to release your catch is your choice. Just keep in mind, wild Salmon that weigh 45-100 lbs are very important to the life cycle of a fishery. They have the genetics to re-produce more large fish. They will also carry and fertilize a large number of eggs. A Salmon weighing 15-30 lbs is a more desirable size to harvest.

-written by: Jay Kennedy, Cazadero Ca.


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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Russian River estuary Project EIR Approved

Final Russian River Estuary 
Management Project
Environmental Review Certified and Project Approved

By Ann DuBay

Today the Sonoma County Water Agency Board of Directors (Board) certified an Environmental Impact report (EIR) and approved a project to change the way the Russian River estuary is managed between May 15 and October 15. The Russian River Estuary Management Project (Project) Final Environmental Impact Report is available on the Water Agency’s website (

The changes in estuary management are required by the National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) Russian River Biological Opinion. The purpose of the project – which includes a new way of managing the sandbar that sometimes closes the mouth of the Russian River, where it flows into the Pacific Ocean near Jenner – is to improve habitat conditions for young salmon species, particularly steelhead, while minimizing flood risk.

“Closed lagoons at river mouths are a critically important habitat for juvenile steelhead in many coastal California watersheds,” said National Marine Fisheries Service biologist Dr. William Hearn. “The Russian River once had one of the largest steelhead runs in California; its populations are now threatened with extinction.”

The Final EIR assesses the potential environmental effects of implementing the Project, identifies the means to eliminate or reduce some of the potential significant adverse impacts of the Project, and evaluates a reasonable range of alternatives to the Project. In certifying the Final EIR, the Board found that it meets the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act and provides the public with full and fair disclosure of potential environmental impacts associated with the project.

“The EIR does a good job of analyzing the impacts on the estuary and the Project accomplishes the dual goals of improving habitat for steelhead and minimizing flood risk to the properties in the Jenner area,” said Sonoma County Water Agency General Manager Grant Davis.

Since the mid-1990s, the Water Agency has artificially breached the sandbar when it closes and rising water levels in the estuary threaten low-lying properties. When the sandbar is breached, salt water from the ocean mingles with fresh river water, creating saline conditions. In the 2008 Biological Opinion, NMFS biologists found that managing the estuary to reduce tidal inflow would create a fresh water lagoon that would help threatened salmon during the summer months. In order to reduce the risk of flooding while maintaining this fresh water lagoon, the Water Agency developed a plan for creating a channel over the sandbar that will allow river water to flow over the top, but keep ocean water from entering the lagoon.

The Final EIR identified several possible environmental impacts of the Project, many which were insignificant or which steps could be taken to mitigate the impacts. While other impacts are significant and can’t be mitigated, the Water Agency must change its estuary management practices in order to comply with the conditions contained in the Russian River Biological Opinion. Such compliance will allow the Water Agency to continue to supply water and provide flood control protection to residents within its service area, and will help ensure the continued survival of threatened and endangered salmon species in the Russian River watershed.

Questions regarding the EIR should be directed to Jessica Martini-Lamb at (707) 547-1903. For additional information, please contact Ann DuBay, (707) 524-8378 or (707) 322-8185 or

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, August 11, 2011

Graton Labor Center to Purchase Site

Graton Day Labor Center
Launches Urgent Appeal 
to Purchase Site

By Terry Winter, Christy Lubin and Christina Zapata
The Graton Day Labor Center (Centro Laboral de Graton) has launched an urgent appeal and capital campaign to purchase its site located at 2981 Bowen St. Due to economic circumstances, our landlord is forced to sell the property and would like to sell it to us. In July we received a notice of auction after one of the loans on the property went into default. A successful appeal was made to the community and we were able to purchase the loan thus becoming 31% owners of the property. Incredibly, in less than a week our friends, supporters and families donated $87,000.

But we are not out the woods yet. Our landlord has subsequently filed for bankruptcy and is negotiating with us to complete the purchase. Centro Laboral de Graton (CLG) is reaching out to our long-term supporters, friends and families to help us raise the additional $300,000 we need to complete the site purchase.

The current site of the Graton Day Labor Center was developed with the generous support and labor and assistance of hundreds of day laborers, domestic workers, West County residents and supporters. Previous to the development of the site, local stakeholders participated in a year-long community consensus process. This remarkable investment of trust and respect between day laborers and members of the Graton Community gives testimony to the power of a truly participatory and democratic process.

What we do
Centro Laboral de Graton offers workers and employers an organized hiring process. In 2010, hundreds of men and women were matched to employers for work at a fair wage and their collective earnings were over $220,000.

Centro Laboral de Graton (CLG) fills a major educational gap in our community. When employers hire, or businesses contract with day laborers, they can be assured that workers at CLG have been exposed to worksite safety training, such as avoiding dehydration and heat exposure, ergonomics, and hazard identification. CLG offers English Language instruction as well as health access and education. CLG also trains and supports workers in becoming effective leaders in their communities.

CLG is recognized as:
• A hiring site that serves workers and employers in a dignified and just manner.
• A hiring site that is inclusive and democratic.
• A non-profit organization with cutting-edge programs that have in turn created a community.
• A volunteer organization that raised over $200,000 in labor and materials for the construction of our center.
• A national model for fostering and maintaining broad community consensus on very controversial issues.
• A recipient of the Connie Codding Humanist Award in 2010 from Listening for a Change: an award bestowed to Sonoma County individuals or organizations who bring together diverse voices and experiences for the public good.
• A model center, known nationally and locally for our outcomes and impact.
• A center for education, culture and leadership development for day laborers and domestic workers.

You have stood with us in the past and we are asking you to help us today. We hope that you will consider an investment towards this goal. The purchase of our site would allow us to remain located in the heart of the Graton community and give us the space we need to further grow and develop the quality programs and services that make Centro Laboral the impactful organization it is today.

Please support a model that works for all in our community. Join in to protect this valuable resource in the West County!

Please call our director, Christina Zapata at 829-1864 or send funds to: Graton Day Labor Center (Centro Laboral de Graton), PO Box 42, Graton, CA 95444.

Our deepest thanks goes out to those donors have contributed up to this point to help us secure our home. Thank you all! Please do what you can to join others to support the center. All contributions are tax-deductible.

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Sonoma County Vernal Pool Monitoring

Story and photo by Hattie Brown
Conservation Science Program Manager
Vernal pools are seasonal wetlands that form in depressions in the landscape where rainfall collects during the winter and slowly evaporates over the summer. This wet-then-dry environment is home to numerous threatened and endangered plants throughout California and springtime in vernal pools hosts a lovely display of color and activity as annual plants flower and set seed for subsequent years, amphibians lay eggs in evaporating pool water, and bees prospect for pollen.

Recognizing a need for current, accurate, and uniform data to inform management of native and endangered vernal pool plants across the Santa Rosa Plain, in 2007 we launched our Adopt a Vernal Pool program in partnership with the California Native Plant Society Milo Baker Chapter. Five years after the program’s inception, we’ve trained over 70 Citizen Scientist volunteers to monitor the endangered vernal pool plants Sebastopol meadowfoam, Sonoma sunshine, and Burke’s goldfields. We published a paper on Citizen Science, established a website for information exchange, led field trips and walks, and collected priceless data that helps assess if the endangered species are recovering or declining. Through repeated observations of the invasive species Pennyroyal mint in vernal pools, we launched a pilot study to remove the weed and will implement large scale removal next season. The future holds the possibility of a vernal pool field guide, a vernal pool conference, and the long-term data that will ultimately aid the recovery of endangered species.

Every year, a number of people ask the same question, “Was it a good year? Did a lot of endangered plants germinate and grow? More than in previous years?” Data from this 2011 spring are still arriving, but my own measurements show fewer endangered plants this year than last year. The more difficult question to answer is, “Is this normal?” A “bad” year does not mean a species is going extinct, and a “good” year does not mean the species has recovered. Only through long-term data, standardized data collection like that collected by Adopt a Vernal Pool Citizen Scientists do we begin to see a trend.

Thank you Adopt A Vernal Pool partners: CNPS Milo Baker, the City of Santa Rosa, the Sonoma County Agricultural and Open Space District, the California Department of Fish and Game, Audubon Canyon Ranch, and the many Citizen Scientists who slog through muddy field and tall grass, brave ticks and cattle to count flowers on their hands and knees.

Thank you 2011 Citizen Scientists: Joe Balestreri, Betsy Black, Denise Cadman, Caroline Christian, Wayne Clark, Frank Dono, Katie Elmore, Sheri Emerson, Kandis Gilmore, Sarah Gordon, Molly Graber, John Herrick, Lynn Houser, George Jackson, Michelle Jensen, Wendy Jones, John Krafft, Sara Lahman, Michele Lee, Teri Macias, Julian Meisler, Theo Michaels, Jana Muhar, Dan Noreen, Leah Ocean, Doris Parker, Jennifer Potts, Mary Rooney, Joan Schwan, Bryan Sesser, Patricia Sesser, Christina Sloop, Jean Terriblini, Kate Thompson, Bob Weis, and Darren Wiemeyer.

The Vernal Pool Monitoring program is part of Laguna de Santa Rosa's efforts to document, and therefore preserve - the delicate environment along Sonoma County's green corridor between the santa Rosa plain and West County communities. For more information, please visit

They will be hosting the 2011 Garden Art Gala on Sunday, September 11 from 2 - 6pm. at Vine Hill House in Sebastopol near Graton. Tickets for this fundraiser are $75. Please visit the web site or call 707-527-9277 x109 for tickets and informaiton.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

New Gallery V in Valley Ford Debuts August 20

Introducing a New Art Venue
Gallery V: Contemporary Art
Announcing a new rural art venue just off Highway 1 on the Sonoma/Marin coast, Gallery V celebrates contemporary visual, ceramic, literary and movement art. Its debut group exhibit, “CONFLUX” a flowing together, or into each other, as rivers or their tributaries; a confluence Featuring the work of emerging and established artists: Chiyomi Longo, Shane Weare, Sally Weare, Hiliary Williams, Sieglinde Van Damme, Sebastian Moh, Colin Lambert, Martha Grover, Shannon Sullivan, Cathy Richardson, and Pamela Holmes...

Show runs Aug. 20-Sept. 30, 2011
Saturday, Aug. 20, 5:30pm-9:30pm

Opening reception features:
Solo cellist Sebastion Plano will provide background music. Poetry-music duet, Terry Ehret and Cailtin Moe will perform during an interlude, at 8pm.

Terry Ehret has published three collections of poetry. Literary awards include the National Poetry Series, California Book Award, and the Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize. From 2004-2006 she served as poet laureate of Sonoma County. Her newest collection, Night Sky Journey, will be released this fall by Kelly Cove Press. Caitlin Moe is a graduate of Mills College with degrees in vocal music and biology. She and her husband Tim Sullivan compose music and perform locally.

The works in “Conflux” present a range of styles, subject, media, and with half the artists being originally from outside the U.S., a range of voice stemming from diverse cultural experience. On view are cast bronze figures, ceramic tea bowls, sculptural porcelain dinnerware, collage paintings, etchings, screen prints, intricately detailed narrative drawings, alternative process photographs, video with stills bracketed with provocative text, and mixed media prints that defy categorization.

On view are motion bound bronze figures, elegant ceramic tea bowls, surreal biomorphic ceramic / mixed media and porcelain vessels, abstract collage-paintings, playfully composed screen-prints, intricately etched mindscapes, narrative mixed-media prints, video with “stills” employing provocative text, and multi-layered print abstractions.

The works in “Conflux” create trailheads into philosophical, psychological, cultural and literary inquiry. If we sense a common thread, it may be in the recognition of a collective mind that enacts a mostly hidden narrative beneath the surface of objects, places, time and events, emerging as abstracted artifacts of dream, memory, brokenness, continuance, innocence, playfulness—however the viewer imagines these works, they’ve been brought forth into the light for us to ponder.

Located in Valley Ford, a tiny northern California coastal town, Gallery V is a fine art gallery just off the main highway 45 minutes north of San Francisco. It features some of the best painters, printmakers, sculptors, ceramicists, new media artists, and crafts- persons on the West Coast, and beyond. It alternates group shows with shows dedicated to specific artists.

Primarily focused on contemporary, conceptual/new media and ceramic art, the gallery cultivates a thread of internationalism due to the potential the Internet and social media have brought to bear upon art markets.

Gallery V spearheads what is becoming an increasingly strong trend in the art market, both nationally and internationally, by featuring the work of artists, from emerging to mature, who have developed outside the mainstream and who have held onto their outsider status in order to develop their own unique personal vision. Gallery V recognizes the place these artists have in the scheme of things and advocates for them.

In addition to the actual gallery space, Gallery V makes use of the virtual marketplace, through its website, social media, and through developed third party virtual sites, with a view to sharing this work with the international art world online. Gallery V has a special interest in ceramic art, and intends to contribute to its evolving status as a fine art medium; and more broadly, to breaking down distinctions of art versus craft.

The gallery welcomes blended approaches—the crossing of traditional boundaries in style, media, and discipline. We encourage conceptual works, in which materials serve an idea and interdisciplinary projects, such as those blending art with science.

Valuing education and seeking to promote not only visual but literary, ceramic and movement arts in our community, we host workshops and events, teach classes, and support regional visual, literary, ceramic, and movement educational efforts.

To learn more about Gallery V, for artist bios or interview requests, contact Centa Theresa
707.876.3525 (gallery)

Gallery V
14875 Valley Ford Estero Road, Valley Ford
Gallery Hours: Thursday-Friday, 10am-6pm; Saturday-Sunday, noon-5pm; by appointment.


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Guerneville Thursday Concerts on the Plaza

ANNOUNCING: Guerneville 
Concerts on the Plaza

I would like to take this time and invite you to the kickoff of the very first "Friends of the Guerneville Plaza" kickoff series of the communities first Concert Series, yes on the Guerneville Plaza! The event is start this Thursday on August 11th and will run till October 8th. The program starts at 4:00 pm and run's till 7:00 pm. and starts off with Nils Molin's IMPULSE with special guest Gwen Avery.
The night will open with Jason Cool on Sitar.
· Thursday, August 18th will feature Angelina Gorgano.
· Thursday, August 25th will feature Mountain Dawg.
This event it FREE - please bring your own chairs. Alcohol and pets are not permitted!

For more information please call
 707-869-3865 or 707-869-9000. 

What a great way to bring the community together and enjoy the plaza surroundings and walk to the middle of the bridge and look west and east, and enjoy the beautiful Russian River views, and just think why we love this community! One new start of some Fresh Energy in the our beloved Community.

Please pass this on to your friends and neighbors. Support is needed, and yes any production like this costs $! We have been able to raise  $4, date, and our budget is $5,000.00, to work on covering our costs. If you can help with any amount we truly would appreciate it. This in our hopes is just the beginning to a 2012 Concert series that would run all summer long and could include a farmers market, and several types of art show and cultural events that would embrace our whole community.

So please come by and support the program and while in town let me invite you also to several of local business and restaurants, for some great food and beverages. We all need each to other, so we can make this OUR community a great place to live and to continue to support each other. A combination of success which will carry this from the entrance of Guerneville all the way to the Coast. Thank you all for any support and good thoughts you may give to us and our community.

I thank you all, 
Herman J. Hernandez, CRB,CRS,SRES
Frank Howard Allen Realtors/Russian River

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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Water Wars by the Bay

 By David Kenly
It takes little for Sonoma County residents to recognize the abundance of water shortage problems, whether along the Russian River, out toward Sonoma in the Valley of the Moon, or north and south in the notoriously water-strapped coastal communities.  With continuing viticultural and residential growth in an atmosphere of growing environmental awareness, the need for careful planning is vital.
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Friday, August 5, 2011

Redwood Empire Food Bank's FREE Lunch for Kids

By Miriam Wilding Hodgman, MPA
Two-year-old Aileen and her brother Rodrigo, age four, enjoyed quesadillas and fresh strawberries at Santa Rosa’s Bayer Farm last Friday, June 25th. That day, they were two of over sixty children eating a free lunch provided by the Redwood Empire Food Bank, as part of the REFB’s 8th annual summer lunch program.

The children and their families also enjoyed the Imaginists Theatre Collective’s final grant funded bi-lingual performance of, “Art is Medicine/Arte es Medicina,” which they presented at five lunch sites this summer. This year’s bicycle powered, “Arte es Medicina,” featured original songs and music, the poetry of Garcia Lorca, puppets, whimsy, a giant ring master, and a gaggle of mysterious suitcases that opened to reveal theaters in miniature.

In addition to Bayer Farm, 41 other Sonoma County sites hosted summer lunch programs. Itzul Gutierrez, the food bank’s Community Programs Coordinator, said the number of kids accessing the free lunch program in Sonoma County’s towns is dramatically up this year. “Last year in June, we served 32,973 breakfasts and lunches,” she said. “This June, we served 43,361 meals.” Gutierrez attributes the increase to the economic downturn, to the reality that more parents are out of work, and also to the fact that summer schools have been shortened or eliminated entirely. In addition to a meal, the kids also have an activity portion, such as gardening education, as well as presentations from other local nonprofits, such as LandPaths.

The summer lunch program officially ends August 9th. The REFB launches other child-hood nutrition programs in the fall 2011l, including its Snacks for Kids Program, which distributes nutritious snacks from August 2011 to June of 2012. Last year, roughly 325,000 individual snacks were served to children at 35 sites.

Other ongoing programs serving Sonoma County include the ongoing Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) serving families with children under 6 and seniors over 60, Farm Fresh Pantries, the Brown Bag Program for seniors over 60, and Farm to Family. Farm to Family distributions are at three elementary schools in Santa Rosa, which serves roughly 1,300 children and 500 families a week by providing fresh produce and food staples, as well as nutrition lessons on the featured “Harvest of the Month” fruit or vegetable. To learn more about any of these programs, including what it takes to qualify, or how you can help, call the Redwood Empire Food Bank, and ask for a Programs Coordinator, 523-7900.

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Raising GREEN Children

By Natalie de Renzy
With so many stories about our California schools under fire and under-funded, we thought we’d shine the light where there are rays of hope - this time literally - with solar.

Real Goods Solar is on a mission and it’s anything but business as usual. Over the past 33 years their objective has been to educate the public about the benefits of renewable energy and to empower people to reduce their ecological footprint while saving money. Today they are taking this one step further, helping schools educate students about renewable energy while raising some much needed funds through their Solar for Schools program.

Woodland Star is one of a number of schools, from elementary to high school, in Sonoma County that has joined Real Goods in generating awareness about solar, while raising funds for the school as a Community Solar Partner. “Any school can be a Community Solar Partner. We have created a unique partnership where parents, faculty or anyone who wants to support a particular school can go solar with Real Goods and we will donate $500 to the school,” notes Anthony Abaté, Real Goods Solar Power Consultant and Woodland Star parent. Of course the funds are great for the school, but there are other benefits as well. Real Goods will donate books, solar education tools, free online classes for teachers and students offered by the Solar Living Institute, and even host field trips to the Solar Living Center in Hopland, CA.

On Friday, May 20th, a group of students from Woodland Star Charter School in Sonoma made an eco-pilgrimage of sorts to the Solar Living Center and learned that “sustainability” isn’t just an environmental word - it’s an abundant way of life. A group of thirteen students, one teacher and three parents received a free tour of the grounds of the Solar Living Center. Some of the highlights of the tour included learning how yurts and straw bail houses are constructed, touring the picturesque gardens and ponds, playing on the solar-powered carousel and visiting the “memorial car grove,” where trees grow through cars in a powerful display of nature reclaiming its glory. After the tour, the students spent the remainder of the afternoon building solar-powered boats. Their teacher, Philip Stone, comments, “The kids thought the straw-bale house was really cool, but they truly enjoyed tinkering and figuring out how to make the solar-powered boats move in the water. That alone was worth the trip.” One of the Woodland Star parents adds, “I was impressed by how creative and resourceful the kids were with this project. They really had to think outside the box.” The young solar engineers used an array of solar powered propulsion - jet, water, wind - and a lot of imagination.

In a few short years, these young adults will be making decisions regarding their future careers, so it may feel like play, but toying with renewable energy is the best way to see the future in action. It may intrigue them enough to impact their career path or simply shape their views of renewable energy as future consumers and voters.

A paradigm shift is occurring in how we view the earth’s resources, and there’s no better catalyst than our youth. “I grew up thinking that pollution and waste were necessary evils that I was powerless against,” observes one Woodland Star parent. “As an adult it becomes more difficult to change established ways of thinking, even if they are faulty. The best thing we can do is enlighten children, the younger the better, about more environmentally responsible choices. We can’t just charge mom and dad with this responsibility; businesses and schools should also get involved.”

If you are interested in going solar in support of a local school, would like to set up a Community Solar Partnership to help your school fundraise, or are interested in solar learning tools, please contact Real Goods at 1.888.567.6527, or Anthony Abaté directly at (707) 331-9679. You may also visit the website at

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

SPIRITUALITY: Sonoma County Spiritual News

BBQ Dinner Welcomes Interim Rabbi to Beth Ami

Congregation Beth Ami in Santa Rosa will welcome Rabbi Joel Rembaum on August 12th at the annual “Barbecue and Barchu” dinner at 6 pm in the synagogue courtyard at 4676 Mayette Avenue. Rabbi Rembaum, Beth Ami’s new interim rabbi will lead the family Shabbat service at 7:30, followed by refreshments, dancing and live music by ZimZum. Tickets for the catered kosher barbecue chicken dinner are $14 for adult members, $18 for non-members, $7 for children 5-12 and free for children under 4. Call 707-360-3000 for reservations by August 9th.

Rabbi Rembaum, the emeritus rabbi of Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles, will serve as the interim rabbi at Beth Ami for the next year, while the congregation searches for a permanent rabbi. He will commute from Los Angeles two weekends a month, staying with members of the congregation from Thursday to Sunday. He will also lead services during the High Holy Days. When he is not at Beth Ami, visiting rabbis, including those who are candidates for the permanent position, will lead services, with occasional
lay leadership.

Rabbi Rembaum holds several degrees, including a Doctorate of Divinity from the Jewish Theological Seminary and a PhD in History from UCLA, and has received several graduate and research fellowships.

A noted Jewish scholar, he is the author of numerous articles in the field of Jewish history and has lectured widely throughout the United States. He served on the faculty of the American Jewish University for fifteen years, was a Visiting Assistant Professor at U.C.L.A. and U.C. Irvine, taught for the Wexner Heritage Foundation, and served on the faculty of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies.

As a member of the Rabbinical Assembly Committee on Jewish Law and Standards for twenty years, Rabbi Rembaum participated in a number of decisions that have made the Conservative movement of Judaism more inclusive and egalitarian. He authored the paper that served as the basis for including the Biblical Matriarchs (Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah) in the Amidah prayer, the central element of Jewish liturgy. This has been widely accepted in the Conservative community and included in the movement’s prayer books.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Russian River Estuary EIR - Biological Opinions

Below are two OPINIONS on the Environmental Impact Report (EIR)and Biological Opinion (BO) on closing the Russian River Estuary at Jenner to restore fish habitat. Both are intelligent and considered, scientific and comprehensive. Please read BOTH to form and EDUCATED perspective on this subject. Our water use and fish habitat are very much wrapped up in this action designed to restore the Russian River to a more habitat-friendly environment for fish...and hopefully humans as well.

Estuary Project Final EIR Released! 
By Brenda Adelman
The Estuary Project Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was released on July 28, 2011. This is the project that plans to close the mouth of the river every summer to supposedly provide Steelhead habitat for the threatened fish. While it is incredibly important to do everything we can to save the fish, those of us who have studied the proposal believe this project will cause more harm than good.

Fishery agencies should focus on keeping adequate flows in the tributaries in the winter spawning season; they should focus on improving temperature conditions in the entire watershed year round; they should find ways to eliminate toxics (especially copper discharged in the treated sewage) and preventing the accumulation of nutrients as evidenced by pervasive and excessive algae blooms. They should work on stopping illegal water diversions and support programs to foster cooler water temperatures with the restoration of riparian habitat. All of these are critical watershed problems that negatively impact the fish.

Furthermore, for the last three years, Sonoma County Water Agency has attempted and failed to make this project work. Ocean forces determine when the mouth will close for the first time, which is the trigger for outlet channels to be constructed, and usually there are few closures until mid or late September. The hope that the mouth will close early on in the summer season has not materialized.

Other problems with this project (As of the time of writing this article, we have not seen the final document because it was released so close to the paper’s deadline; we don’t know and can’t comment on how they have responded to our concerns.):

- The project impacts are separated into two EIRs and the studies for the changes to Decision 1610 (low flow) are very relevant to this project but are not being considered as part of this process;

- The project relies on lowering river flows for its implementation, but does not adequately address resulting water quality impacts past Duncans Mills, even though the water will back up as far as Vacation Beach;

- The closing will back up water in Monte Rio area to cover beaches, increase stagnant water and possibly create health and safety issues on lower river beaches;

- The project calls for closing the mouth most of the summer, but allows for breaching when a very few buildings are threatened with flood; the impact on recreation, water quality issues, and other concerns when this happens, has not been adequately addressed;

- There are no goalpost measures to determine whether the project has succeeded in saving fish;
There is no trial period after which the project can be abandoned if it does not work and/or causes harm;

- The project will heavily impact recreational use of the State Parks beach at the mouth of the Russian River, one of the most popular areas on the Sonoma County Coast,

- The project will affect migratory birds and seal haul out area and may cause the abandonment of the Jenner haul out area by harbor seals, who are easily disturbed.

These are some of the reasons why most Russian River stakeholders and Russian River Watershed Protection Committee oppose approval of this project at this time.

The Board of Directors of the Sonoma County Water Agency (Supervisors) will certify this Final EIR and select the project at their meeting on August 16, 2011, at 10 AM at the Board of Supervisors’ Chambers at 575 Administration Dr. in Santa Rosa. We hope many of you will attend.

While Supervisors are not required to respond to comments, if you oppose this project or have concerns, you should let decision makers know. You can email your protests (or support) to Supervisor Efren Carrillo at or his staff, Susan Upchurch at

You can view Final EIR at local libraries in Guerneville and Occidental or obtain at their website at Call agency at 547-1900 for a CD of the document available for $5.

Finally, please support Brenda Adelman and RRCSD in our effort to address the problems with this project. We need your help and also financial contributions. (If a legal challenge is to occur, it must take place within 30 days of project selection. ) We welcome sign ups to our mailing and email lists. Please send contact information to if you want to stay informed.


By Dr. Bill Hearn
National Marine Fisheries Service
In two weeks, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors will deliberate on Sonoma County Water Agency’s (SCWA) Environmental Impact Report that concerns managing the Russian River estuary as a closed lagoon. SCWA’s EIR is part of a response to a biological opinion issued in 2008 by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).

That opinion found that flood control and water supply management of the Russian River during the past several decades has contributed substantively to the decline of steelhead and coho salmon. In a lengthy June 2010 article in this paper, I explained why restoration of the Russian River estuary to a more dynamic natural system is so important for the rebound of steelhead in this watershed (see 

Space limitations prevent my repeating that science-based explanation beyond a brief summary (see estuary fact box). However, it is worth emphasizing that with the construction of three major dams and reservoirs (Lake Pillsbury (1921); Lake Mendocino (1959); and Lake Sonoma (1981)), in normal water years summer flows in the Russian River have been about seven times higher than natural.

To accommodate these high flows, SCWA has been managing water levels to avoid property flooding in Jenner by breaching the sand barrier beach that periodically forms due to ocean wave action.

Until only recently, this beach management practice had been done without concern for impacts to natural processes that create highly important steelhead and salmon habitats. With issuance of the biological opinion, SCWA is now working to manage the water levels (i.e., breach the barrier beach) in a manner that helps avoid washing away beach sands at the river mouth. This needs to be done regardless of flow levels during summer.

Changing Our System
The biological opinion dictates that two separate actions are needed to create a lagoon ecosystem that would approximate summer conditions before the construction of the major reservoirs affecting the river. Summer flow needs to be better managed and the barrier beach management practices need to be modified. Early monitoring by SCWA indicates that management of the estuary as a closed lagoon can be achieved if approached using this two-tiered method.

Some have expressed concerns regarding these efforts to substantially improve rearing habitat for steelhead and salmon and restore the Russian River’s estuarine ecosystem. Concerns generally fall into three areas: impacts to boating, water quality, and seal displacement at the river’s mouth. Some parties also feel that the river has been changed by numerous contemporary developments; so there is no sense in trying to restore natural ecosystem functions. Some also feel that NMFS is too focused on salmon and not concerned with other species.

The Federal Endangered Species Act specifically states, “The purposes of this Act are to provide a means whereby the ecosystems upon which endangered species and threatened species depend may be preserved …”

We cannot protect and restore endangered and threatened species, and numerous other species depleted by habitat degradation solely through artificial rearing and stocking practices.

Habitats must be restored if we are to reestablish healthy sport fisheries for steelhead and ensure the survival of endangered salmon species for the benefit of future generations.

NMFS also has responsibility to promote healthy populations of harbor seals, and thankfully the population is stable and healthy and is not threatened with extinction. The formation of a closed estuarine lagoon during most summers will create beach conditions similar to those that supported healthy harbor seal populations for hundreds of years.

Records of the Fort Ross Settlers (1830s) and a geologist’s report from 1913 document that the Russian River estuary formed a closed lagoon during summer months. Management of the estuary as a closed lagoon during most summer months will alter the beach’s contours, and thus seals will likely distribute themselves differently. Some may disperse away from the river’s mouth. However, continued patrolling by those who keep pedestrian traffic and dogs away from seals and new requirements for seal monitoring by SCWA will help ensure the viability of Sonoma County’s seal populations.

Impacts of Closing the Lagoon
Restoring the estuary to a closed lagoon in summer requires steadfast efforts to manage and conserve beach sands to promote a shallow outlet stream across the surface of the beach. This effort is not dependent on SCWA’s control of inflows; indeed, efforts to conserve beach sand during breaching practices must be done months before inflows are low enough for SCWA to control. Nevertheless, concerns about the restoration of natural estuarine lagoon processes often focus on the effects of lower flows on the river.

The inconvenient truth is that Sonoma County has enjoyed the benefits of a large transfer of water from the Eel River for nearly a century without regard for the impacts of this transfer of flow on the salmon and steelhead runs in the Russian River or the Eel River watershed. Nowhere else along the coast of California are rivers discharging highly elevated, artificial flows (over 100 cubic feet per second) of potable freshwater to the ocean during summer with resulting impacts to endangered and threatened species.

Efforts to manage the estuary as a closed lagoon will not destroy boating opportunities during the summer. The very elevated summer flows due to sustained dam releases have been great for kayaking, and no doubt, river boating experience increases with flow – up to a point. Yet summer boating in the Russian River can likely be preserved by identifying a flow that minimizes the need for boaters to drag their boats through shallow riffles.

Preliminary evaluations indicate that a flow in the range of 75 to 90 cfs at Hacienda Bridge creates such conditions, and that this is probably within the range of flows needed to support a closed lagoon in Jenner. Note that 75 to 90 cfs is still roughly three times higher than summer flows prior to construction of the major dams. Moreover, depths along many miles of the lower river are maintained almost entirely by the summer dams at Johnson and Vacation Beaches.

Concern that water quality will deteriorate if summer flows decline from about 190 cfs to 90 cfs is based on the reasonable assumption that pollutants are concentrated by lower flows. It also stems from the degraded water quality observed in 2009 when an extreme water shortage forced a 35 cfs minimum flow. Contaminants, nutrients, and pathogens are in the river. Urban waste treatment facilities do not discharge to the river between mid-May and October 1.

However, faulty septic systems as well as human and animal contact periodically cause high levels of pathogens under both normal (125 cfs minimum) and dry year (85 cfs minimum) summer flows. Flushing pollution to the ocean with highly elevated, artificial flows harms listed steelhead, is contrary to rational water management policy, and is no way to treat the ocean. Dilution is not the solution to pollution, especially in a climate where it doesn’t rain for five months of the year. Pollution from faulty septic systems and other sources must be stopped at their source.

Recovering wild steelhead and salmon will require the restoration and protection of extensive amounts of stream habitat that have been degraded by domestic and agricultural water diversions, simplification of stream channels, and sedimentation from roads and diverse activities adjacent to streams.

Given the profound value of estuarine lagoons as rearing habitat for salmonids in central California, it only makes sense to restore the natural ecosystem functions of the river’s estuary. Pumping seven times the natural summer flow through the lower river and washing huge amounts of beach sand away from the river’s mouth through old breaching practices are no more sensible or sustainable than the reckless use of fossil fuels and other activities causing “inconvenient truths.”

We can maintain water quality, sustain kayaking and the seal populations, and achieve recovery of steelhead and salmon in the Russian River.

Russian River Estuary Facts

- The climate along California’s central coast produces a predictable “drought” lasting five months or longer every year. Here, stream flows naturally drop to very low levels by early fall.

- Where rivers flow into the ocean, wave action typically forms barrier beaches across river mouths, so that rivers become naturally cut off from the ocean. When separated from the ocean by a barrier beach, the most downstream segment of the river forms a freshwater or somewhat salty (brackish) lagoon that can provide extremely important nursery habitat for juvenile steelhead. The water quality dynamics of these lagoons are complex and dependent on inflow, geology, and ocean processes.

- Researchers found that a disproportionately large number of returning adult steelhead are reared for extended periods in these “closed lagoons” compared to the survival and return of adults that were reared mainly in headwater tributaries. The ocean survival of lagoon-reared steelhead is higher because the juveniles grow quicker and larger in the biologically rich lagoon environment.

- Prior to three major dams and the Eel River diversion at Potter Valley, summer flows in the lower river were about 20 to 30 cfs; less in some years.

- Recent historic summer flows have generally been about 180 to 220 cfs in most years.

- Because inflows are so high, the water backs up behind the beach, threatens flooding, and thus requires SCWA to breach the beach. The result: a tidal, unstable environment that is more salty, shallower than a lagoon, and a relatively poor quality habitat for rearing salmonids.

- The river’s coho salmon population is now nearly locally extinct, but for small returns due largely from a well-managed hatchery stocking program; the entire geographical unit of coho salmon between the Mattole River and Santa Cruz is endangered with extinction.

- The river’s steelhead populations are part of a geographic unit that is threatened with extinction. The river’s wild steelhead run is a small remnant of what it was 50 years ago.

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