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Valley People (March 24, 2021)

DEATH ON 253. Sunday evening about 6:30, an 80-year-old man driving east towards Ukiah overturned his 2000 green Mazda Miata at mile marker 12.75 on the Ukiah side of the hill. The vehicle rolled once, coming to rest on its roof, killing its elderly driver, who has not yet publicly been identified pending notification of next of kin.

FROM THE AV HEALTH CENTER: The county is moving towards a more liberal distribution of the covid vaccine. If you live or work in Anderson Valley, AVHC needs to hear from you. If you have NOT gotten the vaccine and are over 16, please sign up on our JOTform, even if you are our patient. For those people you know, who do not have internet access, please have them call our office and we will sign them up. This will help us align our vaccine requests with the need in the valley. Thank you! We are striving to get our valley full access to a safe and effective Covid vaccine! 

Chris Isbell

CHRIS ISBELL suffered a terrible, seemingly fatal stroke three weeks ago, but Chris has survived and he's out of ICU and talking and eating a little despite his paralyzed right side. Chris is in for a long, painful rehab, but he's a fighter, and we expect him to eventually return to the woods and streams of his old home in Navarro.

RAINFALL TOTALS so far are not good: Here is what I recorded as of 3/19/21 for the rainfall total for the year July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021 or our “rain fall year” for the Mendocino coast as of March 19, 2021: 18.78 inches

Normal average for this time of year should be: 35.53.

Obviously we have a problem here. Unless we get an especially wet next few months (hope, hope, hope) which is unlikely, we are looking at a second consecutive year of severe drought here on the coast. What we will face going into the summer is another severe fire danger period and we need to prepare now. Begin to look at your property and what you can do to minimize the danger of fire. Get your go-packs in order. And pray for rain. (Richard Harris)

LYNNE SAWYER NOTES: “Did you notice Nomadland had some local color? When Fern, Frances McDormand’s character, was in the redwoods she was in Hendy Woods. Also, while driving on the coast, she is going through Elk on her way to Manchester. The coastal home she has Thanksgiving at is located in Manchester. Most importantly, to us. our grandson, Damien, is the baby in the home where Fern has Thanksgiving. Our son Aaron and daughter-in-law Mimi DuVigneaud Sawyer are in it, as well. Aaron is sitting next to Fern during the dinner scene and Mimi is next to him. She is also in a few other scenes (in the kitchen getting milk out of the refrigerator) as well as a few background spots.

Frances loves children and held Damien whenever she wasn’t on camera. She is also a lovely person and a big fan of Anderson Valley.”

JEFF BURROUGHS: “Where I grew up in Northern California  [the Anderson Valley]we caught four kinds of Trout and these were all Rainbow Trout. Now before you say anything let me tell you what I am talking about. Beginning with (1.) “Native Trout”, they live their entire lives in the smallest of spring fed pools, they are dark purple backs with light purple on the sides mixed with some red, they are small only 6” - 8”. (2.) “Resident Trout” These live their lives in the headwaters creeks and can grow as big as 16” but most are about 10”. These fish have an interesting story, it has been found that every once in a while one of these fish, after living in the creek for a number of years will all of a sudden head down stream and go out to the ocean for a 1-2 years and then return to the creek where it will live out the rest of its life never getting much bigger then 16” long. (3,) The “Blue Back” These football shaped sea run rainbows go through the same lifestyle as regular Steelhead with one exception, they only spend 1 year in the ocean before returning to spawn and during that year in the ocean they gorge themselves on food and they usually arrive from March to April. They are smaller in length only 20 - 24” but are thick and fast. (4.) Finally the Steelhead which we all know their story. All of this info comes from 5 generations of Trout fishing and a biologist who worked for the Calif. Dept. of Fish and Game back in the 1970's and '80's who did a report on this very subject. 

(Photo of my dad, John Burroughs, on the Navarro River. Taken by George Burroughs)

WELCOME TO BOONVILLE! Three weeks and counting at the junction of 128 and 253, a symbol, you might say, of covid Mendocino County, if not the functioning of local government. 

If government can’t promptly remove an abandoned vehicle… We understand the old boy who pulled this junker over the hill from Ukiah was chased out of the high school parking lot when he tried to off load his derelict motor home there.


“School is reopening in a hybrid schedule, with groups of students being scheduled to return to campus based on either grade level or designated need. Distance learning is continuing, and no student is required to return to in-person classes. The in-person classes occur in staggered groups, two days per week in stable groups, as defined by CDPH and local health orders. 

The first phase started this week, with preschool through Grade 1 coming back in the mornings, two days per week. 

The second phase will start April 5th, with Grade 2 through 8 coming back two days a week. Elementary grades will attend school in the mornings, and Middle School in the afternoons. 

We will also begin bringing back high school students in designated cohorts based on either grade level or special need. Some of these groups will start April 5th, and there will be more to come. These plans are currently in the works, with some high school students returning on April 5th and more students returning hopefully mid-April. I will update you when I have more information.” 

THAT BIZARRE car crash on 101 at the Boonville turnoff last Wednesday [17th March] about 5:30am took the life of Orion Torney, 44, of Upper Lake, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office. Torney was southbound when he lost control of his silver Kia Forte and hit a guardrail, flipping his vehicle, which landed on its wheels but ended up facing northbound traffic with Torney and two male passengers in Torney's vehicle. A Kia Optima then sideswiped the Forte before pulling over to the shoulder. Moments later, authorities believe a Chrysler 200 slammed head-on into the Forte as the three men were getting out of the car. The force of the impact ejected Torney to the pavement, killing him. Both Torney's passengers were taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. One was treated for moderate injuries and the other for major injuries that authorities said were not life-threatening. Neither of the two other drivers in the accident was seriously injured.

JULY '97: Last Thursday, my brother and I hiked down Indian Creek from Helen Libeu’s at Peachland to the old Clearwater Ranch, a boulder-strewn distance of four miles or so, most of the trek being a clamber over huge boulders and old redwoods long ago slipped into the stream by the natural slides of portions of what is essentially a four-mile canyon. It’s too steep in most places to walk anywhere but straight down the streambed. There are lots of tiny fish in the creek, many of them new steelhead, but we didn’t see a single fish bigger than six inches in any of the many deep holes along the way seemingly designed for fish. The water seemed very warm the length of the stream we walked, a fact attributed to the desert-like condition of Indian Creek above Libeu’s where stream banks have been stripped of shade trees all the way to Indian Creek’s headwaters. For years I’d heard there was a nearly impassable knot of stone and winter-strewn trees just below the Libeu place, but there is little in the way of stream impediments there now. We were also relieved to note that recent logging in the area of Parkinson Gulch had been carefully done so as to protect the integrity of the stream bed— large shade trees, mostly redwood, had been left alone. Because the surrounding terrain is so rugged, there is little sign that this part of Indian Creek is ever visited apart from an occasional logger. There were no signs of pot growers or anybody else. At one particularly treacherous confluence of stone, rushing water and deep pool, I lost my balance and fell in, spraining my wrist, destroying my camera (I’d promised Helen some pictures) and somehow snapping the straps on my pack. But other than that one minor mishap, the hike was uneventful. The only environmentally threatening sight we saw was at the bend in the stream just before we reached Clearwater; there, on its north bank, someone has cut an obviously non-sanctioned thirty or forty yards of road just above the stream. The road deadends where the same someone is milling a few logs. The road is new and much of it will wind up in Indian Creek with the first heavy rains.

IT WOULDN’T take a lot of money and all that much labor to plant trees along the banks of the upper Indian Creek, the only trouble spot on its entire length. One doesn’t need a hundred experts and lots of money to do restoration work.

A FORT BRAGG friend says she is experimenting with hop plants as gopher deterrents but the results of her experiments aren’t yet apparent. She says the gophers are so far mostly staying out of her garden this year, but she isn’t quite sure that it is the hops that have kept them out.

EMIL ROSSI told me once that the only certain way to stop gophers is to shotgun them early in the morning at the first sign of their movement. Since I live in a neighborhood, I’m afraid this particular method of rodent repellent would likely be misunderstood and certainly unappreciated. I’ll try hops.

A READER WRITES: Mark Scaramella is right on the money with his pithy analysis of the “Water Resiliency Task Force” flim-flammery. Aside from not mentioning grapes, also nothing about Cannabis One Percenters, rangeland expansion, the proposed 10% rule, etc., with Williams and McGourty's as lead tub-thumpers. The Cannabis streaming town hall was a complete sham orchestrated by the Cannabis Business Association of Mendocino County with their annoying mouthpiece Sarah Bodner producing a panel crammed with some of the most obnoxious pricks, including McCowen and Williams, in the County. 

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