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COOL AND MAINLY DRY WEATHER will occur across the region through Friday. A warming trend will then take place this weekend, followed by the passage of a strong cold front Sunday night into Monday. (NWS)
COLIN WILSON of Yorkville, retired AV Fire Chief, writes: We've been seeing a lot of PG&E contractors out here in the Yorkville area for a couple of weeks or more. Starting last week, possibly the week before, we started seeing relatively large numbers of various types of vehicles staged in a few locations throughout the neighborhood. We didn't think much about it the first few times but over the course of several days it has become apparent that it was a general pattern that is being repeated day after day.
The accompanying photos show the type of thing we've been seeing.
The total number of vehicles I observed Tuesday at about 2 PM along Hwy 128 between mile markers 39.1 and 45.99 (over about 7 miles) was: over 16 pick-ups, 4 box trucks for carrying chips, good-sized 6 boom trucks, and 3 or 4 large chippers. This equipment was parked all day. I saw it on my way to town Tuesday morning and it was all still there when I checked around 2 PM Tuesday afternoon. There was additional equipment that was actually being used but these vehicles just sat.
Day after day we see similar numbers of vehicles parked idle all day long.
On one hand I'm very grateful that PG&E is investing so much in clearing vegetation within and adjacent to their Right of Way. I think it's exactly what they need to be doing and I'm all in favor of aggressively clearing the power lines.
The concern that I have is that it appears that the contractors are stacking the deck by putting a lot more equipment in the field than they can possibly utilize and — guessing here — undoubtedly billing for it.
A lot of this equipment appears to be brand new. I think it likely the contractors have gone all in by purchasing new vehicles to meet the bid package requirements and now are putting everything they possibly can on the job sites so that they can bill for it, even when they can't possibly utilize more than a portion of it.
I'm definitely reading between the lines but I think my assumptions are pretty reasonable given what I'm seeing.
I wouldn't particularly care what kind of shenanigans PG&E contractors were pulling but every dollar that's wasted is a dollar that's not available for legitimate work, and, additionally, I think it quite likely that this apparent over billing will in the end, show up on my PG&E bill.
Mark Scaramella adds: It’s also possible that PG&E will use these apparently inflated bills from their contractor as even more proof that they’re oh-so concerned about safety. But just like with Mendocino County, money spent is not a measure of much besides the amount of money spent.
By blind chance David Severn was extoling the virtues of Glynis Tambornini, the Audiologist for Mendocino Lake Audiology a while back. And what got my attention was that he could once again hear the night critters with his new hearing aids. And I realized that for years I had not. Also, for him all costs were covered. So I contacted them and they told me that while the examination was covered by my insurance, I would need to pay for the instrument out of pocket ($1,500). So I purchased it (with an ouch) because like your writer I live on my Social Security. I too have United Health Care. Truly, the hearing aid correctly calibrated, has made a world of difference in my life, including the nightly concert the small creatures offer outside of my window. So I was reading of your reader's disappointment in Off the Record recently and by chance was to have a follow up appointment with Glynis Tambornini today!
So I told her of your reader's hard feelings and I asked her permission to write this reply. Clearly she is a very competent and dedicated practitioner who, like me (retired psychologist) have had our struggles with third party payment. But she had told me of the same circumstance: (the exam was covered, not the instrument). My advice to your reader is not to take his own advice. Go back to her and arrange for a payment program. I just turned 88, so I don't do well with technical stuff. But she was very patient with me and was sorry to hear of your disappointment. Borrow the money. Truly I did not know what I was missing. Dear reader, you made the right choice in going to her. Find a way to follow through.
Wishing you well,
FORMER DEPUTY TRENT JAMES has posted another in his “Confessions of an ex-cop” series
TRENT JAMES is the first cop in my memory to talk publicly about his experience in local law enforcement. James worked for the Mendo Sheriff's Department and for the Willits PD. So far, he has produced and posted two YouTube confessionals for a total of a full hour of him solo talking about his experiences over six years with the two local police agencies. James is a young, fit-looting man with the tats befitting his dude-dom residency. His diction is duly heavy on dude-speak or, for us squares, street talk that might shock your great, great, great grandmother but no one younger. So far, James has not delivered on his repetitive promises to reveal corruption of the actionable type. He is clearly unhappy with the man he describes as his former friend, Lt. Derek Hendry of the Willits Police, formerly a deputy with the Sheriff's Department. James says Hendry was fired by the Sheriff's Department for claiming to have been at the firing range for a routine qualifying shoot when he was at home. James promises much more but so far his beefs have lacked specificity, as they say. From our distant perspective, James seems to have been a good cop — honest, conscientious, dedicated to a task more difficult and trying by the day, serving for four years in Covelo as its sole resident deputy, a tour of duty he managed to complete with kudos from his police peers. Apart from Hendry, Janes is very unhappy with persons in the command structure of the Sheriff’s Department who he has not yet named.
MORE THAN 70% of Americans say they would be less likely to back Biden's signature $3.5 spending plan if it meant they faced higher taxes, according to a poll published on Monday. It's probably news to that 70% that unless they rake in more than $400,000 annually their taxes will not be raised to pay for Biden's FDR-like infrastructure plan. Have to laugh when I hear wage workers of the Trumpian type saying, “But we can't afford it.” We. Like they'll be dining this evening with a Rockefeller.
FRONTIERS OF FREE ENTERPRISE, Ukiah, where on S. State Street a pot business called Kure advertises itself as “Home of the $5 pre-roll.” If the disease is reality the Kure may indeed be the pre-roll.
LIBS breathed a sigh of relief when President Biden was elected, not for policy but for a reunification of the country after four years of tumult and fiery division under President Trump. But eight months into the new presidency, America's deep disunity shows no signs of letting up. A new poll has revealed that political divisions run so deep in the US that over half of Trump voters want red states to secede from the union, and 41% of Biden voters want blue states to split off. According to the poll from the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, 52% of Trump voters at least somewhat agree with the statement: “The situation is such that I would favor [Blue/Red] states seceding from the union to form their own separate country.” Twenty-five percent of Trump voters strongly agree.
BERLINERS have just decisively voted to expropriate around 240,000 apartments currently owned by “mega-landlords” (private real estate companies & developers) and turn them into socialized public housing. In Berlin, more than 80% of the population are tenants and the rents have doubled in the last 10 to 15 years. Which will never happen here but it should.
DUMP HIM WHILE YOU CAN
On Monday, Sep 20, 2021 at about 11:25 AM Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to a domestic violence incident in the 300 block of Pomo Court in Willits.
Upon arrival a Deputy contacted an 18 year-old female standing in the roadway. The female had visible injuries on her body, and was not wearing shoes or pants.
The Deputy learned the female's boyfriend, Codiin Tuttle, 20, of Willits, had reportedly assaulted her and prevented her from calling 9-1-1, by taking her phone and damaging it. She fled their residence and used a postal carrier's phone to call 9-1-1.
During the investigation, Deputies learned Tuttle and the female lived together at the residence and have a child in common.
On Sep 20, 2021 an argument began between the couple, which escalated to a physical altercation. This caused visible injuries to the female and Tuttle. Deputies determined Tuttle had taken the female's cellular phone, had thrown it against a wall and later placed it in water in the bathroom sink.
Tuttle was arrested for Domestic Violence Battery and preventing someone from calling 9-1-1.
Tuttle was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $25,000 bail.
STOLEN VEHICLE WITH STOLEN STUFF IN IT, DOPE, AND DOPE ON PROBATION
On 09-26-2021 an Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputy noticed a red Ford Ranger with a camper shell traveling westbound on Highway 20 in Willits.
The Deputy had knowledge the truck was possibly stolen from Lake County earlier in the day.
The Deputy saw the vehicle make a U-turn on Highway 20 and begin traveling eastbound on Highway 20. The Deputy also turned around and went to conduct a traffic stop on the truck when it abruptly turned northbound on Pepperwood Way.
The truck came to a quick stop and the driver, later identified as Joshua Colcleaser, 35, of Nice, exited the driver's seat and ran westbound.
The Deputy, verbally identified himself and told Colcleaser to stop. Colcleaser did not stop and continued running westbound.
Other Sheriff's Deputies along with personnel from the Willits Police Department, and the California Highway Patrol responded to the area. After a search of the area on foot they were unable to locate Colcleaser in the brush.
The Ford Ranger was confirmed to have been stolen on Sep 26, 2021 from a location in Lake County. The registered owner (the 54 year old male victim) responded to Willits and took custody of his truck. Inside the the truck, the Deputy located numerous items which did not belong to the victim.
The items included a purse with credit and debit cards in the name of a 36 year-old female from Ukiah. The Deputy confirmed the purse and contents had been stolen in Ukiah on Sep 26, 2021. The incident had been reported to Ukiah Police Department.
The Deputy located two plastic bags containing suspected methamphetamine, on the front passenger seat, and two used glass pipes in the vehicle, commonly used to ingest controlled substances. Also inside the truck was a box of ammunition, a cellular phone, a drone, a brown wallet, and a hunting license in another person's name from the Bay Area.
MCSO and WPD began getting calls regarding Colcleaser's location on Highway 20.
WPD located Colcleaser and detained him. The Deputy responded and positively identified Colcleaser as the person who ran from the truck. Colcleaser was arrested on the listed charges to include two out of county felony arrest warrants for possession of a stolen vehicle.
While fleeing on foot Colcleaser had sustained injures and was transported to the Hospital for treatment.
Colcleaser was subsequently transported to the Mendocino County Jail where he was booked on charges of Possession of Stolen Vehicle, Possession of Stolen Property, Violation of Probation, Possession of a Controlled Substance,
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Resist/Delay Law Enforcement, and (2) Felony Out of County Arrest Warrants to be held on a No Bail status.
CATCH OF THE DAY, October 5, 2021
TIFFANY BAIRRINE-HART, Delray Beach, Florida/Ukiah. Grand theft auto, grand theft, conspiracy.
DANIEL BATTEN, Covelo. Probation revocation.
KYLE COHN, Willits. Failure to appear.
BRYAN GONZALEZ, Ukiah. DUI causing bodily injury.
DEBORAH HELLER, Willits. Protective order violation.
FARAND HOAGLIN, Ukiah. Parole violation.
BRIAN HURTADO, Willits. Parole violation.
WILLIE LAMBERT, Willits. Failure to appear.
STEPHEN LAWSON, Ukiah. Unlawful possession/use of tear gas weapon, parole violation.
ERIN LEIGHTY, Glenwood Springs, Colorado/Ukiah. DUI.
ANTHONY LOPES SR. Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
MATTHEW MATUSHENKO, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
NAOMI MENDEZ, Fort Bragg. Domestic abuse, controlled substance.
SALVADOR NAVARRO-BARAJAS, Concord/Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs, felony warrant.
ROBERT PHELPS, Fort Bragg. Controlled substance, failure to appear.
VINCENT RAMON, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.
HANK WHIPPLE, Covelo. Stolen vehicle.
THE SF WEEKLY IS NO MORE
In the SF Chronicle:
After more than 40 years, SF Weekly, San Francisco’s last-standing alt weekly, will cease publication “for the foreseeable future” at the end of the month, the paper’s editor in chief, Carly Schwartz, confirmed Friday. The weekly, which had a circulation of 65,000, was sold, along with the San Francisco Examiner, to Clint Reilly Communications last December. In an email, Schwartz said the decision was made to pause SF Weekly to “double down on our efforts with the Examiner.”
Sorry to see that. The city needs as many independent media voices as possible. The internet is what makes print journalism less viable, since it takes away a lot of advertising that print publications rely on.
From the story:
“The loss is incalculable,” said Joe Eskenazi, the managing editor of Mission Local who worked at SF Weekly for nine years starting in 2007. “A robust alt weekly tells you the most unvarnished version of what’s going on in the city....It doesn’t play by the niceties of daily journalism. “San Francisco has never needed a functional alt weekly more.”
That's an idealized version of how SF Weekly actually performed over the years.
It pandered to what it apparently thought was young readers with positive stories about graffiti/tagging vandalism. But so did the city's other now-defunct weekly, the Bay Guardian: Local intellectuals betray the city and SF Weekly enables vandalism---again. (Even the Chronicle isn't above that!)
That the two weeklies were often deficient the same way prompted this: Matt Smith and Tim Redmond: Peas in a pod way back in 2005.
And the failure by all three publications on Masonic Avenue can't go unmentioned
Nor should the failure on Islamic terrorism be forgotten: SF's "alternative" media: Profile in lameness.
— Rob Anderson, District 5 Diary
ON-CALL 2022 QUADRENNIAL ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICE ARCHAEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATIONS
Please see full Request for Proposal for more information.
The Mendocino County Department of Transportation seeks a consultant or consulting firm to call upon on an “as needed” basis for assistance with Environmental Services related to the Archaeological Investigations for a variety of public road projects located throughout Mendocino County.
Consultants must submit 3 copies of their proposal with original Consultant signature. The proposal must be formatted in accordance with the instructions of this RFP. Promotional materials may be attached, but are not necessary and will not be considered as meeting any of the requirements of this RFP. Proposals must be enclosed in a sealed envelope or package, clearly marked “2022 Quadrennial Environmental Service Archaeological Investigations”, and delivered by October 29, 2021, 2:00 p.m. local time to:
Attn: Howard Dashiell
Director of Transportation, Engineering
Mendocino County Department of Transportation
340 Lake Mendocino Drive
Ukiah, CA 95482-9432
PUPPETEER HAS TWO HANDS... you think there's only a puppet on the right hand? I said, wealthy asshats setting us against one another. There are two infrastructure bills. One that cycles middle class income into the pockets of the rich. And one that cycles wealthy class money into the lives of the middle class... Which one has got bipartisan support? Which one has Democrats, who chose to fund themselves to the eyeballs with corporate finance, fighting their own party? Which one has gotten the pejorative labels such as socialism run amok, communism in America... by the talking heads at FOX?
The first time in 20 years, a real shot at fixing some of the things that are truly broken in this country, things that every other first world nation is currently doing without so much as a hiccup... and the guys who creating false scarcity, by driving the nation's wealth into the hands of fewer than 10,000 people, build the case, there just isn't enough wealth to do this, in the wealthiest nation on the planet.
Anyone even capable of rudimentary math can see this just doesn't add up.
— Marie Tobias
LOCAL JURISDICTION ASSISTANCE GRANT PROGRAM MEETING
The County of Mendocino Cannabis Program is hosting a meeting related to the Local Jurisdiction Assistance Grant Program. We will be submitting an application for funding from this Grant through the Department of Cannabis Control.
The meeting will take place on Thursday, October 7, 2021 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. PST.
To participate in this meeting, please use the following link to register: www.mendocinocounty.org/cannabiswebinar
Mendo Cannabis Program Staff
HUFFMAN SHOULD NOT HOLD UP INFRASTRUCTURE BILL
A recent tweet by Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, shows that Marin’s congressman is holding the infrastructure bill hostage.
“I am prepared to vote NO on the Senate’s (bipartisan infrastructure bill) unless and until we know that the Build Back Better Act will also become law,” Huffman wrote. “This is not just about political leverage, it’s about policy and preserving a livable planet.”
Huffman must now be counted as one of the small minority of Democrats holding up passage of the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure bill.
The Build Back Better Act contains at least $2 trillion for matters other than combating climate change. Conversely, all of the more efficient roads, bridges and airports we’d likely build under the bipartisan infrastructure bill would actually help reduce carbon emissions. You need only to think of our regional traffic jams and airplanes idling on too few runways to figure that out.
Passage of the infrastructure bill needn’t be tied to anything else to make a real difference.
GOV. NEWSOM VETOES UNION VOTE-BY-MAIL BILL FOR FARMWORKERS
Assembly Bill 616 would have made it easier for California farmworkers to vote to unionize by allowing them to fill out and mail ballots as absentees.
ALBION MENTIONED in the NYTimes.com...
’Zombie’ Urchins Are Destroying Kelp Forests. Can’t We Just Eat Them?
STOP CALLING THE MILITARY BUDGET A ‘DEFENSE’ BUDGET
by Norman Solomon
To call the Pentagon's massive and escalating budget a "defense" budget is nothing less than internalized corruption of language that undermines our capacities to think clearly and talk straight.
It's bad enough that mainstream news outlets routinely call the Pentagon budget a "defense" budget. But the fact that progressives in Congress and even many antiwar activists also do the same is an indication of how deeply the mindsets of the nation's warfare state are embedded in the political culture of the United States.
The misleading first name of the Defense Department doesn't justify using "defense" as an adjective for its budget. On the contrary, the ubiquitous use of phrases like "defense budget" and "defense spending"—virtually always written with a lower-case "d"—reinforces the false notion that equates the USA's humongous military operations with defense.
In the real world, the United States spends more money on its military than the next 10 countries all together. And most of those countries are military allies.
What about military bases in foreign countries? The U.S. currently has 750, while Russia has about two dozen and China has one. The author of the landmark book "Base Nation," American University professor David Vine, just co-wrote a report that points out "the United States has at least three times as many overseas bases as all other countries combined." Those U.S. bases abroad "cost taxpayers an estimated $55 billion annually."
As this autumn began, Vine noted that President Biden is "perpetuating the United States' endless wars" in nations including "Iraq, Syria, Somalia and Yemen" while escalating "war-like tensions with China with a military buildup with Australia and the UK."
All this is being funded via a "defense" budget?
Calling George Orwell.
As Orwell wrote in a 1946 essay, political language "is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind." In 2021, the hot air blowing at gale force through U.S. mass media is so continuous that we're apt to scarcely give it a second thought. But the euphemisms would hardly mean anything to those in faraway countries for whom terrifying and lethal drone attacks and other components of U.S. air wars are about life and death rather than political language.
You might consider the Pentagon's Aug. 29 killing of 10 Afghan civilians including seven children with a drone attack to be a case of "respectable" murder, or negligent homicide, or mere "collateral damage." Likewise, you could look at numbers like 244,124—a credible low-end estimate of the number of civilians directly killed during the "war on terror" in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq—and consider them to be mere data points or representing individuals whose lives are as precious as yours.
But at any rate, from the vantage point of the United States, it's farfetched to claim that the billions of dollars expended for ongoing warfare in several countries are in a budget that can be legitimately called "defense."
Until 1947, the official name of the U.S. government's central military agency was the War Department. After a two-year interim brand (with the clunky name National Military Establishment), it was renamed the Department of Defense in 1949. As it happened, that was the same year when Orwell's dystopian novel "1984" appeared, telling of an always-at-war totalitarian regime with doublespeak slogans that included "War Is Peace."
Today, the Department of Defense remains an appropriately capitalized proper noun. But the department's official name doesn't make it true. To call its massive and escalating budget a "defense" budget is nothing less than internalized corruption of language that undermines our capacities to think clearly and talk straight. While such corroded language can't be blamed for the existence of sloppy thinking and degraded discourse, it regularly facilitates sloppy thinking and degraded discourse.
Let's blow away the linguistic fog. The Pentagon budget is not a "defense" budget.
(Norman Solomon is co-founder and national coordinator of RootsAction.org. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" (2006) and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State" (2007).)
ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE DAY:
 Should be “CAUTION” signs at the Covelo Hwy. 162 exit. “Enter at your own risk! May end up kidnapped, ripped off, tortured, raped, shot in a bar, or found dead; in an abandoned vehicle, on a dirt road, in a ditch, under a bridge…just keep going!”
 Oh, hey, great idea! Then followed by “Admission: Adults $15, Children under 12 free.” They’d come pouring in. It’s the economic boost Covelo’s been waiting for. A new tourist destination hits NorCal: “Crimeland”.
DON'T DISCOURAGE SOLAR
The climate crisis calls for all hands on deck. Unfortunately, that’s not happening in Sacramento. Some in government are working for us and the future. Others appear to be working for vested interests. This is serious and calls for Gov. Gavin Newsom to take a stand.
The California Energy Commission is working for us. It adopted the 2022 energy code, including a huge push on rooftop solar and battery storage. It is calculated that this code will provide an estimated $1.5 billion in consumer benefits over 30 years and reduce greenhouse gases equivalent to taking 2.2 million cars off the road for a year.
The California Public Utility Commission may be another story. Instead of incentivizing rooftop solar, microgrids and battery storage like the energy commission, it appears to be seriously considering the utilities’ proposal to hit solar users with huge monthly fees for installing solar panels.
If utilities win, the cost of installing solar panels will double. This is literally insane and terrifying that our government is seriously considering it.
Newsom can’t let one branch of government undermine his urgent climate change goals. He must take charge and ensure that millions of Californians can get rooftop solar and batteries.
THIS IS HISTORIC': FOR AT LEAST A WEEK, CALIFORNIA'S EEL RIVER STOPPED FLOWING
by Amy Graff
Fisheries biologist Pat Higgins said he was shocked when he discovered on Sept. 17 a section of the largest tributary in California's third-largest watershed was dry.
Higgins explained there was no water flowing above ground in the section of the South Fork Eel River where it meets the main stem in Dyerville below Highway 101 in Humboldt County. The riverbed was exposed and the water just stopped, ending in a still pool. The south fork and the main stem were no longer connected. He believes this is unprecedented based on his observations going back to 1995 and historic data from the U.S. Geological Survey's gauges measuring river flow.
"When I was standing there, I thought, 'This is historic,'" said Higgins, managing director of the Eel River Recovery Project. "I hope it's the worst I ever see."
Luckily, a week after his observation, Higgins was astounded and relieved when he saw the South Fork was flowing after a cold front delivered a couple inches of rain to the farthest reaches of Northern California. He believes the river was dry for more than a week based on USGS data.
California's rivers have struggled throughout modern-day history with increasing demands from urban and agriculture water users in the state's climate marked by periods of natural drought. But the South Fork running dry may be a symbol of a new extreme, signaling escalating environmental neglect, increased agricultural demands, changing weather patterns and droughts that are more extreme than they were in the past. It's an example of what unfolds when the balance of Mother Nature is disrupted. Scientists are trying to understand the threats to this unique river with a future that's clouded by climate change.
The 196-mile Eel River flows northward from Mendocino County to Humboldt County, winding over coastal mountains and through towering forests and narrow canyons, before emptying into the Pacific Ocean about 10 miles downstream from Fortuna, a town known as the gateway to California's redwoods. The South Fork is 105 miles long, stretching from Laytonville to Dyerville, before joining with the main stem. With no major dams, it stands as a remote and stunningly beautiful waterway more untouched than many of the state's other rivers. There are several other tributaries in the Eel watershed including the Middle Fork, North Fork and Van Duzen River. More than 350 miles of the watershed's waterways have both state and federal Wild and Scenic River designations.
"It's more than 3,300 miles of watershed," said Scott McBain, who has fished the Eel River and worked on the main stem and North Fork. "It's like one of the largest rivers in California and historically it had one of the largest salmon and steelhead runs. There used to be a million anadromous fish that went up it. It used to be one of the biggest salmon producers in the state, and it still could be. Its ability to recover is high."
After two consecutive dry winters, the tributaries and the main stem of the river are running at levels below historic averages and in some cases have reached all-time lows. The flow on the South Fork is significantly lower than some of the other tributaries, a non-peer-reviewed report from the Eel River Recovery Project revealed.
A river's flow is determined by measuring the number of cubic feet that passes by a fixed point per second (cfs). At one point on the South Fork, for example, the flow was recently measured at 6.98 cfs. The previous historic low was 8.86 cfs in 2002, the report said.
Researchers are trying to understand and quantify the factors contributing to the river's low flow — including climate change, water diversions and the health of the surrounding forests. Climate change undoubtedly impacts the South Fork and all rivers across the state. In California, warming temperatures are reducing the size of the snowpack that feeds rivers in spring and summer, and research also suggests the state's droughts are becoming more common while rain is more sporadic and intense.
"It's not entirely surprising the South Fork is so low because it's one of the driest years we've had in 100 years," said Eli Asarian, a hydrologist and aquatic hydrologist with Riverbend Sciences. "It was a very low rainfall year and the flows were very low. It's not surprising it's at or below historic lows. As far as what's causing it, it's a combination of many different factors."
Another of those factors is an increase in water diversions. "As the population has increased, as the cannabis cultivation has been increased, there has been more water used over time," said Asarian, who has researched the Eel River watershed. "There are not great numbers for that but it's self-evident there has been an increase."
Asarian explained the impact of diversions can vary depending on the time of year. "In March when it has been raining, the amount of water being diverted can be 1,000 times less than the river flow," he said. "Then you get to now, and the amount of water being used on the South Fork Eel could be quite a bit greater than the total river flow. The effects are most intense in the late summer to early fall and in drought years — and especially this year in what may be the worst drought ever."
Gabriel Rossi, a coastal rivers ecologist with CalTrout, said these diversions in dry summers such as 2020 and 2021 have the potential to compound the effect of climate change on habitat and make the drought that much worse for native species.
Rossi noted that juvenile salmon migration and rearing in the mainstem South Fork Eel was severely truncated this year. "That's depressing because we had a stronger than average Coho salmon run in the South Fork Eel this winter," he wrote in an email. "Juvenile Coho were abundant in the upper South Fork and several tributaries throughout the early summer. While some of these juvenile Coho were able to find cool water refugia upstream, the survival of this year's cohort would have really benefited from a wetter and cooler spring and summer."
Poor forest management may have also exacerbated 2021's paltry water flow on the South Fork, the recovery project's report said.
A significant portion of the South Fork watershed, the land that drains water into the river, was clear-cut in the 1950s and 1960s before it became part of Humboldt Redwoods State Park. The land was then "replaced with thousands of trees" and has become overgrown, Higgins explained.
The result? "The overstocked trees are sucking up the moisture that should be going into the river," Higgins said. "The moisture transpires back into the atmosphere ... it's like the trees are breathing."
The technical term used to describe this process is evapotranspiration, which generally means "the water lost to the atmosphere from the ground surface."
This hypothesis is compelling, but David Dralle, a research hydrologist with the U.S. Forest Service, said more research is needed. "I'm hesitant to say that flows are low in certain watersheds due to an overgrowth of trees," Dralle wrote in an email. "This is still a surprisingly unsettled area of hydrological research."
Dralle pointed to another tributary in the watershed, Elder Creek, that did "a bit better than other watersheds this summer" yet saw less rainfall than other tributaries and has a watershed with "very large, productive old-growth forest that was never logged and has not burned anytime recently."
Asarian countered that Elder Creek's higher flow may actually be in part due to the old-growth forest. He said some research has shown the structure and composition of a forest — the size of trees and the species — can impact the amount of water that runs across the landscape and makes it into the river. A healthy old-growth forest with larger trees spaced farther apart may require less rain than a young, overstocked forest.
"When a forest is harvested, you temporarily have no trees there," he said. "Any rain that falls goes straight into the river or into the ground. There's an after-the-harvest when generally there's an increase in flow. There are fewer trees there and less water being used. As the forest grows back, assuming there's been good regeneration, what you end up with is a lot of smaller trees closer together ... the effects of the vegetation on the flow, it will flip."
Higgins noted that compared to the South Fork, other tributaries of the watershed have seen more significant flow this year. The Middle Fork Eel River flow at Dos Rios, for example, recorded a flow of 7.4 cfs, "which is more than four times the all-time low of 1.64 set in 2014," the report showed.
Why would there be so much flow in 2021 when the rainfall years were similar or worse?
The recovery project said the Middle Fork may have a decent flow because the watershed around it recently burned in the 2020 August Fire that thinned the forest. A similar situation unfolded on the North Fork Eel River with the surrounding land burned by last year's fire, according to the project.
"The middle fork and the north fork had the million-acre August fire, and their flow is much better than 2013 and 2014 after similar flow years," Higgins hypothesized.
This may also need more research. "The flow values on the Middle Fork are high given the amount of precip that fell this year, but they are not so anomalously high (in my opinion) as to definitively point toward the August Fire," Dalle wrote in an email.
A number of factors are clearly at play, leading to the river going temporarily dry. It's also clear the river ecology is suffering and this began long before the river bed was exposed.
"The sight of a dry channel in the lower South Fork Eel River is certainly startling — but I think it speaks more to the ecological effects of drought that the river has already experienced this year than the immediate effect of drying in September," Rossi wrote in an email. "A coastal river doesn't dry up overnight — and a lot of ecological 'tipping points' actually occur in the weeks or even months before the channel dries completely. A dry channel in September means that the spring and summer flow conditions were already critically low. So, by the time this localized section of the river dried up, a lot of the damage was already done."
NEWSOM ADMINISTRATION ISSUED 138 OFFSHORE WELL PERMITS IN CA WATERS PRIOR TO ORANGE COUNTY OIL SPILL!
by Dan Bacher
Los Angeles — As birds, fish and other wildlife die from the over 126,000 gallons of crude oil unleashed by the devastating oil spill off Huntington Beach, the oil and gas regulatory agency under Governor Gavin Newsom has issued 138 oil permits for operations in state waters since he assumed office, Consumer Watchdog and FracTracker Alliance revealed on Monday, October 4.
And while “marine protected areas” created under the leadership of a Big Oil lobbyist are currently threatened by the massive oil spill, the two groups said the California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) is 278 days late in delivering Newsom a rule setting a barrier between oil operations and vulnerable communities.
Also on Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency in Orange County to support the emergency response to the oil spill off the coast of Huntington Beach that originated in federal waters.
“The state is moving to cut red tape and mobilize all available resources to protect public health and the environment,” said Governor Newsom in a press conference. “As California continues to lead the nation in phasing out fossil fuels and combating the climate crisis, this incident serves as a reminder of the enormous cost fossil fuels have on our communities and the environment.”
However, opponents of offshore drilling and supporters of environmental justice pointed out that Newsom’s plan to “mobilize all available resources to protect public health and the environment” doesn’t include stopping the approval of offshore oil well permits nor creating health and safety setbacks between homes and schools like other oil and gas drilling states mandate.
“This current spill makes it clear like never before that there is no such thing as safe proximity to oil drilling,” said consumer advocate Liza Tucker in a statement. “Governor Newsom must stop issuing both offshore and onshore permits immediately and set a barrier of 2,500 feet between vulnerable communities and oil operations if his own oil and gas supervisor won’t.”
Tucker said the state banned the dispensing of new oil drilling leases in state waters up to two miles from shore in 1969 after the devastating Santa Barbara oil spill.
“But new drilling and other work on wells in existing leases in state waters was never banned. Though advocates urged Jerry Brown to halt this practice, he never did. Neither has Newsom,” said Tucker.
“Governor Newsom has issued 138 permits for wells located offshore,” according to Kyle Ferrar, Western program coordinator for the FracTracker Alliance. “This includes five new drilling permits and 133 permits to perform work on existing offshore wells. The oil industry often does this work to address the risks of aging oil and gas wells and infrastructure rather than shut these operations down and clean them up—which is what we should be doing.”
Here is how the 138 permits break down:
• California oil regulators issued 125 permits to rework wells plus five permits to drill new wells to THUMS Long Beach Co., a subsidiary of California Resources Corporation, according to Ferrar.
• Another five permits were issued to the State Lands Commission, likely related to the decommissioning of Platform Holly in waters off Santa Barbara.
• Three other permits were issued to California Resources Production Corporation to work on wells located on Orange County offshore oil rigs. Two of the wells were located on platform Emmy, and the third on platform Esther. The platforms are located from a mile to a mile and a half from California shores.
At the same time, the groups noted that in 2020, Newsom gave his top oil regulator, Uduak-Joe Ntuk, a deadline of December 31, 2020 to create a setback between oil drilling operations and vulnerable communities. Ntuk had not responded to Newsom’s first request for a setback rule made at the end of 2019.
“When Ntuk did not meet the hard 2020 deadline, the Governor did nothing despite months of public comment overwhelmingly in favor of a setback to the California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) that Uduak heads and a panel CalGEM has at its disposal of chosen independent scientists and health experts,” the groups stated.
“Oil & Gas Supervisor Uduak-Joe Ntuk has blown it,” said Tucker. “He is now 278 days late and the fact that no rule has been proposed on a setback and Gov. Newsom has not used his executive authority to mandate one to protect public health is outrageous.”
She said frontline communities and environmental advocates are demanding a setback of 2,500 feet between frontline communities and oil drilling operations. Based on peer-reviewed studies, a setback of twice that distance—at least one mile—is warranted to decrease risk of cancer, cardiovascular, pulmonary, and neurological diseases, as well as preterm births, low birth weights, and birth defects.
“So far, Newsom has issued more than 9,000 oil drilling permits since he took office at the start of 2019. Roughly ten percent of permits issued are for wells too close to communities. More than two million Californians live within a half mile of a well, while seven million live within a mile,” Tucker concluded.
*Feb. 16 article revealed how Huntington Beach protected areas were threatened by oil drilling*
On February 16, I revealed here how a report by Kyle Ferrar of the Fractracker Alliance confirmed my extensive reporting on how the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative in Southern California, chaired by Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) President, did little or nothing to protect the marine environment from oil and gas drilling: https://www.dailykos.com/story/2021/2/16/2016483/-SoCal-marine-protected-areas-Sacramento-San-Joaquin-Delta-threatened-by-oil-and-gas-wells
Amazingly, the report I wrote with data provided by Ferrar targeted the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve off Huntington Beach and two “marine protected areas” as being particularly vulnerable to ecological damage by oil and gas drilling. Guess where the oil spill is located?
Yes, it’s located in the same area now impacted by the Huntington Beach oil spill!
The report also revealed the threat to the ecosystem presented by oil and gas production wells on state land on Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
“The fossil fuel industry has historically taken advantage of the nation’s mineral estate for private profit, while outsourcing the public health debts of degraded environmental quality to Frontline Communities,” said Ferrar. “While President Biden has recently ordered the Department of Interior to put a 60-day halt on permitting new oil and gas drilling permits on federal lands, no such policy exists for state lands in California.”
Ferrar said Governor Newsom’s administration has allowed the California Geological Energy Management Division to issue rework and new drilling permits on California state lands, bringing the total number of operational oil and gas wells on state lands up to a total of 178, almost half of which are “idle.” This number “pales in comparison to the number of California oil and gas wells on federal lands; a total of 6,997 operational wells,” noted Ferrar.
“FracTracker Alliance has mapped out the operational oil and gas wells located on state lands in California, using the California Protected Areas Database. The areas containing the highest concentrations of oil and gas wells on state lands include two sensitive ecosystem environments,” he stated.
“Figure 1 shows the 102 operational oil and gas wells located in Southern California’s Bolsa Chica Ecological Preserve. The wells are part of the Huntington Beach oil field. The preserve shares marine habitat with a marine protected area (MPA) and is habitat for numerous rare and several endangered species,” he pointed out. You can see Figure 1 here: www.fractracker.org/...
In the waters adjacent to Bolsa Chica State Beach, there are two MPAs, Bolsa Bay State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) and Bolsa Chica Basin State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) No-Take. Both “marine protected areas” went into effect in January 2012 under the controversial Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative.
In an apparent conflict of interest, Western States Petroleum Association President Catherine Reheis-Boyd chaired the MLPA Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create “marine protected areas” at the same time that she was lobbying for offshore drilling in the same region.
The “marine protected areas” created under the MLPA Initiative failed to protect the ocean ecosystem from offshore oil and gas drilling and fracking, water pollution, energy projects, military testing and other human impacts on the ocean other than fishing. The “marine protected areas” targeted anglers and commercial fishermen — and let the oil and gas industry and corporate polluters off the hook.
California currently has a coastal network of 124 “protected areas,” supposedly “designed to help increase the coherence and effectiveness of protecting the state’s marine life, habitats, and ecosystems,” according to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). That’s the same agency that is promoting Governor Newsom’s Delta Tunnel, a massive public works project that would hasten the extinction of imperiled Delta and longfin smelt, Central Valley steelhead, Sacramento spring-run and winter-run Chinook, green sturgeon and other fish species.
In addition to the 102 operational oil and gas wells in the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, Ferrar also revealed that there are 50 operational oil and gas wells permitted on California state lands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, now in the midst of its biggest ecological crisis ever.
*Oil industry reacts to Huntington Beach Oil Spill *
Meanwhile, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create “marine protected areas” in Southern California, responded to the Huntington Beach Oil Spill in a statement on Monday:
“Safety and operational excellence are core values for the Western States Petroleum Association and our member companies. Californians deserve the highest safety and stewardship standards from the companies entrusted to provide affordable and reliable energy.
“Platform Elly and the associated infrastructure in the Beta Field are not operated by a WSPA member. Questions should be directed to Amplify Energy.
“Any spill is a tragedy and we are grateful to the Coast Guard and the unified incident command for their rapid response to the spill and their work to minimize the impacts on the environment and marine life.”
HOW MANY OF YOU ARE THERE IN THE QUARTET?
by Paul Desmond
Dawn. A station wagon pulls up to the office of an obscure motel in New Jersey. Three men enter - pasty-faced, grim-eyed, silent (for those are their names). Perfect opening shot, before credits, for a really lousy bank-robbery movie? Wrong. The Dave Brubeck Quartet, some years ago, starting our day's work.
Today we have a contract (an offer we should have refused) for two concerts at the Orange County State Fair in Middletown. 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Brubeck likes to get to the job early.
So we pull up behind this hay truck around noon, finally locating the guy who had signed the contract. Stout, red-necked, gruff and harried (from the old New Jersey law firm of the same name), and clearly more comfortable judging cattle than booking jazz groups, he peers into the station wagon, which contains four musicians, bass, drums, and assorted baggage, and for the first and only time in our seventeen years of wandering around the world, we get this question: "Where's the piano?"
So, leaving Brubeck to cope with the situation, we head into town for sandwiches and browsing. Since the sandwiches take more time than the browsing, I pick up a copy of the Middletown Record and things become a bit more clear. "Teenager's Day at the Orange County State Fair", says the headline across the two center pages (heavy move, in that the paper only has four pages). Those poor folk, especially the cattle-judge type (who has probably lumbered into heading the entertainment committee), thought we were this red-hot teenage attraction, which, Lord knows we've never been. Our basic audience begins with creaking elderly types of twenty-three and above.
Nevertheless, here we are, splashed all over this ad, along with the other attractions of the day - judo exhibition, fire-fighting demonstration, Wild West show, and Animalorama (which may have been merely misspelled). And right at the top, first two columns on the left, is this picture of Brubeck's teeth and much of his face, along with the following text, which I'm paraphrasing only slightly. "Hear the music teenagers everywhere thrill to", it began. "Hear the music that rocked Newport Rhode Island (an unfortunate reference in that only a few weeks earlier the Newport Jazz Festival had undergone its first riot). "Hear Dave Brubeck sing and play his famous hits, including 'Jazz Goes to College', 'Jazz in Europe', and 'Tangerine'.
So, now realizing - in Brubeck's piquant ranch phrase - which way the hole slopes, we head back to the fairgrounds where the scene is roughly as follows: there is a smallish, almost transistorized, oval race track. (I'm not exactly sure how long a furlong is, but it seems not too many of them are actually present.) On one side of the oval is the grandstand, built to accommodate 2,000 or so, occupied at the moment by eight or nine elderly folk who clearly paid their money to sit in the shade and fan themselves, as opposed to any burning desire to hear the music their teenage grandchildren everywhere thrill to.
Directly across the track from them is our bandstand - a wooden platform, about ten feet high and immense. Evidently no piano has been located in Orange County, since the only props on stage are a vintage electric organ and one mike. Behind us is a fair-sized tent containing about two hundred people, in which a horse show for young teenagers is currently in progress - scheduled, we soon discover, to continue throughout our concert. This is hazardous mainly because their sound system is vastly superior to ours.
So we begin our desperation opener, "St. Louis Blues." Brubeck, who has never spent more than ten minutes of his life at an electric organ, much less the one he is now at, is producing sounds like an early Atwater-Kent Synthesizer. (Later he makes a few major breakthroughs, like locating the volume control pedal and figuring out how to wiggle his right hand, achieving a tremolo effect similar to Jimmy Smith with a terminal hangover, but doesn't help much.) Eugene Wright, our noble bass player, and me take turns schlepping the mike back and forth between us and playing grouchy, doomed choruses, but the only sound we can hear comes from our friendly neighborhood horse show.
"LOPE," it roars. "CANTER…TROT….AND THE WINNER IN THE TWELVE-YEAR OLD CLASS IS…JACQUELINE HIGGS!"
As always in difficult situations such as these, we turn to our main man, primo virtuoso of the group, the Maria Callas of the drums, Joe Morello, who has rescued us from disaster from Grand Forks to Rajkot, India.
"You got it," we said, "stretch out," which ordinarily is like issuing an air travel card to a hijacker. And, to his external credit, Morello outdoes himself. All cymbals sizzling, all feet working. (Morello has several. Not many people know this.) Now he's into triplets around the tom-toms, which has shifted foundations from the Odeon Hammersmith to Free Trade Hall and turned Buddy Rich greener than usual with envy.
The horse show is suddenly silent. Fanning in the stands has subsided slightly.
Suddenly a figure emerges from the horse tent, hurtles to the side of the stage, and yells at Brubeck, "For Chrissakes, could you tell the drummer not to play so loud? He's terrifying the horses."
Never a group to accept defeat gracelessly, we play a sort of Muzak for a suitable period and split.
When we return at eight, all is different. A piano has been found, the stands are packed with our geriatric following of twenty-five and above, and we play a fairly respectable concert.
Even so, we're upstaged by the grand finale of the fair - the fire-fighting demonstration. A group of local residents has been bandaged and made up to appear as if they've just leapt from the Hindenburg and their last rites are imminent. But instead of remaining discreetly behind the scenes until their big moment, they mingle casually with friends and neighbors in the audience during the evening, sipping beer, munching popcorn, casting an eerie, Fellini-like quality over the gathering, and considerably diminishing the impact of their ultimate appearance.
After their pageant come the main events of the fair, which have clearly been planned for months: a flaming auto wreck, followed by a flaming plane wreck, each to be dealt with instantly and efficiently by the Middletown Fire Dept. At one end of the oval is a precariously balanced car; a the other end, a truly impressive skeletal mock-up of a single-engine plane, tail up. Midway, at ground zero, is the Middletown Fire Truck, bristling with ladders and hoses and overflowing volunteers.
A hush falls over the stands. At a signal given by the fire chief, the car is ignited. The truck reaches it in two or three seconds, by which time the fire is roughly equivalent to that created by dropping a cigarette on the backseat for two or three seconds. It is extinguished by many men with several hoses.
A murmur falls over the stands. The fire chief, painfully aware that his moment of the year is at hand, signals for the plane to be ignited, also instructing the truck to take it easy, so that the fire should be blazing briskly when it arrives. The truck starts, at about the pace of a cab looking for a fare. The plane goes WHOOSH!, like a flashbulb, and by the time the leisurely truck arrives, has shrunk to a lovely camp-fire, just large enough for roasting marshmallows.
Later, four pasty-faced, grim-eyed men pile into a station wagon and drive away. It may not be bank robbery, but it's a living.