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Mendocino County Today: Friday, June 27, 2014

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THE STATE WATER BOARD, at its Tuesday, July 1st, meeting in Sacramento will consider emergency regulations “to ensure timely compliance with orders to stop diverting water to prevent harm to senior water rights holders.” According to the Water Board’s analysis, fewer than a third of those ordered to curtail their water rights have provided proof that they are complying.

AS OF JUNE 17th, 79% of the water right holders who “received a notice to curtail (last month) had not returned a curtailment certification to demonstrate compliance.”

WITH MORE THAN 7,910 curtailment notices issued so far this year, almost all of them in the Russian River Watershed, the board says it “must move quickly to enforce these water diversion restrictions or risk losing the ability to effectively manage the scarce water supply and prevent harm to senior water rights. Delays in enforcing curtailment orders also could mean that more curtailment orders than necessary would be needed to retain enough water in the system to protect senior water rights.”

UNDER THE BOARD’S PROPOSED regulations, the board would adopt “a more efficient, real-time process for enforcing ongoing curtailments. Rather than a curtailment notice, the regulations would allow the board to issue an enforceable curtailment order to limit or stop diversions and require reports to ensure compliance. Without the regulatory action, diverters could potentially delay compliance through procedural measures well into the dry season, or until no water remains.”

FURTHER, “when there is not enough water to meet all water rights holders' needs, state law requires that junior water rights holders stop diverting water so that there is water available to more senior water-rights holders: those with rights dating to before 1914 and those on riparian land directly abutting a waterway.”

DROUGHT compels the Water Board to anticipate “water requests for critical domestic supply and sanitation needs, and unintended health and safety consequences stemming from lack of water for fighting fires, electric grid reliability or air quality health impacts during pervasive drought conditions.”

THE MEETING is at 1001 I Street, Sacramento.

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Woman Rolling In Grass: Three callers reported at 2:36pm Tuesday that a naked woman was rolling in the grass. A Ukiah police officer responded and arrested a 44-year-old woman for being drunk in public.

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ONE OF SEIU'S major complaints about its labor negotiations with the County of Mendocino, is the County's alleged “lack of transparency”:

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News Release — June 26, 2014

Contacts: Lisa Garcia,, 916-893-4449

Mariam Noujaim,, 916-834-8916

After Four-Year Delay SEIU Member Sues:

Demands Targeted Audit of $62 million Union Budget.

Do SEIU travel and expenses of SEIU officers represent state workers or union bosses?


Sacramento-June 26, 2014. On Tuesday, an Egyptian immigrant and a 30-year member of the Service Employees International Union, SEIU, Mariam Noujaim, filed a lawsuit in Sacramento Superior Court demanding disclosure of the travel and other personal expenses of four top officers of SEIU. “I do not trust my officers are spending my dues money for my best interest. Why spend $62 million to negotiate our contract? I suspect they splurge member dues on perks. Just like the City officers in Bell and elsewhere,” said Noujaim.

It has been a long battle for transparency and openness, according to Noujaim, and a violation of confidentiality of SEIU officers according to its Chief Counsel, J. Felix DeLaTorre.

Noujaim, a refugee from oppression, is particularly sensitive to elite privilege and abuse of power. In one incident in 2010, seeking budget information when SEIU members were being furloughed and SEIU officers were not, “They literally kicked us out of the building. We got scared about our safety. I filed an incident report with the police,” says Noujaim.

In the Petition to the court on Tuesday she alleges that for four years officers of SEIU have ignored her letters, refused other requests for information on grounds of confidentiality, once confidentiality was agreed to by the requesters, officers responded with records conflicting with IRS 990 filings — namely failure to disclose personal travel and expenses of officers. 2012 travel expenses totaled $5,219,869 nearly 10% of a $56 million in revenues in the 990 filing for 2012. Travel was over ten times that spent on member benefits, e.g., representing individual members in grievance and other matters. Only $20 million was explained out of a $62 million budget.

In late February 2014, under Corporate Code 8333 Noujaim requested to inspect travel and expense accounts of just four SEIU officers. On March 14, four days before the expected inspection, SEIU attorney refused her right to copy and have an accountant assist her — in violation of Corporate Code 8311. Further the SEIU Chief Counsel explicitly objected to public disclosure of information inspected and opposed observations of SEIU ballots counting. In 2014 Noujaim did not request private, hence confidential, bank and social security information.

On May 5, 2014 Noujaim and her attorney, Mark Goudy, appeared at SEIU offices to inspect records but no one showed up and no records were available.

One of Noujaim's interests in very high travel expenses is whether California officers of SEIU have visited China. SEIU's national leaders, Andy Stern, Anna Burger and others have formed a formal alliance with the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, ACFTU, a state organ of the People's Republic of China, PRC, ruled by the Communist Party, CCP. The ACFTU, condemned by the AFL-CIO, is not a free trade union. It is the only union a worker can join. There is no collective bargaining and workers may not strike.

Are SEIU officers exercising the arbitrary power immigrant Noujaim fears?


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I always get a chuckle out of the Journal's latest news about the Palace Hotel; most recently there was a story about how the City Council had enumerated for Ms. Laines a to-do list, no doubt with deadlines, which she will undoubtedly miss, which will again require further City Council forbearance, new deadlines, etc.

Previously it was some kind of public receiver, who would run the remodeling program until it was completed and profitable (that is, at about the same time as swine spread their wings and take to the sky) at which time it would be returned to Ms. Laines ownership.

I hate to break the news to the City Council and anyone else who has their heart set on a totally refurbished Palace Hotel, but it seems like common sense is in short supply when it comes to this tar baby of a project; take a look at it! It’s a ruin! Its owner obviously had no idea what she was getting into when she bought the property or when she started to work on it. No doubt she was of the belief that when she got the ball rolling (doing things like removing the nicest part of it; the beautiful green ivy on the north wall), that eager investors would be clamoring to get in on the remodeling effort. Well, it's been years now, and I don't believe she has found a single investor.

Even if she were able to somehow acquire the 15 million dollars or so that it would likely take to restore the building, I doubt very much that it would meet today's building codes; they would probably require steel reinforcement that would almost certainly necessitate gutting the entire interior structure. As I opined at least a year ago in these pages, the most efficient, least expensive way to 'remodel' The Palace would be to raze it entirely, build a real foundation and steel superstructure, then use the recycled brick as a surface veneer; it could be made to look exactly the way it looks now, without the expense of trying to fix all the rotted interior wood structure.

But really, is there anyone fool enough to make such an investment in a town like Ukiah, with all the empty storefronts in the downtown area? I doubt it. Though rumor has it that early on in the project, someone made Ms. Laines an offer of over $1 million for the property, which she turned down. So perhaps there was an investor willing to take it on, just not with her in charge.

So, there it sits, decade after decade, a whole-block eyesore in the heart of our struggling little town. It constitutes, along with the rotting hulk of the old Fjords restaurant (with its mysterious Bermuda triangle of concrete wheel chocks), and the old Zack's restaurant across the street, a three-piece monument to civic impotence; how we permit these eyesores to be Ukiah's front yard, the first things one sees when one comes into our humble little burg.

Why do we allow these things to persist for so long? Because we have been taught to believe that private property rights, no matter how wacky the owner may be, necessarily trump all the rights of the rest of us who have to put up with such visual blight. There MUST be a better way to manage our public spaces, I doubt if many California towns would put up with such defacement of their commons.


John Arteaga, Ukiah

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MR. ARTEAGA won't be the only local interested to know that when the derelict structure was first put out to bid some quarter century ago, the bigwigs from the Savings Bank of Mendocino were also present, hoping to pick up the Palace for the song it was then going for. Savings Bank president Charlie Mannon and his chief executive, Marty Lombardi, had stepped out of the room and were chatting outside when the Palace was auctioned off. They re-entered the sale of several properties to learn that Ms. Laines of Marin, and a small group associated with her, had bought the property.

HAD THE SAVINGS BANK scooped up the Palace, the property where Mannon's vaults, with their pharonic-scale lobby, probably would now sit where the crumbling, ghostly Palace remains. Instead, Mannon's new (not so new now) bank is across the street to the west on School Street, and the Palace still stands as a monument to government futility as the inept City of Ukiah struggles to find a cost free way to deal with it. This is one instance where private enterprise would have taken care of the problem 25 years ago if only Mannon and Lombardi had been paying attention.

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Had he and I but met

By some old ancient inn,

We should have set us down to wet

Right many a nipperkin!

But ranged as infantry,

And staring face to face,

I shot at him as he at me,

And killed him in his place.

I shot him dead because--

Because he was my foe,

Just so: my foe of course he was;

That's clear enough; although

He thought he'd 'list, perhaps,

Off-hand like--just as I--

Was out of work--had sold his traps--

No other reason why.

Yes; quaint and curious war is!

You shoot a fellow down

You'd treat, if met where any bar is,

Or help to half a crown.

Thomas Hardy

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THE DIFFERENCE between a democracy and a dictatorship is that in a democracy you vote first and take orders later; in a dictatorship you don't have to waste your time voting.

Charles Bukowski

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Gonsman, Mankinen, McKnight, Mendoza, Mott
Gonsman, Mankinen, McKnight, Mendoza, Mott

CHRISTOPHER GONSMAN, Ukiah. Under the influence of a controlled substance; possession of tear gas; drug paraphenalia; revocation of probation.

RONALD MANKINEN, Westport. Under the influence of a controlled substance, possession of tear gas. (Two guys in a row with tear gas?)

TIMOTHY McCANN (Photo not available), Ukiah. Under the influence of a controlled subsance.

DAWN McKNIGHT, Ukiah. Possession of methamphetamine, revocation of probation.


LINDA MOTT, Fort Bragg. Under the influence controlled substance.

Murguia, Norton, Powell, Rocanella, Thompson
Murguia, Norton, Powell, Rocanella, Thompson


JAMES NORTON, Willits. Drunk in public.

JESSE POWELL, Covelo. Possession of a controlled substance; paraphenalia; brandishing an imitation firearm. (Good way to get yourself killed, Jesse.)

MICHAEL ROCANELLA, Ukiah. Possession of a controlled substance.

KRISTIAN THOMPSON, No fixed address. Arrested in Ukiah for drunk in public; illegal camping; failure to appear; revoke probation.

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Parks, Williams
Parks, Williams

ON JUNE 21, 2014 at about 2am deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office initiated a traffic stop in the 21000 block of Meadowbrook Drive in Willits, California for a minor traffic violation. The driver and passenger of the vehicle, Thomas Parks, 41, and Kim Williams, 41, both of Clearlake were contacted. During the contact Deputies noticed the subjects were displaying signs of drug influence. Further investigation revealed the subjects were under the influence of a controlled substance suspected to be methamphetamine. The subjects were arrested for the violation, a search of the vehicle revealed a usable quantity of methamphetamine. Parks and Williams were arrested and booked into the Mendocino County Jail possession of a controlled substance and being under the influence of same, and were to be held in lieu of $25,000.00 bail. (Sheriff’s Press Release)

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by Nafeez Ahmad

The man who trained more than 66 countries in open source methods calls for re-invention of intelligence to re-engineer Earth.

Robert David Steele, former Marine, CIA case officer, and US co-founder of the US Marine Corps intelligence activity, is a man on a mission. But it's a mission that frightens the US intelligence establishment to its core.

With 18 years experience working across the US intelligence community, followed by 20 more years in commercial intelligence and training, Steele's exemplary career has spanned almost all areas of both the clandestine worlds.

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“We are at the end of a 5,000-year-plus historical process during which human society grew in scale while it abandoned the early indigenous wisdom councils and communal decision-making,” he writes in The Open Source Everything Manifesto. “Power was centralized in the hands of increasingly specialized ‘elites’ and ‘experts’ who not only failed to achieve all they promised but used secrecy and the control of information to deceive the public into allowing them to retain power over community resources that they ultimately looted.”

Today's capitalism, he argues, is inherently predatory and destructive: “Over the course of the last centuries, the commons was fenced, and everything from agriculture to water was commoditized without regard to the true cost in non-renewable resources. Human beings, who had spent centuries evolving away from slavery, were re-commoditized by the Industrial Era.”

Open source everything, in this context, offers us the chance to build on what we've learned through industrialization, to learn from our mistakes, and catalyze the re-opening of the commons, in the process breaking the grip of defunct power structures and enabling the possibility of prosperity for all.

”Sharing, not secrecy, is the means by which we realize such a lofty destiny as well as create infinite wealth. The wealth of networks, the wealth of knowledge, revolutionary wealth — all can create a nonzero win-win Earth that works for 100% of humanity. This is the ‘utopia’ that Buckminster Fuller foresaw, now within our reach.”

(Courtesy, the London Guardian)

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Craig Louis Stehr's New Email Account, (June 26, 2014)

To contact Craig outside of his Hare Krishna email account, please email him at

Thank you, keep OMing on the outbreath, and perform all actions from there. You have nothing left to achieve! ;-)

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TWO LOCAL CALLERS this week were alarmed at the swathes of dead trees they could see on Mendocino Redwood Company land to the northwest. MRC uses an herbicide to kill non-commercial trees. Another local said the men, apparently all Mexicans who don’t speak English and can’t read pesticide labels, who do this hacking and squirting, are ferried to the work site in a white vans with a white pump/hose truck bearing the logo "Great Tree Tenders — Rehabilitation and Restoration."

A READER WRITES: "A fresh encounter yesterday evening has it 'Great Tree Tenders' in a green arch, with 'Reforestation' or 'Restoration' below. I attempted to talk with the three workers in the truck but they did not speak English. I did get that they are out of Ukiah. A Google search this morning returned two phone numbers for the outfit, 707-485-7569 and 707-489-2248. I haven't called either one. They have a business license with an address at 9551 N. State St. Redwood Valley. One of their workers, Dionicio Arcos Vazquez, is proud enough to work for them that he posted his employment on Facebook."

IT'S PROBABLY OVERKILL [sic] to reprint the entire 2012 hack and squirt saga with MRC, but here's a taste...

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Mighty AVA,

(6/27/2012) — From a ridge in Rancho Navarro, we enjoy a small view of the Coast Range. Looking northeast, we see a series of ridges, the nearest runs from Comptche toward Ukiah. The north branch of the north fork of the Navarro River, our local watershed, snakes through the area. Beyond that are distant slopes that feed the Big, Russian, and Eel Rivers. It's a beautiful, rugged forest terrain.

Recently, in this familiar vista, we witnessed something strange. A large swath of trees all turned brown, quickly and in unison. We called who we thought the owners might be, MRC (Mendocino Redwood Company), and asked if they knew what happened. They did. They were poisoning tanoak.

They call the procedure "hack and squirt," because they hack into the bark to squirt an herbicide (imazapyr) into the wound. The tree absorbs the toxin and dies. Imazapyr is a non-selective broad-spectrum systemic herbicide, which means it is not particular about what it kills. You can imagine the potential for collateral damage, to all living things, through the soil, water, air, food chain, etc. Europe wisely banned imazapyr back in 2003.

According to the Journal of Pesticide Reform, imazapyr is corrosive to the eyes and can cause irreversible damage to the cornea. But that's small potatoes compared to its more lethal effects:

"Adverse effects found in laboratory animals after chronic exposure to imazapyr include the following: fluid accumulation in the lungs of female mice, kidney cysts in male mice, abnormal blood formation in the spleen of female rats, an increase in the number of brain and thyroid cancers in male rats, and an increase in the number of tumors and cancers of the adrenal gland in female rats." Imazapyr has been found to persist in the soil for at least a year, doesn't politely stay put, but readily moves through soil, and there is documented proof that it has contaminated surface and ground water following both aerial and ground forestry applications (including hack-and-squirt). And imagine the healthful smoke produced when one of these dead zones burns.

The other major problem with imazapyr is its breakdown products. When the chemical is exposed to light, it transforms into quinolinic acid which is irritating to the eyes, the respiratory system, and the skin. It is also a known neurotoxin that can cause nerve lesions and symptoms similar to Huntington's disease, a neurodegenerative disorder that affects muscle coordination and leads to cognitive decline and psychiatric problems.

How much of this goes on around here? Mendocino Redwood Company owns nearly a quarter million acres: one tenth of all the private land in Mendocino County. According to their website, over the past 13 years (1999-2011) they have unleashed 50,352 pounds of this highly concentrated toxin into our environment. That's about two tons per year. To kill tanoak. Which could be used for many other things (firewood, lumber, energy). Because they say they can't afford the alternatives (wouldn't leaving them alone be cheaper?). Someone has determined that poisoning us is most cost-effective.

The billionaire Fisher family, of San Francisco, are primary owners of MRC. They made their fortune from The Gap clothing business, which also includes Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime, and Athleta. If you any have thoughts about MRC, and the Fishers, poisoning our environment for their profit, give them a buzz: or 707-463-5110.

Mike and Elaine Kalantarian

Beyond the Deep End (Navarro)

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Hack & Squirt

by Will Parrish

(AVA July 25, 2012) — From a ridgetop knoll on Bald Hill, in Anderson Val­ley's “Deep End,” the Rancho Navarro home of Elaine and Mike Kalantarian affords a generous view of the wooded hills to the northeast. They share the home, which they purchased in 1997, with their 12-year-old daughter. In the foreground, a hill spans out above a tributary of the Navarro River's north fork, John Smith Creek. The towering Sanhedrin Mountain rises out of the distant east background, its name given by Missouri-born pioneers who wrote with awe in their journals regarding their encounters with seemingly limitless stands of massive, old-growth redwoods in hills much like this one.

Most people who live today among these ancient for­est remnants share a watershed with a large corporation that profits from cutting, milling, and shipping the sec­ond and third growth trees. In the Kalantarians' neigh­borhood, that corporation is the largest of all the region's timber outfits, Mendocino Redwood Company (MRC). John Smith Creek meanders through several miles of MRC property, starting near the Comptche-Ukiah Road. It empties into the northernmost portion of the Navarro, just down the hill from the Kalantarians' home.

This past April, a mysterious new feature emerged in the Kalantarians' viewshed. The leaves on a very large swath of trees suddenly turned brown. The trees – hun­dreds of them – were standing dead. The dead zone stretched out in a band across most of the visible hillside. The bark soon turned an orange tint and the leaves, themselves having turned red, dropped. Within a few months, the trees' now-rotting stems were eerily visible.

Mike Kalantarian phoned MRC. The family had lived at the Rancho Navarro site for 15 years, yet had never seen trees die so quickly.

They received a call back from MRC forest manager Andy Armstrong. Armstrong explained that the company had applied a non-selective broad-spectrum systemic herbicide called Imazapyr via a method called “hack-and-squirt.” The practice involves cutting around the base of the tree, peeling back the bark, and spraying her­bicide into the freshly opened gashes.

The trees were all tan oaks, an ancient native of Pacific Northwest forests that most modern timber com­panies regard as a scourge; the junk tree cuts a figurative chunk out of their profits on land they could plant with more lucrative redwood or Doug fir. Though tan oaks play a valuable long-term ecological role, they compete for water and space in the near-term with these more desirable (read: marketable) trees. Hack-and-squirt is the cheapest method of eliminating them on the scale com­panies such as MRC (or Hawthorne Timber, or Sierra Pacific Industries, or Weyerhaeuser) operate on: an immensely large scale.

The Kalantarians were taken aback to learn of the her­bicide spraying near their backyard, and especially concerned about the potential impact on their daughter and other people's children, who have grown up swim­ming in the nearby reaches of the Navarro.

“Who gives them the right to poison our environ­ment, just because they own all this land?” Elaine Kalantarian says. “The water washed through and comes to our property and our groundwater. I don't think they have a right to poison it.”

The Kalantarians exchanged e-mails and phone con­versations with Armstrong several more times, furnish­ing links to studies that demonstrate Imazapyr's detri­mental health consequences and bringing up with him ways of managing the tan oaks that don't involve poison. It soon became clear the company did not plan to alter its practices in response to their concerns. Even worse, Armstrong noted that MRC plans to carry out additional hacks-and-squirts in the area in the near future. The Kalantarians decided to go public, crafting a letter that appeared last month in the Anderson Valley Advertiser.

Their letter noted, “How much of this goes on around here? Mendocino Redwood Company owns nearly a quarter million acres: … According to their website, over the past 13 years (1999-2011) they have unleashed 50,352 pounds of this highly concentrated toxin into our environment. That's about two tons per year. To kill tanoak. Which could be used for many other things (firewood, lumber, energy). Because they say they can't afford the alternatives (wouldn't leaving them alone be cheaper?). Someone has determined that poisoning us is most cost-effective.”

Imazapyr & Its Consequences

Cause-and-effect links between cancers and specific poisons are notoriously hard to prove, at least as far as the American juridical system and scientific establish­ment are concerned. A fraction of the individuals who likely suffered dire health consequences by virtue of living downwind from nuclear weapons testing facilities, for instance, have ever been able to collect claims in court. Questions that are inconvenient to those who hold the scientific purse-strings are largely left unexamined. Occasionally, inconvenient truths are actively suppressed by those with sufficient wealth and power.

Yet, general patterns are not difficult to establish. For example, it is clear that rates of some cancers in Mendo­cino County are alarmingly high. The California Cancer Registry, a division of the California Department of Health, tracks reports of cancer by county, further breaking them down by gender and ethnicity.

According to the Registry, from 2004-08, people liv­ing in Mendocino County reported a higher incidence rate for California's most common cancers by a statisti­cally significant amount. The breast cancer rate in women was 17.5 percent higher than the state average. The lung and bronchus cancers rate among women was 26.2 percent higher than the state average. The cancer rate overall among women is nearly 10 percent higher than the state average.

Meanwhile, the male cancer rate is five percent greater than the state average. Colo and rectum cancers and “Liver & Intrahepatic Bile Duct” cancers are highest relative to the rest of the California male population.

Imazapyr is by far the most heavily used chemical in Mendocino County's merchantable forestlands, which cover most of the county's western half. The chemical works by inhibiting the first enzyme used when plants synthesize branched chain amino acids. Within a few hours after an application, synthesis of DNA (genetic material) and cell division stops. Plant growth stops, first in the roots and then in the above-ground plant. An organism as large as a tan oak tree can take up to a month to die after being sprayed.

Timber industry reps maintain that Imazapyr is the least of all possible evils. Some go so far as to say it is entirely harmless. MRC also defends its practice by not­ing that it did make a go at using tan oak, rather than poi­soning it. Their intention was to sell it to Home Depot. They were unable to generate enough board feet to create a sufficient economy of scale, however, so as to make it profitable. A few years into the effort, MRC abandoned it.

One of the more thorough MRC defenses that exists in the public record are these remarks by company for­ester John Anderson, recorded during a public meeting in Westport last year:

“MRC has tried several methods including Girdling, Shade Mats, Vinegar, and others, but has not been able to control without use of herbicide. The most successful method, using the least amount of herbicide is the hack and squirt method. MRC stated that less herbicide is used with this method than with foliage or aerial spraying. Imazapyr is the herbicide that is used to control the tanoak. It was also explained that there are buffer zones next to all water. The buffer is determined by type of water. For example a river or stream might have a differ­ent buffer than a small pond. The area that the herbicide is used in has to have signs posted when treated, and there has to be training for the applicator. MRC stated that they try to use herbicide only once in the life of a stand (60-80 years).”

Tom Kisliuk, a professional forester based near Fort Bragg, who was called upon to provide technical information about Imazapyr at a public meeting last year, tells the AVA, “I'm not a fan of herbicides, but I am a fan of tan oak control, and [hack-and-squirt] is the only effec­tive method that is known to mankind. So, it's a conun­drum.”

Meanwhile, MRC is far from the only company in the area that uses Imazapyr. Hawthorne Timber Com­pany, Mendo's second biggest timber outfit, also widely uses it. Smaller timber operators like Jerry Philbrick of Comptche are loud proponents of it, in some cases.

The Redwood Forest Foundation owns the 66,000-acre Usal Forest on the northwestern coast of Mendocino County. Though the Foundation is not-for-profit, and though its stated purpose is to practice restoration for­estry, it also uses Imazapyr.

“One type of herbicide application that uses only a limited amount is called 'hack & squirt,' the RFFI web site explains. The bark is hacked and a small amount of toxic chemicals squirted into the tree, which kills it over time. When the tanoak canopy is gone, redwoods and douglas fir get sunlight and have the chance to grow.”

Opponents of Imazapyr counter that while less of it is being used than its forerunner chemicals that were used to control undesirable trees and vegetation in the same forests, its toxicity is more concentrated. Thus, the appearance that timber companies are using smaller amounts of herbicides is deceptive.

As I noted last week, a number of health concerns have emerged in studies of the herbicide. A Fall 1996 article in the Journal of Pesticide Reform, written by Carol Cox, notes that “Adverse effects found in laboratory animals after chronic exposure to imazapyr include the following: fluid accumulation in the lungs of female mice, kidney cysts in male mice, abnormal blood formation in the spleen of female rats, an increase in the number of brain and thyroid cancers in male rats, and an increase in the number of tumors and cancers of the adrenal gland in female rats.”

Additionally, the herbicide can cause plant damage at levels too low to be detected by standard testing. Those who irrigate food crops or use ground water supplies may thus be impacted by persistent presence of Imazapyr in the environment.

In a 1997 study published by the journal Weed Research, RW McDowell and others found that heavy rainfall causes significant transport of Imazapyr, which binds to sediment particles that prevent it from degrading as quickly. The chemical readily desorbs, meaning it readily disperses downstream when carried by said sediment. Notably, the European Union banned the chemical in 2003.

Els Cooperrider, a Berkeley-trained biologist and former owner of the Ukiah Brewing Company, has been active for many years in opposing the widespread use of toxic chemicals in Mendocino County, having been involved in battles with both Louisiana Pacific and MRC.

“Probably there have been many, many cancers from timber company spraying,” she says. “I've known of many people around here with brain cancers. There have been miscarriages that we're damn sure were related to spraying. I think the health consequences are huge. But nobody, or at least nobody with enough money to invest in such a project, cares enough to really look into it. They don't want anybody to know.”

Cooperrider compares the practice of removing so much tan oaks to continuously removing the scab from a wound. “I visualize a wound on the soil, just like a wound on a knee. The skin grows a scab to cover the wound. The forest does the same thing, covering its own scar with brush and fast growing trees like tan oak, cean­othus, madrone. That holds the soil in place and softens the torrential rains so moisture can be absorbed.”

She adds, “Then these idiotic timber companies come along and remove the scab. And, of course, they remove the scab by spraying and killing it all.”

Herbicide Poisoning in Mendo, Past & Present

The timber industry's dependency on a wide range of agricultural chemicals has long met with intense opposi­tion by Mendocino County residents, many of them people from middle class backgrounds who have chosen to live here because of a perception of the landbase as unspoiled.

In the 1970s, though, the timber industry commonly used Agent Orange -- the chemical the US military famously sprayed to destroy vegetation during the Viet­nam War -- to kill brush and hardwood in American for­ests. The herbicide is associated with a host of health problems, from severe rashes to birth defects. Its harmful effects continue to plague innumerable people through­out Vietnam many years after the war.

Mendo residents put forward an initiative to ban classes of dioxin-containing compounds, including Agent Orange. The measure passed among county vot­ers, then was challenged by the timber industry. The California Supreme Court upheld the initiative.

But the California State Legislature passed a law that gutted pesticide regulation in California and overruled Mendocino County's voters. At the time, a Democratic majority ran the State Legislature. Jerry Brown was the governor.

(Notably, Jerry Brown is again governor. His wife and campaign manager, Anne Gust Brown, was a top lawyer and executive for several years for The Gap, Inc., which is owned by the Fisher family, the owners of Mendocino Redwood Company. The Fishers were among Brown's biggest campaign donors. While that doesn't imply that Brown has intervened on behalf of MRC during his latest tenure in Sacramento, it does symbolize the cozy relationship among ruling elites that inevitably skews legislative proceedings in their favor.)

The timber industry eventually yielded to public pres­sure and stopped using Agent Orange. The Environ­mental Protection Agency banned 2,4,5-T, one of the dioxins comprising the herbicide. The timber industry became dependent instead on aerial spraying using an herbicide called Garlon, which is chemically very similar to 2,4,5-T. Louisiana Pacific Corporation sprayed it on a wide scale on many of the lands MRC purchased in the late-'90s.

Els Cooperrider and her husband, Allen, have lived at their home near the Orr Springs resort, near the conflu­ence of Turtle Creek with the South Fork Big River, for more than 40 years. The land is next to three former Louisiana Pacific tracts to which MRC now has title.

Cooperrider notes that MRC officials have portrayed themselves as different from their predecessors, includ­ing when the company first bought the land.

“With MRC, we thought we were supposed to get a green deal,” Cooperrider says. “They said they were gonna be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and practice restoration logging.”

Last year, though, MRC put forward a Timber Harvest Plan on its plot contiguous to Cooperrider's home, which centered on widespread Imazapyr use.

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(AVA, 9/5/2012) — From my view of the forested hills to the northeast, here in Rancho Navarro, now shrouded in thick brown smoke from the Covelo fire, there are now numerous patches of newly dead and dying trees that pockmark this formerly green and lush ridge. Hack-and-squirted to death with herbicides by a local corporation owned by the fantastically rich Fisher family of San Francisco, our forests here in Mendocino County are being poisoned all around us, soils tainted, water contaminated. But it is like this all over the planet, corporate plunder in various forms. From this larger scope, our story here is only a small one in this terrible march towards ecological destruction all over the globe. But for those of us who live here, unlike the Fisher family, who breathe the air, drink the water, and grow food in the soil, it is paramount and deadly.

Elaine Kalantarian, Navarro

* * *


(AVA, 12/26/2012) — (From a report on the Board of Supes meeting the prior week)

Kalantarian: “I would like to ask the foresters here if there is anything in the plan about herbicide use?”

McCowen officiously and unnecessarily inserted him­self between Kalantarian and Jani. “Please address it to us and then we can get a response.”

Kalantarian: “Okay. I was wondering if there is any­thing in the plan about herbicide use?”

McCowen: “Okay. Thank you. Do you have any other comments you’d like to make before we go back to them?”

Kalantarian: “Can I get an answer before I continue?”

McCowen: “Well, that’s generally not how we do it. So this is your opportunity to comment.”

Kalantarian: “All right. I’m just really disgusted by the amount of herbicide that this company as been pour­ing into our environment over 13 years of existence. I understand their reasoning for it, basically that hard­woods have taken over the forest from the heavy logging that occurred before them. I would just like to see them use other means to manage their tanoak and madrone primarily, which is what they’re going after. Something besides herbicide use. I think there are many other options. I understand from them that they feel like eco­nomically this is their best route. But I think there are some other considerations that are more important than economics sometimes and this would be a case. I applaud their efforts as far as habitat restoration, looking out for the species and so forth. But I think they could go a long way by stopping the herbicide use. I think it would help a lot of plants and animals by stopping that. There are other considerations. I am very concerned about the standing deadwood that is left after — the sense that I get that at the rate of something like 5,000 acres a year are standing deadwood; they are adding to that every year and it takes years for the standing dead­wood to die off so there is quite a fire danger out there. It seems like they are really increasing the fire danger by having all this standing deadwood out there in the forest. An interesting fact that I came across in researching this was the Lightning Complex fires that happened in 2008, almost half of the acreage that burned in Mendocino County was on MRC land. They own 10% of the acreage in Mendocino County so to me that seems like they were extremely unlucky or are all of this lightning striking was hitting these areas of dead trees and really taking off. Fires were starting and running through all these dead trees.”

McCowen: “We would appreciate a response to the comments we have just heard.”

MRC’s Forest Operations honcho John Ramaley: “Thank you for the comments. We appreciate your input. We have been involved in discussions with —”

McCowen: “And again please address yourself to the board.”

Ramaley: “Sorry. We have had discussions with com­munity members over our herbicide program now for 14 years. As far as the long-term plan that we pre­sented to you, the herbicide use is not called a covered activity. It’s not a covered activity under the Habitat Conservation Plan. That means that we are not allowed to incidentally take a species using herbicides. They are analyzed in the PTEIR [Program Timberland Environ­mental Impact Report] and the EIS [Environmental Impact Report], however they are not part of the HCP. He had a number of questions actually. As far as the For­est Stewardship Council, we can use herbicides, only select herbicides that the FSC allows us to use for resto­ration purposes only. Once a forest has gone through that treatment there is no allowance to continue to use these. It’s like you might use in an even-age management regime. When the fires in 2008 hit, I managed the tim­berlands in Navarro, none of the fires I think — the Flynn Fire was not in an area that was treated. The Low Gap and McCarthy fire was not. There was a small fire in Daugherty Creek where half of that had been treated. So if you look at where our property was, then you look at how Campbell timberland also fared during the Lighting Complex, we just got hammered and it hit our South Coast area and went through our Navarro and hit our Rockport stands and it largely left our Big River and Noyo tracts alone. A lot of that was just unlucky circum­stances. On the ground, I was involved with four or five fires in my area and only one was with an herbicide treatment. And there was really no difference from our perspective in how the fire reacted. We do know that there is standing dead timber. And there have been stud­ies. UC Berkeley has done studies using our hack and squirt treatment as a surrogate to determine what hap­pens with sudden oak death and how fire history may respond through areas that have large-scale sudden oak death. We take strides to notify our neighbors. I realize that from Mr. Kalantarian’s perspective — he was not near our property so we didn’t even know actually that anybody could see that particular property, so it was a shock to them that all of a sudden everything turned brown. That actually looks into the heart of our property along the Masonite Road. But if we are within 300 feet of a neighbor or if we are upstream of a neighbor we do notify them, 1000 feet upstream or within 300 feet of the property boundaries we do notify them that we are going to use herbicides. We have consistently modified how we apply herbicides near adjacent landowners. And we also consistently monitor our water for any herbicide residue. We have not had any detectable amounts since 2004 in any of the tests that we do.”

McCowen: “Could you repeat that please? You have not had —”

Ramaley: “We have not had any detectable amounts and we test to the parts per billion. We use a protocol that was developed by the State Water Resources Control Board. It was actually developed intentionally to try to maximize the amounts of detections we could get. That was to go to the first ephemeral stream after a rain that would create any sort of overland flow. We sent out probably five or six people to randomly selected areas just below treated units. We have not had any detectable amounts since 2004 and we test both our hack and squirt areas, our fuel treatments, and our foliar treatment areas. And the amounts that were detected previous to that were far within the safe drinking water standards. How­ever we didn’t want that, we wanted nothing. And we have achieved that in the last eight years.”

Hamburg said to Ramaley: “Thank you, John.”

Apparently, as far as Hamburg and the Board are con­cerned, “random testing” without independent review or documentation is just fine. Whatever MRC wants to do or say is all they need…

McCowen: “To the fire danger issue. It would seem like in general immediately when you look at a hillside and half the trees are now dead, just without having a scientific basis, intuitively it would seem that that would increase deadwood which would increase fire danger at least in the short run. Your response for that?”

Ramaley: “It probably does. And that’s why we take measures within — we take measures with our adjacent landowners and we have a very active crew. There was a fire in Comptche this year and we opened up all the roads for CalFire and we supplied them with all the water. The fire actually just got to our property and stopped. We have our contractors. Everybody is on-call. We are kind of lucky in that we don’t live in an area that typically gets lightning. The lightning storm in 2008, and we had won in 2003 — those are the only two big storms I can remember on our coast area since I’ve been here in 1993. But yes, but the more dead would you have — that is something that we are trying to work towards, trying to understand a little more because we do realize that we break up our harvest blocks and we have a lot of stream zones. However, it is still a work in progress.”

McCowen, not allowing Kalantarian any follow-up: “I think tanoak, however, decomposes fairly rapidly and it becomes something that helps build the soil?”


Ramaley: “Yes. A lot of our soil conditions from the— In the early 1900s they used to cut the trees down and they used to burn it to get the brush out and to get a lot of the bark loosened up and then they would log it. A lot of the organic material in our forest areas have been denuded. And that is where soil is created. So leaving standing dead material actually feeds the soil. Tanoak is a hardwood, it makes great flooring if you can treat it and set it on the ground. However it decomposes very fast, it turns into a sponge very quickly.”

McCowen: “Thank you very much for responding to those questions. So that will conclude our presentation on that. We thank chief forester Jani and forest opera­tions manager Ramaley.”

The first-name chumminess between the Supervisors and the timber company representatives doesn't bode well for a locked-in, 80-year management plan. And the Board’s pompous requirement that the public address questions and comments to the Board while the guy answering the questions is standing there has some major drawbacks. The key part of Kalantarian’s comment was “I think there are many other options” to herbicide use. At no time did MRC address options to herbicides. The Supervisors who chose to speak to the herbicide issue seemed more interested in helping MRC justify what they were doing than exploring non-poison methods of hardwood removal. Why can’t they bring in firewood crews with permits and let people cut down the hard­woods and take some of it away? This would provide jobs, firewood, help the local economy and still leave most of the unpoisoned downed hardwood on the forest floor to rebuild the soil without poisons and without having to worry about water quality or water quality testing.

The discussion (or lack thereof) also highlighted how little the area’s environmentalists seem to pay attention to the area’s forestry and practices these days — a huge change since the days of Earth First! and Timber Wars and shouting matches and disputatious weekly meetings of various opposing groups. No one talked about the adequacy of MRC’s riparian zones. No one questioned whether MRC’s “random” poison monitoring is ade­quate. No one complained about MRC not providing technical or inventory information to the public beyond this one unwieldy Plan which doesn’t address herbicide use. No one demanded that they do more to leave old-growth in place (one of Supervisor Hamburg’s pet sub­jects from the 90s). Nowadays, it seems, very few people seem to care what the local timber companies are doing. Somewhere Ron Guenther, Helen Libeu and Judi Bari are shouting, “An 80-year-management plan? And you supervisors aren't even asking questions?”

That said, Jani and Ramaley aren't Harry Merlo. They're reasonable people who will answer questions from the pesky public when asked, and MRC has worked restorative miracles on their property, restored roads that needed restoring and does seem to be better than L-P. But just because MRC isn't Louisiana-Pacific, that shouldn't mean they get a total pass on an 80-year timber management plan.


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