Mendocino County Today: Friday, March 13, 2015

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THE GOOD NEWS: Dave Severn counted 18 steelhead in the Navarro River this morning. Where there are 18 there's got to be more, hopefully a lot more.

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DAN GJERDE has long been one of our favorite local pols. He's unfailingly conscientious and he's always candid. Ask him a question you get an informed, thoughtful answer. Gjerde was elected to the Fort Bragg City Council at a time when Fort Bragg, paraphrasing Hunter Thompson on Nixon, “was so crooked city government had to get help to screw their pants on every morning.”

AFTER MORE THAN A DECADE of productive years on the Fort Bragg City Council where, in our opinion, Gjerde was instrumental in returning the town to civic respectability, Gjerde, succeeding a pair of rollicking incompetents, became 4th District supervisor. We asked Gjerde for his thoughts on the current three controversies roiling Fort Bragg.

THE PROPOSED NEW TRANSFER STATION. Gjerde said he thought the proposal “will stabilize rates into the future, but we won’t really know that or much of anything about it until there's a complete EIR.” The supervisor said he thought rate stabilization “remains to be seen,” adding the supervisors have to keep “open minds” on the matter, and that the supes would be in Fort Bragg on Thursday the 19th “to hear public comment.” Interested persons who can't comment at the public session can comment in writing, he said. The huge 870-page EIR is posted on the Mendocino Solid Waste Management Authority's website and is available at the Fort Bragg Library and at Fort Bragg City Hall. It is also posted on the Fort Bragg city website.

(http://city.fortbragg.com/DocumentCenter/View/4426)

The (inevitable) consultants who wrote the thing must respond to each comment. The vote on the EIR will occur mid-June. The supes will reappear in Fort Bragg for that vote. Gjerde emphasized that “neither the county nor the City of Fort Bragg are building anything. Someone out there who thinks they can make a profit” will be building it.

AS SUPERVISOR, Gjerde is not directly involved with the proposed Old Coast Hotel conversion to a nebulous half-way house for mental health patients. “It's probably not the first location people would have thought of but…” This part of our conversation descended into some back and forth on the wisdom of a largely tourism-dependent town turning over a large building in the center of town to a vaguely rehabilitative program. Gjerde pointed out what we all know, that Fort Bragg and Ukiah “are more affected {by the homeless} because of the existing programs there.” He wants to “get affected people together to look at what works and what doesn't work.” He said that the “non-profit grant for the amount Fort Bragg got made the Old Coast Hotel building possible,” suggesting that the Old Coast Hotel was a bargain at that price [about a mil], with a strong and seemingly unintentional implication that the City got the money then went looking for a building roughly for that price instead of focusing on, say, a much more inexpensive structure outside the downtown area but suitable for a homeless program.

THE SUPERVISOR said that Fort Bragg “couldn't build a building that size and quality for the amount of the grant.” Regarding the possibility of a reconsideration of the Old Coast Hotel site, Gjerde said, “Anything's possible.”

TODD'S POINT. Gjerde has talked with the neighbors who'd be affected by large-scale development and, typically, is all the way up to speed on the vague proposal for development of a relatively brief strip of privately owned land on the west side of Highway One at the intersection of Highway 20 — The Hare Creek Shopping Center on just over three acres of land. Long answer short, Gjerde said that half the property is zoned commercial, half residential. “It's limited as to what can or can't be done there; it can't be rezoned open space without a huge and probably losing court battle with the owners (native Fort Bragg people named Patton who are now residents of the Bay Area), and even if it were purchased as open space, who's going to buy it?” Gjerde went on to say that “the city did not ask Caltrans to waive standards for a 4-way intersection so a mammoth gas station could be installed there as was proposed by the owners.”

HE SAID he understands that the Honers, owners of Harvest Market presently the anchor store at the Patton-owned Boatyard Shopping Center, “are looking at building their own store near Safeway leaving a spot for a new anchor tenant at the present location,” begging the question as to what big store would move into the Harvest space and what big store would be interested in space just down the street at a Patton development on Todd's Point. Gjerde, like lots of people, wondered at the long-term viability of big box stores given the growth of on-line shopping. The supervisor concluded by saying that the entire Todd's Point discussion is opaque because the owners haven't said exactly what they have in mind for their parcel. “The last water study dates back to the early 80's,” Gjerde said, “and there is some question if the water required for large development can be delivered there.”

THE OLD COAST HOTEL debate, from Boonville, looks like this: First, that site is not fair to the town. Second, the entire problem presented by the shoals of unhoused persons moving around the county and the country has to be honestly addressed. The problem is growing while the cynical and the mercenary swoop in to grab the millions of public dollars attached to ineffective programs whose only real beneficiaries are the people running them. The present plan of the Ortner-Hospitality complex to extend their reach to the center of Fort Bragg, where a half-dozen people may or may not be made functional again, should not be supported by Fort Bragg government. Even if the proposed half-way house scheme were effective, it still fails to address the increasing number of disturbed, drunk, drugged, and crazy people outside the front door. We think the entire county effort should be located in one spot where the homeless would be compelled to live while their probs are individually addressed. It would be cheaper and likely more helpful to the walking wounded than anything Ortner et al are presently doing. In fact, it's been done; years ago this population was housed at a county farm and in a state hospital system. (There's a large, vacant convalescent home on South State Street, Ukiah, that would be perfect for a catch-all mental health facility.)

AS IT STANDS, Mendocino County is spending annual millions that don't even begin to address a growing and, perhaps, intractable population of really, really screwed up people. For much less money, Mendocino County's mental health/homeless population could be humanely and maybe even effectively addressed. After all, we're only talking about — max — a couple of hundred people. For now.

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PUSH BACK: GEOFF ELLSWORTH WRITES:

We are all dealing with the spread of mega vineyards and "event center" wineries and working to link up citizens groups around the region to stand together.

We have formed a coalition of citizens groups in Napa called "Vision 2050", about 15 groups now involved and are reaching out to other counties, the hope is that no area feels they have to fight this alone.

Here's a little info from down here, and an attached pic, we are organizing "sign holding saturdays" to demonstrate we have the will for push-back, building a sign holding presence at county meetings and finding more and more impacted citizens willing to stand up and speak up. Hundreds were at the Supervisor/Plannning Commission this Tues.

Also I think Bill Sorenson's film can be a great educational tool and will do all I can to help build audiences, hope to talk soon

very best

Geoff Ellsworth

St. Helena

NapaProtest

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NPR/KQED's Michael Krasny hosted a discussion yesterday on a film that was screened last night in St. Helena in Napa Valley called "Russian River - All Rivers". Many points in the film resonated strongly here in St. Helena and touched upon the "event center" winery trend occurring in our local wine country.

New Film Explores History, Ecology of the Russian River | KQED

Napa County is changing drastically with approval after approval of what we are terming "event center" wineries (those with a heavy value-added hospitality/tourism bottom line, made possible by a number of legislative changes in the last few years).

In a sense we are seeing a wholesale re-purposing of our zoning from agricutural, residential and local-serving use into a heavy commercial tourism and industrial use.

Possible impacts of this re-purposement were never fully analyzed and citizens here were not presented with enough information to understand what the effect of these changes would be.

These issues are affecting other wine growing counties around California as well, including Sonoma and Lake Counties.

As citizen stakeholders we have great concerns about cumulative impacts regarding water, watersheds, traffic, the diminishing rural character of our precious valley/county as well as a diminishing quality of life for many resident citizens as we see our hometowns co-opted into what has been termed "lifestyle marketing platforms". A coalition of citizens' groups called "Vision 2050" has formed in Napa County and is reaching out to groups in other counties as well.

Many residents as well as members of the wine and grapegrowing business here are asking for a re-assessment of the situation by local government. Though citizens in Napa County strongly support the agricultural nature of our county there is a growing realization that it needs to work in balance with day-to-day needs of the local citizens as well as long term sustainability of the environment.

One Napa County project proposes to cut and burn 28,000 trees for vineyard development in the watershed just east of the town of Napa.

Another event center winery project in St. Helena plans to enter and exit a large wine-serving hospitality center directly through a school zone.

Many feel that some of the leadership of our wine and hospitality industries have lost their compass, that this "event center" approach will not only have negative impacts on the quality of the brand but on citizens and the environment as well, as the perpetuation of this invasive business model cannot help but encroach upon our common resources of such things as water, roads and emergency services.

We are hoping for a larger conversation and perhaps an in-depth look at projects like these event center wineries as well as a look into the public process approving them here as marketing organizations and tourism boards lobby strongly for ever increasing visitation and development of our delicate region while impacts have yet to be properly analyzed.

ALSO: Here are a few of many recent letters to our local newspaper, a blogspot from author Jim Conaway and a recent piece by Shepherd Bliss from Sonoma County.

Very best,

Geoff Ellsworth, St. Helena

http://napavalleyregister.com/news/opinion/mailbag/resist-the-colonialism-of-winery-development/article_9b299bfa-0e83-54e2-a891-c2edaa078b45.html

http://napavalleyregister.com/news/opinion/mailbag/selling-tickets-not-wine-in-the-napa-valley/article_17469047-3bc7-5c10-adeb-00f4d5ddbcbc.html

http://cjonwine.blogspot.com/2015/02/the-fight-napas-facing-could-be-big-one.html

Sour grapes in Wine Country: Intense challenges to wineries erupt

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PAUL CAYLER, subject of a story in Thursday’s Press Democrat, went to work as Cloverdale's city manager after tours working with the Willits and Mendocino County admins. Good guy, in our limited experience of him. Reading between the lines about the flap he seems to have touched off in Cloverdale, it seems Cayler wasn't all the way prone at the feet of a sacrosanct cop, and that cop is demagoguing the beef big time. This story from the Cloverdale Reveille does a much better job than the PD of putting the beef in perspective.

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Sgt. Keith King satisfied with his career, unhappy with City Hall

by Ray Holley

Cloverdale native Keith King joined the local police force as a reserve office in 1982 and became a full time officer in 1983. Last week, he retired, proud of his career but disappointed in how he says he has been treated recently by the city. His last day in uniform was March 5.

“When I started there were 12 churches and 12 bars in town,” King recalled in an interview last week. “I had a wonderful career in Cloverdale. I love my city and my department. I’ve seen it go from a lumber town to a bedroom community.”

King began as a reservist, then a patrol officer and a detective, served as the acting chief of police in 2006, and has been a sergeant since 1997.

King’s sudden retirement capped a tumultuous year in his life. “Since May of last year I have watched my mom go from a healthy woman to a frail old lady,” he wrote in an emotional post on his Facebook page over the weekend. King’s mother, Brenda Joyce King, died on Feb. 2 after a long struggle with Sarcoidosis. King and his family had been taking her to dialysis three times a week and were emotionally wrung out by her death. His uncle died less than two weeks later.

King is upset that he never received condolences from City Hall after his loss. “No card, flowers, email, phone call or verbal acknowledgement” he wrote on Facebook, adding that his fellow employees at the police department were supportive and thoughtful.

Cloverdale City Manager Paul Cayler denies that King was deliberately disrespected. “I show respect to all city employees,” Cayler said. “I am very surprised by Sergeant King’s sudden retirement and the city of Cloverdale is grateful to Sergeant King for his many years of service. I wish him well.”

King said that his decision to retire was made quickly, after he was summoned to Cayler’s office to be informed that he was the subject of an internal investigation. “As I started to sit down, he (Cayler) pushed a letter across his desk and said ‘Sorry to hear about your mom.’ That was the first acknowledgement of my mom’s death from the city,” said King.

The juxtaposition of the notice of investigation and the feeling of disrespect were enough to cause King to put in his retirement papers. “I did not make my decision to retire because of the investigation, it was because of how I was treated,” King said.

Cayler declined to comment on the investigation, citing privacy laws. He confirmed that the city is conducting an internal investigation of alleged misconduct, but would not confirm whether King is under investigation. “I recognize that there are strong opinions on all sides, but it is essential that the investigation proceed,” he said.

King shrugs it off. “The investigation wouldn’t have found anything that I had done wrong,” he said. “I could just imagine it was the first of many to come, because in my opinion, this entire situation is because the city manager wants to replace (Police) Chief Tuma with someone he can control.” Cayler declined to comment on this allegation.

King plans to spend his retirement with his hobbies and his wife and may take a part time job to keep busy. He builds teardrop trailers and looks forward to traveling and camping.

(Ray Holley is the managing editor of the Cloverdale Reveille. Courtesy, Cloverdale Reveille)

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CATCH OF THE DAY, March 12, 2015

Austin, Brown, Cook, Foster
Austin, Brown, Cook, Foster

MAUREEN AUSTIN, Fort Bragg, Probation revocation.

MICHAEL BROWN, Redwood Valley. Battery.

ROBERT COOK, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public.

TRENT FOSTER, Ukiah. Drunk in public.

Hill, Hoff, Miller, Palacios
Hill, Hoff, Miller, Palacios

MARK HILL, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public.

THOMAS HOFF, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

MICHAEL MILLER, Mendocino. Drunk in public, resisting arrest, probation revocation.

JOHN PALACIOS, Ukiah. Interfering with business, probation revocation.

Pierce, Ponts, Scott, Sherman
Pierce, Ponts, Scott, Sherman

LONNIE PIERCE, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public.

RICKY PONTS, Fort Bragg. Court order violation.

MITCHELL SCOTT, Ukiah. Pot possession for sale.

ASHLEY SHERMAN, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.

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COMMENT OF THE DAY

Smile for the Aliens

(From John Michael Greer, excerpted from his blog post, "Smile for the Aliens”)

"Regular readers may recall that a while back I published a book, The UFO Phenomenon, which managed the not inconsiderable feat of offending both sides of the UFO controversy. It did so by the simple expedient of setting aside the folk mythology that’s been heaped up with equal enthusiasm by true believers in extraterrestrial visitation and true believers in today’s fashionable pseudoskeptical debunkery. After getting past that and a few other sources of confusion, I concluded that the most likely explanation for the phenomenon was that US military and intelligence agencies invented it out of whole cloth after the Second World War, as protective camouflage for an assortment of then-secret aerospace technologies.

That wasn’t the conclusion I expected to reach when I began work on the project; I had several other hypotheses in mind, all of which had to be considerably modified as the research proceeded. It was just too hard not to notice the way that the typical UFO sightings reported in any given decade so closely mimicked whatever the US was testing in secret at any given time — silvery dots or spheres in the late 1940s, when high-altitude balloons were the latest thing in aerial reconnaissance; points or tiny blobs of light high in the air in the 1950s, when the U-2 was still top secret; a phantasmagoria of flying lights and things dropping from the sky in the 1960s, when the SR-71 and the first spy satellites entered service; black triangles in the 1980s, when the first stealth aircraft were being tested, and so on. An assortment of further evidence pointing the same way, not to mention the significant parallels between the UFO phenomenon and those inflatable tanks and nonexistent battalions that tricked the Germans into missing the real preparations for D-Day, were further icing on a saucer-shaped cake.

To call that an unpopular suggestion is to understate the case considerably, though I’m pleased to say it didn’t greatly hurt sales of the book. In the years since The UFO Phenomenon saw print, though, there’s been a steady stream of declassified documents from US intelligence agencies admitting that, yes, a lot of so-called UFOs were perfectly identifiable if you happened to know what classified projects the US government had in the air just then. It turns out, for example, that roughly half the UFO sightings reported to the Air Force’s Project Blue Book between 1952 and 1969 were CIA spyplanes; the officers in charge of Blue Book used to call the CIA when sightings came in, and issue bogus “explanations” to provide cover for what was, at the time, a top secret intelligence project. I have no reason to think that the publication of The UFO Phenomenon had anything to do with the release of all this data, but it was certainly a welcome confirmation of my analysis.

The most recent bit of confirmation hit the media a few weeks back. Connoisseurs of UFO history know that the Scandinavian countries went through a series of major “flaps” — periods in which many UFO sightings occured in a short time — in the 1950s and 1960s. The latest round of declassified data confirmed that these were sightings of US spyplanes snooping on the Soviet Union. The disclosures didn’t happen to mention whether CIA assets also spread lurid accounts of flying saucer sightings and alien visitations to help muddy the waters. My hypothesis is that that’s what was going on all the way through the history of the UFO phenomenon: fake stories and, where necessary, faked sightings kept public attention fixated on a manufactured mythology of flying saucers from outer space, so that the signal of what was actually happening never made it through the noise.

Many of my readers will already have guessed how the two sides of the UFO controversy responded to the disclosures just mentioned: by and large, they haven’t responded to them at all. Believers in the extraterrestrial origin of UFOs are still insisting at the top of their lungs that some day very soon, the US government will be forced to ‘fess up to the reality of alien visitation — yes, I field emails from such people regularly. Believers in the null hypothesis, the claim that all UFO sightings result from hoaxes, illusions, or misidentification of ordinary phenomena, are still rehashing the same old arguments when they haven’t gone off to play at being skeptical about something else. That’s understandable, as both sides have ended up with substantial amounts of egg on their face.

Mind you, the believers in the extraterrestrial hypothesis were right about a great many more things than their rivals, and they deserve credit for that. They were right, for example, that people really were seeing unusual things in the skies; they were right that there was a coverup orchestrated by the US government, and that the Air Force was handing out explanations that it knew to be fake; they were even right in guessing that the Groom Lake airfield in Nevada, the legendary “Area 51,” was somehow central to the mystery — that was the main US spyplane testing and training base straight through the decades when the UFO mystery was at its peak. The one thing they got wrong was the real origin of the UFO phenomenon, but for them, unfortunately, that was the one thing that mattered.

The believers in the null hypothesis don’t have much reason to cheer, even though they turned out to be right about that one point. The disclosures have shown with uncomfortable clarity that a good many of the explanations offered by UFO skeptics were actually nonsense, just as their opponents had been pointing out all along. In 1981, for example, Philip Klass, James Oberg, and Robert Sheaffer claimed that they’d identified all the cases that Project Blue Book labeled as “unknown.” As it happens, they did nothing of the kind; what they actually did was offer untested ad hoc hypotheses to explain away the unknowns, which is not exactly the same thing. It hardly needs to be said that CIA spyplanes played no part in those explanations, and if the “unknown” cases contained the same proportion of spyplanes as the whole collection, as seems likely, roughly half their explanations are wrong — a point that doesn’t exactly do much to inspire confidence in other claims made on behalf of the debunking crusade.

So it’s not surprising that neither side in the controversy has had the least interest in letting all this new data get in the way of keeping up the old argument. The usual human reaction to cognitive dissonance is to exclude the information that’s causing the dissonance, and that’s precisely what both sides, by and large, have done. As the dissonance builds, to be sure, people on the fringes of both scenes will quiely take their leave, new recruits will become few and far between, and eventually surviving communities of believers and debunkers alike will settle into a common pattern familiar to any of my readers familiar with Spiritualist churches, Marxist parties, or the flotsam left behind by the receding tide of other once-influential movements in American society: little circles of true believers fixated on the disputes of an earlier day, hermetically sealed against the disdain and disinterest of the wider society.

They have the freedom to do that, because the presence or absence of alien saucers in Earth’s skies simply doesn’t have that much of an impact on everyday life. Like Spiritualists or Marxists, believers in alien contact and their debunking foes by and large can avoid paying more than the most cursory attention to the failure of their respective crusades. The believers can take comfort in the fact that even in the presence of overwhelming evidence, it’s notoriously hard to prove a negative; the debunkers can take comfort in the fact that, however embarrassing their logical lapses and rhetorical excesses, at least they were right about the origins of the phenomenon.

That freedom isn’t always available to those on the losing side of history. It’s not that hard to keep the faith if you aren’t having your nose rubbed in the reality of your defeat on a daily basis, but it’s quite another matter to cope with the ongoing, overwhelming disconfirmation of beliefs on which you’ve staked your pride, your values, and your sense of meaning and purpose in life. What would life be like these days for the vocal UFO debunkers of recent decades, say, if the flying saucers had turned out to be alien spacecraft after all, the mass saucer landing on the White House lawn so often and so vainly predicted had finally gotten around to happening, and Philip Klass and his fellow believers in the null hypothesis had to field polite requests on a daily basis to have their four-dimensional holopictures taken by giggling, gray-skinned tourists from Zeta Reticuli?

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Here's the link to read the entire post:

http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2014/07/smile-for-aliens.html

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BIG WATER RATE HIKES PLANNED FOR BAY AREA

Make conservation voluntary then raise rates because revenues decline due to customer cut backs.

Because they have sold less water, the agencies have lost tens millions of dollars in revenues. They also have had to spend more money on drought-related expenses such as buying extra water from outside the Bay Area to help meet demand, expanding public relations budgets to ask the public to use less water amid shortages, and offering rebates to homeowners who replace lawns with drought-tolerant plants or old, leaky appliances with water-efficient ones.

http://www.mercurynews.com/science/ci_27668436/california-drought-bay-area-water-agencies-considering-big

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“WE’RE ALL LOSERS. It’s something all of us, the athletes, the coaches, the writers, the fans have in common. We’re all losers. Everybody is a loser. None of us wins all the time in games or in life. Losing catches up to you one way or another, in the ring, on the field, or in life. Joe DiMaggio was a loser. Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali, losers. None of us lives forever.”

— W.C. Heinz

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WRECK OF THE HESPERUS

I'm not the wreck of the Hesperus

Feel more like the Wall of China

Getting old as Methuselah

Feel tall as the Eiffel Tower

 

I'm not a power of attorney

But I can rock as good as Gibraltar

Ain't no more no spring chicken

Been plucked but I'm still kicking

But it's alright, it's alright

 

Poison penmen sneak, have no nerve to speak

Make up lies then they leak 'm out

Behind a pseudonym, the rottenness in them

Reaching out trying to touch me

 

Met some Oscars and Tonys

I slipped on a pavement oyster

Met a snake climbing ladders

Got out of the line of fire

(But it's alright)

 

Brainless writers gossip nonsenses

To others heads as dense as they is

It's the same old malady

What they see is faulty

 

I'm not the wreck of the Hesperus

Feel more like Big Bill Broonzy

Getting old as my mother

But I tell you I got some company

(But it's alright)

 

But it's alright, it's alright

But it's alright, it's alright

It's alright, alright. It's alright.

— George Harrison

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OdessaSteps

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WORST AMERICAN RIVER STEELHEAD RUN ON RECORD NEARS DISMAL END

by Dan Bacher

Nimbus Fish Hatchery staff continue to witness the worst-ever steelhead run on the American River, Sacramento's unique urban jewel, but a few fish continue to trickle into the river.

“We have trapped 143 adult steelhead, including 93 females and 45 males, to date,” said Gary Novak, hatchery manager. “That compares to a total of 546 adult steelhead, including 527 adults and 19 half pounders, to date last season.”

The hatchery has taken a total of 186,488 eggs so far. With some additional eggs that they received from Coleman Fish Hatchery, they plan to release 144,000 steelhead yearlings next February on the American.

“We only saw 4 new fish this week and 18 fish last week,” said Novak. “On our best week, we saw 23 steelhead.”

Novak plans to keep the fish ladder open until the end of March, hoping that some additional fish come into the facility.

Releases to the lower American below Nimbus Dam continue to be 800 cfs, low for this time of year.

During 2013 and early 2014, the Bureau of Reclamation drained Folsom to a record low level of 17 percent of capacity in order to export water to corporate agribusiness, Southern California water agencies and big oil companies. The Bureau did this in spite of it being a record drought year. Nimbus Dam releases were reduced to 500 cfs during most of the steelhead season last year.

“The steelhead died for a noble cause - almonds," quipped Bill Jennings, executive director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA).

California's almond orchards use almost 9 percent of the state's agricultural water supply, or about 3.5 million acre feet, according to Carolee Krieger, Executive Director of the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN. That's enough water to supply the domestic needs of the Los Angeles Basin and metropolitan San Diego combined - about 75 percent of the state's population. (http://m.sfgate.com/opinion/openforum/article/Why-almonds-cover-California-5655309.php)

For more information about the destruction of American River steelhead, Delta smelt, Central Valley salmon and other species under the Brown administration, go to: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/02/19/18768785.php

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BABY BOOKIES! TODDLER STORYTIME

On Wednesdays beginning April 8th, 10 a.m. the Mendocino County Library, Ukiah Children’s Library will begin Baby Bookies! A Toddler Storytime.

Toddlers, along with their favorite adult, will enjoy interactive stories, songs, dances and games that encourage emerging language skills. Ages Birth-3

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