- Bergdahl Visit
- Plowrights Fined
- Michael Kisslinger
- Transfer Station
- Cooley Backslides
- Yesterday's Catch
- Remembering Rosie
- Outlet Creek
- Laytonville Murders
- Bobcat Trapping
- Mosquito Virus
- Modern Major-General
- DMV Centennial
- Cornpone Fascist
- Writers Conference
BOWE BERGDAHL, the once-missing U.S. soldier in Afghanistan released in a prisoner exchange and later accused of desertion, was an unexpected visitor in Mendocino County this week. He was visiting old friends when the local dope team arrived on a marijuana raid. Bergdahl, who is awaiting military court martial, had an Army pass allowing him to be in Mendocino County. He apparently had no connection to the dope grow. Still military authorities were notified, and after calls "all the way up to the Pentagon," he was turned over a military escort who came to Ukiah to fetch him.
SHERIFF TOM ALLMAN CONFIRMED Thursday morning that Sgt. Bergdahl was indeed in Mendocino County on Tuesday morning when the County's drug task force raided a property on Tomki Road, Redwood Valley. Bergdahl, who is on active duty while he awaits his court martial, "was not involved" in the marijuana operation, the Sheriff said, adding that Bergdahl was "above politeness" as several people from the home where Bergdahl was visiting were taken into custody. The Sheriff said Bergdahl had "readily produced his military ID." Instantly aware that the Sgt. was a high profile person, the Sheriff's Department quickly confirmed that Bergdahl was on an authorized leave to visit friends in Northern California and uninvolved with marijuana production.
BERGDAHL had arrived last Friday at the remote property 7 miles northeast of central Redwood Valley, and was scheduled to return to the East Coast on Wednesday. He was not arrested. At the Pentagon's request, the combat veteran was transported by the Sheriff's Department to Santa Rosa where he was met by an Army major who was to accompany Bergdahl to his duty station near Washington.
PLOWRIGHTS FINALLY FINED
AV couple to pay $25,000 fine for water violations
An Anderson Valley couple will be required to pay a $25,000 fine for violating a Cleanup and Abatement Order relating to illegal construction activities that allegedly caused sediment discharges into Little Mill Creek and its tributaries in Mendocino County, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board reported.
The Cleanup and Abatement Order, issued in January 2011, alleges that Thomas R. Plowright III and Patricia Plowright had reconstructed existing roads, built new ones and used a bulldozer to move earthen material into watercourses, including Little Mill Creek outside of Philo.
The creek feeds into the Navarro River and provides habitat for Steelhead trout and feeds streams that harbor Coho salmon. The alleged illegal construction activities violated the California Water Code and federal Clean Water Act.
On Jan. 24, 2014, the Regional Water Board initiated an enforcement action against the Plowrights for failure to comply with the provisions of the Cleanup and Abatement Order. The Plowrights had failed to complete the full scope of the cleanup and replanting required under the order, and they did not monitor or report adequately to maintain compliance.
On June 16, the Regional Water Board approved a stipulation for entry of judgment and proposed judgment.
The judgment requires the Plowrights to pay $25,000 in penalties for water code violations, correct existing and ongoing violations and requires continued monitoring. All existing violations have been remedied, with the monitoring provisions required by the judgment still to be completed. The penalty will be paid to the State Water Resources Control Board’s Cleanup and Abatement Account.
The North Coast Regional Board posted the proposed judgment on May 15, and Mendocino County Superior Court adopted the judgment on June 23.
(The original incident occurred in the spring of 2010. It’s taken over five years for the creek damage case to make its way through the system.)
MICHAEL KISSLINGER has died. Formerly a reporter for Mendocino County Public Radio and active in Ukiah-area civil affairs, Kisslinger leaves behind his wife, Anne Molgaard of First Five, an adult son, Zane, and a daughter, Aleyna.
Michael Albert Kisslinger - age: 60 (January 26, 1955 to July 20, 2015 )
Michael Albert Kisslinger, 60, died of natural causes on Monday, July 20th, 2015, in Ukiah. He was born in St. Louis, Missouri, one of three children of Robert Leo and Jean (Farbstein) Kisslinger. He grew up and attended public primary and high schools in University City, Missouri. He then spent the next eleven years attending three different universities pursuing seven different fields of study. He began his educational journey at Washington University in St. Louis, spent time at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and eventually acquired a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Enology and Fermentation Science from University of California, Davis. Later, he earned a Master’s Degree in Negotiation and Conflict Management from California State University, Dominguez Hills.
Michael married Anne Cecile Molgaard in 1994 in Hopland, CA. They have two children, Zane and Aleyna. Michael was a man of many talents and skills, and spent time employed as a winemaker, conflict manager, nonprofit consultant, grantwriter, library technician, substitute teacher, and radio host. He was a professional folk dancer, got by in several languages, had a second degree black belt in Aikido, and was a nationally ranked Judo master as a teenager. Michael loved to cook, play cribbage, read science fiction, and volunteered with many community service groups throughout Mendocino County. He was curious, gregarious, and deeply interested in people and their stories. He loved long elaborate puns. But although he had many and varied interests, Michael’s children were his most enduring source of love, pride and accomplishment.
Michael is survived by his daughter Aleyna, son Zane, and wife Anne. He also leaves his sister Donna Kisslinger Abram (Bill), brother Frank Kisslinger, and his daily morning canine companion, Hana. He was predeceased by his parents.
Friends are invited to a memorial gathering on Thursday, July 23rd, at 6 pm in the picnic area of Todd Grove Park. Rabbi Shoshanah Devorah will preside, and light refreshments will be served. Please consider bringing a lawn chair.
Funeral services will be held privately in the Gan Yarok section of Fernwood Cemetery in Mill Valley. Michael had often expressed a wish for a green burial in a natural setting with the least impact to the environment, rather than internment in a matzohleum.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to The Community Foundation of Mendocino County.
* * *
“Communication and Conflict Management Skills for Community Based Organizations” Workshops at County Libraries in August — Canceled. Do to unfortunate circumstances, Mendocino County Library’s scheduled public workshops on “Communication and Conflict Management Skills for Community Based Organizations” at Ukiah and Fort Bragg libraries have been cancelled.
THE REDUNDANT and still proposed Coast trash transfer station did not get its anticipated rubber stamp from a joint meeting of the Supervisors and Fort Bragg City Council. The meeting was postponed until August 18th in Ukiah. Fish and Wildlife is threatening a lawsuit if the $5 million project proceeds. There is an existing transfer station at Pudding Creek owned and operated by Waste Management which could easily accommodate the relatively small added burden of trash now processed at Caspar.
ON TUESDAY, July21, 2015, at approximately 11:30 PM, a Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputy was on routine patrol and noted a vehicle parked in an unusual place, partially hidden, behind Hopper's Dairy, a business located at 17707 N. Hwy 1, Fort Bragg, Ca. The deputy checked the area on foot and saw a subject in the darkness behind one of the delivery trucks, who was trying to sneak away. The deputy engaged the subject, recognizing him from prior contacts as John Cooley Jr., 38, of Fort Bragg. Subsequent investigation revealed that the locks had been broken off of the back of two of the delivery trucks and their doors were open. A broken lock was subsequently located in Cooley's pocket, and a large wrench was located, along with a piece of the broken lock, near one of the trucks. Cooley, who is on probation in addition to currently being out of custody on bail pending court appearances for a recent theft arrest, was arrested for two counts of burglary, possession of burglary tools, committing an offense while out on bail, and violation of probation. John Cooley Jr. was lodged at the Mendocino County Jail for Burglary, Possession of Burglary Tools, Crimes commit while on Bail and Violation of Probation and is being held with bail set at $45,000.
CATCH OF THE DAY, July 22, 2015
JOSE BARRIGA-BARRERA, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
ERIN BLACKWELL, Ukiah. Probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
DANIEL BUTLER, Ukiah. Drunk in public, violation of county parole.
JOHN COOLEY JR., Fort Bragg. Burglary, possession of burglary tools, offenses while on bail, probation revocation.
DARLENE DAVIS, Covelo. Conspiracy, probation revocation.
LONNY ELLIOTT, Ukiah. Violation of protective order, probation revocation.
DILLON FOWLER, Cincinnati, Ohio/Ukiah. DUI, resisting.
KENNETH HANOVER, Covelo. Arson, conspiracy.
WILLIAM KING, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
DANYELL LINDSEY, Sacramento/Ukiah. Suspended license.
BRYAN LOCKWOOD, Ukiah. Drunk in public, probation revocation.
NATHAM MORALES, Covelo. Probation revocation.
DAVID PETERS, Covelo. DUI, failure to appear.
THOMAS SANDERS, Ukiah. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)
JACQUELINE SMITH, Fort Bragg. Vehicle theft, possession of meth for sale, probation revocation.
JOHN ZERANGUE, Ukiah. Pot possession for sale.
REMEMBERING ROSIE MARIE GROVER
by Jodie Martinez
Early in the morning of July 19, 1985, while most of Ukiah was asleep, the Greyhound bus from San Francisco arrived in town, making its usual stop at the Yokayo Shopping Center on South State Street to let off passengers.
The Ukiah passenger who left the safety of the bus that morning between 3:30 and 4 a.m. was Rosie Marie Grover. She had been spending the summer after her freshman year at Ukiah High in the Bay Area, staying with relatives in Hayward, where she had a summer job at an ice cream parlor. She was planning to use the money she earned for school clothes that fall.
It was not the first job Rosie had held. Like many girls her age, she was an occasional babysitter, caring for the children of family friends and acquaintances while their parents enjoyed a night out or attended a community event. She also earned her own money by taking housecleaning jobs, and was described by her mother, Marilyn Hall, as “very independent.”
Jackie Tupper, manager of the Deep Valley Mobile Home Park at the south end of Ukiah, where Rosie and her family lived, described her as a “very pretty, very sweet girl.”
On that day 30 years ago, Rosie Grover arrived in Ukiah to find only a dark, deserted parking lot at the Greyhound depot.
It was a Friday, and there had apparently been confusion over who would meet her. Relatives in Ukiah were expecting her on the afternoon bus, and those in the Bay Area thought someone would be meeting the early bus.
Earlier, Rosie had telephoned the mother of a friend she wanted to visit that weekend. The friend’s mother later said that she had told Rosie her son would not be home that weekend, and that she herself had a broken-down car and would be unable to meet the bus.
“I didn’t expect her on any bus,” she said. “Rosie, somehow, got it into her head that I would be there if my car were fixed. I think she wanted to come home so bad that she got it into her head somebody would be there.”
No one was. Rosie was alone … she was frightened … she was 15.
In many ways, Rosie Grover has become Ukiah’s child. Throughout the community – from her friends, her family, parents of every age child, even those of us who never knew her in life – we wish we could have been there when she stepped off that Greyhound bus to see her safely home.
Rosie was wearing blue jeans, a white blouse, a pink sweater, pink shoes and pink socks. She was facing a walk home of more than a mile to a part of town that even today, three decades later, has little street lighting. She was also carrying a suitcase and a backpack.
There were no cell phones, and “text” referred only to a book, not a form of communication. Rosie, carrying her luggage, turned south on State Street toward home.
When she reached Foster’s Freeze on the east side of State Street near Talmage Road, she used a nearby pay phone to call for help, reaching the Ukiah office of the California Highway Patrol.
Rosie’s first words to the CHP dispatcher were: “Yes. I wanted to know if somebody could come get me because I don’t have a way home and I just got off the bus.”
The dispatcher told her “We don’t provide transport at all. Where do you have to go?”
“I just have to get down the street a little ways and I don’t want to walk by myself because I’m really afraid,” Rosie answered.
Asked if she were at the Greyhound bus depot, Rosie said she had walked as far as Foster Freeze.
“OK,” the dispatcher said. “You should call the police department. I don’t know if they provide transport; the highway patrol doesn’t, not in the city limits anyway.”
In addition to being frightened, and probably tired, Rosie knew that as a teenager she wasn’t supposed to be out late at night.
“The police department? OK. Will I get into trouble for curfew even though it’s not my fault?,” she asked the dispatcher.
“I don’t know,” the dispatcher replied. “It would be your parents that would get in trouble, not you.”
“Oh, yeah, OK,” Rosie said. “Thank you.”
“OK. Good-bye,” the CHP dispatcher replied.
Rosie may then have tried to call her mother, whose phone rang that morning about that time, but when Marilyn Hall answered there was only a dial tone.
Two hours later, Rosie’s lifeless body was found in the dry bed of Doolan Creek just off State Street. She had been raped, strangled, stabbed repeatedly and bludgeoned. Every bone in her face was broken.
Before the morning was out, 21-year-old Richard Dean Clark, who had reported finding her body, was behind bars. He was a drifter, who had been staying with friends in the 700 block of South State Street. The night Rosie was killed he had spent the night in a car owned by one of the friends, and told police he had seen her walking on State Street.
Clark confessed that he killed Rosie when she told him she was going to report him for having raped her. He told police that he thought his reporting finding the body would keep him from becoming a suspect.
Even three decades later, the “community revulsion” over Rosie’s death has not diminished. Richard Dean Clark was convicted of raping and murdering her, with a special allegation that he killed in order to avoid arrest. His 1987 murder trial was one of the few moved out of the county due to the extensive pre-trial media coverage. Clark was prosecuted by the state Attorney General’s Office, and a San Jose jury recommended that he receive the death penalty, a recommendation adhered to by the presiding judge.
Clark, now 51, has been on Death Row at San Quentin since Dec. 19, 1987. At the time he was convicted of killing Rosie, he was unable to read or write, but through attorneys he has avoided being put to death for nearly 28 years now.
His 2009 appeal worked its way through the court system, with numerous time extensions along the way, and after four-and-a-half years was denied by federal District Court Judge William Alsup on March 31, 2014.
Within a month, a new appeal was filed with the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
A week after her death, Rosie Grover was laid to rest in a corner of Ukiah’s Russian River Cemetery nearest the high school where she would have been a sophomore in the fall of 1985.
Sunday evening, on the 30th anniversary of her death, a new memorial tree and bench at McGarvey Park in Ukiah will be dedicated in Rosie’s honor by friends and family.
In a social media post, Rosie’s friend Denise Smith Mazan wrote the following:
“July 19th marks the 30-year anniversary since my lifelong friend Rosie Grover’s life was tragically taken from her. A very sweet soul, Brian A Wells, who didn’t even know Rosie, but like so many people in Ukiah was impacted by the loss, decided to raise money to have a tree planted and bench installed in her honor.... Rosie’s death changed my life, and so many others. But her life is what mattered, the smiles she brought, the laughs, her loyalty. I had known Rosie since kindergarten, so just 10 short years until her death, but she has been in my life for 40 years and will continue to do so for the rest of my life.
“This bench can just be a bench where people relax, or like my mom did at this very park when she was pregnant with me, sit and take a break on her walk to and from work. Or this bench could be more... Rosie’s life wasn’t perfect, but she always chose to put a smile on her face and bring happiness to the world. We all live with crazy stress, but life has a way of taking care of itself; you never know when that life will be gone. So choose to bring happiness to the world, your family, your friends, yourself.
“Thank you, Rosie Grover, for that forever smile that we will never forget. I love you forever.”
A footnote: Rosie Grover’s death led to a statewide change in CHP policy. “That was the impetus for making the policy change,” a Ukiah CHP dispatcher said in 2005. “Now we will make those phone calls” rather than leave it up to the person in need. If the agency having jurisdiction “were unable to respond, we would respond with our own officers,” local CHP Capt. Steve Bernard told a Daily Journal reporter on the 20th anniversary of Rosie’s death.
(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)
FRIENDS OF OUTLET CREEK
CA DFW database shows over $2 million expended for Salmonid Habitat Restoration in Outlet Creek Watershed
Re: Grist Creek Aggregate — 500,000 ton per year Asphalt Plant on Outlet Creek approved with NO CEQA REVI EW
Is there a new Streambed Alteration Agreement for this property?
To: Angela Liebenberg
CA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife
Re: CEQA Review Coordinator for Mendocino Co.
Hi Angela - this is a follow up to the email below which I sent on 7/21/15. Please see the attached summary of grant expenditures for Salmonid Habitat Restoration in the Outlet Creek Watershed, which the Friends of Outlet Creek are trying to protect from a new 500,000 ton per year asphalt plant which has been approved by the County of Mendocino with no CEQA review. Attached is a data base query result from the CA Dept of Fish and Wildlife data base; https://map.dfg.ca.gov/bios/?al=ds168. The query is a summary of grant funds expended in the Outlet Creek Watershed for Salmonid Habitat Restoration and Improvement, and shows a total of over $2,000,000 spent. The Friends of Outlet Creek are concerned that the threats to endangered Coho, Chinook and steelhead will be significantly increased with the installation of a new asphalt plant in the floodplain of Outlet Creek. We hope that you or someone in your agency would have concerns about this asphalt plant project and the potential it presents for fish habitat degradation in the Outlet Creek watershed, due to increased sediment delivery and point source pollutants entering the waterway. Please contact me if you have questions or comments. Thanks
Glen Colwell, Willits
PS. Hi Angela,
I was referred to you by Laurie Harnsberger in the Eureka CA Fish and Wildlife office, and understand that you are the current CEQA review coordinator for Mendocino Co. I also left you a voice message around noon today on your office line. To begin, I've attachment a 2011 12-page Streambed Alteration Agreement between the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and Mr. Brian Hurt representing Grist Creek Aggregates, LLC. (Permittee). There are a total of six attachments with this message; The project for which attached Streambed Alteration Agreement Notification #.1600-2011-0138-R1 was issued was never completed by the applicant. However, the applicant, Grist Creek Aggregates, has now received and Authority to Construct Permit for a 500,000 ton per year asphalt plant to be installed in the flood plain of Outlet Creek, from the Mendocino Air Quality Management District, and is not being required by the County of Mendocino to follow CEQA. The project is proceeding with no environmental review whatsoever, (the County is dodging an weaving to avoid identifying this as a "project" under CEQA; no Neg Dec has been issued and no agency is identified as the Lead Agency as required by CEQA), and is being grandfathered as a "vested right" under guidance by the Mendocino Co. Board of Supervisors. The Friends of Outlet Creek has filed a lawsuit (also attached) in the Superior Court of Mendocino County to require CEQA compliance. We are seeking support from your agency for the attached lawsuit in the form of letters on official letterhead, etc. supporting our position that CEQA compliance for this project is mandatory. We are a small hand full of property owners along Outlet Creek, struggling to defend this watershed - WE NEED HELP! Any assistance your agency can provide is much appreciated! I hope we can talk soon to discuss this urgent issue. There will be a public meeting to hear our APPEAL before the MCAQMD (Air District) Hearing Board this coming Friday 7/24 at 10AM in the City of Ukiah Council Chambers. I know this is extremely short notice, but if there is any chance you could attend this hearing, we would be so very grateful. Any guidance you can provide would also be greatly appreciated.
Glen Colwell, Willits
FROM THE PRESS DEMOCRAT: SLAIN LAYTONVILLE SENIOR ‘SPECIAL’
Laytonville victim “was going to be an important person.”
On the day his good friend was arraigned in his killing, Laytonville High School senior Teo Palmieri was remembered by people who knew him as a smart, creative boy headed toward a bright future. Laytonville High School senior Teo Palmieri was a brilliant, creative boy headed toward a bright future when his life was cut short during an inexplicable, middle-of-the-night knife attack, allegedly by Talen Barton, the close friend he had convinced his family to take in.
* * *
CANADIAN COVERAGE OF LAYTONVILLE MURDERS
California double-homicide horrifies Canadian's relatives in Manitoba — Theodore Norvell's extended family is grateful that he survived attack
by Karen Pauls, CBC News
L-Theodore Norvell, an engineering professor at Memorial University in St. John's, was attacked while visiting relatives in California. (Memorial University)
R-Kathleen Martens, a cousin of Theodore Norvell's wife, says the extended family is shocked and horrified. Several relatives have flown to California to help support the family. (CBC)
* * *
Family members of Theodore Norvell in Manitoba are shocked and horrified over a vicious attack in California that killed two people and critically injured him and one other person.
Norvell, 52, of St. John's, N.L., suffered multiple life-threatening stab wounds to the chest and neck early Sunday morning.
Their 15-year-old daughter, Saskia Schulz-Norvell, was also in the home at the time, but she was not hurt.
However, Norvell's brother-in-law, Coleman Palmieri, 52, and 17-year-old nephew Teo were killed in the attack.
His sister, Dr. Cindy Norvell, 54, suffered stab wounds when she tried to intervene. She is also in serious condition.
Their 14-year-old daughter wasn't injured.
The Canadians were on an annual visit to see Norvell's sister and her family near Sacramento. His daughter was planning to attend a summer youth camp nearby with her cousin.
Theodore Norvell's wife, Cheryl Schulz, who is originally from Morris, Man., has rushed to California.
"They're dealing with immediately their health, stabilizing their lives," Martens said.
"Down the road, I don't think they can see all the steps that need to be taken. There's not only the murders, funerals, hospitals, there's the criminal justice side of it. The home is a crime scene, so they're staying with family and friends."
A GoFundMe account has already been set up to help both families pay for the medical expenses.
Talen Barton, 19, appeared in court on Tuesday. He is charged with murder, attempted murder and falsely imprisoning the two teenage girls.
Barton is in Mendocino County Jail in his own cell, away from other inmates. He was not granted bail and will be back in court in two weeks.
Police said Saskia Schulz-Norvell called 911 and was able to keep Barton calm. Shortly after, Barton took the phone and engaged in a lengthy conversation with the dispatcher.
Barton is said to have admitted stabbing four people in the home. The dispatcher talked Barton into putting the knife down and surrendering to police.
"Adults would've cowered at his feet," Martens said.
"Your dad is bleeding out and you're in the middle of this crisis situation. I don't know what she was thinking, but to stay calm and make the call and summon help as quickly as she did. I know she saved lives. In my mind, she's a hero."
Theodore Norvell is a computer science engineering professor at Memorial University in St. John's.
The attack has touched his friends and colleagues.
"We were shocked and saddened to hear the news," said Dr. Dennis Peters, head of the university's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
"Dr. Norvell is a well-respected, dedicated member of our faculty. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family during this critical time."
Norvell loves to sail and is a longtime fencing coach.
"Theodore Norvell is Rhys' fencing coach. We are devastated to learn of this tragic event and our thoughts and prayers are with the family," Kelly Ann Marshall wrote on the GoFundMe site.
"Dr. Norvell is my favorite professor, and I'm so sorry he is at the center of such a grave tragedy. My condolences and thoughts go out to him and his family — happy to help however I can," Scott Wood added on the site.
Local media in California is reporting that Teo Palmieri lobbied his family to let Barton live with them, after Barton got into trouble for allegedly trying to hit his foster mother with a 15-pound hand weight.
"You just never know what can happen," Martens said.
"They … treated him just like a son. He lived with them, so I can't imagine once they come out of everything, if they'll ever have time to process it or understand it — someone they loved and trusted."
(Courtesy, Canadian Broadcasting, Manitoba)
STATE COULD BAN BOBCAT TRAPPING AT UPCOMING MEETING IN FORTUNA
by Ryan Burns
Two weeks from now, on Aug. 4 and 5, the California Fish and Game Commission will hold its regular meeting here in Humboldt County, at Fortuna’s River Lodge Conference Center, and during its Wednesday session the commission is scheduled to decide whether or not to ban bobcat trapping statewide.
It’s a controversial issue, with some groups lining up exactly as you’d expect — environmental nonprofits supporting a ban, trappers and hunters opposing — while others say more information is needed before a decision is made.
Here in Humboldt, the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) has joined the campaign supporting a ban. In an action alert posted on its website, EPIC points out that commercial bobcat trapping in the state is largely driven by the foreign market value for the cats’ pelts, particularly in China and Russia.
The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors, meanwhile, opposes the ban, saying the Fish and Game Commission lacks the authority to take such a sweeping action and should instead take the alternative approach: establishing no-trapping buffer zones around state and national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, where trapping is already prohibited. (Hunting bobcats would still be allowed, as would trapping problem bobcats, such as those threatening livestock.)
These two options — a statewide ban or a zone-based approach — represent the two alternative paths that the Fish and Game Commission could take as a means of implementing a state law that passed two years ago: Assembly Bill 1213, aka the Bobcat Protection Act of 2013. That law focused on the area surrounding Joshua Tree National Park, where bobcat trapping had become a hot-button issue after trappers illegally captured and killed a number of bobcats on private property. But the law also instructed the commission to consider extending the ban to lands “within, and adjacent to, preserves, state conservancies, and any other public or private conservation areas identified to the commission by the public as warranting protection … .”
Those are pretty vague criteria, and late last year the commission started discussing the possibility of making those protected areas really big — as in, big enough to encompass the entire state.
Bobcat trapping used to be a relatively big business in California. Until the 1970s there were no protections for bobcats and no restrictions on the “take” or “harvest” of the animal. But in 1971, with domestic and international demand for bobcat pelts rising, the state legislature gave the species non-game status. Since then California has issued trapping licenses and kept track of how many are killed each year during the official trapping season, which runs from Nov. 24 through Jan. 31.
During the 1977-78 season more than 20,000 bobcats were killed in California, but shortly thereafter the bottom began to drop out of the market.
Bobcat pelts, like pretty much every other market, are subject to the laws of supply and demand. The average price for a pelt dropped from a high of $167.33 in 1986-87 to just $17.91 three years later, and the take numbers have been comparatively low ever since.
But demand began to rise again in the early 2000s, driven by people in Russia and China (and, to a lesser extent, Eastern Europe) who want the thick, soft pelts for fur coats and showpieces. While the official stats from Fish and Wildlife put the average price of pelts at $390 in the 2013-14 season, wildlife advocates say they’ve gone as high as $2,100 apiece. The cost of an annual trapping license, meanwhile, is just $115.
To many, this practice seems fundamentally barbaric and morally wrong. (The San Francisco Chronicle, for example, quoted a fourth-grader who said, “It is disgusting that people are killing the beautiful bobcats.”)
Natalynne DeLapp, executive director of EPIC, agreed that it’s a moral issue, but said it’s also an economic and scientific one. The bobcat is an important and highly adaptable mid-sized predator, DeLapp said. She added that while both options before the commission would help protect the species, a trapping ban makes more financial sense.
EPIC has joined forces on this issue with the Center for Biological Diversity, which estimates that the zonal approach to bobcat management would cost nearly $600,000 per year, far more than the state brings in from trapping licenses and shipping tags for sales and exports.
“When we write our comments [to the commission] we do have to look at the issue from an economic standpoint to justify our larger reasoning, which is the intrinsic value” of bobcats, DeLapp said.
How many bobcats?
Both EPIC and the Center for Biological Diversity call attention to the fact that Fish and Wildlife’s estimate of the total statewide bobcat population — 72,000 — is more than 35 years old, and a somewhat dubious figure to begin with.
When Governor Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown signed AB 1213 into law in October 2013, he issued a signing statement [pdf here] calling for a new bobcat population survey, though no such effort has been undertaken.
Dr. Greta Wengert is the assistant director of the nonprofit Integral Ecology Research Center, based in Blue Lake, and she has studied bobcats fairly extensively in northwestern California and the southern end of the Sierra Nevada range. But she also doesn’t know how many bobcats there are in California.
“I don’t think anyone has a good estimate at all,” she said.
A more important consideration is the bobcat population in each specific ecosystem, Wengert said. She described bobcats as “a cosmopolitan species,” meaning they live not only in forest ecosystems, where they interact with fishers, martens and mountain lions, but also on the outskirts of urban areas in Southern California, where they’re threatened by development and habitat encroachment.
Circumstantial evidence suggests that bobcats are not a threatened species from a statewide perspective, according to Wengert. For one thing, the harvest numbers are low compared to both the past and to other states. “From a population perspective, the amount [of bobcats] harvested each year does not seem like it will affect the overall bobcat population,” she said.
But again she mentioned that specific bobcat communities could indeed be threatened.
“I feel like there’s a lot of information missing on which to base decisions, and it [regulation] may have to become a local question,” Wengert said.
The zonal approach to bobcat management aims to take those sensitive bobcat populations into consideration.
More than 500 bobcats were killed here during the boom season of 1987-88, but there hasn’t been more than 10 harvested in any year since the 2000-01 season. (The blank spaces reflect gaps in the data, not years with no harvest.) The low prevalence of trapping here might be due to the fact that desert-dwelling bobcats tend to have thicker, softer and more spotted pelts than those of cats living this far north, Wengert said.
Regarding the original law, Wengert said Joshua Tree National Park is known for having “really healthy bobcat populations.” That being the case, trapping done outside the park is not likely to threaten the overall population.
“It’s almost like they’re surplus animals,” she said, before quickly adding, “That’s only from biological perspective. Ethics are a different issue; I’m not gonna go there.”
The legislative process
The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors doesn’t go there either, though they do oppose the ban. Back in January, the board unanimously voted to send a letter [pdf here] opposing that option to the heads of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the California Fish and Game Commission. As Board Chair Estelle Fennell recently explained to the Outpost, the supervisors’ opposition to a ban was based not so much on a philosophical or ethical stand as on procedural concerns. (Siskiyou County supervisors sent a letter articulating the same objections in March.)
“It was actually based on a request from [Humboldt County’s] own Fish and Game Advisory Commission,” Fennel said. “Their concern, and subsequently the board’s, was about circumventing the legislative process.” As the board sees it, an outright state ban on bobcat trapping was duly considered and rejected by the state legislature back in 2013, during debate on the law itself. Implementing the ban now would be overstepping the commission’s authority, the board letter argues.
Furthermore, Fennell noted, the board thinks the Department of Fish and Wildlife should undertake the population survey requested by Governor Brown.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife, for its part, has endorsed the zonal approach, basing its argument on numbers and science. (The agency suggests charging a new annual bobcat trapping validation fee of $1,137 to offset the increased costs of management.) But Sonke Mastrup, executive director of the Fish and Game Commission, said morality issues are not beyond the scope of the five-member commission’s criteria for making such decisions.
“As I like to tell folks, the commission’s job is to balance what the science calls for and what the public will tolerate,” Mastrup said. “Science is certainly a foundation, but it’s not the only thing that goes into to making a decision.”
The commission will also consider public testimony and other information provided during the course of deliberations. But Mastrup said that, so far, advocates for a total ban have focused on the moral aspect.
“Based on the testimony I’ve been hearing, it’s more about the morality or ethics of whether we should be allowing people to commercially exploit bobcat furs,” Mastrup said. “Mostly [the testimony] boils down to: We just don’t like it.”
Mastrup said it’s also possible that no decision will be reached at the Fortuna meeting. The commission could opt to implement one of the two options, it could postpone the decision or it could say it doesn’t like either option and come up with another approach altogether.
EPIC will host a “teach-in” the Monday before the hearing from 6-8 p.m. at the Arcata Community Center’s Arts and Crafts Room. The event will also address a couple other items on the commission’s agenda, including a request to list the Pacific Fisher under the California Endangered Species Act as well as EPIC’s own petition to add the Humboldt marten to that list.
As for the bobcats, there’s at least one point on which seemingly everyone agrees: Better data is sorely needed.
“The bottom line for me,” Wengert said, “is that the state really needs to invest in really good bobcat population numbers.”
Thus far there have been no specific proposals to do so.
If you’d care to attend the meeting (or live-stream it through cal-span.org), you can download the agenda ahead of time here.
(Courtesy, LostCoastOutpost.com where more charts and graphs can be found.)
WEST NILE CASE DISCOVERED IN MENDOCINO COUNTY. — On Tuesday July 22, the first case of West Nile Virus in Mendocino County since 2014 was reported by local health officials. They do not know if the infected individual was infected in Mendocino County or elsewhere. The patient attributed the infection to mosquito bites while out of state during the incubation period. The patient is reportedly recovering. The California Department of Public Health reported that the state's first West Nile virus death of this year occurred earlier this week in Nevada County, when a senior citizen died of the virus. No other human West Nile cases have been reported this year in California, according to www.westnile.ca.gov. Contracting West Nile does not always produce symptoms, but severe symptoms occur in less than 1% percent of those infected, including high fever, headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, tremors, coma, convulsions, muscle loss, numbness, paralysis and vision loss. The symptoms can last for several weeks and neurological effects may be permanent. Mild symptoms occur in up to 20% cases such as fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting and/or swollen lymph glands or a rash on the chest, stomach and back. Officials estimate that about 80% of those infected do not exhibit symptoms do not feel ill. Persons over 50 are at a higher risk to develop serious symptoms. Precautions include avoid spending time outdoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active; wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts when outdoors and use insect repellent; eliminate standing water where mosquitoes breed; and make sure screens do not allow the entry of mosquitos.
photo by Annie Kalantarian
I AM THE VERY MODEL OF A MODERN MAJOR-GENERAL
I am the very model of a modern Major-General,
I've information vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical,
From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical;
I'm very well acquainted too with matters mathematical,
I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical,
About binomial theorem I'm teeming with a lot o' news---
With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse.
I'm very good at integral and differential calculus,
I know the scientific names of beings animalculous;
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General.
I know our mythic history, King Arthur's and Sir Caradoc's,
I answer hard acrostics, I've a pretty taste for paradox,
I quote in elegiacs all the crimes of Heliogabalus,
In conics I can floor peculiarities parabolous.
I can tell undoubted Raphaels from Gerard Dows and Zoffanies,
I know the croaking chorus from the Frogs of Aristophanes,
Then I can hum a fugue of which I've heard the music's din afore,
And whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense Pinafore.
Then I can write a washing bill in Balylonic cuneiform,
And tell you every detail of Caractacus's uniform;
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General.
In fact, when I know what is meant by "mamelon" and "ravelin",
When I can tell at sight a chassepôt rifle from a javelin,
When such affairs as sorties and surprises I'm more wary at,
And when I know precisely what is meant by "commissariat",
When I have learnt what progress has been made in modern gunnery,
When I know more of tactics than a novice in a nunnery:
In short, when I've a smattering of elemental strategy,
You'll say a better Major-General has never sat a gee---
For my military knowledge, though I'm plucky and adventury,
Has only been brought down to the beginning of the century;
But still in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General.
--Gilbert & Sullivan
photo by Susie de Castro
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Trump may not be the “cornpone Fascist” we were expecting, but that’s certainly the role he’s trying to play, and he’s got the qualifications. Donald Trump is good at one thing, and one thing only. He is a self-promoter, and he understands television. Everything he does on TV is well-conceived and on-point. His presentation doesn’t appeal to me, but I’m not his target audience. Trump is aiming at the WWE (Pro Wrestling) demographic, and he’s nailing it. It’s as if Trump has hired Vince McMahon to be his campaign manager.
Trump’s appearance is as absurd as the things he says, and his tactic of responding to the consequences of his bluster with more bluster is perfect. Our current corporate-owned media exists to sell the image of people in bathtubs (via Viagra, of course), and portrays every single opinion as being of equal value to every other opinion, unless of course that opinion runs counter to the consume/waste cycle, in which case the opinion isn’t reported at all. So Trump’s panderings to the violent revenge fantasies of the lower middle class are reported with the same weight as anything else, and more screen time because Trump is the best-known of any of the candidates not named “Hillary.”
Sure, America has an illegal immigration problem. Seeing as we have an enormous Southern border that is as unsecurable as our even longer Northern border, and a huge economic disparity with the neighboring nations to the South, there will be large numbers of migrant workers regardless of legal status. If that’s really a huge problem, the solution is to imprison those who hire illegal workers at sub-market wages. Since we’re not going to do that, it’s a moot point, and a malevolent political football at best. I think most of us would pay an addition 5% for fresh produce, and 15% for landscaping and light construction work, but even were we given the opportunity, it’s far more likely the “American Workers Only” premium would be skimmed off by corporate interests, and the work still done at slave-level wages.
As for the rest of Trump’s cultural mythological nonsense, it’s pitch-perfect. Nobody had more unearned advantage in the world than the American blue-collar worker post-1945, and nobody in America has lost more ground in the past 40 years. A windfall is not the “new normal,” but to the uneducated worker who got used to being able to support a family on a single 40-hour paycheck, without more than a high school diploma, reversion to the mean feels like malicious deprivation. Trump’s cleverness is to feed the fears and resentments of the lower-middle class, presenting those who have cut into the temporary high-water-mark that class achieved until about 1970 as the villains, while avoiding any discussion of how that one-time advantage happened in the first place, and certainly no real discussion of why that status is evaporation now. Hint: it’s not the illegal immigrants coming here to do work at wages we can’t afford to accept.
Anyway, cartoonishness is a regular feature of populist Fascists. Trump won’t be elected because the Elites still have enough control of political finance to prevent that, and Trump doesn’t actually want the job in the first place. Work is not exactly what Donald Trump does. He will, however, push the pool of candidates further to the Right than it has ever been before. He will accept honorary status as a celebrity with no obligations to anyone other than himself.
We’ve gotten to the point in the decline of Empire when people embrace magical solutions, no matter how fantastical. Wicker airport facilities, human sacrifice disguised as Sport, large-scale persecution of scapegoats; all these and more will become increasingly prevalent. Clowns will pop up to sell us easy magic, and some of the clowns will be revealed in time to be monsters.
No matter who gets elected next November, the corporate interests will get more of the wealth of the public diverted into their hands, and history will show the next President to be more like Commodus than Marcus Aurelius.