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Valley People (Sept. 28, 2016)

BOONVILLE is surprised at the sudden closing of the popular Buckhorn Saloon. The Horn's owner, the affable and hardworking Tom Towey, has informally cited his frustrations with a range of problems, specifically mentioning employee theft and other staffing problems. "I'm done," Towey told a Boonville friend, "I can't keep doing this." The demise of the Buckhorn comes on the heels of the closure of All That Good Stuff and the rumored November closure of Libby's Restaurant in Philo due to Libby's retirement. The Buckhorn's premises are owned by long-time Anderson Valley residents, Gary and Virginia Island. The Islands also own the Philo Lath Mill and the nearby site of the defunct Philo lumber mill.

WE ARE INFORMED, however, that the Buckhorn will soon be back in business under new management. At least three local parties are interested.


THE JOHN WOLFE case: Wolfe is the former Navarro man facing felony assault charges for attacking Ann Knight, also of Navarro, back in July. The DA, in the form of prosecutor Kevin Davenport of Fort Bragg's Ten Mile Court, is rightly holding out for felony assault, while Wolfe hopes his vicious one-punch attack on the Navarro grandmother magically becomes a misdemeanor. Wolfe was in court again last week but nothing has been resolved as the matter was again put over. Wolfe, fired from his job at the Boonville brewery, has moved with his wife, a bartender at the Club Calpella, to the Ukiah area.

SURPRISING SEVERAL LOCAL SKEPTICS that a sewage and water system for South Boonville was unlikely, the Anderson Valley Community Services District voted unanimously to approve the engineering and planning services contract with the Sonoma County civil engineering firm of Brelje and Race. B&R will conduct a comprehensive study for a wastewater treatment system in downtown Boonville.

THE WORK will be done under a recently approved $500,000 grant from the State Water Resources Board and the studies it funds are expected to begin in October and be completed by about this time next year. "I anticipate that they will be getting right on this," said CSD Board chair Valerie Hanelt.

ANOTHER $500k grant for a downtown Boonville water system is "right behind this one," said Hanelt. The water system grant is more technically challenging because it involves an as-yet unknown number of test wells. Because the water system grant requires that the water system be built to provide for sprinklers in new buildings and higher volumes for fire engines and hydrants, planning is proportionately complicated.

OUR DISTRICT is in the process of finalizing a collection of “frequently asked” questions about the two projects to be posted soon on the district website.

ASKED if the water system might become too expensive to be approved by the voters in the affected South Boonville area, Ms. Hanelt said, "That's a moot point. The state requires it for the grant." However, she added, the state also requires that the ultimate system be "affordable," meaning that the base rate for a residential water and sewer service cannot exceed 2% of the monthly income of the property owners because Boonville is considered to be a low income area.

APPARENTLY, the state will boost funding for the project if the estimated costs (including long-term financing) exceed the 2% per month threshold.

INTERESTED PERSONS are directed to the CSD’s website at: (Click on "Water and Sewer Proposal for Boonville.") The District promises to keep the website current as the project moves forward.

ACCORDING TO AIRPORT MANAGER and CSD board member Kirk Wilder, a Little River-based air service and car rental operation called "Air Galore" is planning to position a rental car or two somewhere in Boonville for pilots who get fogged out on the Coast and have to land at Boonville International. Air Galore owner-operator Mary Fairbanks told us Friday that she is in the process of recruiting a part-time rep for Boonville, and that the rentals would be available to local non-pilots as well as pilots via a registration or as-available system. (For more info go to


BACK IN November of 2015, our scanner informed us of an incident that seemed to demand all our emergency services. But looked at almost a year later, and having met the author of the event, it was not all that big a deal, although it cost Clinton Worcester jail time and probation for a misdemeanor conviction. The scanner said an assault victim was "sitting in a white Jeep Patriot" near Jack's Valley Store. Earlier, scanner traffic indicated a "white male," subsequently identified as Clinton Worcester, had allegedly assaulted "a female" and could "possibly have a firearm." Worcester is locally famed for the tattooed line across his neck boldly inscribed, 'Cut Here." He also enjoys a local rep for amiability and as a five-year employee of Gowan's Apple Farm. I can vouch for the guy's amiability, and everyone agrees he works hard. The episode began as an argument between Worcester, his girlfriend and a third woman visiting the girlfriend from Los Angeles. The girlfriend got shoved, called 911 and a major turnout of emergency services ensued. The DA charged Mr. W with the usual skein of inflated charges,  with the alleged threat being charged as a felony, the alleged shove as misdemeanor domestic assault, letting air out of tires as felony vandalism. We met Sunday at the sandwich counter of Anderson Valley Market when Worcester introduced himself. He said he'd met the DA at the Fair and had given him an earful. I said I was sorry to hear of his travails, but I thought Eyster was a good DA in that he was reasonable. Worcester said Eyster had been "totally unreasonable" in his case. The justice system everywhere these days is a midnight swamp with no illuminated exit signs.

THE NAVARRO RIVER, an on-line exchange:

Bill Pilgrim. re: Navarro River. And just where does the water that fills all the ponds come from? Pumping groundwater exclusively? No chance. No mention here of creek diversions.

George Hollister. Interesting history of the Navarro. Interesting evolution. But transpiration from grapes being the primary factor effecting change in the Navarro is a stretch. The largest consumer of water in the Navarro Watershed is native vegetation. Grapes might be a distant second. Native vegetation is at a high point in at least the last 100 years. We don’t burn anymore, don’t maintain grass for livestock, and don’t clearcut. Transpiration and pumping water in themselves, are not as simple as adding and subtracting acre-feet, either. Not all water is available for transpiration, not all irrigated water goes out the leaves of a crop, not all ground water is on its way to the river, and a lot of pond water leaks back into ground.

Something else that has recently happened to our local estuaries is the introduction of seals and sea lions. The result is estuaries are no longer safe havens for salmon and steelhead waiting to move upstream and spawn. So these fish waiting to spawn stay outside the mouth, where it is now safer. This is independent from why the Navarro River closes now, when it did not in the past. We too often have found someone to scapegoat when it comes to fish. It used to be logging. Of course logging had nothing to do with the recent fish decline. Then there are the dams, and the farmers, and the fishermen, or human introduced striped bass, etc., etc. There are bigger forces at work here, and it is not human caused global warming either. Ocean conditions are what effect fish the most, and not freshwater habitat. There are too many things going on in the ocean we don’t understand, but we do know when there is food in the ocean for salmon there tend to be more, when there is not so much food in the ocean for salmon there tend to be fewer. To understand salmon and steelhead populations, look to the sea.

Marshall Newman. Re: Navarro River. The reason for reduced flow on the Navarro River is as plain as the vineyards that now carpet Anderson Valley. If the California Water Resources Board got tough on those pumping water from the Navarro River and its tributaries either unpermitted or in excess of their permits, the problem would be less. On another front, if the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association got serious – right now it isn’t even interested – about preserving the Navarro River and its tributaries, it would push growers to either dry farm or eliminate water use after the threat of spring frost has passed. If locals let both organizations know their concerns regarding the Navarro River, they will take action.

George Hollister. There is nothing pious about loggers and logging, the same as anybody else. But uncaring actions sometimes have good outcomes. And as you point out above, caring actions sometimes have disastrous outcomes. Science is supposed to sort this out, but it doesn’t, because scientists too often bring their preconceived prejudices into their scientific work. Locally, it was Fish and Game that cleared out our streams of heavy woody debris because this material was creating “fish blockages”, which to a small extent was true. But to a large part this debris was essential to freshwater salmon and steelhead habitat. So statistically, heavy woody debris is the single most important changeable component of freshwater habitat that effects salmon populations, not shade, not sediment, as is popularly stated. Why was the heavy woody debris considered to be so bad? Because uncaring and unpopular people, mostly loggers put the debris in the streams. Science was not behind the decision to clear our local streams, preconceived notions were. That nonscientific mindset in Fish and Wildlife continues today. PS. Why did the big changes in the Navarro happen before vineyards were common? PPS. Salmon and steelhead fishing has declined in every watershed in California, regardless of grapes, logging, dams, etc, or not. The decline is in parks. Wouldn’t that suggest that there is something bigger going on? And that we could put a moratorium on any water use, of any kind, in the Navarro watershed and the situation with fish would remain the same? PPPS. Here is something to reflect on, from a reliable source ( “There is a figure floating around the internet and many publications on redwoods that a mature tree can use up to 500 gallons of water on a hot summer day (picture those small swimming pools you can buy at Costco). So far, I have been unable to find a source but it is not as unrealistic a number as it might seem. There are studies showing large rainforest trees using upwards of 300 gallons, so 500 certainly seems possible. Regardless, this is not to say they need 500 gallons or even that they would want it, just that a huge, old tree could use that much if it were available.” OK, so how much has the redwood forest canopy increased in the Navarro watershed in the last 50 years? How about tanoak and other oaks, and douglas fir? And even if the right number were not 500 gallons per large tree, there is a lot more tree canopy out there, compared to 50 years ago. Canopy is what transpires water.

Bruce Anderson: I agree with Marshall Newman. I think it's pretty clear that there are now so many diversions upstream of the Navarro that every year the river silts up and closes at the mouth earlier. And there's drought, of course. But prior to grapes, the river was battered but flowing year round, although historically, in dry years, the river was down to a trickle below the Greenwood Bridge. Also, I wouldn't be too quick to write off vine aspiration as a major draw on the Anderson Valley's overall water depletion. My late friend Joe Neilands, a renowned bio-physicist at U.C. Berkeley, said he thought vine aspiration was sucking up many tons of annual water. He was trying to calculate more or less exactly how much, a project he was never able to complete. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that grape ops have had a major impact on the water depletion we now suffer in the Anderson Valley. Many of these new ventures have bought properties with legal riparian rights to our streams, but those rights were granted to old-guard property owners who used very small amounts of water for apples. No one could have anticipated the enormous draw by the wine industry we see today. And everywhere we look, there's another new vineyard. We have, basically, an industrial grape industry, heavy on herb and pesticides, plunked down in a small place by monied people (most of them) heedless of the collective impact they're having on the natural life of the Anderson Valley.

102 IN BOONVILLE by 1pm Sunday. The Weather Underground, the least inflammatory weather site, never exaggerates, so it really was over a hundred today most places five or so miles inland from the Pacific. Tomorrow in the 90s, Wednesday low 80s and that balmy mid-week weather begins a big cool down into the 60's by next weekend, with a chance of rain by Monday. Today seems to have been Summer's last gasp.

DEPT OF WRETCHED EXCESS, a neighbor writes: “Somewhere around the middle of last month it was reported on the Philo grapevine that at Timothy and Michele Mullins' occasionally occupied home above their Balo Winery a huge "cesspool" was being installed with lots of re-bar and water pipes. It was not until the first week in August that the Building Dept. files were checked to find out what was going on. Turns out that on September 31 a permit had been issued for an un-dimensioned swimming pool with a drawing that placed it in the same area as the reported "cesspool". A surreptitious evening inspection stepped off the pool at approximately 16 by 42 feet in size - 8 feet deep at one end. Now the grapevine is speculating that the water to fill it when completed will come from Indian Creek along with all the other appropriations that the Mullins' Balo industry makes. The pool will undoubtedly be therapeutic after the rare travails in Michele's $750,000 kitchen or the long road trips for Timothy in his multiple Lamborghinis.”

BOONVILLE LIBRARY IS BACK!  The Library will be reopening on Tuesday, October 4th. Bring in your books you read over the summer and check out the new books that were purchased. We will accept book donations. We are located in the Home Arts Building in the Fairgrounds. Our hours are Tuesday 1:30-4:30  and Saturday from 2-4.

IN A RE-MATCH last Friday night, this time in Laytonville, Laytonville squeezed past visiting Anderson Valley, 40-34. The Panthers travel to Rincon Valley this Saturday afternoon, 2pm, to take on the Crusaders.

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