THE LIGHT RAIN that fell on much of NorCal Wednesday settled the dust but little more. The state remains dry despite a couple of feet of snow in the Sierras. The California Department of Public Health announced Wednesday that “17 communities and water districts could run dry within 100 days,” among them Cloverdale and Healdsburg. The threatened towns and water districts are mostly located in rural areas. They get their water in a variety of ways, from reservoirs to wells to rivers. But the rainless winter has left supplies approaching empty.

THE GOVERNOR’S DECLARATION of a drought emergency means State Health will be mobilized to help parched communities with new wells, connecting smaller water systems with larger systems and even with water hauling.

WILLITS, the Redwood Valley Community Water District and the Brooktrails Township Community Services District are limiting household draws on their disappearing supplies of water.


THE STATE OF THE UNION: Wednesday morning about 8, I was walking near the Lobos Creek Overlook at the western edge of the Presidio when two coyotes crossed the road in front of me, first one, then the other. I’d been thinking about Obama’s speech the night before. Somehow, the coyotes fit, a pair of wild animals in a tame city, poised for full reclamation when the improbable civilization surrounding them sank into full collapse.

I’ve seen a lone coyote twice in the same area. He also had taken his time, pausing on top of a sand dune to survey what he obviously assumed as his domain. These two Wednesday coyotes crossed the road then stood looking back at the big condo-ized veteran’s hospital whence they’d come. I stopped to watch them wait for whatever they were waiting for. Soon a third coyote trotted up and over the pavement to, I guess, his mom and pop. All three were large, healthy animals in the 60-70 pound range, much more robust then the furtive, hunted, hungry coyotes of the Mendocino County outback. Think of the implications. Three fully acclimated wild things in the heart of a major city! A young woman holding a tiny fifi dog walked up. She was holding her pet like a fullback holds a football, both arms wrapped around little fluff ball. “God! I’ll bet they’d like to get you, wouldn’t they sweetie?” She was talking to her dog, not me, although she addressed us both as if we were one in the same. It all somehow added up to the State of the Union speech of the previous evening — an effete anthromorph, condos, tank-size vehicles whizzing past, the plump pusses of their haughty occupants, coyotes.

I WATCH political speeches with the sound off. The visuals are much more truthful than the rhetoric, which always ranges from blandly delusional to full-on crazy. Boehner looked like he’d been on the slo-bake spit way too long. I’ve seen him drunk a couple of times, and more power to him. Biden, as always, was a living portrait of false feeling, laughing hysterically at something Boehner said post-speech, faking the right faces for Obama’s empty platitudes, a furrowed brow of concern for the “middleclass” when the boss invoked the middleclass, a mirthless smile at the boss’s little jokes. Biden’s so phony he can’t even fake a plausible phony. The Limo People, natch, thought the speech was boffo because they’re in no danger of becoming one of the 146 million Americans living at or below the poverty line, or the 30 million unemployed, certainly not the 7 million in prison. Those 7 million don’t include Lloyd Blankfein or Jamie Dimon, not that they did anything illegal because Bill Clinton had already made high-end theft legal, and the wolves of Wall Street are right back doing the same 2008 stuff, this time on an even larger scale. Culturally, it seems fair to say that this year’s Grammies represent the national gestalt. I wouldn’t have been surprised if a chorus line of naked twerkers followed Obama to the podium Tuesday night. Most nauseating, the live audience of draft dodgers and war mongers got to their feet for a kid who’d been blown up in one of the 30 obscure countries of the world where American special forces are knocking off alleged terrorists, while the noble opposition had as their guests the oafs from the Duck Dynasty, an unreality tv show.

MENDOCINO COUNTY’S state of the union is both like and unlike most of the rest of the country, a kind of hippo-dippo set-aside economically driven by dope, wine, various forms of government employment, a scattering of small businesses heavy on restaurants, the whole of it dependent on immigrant Mexican labor. If Mexicans disappeared tomorrow, thousands of Mendolanders would be wandering around with empty coffee cups wondering where their decaf lattes went. What used to be a real economy based on timber, fishing, sheep, and apples is long gone, just as manufacturing jobs in the rest of the country have been looted and exported by great patriots like Mitt Romney. And now America’s booze basket, us, is facing a drought that will seriously erode even the false dope and drink economy as working people everywhere in the land adjust to the new fact of American life, which is that their children cannot assume the material guarantees their parents, at least some of them, have enjoyed.



By Linda Williams/The Willits News

An unlimited civil claim was filed this month against CalTrans and the California Highway Patrol for actions leading up to and including the arrest in July of ‘The Willits News’ photographer Steve Eberhard. Eberhard was arrested while attempting to photograph Willits bypass protesters. The claim was filed on behalf of Eberhard by the law offices of Jassy Vick Carolan LLP.

While CalTrans and the CHP have the opportunity to settle the claim without court proceedings, it would be quite unusual for this to occur. The claim also states the facts of the case “give rise to several federal civil rights claims for damages and injunctive and declaratory relief.”

Eberhard was the only person physically arrested on July 23 as he attempted to photograph two protestors chained to construction equipment at a bypass construction site. Those chained to the equipment were cited and released and the 10 or more protesters who participated in the protest within the construction zone were neither cited nor arrested. As clearly seen in an amateur video taken at the time, Eberhard arrived at the protest site about 40 minutes after the protest began. Eberhard and the CHP arrest report agree that Eberhard approached the closest CHP officer, told him he was a photojournalist, that he had called for a CalTrans escort and left a message and that he wanted to take photos of the two persons chained to the equipment. Within 43 seconds of Eberhard greeting and shaking hands with the officer he is being cuffed, as evidenced by the video.

CHP officers confiscated the journalist’s cameras and cell phone as “evidence” despite state and federal laws protecting against seizure of newsgathering materials–even with a warrant. The cameras were taken separately to the CHP offices in Ukiah and held until later in the day.

After the arrest, Eberhard, a 65-year-old Vietnam War veteran who has had four shoulder surgeries, was handcuffed tightly behind his back and placed in a patrol car for an extended period. Eberhard told one of the arresting officers about the pain from his shoulder injury and the officer told him “you should have thought of that before you walked into here,” according to Eberhard. Some time later, after Eberhard spoke with a CHP sergeant about his shoulder injury, the arresting officers removed Eberhard from the squad car and re-cuffed him more loosely before returning him to the car.

The Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office found insufficient evidence to charge Eberhard with any crime and refused to prosecute. The claim states officers “(Christopher W.) Dabbs and (Kory) Reynolds arrested Eberhard without a warrant, without reason to believe he violated any law and without any other legal justification.”

This arrest followed months of intimidation and threats by CHP officers towards Eberhard, as detailed in the claim.

“This is the kind of behavior that happens in third world countries, not California,” says James Ewert, general counsel for the California Newspaper Publishers Association

After Eberhard’s arrest CalTrans and the CHP changed local policies to provide access for ‘The Willits News’ and other media to newsworthy events along the bypass route, even during inconvenient hours.

California trespass law excludes those conducting constitutionally protected activities, such as newsgathering, when the individual is not interfering with the lawful enjoyment of the owner’s property rights. CalTrans has claimed from the beginning its reasons for limiting ‘The Willits News’ journalists from the disputed work site were aimed at protecting the safety of the journalists.

“As a photojournalist for The Willits News it was my job to document the Willits bypass construction and protests over the construction in a fair and impartial way,” says Eberhard in a prepared statement. “The Willits bypass is highly controversial and many people in the area want to know what is going on. I am credentialed with The Willits News press pass and a Mendocino County Sheriff’s press pass. Practically anywhere else this allows me to cross police lines. There was no confusion on the part of the two CHP officers who arrested me in the early morning of July 23, 2013. They knew my role as a photojournalist. Some CHP officers implemented intimidation toward me as a normal practice for several months. My motivation in filing the suit is to protect the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”

In the months leading up to the arrest, the claim includes actions taken by specific CHP officers who allegedly targeted ‘The Willits News’ photojournalist Eberhard with threats of arrest and other forms of intimidation. In one instance CHP Officer Teddy Babcock is alleged to have committed assault and battery against Eberhard, even though Eberhard was being escorted by CalTrans personnel at the time.

The CHP did not limit its scope of enforcement during this period to posted CalTrans property, at times expanding enforcement of exclusion zones to include county, city and non-posted state property. Communication between the two agencies were frequently confused, as at times no one seemed to be setting policy, with some CHP officers stating it was CalTrans orders prohibiting press access and CalTrans representatives stating access was CHP’s “call.” CHP also did not have a consistent worksite protocol, with some officers allowing press presence and others forbidding it.

The claim also calls into question the “concerted effort between CHP and CalTrans to falsely represent the facts of the arrest in the press and to falsely portray Eberhard within his own journalistic community as a protester in order to destroy his credibility as a neutral fact gatherer in retaliation for and to chill the exercise of his state and federal constitutional rights.”

The state and federal constitution gives journalists the “rights to gather news for dissemination to the public on important matters of public interest, to photograph peace officers in the performance of their duties,” according to the claim.

Establishing that a person is physically on state property does not, by itself, establish the crime of trespassing. Violating the trespassing statute, cited by the officers in Eberhard’s arrest report, requires “entering any lands…for the purpose of injuring any property or property rights or with the intention of interfering with, obstructing, or injuring any lawful business or occupation carried on by the owner of the land.”

While the officers cited and released the two persons actually chained to equipment and causing a work stoppage, the arrest report, prepared by Dabbs and approved by CHP Sgt. Braden Moffett, stated Eberhard was not cited and released because he “would be reasonably likely to continue the offense or offenses, or the safety of persons or property would be imminently endangered if immediately released.” In Dabbs report he stated Officer Reynolds, knew Eberhard was a member of the media, and arrested him under the trespassing statute.

On August 28, CHP Northern Division Chief Bridgett T. Lott contradicted the CHP arrest report, video evidence, on-site interviews with witnesses and Eberhard’s statement of events by claiming in a letter to the Society of Environmental Journalists that Eberhard had been “originally acting as part of a group of protesters, when all other protesters had left the site as requested, Mr. Eberhard remained.”

The claim states,” these statements were false and known to be false when stated but nevertheless were published for the purpose of further intimidating and chilling the exercise of Eberhard’s state and federal constitutional speech rights and in further retaliation for his legitimate newsgathering activities, including photographing peace officers in the performance of their duties on numerous prior occasions.”

(Courtesy, the Willits News



By Clancy Sigal

There are all sorts of ways to celebrate the life of Pete Seeger, but the one I prefer is a deliberately forgotten and suppressed album, “Songs for John Doe”.

Much of his life Pete was hounded by rightwing blacklisters, but the John Doe songs were kept under lock and key by the left.

The John Doe album, by the Almanac Singers (who later morphed into the gentler, more mainstream Weavers of “Goodnight Irene” Top Ten fame), was released in spring 1941 before Pearl Harbor. Lyrics by Pete and Millard Lampell, it reflected the Communist left’s antiwar “isolationist” pacifism at a time when Hitler had invaded western Europe but not yet Russia. It was the Party line at the time. These wonderful, trenchant songs are incredibly up to date now, but suddenly were out of sync when on June 22, 1941 Hitler blitzkrieged Stalin and the line changed.

Let Bess Lomax, an Almanac singer, tell it: “The Almanacs… were inevitably affected by the intense national debate between the “warmongers” and the “isolationists”…Before every booking we had to decide: were we going to sing some of our hardest-hitting and most eloquent songs, all of which were antiwar, and if we weren’t, what would we sing anyway? … Woody Guthrie wrote a song that mournfully stated: “I started out to write a song to the entire population / But no sooner than I got the words down, here come a brand new situation”.

Poor Woody, poor Bess, caught up in the slipstream of history and the CP’s ever-shifting line.

On the other hand, there were the John Doe songs themselves which I heartily sang until I was dragged before the leftwing bishops and commanded to shut my mouf because FDR’s “President New Deal” had changed to “President Win the War.”

Overnight neither for love nor money could you find a trace of John Doe in any radical book or record store.

So let’s remember Pete before he became America’s folkie grandfather welcomed to the White House by presidents.

“Oh, Franklin Roosevelt

Told the people how he felt

‘I hate war, so does Eleanor

But we won’t be safe till everybody’s dead.”


“Will you go to the war, Billy boy, Billy boy?

Will you go to the war, charmin’ Billy?

It’s a long ways away, they are dying every day.

He’s a young boy and cannot leave his mother.

Can you use a bayonet, Billy boy, Billy boy?

Can you use a bayonet, charmin’ Billy?

No, I haven’t got the skill to murder and to kill…

Don’t you want a silver medal, Billy boy, Billy boy?

Don’t you want a silver medal, charmin’ Billy?

No desire do I feel to defend Republic Steel…

Don’t you want to see the world, Billy boy, Billy boy?

Don’t you want to see the world, charmin’ Billy?

No, it wouldn’t be much thrill to die for Dupont in Brazil…

Girls would like your uniform, Billy boy, Billy boy.

Girls would like your uniform, charmin’ Billy.

They wouldn’t get much chance to love me with six feet of earth above me…”

R.I.P. Pete.

(Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Hemingway Lives.)



“I decline to discuss, under compulsion, where I have sung, and who has sung my songs, and who else has sung with me, and the people I have known. I love my country very dearly, and I greatly resent this implication that some of the places that I have sung and some of the people that I have known, and some of my opinions, whether they are religious or philosophical, or I might be a vegetarian, make me any less of an American. I will tell you about my songs, but I am not interested in telling you who wrote them, and I will tell you about my songs, and I am not interested in who listened to them.”

Seeger was later indicted by a federal jury on 10 counts of contempt of Congress. He was convicted on all counts and sentenced to 10 concurrent one-year prison terms, which he never served. In 1962, the convictions were overturned.

One of the more memorable exchanges in an extraordinary and historic piece of testimony went this way:

MR. SEEGER: I feel that in my whole life I have never done anything of any conspiratorial nature and I resent very much and very deeply the implication of being called before this Committee that in some way because my opinions may be different from yours, or yours, Mr. Willis, or yours, Mr. Scherer, that I am any less of an American than anybody else. I love my country very deeply, sir.

CHAIRMAN WALTER: Why don’t you make a little contribution toward preserving its institutions?

MR. SEEGER: I feel that my whole life is a contribution. That is why I would like to tell you about it.

CHAIRMAN WALTER: I don’t want to hear about it.



Ortner Management Group optimistic

By Kristina Grogan

Six months after assuming the lead in reorganizing adult mental health services for Mendocino County, the Ortner Management Group is assessing the on-going transition with a sense of strong optimism. Mendocino County’s Board of Supervisors awarded the contract for adult mental health services to OMG at its meeting on May 21, 2013.

“The transition has been challenging,” admits Tom Ortner, Chief Executive Officer of the Ortner Management Group. “But, throughout the transition, we have had wonderful support and cooperation from the County’s Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA), the hospitals and law enforcement. We have especially appreciated the many expressions of support from individuals, agencies, community partners and communities throughout the county and are continuing the work of engaging the public about the changes made to services since July 1, 2013.”

When asked about accomplishments from the first six months, Ortner said, “I would say that we have made some real progress in improving crisis services in the county. We now have Access Center locations situated in both Fort Bragg and Ukiah. Having the two Access Centers has reduced the crisis response time to emergency rooms to less than 30 minutes in Ukiah and less than an hour in Willits and Fort Bragg. The time required to move people through the ER has been reduced dramatically, and law enforcement officers involved with mental health crisis situations now spend less “down time” at the hospitals.

Another accomplishment, according to Ortner, includes the addition of two psychiatrists to the transition team. These physician additions provide urgent care responses for medication management and psychiatric assessments, medical oversight to 5150 involuntary holds, and community liaison with emergency rooms, clinics and physicians.

“Psychiatrists provide the expertise that no one else in the system is trained to do,” says Ortner. “Psychiatric involvement, whether direct or indirect, is key to mental health restoration and maintenance for the seriously mentally ill.”

“Building service capacity on both the local level and regionally was something that we were able to accomplish during the first six months.” Ortner reported that this served to provide uninterrupted care for all clients in outpatient and 24-hour care placements. Local nonprofit agencies and individual providers shored up many outpatient levels of care at both inland and coastal sites. “These agencies took on the large task of managing the care of more than 400 seriously mentally ill clients, providing outpatient therapy, offering senior peer counseling services to the elderly, and offering wellness and maintenance services for the mentally ill living in the community. Local and regional placement sites for 24-hour care services were made ready by July 1, 2013 and patient care was not interrupted by the transition,” according to Ortner. The 24-hour placement sites included psychiatric hospitals, rehabilitation centers and residential care facilities.

Though these services are improved,” Ortner continues, “we still have more to do to. We would like to increase the mental health urgent care services in Fort Bragg and add coverage options to some remote areas of the county. Housing is an important element in caring for the seriously mentally ill. We are currently working on several projects both inland and on the coast to address this need.”

When asked what’s next, Ortner replied, “The developmental phase of the transition is now pretty complete. We are now into the operational improvement phase. In many cases temporary facilities have recently moved to appropriately sized and equipped sites, computer infrastructure was built and implemented and system protocols were evaluated and modified to meet the County’s needs. Additionally, many of our local providers have undertaken the process to become Medi-Cal certified and have prepared their staff to meet the qualifications to perform many outpatient mental health services. This process has taken much longer than anyone wanted,” Ortner stated, “but it is a linear process and has reached the point where the County and the providers are now waiting for final written confirmation of their status from the State. The certification is critical to the sustainability of many of the services in the new system of care. Orientation and training for staff to perform these new services will continue to be a priority during this phase.”

“The transition has not been easy. Transitions of this complexity require much planning and determination,” Ortner continued, “The limited time interval between awarding of the contract and the date for implementation required urgent action on many fronts in order to sustain a focus on the most needy. I am extremely grateful to our community partners, our leadership team and HHSA Behavioral Health and Recovery Services transition team for the effort they have put forward to support the transition. Because of these efforts client services have not been compromised.” Ortner cited a priority list and plan that was implemented on July 1, 2013 that established crisis services in Ukiah and Fort Bragg, contracted a continuum of 24-hour care service providers, and increased psychiatric manpower to cover transitional urgent care needs. “We are working with our County partner to maintain other outpatient services so that a complete system of care remains functional during transition.”

“There is always more to do” Ortner says. “And, time is a precious commodity during a transition. We are pleased with the progress made to date and are optimistic about the improvements to come over the next six months. We look forward to the many ways in which a revitalized mental health system can more effectively address the day-to-day needs of the people we are organized to serve.”

Kristina Grogan is the Communication Coordinator for the Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency. She can be reached at (707) 467-5816.


ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY: I went to the big RV show this weekend. The one where every dealer within 50 miles brings their RVs under the roof (and some outside) so the RVing crowd doesn’t have to run all over the place to browse the various brands of pretty much identical floor plans.

It was crowded. There were markdowns galore – savings of $75K for the largest was common, and for the first-timer, $5K! We own one of those neat A-Frame popup campers that can be towed behind a crossover with very little consequence – bought it used, immaculate and cheap – and we use it when we head to a lake within AAA’s RV+ plan’s 100 mlle towing distance – beats a tent and the bears can’t break in.

Some of these guys, though, are putting down fifty grand on a trailer that can sleep eight, and provide a Super-Bowl watching experience! There’s toy-haulers that have an entire back wall fold down and move-out-of-the-way beds so the lucky camper can bring his dirt motorcycles to boot! There’s slide outs that expand the vehicle into practically a full-sized house on wheels.

Of course it’s all cheap, lightweight stuff that’s bound to leak right after the warranty expires. Guess what the payments are for a $70K Class-C drivable RV; try $250 per month for 240 months! That’s indentured servitude – twenty years of it! Some of these guys buying RVs won’t even live long enough to pay the thing off. What’s even funnier is, the RVs themselves won’t last as long as 20 years and everyone knows it.

The RV industry a god damned racket. When we bought our RV, I tried in vain to price them out. They advertise these fantastic mark-downs at the dealerships – make you feel stupid for not buying into the dream if you manage to escape the store. What’s worse, they don’t care if you walk – there’s always another sucker. We made sure we bought an RV that had some kind of re-sale value – check for yourself, the Chalet/A-liner A-frames hold their value very well very much because one’s free from the two-vehicle enhancement problem. That’s another part of this racket – the dealers will lead you to believe your half-ton pickup or suburban (150/1500 series) will be enough to haul a 4500lb RV – but even after the sway-bars are added (another expense) the pickup will itself sway in a very frightening way.

No, what the lucky camper finds out is that they have to upgrade their tow-vehicle – and they better – because that RV they just bought is NOT REFUNDABLE and now worth almost HALF of what they paid. As soon as the toilet’s used, it’s like dirty goods.

Not far from the show was an empty K-Mart (still in business) parking-lot full of repossessed RVs for very “attractive” prices.

There’s the followup warranty process, too – where they try and extract yet another few thousand dollars so you won’t have to worry about replacing the propane-powered refrigerator when it breaks down.

Footing all of this are the banks – they’re fully cognizant that these RVs will (1) never be paid for, (2) won’t last the 15 to 20 years it takes to pay them off; they’re betting that the RVers will continue to trade-up and up and up and up until the carcasses of the older ones no longer appear in the books.

It was at the RV show I could see with my naked eyes the blasphemy that has befallen many of us here in the US where Business as Usual is preached as it can continue unabated for years and years to come.

I know better than that!


JOHN SAKOWICZ WRITES: The KZYX Board now has a confirmed location for its next meeting on Monday, March 3, at 6:00 PM — the Redwood Senior Center, 490 N. Harold St., Ft. Bragg, CA. Please encourage the public to attend what promises to be a very spirited meeting.

See: http://www.kzyx.org/index.php/station-business/next-meeting

“KZYX Members for Change” are working hard to be back the “public” in public radio. Also, there will soon be an election for new members of the Board of Directors, with a slate of three candidates committed to positive change. Remember: Public radio is not a private clubhouse operated on behalf of a few insiders. It’s your station, our station. All of us. The people. If we have that vision, the people will have their radio station. “A very great vision is needed, and the people who have it must follow it like the eagle to the deepest blue of the sky.”…Tȟašúŋke Witkó, literally “His-Horse-is-Crazy”; born Cha-O-Ha, meaning “In The Wilderness” or “Among the Trees”



Willits – Due to the recent change in weather and fuel moisture conditions, CAL FIRE Mendocino Unit Chief Christopher P. Rowney, in conjunction with the Mendocino County Fire Chiefs Association, and the Mendocino County Air Quality Management District (MCAQMD), will rescind the 2014 Countywide Burn Suspension of dooryard and large pile burning on State Responsibility Area (SRA) officially tomorrow morning Thursday, January 30, 2014, at 12:01 AM. The suspension may be reinstituted if the weather and fuel conditions revert to the hazardous fire conditions the County was experiencing earlier in January.

The Burn Suspension has been lifted but burn permits are still required. Residents are advised to check the dates on their Burn Permit to ensure it is still valid. Burning Permits may be obtained at CAL FIRE’s Howard Forest Headquarters office Monday through Friday 8 AM to 5 PM. Additionally, permits may be obtained from 8 AM to 5PM at the following CAL FIRE locations. Not all CAL FIRE Stations are staffed seven days a week; please contact your local Station to assure staffing will be available to assist you.



California Department of Fish and Wildlife Press Release

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has closed some waters to fishing in order to protect native salmon and steelhead from low water flows in California streams and rivers that have been significantly impacted by drought. CDFW is also recommending that the Fish and Game Commission adopt emergency regulations on other rivers.

“We fully understand the impact these closures will have on California anglers and the businesses related to fishing in California, and we really feel for them,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “However the science is clear. Two-thirds of the wettest part of winter is now behind us and conditions are looking increasingly grim. Under these extreme drought conditions, it is prudent to conserve and protect as many adult fish as possible to help ensure the future of fishing in California.”

CDFW has the authority under Title 14, Article 4, Section 8.00(c) to close south central coast streams to fishing from December 1 through March 7 when it determines that stream flows are inadequate to provide fish passage for migrating steelhead trout and salmon… [parts of this press release not relating to the North Coast have been removed. The entire release can be found here.]

In addition, CDFW has the authority under Title 14, Article 4, Section 8.00(a) to close north coast streams to fishing from September 1 (Mad River) and October 1 (all others) through January 31 when it determines that the flow at any of the designated gauging stations is less than minimum flows stated in regulation. As a result, the following streams are closed to all fishing through January 31 (however, CDFW is requesting this be extended to April 30 as noted in the recommendations to the Fish and Game Commission below, recommendation #3):

The main stem Eel River from the paved junction of Fulmor Road with the Eel River to the South Fork Eel River.

The South Fork of the Eel River downstream from Rattlesnake Creek and the Middle Fork Eel River downstream from the Bar Creek.

The main stem Van Duzen River from its junction with the Eel River to the end of Golden Gate Drive near Bridgeville.

The main stem Mad River from the Hammond Trail Railroad Trestle to Cowan Creek.

The main stem of the Mattole River from the mouth to Honeydew Creek.

The main stem of Redwood Creek from the mouth to its confluence with Bond Creek.

The main stem Smith River from the mouth of Rowdy Creek to the mouth of Patrick Creek (tributary of the Middle Fork Smith River); the South Fork Smith River from the mouth upstream approximately 1,000 feet to the County Road (George Tyron) bridge and Craig’s Creek to its confluence with Jones Creek; and the North Fork Smith River from the mouth to its confluence with Stony Creek.

Further, CDFW is recommending that the Fish and Game Commission adopt the following emergency regulations at its February 5, 2014 meeting:

Closure of the American River from Nimbus Dam to the SMUD power line crossing at the southwest boundary of Ancil Hoffman Park until April 30.

Closure of the Russian River main stem below the confluence of the East Branch of the Russian River until April 30.

Extension of the low flow restrictions angling closures for the north coast and central coast areas (above San Francisco Bay) through April 30.

Close all portions of any coastal stream west of any Highway 1 bridge until April 30.

There are still plenty of opportunities for California anglers to catch fish in the state’s rivers and streams outside of the closures listed above. Additionally, California’s coast offers substantial ocean fishing. Both are subject to current regulations already in place. For more on fishing in California, please visit http://www.dfg.ca.gov/fishing/.

Current low stream flow conditions will prevent the movement of migrating anadromous fish, primarily wild steelhead trout. Stream flows in many systems are inadequate to allow passage of spawning adults, increasing their vulnerability to mortality from predation, physiological stress and angling. Furthermore, survival of eggs and juvenile fish in these systems over the coming months is likely to be extremely low if the current drought conditions continue. These temporary angling closures on selected streams will increase survival of adult wild steelhead.

Yesterday CAL FIRE announced it hired 125 additional firefighters to help address the increased fire threat due to drought conditions, and the California Department of Public Health identified communities at risk of severe water shortages and announced efforts to assist those communities. Earlier this week, the California Natural Resources Agency, the California Environmental Protection Agency and the California Department of Food and Agriculture released the California Water Action Plan, which will guide state efforts to enhance water supply reliability, restore damaged and destroyed ecosystems and improve the resilience of our infrastructure. Governor Brown has called on all Californians to reduce their water usage by 20 percent and last week, the Save Our Water campaign announced four new public service announcements that encourage residents to conserve. Last December, the Governor formed a Drought Task Force to review expected water allocations and California’s preparedness for water scarcity. In May 2013, Governor Brown issued an Executive Order to direct state water officials to expedite the review and processing of voluntary transfers of water and water rights.

CDFW low flow closure hotlines:

North coast: (707) 822-3164
. Central coast: (707) 944-5533
. South central coast: (831) 649-2886



by Dan Bacher, January 27, 2014

The year 2013 was the driest year on record in California, with rivers such as the Capital City’s American reduced to the lowest flows in decades.

Besides drought, the year was overshadowed by the amping up of Governor Jerry Brown’s Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels to export water to corporate agribusiness and Southern California water agencies. The over 40,000 pages of the plan and environmental documents were released on December 13.

Meanwhile, the forces against the tunnels continue to build momentum, with a number of rallies and protests held against the plan during the year, culminating with a big protest of over 400 people at the State Capitol on December 13.

Other environmental crimes of note include the Westlands Water District’s unsuccessful litigation attempting to block the release of Trinity River water down the Klamath to avert a possible fish kill, the passage of Senate Bill 4 to greenlight fracking in California and the release of the fall midwater trawl survey documenting record low numbers of Delta smelt, longfin smelt and other species.

In addition, the export of massive quantities of water from Shasta, Oroville and Folsom reservoirs all summer resulted in extremely low lake levels, the violation of water standards protecting spawning winter run salmon on the Sacramento and the relaxing of Delta water standards.

To honor those who did the best to exterminate fish populations, violate the public trust and crush fishing rights in 2013, we are proudly giving out the “Cold, Dead Fish” awards for deserving individuals, elected officials, organizations and agencies.

We’ll start off with the “Foot in the Mouth” prize that goes to former Deputy Resources Secretary Jerry Meral, who became the focus of a huge controversy when he acknowledged on April 15, 2013 that “BDCP is not about, and has never been about saving the Delta. The Delta cannot be saved.’”

He made his controversial comments while speaking with Tom Stokely of the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN) in a private conversation after a meeting with Northern California Indian Tribes, as first revealed in Restore the Delta’s “Delta Flows” newsletter.

After Meral made the revealing, candid comments, five Congressional Democrats – George Miller, Mike Thompson, Jerry McNerney, Doris Matsui and Anna Eshoo – called for Meral’s immediate resignation. Meral rejected those initial calls for his resignation, but did resign from his position on December 31 to go work for the Natural Heritage Institute, a corporate “environmental” NGO, to promote the tunnels.

The Westlands Water District and San Luis Delta Mendota Water Authority filed a lawsuit in federal court in Fresno on August 7 in an attempt to stop increased flows on the Trinity River set to begin on August 13, a move that threatened to cause another fish kill on the river like that of September 2012.

The Hoopa Valley Tribe, Yurok Tribe and Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA) responded by intervening in the lawsuit in support of increased releases down the Trinity. Fortunately, Fresno Federal Judge Lawrence O’Neill Thursday on August 22 lifted a temporary restraining order blocking releases of cold water from Trinity River reservoirs intended to help migrating salmon avoid an Ich parasite infestation similar to one on the Klamath River in 2002 that killed over 34,000 adult salmon.

For their underhanded attack on salmon and other fish, the district and authority win the coveted “Unsuccessful Salmon Exterminator” award.

In yet one more example of the revolving door between government and huge corporations that defines politics in California now, State Senator Michael Rubio (D-Bakersfield) on February 22 suddenly announced his resignation from office in order to take a “government affairs” position at Chevron.

Rubio, who was leading the charge to weaken the landmark California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and make it friendlier to corporations, said he resigned in order to spend more time with his family.

Then on September 18, Governor Jerry Brown appointed Laura King Moon of Woodland, a lobbyist for the state’s water exporters, as chief deputy director of the California Department of Water Resources (DWR)!

Moon has been a project manager for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan since 2011 while “on loan” from the State Water Contractors, a non-profit association of 27 public agencies from Northern, Central and Southern California that purchase water under contract from the California State Water Project.

For their outstanding efforts to serve corporate interests at the expense of fish, rivers the oceans and the people of California, Rubio and King Moon are proudly bestowed the “Revolving Door of Corruption” award.

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, receives the “Toxic Avenger/Petro Princess” award for overseeing the removal of fishermen and tribal gatherers from vast tracks of California ocean waters as the Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast while lobbying for the expansion of offshore oil drilling, fracking and the construction of the Keystone Pipeline.

Not only did these alleged “marine protected areas” fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling, pollution, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts other than fishing and gathering, but it was revealed by Freedom of Information Act documents in the summer of 2013 that the massive fracking of Southern California waters was taking place during the 8 years that Reheis-Boyd was serving on the task forces for the South Coast, Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Central Coast.

In 2013, the Obama administration continued and expanded the Bush administration war on salmon and other fish, as evidenced by the Bureau of Reclamation’s sharp cut in reservoir releases that left the eggs of recently spawned fall-run Chinook salmon high and dry in the upper section of the Sacramento River from Redding to Chico.

Reclamation reduced water releases into the upper Sacramento River from 6000 cubic feet per second (CFS) on November 1 to 3750 CFS on November 25. Many fall run salmon built redds in October and early November in the shallows during higher water conditions.

This carnage took place after a spring when nearly half of the winter-run chinook salmon perished in canals and drainage ditches in the Sacramento Valley and after a summer when the Department of Water Resources and Reclamation released massive quantities of water down Central Valley rivers to export to corporate agribusiness. For their efforts to destroy salmon and other fish populations, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation receives the “Rotting Winter Run Chinook” award.

The recent killing of salmon eggs takes place as the Obama administration continues and expands some of the worst environmental policies of the Bush administration, just as Governor Jerry Brown continues and expands some of the worst environmental policies of the Schwarzenegger administration.

The Obama administration’s horrible environmental policies include backing the construction of two massive fish-killing tunnels under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, promoting the privatization of fisheries through the “catch shares” program, and fast-tracking the approval of genetically engineered salmon for human consumption.

For his outstanding efforts to exterminate fisheries, President Barrack Obama is proudly bestowed the “Dead Fish President” plaque.

Many fish populations have collapsed to record low levels in the past few years, due to massive export of Delta water to corporate agribusiness, developers and oil companies under the Obama and Brown administrations.

The most recent salmon egg and fish carnage occurs as part of larger ecosystem collapse, the result of long history of water exports and poor water management by the state and federal water agencies. Since the State Water Project began exporting water in 1967, water exports have increased by more than 60% while outflow to the Bay has declined by more than 40%.

Since 1967, populations of Delta smelt are down 98.9%, striped bass 99.6%, longfin smelt 99.7%, American shad 89.1%, threadfin shad 98.1% and splittail down 99.4%, according to Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA.) Steelhead and winter-run salmon are down 91.7% and 95.5%, respectively.

This ecosystem collapse couldn’t have taken place without the active cooperation and collaboration of the California Natural Resources Agency, the Department of Water Resources and Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). For their role in continuing this ecosystem collapse, Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin, Natural Resources Secretary John Laird and CDFW Director Chuck Bonham win the “Extinct Delta Smelt” award.

Senator Fran Pavley gets the “Fracking Champion” prize for sponsoring the only fracking bill to emerge from the Legislature, an already weak bill that was further gutted by the oil industry at the last minute.

Senate Bill 4, the green light for fracking bill, will result in the expansion of the heavily polluting oil extraction process in California’s ocean waters and land where Monterey Shale is located. The toxic discharges resulting from fracking will pollute groundwater and streams and threaten already struggling anadromous and ocean fish populations.

On September 20, Governor Jerry Brown signed Pavley’s “greenlight to fracking” bill with poison pill amendments that make CEQA review of fracking permits optional and prevent imposing a moratorium on fracking for 15 months. He signed the oil industry-friendly bill after receiving at least $2.49 million over several years from oil and natural gas interests.

Besides the expansion of fracking, Brown’s horrible environmental policies include:

• Fast-tracking the $54.1 billion Bay Delta Conservation Plan to divert massive quantities of water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to corporate agribusiness, developers and oil companies.

• Pursuing water policies that resulted in the second lowest population levels of Delta smelt and American shad on record in the DFW’s fall midwater trawl survey, as well as the third lowest striped bass, the eighth lowest longfin smelt, and the fifth lowest threadfin shad indices.

• Trying to weaken or even eliminate CEQA, one of California’s greatest environmental laws, to fast-track big developments for giant corporations.

• Continuing Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s corrupt Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative, a privately funded process characterized by its numerous conflicts of interests, terminally flawed science, violation of the Yurok Tribe’s traditional fishing and gathering rights, and failure to actually protect the ocean.

For his many crimes against fish and the environment, Governor Jerry Brown receives the “Cold, Dead Fish” award for the second year in a row. Congratulations, Governor Brown, for going out of your way to pollute and destroy California’s river, lake and ocean waters!

For more information about Brown’s terrible environmental policies, go to: http://www.fishsniffer.com/blogs/details/governor-jerry-browns-10-worst-environmental-policies/

Nunes, McCarthy And Valadao in the running for 2014 Cold, Dead Fish award!

While Brown easily cinched the “coveted” Cold, Dead Fish” award for 2013, he already faces stiff competition for the 2014 awards from Congressmen Devin Nunes, Kevin McCarthy, and David Valadao.

On January 24, the three Central Valley Republicans, with the support of House Speaker John Boehner, convened in Bakersfield to announce the introduction of legislation to suspend the Endangered Species Act, allow the fish-killing Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta pumps to operate “as long as water is available” and to halt the San Joaquin River restoration plan.

“This is nothing more than a blatant, short-sighted water grab, fueled by years of political contributions from huge growers in the Westlands Water District and the Kern County Water Agency to these Central Valley Congressional Representatives,” summed up Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta.

Then on January 27, the House Republican Leadership tried to insert a provision into the Farm Bill to divert Northern California water toward San Joaquin Valley farms.

Congressman John Garamendi (Fairfield, CA), a Member of the Agriculture Committee, said, “After two years of negotiations over a Farm Bill, trying to sneak a water grab into the bill at the last minute was grossly irresponsible. It could have scuttled the legislation.”

“Specifically, the proposal would have turned on Delta pumps this year and next year, setting the stage to suck the Delta dry. This provision arrived at the 11th hour of negotiations over the Farm Bill, which is expected for a vote this week. Luckily for Northern California farmers, fishers, and small businesses, this last minute attempt was unsuccessfull,” according to Garamendi’s office.

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