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Skunk Train: from logging and tourism to drought relief

Jul 22, 2021
Michelle Blackwell

July 22, 2021 — The Skunk Train has been a fixture of Mendocino County since the late 1890’s, when it was built to service the logging industry. Over the decades, it transitioned to a transportation and tourist attraction. In 2013 a major cave-in of the tunnel shut down the  transportation service and the system focused on delivering adventures to tourists and families. Today the system is exploring a  more utilitarian service to the local community: drought relief.

July 21, 2021 — The two cannabis cultivation ordinances came into conflict at this week’s Board of Supervisors meeting, with the result that permits for 214 hoop houses on 36 sites are now under review. 

And the board received a report from scientists at the Berkeley Cannabis Research Center, asserting that cannabis requires about as much water as vegetable crops, far less than almonds or wine.

 

 

  

Redwood Valley facing aftermath of Broiler fire

Jul 20, 2021

July 20. 2021 — Redwood Valley is still sorting through the aftermath of the Broiler fire, from the lack of notifications to the power and water it took to fight the fire to rethinking fuel management strategies.

Flow Cannabis Company president Jerom Fawson issued a statement saying the July 7 fire quote “originated on our property, after the blades of a mower, operated by our employee, struck rock, causing a spark.” The company has not responded to requests for further comment.

July 19, 2021 — The cannabis cultivation ordinance has been at the center of controversy since the Board of Supervisors passed it less than a month ago. But the cannabis facilities ordinance was amended in May, with little fanfare. There were  just a few objections, some from small growers requesting more consideration for microbusinesses, and others from neighbors, most notably a church in Hopland, protesting the removal of the requirement for a 600 foot setback between cannabis facilities and churches.

July 16, 2021 — The deadline to file petitions for the referenda opposing Chapter 22.18, the county’s new cannabis cultivation ordinance, is fast approaching. Employees of a pro-ordinance group shadow signature gatherers and counter their arguments as they urge voters to sign, to get the item on the ballot, to repeal the ordinance in part or in full.

July 14, 2021 — The Delta variant has arrived in the county, as evidenced by full genome tests from late April. A letter-writing campaign based on shoddy science is seeking to spread misinformation about the efficacy of masks and social distancing in spreading covid-19, ahead of students returning to in-person classes.

Summer steelhead, forest health, and climate change

Jul 14, 2021

July 13, 2021 — Last month, summer steelhead were listed as endangered under the state Endangered Species Act, which highlighted some of the differences between the summer and winter stocks. Pat Higgins, a fish biologist and managing director of the Eel River Recovery Project, traces the life story of summer steelhead, from the run of the river to the health of the forest and finally, to its place in the pattern of worldwide climate change.

  

Barge water is out, stored water is in

Jul 12, 2021

July 12, 2021 — Barge water is out, and water storage is in. With shortages rapidly approaching a critical point in most parts of the county, water storage ideas are getting a lot of traction.  

At one point, bringing water into Noyo Harbor on a barge was an idea that had some currency. But at Thursday night’s virtual drought task force meeting, Alex Huang, of the State Water Resources Control Board, explained that this idea would not be feasible.

Alyssum Wier, Executive Director of the Arts Council of Mendocino County, talks about how local artists and arts organizations coped with the long months of pandemic shutdown, and how they're re-emerging as the county opens up again.

New law would transfer state property to tribes

Jul 8, 2021
Michelle Blackwell

A new law that transfers coastal property from the State of California to Native Americans will be a historic first. Mendocino tribes could take possession within a year, creating an 172 acre natural preserve south of Westport.  An interview with Melanie Rafanan, the Chair of the Sherwood Valley Band of Pomo Indians explains the process, obstacles and traditional uses of the land.

  

Tribal Chair ponders resource responsibility

Jul 7, 2021

July 7, 2021 — The current governor declared the latest California drought from the cracked, dry basin of Lake Mendocino, which is generally believed to provide some portion of water to 600,000 people from Coyote Valley Dam to Marin County. 

As per the original arrangement, Mendocino County is entitled to 11.3% of the water.

Counter-referendum effort underway

Jul 6, 2021

July 5, 2021 — The latest entry in the political canvassing effort around the recently enacted cannabis cultivation ordinance is Citizens for Sustainable Agriculture. That’s a pro-ordinance organization that’s hired a strategist and canvassers to persuade voters not to sign either of the referendum petitions currently in circulation.

Drought ad hoc considers approaches

Jul 5, 2021

July 5, 2021 — Possible responses to the drought range from relaxing permitting standards for water storage to calling on the National Guard or the state Office of Emergency Services. Josh Metz, the program manager for the newly revitalized county water agency, accompanied the drought ad hoc committee on a tour of drought-stricken communities last week, and discussed various approaches.

Medium: new gallery opening in Ukiah

Jul 2, 2021

July 2, 2021 — There’s a new addition to the art scene in Ukiah. The Deep Valley Arts Collective, which held online shows during the lockdown, is opening a gallery called Medium for the First Friday art walk today. The introductory show, in the freshened up former Radio Shack in the Pear Tree shopping center, is called Prologue, in anticipation of much to come.

For Chris Pugh, one of the three founding members, it’s been a long-time dream that crystallized during the isolation and unemployment of the pandemic.

Redistricting is coming up soon

Jul 1, 2021

July 1, 2021 — The 2020 census has come to a close, and now it’s time to think about redistricting. The final census numbers will probably be available by the end of September, and the county has until December 15th to readjust the borders of the supervisorial districts to reflect population changes. Each district is supposed to have roughly the same number of people, to ensure equal representation.

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