Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Sonoma Coast Cleanup 2017: sonomabeachcleanup.org
Laguna de Santa Rosa and Sebastopol Laguna Wetlands Preserve 2017: lagunadesantarosa.org/volunteer_lagunastewards.html
Petaluma River Cleanup 2017: friendsofthepetalumariver.org/project/conserve
Russian River Watershed Cleanup 2017: russianrivercleanup.org
Santa Rosa Creek-to-Coast Cleanup: srcity.org/2290/Creek-to-Coast-Cleanup
Mendocino County Coastal Cleanup Day: mendocinolandtrust.org/connect/coastal-cleanup-day
Sonoma Ecology Center Cleanup 2017: brownpapertickets.com/event/3042967
Do you find yourself dismayed or even tormented by images of seabirds, marine mammals, fish and other sealife with their guts full of plastic and other trash?
Here’s your chance to help, and it only takes a few hours.
Saturday marks the 33rd annual California Coastal Cleanup Day, an opportunity to rise to the defense of the ocean and its inhabitants by removing litter from local beaches and watersheds before winter rains and storm surges can sweep it out to sea.
Dozens of sites around the North Coast, both inland and at the ocean’s edge, are among more than 870 locations chosen statewide for volunteer cleanup crews to go to work on Saturday.
Locally, they include state and county beaches along the Sonoma Coast, from Jenner to Bodega Bay, as well as public beaches up and down the Mendocino Coast.But in growing recognition of the volume of discarded litter that washes coastward from rivers and streams, dozens of inland cleanups are planned, as well. Targeted waterways include the Russian River from Ukiah to Monte Rio, the Petaluma River, Santa Rosa Creek, the Laguna de Santa Rosa and several Sonoma-area parks and preserves.
“Ideally, this is the day everybody gives back to clean waterways,” Russian Riverkeeper Executive Director Don McEnhill said.
Read more at: California Coastal Cleanup Day coming Saturday, needs volunteers in Sonoma County | The Press Democrat –
J.D. Morris, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A large illegal marijuana farm trashed part of a remote section of land owned by Sonoma County’s open space district, requiring what is expected to be a costly cleanup and highlighting once more the scourge of renegade pot operations on public land.
The now-abandoned plot, which county officials estimated had more than 1,000 pot plants, was discovered by an ecologist about four months ago on the former Cresta Ranch, which takes in steep, forested land northeast of Santa Rosa. The public property is among some 1,000 acres of land designated to one day become the Mark West Creek Regional Park and Open Space Preserve.
Sonoma County supervisors voted Tuesday to pursue $50,000 in grant money from CalRecycle, the state solid waste agency, to help repair the site. The Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District would tap its sales tax revenue for a similar amount to help cover the estimated cleanup cost.
The decision Tuesday, which included the first public report on the pot farm’s discovery, comes as local voters are already casting mail-in ballots for Measure A, a proposed cannabis business tax that is the only countywide issue in the March 7 special election. Measure A funds are intended to help cover the cost of implementing the county’s new medical marijuana regulations and would assist with cleanup of illegal sites like the one found at the former Cresta Ranch, officials said.
Read more at: Sonoma County advances cleanup of illegal pot operation on public open space | The Press Democrat
Julie Johnson, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
This was far from the cocktail-hour networking meetings for cannabis companies, worlds away from sterile laboratories measuring THC levels and the marketing teams channeling a great entrepreneurial push fueled by California’s recent embrace of the medical marijuana industry.
This was the Lake County wilderness, where an orange peel, a crushed Coca-Cola can and a cairn of rocks marked a footpath leading into the chaparral-covered hills southwest of Kelseyville.
A sheriff’s detective in camouflage gear pushed through a dense thicket until the underbrush lightened between manzanita trunks. He stepped into a clearing and onto a line of black quarter-inch hose, something that’s become as ubiquitous in North Coast backcountry areas as poison oak.
Nearby, two men sleeping on cots under low-slung tarps were startled awake by the sound of deputies sneaking into their camp. They bolted, running through the woods wearing only underwear as the two officers chased after them, weighted down in vests and gear belts.
“When we hike in, almost every time we run into someone,” Lake County Detective Frank Walsh said standing in the abandoned campsite several hours later. “They split up, heading somewhere toward Kelsey Creek. There are too many places for them to run to.”
Three years after the state cut funding for its now-defunct marijuana eradication program, local law enforcement agencies backed by federal dollars continue to battle against clandestine marijuana farms that proliferate in the region’s rugged hillsides.
Read more at: Secret marijuana gardens target of eradication campaign on North Coast | The Press Democrat
Julie Johnson, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
With a loud thump heard across their Piner Road property, the Gaddis family this week received another set of unwelcome roadside ornaments: Two moldy mattresses, a box spring and several bottles of MuscleMilk and E&J brandy.
The discarded beds — grass already growing from the ripped seams — joined another pair of damp and darkened mattresses dropped about 20 yards down the secluded road on the western outskirts of Santa Rosa.
“How would you feel?” said Gaddis, whose husband’s family started Gaddis Nursery in 1926. “You have pride in your home, and someone dumps an old mattress out front.”
The Piner Road property and other rural roads in Sonoma County have become a dumping ground for scofflaws who discard beds, refrigerators, furniture and other large unwanted items — even boats — and drive away.
The problem is so bad that county road staff can easily list from memory the most notorious spots favored by illegal dumpers.
“They’re all over the county. It’s everywhere,” said Janine Crocker, a staffer with the Sonoma County roads department.
Most Fridays, a Sonoma County probation crew drives around collecting large items discarded illegally along the county’s picturesque rural roads.
Read more at: Rural roads in Sonoma County becoming dumping ground | The Press Democrat
Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
North Coast water quality officials are poised to adopt first-of-their-kind regulations governing waste disposal, erosion, chemical use, riparian management and other water-related impacts of widespread cannabis cultivation.
The new rules, set for a vote Thursday by the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board at a meeting in Santa Rosa, result from growing concern about environmental damage related to the booming marijuana industry, particularly fragile stream systems and wildlife habitats already degraded by drought.
But it also represents a grand experiment in bringing pot growers out of the dark and into the open, obliging them to operate under a regulatory framework that requires they report their activities and submit to site inspections.
“It’s a milestone,” said Matt St. John, the board’s executive officer. “It’s one of the top priorities for me as the executive officer and for my board members.”
Even Colorado and Washington, which have legalized the recreational use of marijuana and adopted rules for cultivation and consumption, do not have environmental regulations in place, he said.
The new rules include provisions designed to safeguard privacy and make the process more palatable to those who might have an ingrained distrust of public authority, including an allowance for many farmers to register through approved nongovernmental third-party organizations. Board staff have fielded inquiries from individuals and organizations interested in participating as third parties in the program.
Read more at: California to impose environmental rules on North Coast | The Press Democrat