Phil Coturri, NAPA VALLEY REGISTER.COM
The days are becoming shorter and cooler, harvest is drawing to a close, and grapevines are shutting down for a long winter’s nap: Autumn is officially upon us. While the next four to five months are not normally considered the growing season in the vineyards, at the certified organic Oakville Ranch Vineyards, this is the time of year that we are just starting growing our cover crops, soils, biodiversity and ecological balance, elements of healthy vineyards.
As the founder of Enterprise Vineyards, for the past 35 years I have farmed exclusively organic vineyards throughout Napa and Sonoma County. I have always focused my goals beyond organic farming for its environmental benefits. For more than three decades I have worked to prove that organically grown grapes offer winemakers the most balanced fruit and allow most accessible path a vineyard’s terroir, a wine’s expression of place. This can only happen when the vines and the land are in balance.
via Grapegrower report: Organic practices make the difference.
Chris Smith, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
If you were at Golden Gate Park’s huge Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival this past weekend you might have seen Mary Munat, in the garbage.
A closer look would have revealed that Munat, a Windsor resident known throughout the Bay Area and beyond as Green Mary, was in fact expending most of her energy and effort on non-garbage.
For more than a decade, her chief reason for being has been to educate, cajole, pester and shame organizers and attendees of large, public events to move aggressively toward generating no trash to be buried in landfills.
via Sonoma County’s ‘Green Mary’ Munat hard at work | PressDemocrat.com.
THE SONOMA COUNTY GAZETTE
A year has gone by since the Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) Board of Directors (County Supervisors) authorized the Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Estuary Project, a plan to construct a channel to keep salt water from intruding into the Estuary, but allow fresh water to seep out. The purpose was to raise fresh water levels in the estuary lagoon to benefit the growth of juvenile steelhead fish preparing for their ocean sojurn.
At that Board meeting in mid-August of 2011, representatives of National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) made threatening statements to the Board of Supervisors, to the effect that they would be in violation of the Endangered Species Act if they did not approve the project, implying something horrific would happen if they did not approve the EIR. They also strongly implied that anyone else trying to stop the project would also be in violation. Unfortunately, the Biological Opinion, requiring both the Estuary Project and Fish Flow Project (Low Flow) became federal law without any public environmental review; California Environmental Law is circumvented by the Endangered Species Act.
Nevertheless, RRWPC filed a lawsuit 30 days later challenging the decision, mainly because they had split the Estuary Project EIR off from the Fish Flow Project EIR, claiming that the lowering of flows was separate from the management of the Estuary. We challenged water quality and recreational impacts repeatedly, but were faced with the fact that the “Fish Flow Project EIR” would address many of the issues we felt were lacking in this first EIR and the new EIR would be released before our case made it to court.
via Russian River at Jenner Estuary Project Lawsuit Settled.
Glenda Anderson & Cathy Bussewitz, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A Mendocino County judge on Wednesday overturned controversial state water rules designed to regulate how grape growers in Sonoma and Mendocino counties divert water from the Russian River. Superior Court Judge Ann Moorman declared the law to be “constitutionally void” and “invalid.”“There is not substantial evidence in the record to show the regulation, as enacted, is necessary,” she said.
The regulations were aimed at preventing endangered and threatened fish from becoming stranded and dying when farmers take water from the river to protect their crops from frost. Grape growers spray water on the vines to form a protective shield of ice when temperatures fall below freezing
via Mendocino County judge tosses out states frost-protection rules | PressDemocrat.com.
Chainsaws were roaring on Sonoma Mountain last week as PG&E moved ahead with its new policy of gradually removing all vegetation except grass from under and around high voltage lines. Trees being removed are on steep slopes, above streams, and in a Regional Parks-owned property, Sonoma Mountain Woodlands.
A new federal standard was enacted in 2006 to put pressure on utilities that had been negligent in maintaining vegetation near high voltage lines, causing fires and blackouts. Although the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has clarified that this policy does not require clear-cutting, PG&E’s long-term plans are now to eliminate all vegetation taller than three feet under and near the lines.
High voltage lines run through some of the most scenic parts of Sonoma County, including Open Space District properties, Annadel State Park, and Shiloh Ranch Park. PG&E has trimmed old oaks, madrones and even redwoods in these line easements for over 50 years, keeping a generous safety margin of 25 feet between trees and lines, and there have never been any outages or fires.
A local group, SOS-Trees, has been negotiating with PG&E on behalf of affected property owners, who have been shocked at the extent of tree-removal which PG&E now wants. Their website, at sos-trees.org, contains information about PG&E vegetation management policies and stories of other communities that have opposed the new rules. SOS-Trees website FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff comments on clear-cutting by utilities
Volunteers needed to help with the Pinnacle Gulch shipwreck clean-up.
Friday, August 31st from 3:30-6:30pm
This was a pristine location now tragically littered with debris from last Friday’s shipwreck. Unfortunately, it is in a location that is difficult to access and we must work with the low tide window. We are looking for volunteers to help with the effort and any amount of time and hard work is appreciated. The sooner we can remove the debris from the beach, the better it is for the marine and seabird life and fish that abundantly inhabit the area.
Volunteers should bring good grip shoes or higher wading boots, protective gloves, protective eyewear, sunscreen, and a water bottle-expect to get dirty and possibly wet. Surfrider will have extra protective gloves and contractor bags. The goal is to bag and carry as much of the debris as possible and bring it around the point to a location where a truck can load it. Volunteers are asked to exercise extreme caution in the tide zone and around the debris.
Here is a map to the parking area: http://classic.mapquest.com/mq/1-ka30BSBCdEI0
The best parking for shortest access is to enter South Bodega Harbour (neighborhood with the golf course) Heron Drive is a loop. Best to turn left on Heron, travel about a mile and then turn left again on Swan Drive. Swan Drive ends at Pelican Loop-turn left onto Pelican Loop and about 100 yards on your left there is a short cut to the Pinnacle Gulch trail (which cuts about 2/3 of the walk). Volunteers have permission to park and access the trail from this point. The trail is well maintained with some steps towards the end. Once you reach the beach turn right and walk towards Doran Beach. The wreck is at the end of the beach about 300 yds.
Low tide is at 5:45PM and this will be the best and safest time to carry debris around the rocks: however, having help bagging and bringing the debris closer is a critical portion of the clean-up process. Volunteers are encouraged to arrive by 4 and stay until 6:30 or 7 but any and all help is appreciated.
The other access point is from Doran Beach – you will see the caution yellow tape at the end of the beach. You will have to carefully climb over the rocks or walk through the sea cave to access the wreck area.
I will be at the site most of the afternoon and work until the tide no longer allows safe passage.
Please email or call with your availability. My number is 707-217-9741
Sonoma Coast Surfrider
by Jeremy Hay, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Sonoma County supervisors Tuesday moved forward with a countrywide ban on plastic bags now given out at grocery stores.The ban would apply to grocery stores but not restaurants or bags used for meat and vegetables. The ordinance, which is still being fine-tuned to address questions about enforcement mechanisms and authority, would also levy a 10-cent charge on paper bags. That money would be collected by and go to the grocers.
via Sonoma County Board of Supervisors advance plastic bag ban | Petaluma360.
by Sonoma Coast Surfrider
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors (BOS) will be voting this upcoming Tuesday, August 21st, on a resolution regarding the fees collection system (the “Iron Rangers”) proposed by the California Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) to be installed at Sonoma County’s major beaches.
Your attendance at the BOS chambers this Tuesday is very valuable, demonstrating your support of a Sonoma County resolution that the DPR proposed project is flawed and ill-conceived. Attendees are encouraged to be at BOS chambers, 575 Administration Drive, Room 102A in Santa Rosa for item 12 of the agenda; the meeting will be called to order at 8:30 am. It will be important to have as many people as is possible attend; please pass this information on to fellow citizens.
A summary to the BOS can be downloaded at http://sonoma-county.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=2&event_id=20&meta_id=93959
A copy of the BOS resolution can be downloaded at http://sonoma-county.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=2&event_id=20&meta_id=93961
In addition, a link to this resolution has been posted on the Surfriders blog. Not only can it be downloaded from this site, but it provides much additional information relevant both to the issue of Iron Rangers, but to other coastal issues. http://www.scsurfrider.blogspot.com/
This vote marks the end of Public Comment (as required by CEQA), and the acceptance of letters of concern by the public to Sonoma County’s Permits Resources Management Department. Please submit your comments on this matter to PRMD, c/o David Hardy (Project Planner), RE File CPH12-0004, 2550 Ventura Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA 95403. You can email David at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can call him for details at 707-565-1924. Comments must be submitted by August 21, 2012.