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Jenner Jottings -Tim McKusick - January 2017

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Jenner Jottings -Tim McKusick - January 2017

I wish a Happy 2017 to all of my readers, clients and future clients! And a very special Happy Hopeful 2017 to my wonderful editor Vesta! Her paper is really the #1 paper in Sonoma County (and southern Mendocino County!). In Spirit and in Popularity, absolutely! All due to her amazing optimism, support and dedication to the causes that matter!

I am all about Buying Local, if anything. When you are heading out River Road for a day on the River, a hike at Armstong Redwoods or heading up to the Coast, make sure you stop at Old World Winery, in the humble craftsman bungalow farmhouse 850 River Road between 101 and Fulton. My personal favorite. Wineries don’t get any more local or sustainable than Old World.

‘Pastoral Winemaker’ and Proprietor Darek Trowbridge, using grapes from their 100 year old, sustainable and organic vineyards creates “natural wines that reflect his family history and the traditional winemaking (old world) practices in Sonoma County.” According to Darek, “Two of the most guiding influences of old world style winemaking are tradition and terroir.” Indeed.

I can personally attest to the excellent pairing of his ‘Abundance’ with the orange/red-orange of a Sonoma Coast Sunset and the warm hues of the Redwoods in the afterglow of the sunset. Please visit this family winery with generations-deep respect for old world winemaking traditions. You will not be sorry!

What the world needs now more than ever is Hope. Recent reports from Wildlife Biologist Nicolas Bauer give us hope in areas where we really need it: In the streams and tributaries of our Russian River Watershed.

“Spawner Surveys” conducted the in tributaries by Bauer and his crews in recent weeks have discovered an adult Coho pair in the upper reaches of Sheephouse Creek! “This is the first time we have ever observed Adult Coho in Sheephouse since we began this program some time ago,” exclaimed Bauer.

The presence of the pair of adult Coho coupled with recent successful planting of thousands of fingerlings through our Broodstock Program in this Russian River Estuary-Perched stream is cause for celebration. According to Biologist Bauer, “This is indeed a good sign for Sheephouse Creek. I think that perhaps good ocean conditions for adult fish, improved juvenile rearing conditions, and improved rainfall are all contributing factors.” We saw juvenile fish last summer and now, with adults in the creek, we will hope to see more in summer of 2017 as well.  So far we are seeing better numbers of returning adult coho in the Russian River tributaries. We will likely be issuing a press release in early January regarding that.

Also in the Local Mother Nature Good News Department

On December 22, 2016 the Coho Broodstock Program released 150 adult coho salmon ready to spawn in the main-stem of lower Salmon Creek just north of Bodega Bay. These fish traveled from the Warm Springs Fish Hatchery in Geyserville. Carefully chosen for genetic success, two- and three-year old adults were released in the water (some of them for their very first time in a natural waterway) and encouraged to swim up stream to spawn in one of the many high-quality tributaries of the Salmon Creek watershed. Entering the water just before late December rains hit, these fish have ample water and partners to spawn with. The Broodstock Program considers it a special service to add these fertile adults to the system, hoping the investment will result in a greater number of young of the year in the spring, and returning adults in future years. The Central California Coast coho salmon, historically plentiful, have been on the endangered species list since 1996, and efforts to increase their populations in numerous North Bay watersheds has been on-going since the early 2000s.

These wildlife success stories so close to home are reason for thanks and gratitude for those who work so hard to keep our balance with nature, critical and key to mankind’s very survival. A balance that has been pushed to the limits in recent decades due to development and habitat degradation.

The Broodstock Program, one of these key programs, (caseagrant.ucsd.edu/project/coho-salmon-monitoring) is an amazing resource.

In the case of Sheephouse Creek, perched on the Estuary and one of the first streams inland from the Pacific Ocean, the recent positive reports after so many frustrating years of just ‘squeaking by’ with fish counts are a reflection of the efforts of the Private and Public landowners’ participation in habitat restoration projects and the employment of positive stewardship methods in recent years.

 Jenner Headlands Preserves efforts at restoring the absolute upper reaches of Sheephouse Creek’s watershed is where it all starts in this textbook example of watershed healing and restoration. Their mission is to return this habitat to ‘Old Growth’ conditions, especially along the streams.

The private landowners between Jenner Headlands and the Russian River Estuary have in recent years taken advantage of programs enabling them to retire and rebuild old logging roads, known to be the #1 source of spawning stream habitat degradation. Although more can be done, these seemingly small steps (in the big picture of (re) creating a habitat the native species would be willing to return to) are showing heart-lifting results! Adult Coho Are Back!

At a time when so many are feeling helpless and hopeless for so many obvious reasons, we need to remind ourselves that we can be positive influences on the ultimate outcome.

So, as we go into the New Year, know that yes, we can make a difference! An empowering thought! Now, if I can only talk those private property owners along Sheephouse Creek to sell a conservation easement along the creek to the Landpaths people to assure a consistent restoration effort. The fish are responding! If only we listened to their message of thanks!

 

Ken Sund of Jenner witnessed the dramatic rescue by Pendergraft and was inspired to promote a “thank you barbecue” for our Coastal Emergency Responders. He proposed the idea to his Board at the Jenner Community Center and went about inviting the various Local Volunteer Fire Departments and Fire Stations as well as the CHP and Sheriffs. It was a huge success as shown in these photos.

Local Fire Captain Steve Baxman did the honors and the Jenner Community fed them all! The Jenner Community continues to humble us all with their spirit of Community and Giving in all circumstances. They are the small town with the Huge Heart! Please visit their website and consider a donation. 

For those of us who are lucky enough to call this coast home, we know when we hear sirens, it is a serious situation. Whether it is a fire, an automobile accident, a cliff or ocean rescue, all of these agencies respond. It is an “all-in effort”. On behalf of myself and my West County/Coastal neighbors, as well as all of the visitors who enjoy the beauty of our Coast, Thank You!

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