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Monte Rio Musings - April 2015


Monte Rio Musings - April 2015


The river is green and tranquil, the water level dropping slowly, exposing more and more of the beaches and sandbars.  The cottonwoods are starting to pop their leaves, and the willows have opened theirs, creating the shade for some fish that are hiding somewhere.

The fishermen seem to be catching something; I hear them say that, but personally I haven’t seen as many fish lately. Not like the day a school of big fish swam right under my kayak, totally ignoring my new lure from King’s. Nor have I seen any spent “downstreamers” float by our place in their lazy meandering route to the ocean. On the other hand, not too long ago a seal swam right under my kayak and a few minutes later, I heard the munch munch munch of fresh steelhead for lunch.  

As we approach Earth Day this year, it seems like the event has diminished in stature. This year, it’s in the same week as Arbor Day. With all of the changes since 1970, it feels like every day is Earth Day. We have institutionalized so much of that enthusiasm from 45 years ago with state park bonds, the Coastal Act, the National Environmental Policy Act (signed by Nixon), the California Environmental Quality Act (signed by Reagan), the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act. Concerns shift, like preserving salmon and steelhead habitat instead of just avoiding catching or bothering endangered or threated species themselves.  The County General Plan and zoning also include new habitat protections for habitat.

Is Earth Day is still relevant? I asked a couple of our environmental luminaries, Craig Anderson, the executive director of LandPaths, and David Hansen, former head of the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District.  They agree that Earth Day still has significance as a reminder of our ecological obligations and an acknowledgment of how far we’ve come in protecting and preserving our lands. Anderson noted that Earth Day is also a reminder of how much people can do without relying on the government agencies.  

With over 7 billion people on the planet, it’s hard to affect everything and everyone with one grand wave of the hand. Fixing the big picture really boils down to many small acts. Opportunities abound, some of which are listed below.

Bright Lights of Monte Rio

Of course you notice the marquee at the Rio. It’s almost like we take it for granted. How else would we know whose birthday it is, or anniversary, or wedding? But did you ever see the neon lighting up the theater name? It’s dramatic.  Thanks to one of the Rio partners, Dave Belo, the RIO sign has resumed its original luminosity, and the lights of Monte Rio might now show up on a satellite somewhere. And then it goes dark when the show is over. Folks at the Rio believe that it’s been about 10 years since the sign’s transformer worked.

Kudos to the County

One of the Monte Rio Alliance’s projects is keeping up the landscaping at the Park and Ride lot between the fire station and Bartlett’s market. Recently, the irrigation system failed because of numerous leaks. A call to the County, which owns that corner, got results in a matter of days. Three days, to be exact, says Chuck Ramsey. Wow! An interesting note about that corner: it’s just part of the County road network and not a separate parcel. That had County planners scratching their heads during discussions about relocating the fire station to the “parcel” that really isn’t a parcel, just a wide spot on the road.

Upcoming Events, etc.

Thursday, April 2 will be a community clean-up day, focusing on the year-old re-landscaping of the triangle between the Rio Theater and Lucy’s LoungeMichelle McDonell has recruited students from Cardinal Newman High School so they can fulfil their community service obligations, and starting at 8:30 am, you can join them under the watchful eyes of Chamber of Commerce president Mary Baker and landscaper Jamie Sandoval.

That evening, the Sweetwater Springs Water District board meets to review the draft Fiscal Year 2015-16 budget, which includes a proposed 3% rate increase (approximately $2.35 every two months for typical residences.) The Capital Improvement Plan projects will also be on the agenda. Part of the reason for the rate increases is to offset the loss of revenue from conservation efforts, a pretty typical scenario around the state these days. According to district manager Steve Mack, water usage is down 17%, with each residence using approximately 56.9 gallons per day, among the lowest in the state.  For comparison, PRMD’s septic system design formulas assume water usage of about 100 gallons per day per person.

On Saturday, April 4, the spruced up town will be the site of the annual pre-Easter Egg Hunt and other activities sponsored by the Friends of Monte Rio, which generally starts at 11 a.m. (but check their web page for details, and BYOB – Bring Your Own Basket). The activities will include an egg drop from the bridge, with participants having to devise their own contraption to land an egg unbroken on the beach below.  Gather at the Community Center to get started.

If you’d prefer to chase butterflies and bugs, that will be the topic of a special hike at the Bohemia Ecological Preserve at 9:15 a.m. on April 4. Check the Landpaths website at for details and sign-ups.

Monte Rio School classes resume April 6 after spring break. 

The play Separate Tables continues at the Curtain Call Theater through Saturday, April 11. Call 524-8739 for reservations.