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Camp Meeker Beat - June 2016

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Camp Meeker Beat - June 2016

by Tom Austin

Here is it June already.  Are you ready for SUMMER!  I am.  It’s been a long hard winter, but things are looking up.  I went swimming in the Russian River for the first time in two years last weekend.  Backstroking under the bridge with plenty of water under me…glorious!  I’m hoping to have some precious leisure time reading a nothing paperback with nothing on the schedule.   Now THAT would be glorious. 

Parks & Recreation… I haven’t updated you on the doings of the Park and Rec Board lately, so I’ll throw in this item.   Board member Gary Helfrich is working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to secure a permanent change in Camp Meeker’s water rights.   This could give Camp Meeker the right to release flows for the health of fish threatened by future droughts.    I’m not quite clear on the mechanics of this, as there are no dams on Dutch Bill Creek, but I would guess the Russian River would be the modus operandi.    At any rate, there are issues to work out with Alliance Redwoods, who hold a pre-existing right to water diversions.    

In the case that Camp Meeker and Alliance would combine forces (in the same manner as we did with the Occidental County Sanitation District (OCSD) a few years ago.    This would also entail Alliance Redwoods building or installing a water tank about the same size as the one on Morelli Road.    David Hines of NOAA is doing legal research on the feasibility of this arrangement.   In the (always well informed) opinion of Director Helfrich, this would be a positive outcome for all concerned, including the fish.   If you want to comment on this effort, make an effort to attend a Board meeting – the next one should be on June 14 next to the Firehouse. 

Clear the Hazards…In other Board news, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors recently adopted Chapter 13A into the county code.   This ordinance will require abatement of Hazardous Vegetation and Combustible Material and will also include a Fuel Reduction/Vegetation Management Pilot Program.  You will be mildly consternated to learn that Camp Meeker has been volunteered for this program without so much as a by your leave from the County Supes.  No public notice, no community meetings.   This received some discussion at the May board meeting.  Although I was unable to attend, the fine meeting minutes kept by Cheryl Doran-Girard provide a concise summary (and is the direct source of much of this month’s column).   Those minutes record that the Board has a concern, but makes clear that their concern is not with the content of the Ordinance as much as it is with the poor communication from the county.

New Supervisor for Us…This might be a good time to mention that our Fifth District Supervisor, Efren Carrillo, has announced that he will not seek re-election to his Board of Supervisors seat.  The June 7 primary is just days away, and the leading (in terms of money raised) candidates for the position are former State Senator Noreen Evans and local organic farmer Lynda Hopkins.    Other candidates include Forestville Special Education teacher Tim Sergent, Rio Nido attorney Lew Brown, and county eligibility worker Marion Chase. I’m not going to get electioneering for any of these fine candidates. I will simply point out that the preceding paragraphs should impress upon you the need to be an active participant in your governance by putting these candidates’ feet to the fire in terms of how they plan to represent our district.   

And yes, yes, YES:  you need to get out and vote.   We could have a long discussion about what ails the American democracy, the polluting effect of money on politics, the brutal way the dominant parties squelch dissenting voices.  And I would agree with all of that.  This argument, however, does not sway me out of voting, even if elections are never as free and fair as they are claimed to be.    Think of it this way:  voting takes fifteen minutes of your time every other year or so.  What ELSE could you do with those fifteen minutes that would have a larger impact?   Forget the national races if you will – your vote matters in this Supervisorial election, and you CAN make a difference.    

So do it.