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Sonoma County Gazette
Jenner Jotting by Tim McKusick

Musrooms, Jenner Headlands
Expansion of Hwy 1
& Repair of Collapsing Culvert Walls
Around Russian River Estuary

Nov 1, 2018
by Tim McKusick


The mushroom Boletus edulis Mendocino,California, USA. From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository.Fall has definitely arrived here on the coast. The rains we had a few weeks back triggered the mushrooms. Although a follow-up shower would have really gotten the ‘shrooms’ going, a few Boletes and Porcini’s have been popping up. We found a couple of beauties (at a secret location!) and thoroughly enjoyed them with a nice Risotto. Nothing better; freshly picked (bug-free and firm!) sliced thin, & slowly sautéed in butter. And good for you, too!

If you do venture out foraging, please observe private property rights and please leave some of the mushroom base in the ground to allow the mycelium to continue to produce. And Please have an expert examine your mushrooms before consuming; for every edible type there is a look-alike that could make you very sick.

The newly-opened Jenner Headlands Preserve is an obvious success, with the parking lot filling up quickly on weekends. On a recent Saturday the lot was (again) full to over-capacity and every available nearby pull-out and parking spot along Highway 1 was filled.

The busy entrance to this popular hiking destination is located on a long straight section of narrow Hwy 1. These (rare) straightaways are where those travelers who are in a hurry can finally pass that slow tourist/sightseer. I fear that the mix of cars and RV’s entering and leaving the small parking lot, coupled with the pedestrians and bicyclists navigating the shoulder-less highway along this speedway are a sure recipe for disaster.

There is plenty of room to expand the roadway in width to allow for a turning lane AND a bike path. While we are at it, let’s extend the bike path along entire highway through the heart of this world-class landscape we call home.

Seriously, wasn’t CA 1 declared a Federal Scenic Biking Corridor way back during the Bicentennial? Federal funds should be tapped. Think of the boon to our coastal tourist $.  A hike/bike lane from Mexico to Oregon (and beyond).

I have always felt that a permanent hike/bike path parallel to Hwy 1 could serve multiple functions. A modular pre-fab unit incorporating ductwork for power and communication cables under the pathway would clear the sky of unsightly and hazardous power lines and phone cables, while providing a safe route for the ever-increasing numbers of hikers and bikers.

Cell and 911 services would be available the entire length of the pathway, no matter the remoteness, as the cable is right there. The Tele-com & power companies could underwrite this endeavor. Great PR for them. Plus no more overhead lines to maintain.

Work has begun to repair the collapsing culvert walls where Sheep house Creek crosses under Hwy 116/River Road and flows into the Russian River Estuary. Traffic control will be in effect during construction.

Just about the time that they started prepping and staging along the highway for the needed repair for this important Salmon spawning stream’s outflow into the Estuary, Mother Nature closed the sandbar at the mouth of the river. This raises the entire water level of the estuary upstream for quite a ways, immediately putting the cement walls of the collapsing culvert under water, stalling the project.

Out at the River mouth, the Sea Birds and seals are working the areas just inside and outside of the sand bar, taking advantage of the fish waiting.

While checking out the river mouth from the bluff-top vantage point, we ran into a representative of the Sonoma County Water Agency (, who, with spotting scope and binoculars was monitoring the seals and the water level of this little ‘temporary lake’.

She cordially explained to us ( as she gave us her boss’ card: Andrea Pecharich, Environmental Specialist) that, as the homes and businesses of Jenner along the river are just about at Sea Level, they are vulnerable to an unusual rise in the river’s estuary level. On the day we were there, the deck at the Visitor Center was still about a foot above the water level.

At some point the SCWA makes a determination to either let nature naturally open the river’s mouth, or if flooding seems imminent, they will send in equipment at dig out the sand themselves. In years past, they have sought to create a ‘tapered out-flow’ to the ocean, which would allow the river to flow and still retain some water in the estuary for the fish and habitat. Most times they tried it, Mother Nature’s wave action would close  it shortly after.

I hear stories about back when the Russian River truly was a Sportsman’s Paradise, and it ran red with Salmon, the impatient fishermen would get shovels and open it themselves. It must have been magical to see the fish stream in the little channel.


















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