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Cloverdale Reveille
Cloverdale, California
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April 21, 2016     Cloverdale Reveille
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A special section of The Healdsburg Tribune, The Cloverdale Reveille, The Windsor Times and Sonoma West Times & News April 21,2016 County was green before it was mainstream The spirit and legacy of 1970s Earth Day is not only alive and well in Sonoma County, but it has become codified in the law of the land and in a dozen public programs supporting envi- ronmental protection, energy con- servation, open space preservation and mass transit development. If we were to take a brush and paint the United States in symbol- ic "green" Earth Day tones, we would have to reserve the greenest hues for Sonoma County, equal in shade to other regions such as the Pacific Northwest, rural New England and small dots of smart growth urban enclaves. Why and how did the lessons of the original Earth Day become such an endurable and living part of Sonoma County and its people? Although eternally blessed with a native beauty and expansive diversity of plants, animals, land- scapes and abundant natural resources, Sonoma County in the 1970s also was part of a California with a booming population, histor- ical public infrastructure develop- ment of dams, highways and new cities and a dominant political belief in a gold standard of"the more growth the better." But a funny thing happened on the way to this Golden Temple of Eternal Expansion. One of the biggest jolts was the offshore oil spill at Santa Barbara in 1969 when 100,000 gallons of oil spilled from offshore drilling rigs onto the beaches, killing thousands of birds. Only a few years earlier, protesting citizens had blocked PG&E's nuclear power plant development at Bodega Bay on the San Andreas fault line. An awak- ening had begun over some of the dirty and hidden costs of this Golden dream. In 1975, a major court case over the "Petaluma Plan" gave new growth control powers to local communities for the first time in America. The county's most south- ern city had tripled in population since 1950 and Petalumans sought far-reaching protections against suburban sprawl and erosion of their small town rural character. The citizens won, and big parts of the "Petaluma Plan" were incorpo- rated five years later into the county's first modern General Plan, that has been steering Sonoma County's city-centered growth ever since. Sonoma County's proximity to San Francisco, Berkeley and the Bay Area also brought a shaggy, WALK BESIDE ME -- A "grandfather" oak at Shiloh Park beckons the hiker to take to the trail. PHOTO BY RAY HOLLEY colorful and counterculture wave (It wasn't just the young and fresh m) This nonprofit, volunteer- of new settlers. Included were beards. Already here fighting the strong organization is dedicated to young drop-outs from San good fight for open space and open both advocacy and education pro- Francisco's hippie days and cause- politics were Bill and Lucy grams about the health of the seeking student graduates from Kortum, Rose Gafney, Barry Russian River watershed. Topics UC Berkley and the new Sonoma Keane, Marty Griffin, Huey that volunteers are currently State College in Cotati, opened in Johnson and other earth elders.) engaged in include riverside habi- 1961 with 250 students. Today, some 46 years since thetat restoration, water quality and In 1970, and for several years ecological awakenings of the first quantity, gravel mining and for- after, these newest county resi- Earth Day, Sonoma County has est-to-vineyard conversion issues. dents lived, sang and flaunted the become a place where Earth DayAnnual projects include stream spirit of Earth Day. They moved can be celebrated every day of the cleanups and a Great River Race, back to the land, into communes, year and the opportunity to honor scheduled this year for May 21. tree houses and old farmsteads. Mother Earth is as close as a few Laguna de Santa Rosa They created food co-ops, open-air steps from local residents' front Foundation celebrations, creek cleanups and door or driveway. (lagunafoundation.org) tie-dyed fashions. They talked the Here are a few Earth Day- Established in 1989 and hiring its politics of honoring Mother Earth inspired resources and pursuits: first staff in 2002, this organiza- and they trashed mass con- Sonoma County Parks tion keeps hundreds of volunteers sumerism. They started their own (parks.sonomacounty.ca.gov.) busy with habitat restoration and newspaper, the Sonoma County There are more than 50 parks, educational programs. The Stump. They helped get Gov. trails and public access areas oper- Laguna de Santa Rosa is a 22-mile (Moonbeam) Jerry Brown elected ated by the county parks staff. An long fresh water estuary that sup- and their most popular reading annual pass ($69, $49 for seniors) ports 200 species. Ongoing issues material was the Whole Earth is a true bargain. County parks continue to be nearby agriculture Catalogue. staff also offer interpretative pro- activity, urban wastewater dis- Guess what happened next? grams, group education sessions charges, coordination of These longhaired, barefoot, ideal- and volunteer work programs, private/public land ownership and istic and (some) hedonistic young There is also the Sonoma County flood control. people didn't go away. They Parks Foundation (sonomacounty- Sonoma County Agricultural became teachers, nurses, lawyers, parksfoundation.org) for anyone Preservation and Open Space elected officials, mainstream jour- wishing to make further donations District (sonomaopenspace.org) nalists and influential policy mak- or legacy contributions. Created by county voters in 1990, ers. Look around -- or look in the Russian Riverkeeper (rus- this public district has preserved mirror -- they are still here today, sianriverkeeper.drupalgardens.co over 106,000 acres and continues to work with private owners to both protect private lands and pro- vide new public access. Recent success stories have included the Mt. Taylor Regional Open Space and Healdsburg's Fitch Mountain. The Open Space District was part of the effort to place the Gualala River watershed's Preservation Ranch in open space protection and just recently celebrated the opening of the Sears Point marsh- lands. Sonoma Clean Power (sono- macleanpower.org) Created in 2008 by county voters, Sonoma Clean Power now serves all resi- dents and businesses (except Healdsburg) with renewable and hydropower sources that has decreased overall greenhouse gas emissions by 53,579 metric tons in the last four years. SCP is a pub- lic-owned organization and is also becoming a major local employer. Center for Climate Protection (climateprotection.org) Founded in 2001, this non-government, non- profit clearinghouse and action center today helps coordinate local actions by individuals, communi- ties and 10 local governments to reduce greenhouse emissions through educational, monitoring and direct-action programs. The Solar Sonoma program is also based here offering local residents and businesses information and support for solar power installa- tions, water and energy conserva- tion projects and lending pro- grams. SMART Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (sonomamarintrain.org) A tax authority and government agency was approved by Sonoma and Marin county voters in 2008 to build a commuter train and pedes- trian/bicycle pathway along a 70- mile corridor between San Rafael and Cloverdale to reduce conges- tion on Highway 101 and decrease overall vehicle greenhouse gas emissions. The first sections of the train service are scheduled to begin late this year. The develop- ment of the SMART train has allowed the Sonoma-Marin region to win increased federal transit and energy conservation funds. The massive infrastructure project has not been without controversy where long-range financial sus- tainability, adequate ridership and delayed completion of the most northern segments still await test- ing. - Rollie Atkinson The Russian River: lifeblood of the region The Russian River Watershed ing course, creating or reclaiming drains 1,500 square miles of land, and always depositing rich sed- fertile farmland, forests and iment on the land of grateful farm- towns, ers. From Willits to Jenner, the river The watershed encompasses mul- meanders 110 miles through twotiple habitats. Kingfishers chatter counties on its way to the Pacific and dive along waterways, Mountain Ocean. It provides clean drinking Lions prowl the grasslands and King water to 600,000 people and is home Snakes hunt for rattlers. to a remarkably diverse population of The watershed - a river at its aquatic, terrestrial and flying crea- core - flows through communities of tures, humans as well. Always an amenity, A watershed is more than a river, sometimes a peril, a source of pride even more than the smaller flows and prosperity, the Russian River is that feed that river, a constant reminder of our connec- A watershed starts on a moun- tion to the coursing life of the land. taintop or a ridgeline. Precipitation, The river was revered by our ear- geology and gravity combine to form liest natives, who were followed by rivulets, streams, creeks and washes, settlers who sought to tame it. It's Seeds, sediment and silt are now appreciated by the people who transported by water, ending up as fish it, swim it, drink from it and farmland. The river itself heaves out have come to love it. of its banks in certain years, chang- - Ray Holley l