Monday, 03 October 2022

News

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From left, Jamie Martin, Terri Kenney and Shamus Maroney are in custody for murder in the death of Michael Fausnaugh. Lake County Jail photos.

 

LUCERNE – The Lake County Sheriff's Office has arrested three people on first-degree murder charges in connection with the death of a Nice man.


LCSO reported Wednesday that two women and one man had been charged with murder for the death of Michael Eugene Fausnaugh, 38.


On Tuesday evening, following interviews with the suspects, Det. Brian Kenner arrested Jamie Christine Martin, 20, of Lucerne, for first-degree murder while shooting from a vehicle; and Terri Lee Kenney, 48, of Nice, for murder.


The third suspect charged with murder, Shamus Terrence Maroney, 27, of Nice, was already in jail, having been taken into custody March 23 on a felony parole violation.


Eyewitness accounts reportedly helped detectives connect the three Northshore residents to Fausnaugh.


Witnesses told investigators of seeing Fausnaugh in the company of Martin, Kenney and Maroney at the Middle Creek Campground on Elk Mountain Road in Upper Lake during the evening of March 21, according to an LCSO report.


The witnesses told investigators that Fausnaugh had what appeared to be “significant” head injuries, according to the LCSO report. The three suspects were seen placing the injured Fausnaugh into their vehicle and driving away from the scene, reportedly to seek medical attention.


His body was found the following day along the west side of Highway 29 near north Lakeport.


Detectives would later go to the campground and recover evidence that was consistent with the version of events reported by the witnesses, according to LCSO.


In addition, authorities reported that the vehicle involved has been located and impounded, and a forensic examination is pending.


All three suspects are being held in the Lake County Jail. Bail has been set for $500,000 each for Martin and Kenney, with Maroney being held on a no-bail parole violation.


They are all scheduled to appear in Lake County Superior Court today.


Officials say the investigation into Fausnaugh's death is continuing, with detectives looking to identify others who were at the Middle Creek Campground on March 21.


Anyone with information is urged to contact Det. Brian Kenner at the LCSO Detective Bureau, 262-4200.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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CLEARLAKE – The City of Clearlake is looking for volunteers to help chart the course for the city’s future.


The Clearlake Vision Task Force will be part of a community-driven effort that will produce plans for how the city should grow and develop.


Task force members will attended between 15 and 20 meetings, where officials expect there will be lively discussions, heated arguments, tough compromises and ultimately, consensus.


City Administrator Dale Neiman said the process will produce a plan for Clearlake created by city's residents and business owners, the stakeholders who will decide what sort of community will be left to their kids and grandkids.


The results of their efforts will be the policies that will be the backbone of plans, programs and priorities affecting all aspects of community life, Neiman said.


The Task Force will set the agenda, addressing a variety of community concerns including infrastructure, such as streets and utilities; economic development; residential development; services to residents, such as public safety, youth and senior activities; and much more.


Neiman said the objective is to present a report to the City Council that represents the community’s view of what needs to be done in order for Clearlake to become the best it can be, and to generate the interest and enthusiasm to keep the process moving forward in the years to come.


The qualifications for participating in the Vision Task Force process are simple, said Neiman. Members must want to plan for the city’s future while protecting those qualities that make the city special; care deeply about the kind of community they want to leave to future generations; and think in terms of tomorrow, not yesterday. Those who only want to complain need not apply, he said.


Irwin Kaplan, the city's interim Community Development director, said a community-driven process is needed because change doesn't come easily.


“We need to find solutions to difficult problems that have only gotten worse over the years,” Kaplan said. “But the motivation to change comes from knowing that change is already happening and that our choice is either to take control of our destiny, or be the victims of change. Just look at what has been happening with land speculation and new development, large and small.”


An overview of recent activity presented to a joint meeting of the City Council and the Planning Commission on Jan. 27th indicated the following:


– Residential permits issued last year: 195 new residential units.


– Permits in process: Commercial, 22,000 square feet; residential, 1,156 units.


– Pending redevelopment projects (commercial and residential): Airport Business Park, Austin Harbor.


– Exploratory interest: Borax Lake, 1,000 acres; 500+ acre project for vineyards, condos ranchettes and commercial.


Originally developed as a community for summer cabins, Clearlake has been transitioning to a community of year-round homes that it was never designed to accommodate, officials say.


Without the street improvements, water and sewer systems in place, the community finds itself in the position of trying to accommodate development with outdated infrastructure, often being called upon to make instant decisions to do what is best under the circumstances while under the pressure to approve projects.


“This is like building the airplane while flying it,” Kaplan said. “People investing in the community are the wind in the community’s sails. The city can choose to ignore it and go wherever the wind blows it, or the city can take control of its destiny and decide where it wants the ship to go.


“But make no mistake,” Kaplan added, “the wind is beginning to blow. Just look at what is happening to land values.”


And Clearlake shouldn’t be sold short, Kaplan added, “because very, very few communities are blessed with the natural gifts of Clearlake.”


The committee will represent a wide range of interests -- youth and the elderly, men and women, businesses and residents, owners and renters, etc. -- so that the plan for Clearlake can be for all its residents.


If you are interested in serving on the Task Force, you can find an application on the City’s Web site at www.clearlake.ca.us, or call City Clerk Melissa Swanson, 994-8201, Extension 106, to have one sent to you. You also may stop by City Hall Monday through Thursday to pick up an application.


Applications should be returned by April 2, so that the selection process can be completed by April 12.


A recent decision by the City Council makes Vision Task Force membership open to anyone who owns property within the city limits, and to any business owners who have a business in the city but who do not necessarily live in Clearlake.


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LAKE COUNTY Lake County's February home sales were down 19 percent compared with the same period a year ago, and the median price of a home decreased 3.5 percent according to information gathered from the Lake County Multiple Listing Service (MLS).


Statewide home sale activity decreased 12.6 percent, according to the California Association of Realtors (CAR).


Closed escrow sales of homes in Lake County totaled 51 in February, according to the MLS.


The median price of a home in Lake County during February 2007 was $275,000, a 3.5 percent decrease from the $285,000 median for February 2006, the MLS reported.


The February 2007 median price increased 10 percent compared with January's $250,000 median price.


“The unsold inventory of existing homes jumped to 21 months in January,” said Phil Smoley, owner, broker of CPS Country Air Properties. “There was a slight increase in statewide listings last month, which is characteristic of the start of the year. However, listings remained near the long-run average. As such, the increase in the unsold inventory index the ratio of listings to sales was driven primarily by the sales decline.


“Homes that are priced competitively are the ones that are selling,” continued Smoley. “In this current market sellers do have to realize that prices are no longer climbing. If anything, they have flattened or are lower than they have been in the past year.”


CAR provided the following state real estate market statistics:


– State's median home price in January: $559,640.


– State's highest median home price by C.A.R. region in January: Santa Barbara South Coast $1,150,000.


– State's lowest median home price by C.A.R. region in January: High Desert, $317,380.


– California First-time Buyer Affordability Index, Fourth Quarter 2006: 25 percent.


Freddie Mac reports the following mortgate rates information:


– Mortgage rates for the week ending March 15: 30-year fixed, 6.14 percent; Fees/points, 0.4 percent; 15-year fixed, 5.88 percent; Fees/points, 0.4 percent.


– 1-year adjustable: 5.42 percent; Fees/points, 0.7 percent.


Realtor Ray Perry is a member of the CPS/Country Air Kelseyville office. Visit his Web site at www.rayperry.com for more information about local real estate.


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SACRAMENTO – State officials are reporting that the state's critical snowpack is hovering below 50 percent of normal.

 

The California Department of Water Resources conducted the fourth manual snow survey of the season on Highway 50 near Echo Summit on Wednesday.

 

State hydrologists monitor snow-water content in order to determine water supply for the year ahead.

 

Measurements were taken at elevations ranging between 6,500 and 7,600 feet, with average snowpacks between 35 and 55 percent of normal. Snow depths measured between 35 and 52 inches.

 

Electronic sensor readings posted Wednesday on the California Data Exchange Center's Web site show Northern Sierra snow water equivalents at 52 percent of normal for this date, Central Sierra at 48 percent and Southern Sierra at 38 percent.

 

Statewide, the snowpack is at 46 percent of normal, DWR officials said. That's down sharply from the 64 percent of normal snowpack reported at the start of March.

 

Previous statewide averages for the season were 40 percent for February and 59 percent for January.

 

DWR Snow Survey Section Chief Frank Gehrke said Monday night's storm helped the snowpack by about 2 inches but "instead of seeing an increase of 5 or 6 inches in March, we lost 8 or 9 inches," he said.

 

"That's a pretty bleak month," he added.

 

Snowpack information is part of the data used by DWR's State Water Project (SWP) Analysis Office in determining how much water will delivered each year through the SWP. Currently, the SWP is meeting 60 percent of requested amounts, which officials say translate to about 2.5 million acre feet for the year.

 

DWR officials say those deliveries will be particularly meaningful for the south state this year.

 

While reservoir storage in California is at or above normal thanks to a wet 2006, much of Southern California is experiencing its driest rainfall year on record.

 

DWR reported Wednesday that only 2.47 inches of rain have fallen in downtown Los Angeles since July 1. In a normal year, that figure would be more than 13 inches. Los Angeles has received only 18 percent of its normal rainfall for this time of year.

 

Southern California and other parts of the state also could be facing water shortages due to a recent court decision. That ruling, which came last week, would would shut off the pumps in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in 60 days unless DWR gets the permits necessary for the killing of endangered fish, which die yearly in the Delta's pump system.

 

The fifth and last snow survey of the season will take place on April 26.

 

DWR coordinates the snow monitoring program as part of the multi-agency California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program. Surveyors from more than 50 agencies and utilities visit hundreds of snow measurement courses in California's mountains each month to gauge the amount of water in the snowpack.

 

For real-time snow-water sensor readings, visit http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/lsreports/DLYSWEQ .

 

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

UPPER CACHE CREEK WATERSHED – March was a productive month for three of the county’s local watershed groups, along with the citizens who live in the Kelsey Creek, Middle Creek, and Scotts Creek watersheds. April may be even better!


The residents of these watersheds proved that they have much more in common than they have differences. Common concerns voiced by citizens in all three watersheds were water quality, fire safety, flood damage, erosion, wildlife habitat, invasive weeds, the preservation of the Clear Lake hitch, development concerns and sustained agriculture land use.


More information is needed on these issues, and who better to provide the answers than the residents of these communities?


Thanks to a grant awarded to the West Lake Resource Conservation District, studies are being conducted in these three watersheds which allow the groups to gather information about both the historical and current conditions of the natural resources in these areas.


These watershed assessments will be used in making management decisions and obtaining funding for restoration, fuel load management, habitat improvement, water quality and various other projects in the future.


The assessments also will contribute current information to the Clear Lake Basin Management Plan; another much-needed document that will be updated and completed, under this grant.


These studies are all essential documents for planning and resource management in our communities. Along with other important uses, they’re a necessary tool for obtaining funding for projects in these watersheds.


They also provide information that will help volunteers plan and complete the tasks they want to accomplish. The grant provides support for the watershed groups in the Upper Cache Creek Watershed.


This grant opportunity is specifically designed for the citizens in each of these watersheds to participate in the process, and help in developing the information that goes into these assessments.


In order to put together the most comprehensive documents possible, it is vital that the local communities participate in these studies. At the March meetings, citizens of these watersheds did just that, and there’s more to be done.


The three watershed groups in the participating areas will be holding meetings in April, and citizens in these areas are once again urged to attend. Now is your chance to share your opinions, your concerns, and your knowledge of the area you live in.

 

If you reside in the vicinity of Kelsey Creek from Forest Lake on Cobb Mountain to Clear Lake itself, you live in the Kelsey Creek Watershed, and are encouraged to attend the Big Valley CRMP meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 3, at the American Legion Hall, corner of 2nd Street and Gaddy Lane, Kelseyville.


If you live in the vicinity of Clover Creek, Sam Alley Creek, the town of Upper Lake, or the areas near the East Fork and West Fork of Middle Creek to Rodman Slough, you reside in the Middle Creek Watershed. Please make it a point to attend the next meeting of the Middle Creek CRMP at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 11, at the Upper Lake Fire House, 9420 Main St.


If you live in the areas of Saratoga Springs, Witter Springs, Bachelor Valley, Blue Lakes, Scotts Valley, Cow Mountain and Tule Lake to the confluence at Rodman Slough, you live in the Scotts Creek Watershed. The date to mark on your calendar is 6 p.m. Thursday, April 19. The Scotts Creek Watershed Council will host the meeting at the Scotts Valley Women’s Clubhouse, 2298 Hendricks Road, Lakeport.


Greg Dills, watershed coordinator for East Lake and West Lake Resource Conservation Districts, will also be on hand to answer questions and guide the watershed groups through the assessment process.


For clarification’s sake, the term “assessment” has nothing to do with taxes – it is simply an inventory of the current conditions of the watershed.


What do you want your watershed to look like in five, 10 or 50 years? Now is your chance to have a say in the future of your own community, so don’t miss this opportunity to get involved.


Are you interested in helping, but hate going to meetings? There are other ways you can contribute information and support for this project, so don’t hesitate to call.


For questions or additional information on how you can help, call Dills at 263-4180, Extension 12, or Linda Juntunen at 263-4180, Extension 16.


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Mike Thompson works on preparing the food for the event. Photo by Maile Field.

 

LAKEPORT – About 250 people turned out for Mike Thompson’s 16th annual ravioli feed Saturday night.


Brad Onorato, Thompson’s aide, said the annual event is an important fundraiser for the First District congressman.


Mike Thompson, D-Napa, thanked the crowd, which honored him with a standing ovation after he updated it for about 20 minutes on changes in Washington D.C.


“I’m much more excited this year at pasta time,” Thompson said, calling Congress “no longer a place where great ideas go to die.”


He briefed the audience on the latest round of Iraq bills, summarizing that “the Iraq supplemental debate isn’t over.”


Thompson said he was “cautiously optimistic” about immigration reform and said he hopes Congress will tackle the other “big issues” of health care and education before the “political nonsense of 2008” takes over.


He expressed concern that the Bush administration wants to privatize Social Security.


Thompson also spoke briefly about his recent appointment to the House Intelligence Committee, after which he was named chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism and Human Intelligence.


He described the meetings he attends six times a week as cloaked in secrecy in a lead room from which nothing can be removed no notes, nothing.


“We need to be doing the right things in the right places,” he said of the intelligence work.


In recent months Thompson has worked closely with presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama on legislation to end the Iraq war. Thompson introduced the House companion bill to Obama's legislation in the Senate.


So, with Obama in the race for president, is Thompson in the running for a vice presidential nod?


In a private interview during the event Thompson denied he was on Obama’s short list for a vice presidential candidate.


E-mail Maile Field at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

 

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Thompson serves up pasta for pear packing house owners Toni and Phil Scully. Photo by Maile Field.

 

 

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UPPER LAKE – Following last year's record number of illegal marijuana seizures in the Mendocino National Forest, several members of the forest's law enforcement team were honored this month with a national award.


On March 14 the Mendocino National Forest Law Enforcement team received a national Director's award from the President's Office of National Drug Control Policy for their outstanding service to the nation in combating marijuana trafficking on the national forest last year.


Officers Walt Bliss, Mike Casey, Matt Knudson and Ramon Polo received the award from Director John P. Walters in a ceremony in Washington, D.C.


Forest spokesperson Phebe Brown said Polo is based in Covelo, Knudson in Upper Lake, Bliss in Paskenta and Casey in Willows, but all of them travel all over the forest as part of their enforcement duties.


Last year, the team spent more than 300 days eradicating 405,399 marijuana plants from 55 illegal marijuana sites on the Mendocino National Forest. “We were No. 1 in the state,” said Brown.


In fact, Walters' citation to the officers reads, in part: "More marijuana was taken by this team than any other group within the Forest Service in 2006.”


Illegal marijuana eradication was a major issue for Lake County in 2006.


Last fall, when then-Attorney General Bill Lockyer announced the results of the state Department of Justice’s 2006 Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP), Lake County led the state's 58 counties with the most plants seized – 314,603, almost 100,000 more than the second-ranked county, Shasta.


Statewide, Lockyer reported, CAMP set a new record with the seizure of 1,675,681 plants worth an estimated $6.7 billion during the eradication season – more than three times the number of plants seized in 2005.


Sheriff Rod Mitchell said the illegal marijuana growers are attracted to the Mendocino National Forest – not necessarily Lake County itself – as a location.


The forest's fertile soils and remote locations are a haven for illicit marijuana growing, he explained.


“This is an area that is deeply troubling to me and my staff who work in the area of eradicating marijuana,” he said.


That's because it involves trespassing on both private and public lands, said Mitchell.


Worse, threats are posed to humans who happen across the illegal grows, he said, and the growers show wanton disrespect for the environment.


“This is a huge area of concern and should be even for people who are pro-dope,” he said.


The Mendocino National Forest's officers expressed their thanks to agencies like Mitchell's for help in the marijuana eradication effort.


"We could not have been successful without the teamwork with the Sheriff's Departments of Glenn, Colusa, Tehama, Lake and Mendocino Counties, the California National Guard, and Department of Justice CAMP teams," Casey said. "We all worked together to locate and remove this illegal use of our public land."


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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Community members remembered Karlie Breeden at a Saturday event. Photo by John Lindblom.

 

COBB More than 200 people gathered in Cobb on Saturday at a place not far from the home of Karlie Breeden, who died on March 1 of an inoperable brain tumor.


The memorial for Karlie included prayers, verbal remembrances of the much-loved daughter of David and Renada Breeden, a seemingly inexhaustible stream of videos and slides of the lively little blonde, and even the singing of Karlie's favorite Christmas song, "Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer," by all in attendance.


The amazingly large crowd included neighbors, friends, relatives and many others who had kept the vigil for Karlie through her illness, diagnosed in April 2006. There were numerous children.


Karlie's shoes in front of her photo lent a somber note and there were tears. Among them were those of grief-stricken Kyle Gibson, a 9-year-old neighbor and playmate of Karlie's, being comforted by his mother, Jen.


"They were growing up together," Jan Gibson explained.


Other parents, with their own tots of Karlie's age, such as Jill Pressley of Sonoma with her 3-year-old daughter Emma, showed their empathy for David and Renada in their loss.


The Breedens, though, had not intended the memorial for their daughter to be a wholly sad affair.


And, indeed, as they remembered the wiles and antics of this 4-year-old girl, more than a few people laughed.


E-mail John Lindblom at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

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Above left, David and Renada Breeden, Karlie's parents. Above right, Jan Gibson comforts her son, Kyle, 9, who was one of Karlie's friends. Photos by John Lindblom.

 

 

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UPPER LAKE – A single-vehicle rollover early Saturday morning left two people injured.


The California Highway Patrol's incident logs reported a traffic collision occurred at about 1:50 a.m. on Elk Mountain Road, with the driver and passenger both injured.


Officer Kevin Domby of the Clear Lake CHP office said that M. Seyms was driving a 1997 Ford F-250 pickup truck northbound on Elk Mountain Road and north of the airstrip early Saturday when he lost control of the vehicle and traveled off the road to the east.


Domby said the front of the pickup subsequently hit a dirt embankment.


California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF), CHP, Lake County Sheriff's deputies and CalStar responded to the accident, the CHP logs reported.


Seyms was seriously injured at the scene, said Domby, suffering severe head trauma. His passenger, K. Nyholm, suffered a serious neck injury, Domby added.


Officials took a blood sample from Seyms before both he and Nyholm were transported to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for treatment, according to the CHP incident logs.


Domby said Seyms was arrested under suspicion of driving under the influence.


No further information on Syems and Nyholm, including ages and cities of residence, were available from the CHP before publication.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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LAKE COUNTY – Employment numbers for Lake County improved in February, according to a recent report from Dennis Mullins of the state Employment Development Department.


Mullins reported that Lake County's February 2007 unemployment rate was 8.3 percent, down 0.2 percent from January 2007, but up slightly from the year ago February 2007 rate of 8.2 percent.


This compares to a California seasonally unadjusted rate of 5.2 percent and 4.9 percent for the nation, according to Mullins' report.


Other surrounding county rates included 6.3 percent for Mendocino, and 4.2 percent for Sonoma, he noted. Orange and Marin Counties again tied for the lowest rate in the state at 3.5 percent and Colusa had the highest with 18.1 percent.


Total industry employment grew by 190 jobs (1.3 percent) between February 2006 and February 2007, Mullins said, ending the year-over period with 14,470 jobs.


Year-over job growth occurred in the following categories: farm, natural resources, mining and construction, information, financial activities, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and other services, according to Mullins.


Year-over job losses, Mullins said, occurred in trade, transportation and utilities.


Industry sectors with no change for the period included manufacturing, private educational and health services, and government, Mullins said.


Industry gainers easily outnumbered decliners for the year-over period with natural resources, mining and construction, and leisure and hospitality leading gainers with 60 each.


Farm and other services each added 40 jobs. Information, financial activities, and professional and business services gained 10 each.


Trade, transportation and utilities was down 40 for the period.


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LAKE COUNTY If you couldn't resist planting tomatoes or other tender annuals this weekend, be prepared for the possibility of frosty mornings the next few days and take precautions.


The National Weather Services (NWS) in Sacramento is warning of a cold storm moving towards Lake County Monday and Tuesday which will bring unsettled weather with the possibility of thunderstorms and hail and even tornadoes in some Central Valley areas.


Snow levels on Monday night will drop to 3,000 feet with the west winds 10 to 20 miles per hour with temperatures in the low 40s, according to NWS.


On Tuesday, NWS says there's a slight chance of thunderstorms and unsettled weather - but lows should remain in the upper 30s.


But the Weather Channel is predicting that temps will drop near freezing on Monday night and below freezing on Tuesday night.


So, just in case, take precautions and cover any tender plants and get your ice scraper back out.


E-mail Terre Logsdon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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Ravenna grass growing in Middle Cache Creek County Park, Rumsey Canyon. Photo by Craig Thomsen.

 

By CRAIG THOMSEN AND TANYA MEYER

Tuleyome.org


Cache Creek natural communities are under assault by another wildland weed. A massive invasion of an escaped ornamental Ravenna grass (Saccharum ravennae) is under way along the Cache Creek corridor in Lake and Yolo counties.


It is one of the largest exotic grasses in the state, with tussocks reaching 5 feet wide and flowering stalks 12 feet tall.


Ravenna Grass occupies riparian sites similar to those inhabited by two other well-known invasive plants, tamarisk (Tamarix parviflora) and giant reed (Arundo donax), but has also moved into upland areas such as roadsides, cut-banks, and steep slopes in Rumsey Canyon. Individual plants produce thousands of seeds that disperse by both wind and water.


Sometimes referred to as Hardy Pampas grass, Ravenna grass does resemble Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana) with its large tufts and showy flowers. However, Ravenna grass is actually more closely related to sugarcane, and belongs to the same genus, Saccharum, which is Latin for sugar.


The name Ravenna comes from Ravenna, Italy, a city in northeast Italy near the Adriatic Sea.



Effects on Cache Creek ecosystem


One of the most serious problems affecting natural ecosystems globally is the invasion of non-native, exotic plants and animals.


Renowned ecologist Edward O. Wilson, stated that invasive species are the greatest threat to biodiversity on the planet, second only to habitat loss. (As native plants are displaced, animal populations that rely on the plants for food and shelter also decline.)


While no formal studies have been conducted on the effects of Ravenna grass on the Cache Creek ecosystem, field observations indicate that these enormous plants are having a pronounced influence on the creek’s native habitats.



Arrival to Cache Creek and distribution


Ravenna grass has been used as an ornamental in the United States for over 30 years and joins the ever-growing list of plants that were purposely introduced into landscape settings and later spread, becoming major weeds.


Web sites for this plant show that it is widely promoted by the nursery trade for its size, plume-like flowers, tolerance to harsh sites and resistance to disease. Of course, some of the same qualities are the very traits that make it an invasive weed.


The original source of Ravenna grass along Cache Creek was the Upper Watershed in Lake County. Gregg Mangan, Cache Creek Natural Area manager for the BLM in Ukiah recalls seeing this plant in the early 1990’s during field surveys along the north fork of Cache Creek.


The late Jan Lowrey, a life-long resident of Rumsey and former director of the Cache Creek Conservancy, noted that it appeared in abundance along lower Cache Creek after the intense 1995 flood.


Ravenna grass appears in all of the Yolo County Parks along Cache Creek and also grows at the remote Lake Davis reservoir on Davis Creek, a small tributary to Cache Creek.


John Watson, vegetation manager with the Conservancy, has observed it one mile west of Highway 5 near Woodland and suspects that this weed may occur within the Cache Creek basin, a short distance from the Sacramento River.


Thankfully, Ravenna grass still has a limited distribution in the state; the only other reported occurrence of this species in California is from Imperial Valley, where it is found in marshes and ditches.


Based on its behavior along Cache Creek and invasive history in Utah and Arizona, however, it appears to have potential to move well beyond Cache Creek and into other California watersheds.



Control programs along Cache Creek


Clearly a cooperative regional effort between federal, state and county entities as well as concerned landowners, is needed to address Ravenna grass infestations, as it will continue to expand in the watershed without concerted control efforts. To date, no control work has been done in the upper watershed.


Along lower Cache Creek, control efforts were first initiated by John Watson, recipient of California’s Invasive Plant Council’s “Land Manager of the Year,” who started work on this weed back in 2001.


Last fall, the Yolo County Resource Conservation District, in cooperation with Yolo County Parks, private landowners, Joe Muller and Sons, and the Wildlife Conservation Board, began control efforts on parklands and several private ownerships.


Unfortunately, decisions about controlling wildland weeds along waterways are not always straightforward.


Generally, it is advisable to begin work upstream at the source and move down. This raises questions about the long-term effectiveness of control programs and since efforts began in the lower sections of the creek, Ravenna grass will continue to re-colonize downstream sites. Yet, the precise source location has yet to be identified and much of the upper creek infestations occur in remote areas on BLM property.


At this juncture, practitioners think that downstream control efforts are warranted, provided that follow-up measures are included to eliminate seedlings that might re-establish in future years. Moreover, in many sites, infestations are at low levels where effective containment measures could be accomplished at a relatively low cost. The alternative is to stand back and witness a further degradation of Cache Creek’s biologically-rich natural communities.


In Arizona, Ravenna grass has been subject to control efforts in the Grand Canyon, where it was discovered in the early 1990’s. Since then, National Park Service staff and volunteers have removed over 25,000 plants and it is now rare throughout the canyon.


It's unfortunate that Ravenna grass is now a member of the Cache Creek plant kingdom. We hope that with more awareness of this plant and the problems that it presents eradication can begin as it did in the Grand Canyon.


With a concerted effort the Cache Creek region will one day see more native species and less exotic plants like Ravenna grass, Arundo and tamarisk.

 

 

Craig Thomsen is a rangeland ecologist with the Department of Plant Sciences, UC Davis and Upper Cache (Bear Creek) Watershed coordinator. Tanya Meyer is the Lower Cache Creek Watershed coordinator with the Yolo County Resource Conservation District.


Tuleyome Tales is brought to you by Tuleyome, a local nonprofit working to protect both our wild heritage and our agricultural heritage for future generations. Past Tuleyome Tales articles are available in the library section of their Website, www.tuleyome.org.


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