Saturday, 18 May 2024


LAKE COUNTY – Cold and wintery weather is in store for Friday, along with rain and a winter storm warning for northern Lake County that includes a chance for high winds and the first snow of the season.

The National Weather Service in Sacramento has issued a winter storm warning for northern Lake County, which will be in effect from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. Friday, along with a 100-percent chance of rain for the entire county.

Strong wind with gusts up to 50 miles per hour will begin in the morning and continue throughout the afternoon, the National Weather Service reported. Snow levels are predicted to drop throughout the day and into the evening as the storm moves across Northern California, bringing with it 1 to 2 inches of rain.

The chance of snow is highest in the Mendocino National Forest area as the storm moves towards the east, with snow levels dropping to 3,000 feet in the afternoon in to the evening, according to the National Weather Service.

The agency forecast temperatures on Friday that will only reach into the low 40s, with overnight temperatures near 32.

The Sierra Nevada mountains between the 3,000 and 6,000 foot elevations are forecast to receive between 4 and 8 inches, with up to 15 inches in the higher elevations, the National Weather Service reported.

A winter storm warning means significant amounts of snow, sleet and ice are expected. Strong winds are also possible, making travel very hazardous or impossible.

For updated weather information, please visit the Lake County News home page.

E-mail Terre Logsdon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

ST. HELENA – Residents of the Cobb and Anderson Springs areas can expect a brief interrupting in 911 service early Friday morning.

Cal Fire reported that AT&T will be conducting fiber optic upgrades which will cause an interruption to 911 service for anyone who has a 928 prefix in the Cobb and Anderson Springs area of Lake County between the hours of 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 20.

During that time anyone with a 928 prefix in need of an emergency response from fire, medical or law enforcement will be unable to reach emergency providers by dialing 911, Cal Fire reported.

Those in need of fire, medical or law enforcement during this time need to call the South Lake County Fire Protection District Fire Station 62 in Cobb at 707-928-5411, according to Cal Fire.

Cal Fire said additional staff will be on duty at the Cobb Station to receive emergency calls and route those calls to the appropriate emergency provider during the outage.

On Thursday, Nov. 19, 2009 a reverse 911 call will go out to residents in the 928 prefix as a reminder of the planned 911 outage on Friday.

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MENDOCINO – A Canadian woman visiting the North Coast fell to her death at the Mendocino Headlands over the weekend.

Susanna Langman, 22, of Ontario, Canada, was identified as the victim of the fatal fall, according to Capt. Kurt Smallcomb of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

Langman was on the headlands just after 2 a.m. Saturday when she accidentally fell, Smallcomb said.

Smallcomb said an autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday.

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HOPLAND – State budget constraints are forcing Caltrans to change one of its North Coast projects.

The agency reported this week that the scope of the Hopland Bypass project on Highway 101 in Mendocino County has been scaled back at this time.

Caltrans officials said the project will now only include widening Highway 101 from just north of the Cal Fire station to the existing four-lane freeway north of Nelson Road.

The project will be renamed the North Hopland Upgrade, Caltrans reported.

The scope modification recently was presented to the Mendocino Council of Governments, and Caltrans reported that it obtained the council's concurrence to proceed with the changes.

On Tuesday, Caltrans presented the modification to partner agencies and the Hopland Bypass Citizens Advisory Committee.

Caltrans reported that it is planning to hold a public open house in late 2010 to provide more details on this project and receive public input.

As updated information is made available it will also be posted to the project Web site, .

Questions and comments regarding the project should be directed to Project Manager Steven

Blair at 707-441-5899 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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LAKEPORT – Sutter Lakeside Hospital is preparing to launch its new Mobile Health Services Unit, which will make its long-awaited debut in a Thursday event.

The community is invited to come and see the new custom-made van, which will bring health services to a wide variety of people who have mobility and transportation challenges.

The launch party and ribbon cutting will take place from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, at the Sutter Lakeside Hospital campus, 5176 Hill Road East in Lakeport.

Tammi Silva, Sutter Lakeside's public relations director, said the mobile unit cost $297,000, which was made possible through community contributions and a $100,000 matching grant from Sutter Health.

Silva said the project has been in the works since the fall of 2006.

American Custom Coach built the van over the past year. The company's owner, Charlie Mello – who will be at the Thursday event – worked with the hospital to design the unit and even donated $25,000 worth of solar panels that are being installed on the van's roof, Sutter Lakeside reported.

The solar equipment – the installation of which resulted in a slight delivery delay – will supplement the vehicle's generator and help reduce day-to-day operating costs, according to hospital officials.

On a yearly basis, the mobile unit is expected to serve approximately 1,000 people who have difficulty accessing health care, Silva said.

Services will include health screenings, from dental and basic vision to well child and developmental assessments; immunizations for all ages; education; referrals for primary care physicians, specialty and acute illness care, pregnancy testing and family planning, kindergarten roundup and wellness services; and social service referrals.

Tours of the unit will take place during the Thursday event from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., with an awards ceremony from 4 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and a ribbon cutting ceremony from 4:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The medical team responsible for developing the clinical program and the medical professionals who will provide the care to patients will be in attendance, Sutter Lakeside Hospital reported.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

SACRAMENTO – On Monday a Bay Area man pleaded guilty to numerous charges for the 2005 arson of a wine warehouse in Vallejo in which millions of bottles of Napa Valley premium wines were destroyed.

United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner, along with Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent in Charge Stephen Herkins and Internal Revenue Service Special Agent in Charge Scott O'Briant announced that Mark C. Anderson, 61, of Sausalito, pleaded guilty to 19 charges in an indictment for the Oct. 12, 2005, arson of the Wines Central warehouse in Vallejo.

The charges included one count of arson, four counts of interstate transportation of fraudulently obtained property, nine counts of mail fraud, one count of use of a fictitious name, and four counts of tax evasion stemming from the.

The case is the product of an extensive investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Internal Revenue Service, the Vallejo Police Department, the Vallejo Fire Department and the Sausalito Police Department.

According to Assistant United States Attorney R. Steven Lapham, who is prosecuting the case, the trial was set to commence tomorrow with Deputy Attorney General Peter Williams assisting.

Anderson admitted that he set fire to the Wines Central warehouse in Vallejo on Oct. 12, 2005, and that he had been embezzling wine from his clients for many years.

In pleading guilty to the tax evasion counts Anderson also admitted that he failed to report over $800,000 in income from the sale of the embezzled wine and therefore evaded over $290,000 in taxes.

Anderson operated a business called Sausalito Cellars in which he charged wine collectors a fee for storing their wine in environmentally controlled conditions.

As part of his business, he rented approximately 2,500 square feet of space at Wines Central, a 240,000 square foot warehouse located in Vallejo, California. Most of Wines Central was dedicated to the storage of premium wine for Napa Valley wineries.

Approximately 95 Napa Valley wineries stored wine at Wines Central. Some of these wineries lost entire vintages and, in some cases, their entire inventory.

More than six million bottles of wine were destroyed in the fire, authorities reported.

After accepting the guilty plea, Judge Karlton scheduled the matter for judgment and sentencing on Jan. 26, 2010.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, the United States has agreed to recommend a sentence of 188 months.

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Members of the service carry the men's cremated remains to their final resting places. Photo by Ginny Craven.






LAKEPORT – On a crisp autumn day the American flag flew at half staff and fluttered in the breeze.

The Military Funeral Honors Team of Lake County, Patriot Guard Riders, United States Army Honor Guard, friends, family and others gathered to say farewell to three veterans this past Monday.

The ceremony began when the Patriot Guard Riders rumbled into Hartley Cemetery with flags flying.

Seventeen riders, some from as far away as Roseville and Napa, joined locals to pay tribute to their comrades. They didn’t know the men being buried, but they knew they were veterans and that was enough to bring them together.

Monday morning was clear and bright as the bugler’s notes rang through Hartley Cemetery. The playing of “Taps” and firing of the traditional three round volley stirred the emotions of all in attendance to honor Harry E. Peckham (Navy), Perry A. McCosker (Army) and Jack C. Zent (Army) at Veterans Circle.

It is a privilege for ordinary citizens to attend services and pay tribute to our veterans. Honors are rendered and the appropriate thanks are bestowed upon those who honorably served our country.

Family members of the three men were proud of their loved ones and verbalized their deep appreciation for the presence of others honoring them.

The final farewell was honorable, just as the veterans who had earned it.

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The Patriot Guard riders arrive at Hartley Cemetery in Lakeport on Monday, November 16, 2009. Photo by Ginny Craven.



A folded flag about to be presented to a family member. Photo by Ginny Craven.


A member of the military prepares to salute after offering the flag for one of the veterans to a family member. Photo by Ginny Craven.

A bugler with the United Veterans Council's Military Funeral Honors Team played

POTTER VALLEY – A Potter Valley man was arrested early Monday for allegedly shooting off a handgun while driving up and down a Potter Valley road.

Luiz Alfonzo Mez-Alvarez, 26, was arrested for discharging a firearm from a vehicle, having a concealed firearm in a vehicle and driving with a suspended license, according to Capt. Kurt Smallcomb of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

At 1:20 a.m. Monday the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Dispatch Center received several 911 calls from the 9000 block of Potter Valley Road in Potter Valley, where a truck was reportedly traveling up and down the road and a subject inside was firing off a gun, according to Smallcomb's report.

Smallcomb said deputies responded to the area and located a truck in a parking lot in the 11000 block of Main Street with a male, later identified as suspect Meza-Alvarez, in the driver's seat, accompanied by a female passenger.

Upon contact with Meza-Alvarez, a Browning 9mm pistol was located on the ground near the driver's side of the truck. Smallcomb said several spent 9mm bullet casings were located in the bed of Meza-Alvarez' truck, and a magazine for the pistol was located in the driver's side sun visor.

Meza-Alvarez appeared to be intoxicated, so California Highway Patrol officers responded and conducted a DUI evaluation on Meza-Alvarez, whose blood alcohol level was found to be over the legal limit, Smallcomb reported. Meza-Alvarez's driving privileges were found to be suspended or revoked.

Meza-Alvarez was arrested and booked into the Mendocino County Jail, with his bail set at $35,000, Smallcomb said.

Smallcomb also reported that a search of the 9000 block of East Side Potter Valley Road revealed two discharged 9mm bullet casings.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

T. Watts at the KPFZ microphone. Courtesy photo.

If I could just find me a white boy that can sang cullurd.” – Sam Phillips, founder of Sun Records.

If I could find a white man who had the negro sound and the negro feel, I could make a billion dollars.” – Sam Phillips, founder of Sun Records.

Please join me for an excursion back through time to America, circa 1950, give or take a few.

You’ve of course noticed the two quotes that preface this piece, both attributed to Sam Phillips, founder of Sun Records. I present them here for your perusal because the quote seems to have evolved over the years.

The case I make refers to the first version which I read (probably in Jet magazine) when I was a legal teenager, compared with, or contrasted to, the second version which is seemingly how it is remembered today.

I trust that the coarser, first version is probably how it was originally uttered by Phillips, a native of Florence, Alabama. His father owned a cotton farm and “employed” African-American workers.

Working on a cotton farm in the deep south in the 1940s and 50s is just a polite way of saying sharecropping, which might have been a cut above indentured servitude. Actually, though, indentured servants could work there way out of bondage. Sharecroppers stayed in debt to the owner of the plantation from the womb to the tomb.

In sum, Phillips probably used the term “cullurd,” might have used “negro” or denigrated down the scale to nigra or (gasp!) worse. The second quote sounds like it was written by Rod Serling.

Sam Phillips became attracted to blues music through listening to the “workers” on his father’s farm. When he opened Memphis Recording Service and Sun Records in 1950, he made a living recording exclusively African American musicians.

The list is impressive. Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats, a band led by Ike Turner released what is considered by some to be the first Rock & Roll record, “Delta 88.” Between 1950 and 1954 Phillips recorded James Cotton, Rufus Thomas, Roscoe Gordon, Little Milton and Bobby Blue Bland. Phillips also recorded B.B. King and Howlin’ Wolf.

Phillips claimed Elvis Presley his second greatest discovery. Howlin’ Wolf, according to Phillips, was his greatest discovery. Of course, once he had Elvis he left rhythm and blues alone.

I have a book in my library entitled “The Memphis Blues Again” by a Memphis-based photojournalist by the name of Ernest Withers with text by Daniel Wolff.

The book chronicles six decades of music in Memphis. There are several shots of Elvis Presley hanging out backstage with B.B. King, Brook Benton, Little Junior Parker and Bobby Blue Bland. Mr. Withers wrote, “Elvis was young and not chaperoned by Colonel Parker and them around black people. That was his own hobbyistic style – of coming around African-American people.”

There are also in circulation several shots of King Elvis posing with Mr. Excitement Jackie Wilson. One in particular charms me. Standing side by side with megastar smiles, basking in each others' glow, the two seem on top of the world, yet both destined to meet sad ends. Most folks know of the rise and fall and rise of Elvis. Fewer remember Jackie Wilson.

Jackie Wilson first achieved fame as a member of Billy Ward and the Dominoes. Inserting Wilson into the lead singer slot in 1956, the group had a hit with “St. Therese of the Roses.”

In 1957 Wilson opted for a solo career. He signed with the Brunswick label and soon hooked up with future Motown Mogul Berry Gordy.

Gordy and his songwriting partner Roquel Davis wrote several hits for Jackie including the 1958 smash hit, “Lonely Teardrops,” which rose to No. 7 on the pop charts.

Gordy, Davis and Wilson parted ways. Gordy went on to start Motown. Davis became a successful staff writer at Chess Records and Jackie Wilson became Mr. Excitement, influencing generations of entertainers from Elvis Presley to Michael Jackson.

His stage show was amazing. I saw Jackie Wilson perform in Oakland at a concert billed “Soulville ’67.” After a frenetic excursion into the realm of multi-octave, glass-shattering vocal technique and hit-the-splits precision dance moves, Wilson expertly slowed the tempo down and after singing and pleading on his back for a while stood up to a line of overly excited female fans and passionately kissed every one of them. This 16-year-old CyberSoulTeen was completely flabbergasted.

Ironically, Wilson – an admirer of Presley – stated that he as well as other black entertainers copied Elvis as well. Sounds like everybody was rubbing off on everybody!

Apparently Elvis Presley was introduced to pharmaceutical drug use in the military. It would spiral into an addiction that would contribute greatly to his death. Though he publicly took a stance against illicit drug use the King became hooked just the same.

In a conversation I had with Queen of the West Coast Blues Sugar Pie DeSanto, who worked with Mr. Excitement, she said that she had never witnessed a man with the appetite for drugs that Wilson displayed.

Jackie Wilson collapsed on stage at the Latin Casino in Cherry Hill, New Jersey in 1975. He was in a coma until his death in 1984. Elvis Presley, who preceded Wilson in death, visited Jackie Wilson many times between 1975 and Presley’s own demise in 1977.

In the mid-1970s I heard one of the most unsettling radio broadcasts I’ve ever heard. A Bay Area disc jockey played a recording that he claimed was the bedside voice of Jackie Wilson, moaning unintelligible thank yous to the legions of fans that had sent him flowers, gifts and cards.

The point perhaps of this CyberSoul excursion is the legacy these similarly talented men left. Presley, the so-called King of Rock & Roll, amassed a fortune and garnered the hearts of generations of Americans. Presley’s Graceland is visited by a half a million souls yearly. There are Elvis cruises and all satellite radio Elvis stations.

Jackie Wilson is buried at Westlawn Cemetery in Wayne County, Michigan. The spot is marked by an elegant headstone. The inscription reads: “Jackie Wilson, The Complete Entertainer. No more Lonely Teardrops.”

Keep prayin’, keep thinkin’ those kind thoughts.


Upcoming cool events:

Monday, November 16

Blues Monday at the Blue Wing featuring Blues Farm with Dave Broida. 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Blue Wing Saloon & Café, 9520 Main St., Upper Lake. Information: 707-275-2233 or .

Thursday, November 19

Twice As Good celebrates its new CD with a release party. The band will perform along with Jacques Wilkens and the SoulShine Blues Band. 8 p.m. The Last Day Saloon, 120 Fifth St. at Davis Street, Santa Rosa. Hotline: 707-545-2343; office: 707-545-5876.

Sunday, Nov. 22

A benefit concert for Norton Buffalo to be held on Sunday, Nov. 22, in Paradise at the Performing Arts Center. The concert will feature Roy Rogers and Delta Rhythm Kings, Tom Rigney and Flambeau,

and more. Tickets are $40. Doors open at 5 p.m., the show starts at 6:30 p.m. Call 877-397-3363, between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. Mail checks for tickets to Bill Anderson, 6848 U, Skyway, Paradise CA 95969. Tickets are selling well! If you are unable to make the concert, donations for medical bills may be made out to Lisa Flores or Norton Buffalo, 5905 D Clark Road, Paradise CA 95969.

Friday, Nov. 27, and Saturday, Nov. 28

Fifteenth annual Holiday Jazz Festival at Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa & Casino. The festival kicks off on Nov. 27 with the top-selling American jazz artist, trumpeter Chris Botti, who boasts four No. 1 jazz albums, as well as multiple gold and platinum albums and Grammy Awards. He has performed and recorded with artists such as Sting, Josh Groban, Paul Simon, John Mayer, Andrea Boccelli and Jill Scott. Nov. 28 features funky horn man Boney James. A saxophonist, producer and songwriter, James' success with contemporary jazz and R&B have made him one of the most respected and best-selling instrumental artists of our time. Doors open each evening at 7 p.m. with live entertainment beginning at 8 p.m. For tickets call Omega Events Box Office at 949-360-7800 or visit

T. Watts is a writer, radio host and music critic. Visit his Web site at .


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The Walker Ridge project while it was under way. Photo courtesy of Caltrans.


WALKER RIDGE – A project to increase safety along a stretch of Highway 20 that has been the scene of several crashes over the last few years – some of them fatal – has been completed, Caltrans reported Wednesday,

The Walker Ridge curve improvement safety project in southern Lake County began construction in the fall of 2006, according to Caltrans.

“This project showcases Caltrans’ dedication to use context sensitive solutions, even in rural settings,” said Charlie Fielder, Caltrans District 1 director. “It also shows our commitment to improving highway safety while preserving the environment.”

The area had seen several major crashes in one particular downhill stretch near mile post marker 44.19, across from the old Turkey Run and Abbott mines, as Lake County News has reported.

The project made several improvements to increase safety year-round, officials reported.

Those improvements included improved drainage, widened shoulders, installation of radar speed signs, replacement of a tight 25 mile per hour curve with a gentle 55 mile per hour curve, and repaved 3.5 miles of highway with a top layer of open-graded asphalt for improved winter traction.

Caltrans reported that, of all the improvements, the most eye-catching is a tie-back retaining wall which is 380 feet long and varies in height from five to 50 feet. The wall is anchored, or tied back, to the hillside by steel cables grouted into 201 holes drilled up to 141 feet deep into solid rock.

The wall was aesthetically treated by spraying the surface with concrete, hand sculpting a rock texture, and then staining to match existing rock outcroppings.

During construction, impacts to the environment surrounding nearby Grizzly Creek were avoided or minimized, Caltrans noted. Measures were also taken to reduce impacts to native oak and elderberry, and oak seedlings were planted to replace oak trees which had to be removed.

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This is the second part of an article on the impacts of SB 670, which placed a moratorium on suction dredge mining statewide.

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA – In August, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill to place an emergency moratorium on suction dredge mining.

The bill, SB 670, was authored by North Coast Sen. Patricia Wiggins, who said she was responding to concerns about salmon numbers.

The moratorium is to remain in place until the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) completes and environmental impact review (EIR) on the practice. That process is under way, with scoping meetings taking place this month.

While supporters say it's a much-needed measure to protect fishing resources, opponents of the legislation have called it a smokescreen and a power grab by the Karuk Tribe.

Public Lands for the People is seeking to have an injunction placed on the moratorium, asserting that the state is interfering with federally protected mining rights.

Gerald Hobbs, president for Public Lands for the People, said the injunction should be in federal court next February.

“I think we'll prevail,” he said, adding that he wants to see suction dredge mining reinstated by next spring.

The measure has faced serious opposition since the beginning.

In a May statement made on the state Senate floor, Sen. Sam Aanestad, whose 12-county district in far Northern California saw a significant amount of suction dredge mining, called the legislation a “political end run,” by the Karuk, and urged fellow legislators to allow the DFG to continue with its review without interference.

Aanestad's office said there are more than 325 small retail businesses in the state involved in small scale gold dredging, and the ban would endanger their businesses.

He also pointed to $60 million in benefit that California's economy enjoys because of the spending of small scale gold dredgers as they purchase fuel, food, camping, diving equipment, hardware and lodging purchases.

The measure passed anyway.

“The proposed ban poses yet another significant blow to the fragile rural economies that I represent,” Aanestad wrote to Schwarzenegger in an attempt to get the governor to veto the bill.

Aanestad pointed out in his letter to the governor that there is no scientific evidence on record that shows suction dredge mining is harmful to the environment. He quoted a study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers concluded that “the effects of suction dredge mining are so small and so short-term as to not warrant the regulations being imposed in many cases.”

Businessman Bruce Johnson, who owns the 20-space Mid River RV Park in the Seiad Valley, 20 miles east of Happy Camp, estimated that 97 percent of his business is in jeopardy because of the ban.

Johnson, himself a suction dredge miner, said fellow miners have kept his park busy during the critical months of April to October. In turn, they've supported other businesses in the area.

Without their business, he's looking at the loss of his livelihood and an estimated two-thirds reduction in his park's value.

The miners contribute more than $2,500 to the Seiad Valley Volunteer Fire Department, where Johnson is a board member. Without those fund, he expects the fire department could close, which will have a ripple effect likely to impact local homeowners, who will not have that important safety net and can expect to pay higher fire insurance.

Johnson said he's already lost employees. If his park goes out of business, Johnson said other businesses may follow.

Just down the road is the Seiad Cafe, internationally renowned thanks to its pancake challenge. It, too, could go away.

“These are things that, once they're gone, you can't get back,” Johnson said.

Fishing numbers down

The Karuk Tribe's campaign coordinator, S. Craig Tucker, PhD, said even in a good year for fish runs on the Klamath, fish numbers still are only about 8 to 10 percent of historical abundance.

In recent years, commercial fishing guides are out of work and tribal members are unable to provide salmon for families or for ceremonies.

“We do have some evidence that it causes an impact,” he said of dredging.

Some studies show that it reintroduces the highly toxic methylmercury into the water column.

The Pacific Fisheries Management Council, which advises the federal government on how many fish can be harvested, includes in its harvest allocation enough fish to divide between natives and non-natives, he said.

He said tribal members are still fishing and harvesting the allocation.

Tucker said the tribes have a right to a subsistence fishery. Thee Karuk Tribe has the most limited fishery among the tribes in the lower Klamath. Recently, the Karuk caught a couple hundred fish for 4,000 tribal members.

He said there are more fishermen who generate more economic activity than miners and suction dredge mining.

There are many reasons for habitat problems, said Tucker. Mining is just one of them; timber harvesting and dams are among many others.

The miners have never been limited in their activity, said Tucker. “Fishermen can't go fishing, but the restrictions haven't applied to the miners,” he said.

Tensions arise between miners, tribe

Much of the tension regarding suction dredge mining has arisen through disagreements between miners and the Karuk Tribe, assisted by what Johnson called “eco nuts.”

Siskiyou County Supervisor Marcia Armstrong said the New 49ers, one of the principal mining groups in Northern California, purchased a lot of mining claims on the lower Klamath River and upper Salmon River, where not much mining had taken place.

Lawsuits began several years ago, said James Buchal, a Portland, Ore. attorney who represents the New 49ers.

He became involved about five years ago. At that point, the New 49ers had sat down with the tribe to work out which areas were culturally sensitives and should be avoided by the miners. The group then got the DFG permits, and the tribe promptly sued, he said.

Tucker said the tribe met with various mining groups but “No one could exactly represent the entire mining community.”

He said the Karuk offered the miners a settlement in 2006 which included restrictions on mining in the Klamath, particularly around critical habitat areas at certain times.

“It was a pretty modest restriction,” he said. “The state of California was willing to accept it, the miners were not.”

In particular, the New 49ers blocked the agreement, and everyone else got punished for it, said Tucker.

He added, “I don't think compromise is in their vocabulary,” which he said led to the statewide ban.

Outside of court, miner alleges that there were altercations between them and tribal members. The sabotage included damaging cars and worse; Johnson said someone wiped down equipment with poison oak, and a woman ended up in the hospital.

Worse still, shots were fired over club members' heads. “There's no way to legitimize this behavior,” he said.

Tucker said he's unaware of tribal members trying to intimidate miners. However, he said he can show reams of comments from Internet chat forums in which miners made racist and threatening comments toward the tribe.

He said showing up in the middle of an Indian community with a name like “New 49ers” shows a lack of cultural sensitivity.

Buchal said he has study after study that show fish aren't harmed, and no sign that the practice has ever killed fish.

He cited a study by now-retired Oregon State University professor, Peter Bayley, who studied the Rogue River and found no relationship between mining and fishing numbers.

Buchal blames a mix of politics by environmental groups, lobbyists, the tribe and the Legislature – which he called “essentially insane” – for the ban.

“The fishermen, to some extent, have wiped out the fish through overfishing,” he said.

That, coupled with terrible ocean conditions in the 1990s, led to the fishing situation and the subsequent mining ban, said Buchal.

“The chief fallout,” noted Buchal, “is that people just go to other states to mine.”

The possibility of an influx of miners has Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski concerned. On Oct. 15 he wrote to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to ask for wilderness protection for the Siskiyou Wild Rivers area surrounding the existing Kalmiopsis Wilderness.

“California recently banned the use of suction dredge mining, the same type of destructive mining that is used in southwest Oregon,” he wrote. “We are very concerned that the suction dredge miners are now

heading for Oregon.”

Johnson said he believes people who have decided that natural resources are good nothing more than taking pictures are now in control, and he believes that attitude ties in with the efforts to remove dams on the rivers.

“The voices of people on this side of the issue are not being heard,” he said. “I don't know where to go from here.”

Different perspectives on mining's impacts

Armstrong said that suction dredge mining – which can't take place during salmon spawning or during the summer steelhead run – isn't responsible for fish declines. She said 80 to 90 percent of the juvenile salmon are lost to disease in the Klamath River, not its tributaries.

Total maximum daily load (TMDL) restrictions also have been proposed for the practice, Armstrong said.

She said the bottom of the creeks have, in some areas, become like hardpan from earlier mining practices. The suction dredging has been shown to create deep water holes for the fish, and are helping open up old, sealed springs that had contributed to water temperatures.

Johnson, who has worked as a commercial fisherman in Alaska and loves being around fish, said suction dredge mining neither kills nor hurts them.

He explained that they vacuum materials up off the bottom of the creek, put them through a filter and put the rest of the materials back into the creek. Usually, fish come near to feed off the biomass that's being released from the process, which he said is “really cool” to see.

“It's an amazing little ecosystem that starts going on there,” he said.

Dr. Peter Moyle, professor of wildlife, fish and conservation biology at the University of California, Davis' Center for Watershed Sciences, has conducted studies on the practice and concluded that it has a negative impact.

“It is too soon to tell if the moratorium has has a positive impact on salmon populations and in fact this will always be hard to demonstrate because no one is studying the issue,” Moyle told Lake County News in an e-mail message.

Moyle said the state's fisheries agencies, such as DFG, are “woefully short” of funds and manpower to do their jobs. “Also there are multiple factors affecting the fish populations so separating causes is difficult,” he wrote.

“But given the severely threatened nature of summer steelhead, spring chinook salmon, and coho salmon populations it is best to assume that dredging (and associated activity) is having a negative impact unless it can be proven otherwise. As studies show, there are lots of reasons to suspect an impact is there,” Moyle noted.

He said the salmon involved in the Klamath are the same as those on the North Coast, although somewhat different populations, including steelhead, coho and chinook.

Tucker said the moratorium “seems to be mostly working.”

Armstrong said they're expecting one of the best chinook runs in many years this year, despite the fact that earlier in the season dredging was not taking place.

Tucker agreed, attributing the better run to the fact that there is virtually no ocean commercial fishing season. When there is no fishing pressure in the ocean there will be more fish in the Klamath. Meanwhile, he said there was a “horrible” run of fish on the Sacramento River.

Dwindling chances to build wealth

Hobbs said opponents are treating suction dredge mining like a recreational activity, when it's a wealth building activity that he maintains is protected by the US Constitution's Fifth and 14th Amendments.

“If it doesn't come from the earth it doesn't create wealth,” he said.

For those who suction dredge mine, Hobbs explained that a bad season means they can't carry themselves through the winter.

Hobbs said science “is nonexistent today,” and accused Moyle and other scientists of twisting the evidence to suit the environmentalists' agenda.

He added that the fight over suction dredge mining is all about money, because small small miners are the last wealth building entities that exist.

Tucker said everyone is going to have to make some sacrifices – including miners – if fisheries are to be restored.

While there are about 4,000 suction dredge permits, there are 2.4 million fishing license, not counting those for commercial fishing, he said.

“Fish,” Tucker added, “are more valuable than gold.”

Current information on the DFG review and its schedule is available at . Additional information can be found at .

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

LBNL geoscientists Mack Kennedy (right) and David Shuster (now with the Berkeley Geochronology Center) sample hot springs for geochemical and isotopic data to identify fluid sources, water-rock reactions and fluid flow paths and rates associated with the Long Valley Caldera, California geothermal system. Courtesy photo.



BERKELEY – Federal stimulus funds have been awarded to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to study and advance enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) technology.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which is a US Department of Energy national laboratory, reported that it received $7 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding for four projects that seek to advance EGS technology, which involves enhancing or engineering a fracture network deep in the earth.

Mack Kennedy, a geochemist and manager of Lawrence Berkeley Lab’s geothermal program, told Lake County News that the projects all will be conducted in the lab.

EGS technology makes it possible to get heat from deep inside the earth in cases where conventional geothermal technologies – which generally must be near active volcanic centers or have very high temperature gradients – don't work, the laboratory reported.

Considered a clean and green technology that has the added benefit of being available around the clock and at any time of year, increased focus is being placed on geothermal production nationwide.

The Department of Energy reported that geothermal energy currently provides less than 1 percent of total U.S. electricity and 8 percent of renewable electricity generation.

The agency believes EGS could increase geothermal production 40-fold – increasing production to provide 10 percent of the United States' electricity needs.

The $7 million award for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is part of a $400 million investment that the Department of Energy has made in geothermal energy thanks to the Recovery Act.

In The Geysers steamfield in Lake and Sonoma counties, Calpine is using the enhanced technology, according to a statement made to Lake County News this summer by Dennis Gilles, Calpine's senior vice president of renewables growth.

In Calpine's case, it involves injecting water into existing cracks in the bedrock and using the resulting steam to power the geothermal facility.

Over the summer, AltaRock Energy had begun drilling on an enhanced geothermal systems project above Anderson Springs. That project, which proposed to actually create new fractures in order to put water into them, appears to now be on hold due to problems with drilling, as Lake County News has reported.

Kennedy said the goal is to find ways to expand the geothermal resource base.

The four projects are as follows:

– Fluid imaging ($1.95 million): Underground fluid manipulation, necessary to enhance permeability, is critical to making EGS successful manipulation of fluids underground to enhance permeability. Scientists haven't been able to reliably predict how fluid moves, its locations and concentrations several kilometers below the surface. This project seeks will use geophysical data from sources such as seismic and electromagnetic surveys to create better fluid imaging, which can minimize the cost associated with drilling additional wells.

– Estimating fracture surface area ($1.95 million): Scientists will use natural chemical and isotopic tracers to estimate changes in fracture surface area induced by well stimulation. The lab noted that understanding the surface area and permeability of the rock’s fracture network is important in determining the capacity and longevity of EGS systems.

– Thermal-hydrological-mechanical-chemical (THMC) modeling ($1.74 million): Scientists will seek to develop a model using rock mechanics, chemistry and fluid flow to develop a tool that will allow for more effective strategies for heat extraction and reservoir sustainability.

– CO2 as fluid: ($1.32 million): Instead of using water to transmit heat, the project will look at using carbon dioxide, which theoretical studies suggest could extract heat from fracture rock at about 50 percent higher rates than water. This project is a collaboration with Idaho National Laboratory.

Officials noted that most of these technologies also will be of use in evaluating conventional geothermal reservoirs.

Kennedy said the research is intended to help predict, guide and manage the impacts of stimulation in geothermal systems.

“It's both to make it safe and efficient,” he said.

Understanding the physical aspects of underground fractures also is critical to advancing geothermal. “We don't really have any good ways of doing that,” which Kennedy said is a major reason for the research.

“That would have far-reaching implications beyond heat exchange,” and would help with managing geothermal and other energy production fields – including oil and gas, Kennedy said.

Some of the projects also will try to determine if there's a way of predicting a resource's longevity.

The fourth project, which looks at using carbon dioxide as a heat exchange medium, is very promising on paper, said Kennedy.

“There's a lot of just fundamental science about CO2 and that kind of environment that we don't understand,” he said.

The idea was first presented at a conference at Stanford University. Kennedy said it has a lot of potential advantages, including sequestration. He called it a double-edged sword, but a good one.

Visit the lab's EGS Web site at .

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

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