Archive for September, 2007

Water, Water Everywhere, but Hardly a Drop to Drink
Sunday, September 30th, 2007

Aerial view of Mendocino VillageEven though the village of Mendocino is surrounded on three sides by water, none of it is drinkable because it’s salt water in the Pacific Ocean. Unlike most towns in the country, the village does not have a water system — virtually all of the residents and businesses in town draw their water from wells, and the aquifer is running low. It’s always running low by this time of the year, since it gets recharged each year by the rains that we get from November through the spring. All those wells are like a bunch of straws sipping from the same drink, and we’re running very low this year because we only got 75% of the normal rainfall last season (a mere 30 inches instead of 42 inches on average).

Accordingly, the Mendocino City Community Services District is now asking residents to voluntarily reduce consumption by 10%. Mike Kelley, MCCSD superintendent, has asked for the reduction because “we’re completely dependent on the previous year’s rainfall for our next year’s ground water supply.”

According to the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, officials in Fort Bragg (9 miles north) feel no need to request conservation, since they have a plentiful water supply from the Noyo River. One inaccuracy in the article is the statement that there is no river to help recharge the aquifer. If you look at the right side of the picture, you’ll see a very large river, Big River. It could have been used to supply drinking water for the town if people had planned ahead, but a friend told me that efforts to investigate the possibility years ago were unsuccessful. It would have taken money and will, both of which were in short supply. Since a huge chunk of the Big River watershed was donated to the State Parks system a few years ago, the likelihood of using it as a water source is even less now. The town is a golden goose for the county, generating a significant chunk of Transient Occupancy Tax for the county, which is forced to spread the money around this huge (3500 square miles) but poor county. Residents have long complained that not much comes back in the way of services. Of course, everything that happens in Mendocino is politically charged, and I’m sure this was the same. There are people who resent the growth of the tourist industry, and they felt that having a water system would open the floodgates of tourism.

Mike Kelley once told me that studies show there would be sufficient water in the aquifer to supply the town if the extraction was entirely controlled by official pumps. But doing that would require money and political will, and it seems unlikely. (Cynicism alert: It would also be different than before, and hence bad in the minds of some people.) Because the village is unincorporated, all money decisions are controlled by the Board of Supervisors, and it seems that most of the supervisors only care about Mendocino to the extent that the bed tax revenues are flowing in.

So if you’re coming to visit the town in the next few months, expect to have to ask for water in restaurants. I’d also recommend showering with a friend, but I also recommend that anytime. 🙂


Mendocino Outdoors is the premier guide to outdoor activities on the Mendocino Coast

Mendocino Outdoors, the premier guidebook for outdoor fun and adventure on the Mendocino Coast, was recently updated as an ebook for the 5th Edition. You can buy a copy at Smashwords.com, the Apple iBooks Bookstore, Amazon’s Kindle Books, and Barnes & Noble's online store.

Point Cabrillo Lightkeepers Win Two Preservation Awards
Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

pclk-before.jpglh-inn-after.JPGAt the annual Point Cabrillo Lightkeepers Association (PCLK) volunteer barbecue this past weekend, Executive Director Jim Kimbrell made the surprise announcement that PCLK had won two preservation awards for the restoration of the Point Cabrillo Light Station. Above, right, is the restored Head Lightkeeper’s Residence–now the Lighthouse Inn at Point Cabrillo.

The first award was from the California Preservation Foundation, and the award was presented to the Point Cabrillo Lightkeepers Association and California Department of Parks and Recreations – 2007 State Preservation Design Award for the Design and Preservation of the Point Cabrillo Light Station.

The second award is the Governor’s Historic Preservation Award for 2007 presented to the Point Cabrillo Lightkeepers Association and California State Parks for the rehabilitation of the Point Cabrillo Lightkeeper’s Residences.

I’m proud to say I was a PCLK Board member during the restoration of seven of nine buildings — the ninth is currently under renovation. Kudos go to Kimbrell who directed the project and to Tony Scramaglia, the contractor and his crew who performed the work. My fellow PCLK Board members Harold Hauck, Ron Eich, Tanya Smart, Bruce Rogerson, Diana Stewart and Ginny Rorby were guiding lights as well.

If you haven’t been out to this restored 1909 lighthouse and light station, don’t miss it on your next visit.


Mendocino Outdoors is the premier guide to outdoor activities on the Mendocino Coast

Mendocino Outdoors, the premier guidebook for outdoor fun and adventure on the Mendocino Coast, was recently updated as an ebook for the 5th Edition. You can buy a copy at Smashwords.com, the Apple iBooks Bookstore, Amazon’s Kindle Books, and Barnes & Noble's online store.

Sculpture Materializes Before Our Eyes
Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

Since the first of August, John Fisher has been carving away on a 10-ton, eight-foot tall piece of limestone at the Mendocino Art Center. It’s been a rare and amazing process to watch, as several tons of limestone has dropped away revealing his marvelous sculpture. The sculpture will be sold with 50% of the proceeds benefiting the MAC building fund. On Saturday, September 29, his project comes to a close with a benefit dinner and dance. For more information, contact Mendocino Art Center at 707-937-5818, 45200 Little Lake St, Mendocino.


Mendocino Outdoors is the premier guide to outdoor activities on the Mendocino Coast

Mendocino Outdoors, the premier guidebook for outdoor fun and adventure on the Mendocino Coast, was recently updated as an ebook for the 5th Edition. You can buy a copy at Smashwords.com, the Apple iBooks Bookstore, Amazon’s Kindle Books, and Barnes & Noble's online store.

Local History at Kelley House Museum: the MacKericher Family
Saturday, September 22nd, 2007

If you’re looking to learn more about the history of the Mendocino Coast, there is a presentation at the Kelley House Museum in Mendocino on Sunday Sept 22 at 3 pm. Faith Graham, the great-granddaughter of Duncan MacKericher, will be talking about the family history, and how their ranch became MacKerricher State Park (inexplicably picking up another “r” in the process). Duncan MacKericher and his family left Quebec during the Civil War, and made their way to Panama, and thence to San Francisco and Mendocino in 1864.  Duncan worked in the local mill for several years, and then began working on the Pomo Indian reservation at Ten Mile (north of Fort Bragg). When the Pomos were forceably removed to Round Valley, the MacKerichers stayed. They bought Rancho de la Laguna, and half the Pomos from the reservation were able to stay and work on the ranch. They sold their butter in San Francisco, and used the money to help the Pomos.

Faith will share stories about her ancestors, including how their ranch became a state park. MacKerricher State Park is one of the top 100 state parks in the U.S. in terms of annual attendance, drawing over 2 million visitors a year.


Mendocino Outdoors is the premier guide to outdoor activities on the Mendocino Coast

Mendocino Outdoors, the premier guidebook for outdoor fun and adventure on the Mendocino Coast, was recently updated as an ebook for the 5th Edition. You can buy a copy at Smashwords.com, the Apple iBooks Bookstore, Amazon’s Kindle Books, and Barnes & Noble's online store.

Shipwreck Frolic Cannon – Another Year in the Bath
Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

I’m not sure how much time–maybe three years– has gone by since a contigent from the Point Cabrillo Lightkeepers Association moved the Baltimore Brig Frolic’s cannon from the Kelley House Museum and shipped it to Indiana University in Bloomington for preservation. “Preservation” means creating an electrolytic reduction bath that neutralizes the damage caused by being in salt water, then exposed to the air. The idea is to stop further deterioration.

Frolic Cannon - Another Year in the BathThe Frolic, one of the most significant Gold Rush-era shipwrecks, which led to settlement and lumbering on the Mendocino Coast (that’s another story), was damaged and run aground in 1850 just north of the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse.

The cannon was a major artifact find. And Caspar resident Win Bowen built a sturdy wood and plastic display case to show it off in the lighthouse. Unfortunately, not long after he completed the display case, the decision was made to send the cannon east for preservation work.

Word just back from the preservation folks: “It’s a slow process and needs another year of electrolytic bath” because of its size. Considering its value and potential for educating future generations, 12 months is really not that long to wait.

Win Bowen, far left above, designed the special display case waiting for the Frolic when it is possibly returned to Mendocino in 2008. Others pictured: Harold Hauck, Bob Ellington, Ron Eich, Jack Sherin, Jim Kimbrell, Tony Scramaglia, and Bruce Lewis (that’s me) on the day we hauled into into a truck for the move to Point Cabrillo. My picture is date 11/13/03.


Mendocino Outdoors is the premier guide to outdoor activities on the Mendocino Coast

Mendocino Outdoors, the premier guidebook for outdoor fun and adventure on the Mendocino Coast, was recently updated as an ebook for the 5th Edition. You can buy a copy at Smashwords.com, the Apple iBooks Bookstore, Amazon’s Kindle Books, and Barnes & Noble's online store.

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