• author
    • Donald Sanders

      Columnist
    • February 25, 2014 in Columnists

    Neat little rows of trees along the creek.

    The ranchers along Putah Creek, which runs through Winters California, are a breed of their own. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but it’s pretty much true. If you think about it, you’ll agree that, at the least, they’re a curious bunch. From the outside they have neat little houses tucked in neat little orchards where the trees are in neat little rows within arm’s reach of a neat little creek. If I had to choose one thing as a symbol of Winters California, it would be these neat little ranches.

    It’s one thing to view these ranches as you drive past on the highway, but it’s quite another to actually walk among the rows of trees, smell the smells and taste the fruit of whatever tree you happen to be standing next to. I mean, you can bend over and pick up a walnut, newly fallen from a branch above, crack it open and taste something so natural and fresh that you will slobber all over yourself. Or, you can go to the grocery store and get one from the refrigerator, which is alright but not the same.

    As you know, several organizations such as the Putah Creek Council and Solano County Water Agency, along with others, are deeply involved in restoring Putah Creek to a more natural state and it is very important work. At this stage in their work, you can already see the water of the creek is cleaner, colder, and in general, happier. Salmon are coming upstream in greater and greater numbers to spawn and swim up and down the creek from ranch to ranch. It’s a beautiful thing to see and to be a part of.

    Organizations concerned with saving the Earth through restoration and conservation are springing up everywhere they’re needed. They depend on volunteer labor to do the good work needed because the cost would be overwhelming and no one would have the funding for such projects. Problems arise because you can’t clean an entire creek from any one particular point. To clean and restore a creek, you need to clean the entire creek and most of the creek passes through private property.

    I have a deep feeling of respect and affection for those that organize and run the non-profit organizations concerned with the restoration of our environment. These people work very hard at a job that will never make them rich or buy them fancy cars or trucks. The work they do is so very important to us all, and if the work is to be completed, it will take all of us to do it. Of course, conservation work will never be completed and goes on and on forever.

    As a volunteer for these organizations, I can only do what I can do. I do not decide what I do or where to go while doing this work. At some point, as a volunteer, I was taught by someone how to do what needs to be done in a way that has been tested and reviewed by others who have been at restoration work for many, many years. Whatever I do as a volunteer has been done over and over by others before me, thousands of times. Believe me, these people know what they are doing, it’s important to them, and they know it’s an ongoing process.

    This all said, it takes me to the point where I am standing along the creek, on a ranch owned by someone else, where I might get lucky and pick up a walnut off the ground and taste it. I know I’m on someone else’s property and I hope they don’t mind if I taste one or two walnuts while I’m there. I have a dilemma at this point, for ofttimes I do volunteer work that needs to be done, alone, by myself. I mean there are certain little jobs I can do by myself and these organizations have trusted me to take care of them, knowing I’m not going to go on a destructive rampage on someone else’s property.

    If you own a ranch along the Putah Creek, chances are I have been working on your property, over and over for years now. Know that I do not venture everywhere I want to go just because I want to. The Solano County Water Agency and the Putah Creek Council are diligent in their communications with landowners about everything they do on someone else’s property, who will do the work, and when they will be doing it. They are every bit as diligent in their organization of volunteer activities. This work takes hours and hours of dedication. When you come down to it, the actual volunteer work is the quickest and easiest part of the whole thing.

    Anyway, the most important thing I’m trying to say is, should you see me on your property (I’m not going to say “tasting your nuts”), don’t shoot me.  I’m doing restoration work and I’m not there to do you harm.



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