• author
    • Donald Sanders

      Columnist
    • July 28, 2015 in Columnists

    Not standing by and watching trees die

    I’ve been having some heart trouble in the form of chest pain. It’s no secret because I’ve written about it before. So far it’s nothing I can’t handle. I can still do the things I like to do, but I just have to take things slower then I used to. I can still help the guys at Solano County Water Agency with their creek restoration work.

    I can still help Putah Creek streamkeeper, Rich Marovich, take care of his greenhouse and nursery. I can still help Rick Fowler with his PDO and listen to his friendly stories and I can help Duc Jones do everything else because when you plant a bunch of trees, they have to be watered or they will die. This work is a labor of love for me; it keeps me healthy and gets me out of the house.

    I have another labor of love that helps me keep active when I help out the Pickerels on their place right next to the Diversion Dam on Putah Creek. They let me piddle around doing this and that, all of which consist of little tasks that are ordinary on any ranch. I can’t do the things I used to do but I’m still pretty handy with the small stuff. In return I can sit by the cold clear creek, listen to the waterfall, and watch the deer, salmon, trout, beaver and otters frolic around the trees and water.

    I also try to help John Donlevy and Carol Scianna of the City of Winters. They are charged with the creation and care of the Putah Creek Nature Park that begins at the creek, under the railroad bridge and runs all the way to the freeway, a mile or so downstream. I cannot begin to tell you the amount of money and human effort in the form of labor it has taken to get this nature park up to the point where it is now. I’m sure there is some web site you can go to get it all broken down for you if you need to see that stuff.

    I have been helping the Putah Creek Council do their fine work of planting trees and caring for them all along the creek (centered mostly in the Putah Creek Nature Park (CWNP) for years. Through them, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting countless people, all volunteers like me, wanting to help out with the health of the Earth.

    With all of this going on, I still have my home life and all that it involves as well. Sometimes I’m a little lax in my chores around home and I’ll hear about that from my wife, Therese, who sometimes says she’s going to call the Putah Creek Council and ask them if they would send me home to do some volunteer chores at my house.

    Ha Ha Ha.

    This is my wife’s little attempt at humor but I truly understand her plight.

    How can my wife feel good about complaining about undone home chores when I’m freaking out about this tree or that dying for the lack of water? I tell her that the City of Winters and the Solano County Water Agency are on strict budgets when it comes to the nature park. I don’t think any organization on any budget could afford to pay someone to do the little things I do for them.

    No budget has an account for the removal of debris from the young trees after high water has washed everything downstream, just as no budget has an account for picking up all the little pieces of garbage that people throw away when they visit the park. It is my wish that everyone who visits the creek will consider themselves to be volunteers like me so if they see a piece of garbage, they could pick it up so I don’t have to do it.

    My wife knows how I feel about my volunteer work, so she’s not all reluctant about my doing it. There are a lot of times that she could complain about what doesn’t get done around my house but he holds her tongue because she doesn’t want to have me overextend myself by doing more work then I should be doing. That’s how I know she loves me.

    Lately it has become difficult to get the trees at the park the water they need. I say difficult, not impossible. I don’t know the politics of the matter and I don’t care much about it either, but it seems the State Water Resources Control Board Office of Enforcement has restricted the use of creek water to water the thousands of plants and trees that have thus far been planted at the park. Many of these plants are yet to be established and will certainly die in a very short time if someone doesn’t water them. They are dying as we speak.

    Bryan Elder, PE is the Water Resources Control Engineer of the Special Investigations Unit (Office of Enforcement) acting for the State of California, and has denied the City of Winters, the Solano County Water Agency, the Putah Creek Council or any volunteer the right to take water from the creek and pour it onto a dying tree within the limits of the nature park. I’m sure there’s a good reason for this action by the state, but I’ll be goddamned if I know what it could be.

    So now, here I am with my bad heart, and it seems as if I’m the only person that gives a good God damn if any of the trees at the park get water or not. Well there’s only one thing I can do, because I refuse to let everything at the park go to hell. I’m going to take a bucket down to the creek under the bridge and water as many of those trees as I can by hand. Sometimes you have to break the law to do the right thing.

    I’m going to break the law and I’m going to do it right now. Mr. Elder, and you and your Water Resources Special Investigations Unit (Office of Enforcement) acting for the State of California can kiss my ass.

    Arrest me if you have to — I don’t give a shit.



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