Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Levee Breaks in New Orleans

Watching the devastating and heartbreaking news from the levees breaking in New Orleans, as a result of Hurricane Katrina, is a sober reminder that we also rely on levees to protect us from nature's fury.

As I write this the national mobilization of effort grows to help the people in the hurricane's path, and we wish them well as they struggle with what appears to be one of the largest disasters ever to hit the United States in an urban area.

Goathead Puncturevine

I don’t ride a bicycle anymore, but these thorns, from an article in the Sacrament Bee yesterday, sounds like a real disaster for those who do, whether on the Sacramento River trails or the Parkway.

A thorn in the ride: Weed sticks it to bicyclists' tires
By Blair Anthony Robertson -- Bee Staff Writer

Published 2:15 am PDT Tuesday, August 30, 2005

A weed known as the goathead puncturevine has put down roots in Sacramento. It's giving cyclists fits - and flats. Dogs and barefoot people may be its next victims.

The low-growing, nondescript - and nonnative - weed, with its scores of thorny burrs, seems perfectly designed by nature to let the air out of any bike ride.

A milelong stretch of new bike trail along the Sacramento River near Old Sacramento is so overwhelmed by puncturevine lining the otherwise pristine pavement that it's a safe bet you'll get a flat tire.

The goathead phenomenon is a new source of frustration for Ed Cox, the city's bike and pedestrian coordinator.

"This is the first year I've ever had this called to my attention," Cox said. "People are calling me and saying, 'Is there something you can do about all the thorns on the bike trail?' "

Plenty can be done, but experts say the city must adopt a long-term weed eradication strategy. Sacramento's reputation as a bike-friendly town could be overshadowed by sidelined cyclists fuming and fumbling with their pumps and patch kits.

Worse, city maintenance crews recently tried to cut back the weeds with string trimmers only to realize they were spreading the thorns on the trail by the thousands.

For the rest of the story:

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

National Heritage Areas

Part of our strategy is to see the Parkway become a National Heritage Area; here’s a related article.

By Matthew White

Concerned about the creeping uniformity of modern suburban life, many people are seeking a renewed “sense of place” in their communities. The popularity of historical societies and preservation projects is a sign of this trend. Some people have discovered that adding the words “nationally significant” to their area or region can result in millions of federal dollars funneled through National Heritage Areas (NHAs). What was once a regional or local project with community involvement can be partly underwritten by the government and overseen by the National Park Service.

Thanks to NHAs, money from the federal government has been spent on projects such as waterwheel reconstruction in Philadelphia, folk music collection in North Carolina, building a coal mining archive inside a church in West Virginia, agricultural field trips for schoolchildren in Iowa, celebrating Creole culture in Louisiana, and interpreting water management in Colorado. NHAs range in size from small waterways such as the nine-mile Augusta Canal in Georgia to land corridors such as Rivers of Steel, a heritage area covering seven counties along the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers in Pennsylvania. Heritage areas include cities—Detroit, Lansing, and Flint are all part of the MotorCities Heritage area—and even an entire state, Tennessee.

Heritage areas are of special interest now because of a controversial bill, the National Heritage Partnership Act, introduced by Senator Craig Thomas (R-Wyo.) and Representative Joel Heffey (R. CO.). The sponsors hope to create an official program within the National Park Service and to formalize criteria for designating heritage areas. Right now, each heritage area is created by an individual law enacted by Congress.

The rest of the story:

Monday, August 29, 2005

San Joaquin River Parkway & The River Center

The San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust in Fresno was established in 1992 and has done a lot of work creating and conserving the San Joaquin River Parkway.

You can visit their site at and click on River Center to see photos of the center described below, and why don't we have something grand like this here??

A good project for the future.


The River Center: A Center of Activity for people who care about the River
11605 Old Friant Road, Fresno, CA 93720

Just 10 minutes East from the Highway 41 Friant Road exitA facility of the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation TrustDeeded to the community by Vulcan Materials Company April 2001.

Historic Ranch House open Friday-Sunday, 11am-3pm, or by appointment.Grounds open for trail users and picnics every day 8am-5pm.Admission to grounds: free.Admission to Historic Ranch House: suggested donation $3 per person.

Special group tours available by appointment.Call (559) 433-3190 for information.

At the River Center you can connect with the culture and natural history of the San Joaquin River through art and educational exhibits, programs and activities, gardens and links to pedestrian and bike trails.

There is something for everyone at the River Center. Programs like storytelling, river-inspired art workshops, readings by local authors, gardening classes and kids' crafts keep the place bustling with activity year-round.

The River Center has a restored 1890's ranch house, rose garden, orchard, vineyard and picnic area. The grounds and historic ranch house are available to rent for business meetings.

Visit the River Store in the Leon and Pete Peters Welcome Pavilion to purchase unique gifts. A portion of all sales benefits the work of the River Parkway Trust.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Alcohol Ban on Parkway

Following excessive drinking on the American River during the traditional July 4th rafting, there were calls from public leaders for the banning of alcohol in the Parkway and on the river.

Our organization feels this would be an over-reaction to an event more reasonably handled by an increased law enforcement presence on the river during those times when this might occur.

River rafting with a six-pack and Parkway picnics with wine, are a local tradition, and the abuse of that tradition should be dealt with in the traditional way, by increasing law enforcement.

That is why our organization is calling for management of the Parkway by a nonprofit conservancy, to replace the current, ineffective management.

A conservancy could also raise funds to supplement public funding, one result of which would be more money for law enforcement.

This is a model being used effectively in other regions, the Central Park Conservancy in New York as just one example.

In our search for responsible methods of preserving our Parkway, and local tradition, we don’t want to throw out the beer with the river water.

So, we were happy to read this article in the Bee today, and learn that both will continue flowing.

Here is the referenced article:

Booze to flow on river - for now
Supervisors don't have the authority to impose alcohol ban.

By Phillip Reese -- Bee Staff WriterPublished 2:15 am PDT Friday, August 26, 2005

Makeshift water cannons, public nudity, mass brawls and dozens of arrests - officials are hoping this Labor Day on the American River isn't a repeat of Fourth of July shenanigans.

But the main ingredient for past rowdiness - large quantities of alcohol - will still be around.

On July Fourth, as more than 10,000 people, many of them drunk, floated down the American River, festivities erupted into a melee. Sacramento County sheriff's officials had to fire pepper-powder balls on revelers in a mass fight. They arrested about 50 people on offenses ranging from public intoxication to beating another person with an oar.

The next day, tons of trash sat in the party's wake, littering the banks of one of the county's jewels.

Motivated by the increased problems, parks officials started talking about prohibiting alcohol on the river.

Read the rest of the story here:

Attempted Rape on Parkway

This story, (scroll down) unfortunately, confirms what we have been saying for some time, it’s not safe out there and public safety needs a much more serious focus, one the current Parkway management has been unable to deliver.

However, rangers take a much more proactive approach just up the American River near Auburn, as another article in Thursday’s Bee notes: “The rangers have a strong presence within the park and seem easy to find.”

For full article go here:

That “strong presence”, unfortunately, is not the situation on the Parkway, and that needs to change.

Here is the article about the attempted rape on the Parkway and one man's effort to help:

Helping to keep parkway safe
Safety steward offers to jog with women runners in the wake of attack on the trail.
By Edgar Sanchez -- Bee Staff WriterPublished 2:15 am PDT Thursday, August 25, 2005

Doug Thurston, an avid jogger, is a volunteer safety steward for the American River Parkway.
When he sees "shady" men on the parkway trail, the friendly Sacramentan warns solo women runners to beware and offers to run beside them.

"Half the time, the women will say, 'Don't worry about it; I'll be OK,' " Thurston, 45, said. "The rest of the time, they'll say, 'Sure, thank you.' "

Running in pairs is always a good idea, park rangers said, advice that was reinforced recently after a 63-year-old woman became the target of an attempted sexual attack as she jogged on a foot path off the main trail, near Sailor Bar in Fair Oaks.

On Aug. 11, a man approached the female jogger from behind and pushed her to the ground, Sacramento County sheriff's deputies said.

The assailant then lay on top of her, covering her mouth as he reached down to unzip his pants.
After a brief struggle, the woman escaped. The assailant ran away. As of Friday, no arrests have been made.

For the Rest of the story:

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Democracy in Action in Davis

As we see from this meeting in Davis reported on by the Bee yesterday-- scroll down, (and a follow up report today ) it is often difficult to get public involvement on a contentious issue if public officials, and the consultants they hire, create a format too strict to allow free public discourse.

This has been the complaint offered about the current Parkway Planning Update process where public input is so strictly limited it has driven away members of the public wanting to become involved.

While a ‘strict format’ may serve the stated needs of the public administrators and the meeting facilitators they hire, it is not very good for the public, who the meeting’s purpose are ultimately meant to serve.

Democracy is often a little messy, but it works.

Spraying critics seize meeting
Davis officials leave after being shouted down by protesters.
By Hudson Sangree and Deb Kollars -- Bee Staff WritersPublished 2:15 am PDT Wednesday,
August 24, 2005

A meeting intended to calm fears in Davis about possible pesticide spraying to combat West Nile virus erupted in chaos Tuesday, as opponents shouted objections to the meeting's strict format, drove off government leaders and then took over the session.

The ground rules of the meeting called for written questions from audience members to be read by Davis Mayor Ruth Asmundson and Yolo County Supervisor Helen Thomson to a panel of officials and handpicked experts.

About 30 minutes into the meeting, however, several opponents began loudly interrupting with questions and objections.

"This is a democratic meeting," said resident David Bayer. "People have a right to stand up and articulate their concerns."

Asmundson abruptly halted the session and directed the panel to leave the City Hall dais. For the rest of the story;

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Indian Heritage Center & Museum

There was a letter to the editor, A proper Indian museum, in the Bee on Monday August 22, 2005, accessed here, questioning the decision of the California Indian Heritage Center Task Force to site the center in the American River Parkway.

The letter writer asks, “Why would anyone put an Indian Museum in Sacramento?”

The short answer is that the site chosen is in the area of at least three historic Nisenan villages, Pujune (the largest), Momol and Yamanepu.

According to W. C. Dillinger, the editor of the 1991 book, A History of the Lower American River, published by the American River Natural History Association and can be purhased from their website, , “Pujune was known as the dominant village for the Nisenan on the east side of the Sacramento River from a few miles south of the American to above the mouth of the Feather River.” (p.19)

The California Indian Heritage Center Task Force is composed of ten members, of which six are Indian and five of the six voted for the site.

So, to wrap up, the site chosen was once the site of a major Indian village, and it was chosen by 5 out of 6 of the Indians on the Task Force.

A quick visit to the website of the Task Force members, accessed here: will clearly show the Indian members of the Task Force to be individuals with substantial standing in their community and eminently qualified to make the decision they did.

I submit we can rest assured their decision was a clear and definitive response to the question, “Why would anyone put an Indian Museum in Sacramento?”

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Central Park Conservancy

Perhaps the most successful nonprofit conservancy managing a major park is the Central Park Conservancy, which is why we refer to it frequently.

Their history, posted on their website is illustrative;

"Over the past twenty years, the history of Central Park has been greatly affected by the history of the Central Park Conservancy, the private, not-for-profit organization that manages Central Park under a contract with the City of New York/Department of Parks and Recreation.

Perhaps the single most important ingredient in the modern restoration of Central Park is the successful public/private partnership between the City of New York/Department of Parks and Recreation and the Central Park Conservancy."

To read more go to

Monday, August 22, 2005

San Dieguito River Parkway

One of the cornerstones of our work is to see the Parkway managed by a nonprofit conservancy, able to focus exclusively on the Parkway and providing the type of oversight, activity coordination, and fund raising that is typical of nonprofit management of important public natural resources.

A great example of that here in California is the San Dieguito River Park in San Diego, which you can access at:

Just perusing the coordinated activity planned for this summer, and the ongoing updating done by the staff of the nonprofit, (the columns by executive director Dick Bobertz are excellent) gives you a sense of what we could, and should, eventually see happening here.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Indian Heritage Center

Several members of the board of ARPPS attended a presentation by Walter Gray, Chief of the Cultural Services Division of California State Parks about the siting of the Center in the North Sacramento Area of the Parkway.

ARPPS was the only Parkway organization publicly supporting this siting and our letter to the Bee was published in October and is reposted below.

The presentation was part of the North Sacramento Chamber’s Leadership Series, of which ARPPS was one of the co-sponsors, for the event on Thursday, August 18th.

It was very informative, and given that Walter Gray was the person largely responsible for the success of the Sacramento Railroad Museum, he brings a lot of experience to the project.

It was also revealed that the new incoming chair of the Heritage Center Task Force will be current task force member Larry Myers, who as the long-time Executive Secretary of the State of California Native American Heritage Commission, will provide substantial leadership to this important project.


October 2, 2004

Opinion page editors
P.O. Box 15779
Sacramento, CA 95852

Re: Article, 10/2/04: Indian museum panel chooses parkway. PUBLISHED

Dear Editors:

The choice of the Parkway site by the California Indian Cultural Center and Museum Task Force (CICCM), as the location for the California Indian Heritage Center and Museum, is a wise and wonderful choice, and one all knowledgeable Parkway stakeholders should applaud and support wholeheartedly.

This is the area of at least three historic Nisenan villages, Pujune (the largest), Momol and Yamanepu, and is also a glorious, and long overdue, physical return of the Indian people to the Parkway, from which they have never been separated spiritually.

It will have a tremendous economic and cultural benefit to the entire region and particularly the North Sacramento area of the Parkway, traditionally forgotten about when resources are distributed, and currently suffering great deterioration.

It cannot be seen as a ‘development’, as some have said, in the sense that the Parkway Plan envisions, but is more appropriately compared to the Effie Yeaw Nature Center in Carmichael, only much larger.

If the national Indian Museum just opened in Washington D.C. is any guide, we are in for a truly beautiful Museum that will bring admiration and attention to our community and embody the founding spirit of the Parkway.

David H. Lukenbill, President
American River Parkway Preservation Society

Cc: ARPPS Board & Membership
Larry Myers, CICCM

Water Supply

A good column about water supply in this morning's Bee, and though I don't agree with his assumption that any option to increase supply can be taken off the table, it is an issue that will have great impact upon the Parkway in the future....

Dan Walters: As population, water demand grow, the supply is less certain
By Dan Walters -- Bee ColumnistPublished 2:15 am PDT Sunday, August 21,

Mark Twain may or may not have actually said that "whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting over," depending on which historic authority one believes, but it was an accurate description of 19th-century California - a time and a place with which he was intimately familiar.
Southern California ranchers and Northern California gold miners battled over water rights constantly because of the state's peculiar hydrology - and while the identities and motives of contestants have evolved, their legal, political and economic struggles are shaping 21st-century California as well.

We know that California has 37 million people now and will continue to add population at roughly 5 million to 6 million per decade. That growth, water authorities say, will increase urban demand by 3 million to 4 million acre-feet (an acre-foot is about 326,000 gallons) a year by 2030, depending on how successful voluntary and mandatory conservation programs may be in curbing per capita use, now more than 200 gallons each day.

----read more

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Sacramento Bee Series: River Stories

The Sacramento Bee is publishing a very nice series of river stories, and here is the most recent:

River stories: Ever-changing view refreshes artist-teacher
By Gina Kim -- Bee Staff Writer; Published August 19, 2005
Story appeared in Scene section, Page J1

The Sacramento and American rivers are synonymous with River City. Every Friday this summer, we introduce you to someone who lives, works or plays along our rivers.

It's the water that brings artist Susan Sarback back to the American River over and over again. And the challenge of depicting its fluid motion on canvas.

"It is my favorite thing to paint, to paint water," said Sarback, 50. "You're trying to capture its distance, reflection, surface and depth."

Sarback, an oil painter who specializes in light and color, usually can be found basking in the morning light with her easel along the American River around Fair Oaks three days a week.

[You can read the rest of the story at]

Indian Heritage Center Parkway Site Chosen

I recently attended a presentation on the Indian Heritage Center site being chosen for the Parkway, and while many issues remain to be worked out, it is a great decision for the Parkway and the Heritage Center.

The Sacramento Bee wrote about it last month...

Indian center site is chosen

State task force votes to build heritage project on parkway; many hurdles lie ahead.
By Doug Rutsch -- Bee Staff Writer - (Published July 27, 2005)

In a 7-1 vote Tuesday, a state task force gave the go-ahead to building a California Indian Heritage Center on 201 acres along the American River Parkway near Northgate Boulevard.
Cindy La Marr, chairwoman of the California Indian Heritage Center Task Force and lone dissenter, resigned after the vote. She had favored an alternate location in Folsom near Lake Natoma, and warned that various environmental and social issues associated with the parkway site would tie up the project indefinitely.
Plans for the center are intended to attract American Indian groups as well as visitors interested California Indian history. The proposed heritage center would have areas for tribal gatherings, a museum, a theater and gardens of native plants.

[here is a link to the rest of the story, might require registration]

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Sacramento Zoological Society, Nonprofit Governance

As the issue of nonprofit governance of the Parkway is a key component of our strategy, it is worthwhile to examine similar arrangements. One that is curently working out quite well is the nonprofit governance of the Sacramento Zoo, which used to be governed by the city.

Established in 1927, the Sacramento Zoo is one of the region's top attractions, with an annual attendance of 450,000, including approximately 80,000 school children visiting the zoo each year on organized field trips. The Zoo's collection consists of more than 400 animals, diverse botanical life and several specialized gardens.

The Zoo is the largest accredited zoological park in the Central Valley. Set on 15-acres in William Land Park, the Zoo opened in 1927. Accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association since 1975, the Zoo collection exhibits more than 400 animals including 32 endangered or threatened species in a lush park environment.

The non-profit Sacramento Zoological Society operates the Zoo.

The Zoo property, buildings and animal collection remain assets of the city of Sacramento.

The Society, formed in 1957, assumed daily financial management of the Zoo, from the city, in July 1997. Since its inception, the society has served as the fund-raising organization for the Zoo, providing funds for habitat improvement, education and conservation programs.