Letters for August 21, 2008

New Era decision ‘is a travesty’
Re: “Don’t ignore eyewitness” ( Editorial, CN&R, Aug. 14):

It is with a good degree of satisfaction that I note the CN&R is at least mentioning the events regarding the Butte County Board of Supervisors’ recent approval of the expanded New Era Mine operation.

This issue goes much further than the reactivation of a statutorily void mining permit in a remote drainage. As the CN&R pointed out, the project may well be valid, but we’ll never know.

A majority of the supervisors (Kim Yamaguchi and his buddies, Curt Josiassen and Bill Connelly) have proven that the facetious proclamation that pervades California’s northern counties—"the California Environmental Quality Act does not apply north of Sacramento"—is alive and well in Butte County.

I have attended two meetings on the New Era project. The first was on June 5, when concerned citizens met with Supervisor Yamaguchi. He was forced to admit a large amount of his recent campaign funds could be traced to New Era proponents, yet he strongly indicated he “could not be bought.”

The second was the June 10 board meeting. Most of the time was allotted to the mine proponents’ attorney; when it came time for the residents to state their views, the three supervisors in question were notably bored, and they didn’t want to consider or respond to concerns they were clearly in violation of CEQA.

Personally, I am neither for nor against this mine, but I will candidly admit I’m extremely pro-CEQA. The action by the board is a travesty. County residents should take note—the next giveaway could affect you.

Dean Carrier

Par for nature’s course
Re: “Kids, meet your mother” ( GreenWays, by Emily Page, CN&R, Aug. 14):

It was great to finally see local recognition for Richard Louv and his book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder. I agree that the author’s views “may seem to be common sense” to most of us. The more we get out into nature to play, the more our sentiments shift toward caring about the environment as a whole.

Our ancestors and their children spent most of their time outside in nature. As they grew up, they hunted or gathered in groups where they could be competitive with each other to develop survival skills, while their camaraderie helped them stand together against common threats.

Nothing has changed. We are still wired the same, and we still need these kinds of outdoor activities to be healthy and develop good social values.

Disc golf is a safe, healthy, fun, free, and sustainable way to get families, kids and other diverse populations out into Bidwell Park and into nature. Invasive-weed pulling and bird watching may appeal to the more seasoned and mature land stewards among us but are less enticing to athletic, competitive or at-risk youth who need these natural activities the most.

Positive personal experiences in the wild that engage our physical, mental and social skills with the forces of wind, weather and nature are essential to inspire future generations of environmental awareness. Disc golf in Bidwell Park is part of the solution.

Gregg Payne

More disc-ussion
I am an environmental educator in support of the disc-golf courses in Bidwell Park. There are few recreational activities where entire families, and people of all ages and skill levels, can play together as they can in disc golf. It seems that we should encourage this type of recreation, and that the park is for everyone.

Our park is not a preserve, and it is zoned for recreational uses. The “unofficial” disc-golf courses are highly utilized, and if maintenance were allowed, the impacts could be minimized greatly.

It is important to permit as many people as we can to experience our park, in ways that they can connect to the beautiful natural environment. Disc-golf, which is only growing in popularity because of its affordability and accessibility, actually provides an avenue for a large portion of the mainstream to enjoy and deepen their respect for nature. This is important for fostering public support of critical environmental issues like groundwater supply, etc.

I have spent many days on the disc-golf course with my young nephews, letting them make fun of my horrendous disc-golf skills, and sharing in their excitement over lizards, hawks, butterflies and sunsets. I genuinely wish that people could understand how very important it is to educate people about the value of nature through accessible avenues. It is ultimately the best form of activism that exists.

Jennifer Oman

No one is claiming that disc golfers don’t enjoy their sport. They should; it’s fun. Rather, many citizens do claim that the courses were built illegally, without adequate initial environmental review, and they are located among the most beautiful and ecologically sensitive places in all of Upper Park. The current location is inappropriate for many valid reasons, each of which deserves a detailed explanation by any city leader who votes to allow them to remain.

Approving these courses in Upper Park disregards official language written in legal documents such as Annie Bidwell’s original deed, the existing Master Management Plan, the Municipal Code and the general plan. All state that Upper Bidwell Park should be managed for natural resources, and intensive-recreation developments that harm the natural environment and diminish the natural beauty should not be allowed.

Also, the draft Butte County Habitat Conservation Plan designates Upper Bidwell Park as “protected,” so legal developments can occur elsewhere in Chico, while providing for protection and recovery of the numerous endemic species threatened by future development.

In addition, the severe and significant environmental damage occurring on the site is not adequately mitigated by the environmental-impact report. Furthermore, the proposed mitigation measures developed to reduce these impacts to less than significant are largely ineffective, impacts in themselves, and will cost the city a large amount of money.

If the city chooses to build and maintain these courses for a small minority, will they equally support other park users and resource conservation needs?

Josephine Guardino
Los Molinos

Editor’s note: For the CN&R’s take, please see our editorial.

Concow’s kindred spirit
Re: “Catastrophe in Concow” ( Guest Comment, by Tina Meyer and Sarah Salisbury, CN&R, Aug. 14):

It’s very sad to know how devastating the damage really was and what you saw, heard and felt. My heart aches. I haven’t lived there for more than 20 years, but you are right, it is always very close to my heart.

When I moved to Fort Bragg, I read somewhere in the histories here that the Maidu from “Kanchaou” used to visit here on the coast and trade. I hope we can meet a few of your needs on the wish list that went out. Many years ago we were able to gather foodstuffs and wool for Four Corners; maybe we can help our fellow tribespeople.

Albion, Caspar and Comptche are a lot like Concow. I wish you all well.

Sue Lindley
Fort Bragg

Tribute resonates
Re: “Synchronous services” ( Newslines, by Robert Speer, CN&R, Aug. 14:):

We are still in a big shock. [Amit] was with us in Delhi last year and we had such a wonderful time, which I cannot forget till my last breath. The first two nights we both were nonstop talking and had not slept for a minute—we laughed all the time but never thought that was our last laughter. Love you brother!

Sonu Goswami
New Delhi

Thank you, Robert Speer. You did a beautiful job on this one. I’m so glad you did the reporting. This was probably the best thing I’ve read in the News & Review in two years. This town needs to know all about Enloe in the positive and the young man who wanted to be a part of Chico but lost his life too early.

Cathleen Sweeney-Greenlee

Background on scandal
Re: “Home-care union exposed” ( Downstroke, CN&R, Aug. 14):

How do you impeach a president who was never elected? No, not Bush—Tyrone Freeman.

After launching a raid on the United Domestic Workers of America (a “sister” homecare union) in retaliation for the ousting of its president for the same sort of behavior that has been uncovered regarding Freeman, he—head of an SEIU local—was appointed the president of the new union, CUHW (California United Homecare Workers).

UDW was weakened, and had been mismanaged for years, but was being given a hand under an administration by its parent organization when Freeman launched his raid. After many divisive months and many millions in wasted dues money, an agreement was reached that created CUHW.

Turned out that CUHW was SEIU 434b in sheep’s clothing—it had the same address, and CUHW organizers were still handing out business cards with SEIU 434b imprinted on them. All loyal UDW members and organizers were discarded or forced out. I was removed from the bargaining team when I questioned edicts from CUHW and refused to sign the loyalty oath to “President” Freeman.

The homecare workers of Butte County wound up with a wage just barely above minimum ($8.15 an hour) with no health care, because CUHW wanted to push through a union-run health-care plan. Hmm, wonder why they want to keep that money in house?

Lars Logan

Re: “The great growth divide” ( Newslines, by Robert Speer, CN&R, Aug. 7):

It is folly to turn agricultural lands into residential developments. Housing developments create what is known as the “heat island effect.” Pavement and structures, along with lack of water infiltration due to cutting of trees and the first two items, make the local temperature rise. Studies have been done.

Here in Chico, on hot summer evenings, there is a great noticeable difference in temperature when leaving residential areas and entering agricultural areas. The air is much cooler in agricultural areas. Transpiring walnut and almond trees act as a natural air conditioner. Lack of pavement enables the soil to “breathe.”

This single problem, increasing temperatures, is reason enough to not develop our Greenline areas.

Al Crocker

Unsettling experiences
I write this as a warning to people who find themselves in the vicinity of the old municipal building. During last Friday’s concert in the plaza, three men attacked a young man near the fountain across the street. First, they tore his bike apart, and then all three took turns using the young man as a punching bag.

I called 911 as the victim managed to get away with what was left of his bike and face, while the three perpetrators whooped, hollered and patted themselves on the back for their manly endeavors. I followed them to the construction lock-up of the old municipal building, where they unlocked the gate, removed their trucks, locked the gate and left.

Please stay clear of there. It is simply not safe.

C. Kasey Kitterman

My friends and I went to go swimming in Upper Park [Saturday] and were surprised to see a checkpoint and four uniformed officers checking cars for alcohol. We did not have any with us, so they let us pass and gave us a list of rules for Bidwell Park.

I think it is ridiculous that when we want to go have some fun we have to go through a checkpoint to go swimming. I don’t think I’m alone here when I say that I don’t want a list of rules for Upper Park.

Whatever happened to the days when Upper Park was open all night? And what do all those bumper stickers around town say: Keep Upper Park wild.

Carey Brocksen