Will Parrish

Will Parrish: Drum Demo At Shasta Dam

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From WILL PARRISH
Ukiah
TheAVA

For the Winnemem Wintu people of the McCloud River watershed (a mighty tributary of the Upper Sacramento River, formed by the southeastern drainage of Mt. Shasta and its stately foothills), the weapon of mass destruction that has wrought greatest harm on their culture is California’s largest dam: the Shasta Dam. This 602-foot-tall concrete plug on the Upper Sacramento River inundated 90% of the Winnemem’s ancestral territory upon its completion in 1945. Salmon, which have always been at the center of the Winnemem’s material and spiritual existence, were thereupon blocked from reaching their historic spawning grounds in the constipated waters upstream, contributing to a massive overall fish die-off in the Sacramento River and the San Francisco Bay Delta.

In the face of these hardships, the Winnemem continue to preserve their culture in every way they can: their language, religion, and traditional healing methods. In the meantime, they struggle to protect their remaining sacred sites and burial grounds from a seemingly interminable stream of threats and encroachments. With California in the throes of the worst drought since official recordkeeping began in the late-1870s, the greatest threat to the Winnemem’s remaining cultural strongholds now has renewed traction in the US Congress: proposed legislation to expand Shasta Reservoir, and thereby flood many of the Winnemem’s remaining ancestral lands.

Will Parrish: Business as Usual For California Water Hogs

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From WILL PARRISH
Ukiah
TheAVA

The year 2013 was California’s driest on record. The first six months of 2014 were the hottest half-year on record. Reservoirs are drying up. Groundwater basins are diminishing at an alarming rate. Yet, the water demands of the state’s gargantuan agribusiness empire, its sprawling metropolises, and its extractive industries (such as, increasingly, fracking) have largely continued to grow this year.

We’ll start with California’s most lucrative legally-sanctioned crop: almonds. California produces roughly 82% of the world’s almonds. Demand for the nut is fast-growing in China and India. San Joaquin Valley growers are rushing to convert from cotton and other annual row crops to the increasingly profitable tree crop.

Unfortunately, almonds generally use much more water than the crops they replace. In Westlands Water District, the state’s biggest irrigation district (centered near Fresno), an average acre of almonds commands 1.3 million gallons of water per year, on average, as compared to roughly half that in the case of cotton. Agriculture in California, with its lack of summer rain, already uses about 80% of the state’s developed water supply. Almonds alone use 10%.

Will Parrish: Mendo’s Timber Tentacles

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From WILL PARRISH
Ukiah
TheAVA

[There is still time to support Will Parrish’s investigative reporting on his Indiegogo site here. ~ds)

It’s been well over a decade since the grape-based alcohol sector first outpaced tree cutting as Mendocino County’s dominant state-sanctioned economic sector. This watershed moment — a product of many decades of changes in both global and regional economic structures, which saw the appetite for California premium wines spread across the globe — occurred in 2001. Mendo wine grapes netted revenue of $87.6 million that year; timber, $80.1 million.

The wine industry, along with the big lending institutions that underwrite a considerable share of its activities, such as Wells Fargo (the United States’ leading agricultural lender among commercial banks) and Bank of America (the fourth leading agricultural lender), have only continued to steer their vast financial resources into corduroy-like grape rows, such as those that increasingly suckle at the banks of the waterways in the Upper Russian and Navarro Rivers.

Help Fund a Local Mendocino Treasure: Investigative Reporter Will Parrish…

From WILL PARRISH

I’ve “put myself out there,” as the young folk like to say nowadays, by launching a public fundraising campaign via the site Indiegogo. Being that I am not in a position to make a full living as a journalist otherwise, I’ve turned to The People to support me financially. Overall, I’ve been really happy about the results! As of this writing, I’ve received $3,297 in donations.

I’ve just learned that someone will give me $1,000 within the next day or two! That will bring me to just $1,200 shy of my goal of $5,500. My deadline is this Saturday. If I receive an average of $300 in donations in the next four days, I’ll be all the way there.

Will Parrish: Support Hard-Hitting Independent Journalism…

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 From WILL PARRISH
Ukiah

Journalists who challenge power structures and investigate deeply into the causes of social ills scarcely get funded in the contemporary media marketplace. Please support me in bringing these stories of optimism and determination in the face of destruction to broader audiences…

No other place of equivalent size in the world has altered its watersheds as dramatically as California.  The Golden State is home to a staggering infrastructure of dams, reservoirs, power plants, pumping plants, canals, aqueducts, gates, tunnels, and other installations that are all about controlling where water goes and who receives it.

The year 2013 was California’s driest on record. The first six months of 2014 have been the hottest half-year on record. Reservoirs are drying up. Groundwater basins are diminishing at an alarming pace. Yet, the water demands of the state’s gargantuan agribusiness empire, its sprawling metropolises, and its extractive industries (such as, increasingly, fracking) are only growing.

Politicians and business leaders are seizing on this crisis by pushing for the largest dam- and canal-building binge since the State Water Project of the 1960s and ’70s. The best known of these, the Delta Twin Tunnels, is just the tip of the spear for all manner of new schemes that would further constipate California’s waterways and destroy much of what remains of its aquatic life…

See Will’s Indiegogo Project here
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Will Parrish: The Imaginary World Of Phil Frisbie, Jr.

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From WILL PARRISH
Ukiah
TheAVA

Since the advent of the modern propaganda industry during the era of World War I, paid propaganda shills have become a fixture of large capital projects and national endeavors of virtually every sort. The shills’ methods may vary, but their function is invariably the same. Redefine facts and sow confusion. Try to pass off the downsides of a given project — destruction of ecosystems, killing of innocent civilians, thinly-veiled class war, public health hazards, squandering of public funds, or what-have-you — as a necessary evil or as uncontroversial common sense.

To that end, no shill in the North Coast region has been more active in recent years, nor had a tougher assignment on his desk, than CalTrans’ public relations man for both Mendocino and Lake County, the ineffable Phil Frisbie, Jr.

I’ll always fondly remember meeting Phil in person. The date was February 25, 2013. The occasion: opening day of Willits Bypass construction. Years of laborious negotiations with the Army Corps of Engineers, North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, and various other regulatory agencies to secure the necessary environmental permits, coupled with a large degree of political arm-twisting, had led up to this moment.

The day Big Orange had been waiting for had finally arrived!

Will Parrish: Willits Bypass Timeline

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From WILL PARRISH
Ukiah
TheAVA

“Each solitary story belongs to a larger story.” — Susan Griffin, A Chorus of Stones

In Willits, many people have not taken kindly to the California Department of Transportation’s asphalt imperialism, which entails spreading more than 140,000 dump truck loads of fill in Little Lake Valley, building bridges, disturbing creeks, killing fish, covering up wetlands, cutting down riparian forests, removing roughly 2,000 oak trees, taking away farm land. It is likely that even more overall harm will be done by a politically stilted mitigation plan that centers on excavating wetlands soils in the name of creating wetlands.

Opposition continues to the present. Some of the more persistent protectors of Little Lake Valley continue to attempt to downsize the project’s northern interchange — arguably its most destructive feature. Now that the US Army Corps of Engineers has lifted its suspension of the project, thanks to pressure from Willits Bypass supporters such as Jared Huffman and Mike Thompson, though, it appears highly unlikely that any aspect of the project’s design will be changed.

Many people have criticized Bypass opponents for failing to speak up prior to construction. But the opposition to the Willits Bypass has persisted for more than 20 years. What follows is a timeline that emphasizes opposition to the project prior to January 2013, when direct action against the project kicked off.

Will Parrish: Jared Huffman — CalTrans Errand Boy

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From WILL PARRISH
Ukiah
TheAVA

“I think this is the district in the state that can and should serve up a real environmental leader in a time of great need and urgency — and that’s why I’m running.” — US. RepJared Huffman (D-San Rafael), 2006

Last week, the US Congressional representative for California’s North Coast, a former Natural Resources Defense Council attorney named Jared Huffman, threw the full weight of his legislative power behind the most environmentally destructive project in the recent history of Mendocino County, the California Department of Transportation’s Willits Bypass. This more than $300 million project, as presently designed, requires the largest filling in of wetlands in northern California in more than 50 years.

Update: Hearing Postponed… Support Willits Bypass Activist Will Parrish in Court Thursday Morning 7/17/14…

wWill Parrish and his attorney, Omar Figueroa. [Photo courtesy of Michael Hardy, Posterity Productions]

From WILL PARRISH
Ukiah
TheAVA

[Hearing Postponed]

New details have come to light regarding the US Army Corps of Engineers’ June 20th decision to suspend the Willits Bypass’ US Clean Water Act permit (404 permit): the first time the Corps has ever suspended a northern California project on Clean Water Act grounds.

The timing of the suspension was linked to CalTrans’ efforts to resume importing soil from the Mendocino Forest Products (ie, Mendocino Redwood Company) mill site north of Willits, which is Big Orange’s preferred source of fill to create the massive berm on which the freeway would be perched north of its roughly one-mile viaduct past Hearst-Willits Road.

Will Parrish: Bypass Stopped — For Now

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From WILL PARRISH
Ukiah
TheAVA

When it comes to large, earth-destroying projects of the sort rapidly unraveling this planet’s life support systems, efforts by corporations and nation-states to “remediate,” “mitigate,” or “compensate” (the specific jargon depends on the specific project, agency, and part of the world) for their ecocide has become a macabre custom under modern environmental law.

For example, arguably the world’s most destructive industrial project, the Athabascan Tar Sands of Northern Alberta, features an extensive mitigation plan. The various tar sand oil producers, in conjunction with Canadian resource agencies, are required to invest in forest restoration and “carbon dioxide offset” projects to make up for polluting the earth’s atmosphere perhaps beyond redemption, and for desolating a stretch of northern Alberta’s forest and wetlands as large as Florida.

Will Parrish: The Politics of the World’s Most Hydrologically Altered Landmass…

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From WILL PARRISH
Ukiah
TheAVA

California is the most hydrologically altered landmass on the planet, a distinction it first attained in the early-mid-20thcentury. The Hoover Dam (on the Colorado River), which began operation in 1936, was the largest dam in the world at the time of its completion. With regard to the world’s biggest concrete river plugs, Shasta Dam (upper Sacramento River) rated second only behind Hoover when finished in 1945.

The US federal government and California state governments capture more than 60 percent of the water run-off within the state’s 1,585 square miles, exporting roughly 80 percent to the state’s $44 billion dollar agribusiness sector. Many of these monocrop plantations — unrelenting swaths of sameness – improbably span the desert and semi-desert landscapes of the San Joaquin, Coachella, and Imperial Valleys. Were it a country, the Golden State would be the sixth leading agricultural exporter in the world.

Will Parrish: California’s Water Lords vs. The Winnemem Wintu Tribe

From WILL PARRISH
Ukiah
TheAVA

When it comes to California’s gargantuan system of dams, reservoirs, power plants, pumping plants, canals, aqueducts, siphons, tunnels, gates, and other infrastructure for capturing and exporting water to agribusiness, industry, and people, Chief Caleen Sisk of the Winnemem Wintu tribe has pretty much seen and been through it all. California’s largest reservoir, Shasta Lake, inundates a vast stretch of the Winnemem’s aboriginal territory. The reservoir is formed by Shasta Dam, one of the world’s largest dams, which the US Bureau of Reclamation constructed during World War II to hold back the waters of the McCloud, Pit, and upper Sacramento Rivers.

Despite promises from the federal government, the Winnemem have never received compensation for the flooding and dislocation. In the years immediately following construction of the 602-foot-tall, 3,460-foot-wide concrete plug that is the Shasta Dam, hundreds of thousands of salmon died at its foot, repeatedly battering themselves against it while trying to reach their ancient spawning grounds. The salmon have been the cultural foundation of the Winnemem and other Indigenous people of the area for countless generations.

Will Parrish: The Politics of Hypocrisy

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From WILL PARRISH
Ukiah
TheAVA

In February 2013, Mendocino County Supervisor John McCowen visited the now-famous tree sit of Amanda “The Warbler” Senseman south of Willits. Senseman, a 25-year-old goat and vegetable farmer who now works growing produce for Willits-area elementary school children on a one-acre plot at Brookside Elementary School, was then living 71 feet above-ground in a ponderosa pine, in the path of the California Department of Transportation’s planned Willits Bypass destruction swath.

Senseman’s action — which she sustained for 65 days — had created a significant shift in the political climate surrounding the $300 million-plus, six-mile freeway. Media scrutiny of Big Orange’s boondoggle was growing. The direct action wing of the Bypass opposition had carried out several successful blockades of construction equipment, which helped stave off the initial mowing down of trees and gobbling up of vegetation. State Senator Noreen Evans (D-Sebastopol) came tepidly out against the project.

Salmon and Sovereignty: Indigenous perspectives on water and cultural survival in California this Saturday 4/19/14 Ukiah…


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From WILL PARRISH
Ukiah

“We were born from water, we are of the water, and we fight to protect it.”
—Chief Caleen Sisk

Retaining a concept of sovereignty based on deep ancestral ties with place, indigenous people are on the front lines of critical environmental battles everywhere. Their voices and actions are leading the way forward.

Saturday, April 19th
Start: 4:30pm
Saturday Afternoon Clubhouse
107 S. Oak St., Ukiah
$5-20 donation; no one turned away
Proceeds will benefit the Winnemem Wintu tribe
*Dinner will be provided*

SPEAKERS
:

* Chief Caleen Sisk, Winnemem Wintu Tribe

Strongly rooted in their traditional practices, the Winnemem Wintu of Northern California are engaged in ecological, cultural, and spiritual restoration, including bringing salmon back to their home river, the McCloud. Chief Sisk will speak about the tribe’s struggle for survival and their current work of restoring natural water systems and stopping disastrous proposed megaprojects such as the Delta Twin Tunnels and the Shasta Dam raise that would flood large portions of sacred Winnemem land—for the second time.  Sisk is also an outspoken opponent of fracking.

Will Parrish: The Weight of The Water Board


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From WILL PARRISH
TheAVA
Ukiah

A year ago this week, the California Highway Patrol conducted its mop-up of the five Willits tree sits that had been blocking portions of CalTrans’ Willits Bypass freeway construction. The April 2, 2013, operation began with an extraction of Amanda “Warbler” Senseman at 7am. In the late morning came the first instance in These United States of a cop shooting a tree sitter, when a CHP officer unloaded three bean bag pellets (“less-than-lethal ammunition”) on a difficult-to-corral tree platform dweller named Martin “Reign” Katz. The final tree sitter, Mark “Falcon” Herbert, was removed in a manlift from a stately oak on the western hill opposite The Warbler’s tree just after 5:30 p.m.

The CHP described this large mobilization’s personnel, equipment, and objectives in a 14-page document entitled “Tactical Plan – US 101 Willits Bypass Protests,” of which I am revealing some of the contents for the first time, here.

Will Parrish: Fracking On The North Coast…


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From WILL PARRISH
Ukiah
TheAVA

Across geologic time, rainwater sculpts the land into cradlelike entities that comprise a watershed. For the vast majority of inland Mendocino County, the basin that collects the water that the land first cradles is the collection of forks and stems that make up the mighty Eel River. Running 192 miles from south to north, the Eel drains all the land surface from south of Willits and east through the mountains above Potter Valley and Upper Lake, thence running northwest through Humboldt County, with land and water meeting the ocean outside of Ferndale: one low ridge south of Eureka and Humboldt Bay.

The large delta and estuary where the Eel’s journey culminates is an area of giant ferns glades, redwood forests, swampy lands and windswept prairies. It has been populated since the beginning of time by the southern Wiyot people, among these people’s subsistence practices have been to catch Lamprey eels, Salmon and Sturgeon in iris-leaf fish nets, and to collect shellfish along the river and in its estuary.

The Wiyot have known how to live on this land without severely depleting it. By the beginning of the 21st century, by contrast, the geologists and engineers who work for the United States of America’s energy corporations and investment bankers had figured out how to do something altogether different. They had figured out to blast enormous quantities of water, mixed with sand and toxic chemicals

Will Parrish: California’s Water Pathology


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From WILL PARRISH
Ukiah
TheAVA

Speaking at the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board’s once-every-other-month meeting in the north Santa Rosa burbs on January 30th, California State Water Resources Board member Steven Moore characterized California’s drought as a natural disaster of epic proportions.

“This is our Hurricane Sandy,” he told the North Coast’s five regional board members.

In spite of a few solid drenchings in the past week, as well as a relatively wet February across much of California, the drought is indeed leading to some serious dislocations in many areas of the state, especially for farmers.

We have San Joaquin Valley almond farmers pulling thousands of acres of trees and chipping them to sell to power plants.  Cattle ranchers in Bakersfield and elsewhere in the region are selling their stocks en masse as grasslands dry up and hay prices stratify.  Fields across the US’ most prolific agricultural region lie fallow.

Will Parrish: Mendo’s Secret Water Meeting


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From WILL PARRISH
Ukiah
TheAVA

This past Monday, elected officials and public services staff people from throughout inland Mendocino County met with at least five of the State of California’s highest ranking regulatory officials who deal with water issues. It was heralded as a “listening session” regarding a topic foremost on everyone’s minds in Mendo-land: the drought.

The ‘listening session,’ which took place at the Ukiah Valley Conference Center on School St., actually involved ‘listening’ only to a carefully-selected and well-placed group of people, by a carefully-selected and well-placed group of people, for a carefully-selected and well-placed group of people (in the grand spirit of American democracy). The meeting was not publicly advertised. Those not on the 100 person-or-so invite list were prohibited from attending.

Apparently, the “listening session” is part of a “listening tour” whereby these same high-ranking officials will blow through numerous California towns, receive oft-contrived statements from local officials about the water problems local residents face and how they are addressing them. If Monday’s proceedings in Ukiah are an indication, the officials will also pause long enough at each stop to issue a handful of generic statements designed to garner platitudes from the corporate press about how much they care about us and admire our resilience in the face of adversity.

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