October 27, 2011
Supervisor Efren Carrillo Board of Supervisors 575 Administration Dr. Rm. 100A Santa Rosa CA 95403
RE: Paul Hobbs, Henry Cornell, and the Public Trust
Many thanks for your recent candid and accurate public comments concerning Paul Hobbs’ desecration of Highway 116 corridor trees and beauty. To many Sonoma County residents, Hobbs’ interaction with John Jenkel in taking Jenkel’s property was felonious misconduct. His disregard for the well being of our environment is nothing short of shocking to reasonable persons; he is the poster-child for reckless disregard, selfishness and mindless destruction.
Unfortunately, there are many other environment destroyers in Sonoma County who operate under the public’s radar by being less brazen and in your face than Hobbs. You and Supervisors Zane and Maguire have all visited the 122 acre Doerksen property (Ranchero Mark West) on Mark West Creek (MWC) and witnessed first hand the resource degradation caused by lower profile environmental wreckers at the headwaters of MWC. The most egregious offender upstream from Doerksens is, of course, Cornell Farms, owned by Goldman-Sach’s managing director Henry Cornell of New York City. Among the MWC resource scalps on Cornell’s belt are:
97% of the summertime flow of MWC is gone and so are our massive runs of steelhead and salmon with numerous fish strandings and a total fish kill for two consecutive years.
Slides and continuous erosion from the very steep newly planted vineyards are silting up the remaining spawning beds on MWC.
The North fork of the MWC went dry in late Sept. 2008 and early June 2011 with above average rainfall. This is what the many straws in the aquifer are doing.
A complaint has just been filed with the State on a stranding and killing of juvenile steelhead just below the Cornell vineyards.
All of these facts are well documented by experts and residents and have been provided to county planners by others and ourselves. In the case of the Cornell vineyards, the owner has blatantly removed the timber two times without any repercussions. The NCRWQCB recommended fines but that never happened. They also indicated that this area was too steep for vineyards and would result in slides and erosion. It occurred with 10,000 cubic yards of dirt sliding into, and ruining the North Fork of MWC. They also said (as did CDFG & NOAA Fisheries) that wells for irrigating the vineyards could cause serious damage to the creek with resulting loss of water, killing salmonids and damaging the wildlife. And it has.
While some of the environmental destruction of the Henry Cornells can be attributed to their efforts to operate covertly, Sonoma County’s Permit Resource Management Dept. (PRMD) and Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA; members appointed by Supervisors), have earned a significant portion of the blame by repeatedly and consistently ignoring opposition’s expert scientist reports of environmental harm, instead accepting the often illogical opinions of the developers’ retained project consultants. This dereliction of their duties to protect and enhance the public trust, public resources and environmental health is evidenced by the repeated judicial reversals of PRMD, BZA and, in fact, Board of Supervisor development approvals.
The MWC environmental crisis is soon to come to a head with Mr. Cornell, his vineyards (26 acres producing at this time), and his proposed winery. The project has already caused potentially lethal and irreversible damage to MWC, all in violation of federal laws, state laws, county regulations and our County’s General Plan. The PMRD has approved Cornell’s operations, allowing massive clearing of forests, aquifer depletion to zero (they will never recover), neighbors’ wells having gone dry, noisy water trucks hauling water daily to local vineyards gone dry and a dry MWC incapable of sustaining fish life. The time has come to realistically address projects such as Cornell and to recognize that not all of the land in our county is suitable for grapes and wineries.
Again, thank you for your leadership role in bringing focus to Mr. Hobbs’ indefensible destruction activities in the west county. Please remember we in the eastern county have similar problems caused by similar persons.
JIM DOERKSEN, Co-Chair, Save Mark West Creek
STEPHEN KRIMEL, Co-Chair, Save Mark West Creek
Cc: Supervisor Shirlee Zane
Supervisor Valerie Brown
Supervisor David Rabbitt
Supervisor Mike Maguire
Paul C. Gullixson, Editorial Director