If you are involved already with FLCR or are thinking about becoming more involved I urge you to consider taking advantage of some opportunities to educate yourself about local water issues and the personalities active in them.

Here are some nearby, relatively inexpensive places to attend “Watershed School”:

UC Cooperative Extension for San Joaquin & Stanislaus Counties:

Keep an eye on the listings for events at the UC Cooperative Extension Office (their slick new facility is just off Arch Road near the Stockton Airport). I was recently able to attend a session there on Rangeland Run-Off issues. For $10 I got an excellent catered Mexican lunch PLUS an all day introduction to water quality standards that concern agriculture–and, ultimately, downstream users–directly from UC researchers at the cutting edge. They spoke as well of best practices for protecting streams from possible negative effects of rangeland out flow. Many of these solutions are simple and cheap (or free). I also collected numerous links to other organizations and to research projects in the UC Coop system which help broaden my understanding and could directly benefit the fledgling FLCR group’s long range objectives. There are several upcoming events of interest on their online calendar now. Googling UC Cooperative Extension, San Joaquin County will get you there.

Restore the Delta (restorethedelta.org/symposium.php):

These folks–who share much in common with FLCR–have a major symposium scheduled for Feb. 28–all day–in Lodi. Called “Restore the Delta Symposium on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta–A Bold Direction; The People’s Vision for the Delta” this one will feature some of the same folks who spoke at the UOP Water Summit last November…but a lot of others too. $40 includes a lunch at Wine and Roses. Go to the Restore the Delta website for more details and registration.

Stockton East Water District:
I’m coming to understand that this public District is the main agency responsible for Lower Calaveras water–where it goes, who uses it (and how), quality, flow, fish issues–the whole nine yards. They have fiduciary responsibility for public funds for surface and ground water use in our community. Neither a sexy nor easy job but critical…and very political. They don’t really focus on it but they can be effective teachers too.
Jeremy Terhune was kind enough to haul me out there recently. It was a very rainy Tuesday in the middle of a nasty drought. Everyone was smiling. Board meetings are every Tuesday afternoon at the facility east of town. Keep going out past 99 on Main Street. Just past Mormon Slough with recovery ponds on your left you can’t miss it. Their schedule, agendas, past meetings minutes and contact information are all online. Yes, it’s a board meeting of a public agency. These “events” can be life-threatening snoozers but, for me, just a short time there was a college education. Next time–when I’m not freeloading my ride–I will stay for the whole show. As Jeremy likes to say nothing beats talking to people face to face. Not all strictly one on one conversations, the ones we had before and during the meeting were hugely instructive. The facility also has displays including detailed maps that give a big-picture view of the watershed we are trying to improve. I was assured by Manager Kauffman and his board that I could also have access to other resources–including additional detailed land use maps–on site. I’ll be going back.

Of course reading The Record, Lodi Sentinal and the blogs at recordnet.com are a whole education in themselves. Alex Breitler and the rest of the Record staff are adding immensely to my understanding…daily.

Treat yourself to local Audubon and Sierra Club presentations. I’ve attended several in the months since FLCR started in August 2008 whose topics DIRECTLY related to issues FLCR members have raised as concerns for the Lower Calaveras. More network links can be discovered there too. Googling Audubon San Joaquin and Sierra Club San Joaquin will get you to their event calendars.

Learn from and with FLCR activists. UOP Instructors Greg Anderson and Stacy Luthy can give you a real college education on river biology. Kari Burr will bring you up to speed on fisheries and salmon restoration issues. Conni Bock has worked on outdoor ed for the San Joaquin County Office of Education for years. Local award winning photographers Michael Randolph and David Best are working on collecting photos and other images of the river–from New Hogan to the San Joaquin Ship Channel. I’ve been tagging along with them. We’d love to have more photographers, artists and writers join that effort. We’ll put results of some of that work/fun on view at Earth Day in April.

Our main man, Jeremy Terhune, continues to do a masterful job building The Friends of the Lower Calaveras into an active, engaging presence on the local conservation/restoration/preservation scene. He’s a pretty good instructor too.

He cannot do it alone. No single individual should ever be expected or relied on to sustain such an effort.

And Mr. T has a two year seed grant clock from Defenders of Wildlife that’s now ticked off close to half that time.

The more of us who are educated and prepared to act at the end of that two years the more will get done and for a much longer time.

It may be location, location, location in real estate but in grassroots organizing it is
sustainability, sustainability, sustainablity.

As an early member of FLCR I knew one thing for sure: I didn’t know diddly about the Lower Calaveras let alone “big picture” water issues. Yes, I’d read the stuff in the papers and hung out for several months with some Deltakeeper alumni but–really–I knew nothing.

I guessed that was also the case for most Stocktonians–a fact our on-going one on one discussions with friends and neighbors bear out. It’s maybe no surprise that’s why the FLCR’s current primary goal is public education. See the Committees and Mission links elswewhere on this blog for more about that.

Taking that to heart I’ve been taking advantage of as many local water education opportunities as I could scare up. The November 2008 Water Summit at UOP was a great beginner’s intro to both the controversies and key players in water issues in our area and throughout the state. It had matchless, concise historical perspective to boot.

So what have I learned about the Lower Calaveras in six months?

That there’s a whole lot more to learn.