Category Archives: Opinion

The gang that couldn’t shoot straight

BY DARYL FISHER, News-Ledger Columnist


  Monday before last started out just like every other Monday morning. I got out of bed around 7:30, shaved and showered, made myself some breakfast, read quite a bit of the Sacramento Bee, and then started my leisurely walk over to the News-Ledger. It was an especially pretty morning, with temperatures destined to reach only into the 80s, and I remember thinking to myself that everyone should be so lucky to have his or her office within strolling distance on a gorgeous Monday morning.

  When I reached the News-Ledger at about 8:30, I took out my office key, inserted it into the door, and pushed it open like I have done a thousand times before. But when I stepped inside, nothing was like it had been a thousand times before. To begin with, all our computers and monitors were gone, and the first thought that ran through my head was, ‘how in the world are we going to get the News-Ledger out to our subscribers this week without our computers?’ Then, as I glanced around the room, I could see that papers and office supplies were scattered everywhere and that our window-mounted air conditioner had been knocked to the floor, leaving the front window slightly jarred open.

  “So, that’s how they got in?” I whispered to myself as the fact that the News-Ledger had been robbed finally sunk into my disbelieving head.

  On closer examination, much more than our computers had been stolen. Our microwave, radio and fan were also gone, and it was obvious that every drawer in our desks had been ransacked in a fevered search for any valuables the thieves could find. Our change drawer had been emptied of all our  quarters, dimes and nickels, and most alarming of all, our News-Ledger checkbook with dozens of company checks in it was nowhere to be found.

  As I continued to look around, it appeared that our phones had been stolen, too, so I went next door to Armando Omega’s chiropractor’s office and he kindly let me put a call into Steve Marschke, the editor of the News-Ledger. I was only able to get his answering machine and left him a quick message about what had happened and suggested that he stop by our bank on his way into the office to make sure the thieves couldn’t write themselves any checks on our account. When I gave Armando back his phone, he said he would go ahead and call the West Sacramento police and he also kindly said to let him know if there was anything else he could do to help.

[adrotate group=”7″]  When the police arrived, Community Service Officer Prasad did a thorough investigation of what was now a crime scene, including dusting for fingerprints on a Diet Coke bottle left behind by one of the thieves, making me think that robbing people must make a person work up quite a thirst. He also took down a detailed list of everything that was missing and assured me that his fellow officers would try their best to find our much-needed computers.

  When Steve arrived at the office, he had already been to US Bank and made sure that the News-Ledger bank account was secure. But as Steve and I were just starting to get over the shock of having been robbed and trying to figure out how we were going to deal with all the problems it had created, the real fun and games began.

  We had been able to locate one of our phones, which had been tossed under my desk, and when it rang, it was the bank calling to alert us that two people, a black male and a white female, were trying to cash one of our checks. Like a shot, Steve raced out the door, jumped into his truck, and headed for the bank. I later learned that when he got there, both of the suspects were still in the bank, with the man nervously waiting to get his ID back, since the bad check had been written to him and the bank personnel were trying to keep him there until the police they had called arrived. He was also complaining loudly about the lousy service the bank was giving him.

    Both the man and the woman had apparently arrived at the bank on bicycles, and when the woman got suspicious that the bank had no intention of cashing the stolen check, she took off on hers, although Steve got a good look at her, which would come in very handy only a short time later. Anyway, when the police arrived at the bank, they arrested the man who had been trying to cash a forged $200 News-Ledger check and also found a bunch of stolen News-Ledger items in his bike basket.

  Less than an hour later, with Steve back at the News-Ledger and at least one of the thieves in police custody, we were beginning the cleanup of the office when Steve suddenly looked out the front window and saw someone he was pretty sure was the female suspect in the robbery, riding around on her bicycle.

[adrotate group=”10″]  “You’re kidding?” I said, thinking that no thief comes back to the scene of the crime that quickly.

  “I’m sure it’s her,” Steve insisted with emphasis.

  “Then let’s go get her!” I suggested, thinking back to that old Andy Griffith TV episode where Gomer had ran after Barney (who had made an illegal U-turn on Mayberry’s Main Street) yelling `citizen’s arrest, citizen’s arrest!’

  “I tell you what,” said Steve as we watched the female suspect turn her bike onto West Capitol Avenue and disappear from sight, “you chase after her in your truck, and I’ll try to track her down on foot as soon as I’ve called the police.”

  That sounded like a pretty good idea to me, especially since it was now my turn to race out the door and jump into my truck, only to quickly discover that the woman on the bike had somehow vanished into thin air. When I caught back up with Steve again, we both agreed that she could have only ducked into one place, the nearby West Capitol Avenue hotel right behind the News-Ledger office.

  So, with Steve standing guard at the hotel entrance, I got back into my truck and headed back down West Capitol Avenue just in case the lady on the bike had somehow managed to get further than we thought. And within minutes, I was side-by-side with a police car responding to Steve’s call, so I began yelling and waving at him to follow me, hoping that he didn’t notice that in all the excitement, I had forgotten to put on my seatbelt. Anyway, when we arrived at the hotel entrance, Steve pointed out to the police officer the bike he thought the woman had been riding, and within minutes, backup police officers had arrived and she was in custody. And in searching the room where she lived, the police also found all the missing News-Ledger checks.

  So, with both the robbery suspects safely in custody, and with the hope that we might even get our computers back in the not too distant future, one of the police officers walked over to me with a smile and asked, “So, tell me, just how were you and your buddy able to figure this all out and locate that female suspect?”

  “Well,” I said proudly, “the best-read part of the News-Ledger has always been the Police Log, so Steve and I take this police stuff pretty serious.”

  Yes, you can support local journalism, support this website, and see all the News-Ledger’s articles every week! Subscribe to the News-Ledge newspaper. It’s only $20 per year within West Sacramento – once a week, delivered to your mailbox.

  You can even try it for free for two months if you live in West Sacramento. Just send your name and mailing address to (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Eating on $4.46/day: Assemblywoman takes ‘Hunger Challenge’ for food stamp awareness

NEWS-LEDGER — JUNE 13, 2012 —


From the office of Mariko Yamada, 8th District, California State Assembly

MARIKO YAMADA (D-Davis), 9th District Assembly Member

June is National Hunger Awareness Month, and with the Legislature facing a looming state budget deadline, Assemblymember Mariko Yamada (D-Davis) is taking the “Hunger Challenge” for the 4th consecutive year as a state legislator.  Hunger Challenge participants pledge to live for one week on the nation’s average weekly food stamp benefit of $4.46 per day, or just $1.49 per meal. Yamada will also blog about her experiences while taking the Challenge.

“The challenge is a reminder to me that for millions of Americans, hunger is a daily reality,” said Assemblymember Yamada.  “While I struggle for only a week, far too many who cannot make ends meet face going hungry every day.  Those living in ‘food deserts’ – often students, the disabled, and seniors – are particularly affected.”

The rules are simple: Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner spending only $1.49 a meal for five days or $22.30 total.  The challenge is whether healthy and tasty meals can be prepared on the grocery budget of millions of Americans receiving food assistance.

[adrotate group=”9″]   Assemblymember Yamada began her challenge today which will continue through Friday.  She spent $20.05 (and has $2.25 in reserve) on the following food items:

1 dozen eggs $.99, 1/2 gal. coconut milk $2.04, 6 yogurts $2.60, 1 loaf wheat bread $.99, 1 whole chicken $4.94, 1 lb. seedless red grapes $.95, 1 roma tomato $.42, 6 ripe bananas (reduced price)  $1.06, 1 organic firm tofu  $1.50, 1 cucumber  $.89, 1 box raisin bran  $1.99, 1 box corn muffin mix  $.79, 1 can tuna  $.89.

One way to spend $22.05 on enough food for a week (Courtesy of Assemblymember Yamada’s office)

According to the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), over 19 percent of Californians are unable to afford enough food to stay healthy.  As more Californians have difficulty making ends meet, the number of people receiving CalFresh/Supplemental Nutritional Assistantces Program or SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) benefits has greatly increased. Still, according to federal statistics, California has the lowest participation rate of all the states. In Solano and Yolo counties combined, the under enrollment in CalFresh means we are missing out on an estimated $70.5 million in federal funds each year.

Despite this widespread hardship, the Governor’s 2012-13 budget calls on legislators to cut over $2 billion from healthcare and human services, while in Washington the U.S. Senate is debating a Farm Bill reauthorization that could cut $4.5 billion from SNAP/CalFresh over ten years.

[adrotate group=”10″]   “In the face of yet another California budget crisis that disproportionately affects those with the lowest incomes and greatest need, we should encourage all who are eligible to enroll in this federally funded program,” continued Yamada.

Follow Assemblymember Yamada as she blogs about her experiences living on $4.46 per day on the Yolo County Food Bank website: and on the Solano & Contra Costa County Food Bank website:

For information on how to enroll in the SNAP/CalFresh program in the 8th Assembly District, go to or

  Yes, you can support local journalism, support this website, and see all the News-Ledger’s articles every week! Subscribe to the News-Ledge newspaper.  It’s only $20 per year within West Sacramento – once a week, delivered to your mailbox.

  You can even try it for free for two months if you live in West Sacramento. Just send your name and mailing address to (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Fitness machine: exercise in futility?


NEWS-LEDGER — JUNE 13, 2012 —


I was talking to a longtime friend the other day who had just made the terrible mistake of purchasing something she had to assemble out of a cardboard box, and our little conversation went something like this:

“I am such a fool!”

“What did you do this time?” I asked her with interest.

“Well, let’s just say that I currently have a half-assembled recumbent exercise bicycle scattered all over my living room floor.”

“You mean one of those bikes you can kind of lay back on in a sitting position while you pedal it?”


“But isn’t that kind of cheating?”

“How so?”

“You know, basically relaxing while you’re supposed to be exercising?”

“Well,” explained my friend, “I guess everyone has their own way of getting into shape when its swimsuit time again, and I just prefer to do it the easy way, with as little sweating and expenditure of energy as humanly possible. Anyway, the 24-page manual that came with the darn thing had way too many surprises in it.”

[adrotate group=”7″]   “Like what?”

“To begin with, it says two people are required to assemble the bike, but when I looked inside the huge box it came in, they had neglected to include the other person. Oh, and do you happen to have a rubber mallet I could borrow?”

“Why do you need a rubber mallet?”

“I’m not exactly sure yet, but the instructions said I will definitely need one to complete the assembly. I think maybe it’s to hit myself over the head with after going through 24 pages of instructions and countless hours of Allen-wrenching when I could have just paid someone $50 to assemble the whole thing for me. I really hate that I am so cheap!”

“Why do you want an indoor bicycle to exercise on anyway?” I asked with interest. “The summer is finally here now and it’s going to be perfect for real bike riding.”

“Well, to tell you the truth, I would much rather exercise in the comfort of an air conditioned room than ride around on a hot summer day in a sweaty t-shirt and soggy sports bra, not to mention a dripping-wet pony tail stuck to my neck. Plus real bicycle riding can be pretty dangerous when you’re a klutz like me. Didn’t you once write a column about falling off your bike and almost killing yourself?”

[adrotate group=”9″]   “Oh, you mean the time I tried to `pop’ the front wheel of my bicycle up onto a curb in front of McDonald’s in my haste to get a couple of cheeseburgers and a large fry? I haven’t thought of that in a long time. I was sure lucky to land on that poor homeless person after I had hit the curb and flown over my handlebars!”

“Well,” said my friend with a smile, “I doubt that there will be a nice soft homeless person for me to land on when I fall off a real bicycle, so I will just stick to exercising at home, thank you very much. Plus this way I will be able to exercise year-round, no matter what kind of weather we’re having. I really do hate to sweat!”

“Why do you think that is?”

“I don’t really know. I mean, steamy, sweaty love-making back when I was first married was certainly no problem. Isn’t it funny how the situation makes all the difference in this life? For instance, why do you think it is that getting caught out in the rain is so uncomfortable, while my morning shower is always so enjoyable?”

“Good question.”

“Anyway,” said my friend, “I figure I will have my indoor recumbent exercise bicycle all assembled by the end of the week and I will be able to go shopping for a brand new bathing suit before I know it! Oh, and the bike is a beautiful ocean blue, which will go really well with my bedspread and pillow coverings.”

“You’re going to put the bike in your bedroom?”

“Sure! That’s where I have my large screen TV and new speakers for all my favorite music. Like I said, exercising should be as much fun as possible!”

“So,” I asked with interest, “how much did this ocean blue recumbent exercise bike cost you?”

“I’m not going to tell you.”

“That much, hey?”

“A person’s health is priceless!”

[adrotate group=”10″]   “You do realize, don’t you, that by no later than this time next year, you will be bored to death with that bike, no longer be able to stand having it take up space in your bedroom, taken up Yoga or belly dancing or some other fun way of staying in shape, and end up selling the darn thing at a garage sale for 25 bucks?”

“You know, Daryl, I really hate it that you know me so well!”

  Yes, you can support local journalism, support this website, and see all the News-Ledger’s articles every week! Subscribe to the News-Ledge newspaper.  It’s only $20 per year within West Sacramento – once a week, delivered to your mailbox.

  You can even try it for free for two months if you live in West Sacramento. Just send your name and mailing address to (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

From local farms to local schools

NEWS-LEDGER — MAY 30, 2012 —

By John Young, Yolo Co. Agricultural Commissioner and Sealer of Weights & Measures

Farm-to-School programs combine public health and agricultural marketing objectives with the potential to change the way young people eat, think about food and improve their health through development of life-long healthy eating habits.

Farm-to-School Yolo is a three-year program that will link YoloCounty agriculture with the National School Lunch Program,which is offered in YoloCounty to 38,000 students of whom, 65% are eligible for free and reduced meals, five days a week.

[adrotate group=”10″]   Farm-to-School Yolo is working with school districts in YoloCounty to increase the amount of fresh, local produce offered in breakfast, lunch and after-school snacks in all five school districts and in the Yolo County Office of Education’s Head Start Preschool Program. Farm-to-School Yolo will not only increase the use of fresh, local produce, it will also teach students and staff where food comes from, who grew it and how it should be prepared for peak flavor and nutritional value.

Regrettably, Yolo County has an obesity rate of 26.1% in its Kindergarten-12th grade student population. Intervention is necessary starting with the meals that our most vulnerable young people are eating in our schools. Farm-to-School Yolo recognizes the role of agriculture as part of the solution to this public health issue.  Once fully implemented, Farm-to-School Yolo, working with local farmers, will provide the tools for school food service programs to serve increasingly healthy meals made from scratch, thus avoiding many of the hidden ingredients which contribute to obesity epidemic.

“Farm-to-School Yolo is a piece of the puzzle in building a local food economy, turning the tide of childhood obesity and reconnecting our residents to the land and the people who produce our food,” said Yolo County Board of Supervisors Chair Jim Provenza.

Farm-to-School Yolo is not a start-up.  It isan objective specifically called out in the Yolo County 2030 General Plan, adopted in November of 2009.  It also builds on the successful three-year Yolo Agricultural Marketing Initiative, completed in 2009 by local food, food policy and marketing experts Georgeanne Brennan and Ann Evans.

Recently, Farm-to-School Yoloconcluded a two-year development phase incorporating in its implementation plan the successes of the Davis and Winters Farm-to-School programs. A 60-member, multi-stakeholder Advisory Task Force, chaired by Delaine Eastin, former California Superintendent of Public Instruction, is now in place to facilitate program implementation.

“In Yolo County, we want to take the successful Farm-to-School program in Davis and expand it on a countywide scale,” said Chair Provenza. “We seek to be the model for California, connecting our food service directors to our farmers, bringing fresh, local produce to the plates of our YoloCounty children.”

[adrotate group=”9″]   Ultimately, the program will deliver school food service professional development; grower/farmer assessment, training and development; menu and recipe templates; a feasibility study of a food hub through the Yolo County Food Bank; and private sector marketing and distribution linkages.

Farm-to-School programs  will contribute to the health of our children, farms, the environment, the economy and our communities.

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

GUEST COMMENTARY: join up & fight tobacco


Yolo County Tobacco Prevention Coaltion

The Yolo County Tobacco Prevention Coalition is seeking new members!

An article in The Sacramento Bee entitled “Wealthy Counties Top the List of California’s Healthiest,” published on April 4,  stated that Yolo County citizens have a far lower smoking rate than the majority of counties in California. This is a huge achievement for Yolo County and we must keep it up. Community members that are willing to do their part to help stand against the effects of the tobacco industries are the key to upholding this consistently low smoking rate, and play a key role in increasing awareness and supporting efforts for a healthier community.

[adrotate group=”9″]   Tobacco use is the No. 1 cause of preventable death globally, taking over 5 million lives a year. Today’s cigarettes deliver nicotine more efficiently to the brain, addicting kids more quickly and making it harder for smokers to quit. Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke cause immediate harm to the human body, and can lead to cancer, heart attacks, and lung disease.

The purpose of the Yolo County Tobacco Prevention Coalition is to prevent and reduce tobacco use through education, social norm change, and individual empowerment in our culturally diverse county. The coalition tries to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke, counter “Big Tobacco” influences, reduce the availability of tobacco to minors, and promote and provide help with quitting tobacco. A few of the coalition’s recent accomplishments include assisting Yolo County cities and supervisors in reducing cigarette sales to children (via licensing retailers), and supporting Woodland and Winters City Councils in adopting resolutions to offer more smoke-free apartments.

[adrotate group=”7″]   There are so many benefits to joining the coalition! Coalition members are a group of advocates representing the general public and various agencies including those from the Yolo County school districts, law enforcement, and healthcare professionals. Make a difference in your community, be part of the decision making process, and make your community a healthier place. The coalition meets every other month to network, plan activities, and address current tobacco issues affecting Yolo County.

If you have an interest in preventing another generation from becoming addicted to tobacco products, being part of this coalition is a great opportunity to make a difference.

Please contact Steven Jensen with the Yolo County Tobacco Education Program at (530) 666-8616 or email

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Epic road trip: my parents recall a youthful drive across Route 66 in a ’36 coupe

DARYL FISHER, News-Ledger columnist

NEWS-LEDGER — MAY 16, 2012 —

As all of you know, another Mother’s Day has just come and gone, and like everyone else, I spent some time visiting with my mother this past weekend, and my daughter also had her over to her house for one of my mother’s favorite meals, a yummy steak sandwich from West Sacramento’s popular Club Pheasant.

My mother is 91 years old now, has more energy than I do, and lives in her own little apartment in Sacramento, which she has called home since the passing of my father seven years ago. Until then, West Sacramento had been their home for most of their 63 years of marriage, having moved here shortly after the end of World War II. With the help of the G.I. Bill, they bought a little tract home on Michigan Boulevard and my father went to work for the Southern Pacific Railroad, where he toiled away for the next 39 years. Anyway, while my mother and I were chatting the other night, it dawned on me that when children reflect back on the lives of their parents, the time frame that comes into play usually begins with their own birth, and more or less covers their years of growing up in their parents’ house. In other words, we really do think of our parents “as parents”, and often forget that they were young once, too, with hopes and dreams and a whole life still in front of them long before they ever got around to getting married and raising a family.

[adrotate group=”10″]   In my case, I know most of the basic stuff about my mother’s youth, that she grew up in a little town in Southern Missouri and that she and her family lived through the most difficult days/years of the Great Depression; that she met my father in grade school and that he was in her life for almost as long as she can remember; that as a young girl she worked in a beauty shop to earn extra money and was always very responsible; and that she adored her father, who passed away much too young from a burst appendix before I ever got to meet him. But other than that, my mother’s life before I became a part of it isn’t all that well-known to me, and I thought I would start doing a little something about that this Mother’s Day.

“So, Mom,” I asked her last weekend, “how did you and Dad get all the way out to California from Missouri after you were married?”

“We drove in a car, silly,” she answered matter-of-factly.

“I know that, Mom,” I said, “but why don’t you tell me all about it?”

“Why?” she asked suspiciously. “And will what I tell you end up in that newspaper column of yours?”

“Maybe,” I admitted.

“Well,” she said with a smile, “it actually is a pretty funny story.”

“How so?”

“Well, you have to remember that your dad and I were just a couple of young green kids back then and we didn’t have a clue about what traveling halfway across the country might be like. Plus I had just had my appendix out and the doctor wasn’t too happy about me bouncing around in a car all the way to California. But your dad had found work out there so we jumped into an old 1936 Chevy coupe and off we went. And you have to remember that this all happened back in the winter of 1941 and since they didn’t have fancy weather forecasts back then, we ended up driving through snow and on icy roads most of the way.”

[adrotate group=”9″]   “So, did you stay in nice hotels and use the trip as kind of a honeymoon?”
“Are you kidding? We had less than $75 to make it all the way to California – more like $50 if I remember right – and most of that was going to have to be spent on gas, so we stayed in the cheapest places we could find. And for food we had brought some of my mother’s fried chicken with us, along with a pound of bacon, a loaf of bread, and a dozen eggs. And I went and dropped the darn eggs and busted all of them the first night we were unloading the car. So we had nothing but toast and some bacon for breakfast all the way to California. And how we made it through those high mountain passes in all that bad weather I’ll never know. Plus when the windshield wipers stopped working I about froze to death hanging my head out of the window to tell your dad what was ahead of us.”

When I started laughing, my mother said, “Well, if you think that is funny, you should have seen what happened to us when we finally got through the mountains and all that bad weather and out into the desert just before we got to California.”

“So what happened then?” I asked with interest.

“Well, the radiator sprung a leak and started spewing out smoke and water and of course we didn’t have any money to stop and have the darn thing repaired. But it got so bad we finally had to find a gas station and ask for help. After this really nice man looked at it and showed us the problem, we told him we didn’t really have any money for him to fix it, and he said he knew of a little trick that would probably get us all the way to Sacramento before the radiator completely blew up.”

“A little trick?”

“Yeah, and what he did was go get a big old bar of lye soap and then he started shaving it all into the radiator until he had the whole thing filled up with soap shavings and water.”

“You’re kidding?”

“Nope, and sure enough, once we started rolling along again, I guess that soap somehow filled in the hole in the radiator and just like he said, we made it all the way to Sacramento.”

“That is a funny story,” I said.

“But that’s not the funny part!”

“There’s more?” I asked my mother, returning her smile.

“The funny part,” she explained with the kind of warm, happy expression on her face that only comes from recalling a cherished memory, “was that all the way from at least Bakersfield to Sacramento our car kept blowing bubbles out from underneath the hood and everyone who passed us – coming or going – ended up waving and laughing at us. We looked like we were on the Lawrence Welk show with all those bubbles coming out of our car.”

“Now that is a funny story!” I said.

“Oh, what a trip that was,” said my mother, obviously wishing she was 21 years old again, had her whole life with my father still ahead of her, and that they could jump back in their 1936 Chevy coupe, motor out onto old Route 66, and travel every one of those long ago miles all over again.

  Yes, you can support local journalism, support this website, and see all the News-Ledger’s articles every week! Subscribe to the News-Ledge newspaper.  It’s only $20 per year within West Sacramento – once a week, delivered to your mailbox.

  You can even try it for free for two months if you live in West Sacramento. Just send your name and mailing address to (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Where the Delta came from

SEABIRDS on a flooded Delta Island (courtesy of Tuleyome)


By Glen Holstein
Tuleyome Organization

Fifteen thousand years ago what became California had no Delta and was in a very different world in which much of North America and Europe were covered by vast continental ice sheets.  By then people occupied most of the eastern hemisphere but few, if any, had yet reached the Americas.

Then what is now central California’s coastline was 26 miles west of its present location.  The Farallons were then not islands but coastal headlands overlooking an open ocean dropping abruptly to great depths.  What is now the continental shelf was a vast dry land plain bisected by an ancestral Sacramento River swollen to great volume by melting glaciers then widespread in the Sierra Nevada.  It entered the Pacific south of the Farallons and flowed through the Coast Range 300 feet below present water level in deep canyons at what are now the Golden Gate and Carquinez Strait.

The climate then along the lower Sacramento was much like the present coast of southern Alaska and British Columbia, but the world was warming.  The great continental ice sheets began retreating, and their meltwater caused seas to rise everywhere.  By ten thousand years ago they neared the present shoreline and by eight thousand had entered the Golden Gate.

[adrotate group=”7″]   People were definitely in what would become California by then and had established villages in a broad valley just inside the outermost Coast Range ridge.  Soon, however, rising seas following the ancestral Sacramento River’s channel inland completely flooded their valley and created what later arrivals would call San Francisco Bay.  Inexorably seas pushed farther inland flooding more valleys and creating new bays like San Pablo and Suisun until they finally stopped near the present Montezuma Hills five thousand years ago.

There freshwater flowing downstream from the Sierras and Cascades through the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers met seawater flowing inland through the Golden Gate.  They mixed some, but the freshwater mostly flowed outward some distance in a shallow lens above the heavier salt water, which also acted as a hydraulic dam to stop most river flow at the Montezuma Hills and cause freshwater to backup and flood a vast area in the lowest part of the Central Valley.

This flooding starting just five thousand years ago created California’s Delta.  Because sea level rise was gradual, the flooded area always remained very shallow beyond the deeper river channels and became covered by tall marsh plants called tules.  Seas still slowly rose, though, and freshwater in the flooded Delta area also did just slowly enough for each new tule generation to grow on the last’s flooded remains.

[adrotate group=”9″]   Eventually the latest tule generation grew on many feet of ancestral organic remains which became the Delta’s famous peat soil.  A similar process in the same time period north of East Anglia created England’s famous Fenlands and provided the term fen for similar wetlands around the world.  Consequently the Delta is California’s largest fen and one of the largest in the world.

What happened to it next is another tale.

  Dr. Glen Holstein received his PhD in Botany from UC Davis and is a Senior Scientist with Zentner and Zentner, a local biological consulting company. Glen is Chapter Botanist for the Sacramento Valley Chapter of the California Native Plant Society , represents that Chapter at Habitat 2020 and was the California Prairie spokesman at its Wildflower Weekend in April , 2005 . He’s also on the Board of Tuleyome, a non-profit organization working to protect the wild and agricultural heritage of California’s Inner Coast Range and Western Sacramento Valley.