West Sacramento Fire Department Is A Class Act

West Sacramento Fire Department Is A Class Act

By Julia McMichael Effective Dec. 1, 2016, the Fire Department of West Sacramento will be upgraded by the Insurance Service Office (ISO) to a Class 1 rating. An ISO Class 1 fire More »

The Yolo Land Trust honors Clarksburg Farmer Greg Merwin at “A Day in the Country”

The Yolo Land Trust honors Clarksburg Farmer Greg Merwin at “A Day in the Country”

The Yolo Land Trust’s signature event “A Day in the Country” will be held this year on Sept. 11 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Barger Keasey Family Farm near Davis. More »

Students and parents protest for raising teachers’ wages and settling on a contract

Students and parents protest for raising teachers’ wages and settling on a contract

By Monica Stark editor@news-ledger.com There has been a tumultuous start to the beginning of this school year in West Sacramento. With gossip of teachers striking and high school students texting messages to More »


Trees for Tomorrow offers free shade trees to West Sac residents

By Monica Stark

Tree Davis, a non-profit urban forestry organization, has partnered with the city of West Sacramento on a three-year grant to plant and care for 1,000 new trees. These trees are available for free to residents, schools, parks, etc. in neighborhoods north of the deep-water channel.

Kelly Conroy, the new executive director of Tree Davis, explained that the program aims to increase tree canopy in neighborhoods with a traditionally low number of trees, as a healthy urban forest provides so many benefits to neighborhoods including higher property values, lower crime rates, reduced rates of chronic illnesses like asthma and diabetes. “By planting trees in these areas, we aim to not only build a healthy urban forest, but healthier communities,” Conroy explained.

Funding for the Trees for Tomorrow program has been provided by the California Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund through the California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), Urban and Community Forestry Program. The grant provides over $500,000 to plant and care for 1,000 new trees in under-canopied neighborhoods of West Sacramento.

The Urban Forest Manager for the city of West Sacramento has selected a number of tree species that are appropriate for the city’s climate and soils. “We are really focusing on large-canopied trees which will provide the greatest benefits while making sure the right tree is planted in the right place by considering things like underground or overhead utilities, space available for the tree to grow, etc. We want these trees to grow for many years and provide benefits – not complications with infrastructure,” Conroy said.
A healthy target for canopy coverage in any city is 25 percent, she said. “It can be hard to translate that into a specific number of trees, and we know 1,000 new trees will make a difference, but there’s always room for more!”

Conroy said Tree Davis currently works with many community partners to provide more workshops throughout the community. “We are hoping to give workshops at local schools, churches, and community centers to bring the information directly to each neighborhood. We are also hoping to work with interested neighborhoods directly. If someone is very interested in planting trees in their neighborhood and can gather their neighbors together, we can create a custom workshop and tree planting event with them!”

Tree Davis is a non profit urban forestry group founded in 1992. Our mission is to enhance and expand the urban forest by teaching residents how to plant and care for trees. This will be the first program partnership with West Sacramento and Tree Davis is excited to bring their resources together to make a big impact in Yolo County. The benefits trees provide like reduced greenhouse gas in the atmosphere don’t stop at city limits; these 1,000 trees will directly benefit the residents of West Sacramento and the entire region.

For those familiar with the free tree program in Sacramento, Sacramento Tree Foundation has provided the Sacramento Shade Tree Program in partnership with SMUD for many years with a focus on shading homes to reduce energy use. Davis Tree’s program is similar (though not funded by a utility company) in that it provides free trees throughout the community and really focuses on educating residents. “The urban forest belongs to all of us and these programs really strive to build community investment in our trees to make sure they live long, healthy lives. Without community members planting, caring for, and advocating for our trees, our urban forest would not be sustainable. Sacramento Tree Foundation was also awarded a grant through the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund which focuses specifically on under canopied neighborhoods in South Sacramento,” Conroy said.

To receive up to three free trees, residents must attend the workshop to learn about properly planting and caring for their tree. They must also promise to plant their trees in responsible locations on their property (call 811 before you dig to check for utilities, make sure the size of the tree will not interfere with any infrastructure, etc.) and to keep their tree(s) alive and healthy so they continue to provide benefits to the entire community. Residents must also live within the target area for this project.

With a Bachelor’s degree from UC Davis in Biological Sciences coupled with a love for environmental education, Conroy joined Tree Davis as the Executive Director in September 2015 after four years with Sacramento Tree Foundation. “Trees have always symbolized so much to me – vitality, strength, perseverance, etc. They also give so much to our urban areas like cleaner air, cooler temperatures, and beautiful landscapes that I can’t help but appreciate them!”
And as an aside, asked what her favorite tree is, Conroy said, “My favorite urban tree is the Ginkgo. It’s such an ancient tree with interesting fan-shaped leaves and it turns vibrantly gold in the fall. It also happens to do very well in our hot, dry climate!”
The next workshop will be held on April 6 from 6 to 7 p.m. inside the Community Center at 1075 West Capitol Ave. For more information, email info@treedavis.org or call 530-758-7337. People can also follow Tree Davis and the West Sacramento Tree Program on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the program, workshop dates, planting events, and more.

Little Leagues Merge in West Sacramento

By Michele Townsend

WSLL BoundariesLittle League came to West Sacramento in 1953. It was a much simpler time then, and it seemed the entire town was excited about bringing baseball to the children of our community. It was a common sight to see a team photo hanging on the wall of local businesses.

Its popularity took off like wildfire. West Sacramento’s Little League became official when it was chartered in 1954 by Williamsport, allowing for the children in our league to be eligible for advancement in competition beyond our town limits.

It wasn’t just West Sacramento that was organizing a local little league. Little leagues were popping up all over the Sacramento area. By 1954, California was being divided into 33 original districts.

West Sacramento fell within the boundaries of D6. Once the district offices were established, it became the responsibility of those offices to handle the chartering of new leagues. By then, baseball had become so popular in West Sacramento that it was decided a second league was needed. D6 chartered its first league, and Washington Little League was born in the Broderick/Bryte area.

Now, 60 years later, little league is still going strong in West Sacramento. It is still a common sight to go into businesses and see a team photo hanging on their wall to show the support that they have given our kids.

The town has grown a lot in 60 years, but the original little league boundaries within our town have remained the same. Washington Little League sits between the river and the freeway, leaving no room for expansion and creating a land-lock for that league. Many of the families within these boundaries are established, and still remain in their homes. This is a wonderful thing.

However, the children from that area of the community have now grown, and moved on to live their own lives with children of their own. There are of course still children on the north side of town, so though Washington Little League was small, it still managed to stay afloat.

All rule changes are made in Williamsport, and apply to all chartered little leagues. In 2014, the boundary rules changed. It would now be allowed to play little league in the area of where the child goes to school. When the new boundary rule was put into play, many children from Washington Little League moved over to West Sac Little League. There are more kids, more games, more variety. What’s not to love? With the numbers of players dwindling on the Washington side, it seems the league can no longer sustain itself. Washington Little League President, Teresa Blackmere stated, “It’s sad really. We’ve held on as long as we could, but the simple truth is we just don’t have the kids.” In 2015, Washington Little League had 75 registrants, allowing for only one junior and major teams, two Minor teams and four Tball teams.

However, do not fear. Baseball is still booming in West Sacramento. West Sac Little League is growing bigger and stronger by the year.

In 2015, West Sac Little League had 660 kids registered to play ball. West Sac’s President, Ron Yarbrough stated that “the merger between the two leagues in West Sacramento is not official yet, but it will be by next year. So, for this year, any kids that wanted to sign up, we did it by waiver.” When asked if they were already utilizing the fields in the Washington area, he stated “Oh yeah, with this many kids, we use the fields all around town. However, we have put money into improvements and repairs on those fields, and we just invested $45,000 to improve the fields at Memorial Park. You really should come and see them. They are beautiful. Major league quality.”

Opening Day is March 19th at Memorial Park. So, this spring, if you find yourself looking for a fun day, and something to do – head on over to one of the ball parks and catch a game. Support the kids, share in the excitement, and have a good time! Remember that everybody out there is a volunteer, so please be supportive.

West Sacramento Prepares for Storms, Possible Flooding

A flood watch has been issued for Yolo County and surrounding communities in anticipation of heavy rains over the next several days. The National Weather Service says excessive rainfall on already saturated soils and swollen rivers will likely result in some minor flooding through Sunday.

The City of West Sacramento and the Yolo County Office of Emergency Services are working together to monitor the situation and provide helpful information to the public.

Residents are urged to take caution around rising rivers and streams. Motorists are advised to avoid flooded streets and to be on the lookout for debris on the roads resulting from strong winds and runoff.

The West Sacramento Fire Department’s Office of Emergency Services will be providing continuous monitoring of the weather and river levels; and general situation status.

Public Works has increased staff levels to handle any storm related issues, including downed trees and detours around flooded streets.

Sandbags are being made available for residents and businesses. See sandbag location map.

The West Sacramento Police Department has conducted patrols along the river to inform the public of potential river levels rising.

The Reclamation Districts are monitoring levee conditions, and during periods of heavy rain checking the function of the internal drainage system 24 hours a day.

What can you do?
Register with Yolo Alert to receive messages about important public safety information.
Keep your cell phones charged.
Have a flashlight and batteries in case the power goes out.
Have an emergency kit at home and in your car.
For information regarding current river levels, please visit the California Data Exchange Center.

Additional resources:
National Weather Service Forecast
National Weather Service YouTube Channel
City of West Sacramento Website
Yolo County Office of Emergency Services
West Sac Flood Protect

Raiders Soccer Starts Strong

By Noemi Zavala
RCHS journalism student

The RCHS Girls’ soccer team won 1st place in last weekend’s tournament in Turlock. The tournament is hosted by Pitman High School and is a competitive tournament with schools based out of the Central Valley area.

The River City Girls Soccer team had 4 wins and 0 losses while scoring 10 goals and giving up only 2.
RCHS varsity soccer coach Kamal Singh was pleased with the team’s overall performance saying, “They have been working extremely hard during the offseason in preparation for this.”

During the tournament, players and coaches from River City were approached by other teams and parents praising their play and asking where River City was located.

Singh proudly said, “They definitely know we are from West Sacramento now.”

Sophomore Alejandra Pinedo, who was brought up from the jv team to play midfield for the tournament said, “The coaches are really supportive and my teammates are really hardworking and fun to play with.”

West Sac schools celebrated Read Across America Day

By George Kazanis
Special to the Ledger

On March 2, schools throughout the Washington Unified School District participated in the National Education Association’s (NEA) Read Across America Day—a year-round literacy project that encourages readers, both young and old, to experience the joys of reading while celebrating Dr. Seuss’s birthday. It is estimated that more than 45 million readers nationwide participated in reading events this year. The goal is to remind parents of the crucial role they play in their children’s education because it’s a fact: Children who read frequently are better readers and better students.

Right here in West Sacramento, thousands of children were getting into the reading excitement, too. District Superintendent, Linda C. Luna, joined third graders from Stonegate Elementary and first graders from Bridgeway Island Elementary for classroom read-ins featuring a Seuss classic, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

Community members and other special guests visited classrooms throughout Washington Unified to show their support and encourage our youngest learners that reading is a fun activity that helps increase their vocabulary and improves their reading fluency and comprehension.

Floodplain experiment points to water policy solutions to support both salmon recovery and agriculture

UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, the California Department of Water Resources and non-profit organization California Trout have launched an expanded experiment to better understand how the Sacramento River system can support healthy salmon populations.
For the first time this year, the agricultural floodplain habitat experiment will compare food web productivity and fish growth in three different kinds of river habitat. For the course of the experiment, a group of juvenile Chinook salmon will be held in underwater pens on flooded rice fields, as in years past; a second group will be held in pens floating in an agricultural canal; and a third group will be held in floating pens nearby in the Sacramento River. The experiment began on February 19 and the fish will be released after approximately four weeks.
Born in the gravels of mountain streams, Central Valley salmon migrate to the ocean where they grow for 1-3 years before returning to rivers to spawn. Juvenile fish that are larger and healthier when they enter the ocean have better odds of returning as adults.
“Floodplain habitats are essentially a bug buffet for small fish,” said Jacob Katz, PhD, Central California Director for California Trout. “Our previous results have shown that the food-rich floodplains appear to act as an important pit stop for juvenile fish, where they can fuel up on their downstream journey to the sea.”
Unfortunately for hungry salmon, more than 95 percent of natural floodplain wetlands have been eliminated by the development of the Central Valley for farms and houses. In previous years, this experiment has shown that off-season agricultural fields can provide critical floodplain habitat for endangered fish.
“Fish have little opportunity to reap the benefits of floodplains because they are nearly all cut off from river channels,” said Louise Conrad, PhD, of the California Department of Water Resources. “The Yolo Bypass is one of the last remaining active floodplain areas in the Central Valley. Enhancing the opportunity for salmon to access and use its floodplain areas could make a huge difference for salmon while also helping to recharge groundwater and improve flood safety.”
For four consecutive winters, experiments conducted on rice fields at the Knaggs Ranch property on the Yolo Bypass documented the fastest growth of juvenile Chinook salmon ever recorded in the Central Valley. These results suggest that through better planning and engineering, farm fields that produce agricultural crops in summer could also produce food and habitat for fish and wildlife during winter when crops are not grown.
“At this point, we feel confident that giving native fish access to the food-rich environment of the floodplain will play a critical role in recovering imperiled salmon,” said Carson Jeffres, field and lab director of the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences. “Now we are interested in how food made on the floodplain can benefit the entire river and Delta.”
The experiment suggests that floodplains on farmland can also be thought of as “surrogate wetlands” that can be managed to mimic the Sacramento River system’s natural annual flooding cycle, which native fish species evolved to depend upon. Agricultural run-off water is used to flood the fields for the duration of the experiment. This recycled water fuels the floodplain food web before being flushed back into the Delta ecosystem through agricultural canals, adding to the food supply for all fish living in the system. No new water is used to conduct the experiment.
This natural process of slowing down and spreading out shallow water across the floodplain creates the conditions that lead to an abundant food web. Sunlight falling on water makes algae, algae feeds bugs, and bugs feed native fish and birds. In contrast, very little food to support aquatic life is produced when rivers are narrowly confined between levees.
“California’s water supply for both people and fish will be more secure when our water policy works with natural processes, instead of against them,” noted Dr. Katz. “This work leverages ecology as technology and points us toward efficient and cost effective real-world water solutions that support both fish and farms.”
Members of the media are invited to visit the experiment site at Knaggs Ranch on the Yolo Bypass near Sacramento between now and approximately March 15th, when the fish will be released to continue their journey to the ocean. The site is also open for tours on Wednesday afternoons throughout the course of the experiment. To make arrangements for a media tour, contact Nina Erlich-Williams at nina@publicgoodpr.com or by phone 510-336-9566 or 415-577-1153.

It’s A Dog’s Life in West Sacramento

By Julia McMichael

West Sacramento has two off leash dog parks with separate areas for small and large dogs. While Summerfield Park is being renovated for ADA compliance, Sam Combs off leash dog park is in full swing. The visitors vary by time of day.

Ginger, Blue and Belle, Lily, Jinsi, Zeusie, Zowie, Bodie and Bazil, Brownie, Loudean, Reggie and Montgomery, Moose, Lucie and Lizzie, Tiki and Petey, Cocoa and Trixie are all regulars at the Sam Combs dog park. The dogs range from the most beautiful and well trained pedigrees to rescue dogs and just plain mutts. What distinguishes them all however, is that their owners make the effort every morning and sometimes every evening to give them proper exercise and socialization.

Dog owners Christine and Ron Gibbs told me, “Introducing Jinsi to new people and dogs helps him to socialize. It’s healthy mentally and physically for the dogs.”

As the dogs play, residents get to know each other and socialize. New resident, Jamie Mauhay says, “We moved to West Sacramento almost a year ago without knowing a soul, and through the dog park have met so many amazing people, even some we consider good friends! It’s a great place to bring creatures together — both furry and not.”

Each dog, like their owners, has a distinct personality.
Reggie, the standard poodle is a working dog and the diplomat of the dog park. Ginger, the golden retriever is the gentle beauty who has grown from shy puppy to playful and confident playmate.

Loudean may be one of the smaller dogs (a rat terrier), but she is also one of the fastest.

Loudean and her best friend Brownie race the park together during their play dates.

Jinsi is busy learning tricks, until he spots his best friend, Ginger.

All Tiki, Belle and Lucie care about is chasing their ball. They endlessly retrieve. Belle comically hides behind trees to await the throws.

Bodie and Bazil are German shorthair pointers. The German shorthair pointer, incidentally, just won the Westminster Dog show as Best of Show. Bodie endlessly patrols the park and climbs trees in pursuit of squirrels. It is clear that she is always on the job. Her brother, Bazil is more sociable. Montgomery is a much smaller terrier, but also climbs trees in pursuit.

Every hour at the park brings new residents out. The eight o’clock hour is for nine to fivers. Commuters come even earlier. Retirees come out with the sunshine. Others come to the park for an evening romp. West Sacramentan, Mary Jane Zeemer said, “We couldn’t have large dogs in the city without access to a dog park.”

Prior to the dog park being built, many residents told me that Sam Combs park was an unfortunate meeting ground for unsavory characters. When the dog park was constructed, people and their animals were drawn to the park and the undesirables went elsewhere.

The park is supplied with tennis balls during the holidays by some tennis loving benefactors. Many times, treat bags are left for the dogs. The city provides dog bags for clean ups.

Summerfield Dog Park is currently closed while the park has an Americans with Disabilities (ADA) compliance renovation. It has been closed since November. The renovation also includes a new play structure, sidewalks, benches, picnic tables, and a restroom.

Unlike Sam Combs Dog Park, Summerfield Dog Park is lighted for evening use. Summerfield Park, despite the closed areas, still has plenty of grass for games and walks and a new landing for viewing the park.

Superintendent of Parks and Recreation, Sam Cooney, told the News Ledger that Summerfield will reopen on April 1. “It will have improved fencing, improved staging and gates, and accessibility. We have also removed large Poplar trees, but will replant trees on Arbor Day (April 29). We will also remove trees at Sam Combs to add more sunshine so that new turf can grow. We will also improve irrigation. Wood chips ‘cause some dogs have pad problems so turf is a better option. It also makes it easier to remove dog waste for the owners. Future amenities depend on the Budget Committee.”

There are 35 parks in West Sacramento, but for dog owners, the dog parks provide a necessary amenity for their doggy pals. Ginger’s owner, Bert adds, “It’s fun to come here!”

Summerfield Park is located at 2950 Linden Road and Sam Combs Park is located at 205 Stone Blvd.