By Doug Beretta, President

As I write this month’s article, I’m happy and frustrated at the same time. Happy that we are finally getting a NORMAL WINTER for our area but frustrated when I look out into my fields and see the water ponding in places it shouldn’t be. This isn’t because of the large amount of rain we received, it’s because of the lack of infrastructure maintenance that Sonoma County has not done for years. Not only is it affecting agriculture landowners it is affecting the roads we drive on. As I drove around Sonoma County during the storms, I found water standing on roads where it shouldn’t be. WHY? Because the roadside ditches haven’t been maintained. They haven’t been mowed or cleaned out of all the debris that gets pushed into them by cars driving on our roads. The ditches are so full of sediment, grass, chip-seal that has been swept into them by county road crews that the water just sat on the road. The ditch could not flow to the designated area that keeps water off the roadway. I know our county road crews were out working long hours during the heavy rains but these problems stem from years of disregard and maintenance from Sonoma County. I have heard the excuses, “We can’t clean them because it’s CA Tiger Salamander habitat,” or “We have more miles of road in Sonoma County than in other Counties and we don’t have the funds.”  Somehow the state, county, and federal agencies need to get together and work these issues out or be held responsible for farmland sitting underwater and roads deteriorating because water is sitting on the road getting pounded into the asphalt each time a car hit it.

I would like to meet with County Supervisors and Staff to try and figure these problems out. I would like you as members to send me pictures, letters, etc., so I can refer to not just my bad experiences and problems but to those of our members also. The only way we can fix this is by showing them the problems. I know the middle of winter is not the time to be doing this work but as soon as it dries out hopefully direction can be given to the right people to projects moving.


Now for the happy side. This is one of the many storms that we need to replenish our groundwater, help grow our winter crops and hopefully keep agriculture sustainable here in Sonoma County. With the sunshine the last couple of days and our daylight getting longer you sure can see the pasture growing. Silage crops seem to be coming along also and I’m guessing our vineyard and orchard owners are able to get some winter chores done without tearing up their vineyards. I know we all work hard to make sure our water quality measures are in place for winters like this. And we all have to be very careful before getting back into our fields, vineyards, and orchards so we don’t create problems from erosion or destroying young pasture that we will all need in the future.

Hopefully by the time you are reading this we will have had some more storms that continue to pull us out of this drought!!