Valley’s Edge opponents worry about environmental impacts Fight over foothill development has wracked Chico for decades

photo courtesy of Steve Evans
From left, Steve Evans, Michael McGinnis and Kelly Meagher announced the No way San Jose campaign in 1988 to stop development next to Upper Bidwell Park.

by Leslie Layton
posted Feb. 4

Thirty-five years ago, a small, progressive coalition stopped development in the lower foothills adjacent to Upper Bidwell Park with the rallying cry, “No way San Jose.”

That area has been protected under the name of Bidwell Ranch since the 1988 referendum that stopped the project. Voters in favor of stopping the Rancho Arroyo project wanted to protect northwest Chico -– not so much from inevitable population growth -– but from the kind of suburban sprawl that had come to be associated with California cities like San Jose and Fresno. read more

Bidwell Park struggles with increased use, dry conditions Californians flock to public parks to escape lockdowns, connect with nature

photo by Leslie Layton
This photo was taken in Lower Park, that portion of the park west of Manzanita Avenue, but the total length of the park is about 11 miles.

by Natalie Hanson
posted Nov. 1

The city of Chico winds around one of the largest municipal parks in the country — Bidwell Park. Step off the sidewalk and enter the park, and the city seems to disappear. You’re under a tree canopy, on a street or trail lined with oaks, ferns and sycamores.

Park lovers -— who on most days see dog-walkers, cyclists, runners and skateboarders -– say they fear losing this precious place to climate change, wildfires, littering and human overuse and indifference. Residents and scientists say they want to see city leaders step up to protect the parks to prevent loss to wildfire and climate change -– particularly now that usage has increased. Bidwell, like many of California’s public parks, saw an increase in visitors during the COVID pandemic. read more

Adapting agriculture to new climate demands Global warming: "Humans made it, humans can unmake it"

photo by Richard Roth
Wilson Landing Road orchards exemplify problems with conventional ag practices.

by Richard Roth
posted Oct. 27

Adaptive agriculture is one of the greatest tools humans have for solving the problem of global warming. A big ticket — true, but in an age where cow burps and farts have become the vapor of hot debates all around the world, it is time to take a reflective examination of the “what, when, how, where, and who” of natural resource management in our homes and greater communities. And then encourage implementation of corrective adaptation quickly.

In a time of radical climate change, we must consider radical change in land use management when considering such things as formation of the Tuscan Water District. read more

TEK celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day Chicoans visit Verbena Fields to work and observe

photo by Karen Laslo
Master TEK Practitioner Ali Meders-Knight prepares willow for basket-making.

posted Oct. 10

Indigenous Peoples Day was celebrated today in Chico with something resembling an “open house” at Verbena Fields, where visitors and volunteers have been learning about and practicing ecosystem restoration through the Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) program.

Community members were arriving at Verbena Fields at the end of East 1st Avenue late this morning to help out or learn more.

The Traditional Ecological Stewardship Program encourages “ecosystem replenishment” with native, climate-change-adapted plants. TEK offers field trips for children and volunteers gather weekly for weed gathering, willow care and vernal pool development. Visit the TEK website to learn more about the indigenous-led land management program. — Leslie Layton read more

Tuscan Water District ballot-counting cancelled; election to be “redone” Ballot deficiencies had "consequences," attorney says

photo by Karen Laslo
Deseret’s facility on Wilson Landing Road.

by Leslie Layton
posted Sept. 29

Ballot-counting in the election on the Tuscan Water District (TWD) was cancelled Sept. 27 because of defects in the noticing process, the Butte County Clerk-Recorder’s office has said.

In a press release Sept. 28 -– the day the ballots were to be counted -– the clerk-recorder released a statement saying that concerns had been “raised regarding whether adequate notice” to voters had been provided. Today Clerk-Recorder Candace Grubbs said the election “wasn’t noticed properly and will be redone.” read more

Deadline approaches to vote for or against Tuscan Water District Some TWD residents say they had no chance to become board candidates

Landowners in the proposed Tuscan Water District received this ballot in the mail.

by Leslie Layton
posted Sept. 16

Ballots on whether to form the Tuscan Water District (TWD) in northwestern Butte County have been mailed to landowners — without any argument opposing a formation. The proposed district was the subject of debate for hours at public meetings earlier this year.

Only an argument in favor of formation of TWD -– which will have a landowner-based voting structure that will give the largest enterprises thousands of votes -– appears on the ballot that must be postmarked by Sept. 20. The ballot asks, with a single question, whether TWD should be approved with an annual parcel assessment of up to $10 per acre. Landowning voters can also choose nine people for the board of directors from a list of 11 candidates, most of whom are known already as TWD proponents. read more