Viva la resistance – can we stop Valley’s Edge? No harm trying!

11 Feb

The North wind is blowing and the oak trees are flowering, and yeah, that’s a mosquito buzzing around my elbow this morning. Didn’t Punxawtawny Phil tell us six more weeks?

Well he was wrong.

My husband and I followed some honkers out to Willows the other day. The migration is in full swing, waterfowl of all kinds are congregating in the rice fields west of Chico. We took a turn at Seven Mile Lane to check out the Llano Seco viewing platforms.

The platform is right on the road, generous parking lot, and a short trail out into what used to be a rice field. I grew up near Princeton, that was the route by which my grandma often brought us into Chico. She liked to take different routes, she was a bird lover. She’d point them all out as she drove along the narrow roads. But we were never allowed out into the fields, too dangerous, and trespassing is considered a sin in farm country.

So I love being able to take our dog and stroll along a ditch bank, watching ducks fill themselves up on the muddy bottom of a swamp. There were a lot of geese and other water fowl, and birds filled the air. There was a phoebe bird snapping at bugs just off the platform, and I could see sack-like titmice nests hanging from the trees. Phoebe makes a mud nest, oftentimes on a human structure. She sits on the end of a tree branch, or on a cattail, and when she sees a bug – SNAP!

And there was drama. As we were walking along the trail we heard a commotion – a bunch of ducks went running across the water away from the bank’s edge. We saw a stranger sitting on the water – a hawk had jumped a mud hen, and was holding it under the water to drown it. They say hawks rarely eat other birds – bullshit, just pay attention, I’ve seen them take a bird right out of the air. The hawk sat on the duck for two or three minutes as we watched wide-mouthed. I wanted to yell and throw rocks, but that’s a violation of the Prime Directive.

I’ll tell you what though, that water is cold. The hawk couldn’t sit it out, and you know, a duck can hold it’s head under water a long time. So the hawk gave up and the little mud hen paddled away like nothing had happened. There’s a lesson for you folks.

Nature is a good classroom. This kind of habitat goes away with over development. Many years ago people in Chico started to realize we had something special here – agriculture, nature, AND a really neat town to serve the local population. But, you know, a town can grow too big for it’s pants. Building into your ag land and your water shed is getting too big for your pants.

Our developer beholden council tells us we need the houing, but Kevin Costner told us the truth – “if you build it they will come…” What council and staff really want is high-priced, property tax generating housing and the spend happy city people that come here to live in it.

I don’t know if Valley’s Edge can be stopped, but I hope the lawsuit holds it back a while and taxes the city’s war chest.

Next time remind me to tell you about our trip to Willows.

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