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Caspar Community Newsletter: June 1999
June 1999 Caspar Community Newsletter
For Sale: Lifestyle Insurance
What is it worth to you to live in a quiet, natural village?
How much would it cost for you to uproot yourself and find as good a life elsewhere?
Many of us think it is worth giving time and money for the preservation of Caspar. We're calling it Lifestyle Insurance.
In the last year we have made great progress. We have a plan of action. The Caspar Beach and southern riparian areas will soon be in public ownership under the stewardship of the California Coastal Conservancy and the Mendocino Land Trust. We're told that an agreement between the Caspar Cattle Company and the Trust for Public Land is being negotiated. Virginia Strom-Martin and Wesley Chesbro, our state legislators, have pledged their support in getting state funding to purchase the headlands and riparian corridor, and we are supporting their efforts in Sacramento.
This has cost us $50,000 and thousands of hours of expert volunteer work. We think that's time and money well spent!
But of course it doesn't stop there. With the help of dedicated board members and the Trust for Public Land, we hope that private grants and public moneys will start flowing in to help save the Preserve lands, and to finance our work to develop and gain consensus on a specific plan for the remaining property.
We still need your help. In the next four months, we must raise $8,000 to secure federal non-profit status for the Community. (We've been operating with the fiscal sponsorship of another non-profit for long enough). We also need money to get out the grants, to create and reproduce materials we need, and to keep the telephone and heat on in the community office. (The office space is donated.) We have applied for grants amounting to $100,000, but funding is uncertain. We are looking at future expenditures of another $25,000 in the next 12 months to maintain our present momentum. That's a lot of money, but think of the alternative. Imagine Caspar as it would be if taken over by outside developers.
Make your check payable to Caspar Community Fund and send it to Box 84, Caspar, CA 95420. You can use the envelope enclosed in this newsletter (if someone else hasn't already used it!).
Sunday Jam Sessions
Every Sunday about 4 pm, those musically inclined -- either as performers or appreciators -- gather at the Caspar Inn for a very informal jam session. The sounds are great and the group is welcoming. Someone stopped me and said 'What's happening at the Caspar Inn?' 'People getting to know each other and having a damn good time,' I replied.
That's Us All Over
Recently several stories have been published about the community of Caspar in major newspapers. The LA Times did a large feature presentation about the Caspar Community's projects. The Santa Rosa Press Democrat explored the problem of gorse in Caspar, and -- somewhat mysteriously--we were featured in Italy's La Repubblica. All these stories (and many more!) can be read at our website, CasparCommons.org .
TPL to Option Caspar?
At the March meeting of the Caspar Community, Andrew Vesselinovitch of the Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced his organization's interest in the community of Caspar, and that TPL was considering optioning part of the land still for sale by the Caspar Cattle Company.
It was a stunning moment. Caparados had been attending these meetings for eighteen months, searching for ways to be proactive in the face of potential development, and daunted by the millions of dollars needed to purchase the Cattle Company lands. Suddenly, in rode this unexpected knight in shining armor to save the day!
Well, the day isn't quite saved yet. But things are more hopeful than they ever have been.
Andrew Vesselinovitch, who looks more like an intense graduate student than an knight in armor, summed it up by saying, 'TPL is focussing on money for the headlands, which is the part that seems most appropriate for public ownership.'
What is TPL?
The Trust for Public Land is a privately held non-profit organization dedicated to conserving land for people. It has participated in the preservation of virgin rainforests in Hawaii, Walden Woods in Concord, Massachusetts, and recently it worked with Native American tribal leaders to save the Sinkyone Wilderness--right here in Mendocino County.
TPL does not normally own property but it does have funds and lines of credit available to option it and then work to find ways for the land's ownership to be transferred into appropriate stewardship.
Andrew Vesselinovitch is TPL's project manager for Caspar. His ideal scenario would be for the Trust to option all of the Cattle Company's land. Then working with the community, funding would be found to put the headlands into public ownership, insuring its future as open space. Other moneys would be needed so The Caspar Community or another entity could purchase the rest of the land. In either case, the development and/or preservation of that land would be influenced by the wishes of those who live here.
How Did TPL Come to Caspar?
Here we need to stop and acknowledge the work of Judy Tarbell, a member of the Caspar Community's board of directors. Judy knew the founder of TPL, Marty Rosen, through her business, Black Bear Press. Last November, after it became clear that the California Coastal Conservancy would be purchasing and preserving the Caspar Beach and south riparian Caspar Creek portion of the Cattle Company's property, she wrote to Rosen, eloquently laying out the plight and promise of Caspar. Meetings between TPL and Judy, Pat Ackley, and Casparado David Alden followed.
What Happens Now?
So, much has been accomplished, much is left to be done.
Andrew Vesselinovitch again: 'Once TPL gets into these projects we're coordinators between the landowner, the community, and the funders, private and public.' Now more than ever the Caspar Community needs the enthusiasm and organization that first attracted TPL to our town.
And one final word from Andrew: 'A community's enthusiasm and organization can be turned into money -- money to complete the project.'
On May 20 we learned that The Trust for Public Land is about to sign a three month option with the owner of the headlands and the north riparian area of Caspar Creek. This will secure the property until we know whether the funds to buy it will be approved by the state. Read the following article for background. Then sign onto www.casparcommons.org/Library/Legislate.htm to learn how you can help secure that funding. Or call the office at 964-4997. Your support is needed immediately!
Stuart Tregoning Interview
This is the first in a series of interviews with our neighbors in Caspar.
Stuart Tregoning owns, lives, and works his family farm just to the northeast of the village. He has been here longer than most of us. At the April meeting of the Caspar Community, we discussed people's hopes for the future of the headlands. Stuart was able to give us his memories from the late 1940s, when, as a child, he played on steam locomotives rusting quietly at the edge of the bluffs, and helped his family shovel trash into the 'town dump': one of the little coves off the headlands. Caspar has gone through many changes (some of them good!), and Stuart knows the town as thoroughly as anyone can.
PM: Stuart, can you give us a brief history of your family roots in Caspar?
ST: My great-grandfather, Alexander Jefferson, came here in 1867 from St. Andrews, Quebec. He purchased 60 acres in the town of Caspar. I haven't finished the research, but I believe that it ran from the Caspar Inn up to the duck pond and north to include the Company manager's house.
On Christmas Eve, 1873, Alex went home and married Eliza Jane Gibson. On their return to Caspar they sold the farm to his mother Ann and husband Stephen Burwash and started to put together the ranch that eventually extended from the north end of Caspar almost to Boice Lane. Lisa and I live on a forty acre piece in the southeast corner of the old ranch.
Alex's half brother, Harry Burwash, had a one-and-a-half story house to the left of the superintendent's house and that was the original Jefferson farmhouse. Harry was the Company Supe for many years. I guess that is how the Company acquired the farm. Maybe a sort of 'reverse retirement benefit'? My grandfather, H.S. Tregoning met my grandmother Anna Jefferson at the University of the Pacific.
PM: You must be one of the old-timers now! How long have you lived in Caspar?
ST: I was born in Healdsburg in 1942. When we moved to Caspar, Christmas 1948, I was half-way through the first grade. Caspar was a lot bigger and more dynamic then. The streets were lined with houses...there were stores, two meat markets, and the Company Store.
PM: You've traveled all over the world. How does Caspar compare with other places?
ST: It's a gorgeous place! When you are away and then you come back it's so beautiful! The sweeping view of the town, the steeple of the old church, the open field--it would be a shame to put anything in that field.
To the tourists, it's a million dollar view. The highway created that view.
Before the new highway, it was more like Elk.
PM: We've heard you're an expert on gorse. Would you like to say a few words on the subject?
ST: Weed abatement is really important to control exotic species.
Absentee landowners don't keep the gorse under control. Until recently, the gorse on the Company land was east of the highway. I just noticed that there are patches in full bloom on both sides of the street leading up from downtown. This is the first year for these plants to throw seed. It would be just a devastating thing to let this new gorse go to seed--the town could be solid gorse in 10 years. The only way to get rid of it is to remove it mechanically. There is no simple approach that doesn't involve a lot of work. My neighbor Ralph and I developed a mechanical system of mowing and tilling that, within a few years, encourages the grass to dominate so that it's possible to hand pull the gorse.
PM: What do you like best about living in Caspar?
ST: The people. The people are really great here!
Great News at the Beach!
The California Coastal Conservancy is poised to purchase the Caspar Beach and Caspar Creek riparian area for the public!
In late fall of 1998 then-Governor, Pete Wilson, signed an appropriations bill that gave $1.8 million to the California Coastal Conservancy for this acquisition. Since then Julia McIver, the local Project Manager for the Conservancy, has been working to negotiate a deal with representatives of the Caspar Cattle Company and with the Mendocino Land Trust, whose executive director is Roger Sternberg.
On May 12 the Conservancy issued the following statement: 'Šon May 27, the Coastal Conservancy will be considering making a grant to the Mendocino Land Trust for the acquisition and management of 3 parcels including and adjacent to Caspar Beach (the part of the beach not already owned by State Parks). The Land Trust will manage the property in the short term, and will seek to transfer the beach and blufftop to State Parks for permanent ownership. The third parcel will have conservation easements placed on it and then be sold back into the private market; the resulting funds will be recycled into other Mendocino Coast conservation projects.'
McIver expects that the grant will be approved.
The purchase will secure some 60 acres of beach and creekside land, and includes the southernmost stand of sitka spruce in the United States, which, by the way, was planted by a steward of the Caspar Lumber Company. That stand of trees is now an osprey rookery and the nesting area for purple martin--and will remain so!
Thank You, Pat!
In early May, while our Caspar project has gathered momentum, the Caspar Community board recognized that local fund-raising could not sustain a fulltime coordinator's position. With regret and abiding gratitude, the Board told Pat Ackley that we had run out of money. In the last six months, Pat has done much to further the goals of the Caspar Community, brought the community office to life, and used her wealth of experience to make fruitful connections with other local organizations. She will be missed.
So, once again, we are an organization of all-volunteers. The current board of directors has pledged to keep answering the Community Office telephone, to have office hours by appointment, and to continue to seek the grants and outside funding we need to accomplish our goals.
We could use some help!
We need volunteers to sustain the work of the traffic brigade and the services committee, and to help with a myriad office tasks. Next to this article you will find news of our annual meeting, and our search for new members for our board of directors.
Our work is really going well. But we need your help and your guidance.
Board Members Needed
After a year of hard work, the Caspar Community Board (which started as a Steering Committee) has accomplished its primary goals and now awaits word of 'The Deal' which will shape Caspar's work for the next two or three years. Over the past year, one striking fact emerges: very few of the weighty matters we faced divided us. Majority rules, and we understand that a bare majority means the issue is not completely resolved, and we have learned to take the time to work together until we have achieved consensus, and, in most cases, unanimity. After all, we are neighbors, and presumably always will be.
As we start on our second year, it has become clear that to speak for All Caspar we need better representation from East Caspar, North Caspar, and South Caspar. And we would benefit from the additional passion and perspective new members would bring. The Board has recently completed revising the Community's by-laws. Since the by-laws specify fifteen hours of orientation and volunteer work in order to bring potential board members 'up to speed', we postponed the annual meeting until September to give prospective board members time to fulfill this requirement. (The by-laws' requirements of board members are in the accompanying box.)
The board regularly meets once a month (more often when necessary) two Fridays prior to the Community Meeting on the second Sunday of the month. We welcome observers. Please let a board member know you plan to attend. The minutes and by-laws are available online at the Caspar website, CasparCommons.org .
Auction & Luncheon Benefit June 6
There are only a few tickets left for Caspar's big benefit
Luncheon and Auction.
PLACE: Albion River Inn
TIME: Sunday, June 6, 1999, 12:30
FOOD: Spectacular buffet lunch by chef Steven Smith
MUSIC: Caspar String Quartet, led by Joselyn Bartlett and Anthony Miksak.
This will be followed by a double-barreled auction: a silent auction with written bids, and one very lively and vocal one, featuring the well-known Mendocino auctioneer, Kelly Peterson.
Pat Ackley, Caspar's Community Coordinator, has been assembling a vast array of art work, books, sports tickets, and show business memorabilia, all of which will be on the auction block.
The Albion River Inn is opening its doors to this fund-raiser courtesy of co-owner Peter Wells, who is also a founding member of the Caspar Community's board of directors.
Tickets are a very reasonable $20. To reserve, call Pat Ackley at 964-4997 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org .
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