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December, 2006


A river runs through it....

There once was a creek that ran along the inside edge of the eastern Tomales Bay wetlands, in a time before cows, berms and levees. This creek, I am told, started in a former little lake under the present Los Reyes development in Point Reyes Station, to pass along C Street on its way to Papermill Creek. I don't know if it had a name. So I hereby name it Sis' Creek in honor of Sis Arndt.
Sis Arndt was 83 when she died in 2003 in Point Reyes Station. For at least 50 years of her long life, she worked tirelessly to try to protect the environment of West Marin. She was battling for West Marin long before any of the rest of us even understood the value of wetlands.

Sis, who was born a Rodoni, was often the only voice speaking out against the poor land use she saw all around her over the years, although Ann West of Inverness was a close second. Sis spoke out against the piece by piece destruction of our wetlands as it was diked and drained to create free pasture land over the years. She was the thorn-in-the-side of Waldo Giacomini as he extended his hold on the wetland, filling in natural ponds, building barriers to cut off the Bay, and somehow appropriating uplands. She often publicly demanded Waldo show her clear title for a good deal of the uplands land he claimed was his, but was ignored and made fun of for doubting that all the land was obtained above board.

Unfortunately, the local paper at the time derided her efforts, as did other ranchers and businesspeople. Still, she kept on and also kept a detailed account and record of what was going on at the time. Fortunately, she lived long enough to see herself vindicated. But Sis died probably believing the creek along C Street had died too.

Actually, Sis' Creek is still there, under piles and piles of soft fill and cow manure. The pond under Los Reyes was filled in many decades ago by the ranch, although the spring that was/is habitat for red-legged frogs is not quite gone. I believe that the Park- designated protected area under Los Reyes for the rare and timid little fish so beloved by Park biologists is a remnant of Sis' Creek and the filled-in pond. Mother Nature has a way of surviving even under the worst insults to her integrity.

I propose that part of the publicly-funded restoration of the Tomales Bay Wetlands include a restoration of Sis' Creek, not just to honor Sis, but to honor the wetlands itself and welcome it back. I also propose that the name of the new wetlands officially be Tomales Bay Wetlands. There is an 18-inch thick pile of environmental complaints and analysis living at the United States Corps of Engineers' west coast headquarters in San Francisco as a souvenir to past mistakes by the ranch. The wetlands are an extension of Tomales Bay, always have been, and hopefully will be again. The name would celebrate all of us around the Bay, and the Bay itself.

It should be said that the general public understanding of the value of wetlands was mostly zero for many decades, sadly allowing what happened to the Tomales Bay Wetlands. So Waldo, who was a dynamic, savvy and entrepreneurial guy, had an excuse of sorts for some of what he did to the wetlands. For some time now, however, we have all known better. No excuses exist now for allowing any commercialization to either continue or rebuild on the wetlands. We can start to stand up for the wetlands now by digging out the soft fill and cow manure that hides Sis' Creek, to let it flow once more. Sis will surely smile on us from her perch above.

Where Do You "Want" To Grow Old
I recently had occasion to need some medical equipment for a West Marin elder I have been helping for a number of years. I turned to West Marin Senior Services. I was very surprised to find that WMSS doesn't charge for such equipment loans. I was also very surprised to find that WMSS doesn't charge for much else either.

While I find such generosity wonderful on a number of levels, as a former businesswoman, I also understand that WMSS cannot continue to be available to all the rest of us as we grow older, wanting to stay in our homes here in West Marin, without more funds. Existent services for seniors in West Marin can only continue if financially supported. I definitely support free services for those who do not have the funds to pay, but I really do think that the rest of us should either pay a fee or at least donate in exchange for services rendered.

WMSS recently upgraded and enlarged their capacity for special care right here in Point Reyes Station by purchasing the octagonal house on Highway One, near Mesa Road. There are facilities for six people to be helped there now! The facility is a marvel of ingenuity and cost-effectiveness, but it needs to be supported with money, folks. There is a mortgage that we all need to get behind and retire sooner rather than later to make sure this facility continues.

"Continues" is the operative word in what I am writing today. Staying in West Marin as we grow older, often with differing levels of assistance required, is the goal of many of us. The hard truth is that we need to reach into our pockets and donate to support the resources we want to be there for us later. Writing a check to WMSS at this point is an insurance policy for your own future here. I'm doing it and I'm asking you to do it to.

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