Marin IJ Reader Forum for May 15, 2022 – Marin Independent Journal

An “intangible” benefit for supporting Action A

I served on the Marin County Parks and Open Space Commission from 2011-2015 when the original Measure A went to the vote and was passed with overwhelming support in 2012. We fought hard for it back then because we understood the importance of funding for basic maintenance and staffing needs, not to mention planned improvements, acquisitions and other goals.

During this period, the Commission also reviewed and conducted public consultations on the Roads and Trails Management Plan and the Vegetation and Biodiversity Management Plan. They are important guiding documents for the management of Marin’s open spaces.

As an Associate Board Member of the Marin Conservation League, I receive regular updates from the Marin County Parks Department on ongoing management plan implementation projects. Circumstances have changed significantly in Marin with drought, concerns about wildfires and challenges caused by pandemics that could not have been foreseen 10 years ago. And therein lies, in my view, an extremely important “intangible” benefit of supporting the renewal of Measure A, based on my personal observations.

After years of presentations, site visits, and interactions with Parks Department staff, it strikes me how well placed they are to meet these challenges and meet the Department’s goals. From all levels of management and staff to the rangers and seasonal workers, I was impressed by the enthusiasm and dedication to the work. This shows in the quality of their work.

Overall, this represents a valuable dividend that the original investment in Measure A brought to the people of Marin – a dividend that will take time to achieve and one that we cannot now afford to continue this important work in to continue through difficult times.

Please join me in voting yes to action A.

– Greg Zitney, Novato

Funds from measure A do not belong in the hands of ranchers

Vote No to Measure A and stop funding private companies at taxpayer expense under the guise of keeping land from development.

Farming is not necessarily a plus for nature. In my view, these ranchers are just keeping their savings accounts. Only a lack of buildings leads to a healthy landscape. What we see out of our car windows as we drive through rural West Marin is a degraded landscape with plundered biodiversity. The land has been degraded by agricultural methods imported from Europe for at least 150 years.

Harmful livestock farming practices have replaced native plants and animals with native livestock and annual grasses. The indigenous people who successfully and sustainably farmed the land for millennia were driven off the same land.

Don’t be fooled by the “greenwashing” lingo of regenerative agriculture. The benefits of the promised new methods are not a proven nor scalable solution to feeding people or conserving the land or storing carbon.

As for fire safety, it would be much better to use prescribed and cultural burns. Indigenous people should be allowed to restore the native landscape. This would increase biodiversity and store carbon much better than livestock ever would — even with best practices.

It is disingenuous to create a policy that mixes funding for parks – a public good – with funding for private family “dynasty” ranches. Much of the land has already been put in trust for agriculture. It is time to move from this agenda to a more enlightened solution, where the land is entrusted to the public, native plants, animals and people.

— Ilene Gudelsky, Petaluma

Excited about the Hamilton students’ chess awards

As founders of the non-profit Rise Scholars, we were delighted to read the recent IJ article highlighting the achievements of Hamilton School students in chess (“Novato Elementary School Students Win State Chess Honours,” April 30).

The children are very deserving of the awards and we couldn’t be prouder of them for persevering and demonstrating personal growth as they strive to learn the complexities of chess. In addition to chess, Rise Scholars offers a range of opportunities for Hamilton School students including the mentorship program, athletics, second grade intervention reading and our exceptional Summerhawks academic enrichment summer program.

Our amazing volunteers are at the heart of our program – they make it work. Learn more at

— Jay Ferguson and Michele Huff, San Rafael

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