The Kenwood Press
Letters to the Editor: 06/01/2014

Letters to the Editor

Fire protection for Jack London State Park

Dear Editor,

I am writing to you as your neighbor. Some of you know me from my winery, some of you know me from the community and many of you know me as a friend. But to all of you, I am truly your neighbor. I have lived in Sonoma Valley for 34 years, raised my family here and am now happily watching my grandchildren grow up here. Needless to say, I love this place we all call home, as you do. Hard as it is to say this, our home is at risk. We haven’t seen a serious wildfire on Sonoma Mountain in 50 years. The devastation from the recent fires raging in San Diego area underscored to me how vulnerable we all are. Following the driest year on record, one in which we only got 8 inches of rain, the threat of fire is especially dire. We all must be on alert to our surroundings, creating defensible spaces at our homes and areas we frequent in the Valley, joining together to ensure our community is as safe as it can be.

One place that is particularly susceptible is Jack London State Historic Park. The Park sits right in the middle of Sonoma Valley and it is not only incredibly beautiful but one of our community’s greatest natural and historical resources. I am on the Board for the Park and we are keenly aware of what a fragile tinderbox the Park is at this time. Working with our local fire departments and Cal Fire, we are clearing the “fuel wood” that has collected and creating defensible space around the treasured historical buildings as well as places where people congregate. We are focused on the safety of our visitors, the people who work at the park, and all our neighbors. The work is hard but the choice is not. We must do this to preserve the Park and our homes. Recently we all rallied together, working hard to keep the Park open. Now we want to keep it safe and beautiful for us all to enjoy and share with our children. As your neighbor, I encourage you to learn more about what we are doing at Jack London State Historic Park by visiting our website ( and see how you can help. Keeping our neighborhood safe is a job we all have to do together.

Mike Benziger
Glen Ellen

Save wildlife; avoid lead shot and sinkers

Dear Editor,

Last month two turkey vultures were found on the ground, on their backs suffering from lead poisoning. One died, while the Bird Rescue Center of Sonoma County in Santa Rosa took the other in for treatment. The surviving vulture took four weeks to be lead-free. He was then returned to the area found and released, healthy and fit. The birds were found on private property near the Kenwood Village in a fenced-in dog yard by one of the family dogs – putting the dog at risk. Lead poisoning is a toxicosis caused by the absorption of hazardous levels of lead in body tissues. Ingested lead pellets from shotgun shells have been a common source of lead poisoning in birds. These vultures and a coyote were seen consuming a deer carcass nearby. We have no proof the lead came from the deer but the timing and location lead us to believe it is a good possibility. Environmentally safe alternatives to lead shot and sinkers exist and are available in North America. Though we don’t agree with shooting any animal, we implore those that do to use alternatives to lead pellets.

Many thanks to the volunteers at Bird Rescue.

L. Fantozzi, K. Sommer

Keep Kenwood scenic

Dear Editor,

As long-time residents of Kenwood, my wife and I have always thought how lucky we are to live in such a pristine area as the Sonoma Valley.

We recently spent a Tuesday in May in the Napa Valley and I was continuously amazed (dismayed) at the congestion and commercial exploitation throughout the Valley. Certainly there were exceptions but the overall experience was one of disappointment. One can only imagine what it is like on a weekend. But then, it is the Napa Valley.

As you drive from Sonoma or Santa Rosa to Kenwood you pass through a pristine area enjoying the vistas of rolling hills and vineyards – the Valley of the Moon – only to be suddenly jolted out of your euphoria as you come into Kenwood and are greeted by rows of 20-foot-high white pvc plastic pipes with pennants flying seemingly to convince you to stop at that particular winery, only to go another 100 feet to see another one, along with the accompanying sandwich signs everywhere, advertising anything and everything. What’s next, a person dressed as a clown waving a sign along a designated scenic highway?

Tourists cannot miss the wineries that dot Highway 12 traveling through Kenwood and who are here because they want to taste our wines, enjoy a meal and enjoy the serenity of our Valley.

They certainly don’t need to see tasteless pennants and signs taking away from the beauty of the area in which we live. Do the right thing; take them down, put them away and restore the Valley to its natural beauty.

John and Jane Rector