Wednesday, March 29, 2017

John Muir to tell tales in Angels Camp - Sun April 30

Performance by acclaimed actor Lee Stetson will be fun for all.

As part of ongoing education about our region’s natural environment, the Foothill Conservancy will host critically acclaimed actor Lee Stetson portraying renowned Yosemite naturalist John Muir on Sunday, April 30 in Angels Camp. The performance will be in the Elliott A. Smart Performing Arts Center at Bret Harte High School, 323 S. Main St., beginning at 3:00 p.m. Tickets are $20.00 in advance and $25.00 at the door. Student price: $10. They are available online through the Conservancy website,, and the organization’s Jackson office.

“We’re excited to have Lee coming to our area to perform,” said Foothill Conservancy Board President Katherine Evatt. “Muir’s life was extraordinary, and Lee’s portrayal shares the humor, intelligence and tremendous passion of one of the world’s best-known and admired naturalists.”
Lee Stetson has been performing as John Muir for over 30 years at universities, museums and parks from Washington, D.C. to Hawaii. He portrayed Muir on Ken Burns’s award-winning PBS series, “National Parks – America’s Best Idea.” Stetson also performs as Muir every year at Yosemite National Park.
Lee Stetson portrays renowned Yosemite naturalist John Muir
John Muir immigrated from Scotland to Wisconsin with his family in 1838. His first visit to Yosemite was in 1868, when he was 30 years old. Muir was so taken with the area’s natural beauty and wilderness that he remained for about six years, working at various jobs, including shepherd and sawyer. He was instrumental in advocating for the creation of Yosemite National Park.

The founder of the Sierra Club, Muir is perhaps best known for his passionate advocacy to save wilderness, particularly the Hetch Hetchy Valley, threatened with flooding when the O’Shaunessy Dam was proposed to supply water for San Francisco. What some label the first environmental fight ended unsuccessfully in 1913 when Congress approved the dam project.

“John Muir’s love for the wilderness, and his desire to protect it, was based on his seeing the connection and interdependency of natural ecosystems.” said Evatt. “Muir understood that protecting natural systems was key to ensuring a healthy environment for both people and wildlife. His lessons live on today as we work to protect ecosystems that provide the clean water, productive soils and diverse habitats humans and wildlife need to survive.”

Coffee, tea, lemonade and snacks will be available for purchase at the event.

For more about Lee Stetson, see

“An Afternoon with John Muir” is a benefit for Foothill Conservancy’s local conservation efforts.
For more information, contact Marta Johnson at 209-770-4710 or Carolyn Schooley,

Foothill Conservancy Focus ~ Spring 2017

Monday, March 13, 2017

Butte Fire Community Conversation - Next meeting is Sun Mar 26

Today’s (February 20) Community Conversation at the Mountain Ranch Community Center, hosted by Susan Galvan (President of the Community Club) was a great start to a promising commitment among Butte Fire survivors to reclaim and renew their community. Every one there was someone I would consider a leader in their community. Even though I didn’t get to say “hello” to every one I knew, I enjoyed seeing so many caring and motivated people. A special thank you to the AmeriCorps NCCC crew (sponsored by The Hive) who took notes for us and got a big dose of meaningfulness for all the work they are doing to help our community, one family at a time.

Even though the rain was pounding and the wind was howling, many were undeterred. Participants gathered at proctored tables and took turns answering three questions about the biggest changes experienced since the fire, strengthening community connections now, and paths to creating a community that is thriving and a good place to live. It was clear that even though more than one year has passed since the fire, many have not had the opportunity to heal individually, and it was difficult to start thinking about the community as an entity that needed to heal as well. However, after getting passed the lists of what was wrong, the focus began to change.

There was consensus that there was “deep loss of deep love” for the landscape and its familiar landmarks, for the togetherness that used to be experienced at events that are no longer happening, for the comfort of familiar faces at the grocery store and post office, and that much of what was gone was being replaced by fear of the unknown as well as fear that previous negative experiences were being realized once again. Yet, there was also a sense of opportunity on the horizon.

Participants agreed in the end that there was a path and they wanted to participate in paving its way. The “bricks” were named involvement, communication, infrastructure, neighborliness, safety, support, gratitude, resources, awareness, bridges, stability, opportunity, and comradery. Some commitments were made to bring back a meeting place for morning coffee, creation of a volunteer corps and community cooperative, creating a community plan, attending board meetings, sharing with neighbors, talking with those in charge of infrastructure, and much, much more.

The group will be meeting again on Sunday, March 26 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. and you are always welcome to join us. If you can't wait to get involved and pitch in, please give us a call or contact Susan Galvan at 209-728-8208.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

“Paws For Life” – A Program That Benefits People and Dogs in Amador County

(Permission to reissue, courtesy of Rick Torgerson, Publisher, The Upcountry News, March 2017, Vol 16, No. 3)
Written by Ruth Gottstein
Usually, my fellow columnist Danny Udseth, writes about dogs. Normally, I wouldn’t invade his territory and hope he forgives me!
An iconic fixture in Amador county, Margaret ‘Margé’ Blair (AKA “The Dog Whisperer”), along with a dedicated group of volunteers, brings dogs to Jackson Gardens among other assisted care facilities. Contact with these furry friends uplifts the spirits of the residents who might not otherwise have any contact with animals. On a recent visit, Margé shared with me a program that I in turn, wanted to share with all of you. But first, a little background.
Margé is a certified dog trainer who has been training and problem solving professionally since 1991, at her ranch, Twin Cedars K-9, located east of Jackson. She also breeds and trains working line German Shepherd dogs for search and rescue, law enforcement, obedience, therapy work -- and great family pets.
She recently told me that in early 2014, officials from the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR) approached a group based in Santa Monica called Karma Rescue, with a unique opportunity: could we help them develop a training program inside one of our state prisons that would pair inmates with rescued shelter dogs? While similar programs have been developed across the country, “Paws For Life” is California’s first and only program in a high-security prison involving inmates serving life-term sentences.  
“Paws For Life” brings rescued shelter dogs to live full-time with inmates at California State Prison, in Los Angeles County. Over a twelve-week cycle, inmates will learn from Karma Rescue trainers how to train our rescue dogs for “Canine Good Citizen” certification.

Once a dog earns this designation, the chance for successful adoption increases – as does the ability to rescue another shelter animal in its place. The inmates also benefit: beyond the rehabilitative therapy of a dog’s presence, they are learning “real world” skills and connecting to a larger humanitarian process outside of the prison walls. This program gives them a way to contribute back to society by helping a dog get a second chance at life.

On June 1, 2014, Karma Rescue brought five shelter dogs to the prison. Men who had not seen an animal in decades were openly emotional at the sight of the beautiful creatures before them. Just petting our dogs brought many to happy tears.
In 2016 Karma Rescue started the same program at Mule Creek State Prison and Rehabilitation. The five dogs were chosen from the Amador County Animal Control and Adoption Center and then placed in the prison with the inmate trainers.  Each animal had three to four trainers who socialized and trained the dogs.  By the end of the twelve week program, the trainers and dogs were administered the AKC “Canine Good Citizen” test. The Mule Creek program is currently working with their second class who will graduate on April 18, 2017. The goal with this class is to have local families adopt the dogs by graduation day.
Margé also provided some updated facts:
93 dogs trained and adopted out to date.
Lancaster prison now has twelve dogs and 37 men in the program.
Mule Creek has five dogs and 17 men.
Karma Rescue is a 501© (3) non-profit organization run entirely on charitable contributions from generous citizens and animal lovers– like you! If you are interested in making a donation, visit their website:

(Photo/graphics from web site)