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Ann Scheuring

Ann Scheuring
Former Yolo County Planning Commissioner
The opponents both had issues and rights on their sides.

Ann Scheuring was a commissioner on the Yolo County Planning Commission during the time that the gravel mining plan was being developed. In an interview conducted several years later, Scheuring reflected on the cooperation that went into managing Cache Creek and shared her ideas on how to embrace a greater scope of people and ecosystems.



What was your relationship to the Cache Creek?

My relationship to the Cache Creek Conservancy is that I was on the Yolo County Planning Commission from 1988 to 1994, during the period when what I call the gravel wars were going on, and a resource management plan was developed for Cache Creek primarily to regulate aggregate production. I believe that I was the one who came up with  the name of the Cache Creek Conservancy, if not the concept, because I remember suggesting, in some of these rather contentious planning commission meetings, that there really should be something like a “Cache Creek Conservancy.” I was thinking of the Nature Conservancy when I said that, because I had been a member for a long time. The concept got picked up by the gravel people, maybe because they were forced to do something, but they certainly ran with the idea. And so ultimately the Cache Creek Conservancy was formed.  It is something bigger than just the Cache Creek Nature Preserve. There were a lot of people involved, but out of all of those meetings and controversies, I think something really positive for the creek developed.

What do you remember most about the Gravel Wars?

Well, I remember that some of those meetings were very tense--the gravel people would be sitting on one side of the commission room and the environmentalists on the other side--and these meetings went on for a long time. There were various reports coming out, and the gravel people would be tense because they were being attacked by the environmentalists, who sometimes were emotional in their attacks. It was natural for the aggregate industry to resist being over-managed or over-regulated. I was sympathetic with both sides. Everybody in this society uses gravel in one way or another--it’s a very valuable resource-- but you don’t want to just trash the landscape either. The environmentalists were absolutely right: you cannot just go off and mine the resource and then leave a dumping ground afterwards. They both had issues and rights on their sides, and it was interesting seeing them talking.

What else do you remember from that time?

I just remember the tensions in the commission room and wondering how it could be bridged. Anybody who works with a resource like a farmer or a gravel person gets very intimate with the landscape. They cared about their jobs, they cared about their resource, they cared about their business, but I think they cared about the landscape too. It was a place they knew, and I think they grew very interested in trying to develop something of worth to the public after they were done with their business.

What do you consider are important factors of the Conservancy being established and continuing this way?

Well, the idea of the Conservancy was based on a concept of the stream as a whole. It’s a living stream, and the idea of a Cache Creek Conservancy was to regard it as a living stream which had a lot of behavior along its course. I think the idea of a nature preserve was “let’s take one of these mined-out areas and really develop it for some public use,” and I think that’s just great. The only thing that bothers me is that it’s too easy just to focus on one place along the creek like “the nature preserve and that’s it.” The nature preserve is the poster child. I just sometimes worry that it’s diverting some of the attention away that might perhaps in the future be placed along other sections of the creek.

Do you see any options for getting more people involved with the creek?

Some of it is in terms of funding. There is a public park up near Guinda in the Capay Valley and another near the town of Capay, but as far as I know down below I-505 there’s no public land that people can go to except for the Nature Preserve--even the Preserve isn’t open to the public except on certain days. There should be places like that where families are able to go, especially low income people.

How are you still connected here?

I was on the first Board of Directors of the Cache Creek Conservancy for about three or four years. My husband was on it for about two years, and my son is now on the Board of Directors. Basically I’m one of the original group of people who were involved who now come out once a year for a celebration. I know people who work here like those in charge of the Invasive Plant Removal Program. That’s something the Conservancy has done that is wider than just the Preserve. I’m connected with that activity because they have actually come up to our property further up the creek.

What do you think still hasn’t been dealt with or tackled?

It might be time for the Conservancy to expand its efforts maybe beyond the Nature Preserve, which  I think is doing pretty well now. It might be time to look at other sites along the creek where they might be equally effective in perhaps putting together small public parks with the county. I’d like to see a bit more widespread activity by the Conservancy along the whole creek – or along the whole creek that they’re privy to. It’s very long.

What more do you see in the future here?

I think the Preserve will continue to be a very good example of an educational place for school kids and other people to go. But again, as I said, I think there’s a crying need for more public access to the creek as a whole. Maybe someday in the future there will be more mileage of Cache Creek open to the public, because the Preserve is open to the public only 5 days per week and open on only one Saturday a month.

Written by: 
Benjamin Hon

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