Park Volunteers Plant Acorns “For the Future”

On a bright fall morning eleven volunteers gathered at One Mile in Bidwell Park to plant acorns, including an expectant mother who was glad to know her newborn would be able to see the growing trees. The day of the planting was on “Giving Tuesday” and these folks certainly gave back to the Park their love and appreciation for everything the Park has given them. “I wish I could walk in this Park everyday,” said volunteer Batool Aladawood, a busy pre-medical student.

Many of the oldest Valley Oak trees in Bidwell Park were toppled by last winter’s storms and lie now like fallen giants among the grass and shrubbery of the park grounds. According to Richie Bamlet (he likes to be called “Richie”), Chico’s Urban Forester, we need all ages of trees to rebuild and sustain our precious natural resource – our urban forest.

When I asked Richie why plant these tiny acorn seeds now, he simply replied, “For the future.”

Volunteer acorn planters.


Local, native Valley Oak acorns to be planted.


Richie Bamlet, Urban Forester, demonstrates how to plant the acorns.


Three acorns are planted in hopes that at least one will germinate and take root.


Next, a protective cone is placed around the newly planted acorns.


Rich Ober, former Parks Commissioner, and Batool Aldawood, pre-med student and CAVE volunteer, are the first acorn-planting team to break ground.


L-R, team leader, Robin McCollum of Chico Tree Advocates, Shelly Corley, mother of Marisa Stoller, pregnant acorn-planter.


On left, Aaron Holt, Senior Maintenance Worker and on right,Dave Bettencourt, Field Supervisor, place protective and decorative cages around the planted acorns.  Due to city department cut-backs, Bettencourt and Holt make up the entire city Tree Crew.














Oroville Dam Spillway: Can It Be Fixed?

On Friday, February 10th, I went to photograph the damaged spillway at the Oroville Reservoir. Authorities had blocked the road, but I talked my way past the closure as a photojournalist.

Once on site, I managed to get these few shots from the top of the dam.  At the north end of the dam was the emergency headquarters. Workers in hardhats and worried faces were everywhere. I could see helicopters flying back and forth with long lines dangling from them. I was told the helicopters were hauling away the electric lines disconnected from the PG&E power plant at the base of the dam. Bulldozers were removing trees from in front of the emergency spillway and huge trucks with rocks and concrete lined up to dump their cargo – I don’t know where.

Finally, a guard noticed me and told me to leave immediately.

In Oroville, the pounding, muddy water was threatening the salmon at the Fish Hatchery. I was told efforts were being made to move the fish so they wouldn’t suffocate from the mud and debris in the water. I hope they were successful.

The dam spillway as seen from above the damage.

The dam spillway as seen from above the damage.


Water from the damaged Spillway is as high as the trees.

Water from the dam pounds over the damaged spillway as high as the trees.


Dam pumps on Jan. 13th, 2014.

Dam pumps exposed during the drought on January 13th, 2014.


Dam pumps on Feb. 10th, 2017.

Now water covers the dam pumps on Friday, February 10th, 2017.


Muddy Feather River, just east of the fish hatchery.

Below the dam in Oroville, the muddied Feather River, threatens the fish hatchery.


Feather River floods the parking lot east of the fish hatchery.

In Oroville, the Feather River floods the parking lot just east of the fish hatchery.