Letter Writer Concerned Over Alleged Secret Meetings Taking Place Over the Future of PG&E’s Diversion of the Eel River

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Scott Dam which is part of the Potter Valley Project.

Scott Dam which is part of the Potter Valley Project. [Photo cropped from one by PG&E]

Dear Editor;

As someone who grew up, lived, owned property in the Second District of Humboldt County and also advocates protection for the Eel River watershed, its tributaries and wildlife habitat; I too have questions in regards to the assertions made by Friends of the Eel River (FOER), in reference to allegations of Supervisor Estelle Fennell possibly involved in “secret meetings”, what’s referred to as Ex Parte Communication.

Here is the quote from Lost Coast Outpost:

“Friends of the Eel River is sounding the alarm about “secret meetings” that have been taking place over the future of the Potter Valley Project, which has diverted Eel River water into the Russian River for over a century.”


Here is the KMUD News report (Daniel Mintz) that includes an heated exchange between Supervisor Fennell and Scott Greacen of the FOER during the Board of Supervisors meeting:

What is Ex parte Communication? An ex parte communication is a written or oral communication between a decisionmaker and an interested person concerning any issue in a formal proceeding, other than procedural matters that does not occur in a public forum established in the proceeding or on the record of the proceeding. Ex parte communications include communications that are one-way from a decisionmaker to an interested person, outside of a publicly noticed meeting.

And in this allegation by FOER, one of the decisionmakers in question is an elected Humboldt County Supervisor (Estelle Fennell), among others.

But yet, none of this information was made available on Redheaded Blackbelt and why I am submitting this Letter to the Editor.

As uncomfortable and ugly as this may seem, the public needs to know and hold their elected officials accountable, especially when it comes to who or what private corporation is in control behind the curtain, that affects so many different species, including humans.

Thank you,
Ed Voice & Voice Family
formerly from Garberville/Redway (1961-2015)




  • Twinkle Winklestein

    I was surprised that Kym didn’t mention this point also, (re: supervisors communicating secretly). Estelle sounds very involved and upset for being called out as a ,”sell out”. Truth stings sometimes. It seems they are continuing business as usual in regards to water. We have a long history of abuse of resources in our state, and water is the most crucial resource! I am curious to see how the Supreme court will rule as to actual ownership of the water as both Mendocino and Humboldt have solid claims.

    • When the rest of the media outlets received the information from Friends of the Eel, I didn’t get it. (Sometimes being smaller and based in SoHum, organizations don’t send me their press releases.) I wasn’t aware of it until other outlets had covered it extensively. And, as I am mostly only one person covering the news, I’ve got to make choices about what to cover, obviously I can’t write about everything that much larger organizations do. This one was already covered so I let it pass.

  • Estelle is a sellout.
    Eat dung Estelle

    • Soon-to-be Former County Supervisor Ryan Dumberg

      She’s better than that total nut job Bud Rogers. 🥜

      • Bud seems to me to be a genuine and kind man. Why attack him in the comments following a story that has nothing to do with him?

      • I disagree about Bud rogers being a ‘total nut job” also. He may have some out there and progressive agenda ideas but he does do his homework and never forgets the neighborhood he come from. Having someone willing to engage in real Critical Thinking in these days verses going with the status quo and the way business has always been done would be good for the people of Humboldt County.
        Never a question in my mind his ideals are what is good and right for the people of his district.
        I’d vote for him again.

      • Veterans friend

        How do you know? On what information do you base this assertion? Estelle presented herself as a friend of mom & pop cannabis growers when she ran, and has proven herself to be the opposite. Bud may appear to you as some kind of nut, but folks have said that about geniuses for ever….
        I too would vote for him again.

  • It’s pretty clear how things are going to go for the Eel, and Humboldt County in general. Sigh! Let’s start by making “0utcumbents” of the incumbents!

  • Thank you, Ed.

    They don’t call ’em ‘Media Whores’ for nothin’.

    And Estelle…straight up rednecks are so much easier to deal with.

  • Thanks to Ed Voice for bringing this to our attention.

  • Thanks, Ed! This is very important news!! And thank you, Kym!

  • I would like to see the hand written notes FOER says it has. The LOCO article has a link but the notes aren’t there.

  • Veterans friend

    Thank you again Ed Voice for holding Estelle accountable. This sounds like another blatent attempt to circumvent the public input on this vital issue.

  • Interesting!

    Supervisor Fennell seems to be quite the verbal shape-shifter. A few days ago on KINS, she focused on how Humboldt, as a “little” county and less-powerful player in the Eel River negotiations, needs to keep Sonoma County happy. She calls out how many more voters live there, and how wealthy many of the stakeholders are:
    ( FF to ~midpoint)

    These facts aren’t relevant – there’s no election and no Super PAC in play here. They act as a smokescreen, as she leaves out a key detail – Sonoma County interests have no legal claim to the Eel River water. None. Only the Potter Valley Irrigation District does. So why does Fennell think Humboldt County’s priority is to keep the wealthy winemakers of Sonoma County happy? Is she selling out the Eel River for political ends?

    Now, compare that message with the one in this clip, where Fennell says the goal is getting the water levels back to normal in the Eel. Her message to the voters on KINS is about political compromise. Her message to the organizational stakeholders is about water levels. Does she think we can have both?

    In front of her fellow supervisors, Fennell denies the allegations without addressing their substance. Should be interesting when the evidence becomes public. She and Supervisor Bohn and their supe buddies in Mendo and Sonoma are no doubt scrambling to come up with an alternate narrative.

    I have to agree with Greacen – I don’t trust her.

  • It’s time for a change..after all this time of giving our natural resource away. keep our water here. Let others find their own source or pay for it.
    And as for Bud he has sound ideas for change in our Cty Which would have benefited us all. I voted for him. Estelle needs to remember the folks who voted her in for Healthy changes here rather then her own agenda.

  • She says that she doesn’t have a plan yet, are you kidding? Obviously the only plan that would benefit the species that live in the EEL river and the people of humboldt county is to remove the dams. There’s only two sides too this issue. The people who want to steal water from the eel and the people who want to keep the water in the Eel river. The statement that “she doesn’t have a plan yet” sounds like a complete lie. She’s either with us or against us and obviously she sold out to the big Sonoma county water interests. Are they going to give her a sweet deal on a piece of property with a vineyard when she retires? Probably. I just hope that the people in sohum and fortuna vote her out before she completes this water theft.
    I just want to add that I’m not against sending a little water south in the wintertime when flows are high but the dams have to go. Don’t dry farmed grapes produce better wine anyways?

  • do any of you anti dam people have any idea what either of the two rivers would look like without these dams? If you want water in the summer you need to save it for the summer. [edit]

    • Please educate us…

    • Historically the Russian river ran very low in the summer while the eel was full of water, drowning was a real possibility. Now the Russian is full of water all summer and looks amazing while the Eel actually stopped flowing several years ago.
      There are plenty of ways to store water besides damning the main stem of a salmon bearing river. Ponds, water tanks, and artificial beaver dams on smaller creeks. In the headwaters of Mattole they are using damns on smaller creeks to rebuild natural groundwater storage. We are talking billions of gallons. Maybe the rich people in Sonoma could invest some of their wealth in these methods?

      Thank you for allowing this article to be posted kym. We would love to have further coverage of this important issue.

  • Wow – just read some of the handwritten notes. Can’t make this stuff up.

    Note that Carre Brown, ERRC member from Mendo, is a Potter Valley rancher and directly benefits from any scheme that keeps the dams in place. My guess is that’s conflict of interest as well.

  • I would like to know the dollar value of the diverted water. I suspect it’s huge but I honestly have no idea how to figure it out. Anyone have an idea what it might be or suggestion of how to find out?

  • She’s slippery that Estelle.

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