Friday, December 19, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Cows graze unusual Rockville park location

27 cows 1

Cattle graze near a pond at Rockville Hills Park in Fairfield, Thursday. Some park users are questioning why cattle are used to graze the 650-acre park when Fairfield's 2002 Rockville Hills plan called for keeping cattle away from the ponds so the aquatic and wetlands habitat could thrive. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)

By
From page A1 | July 27, 2014 |

FAIRFIELD — Cows are in Rockville Hills Park at a time of year they usually are not – in a location they are usually not allowed to graze.

That is raising questions from some park users. They wonder why cows are wandering around the ponds on the park’s plateau. The city’s 2002 Rockville Hills plan called for keeping cattle away from the ponds to help the aquatic and wetlands habitat thrive.

“Why would you add this fencing to exclude cattle and suddenly have cattle inside?” park user Les Barclay said Thursday as he stood near the pond called Upper Lake. “It doesn’t make sense.”

Fairfield owns and manages the 633-acre park with trails along Rockville Road. City Landscape Supervisor Kathie Norris said the decision to let cows around the ponds stems from the drought.

“We actually have a fence to keep cattle away from the area,” Norris said. “But this year, we didn’t get the desired result from grazing sheep in the area. We are concerned about the fuel load and the potential for a fire escaping.”

Rockville Hills Park borders subdivisions in Green Valley.

The gates to the fences around the Upper Lake and Lower Lake area were opened about a week ago. Norris said the cows will be allowed to graze the area for a short duration, perhaps a couple of weeks, to reduce vegetation that can fuel fires.

Fairfield usually uses sheep to graze around the ponds because sheep are less intrusive to the environment than cows. But Norris said the sheep rented by the city and used earlier this year are off somewhere else on another fuel-controlling job.

“In the meantime, I don’t think it’s prudent to wait,” she said.

Dan Tilley is 80 years old and has lived next to Rockville Hills Park property since 1964. He helped get a 1982 Fairfield ballot initiative passed to stop city plans to build an 18-hole golf course at the park, along with a restaurant, conference center, giant water slide and tram.

He presented a petition to the city in 2002 with 1,000 signatures to keep cattle out of the park, though city officials and the City Council decided cattle were needed to eat grass that could fuel wildfires.

Tilley doesn’t like the results he sees from having the cows near the ponds. He pointed Thursday to a blue heron standing in Upper Lake. A white egret stood on the other side of the pond, next to a group of 17 cows.

“There are bulrushes up there,” Tilley said. “They’re full of nesting birds. They (cows) are eating the bulrushes right down to the water.”

Tilley said the cows don’t eat the dry grass that is the worst fire danger. He doesn’t see that allowing the cows near the pond is having the desired results.

Cows foul the water and area with manure, Tilley and Barclay said.

“People step in it and dogs roll in it,” Tilley said.

Norris said that, if the cattle do more harm than good, the city will have to wait until the sheep can come back.

“We’re in a delicate situation, because we have to balance the two,” Norris said.

Cattle generally graze in the park from January to late May. Norris said the late rains this year changed the situation, with the cattle grazer used by the city selling off his herd before the rains, not having enough cattle after the rains came and having to buy as much cattle as he could.

Clearly, the cattle issue frustrates Tilley.

“This is one of the poorest-managed parks in the Bay Area,” he said.

But a family passing by perked him up. Reaching Upper Lake on this warm day meant the man, woman and several children had hiked more than a mile along some steep terrain.

“It makes me so happy to see families here enjoying it,” Tilley said. “It just makes me feel so happy to see how utilized the park is.”

Upper Lake looks like a pond on its way to becoming a puddle, a fraction of its usual size. Tilley estimates the pond is 30 percent full and said it will probably dry up in coming months, as it did last year.

That’s yet another sign of the three-year drought.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or beberling@dailyrepublic.net. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 18 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Ulises S. GuberJuly 26, 2014 - 10:16 pm

    so now 80, Tilley in 1982 stopped city plans to build an 18-hole golf course at the park, along with a restaurant, conference center, giant water slide and tram ? wow ---- lets get that back on the ballot, I bet we get a different outcome. Thanks a lot Tilley.. Mo0O0O0ooo.........

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • FredJuly 27, 2014 - 4:19 am

    Hey U.S. Guber, how are FF's two money losing, money pits Golf Courses workin out?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Ulises S. GuberJuly 27, 2014 - 11:38 am

    marvelous Fred, just marvelous, but really a water park would have been nice however near Cordelia off 80 next to Scandia but now we have something like that at allan witt park , oh well can't go back to 1982 ....

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • TylerJuly 27, 2014 - 12:36 pm

    Yeah, just what FF needs - another magnet for out of towners who can't get enough of the crappy mall and Edwards Theater.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Ulises S. GuberJuly 27, 2014 - 4:56 pm

    You should move into a hamster ball....

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • FredJuly 27, 2014 - 6:07 pm

    Well you have Mraz et al to thank for the Fairfield Plunge, as in another Money Pit.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JimboJuly 26, 2014 - 10:43 pm

    There is more than one pack of sheep and goats that graze areas. This reeks of a favor to a cattle farmer.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • PaqkleaderJuly 27, 2014 - 12:33 am

    Agreed ↑↑↑ .where there are cows..there is generally habitat degredation...

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Ulises S. GuberJuly 27, 2014 - 11:49 am

    coyotes attack sheep, coyotes don't attack cows, but coyotes do go after calfs and attack cows giving birth. Coyotes are looking for food and water as a result of our Drought ....

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • elleryJuly 27, 2014 - 1:55 am

    If not for Dan Tilley we would not be able to enjoy this beautiful park. The blue heron and the egret are permanent residents of the lake , I visit 3 times a week and they are allways their, now their habitat is being destroyed. The same people that fix our potholes in Fairfield are responsible for this park, they don't have a clue. I Hope this is not giving the residents of the houses that should have never been built so near this gem a false sense of security that this action will protect their houses from fire. Thank you Dan, keep up the good work.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • elon munskJuly 27, 2014 - 2:17 am

    keep up the good work Dan.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • FredJuly 27, 2014 - 4:11 am

    You can clearly see in the pic's that the cattle are eating only the green vegetation. FF is clueless here just like when they closed off parking & access to the other entrance just up the road. In the meantime the folks in East Ridge just wonder in without paying.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • BobJuly 27, 2014 - 5:55 am

    Hey, Fred; what do you suppose the folks in "East Ridge" are wondering about?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • FredJuly 27, 2014 - 9:22 am

    Well Bob, they are wondering if their insurance will cover everything in case of fire as they wander by the lake & see that the cattle are only eating green vegetation, destroying the beauty of the lake & not helping to control the fire danger. Did I spell everything correct this time Bob? How's the grammar?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • MadelineJuly 27, 2014 - 11:37 am

    This is devastating. Everyone knows there is more than one goat herding company. Find out which Council person said "stop looking for another company to hire" in case of and there is the culprit. Everyone always has a plan B hire but not Fairfield. Their plan B is how can "I" put money in my pocket by seling out the tax payer's few resources. This stinks more than the manure the cows put out! As you can see Dan the power of the voter is dying expotentially to the greed of the politician and small towns like Fairfield have a concentration that defies description. Think Vallejo, Stockon, there were good working people there trusting officials to do the 'right' thing. Not today. The truth and trust worth Investing in is not of this earth or dimension. Praise and Peace out.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • WeaverwomanJuly 27, 2014 - 6:34 pm

    Yes, they could hire a different herd, however, they would most likely have to put it on the meeting agenda (which would take a bit of tme to do), then vote on it (whenever they get enough present to vote), then put it out for bid (which of course will cost who knows some absorbanant amount) interview applacants, gather again when all are back from all those more important things than they have been elected for, agree on it, then pay the company. Let's see, maybe by 2016 we may see sheep up there again?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Just a thoughtJuly 27, 2014 - 7:33 pm

    I'm sure the city has a contract with a "Goat Herder". They could do a simple RFQ or Informal Bid & procure another in a matter of weeks. No need to go to council. I think it was a simple brain storm that said well let’s just let the cattle graze it down even though that fence was installed for a reason. Probably a case of city management taking the easy way out & thinking they could get away with it.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • WeaverwomanJuly 27, 2014 - 6:37 pm

    And don't forget the consulting firm cost and time....

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

 
Groundbreakings, ribbon-cuttings play role in civic life

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Sondheim’s ‘Woods’ holiday showcase for Missouri Street Theatre

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Frankye Kelly ready to spread holiday cheer

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Celebrate the magic of Christmas

By Tony Wade | From Page: A2, 2 Comments

 
Santas have busy week at schools

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3, 2 Comments

 
Safe streets task force work nets 3

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 5 Comments

 
 
Solano College approves officers, meeting schedule

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A4

Longtime Suisun harbor master to retire

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A4, 2 Comments

 
 
Fairfield police log: Dec. 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Dec. 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

 
.

US / World

Hope and some fear in Cuba amid thaw with US

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Next steps on Cuba: Normalizing could take awhile

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Sony hacking fallout puts all companies on alert

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Sony film took aim at North Korea’s biggest taboo

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 4 Comments

Timeline of the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Digital dilemma: How will US respond to Sony hack?

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Spy’s parents search for son after Cuba-US deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Local emergencies in Northern California counties after rain

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
California’s top utility regulator defends record

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

‘Pretty horrible’ scene; car slams into crowd

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Police: Drunk man shot while entering wrong house

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 4 Comments

 
Tsarnaev appears in court for 1st time since 2013

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
President signs legislation ending Nazi benefit checks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

2 states challenge Colorado marijuana legalization

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8, 3 Comments

 
‘Prison Houdini’ set to make his 1st legal escape

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

 
Feds sue NYC over Rikers Island jail violence

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

Russian sailors leaving France without warship

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9, 2 Comments

 
Putin: West wants to defang, declaw Russian bear

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 2 Comments

European court rules obesity can be a disability

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Suspected Islamic extremists kidnap 185 in Nigeria

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13, 2 Comments

.

Opinion

Another look at school bonds

By George Guynn Jr. | From Page: A11, 5 Comments

 
Editorial Cartoon: Dec. 19, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

News of the day strikes a chord

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: A11, 10 Comments

 
 
.

Living

Today in History: Dec. 19, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2, 1 Comment

 
Community Calendar: Dec. 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Dec. 19, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: D8

 
Should I use Child Protective Services threat to get back rent?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: D8

.

Entertainment

Week in preview Dec. 19-25, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Sweet ‘Night at the Museum’ bids farewell to Robin Williams

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Craig Ferguson to end 10 years as host of ‘Late Late Show’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Eric Idle brings ‘Not the Messiah’ to Carnegie Hall

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Entertainment calendar Dec. 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

.

Sports

A’s trade All-Star catcher Derek Norris to Padres

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Warriors beat Thunder 114-109 after Durant injury

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
A’s acquire lefty De La Rosa from Arizona for cash

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Raiders defense depleted by injuries

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
49ers’ Harbaugh mum on reported offer from Michigan

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

49ers’ Aldon Smith hopes to build off tough year

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Rivera: Newton ‘probably’ will start vs. Browns

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Bears bench QB Jay Cutler for Clausen

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
‘Hands Up’ players to attend Ferguson Christmas party

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Celtics trade Rondo to Mavericks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Rodriguez boys open Les Curry Tournament with victory

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B8

39 bowl games and a reason to watch every one

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Column: Thaw in US-Cuba relations warms up MLB

By Jim Litke | From Page: B8

Signups for Friday, Dec. 19, 2014

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B9

 
This date in sports history for Friday, Dec. 19, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Sports on TV/Local sports for Friday, Dec. 19, 2014

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B11

 
.

Business

Roomiest Subaru Legacy debuts for 2015

By Ann M. Job | From Page: C1

 
Dow industrials have their best day in three years

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Ford expands drivers air bag recall nationwide

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Constantly changing online prices stump shoppers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

.

Obituaries

Lisa Dee McHughes

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Travis Curt Price

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

Ernest “Ernie” Moretti

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Jennie Ponce Reyes

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Patricia “Pat” Anne Stringfield-Pierre

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics