Japan's nuclear disaster is fading from the top of the evening news. But we all know that the crisis is far from over.
When first I suggested writing one more time about the proposed nuclear plant on Bodega Head in the 1960s, an editor wasn't sure it was a good idea. "It was a long time ago," he said.
That's true. But, as we read about which way the wind is carrying the radiation and about the contaminated seawater and the concerns about the fish — well, it seems like only yesterday.
IN THE 50 YEARS since the issue of whether a nuclear power plant should be built on those wind-swept headlands was debated, we've written often about the protests the proposal engendered.
Some of what we've written has been about the foresight and creativity of the protesters. They were the trendsetters. Theirs was the first victory of its kind in Sonoma County and, arguably, on the California coast.
The Battle of Bodega Head, as it came to be known, was a harbinger of the environmental movement and a kind of prototype for coastal actions to come.
We have concentrated to some extent on the "antics" — trumpeter Lu Watters' "Blues Over Bodega," which hit the top of the Bay Area charts; the signs saying "Welcome to the Atomic Park," the knife-sharp satirical verses of marine biologist Joel Hedgpeth.
We have made it sound like it was great fun. The Fukushima situation paints it in more somber tones.
DORIS SLOAN, a professor of geology at UC Berkeley, is the latest to tackle the sequence of events in the 1950s and '60s that focused attention on the Sonoma Coast and what happened there. Or, more accurately, what DIDN'T happen there.
Sloan, who lived in the west county from 1956 to '63 when she was a young mother of three, before she earned her Ph.D. and founded the environmental studies program at Berkeley, was very much involved in the issue.
It was a time when the words "environmentalist" and "ecology" were not in the lexicon; when people like Sloan didn't even call themselves activists.
"We didn't know what to call ourselves," she told an interviewer in a film called "Ecology Emerges" made for a Bay Area organization called Shaping San Francisco.
"We didn't have a vocabulary. We just saw ourselves as a small group of concerned people. We didn't call ourselves environmentalists. It was before the word."
Now a professor emeritus, Doris is working as an adjunct faculty member at Berkeley, guiding graduate students through a complex research project which will, in time, yield a comprehensive report (a book, I hope) about the people, the politics, the events and the science that make up the Bodega Head story.
THE TALE BEGINS in 1957 on the ocean side of the headlands, on the Gaffney Ranch, when PG&E tagged Horseshoe Cove as a site for a power plant.
The road that ran around the east side of the head went only as far as a settlement known as Keesport for the Kee family ranch there. The road beyond, to the Gaffney and Stroh ranches, was low-tide only — and private.
Rose Gaffney, a formidable widow who knew that she had something of great value, protected her cove fiercely.