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Point Arena, Mendocino County--
On Tuesday, September 5th, Point Arena city council woman Anna Dobbins will ask for a restraining order against Louisiana-Pacific Corporation and USA Hunt Club that leases land from the giant lumber company. On August 12th Dobbins said she was intimidated by two members of the hunting club while she was walking in the bed of the Garcia River about 8 miles east of Point Arena in Mendocino County.
At 10 AM Dobbins said she was walking along the bed of the Garcia River that runs through Louisiana- Pacific property when two members of USA Hunt Club circled her in pickup trucks and told her she had to leave immediately. Said Dobbins, "It was pretty unpleasant and pretty intimidating."
The hunters radioed for Fish & Game warden Ed Ramos, and Dobbins said she then continued down the river and went for a swim while waiting for Ramos to arrive. While swimming, according to Dobbins, the hunters released two dogs--one a pit bull--causing a confrontation with her terrier. "They aggressed me very frighteningly. I was in danger of being bit."
She said she held her dog in order to restrain it, and the hunters did not call off their dogs until Ramos of Fish & Game arrived.
Ramos talked with both sides in the dispute, and later Dobbins contacted the sheriffs office.
But according to Brian Dressler of the Mendocino County Sheriffs Office, since there was no actual violence or threat made to Dobbins by the hunters, charges were not filed. To file an assault charge, there must be some direct threat made; and here that was not the case. "I can't say it was a direct threat," said Dobbins.
Yet she felt intimidated by the alleged behavior of the hunters and their dogs. She was also upset by the unwillingness of the hunters to recognize her right to be there. There have been a number of disputes in recent years over right of access to the Garcia. According to Dressler of the Sheriffs Office, public access to the River is legal as long as individuals stay within the high water marks of the river banks, which Dobbins claimed she was.
Dressler believed the situation had been informally resolved at the time when he talked with officials from Louisiana-Pacific, who recognized Dobbins rights to walk in the river bed. According to Dressler, the logging company had agreed to call Dobbins and discuss the matter with her. But according to Dobbins, she received no call.
She was also disturbed that Fish & Game did not at the time recognize her right to walk in the river bed. She felt that Ramos handled the volatile situation well but faults Fish & Game for not knowing the law. Later one Fish & Game official told her she had the rights to be there "only if you can walk on water." The law only requires an individual to be within the high water marks.
It will cost Dobbins about $200 and day of her time to get the restraining order.
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