Monday, December 28, 2015

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for 2016!

2015 has been a busy year in the Sunol Valley! We are proud that construction was completed on the New Irvington Tunnel and the San Antonio Backup Pipeline projects. Thank you for your patience with construction activities throughout the year.

Even though the Water System Improvement Program overall is 90 percent complete, our crews are still hard at work this holiday season for the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project. Below is the construction schedule:
  • Regular construction hours: Monday, December 28 through Thursday, December 31
  • Construction will be suspended: Friday, January 1 through Sunday, January 3
  • Regular construction hours resumes: Monday, January 4

Best Wishes for 2016! See you around the Valley!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Many Wonders of the Sunol Valley Wilderness

The Sunol Valley wild areas hold many wonders and this week the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project environmental team happened upon this amazing Bearded Tooth Mushroom.

For sure this incredible mushroom looks nothing like any other mushroom you’ve seen, even if you’ve seen more than a few.

Its scientific name is Hericium erinaceus but we think it holds the faintest resemblance to the beard of a famous man that will shortly be making his appearance in the Valley around the 25th of December.

Bearded Tooth mushroom has many names:  Hedgehog mushroom, Satyr’s Beard, Lion’s Mane, Pom Pom and Bearded Tooth Fungus.  Which one do you think fits it best?

This eminently edible mushroom grows on both living and dead trees (usually hardwoods) and when cooked is said to have a seafood-like color and texture.

Turns out they aren’t just tasty, it seems they’re good for you too!

Used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicines, these mushrooms have recently been found to have anti-oxidant properties and can reduce glucose levels in the blood.

Scientists are currently investigating whether mushrooms of the genus Hericium may harbor compounds that can be used to formulate anti-dementia drugs.

No matter what usages are ultimately found, one thing is for sure:  this is one unique looking mushroom.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Great Cat of Many Names

Out here at the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project, we're privileged to share this beautiful land with many amazing species that call this part of the country home - in this particular case, the mountain lion. 

Lucky for us, our cameras are set up to catch glimpses of wildlife.  This camera did just that:  it caught this mountain lion momma and her cubs out for a nighttime stroll.

These big cats have many names:  puma, cougar, catamount.  Catamount means cat of the mountains.  How fitting is that here in Sunol Valley?

These animals like to hunt during the night and at dawn and dusk -- likely why we have this moment captured on nighttime video. 

In fact, a couple of folks who work at Calaveras have seen the mountain lions if they work the night shift or come in very early in the morning. 

Sometimes they see a pair of gleaming eyes and other times, just a pair of sneaky paw prints across their dusty car hood!

Mountain lions' favorite prey is deer, but they also eat raccoons, porcupines and coyotes.   Their sheer power and incredible ability to hunt in super stealth mode makes them particularly adept at finding food sources.

Because mountain lions are solitary and tend to shy away from people, they are seldom seen.

See you around the Valley! 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Alameda Creek Watershed Center and Sunol Corporation Yard Update

Good news!

The Sunol Long Term Improvement Project Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) was signed by the San Francisco Planning Department on December 2nd, and can be found here:

This project includes upgrades to the Sunol Yard and the construction of the Alameda Creek Watershed Center.  The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (Commission) will consider approval of the project at their December 8, 2015 meeting. Please find the SFPUC agenda item here:

As discussed, this document includes a few revisions from the draft MND, including:
  • Temporary use during construction of the corner of the southeast quadrant of the Paloma Road/ Temple Road intersection for the SFPUC staff and equipment.
  • This parcel is presently part of a buffer around an aggregate-mining lease, and the necessary revisions to the lease with Hansen Aggregates will also be considered at the December 8, 2015 Commission meeting.
Crucial elements remain unchanged, as was also discussed:
  • The project footprint remains unchanged, and will not utilize the space in the adjacent AgPark currently being farmed.
  • We are working closely with SAGE to extend their lease through 2016.  This lease amendment will be considered by the Commission in the near future, mostly likely January or February 2016.
We will schedule our next meeting with the community in the first quarter of 2016 to provide a more detailed update project, including the interpretive elements of the Alameda Creek Watershed Center.

Here is the tentative project schedule:
       Final Design - February 2016
       Archeological Investigation - January 2016 – August 2016
       Construction Contract Bid - March 2016
       Construction Award - May 2016
       Construction - August 2016 – August 2018

We appreciate all of the interest in and support of this project, and we look forward to continuing to work with the Sunol community as we move toward construction.

As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to the project team with any questions or comments. Betsy L. Rhodes can be reached at 415-554-3240, or


Tim Ramirez

Natural Resources and Lands Management, SFPUC