Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, August 24, 2013

MVNews this week:  Page 5



Mountain Views-News Saturday, August 24, 2013 

It Just Gets Worse

 Recently I attended two 
great meetings. One was 
Supervisor Antonovich’s 
Chief of Police Luncheon 
and the other, his Morning 
Meeting with the City of 
Arcadia. At both events, 
the main topic was AB 109 
Public Safety Realignment.

 At the Police Chief Luncheon, Sheriff 
Lee Baca and his four Assistant Sheriffs were in 
attendance. (The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s 
Department no longer has an “Undersheriff” 
position. Instead of the two Assistant Sheriffs, 
there are now four. Cecil Rhambo, Todd Rodgers 
and Jim Hellmold are from LASD. The new 
Assistant Sheriff, Teri McDonald comes from the 
State Prison system and brings a lot of experience 
and ideas to her new position.) Chiefs Jim Lopez 
and Anthony LaBerge, Commanders Ray Leyva 
and Bobby Denham, Captains John Benedict 
(Altadena), Don Slawson( San Dimas) and Don 
Ford (Palmdale) were among the familiar faces. 
I met Lieutenants Paula Tokar representing 
Temple Station and Steve Gross from Crescenta 
Valley Station, CHP Chief Daniel Bower, Captain 
Cliff Mar, Alhambra PD, and Police Chief Art 
Miller from South Pasadena. Familiar faces were 
San Gabriel’s Chief David Lawton, Burbank 
Chief Scott LaChasse and Glendale’s Chief Ron 
DePompa. From LA County Probation Office, 
Chief Jerry Powers, Assistant Chief Don Myer 
and Deputy Chief Reaver Bingham attended.

 Sheriff Baca introduced his four 
Assistants who explained their responsibilities. 
The Sheriff also spoke of his new Education-Based 
Curriculum Program currently implemented in 
the jail system.

 Then Supervisor Antonovich began 
his discussion with some sobering statistics. He 
pointed out that “Currently there are over 43,000 
prisoners serving time in local jails instead of 
state prisons, a number expecting to reach 52,000 
by 2014. Of those 14,377 are in Los Angeles 
County, 5901 of whom are currently in county 
jail. Over 40 of them have a sentence longer than 
eight years and one is electronically monitored.”

 The Supervisor feels “With crime 
rates rising in many of our local cities, the 
Government’s realignment program is a proven 
threat to public safety which has overwhelmed 
probation departments and law enforcement 
agencies nationwide.”

 When it was time for discussion, Chiefs 
of Police from various agencies explained how 
they now worked together.

 A week after the Chiefs Luncheon, I 
attended Anonovich’s morning meeting with the 
City of Arcadia. Discussion brought out that more 
prisoners had been released from state prison and 
there were more arrests. County jails are “motels” 
for these prisoners; not fully equipped facilities.

 Two facts have blown me away. First, 
there was EXTREME overcrowding in MANY 
county jail systems. When I first wrote about 
this issue in 2011, I did my homework and 
learned that San Bernardino and Riverside also 
ALREADY had severe overcrowded issues as did 
Los Angeles County.

 Secondly Governor Brown STILL has the 
option of housing prisoners out of state at HALF 
the cost! Why doesn’t he do this? 

 As I listened to statistics and learned 
that many released parolees (25%) give fictitious 
addresses, I got depressed. 41% of parolees are 
rearrested! However, there is hope. A year ago, 
a law enforcement sub-committee has been 
established and will work to take a closer look at 
realignment. (“Law Enforcement Zone”) There 
are eight sites for four zones being utilized to pay 
attention to crime trends. Also a Master List is 
sent to LASD and shared with cities. The Sheriff’s 
Department and cities are all working with each 

 What can we do? Write your state officials- 
Senators and Assembly Members, urging them 
to introduce legislation for more funding. That’s 
really a third issue-the state has NOT supplied 
the amount of promised funding. Let’s see: “Dear 
Senator Ed Hernandez”, “Dear Assemblyman 
Chau”, “Dear Assemblyman Roger Hernandez”, 
what are you doing for the realignment problem?

GARY KNOWLTON - Man of the Trees

By Christopher Nyerges


[Nyerges is the author of several books, including “Enter the Forest” and 
“How to Survive Anywhere.” Information about his books and classes is 
available from School of Self-reliance, Box 41834, Eagle Rock, CA 90041, 

“What’s Going On?” 

News and Views from Joan Schmidt



Gary Knowlton 
is standing next to 
a young redwood 
tree on his hillside 
property. He says, 
“Treat everything as 
if it were sacred, and lo and behold, you’ll find 
that it is. We need to completely re-evaluate 
the way we interact with nature.” He looks at 
the redwood tree and adds, “If trees are treated 
in a non-sacred way, it offends and disrespects 
our very source of the breath of life. We should 
never vandalize and mutilate trees due to some 
perceived hazard, or because of our perceptions 
of order and neatness. The new paradigm that 
we need is a deeper respect for the tree. If we 
respect the trees and treat them properly, they 
will give us their bounty of oxygen, and fruit, and 
leaf. But if we ignore their health and safety, it is 
always counterproductive.”

 Knowlton is not an evangelist nor a shaman. 
He’s a La Crescenta man who’s been concerned 
about the proper care of trees his entire life. By 
profession, he does restorative work on valuable 
old native trees, such as oaks and sycamores, and 
is considered to be one of the best among fellow 

 He’s concerned that most of us underrate 
the tree, regarding it as a commodity, or worse, 
as a nuisance. But Knowlton sees it differently. 
Trees are valuable because their root systems 
hold the soil together, they create windbreaks, 
they produce massive amounts of oxygen, and 
they give us fruit, leaf, and wood for countless 
purposes. Trees provide homes for myriad forms 
of wildlife, making them an integral part of what 
Knowlton calls “the circle of nature.” When the 
circle is broken, he points out, nature sometimes 

 As part of his work, he regularly prunes trees, 
seeking to discover the tree’s natural shape and 
needs before making any cuts. “We often have 
to convince our customers to allow us to do what 
is best for the tree,” he says. “Often a homeowner 
will want a tree pruned in a way that is not 
beneficial to the tree. The homeowner may be 
concerned about neatness, order, lines, and 
appearances, but not about the needs of the tree. 
If we did what some customers asked, it would 
damage the tree and set into motion a series of 
unwanted responses, such as branches falling, 
or even the tree falling over. But a healthy tree, 
properly pruned to its natural shape, is actually 
very reliable and will be better able to survive 
high winds, heavy rains, frost, and drought.”

 Knowlton explains that the tree fits into the 
intricate cycle of nature, and that most of the 
actions of typical “gardeners” are in ignorance of 
the ecology of the tree.

 Knowlton prefers minimum interference, 
accepting the fact that nature knows what is best. 
“I prefer the benign neglect management style. 
No rake, no weedwacker, no blower. It is better 
to feed the fallen leaves back to the tree than to 
rake it up and throw the leaves away. Afer all, the 
leaves are the tree’s food. If you all allow all the 
leaves to remain around the base of the tree, they 
create a thermal barrier, and moisture stabilizer 
and they gradually decompose and feed the tree. 
This is what happens in the forest.”

 He regards the use of blowers to “clean up” 
yards as almost entirely unnecessary since it 
completely ignores the cycle of nature for the 
questionable goal of order lines and cleanliness. 
“Those guys with blowers are strip-mining the 
soil. They are hauling away the productivity 
of the tree and merely discarding it as if those 
leaves were trash. The influence of leaf blowers 
on the quality of life is so great with noise and 
dust and the unnecessary remove of leaves that 
it isn’t worth having them. Leaf is not litter. It is 
the life of the soil. When you simply throw that 
away, you are taking away nutrients that should 
be allowed to feed the tree.”

 “Too many people assume that gardeners 
know about trees,” says Knowlton. “Some do, but 
most do not. Your yard can receive a tremendous 
amount of damage and even dollar depreciation 
from such individuals. The trees’ value is based 
on species, location, health, and size.”

 Knowlton explains that the number one cause 
of death of urban trees is root damage, caused 
by a number of ways. For example, painters will 
clean their brushes and pans and dump the water 
near the base of a tree. Sometimes trenches are 
dug for water or gas lines and these damage 
the roots. Another big culprit in the death of 
trees is the weedwacker. “Many gardeners trim 
unwanted plants from around the base of trees, 
and typically cut the tender trucks of the trees. 
This is one of the easiest ways of killing trees. I’ve 
seen it happen frequently,” he says with dismay.

 “The leaf blower and weed-wacker are two gas 
tools that we can do without,” says Knowlton.

 “I try to integrate everything I do with the idea 
that every thought and action has an outcome. 
We need to take responsibility for what we set 
into motion. That is the way to know whether or 
not to take an action,” shares Knowlton. “What 
is the outcome if I plant this tree? What is the 
outcome if I cut down this tree? Am I looking 
forward seven generations to the consequences 
of my actions? This is all part of being aware 
of the circle of life, and being able to act with a 
sacred mood. We cultivate this sacred mood not 
simply by thinking about it, but by the way we 
take action,” he says. By now, he’s sounding more 
and more like an evangelist or a shaman.

 Knowlton chooses to be a living part of the 
solution. He doesn’t regard any tree prunings or 
chips as “trash.” He uses it all.

 On his backyard hillside with its 60 degree 
angle, he created a pathway entirely from mulch 
from his tree work. “There was no hardscape, 
no bricks, no foundation,” explains Knowlton, 
pointing to the hillside covered in fine wood 
chips. “And there was no erosion. This is how 
we put the mulch to work. The mulch not only 
completely absorbs the water from the heaviest 
rains, but it becomes food for earthworms as it 

 Knowlton wants everyone to see themselves as 
part of the intricate web of life.

 “We should not break the circle of life,” he says. 
“We need to learn to see the circle of nature. We 
can interact with nature in a productive way, but 
we should not do so in an interfering way.”

 He points out that he has used many truckloads 
of mulch to create his hillside pathway, and that 
there is also less of a fire hazard because of the 
mulch. In general, Knowlton advocates at least 3 
to 4 inches of mulch for hillsides.

 Besides chipping up wood for mulch, 
Knowlton tries to utilize as much of the prunings 
as possible. He saves hollow log sections for 
drums, and he has a pile of straight branches 
which he uses for fence staves.

 Knowlton, who has some Iroquois ancestry, 
also has a small sweat lodge in his yard which he 
and his wife Angie occasionally use. The sweat 
lodge is a dome-shaped structure made from 
thin branches. They first cover it with tarps and 
then bring in hot rocks. When you enter the 
sweat lodge, it is dark, hot, and said to be very 

 “The sweat synthesizes the ancient worship 
and healing practices that have existed globally 
in the past,” says Knowlton. “Going into the 
sweat lodge is like a return to the dark womb, or a 
rebirthing of awareness of higher consciousness. 
We seek and find our spirituality through myriad 
paths. The sweat lodge is one such path.”

 Knowlton and his wife experiment with solar 
devices and other technologies as ways to “live 
lightly on the earth.” They also use a wood stove 
which is fueled with tree prunings, and then the 
ashes are returned back into their soil.

 Knowlton pauses and looks at his redwood 
tree where we began. He takes a deep breath. 
He puts his hand on the tree. “The tree is a great 
transducer of energy, of prana,” he declares. 
“Our salvation lies in our recognizing the value 
of trees, and not ruthlessly killing them,” he tells 

 You can learn more about Knowlton by going 

Alhambra Captain Cliff Mar, San Gabriel Chief Don Lawton, Burbank Chief Scott