Category Archives: McCloud

McCloud Watershed Council Offering Free Pizza Dinner Prior to 2/18 Nestle Meeting

This was forwarded to me from the McCloud Watershed Council:


We’d like to share details with you about the upcoming February 18th Nestle Community Meeting and our Free Pre-Meeting Dinner.

You may have seen ads in the Mt. Shasta Herald about Nestlé’s second community meeting in McCloud. Dave Palais announced at the February 9th McCloud Community services District meeting that Nestle has hired a second third-party facilitator, Joan Chaplik, from a company called MIG, Inc. (  to facilitate this meeting.

Dave Palais and his manager Brendan O’Rourke (Director of Natural Resources for Nestle Waters North America) will be in attendance to present the company’s revised project proposal, followed by a public comment period.  According to Nestlé’s ad, “The purpose of these meetings is to provide the public information about the proposed project and to receive direct feedback from the community on the proposal.”

Recently the Services District Board has decided to move forward in talking with Nestle about a potential water bottling plant.  This public meeting offers all citizens a golden opportunity to give their input regarding a possible bottling facility, and to pose meaningful questions to Nestle representatives.

Please help us spread the word and encourage our community members to participate in this important meeting; every voice counts!

Nestle Community Meeting
What: Community Meeting About Nestlé’s Proposed Water Bottling Plant in McCloud
When: Wednesday, February 18th, 2008 at 7p.m.
Where: McCloud Elementary School Gymnasium, at 332 Hamilton Way, McCloud

McCloud Watershed Council’s Pre-Meeting Pizza Dinner
When: 5:30- 7:00 pm
Where: MWC Office at  424 Main St. (entrance is on California Street near Colombero Drive).

To encourage attendance, and in an effort to bring McCloud residents together, we will be hosting a FREE “Pre-Nestle Meeting” Dinner from 5:30-7pm on the 18th. If you don’t have time to cook and make it to the meeting or if you’d like to join us for some spirited conversation, please attend our free pizza dinner at 5:30pm.

Thank you for your support and we hope to see you there!

McCloud Watershed Council

Letters Critical of Nestle Appear in Advance of 2/18 McCloud Meeting

Nestle’s upcoming Dog & Pony show in McCloud promises to be an interesting one; it’s been preceded by national broadcast of a popular fly fishing show critical of Nestle Waters’ reluctance to study the impacts on the McCloud river, and residents have been writing letters to the local paper.

I’m highlighting three letter here (including my own) – one  of which is a welcome effort from an Orting (WA) resident who outlines why the town’s interest in a Nestle bottling plant seemed so foolish.

Here’s an excerpt from McCloud resident Tina Ramus’ letter (you can read the entire letter here):

Their [ed: Nestle’s] decision to hold a meeting has raised a lot of questions.

Is Nestle so desperate to get a foot in door that they are ignoring the message from the community that this process will take more time?

The water science is underway, but it took five years of concerted effort from the community to get those studies started.

The project description should be base on the science, and right now, not even phase 1 is completed. How could Nestle be so bold as to propose a project without that and other critical information?

McCloud residents need to be cautious about what they hear Nestle saying.

Here, Orting resident Philip Heldrich pens an “Open Letter to McCloud

I live in Orting, Wash., fifteen miles outside Tacoma near Mt. Rainier. Nestle came here after near-by Enumclaw got wise and told Nestle to leave. But our mayor saw only dollar signs, placing her trust in corporate America.

Dave Palais made Nestle sound marvelous, promising 50 jobs and millions in utility and development dollars. We’re a small town (population 6,000) best known for our endangered salmon. The deal seemed too good to be true, and it was.

The Nestle water lease wanting its own private pipeline, consultants said, sought 22.21 percent of our city’s total water rights.

Nestle planned 24/7 trucking adjacent to three schools. There would be air and effluent pollution from plastic bottle production. Nestle planned to use more water in the summer during our yearly May to October drought.

What was our mayor thinking?

Finally, my own letter to the editor hasn’t been published, so I’m including it below in its entirety:

Nestle Doesn’t Understand Our Rural Values, Desire for Local Control

With Nestle conducting another meeting on February 18, I wanted to ask the Swiss-based mutlinational corporation about local control – or why it disappears whenever Nestle’s lawyers appear in small rural towns.

In Fryeburg, Maine, the tiny rural town’s planning commission has repeatedly said “no” to Nestle’s desire to build a 24/7 truck loading station in a residential area, yet in a clear attempt to circumvent Fryeburg’s right to say “no,” Nestle’s lawyers filed a suit and four appeals (the last was just argued at the Maine Supreme Court).

In Mecosta County (MI), Nestle’s pumping damaged a watershed, but Nestle fought to maintain their water extractions even as residents’ watched a wetlands dry up and docks no longer reached the water in an affected lake.

Under threat of an injunction, Nestle finally reduced pumping, then promptly filed suit to end the right of Michigan’s citizens to file lawsuits like those that Nestle lost.

And don’t forget that Nestle did zero environmental study on the impacts of their water mining on the McCloud River (perhaps McCloud’s #1 tourist draw) until it was forced to by citizens.

Finally, at their last (and disastrous) public meeting, Nestle didn’t bother to hire a local firm to facilitate, but instead spent those thousands of dollars on the services of a mega-corporate PR firm that clearly had no clue about our rural values or lifestyle.

Which brings us to the rub; despite the pretense, Nestle’s only a “good corporate neighbor” when they get what they want. When they don’t – as in Fryeburg – their lawyers crawl out of the woodwork and local control of streets, noise, water and economy simply disappear. They don’t care about us, our values, or our lifestyle.

Let’s look elsewhere for an anchor business – one that won’t try to usurp local control.

This meeting could be a turning point in Nestle’s pursuit of the tiny town of McCloud, and with the buildup trending largely anti-Nestle, should prove to be interesting.

Television Show Highlights McCloud River, Nestle’s Threat To It in Advance of 2/18 Meeting

The Friday night broadcast of Trout Unlimited’s “On The Rise” episode focusing on the McCloud River – and Nestle’s cavalier approach to the river and the town of McCloud – has already generated a spike in traffic to (The show is being re-broadcast Saturday 2/14 at 1pm PST)

More importantly, it exposed yet another layer of people to the problems inherent in bottled water – and to the somewhat predatory nature of Nestle Waters of North America.

Curtis Knight of CalTrout deftly outlined the threats to the river, and while it’s a fly fishing show – so he only had time to hit the high points – the information was passed along to an audience that I’ve heard numbers in the hundreds of thousands.

It’s more pressure on Nestle to start playing fair with rural towns, and while this is another small victory, it’s a shame that every town facing Nestle can’t get its own TV show.

I’d love to see Nestle’s depredations in Fryeburg detailed so all the little rural towns thinking of making a deal with Nestle will know what can happen if the predatory multinational doesn’t get what it wants.

In Advance of Nestle’s February 18 Meeting

The timing of the broadcast was excellent; it comes in advance of Nestle’s community input meeting of February 18, where Nestle make yet another corporate sales pitch presentation about their proposed McCloud project, and invites “community input.”

Keep up the good work, everyone.

Nestle’s Assault on McCloud Now The Subject of Popular Fly Fishing Show

It’s hard to fathom the amount of negative PR generated by Nestle (and its questionable business practices) in the tiny northern California town of McCloud.

After less-than-complimentary articles in Businessweek, the International Herald Tribune and several others, the parade of bad Nestle PR continues – this time on a nationally broadcast fly fishing television show set to appear on the Outdoor Channel:

  • February 13, at 9:30 pm (PST)
  • Saturday, February 14, 6:00 am & 1:00 pm (PST)

On The Rise is an extremely popular fly fishing show that profiles not only beautiful fly fishing destinations, but also those under threat from the usual suspects: habitat loss, water diversions, etc.

After reading about the threat to the McCloud River on my Trout Underground fly fishing blog and researching it with Trout Unlimited and CalTrout, the On The Rise producers scheduled a visit to the McCloud – an internationally known, blue-ribbon trout fishery that draws thousands of fly fishermen to the area every season.

On the Rise on the McCloud River

While that visit occurred during record high (and largely unfishable) flows, it also coincided with Nestle’s disastrous “Community Input Meeting,” and the show’s video crew attended and taped the proceedings.

Trout Unlimited (the series’ sponsor) and CalTrout representatives briefed the crew and fished the McCloud the first two days of their visit; I fished with the video crew on the final day of taping, and while the fly fishing was tough, they got enough to make the episode – including some apparently telling footage from the Nestle meeting (I have yet to see the show).

Barrett Productions Producer Nick Davis had this to say about the McCloud episode of On The Rise:

“TU wanted to highlight the McCloud River in this episode of On The Rise for several reasons.”

“The first is that bottled water companies are posing threats to pristine watersheds around the country. The second is that the work done by TU and other conservation forces on the McCloud may well provide a template for other rivers and streams in the country. And, of course, it never hurts to shoot a show in a location so beautiful that the images go well beyond a thousand words in value.”

The show abstract describes episode #7 of On The Rise thusly:

“Bottled-water companies once had no problem drawing their product from anywhere they chose. That’s no longer the case, in part due to the resistance put up by those devoted to this incredibly beautiful watershed.”

In my contacts with activists across North America, a common refrain is heard: bringing Nestle’s predatory business practices to light in the media is an uphill struggle – especially in small, rural communities.

Finding a national stage to skewer Nestle for their “extract first, ignore the studies later, and use whatever legal means available” approach to rural communities is always a good idea.

Nestle Waters Seeking New Negotiation With McCloud; Town Says “Not So Fast”

Nestle’s proposed water bottling plant in McCloud has been the subject of two recent meetings of the McCloud Services District (MCSD), and while the outcome remains unclear, what is apparent is McCloud’s ardor for a Nestle water bottling plant has cooled.

Little wonder; after five years of Nestle’s fractious, town-dividing interference in local politics, the residents are simply suffering from Nestle Fatigue. At the most recent McCloud Services District meeting, the directors spoke of proceeding cautiously (if at all), and prevaling public opinion was to take a long breather, or dump Nestle entirely.

In fact, the only real decisive action was to ask to speak to someone higher up the Nestle food chain, Nestle operative Dave Palais apparently having worn out his welcome. Witness this from Charlie Unkefer of the Mount Shasta Herald:

After almost three hours of board discussion, a review of communications – letters submitted to the board prior to the meeting, expressing a myriad of opinions – and public comment, the board passed a motion 5-0 to “address the issues with higher level Nestle executives.”

Though the issue listed on the meeting agenda cited “discussion/action regarding a request… to enter into new contract negotiations,” the motion passed focused only on continued dialogue, with  a tone of caution prevailing.

Director Tim Dickinson, who first brought the issue to the table in his opening comments on the project, noted,  “What I need is a conversation with the executive level of Nestle to find out what direction they are going in… I would hate to go six months or one or two  years and then have the contract dropped. My idea is to have that contact and have discussion.”

Farther down the story, the idea of a “community survey” reared its head, though director Schoenstein should be commended for resisting Nestle’s pressure negotiating tactics (that have worked so well in other rural towns):

Schoenstein also expressed his interest in conducting a thorough survey of the community’s desires around the issue. “We need to know where the public stands,” he stated, emphasizing that this information would better inform the board as they continue their discussions with Nestle.  However, Schoenstein remained cautious. “There is no need to hurry or fear that if we don’t (re-negotiate now) that Nestle will leave.”

Clearly, Nestle’s attempts to speed back into negotiations for a water bottling plant aren’t working. Moreover, the whole McCloud fiasco has cost them bitterly in terms of time, bad press, and yes – money. In the past, I’ve commented on Nestle’s unwillingness to alter their business template to meet the needs of small rural communities. That seems true in the current situation; they’re not offering the town any incentive to enter into negotiations, and to their credit several of the MCSD Board of Directors seem to recognize it.

New Report Outlines Nestlé’s Pursuit of Community Water (and Profits)

Nestle’s treatment of rural communities won’t qualify them for any “good neighbor” awards anytime soon – a sad fact chronicled in a new Food & Water Watch report on water extraction activities in North America.

From their site:

Food & Water Watch’s report, “All Bottled Up: Nestlé’s Pursuit of Community Water,” reveals the loss  communities experience when a plant shows up in a small town.

Consider that…

Bottled water is overpriced, it’s no purer or safer than tap water, Nestlé is profiting off of communities and their precious resource — groundwater, and water bottles end up — by the millions — as worthless trash.

Did you know that…

Nestle takes the groundwater for next to nothing and makes extraordinary profits from the community’s loss? Communities are taking on the food giant — AND WINNING. Empty Nestlé bottles are piling up in landfills? Communities are getting smart about Nestlé and passing legislation to stop harmful water extraction from their towns?

Food & Water Watch and activists favor the efforts of policymakers to…

Develop comprehensive groundwater protection and conservation laws and regulation, require labels about the sources of bottled water and contaminants, adress environmental harm from producing bottled water and disposal of empty bottles, and assist residents and communities in protecting their groundwater from Nestlé.

Read more at: All Bottled Up: Nestlé’s Pursuit of Community Water — Food & Water Watch.

McCloud Services District Takes Up Nestle Bottling Plant Issue Again

At the last McCloud Services District meeting (MCSD), a majority of the community spoke out against immediately entering into new contract negotiations with Nestle Waters of North America.

A majority wanted some “breathing room” from the predations of the multinational, and while the MCSD board temporarily punted, it’s unclear what will happen when the subject comes up for a vote at the January 26 McCloud Services District (MCSD) meeting.

After five years of fighting and Nestle-fostered factionalism (the multinational used its cash to interfere in the last election, and employs hired “consultants” to spread the word), most every person in the tiny rural town of McCloud expressed a desire for a little “breathing room” – something Nestle simply won’t give.

The problem, of course, is one of trust; after the board negotiated the first Nestle contract behind closed doors (and delivered one of the worst-negotiated contracts the world’s ever seen), Nestle continually interfered in the town’s affairs, including funding a slate of pro-Nestle candidates in the 2006 election.

In that case, they maintained they weren’t interfering, then delivered a sizable check (equal to 2/3 of the total spent) to the slate the day before the election.

Locals were also hired to serve as “consultants” and they spread Nestle’s gospel, often without attribution (letters to the editor didn’t identify the writer as a paid consultant, just a citizen).

In addition, Nestle’s legal bullying of opponents has been seen in communities across North America, though it evidenced itself here with an attempt to subpeonea the private financial records of plant opponents.

Given the litany of abuses, legal bullying, misleading statements and lack of responsible resource stewardship (no flow studies were conducted in McCloud until Nestle was forced to), why is the MCSD still hewing to a Nestle-driven schedule for negotiations?

At the very least, the MCSD should give the town – which is finally showing signs of healing – a little breathing room.

Unfortunately, that’s not in the Nestle playbook.

What’s unclear is how the votes on the board will fall; the complexion of the board has changed, and at least one of the members has soured on Nestle after the company stepped out of its last unworkable contract without warning any of the MCSD first.

Trust is hard to come by when one of the negotiating parties treats the other the way a dog treats a bone – which Nestle has done to small rural communities in pretty much every part of the country.

I urge the McCloud Services District – at the very least – to tell Nestle to back off while the town of McCloud figures out what it really wants.

McCloud Lukewarm to Nestle Advances, Puts Off Vote for Two Weeks

The much-anticipated January 12 McCloud Services District (MCSD) meeting – where Nestle Waters wanted the board to enter into new negotiations with the company – found Nestle receiving a tepid welcome from the board, and a largely negative response from residents.

Ultimately, the MCSD board decided to put off making any decisions for two weeks, and many residents (and board member Brian Stewart) even questioned the need to deal with this issue within two weeks (a commenter on the Siskiyou Daily Web site asked why the MCSD was once again letting Nestle set the agenda).

The Siskiyou Daily News offered its take on the meeting here. (UPDATE: The Mount Shasta Herald story looks to be more complete) Highlights include:

After the directors had their say, many members of the audience stood up to speak. The first speaker began by saying that the MCSD should “think about what is best for McCloud, not just the MCSD.” She went on to say that she believes that there are other economic opportunities in McCloud’s future, adding that she believes that the people of McCloud don’t have enough information to make an informed decision on the issue.

The speaker said that she ultimately wants the MCSD to tell Nestlé, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you,” which met with applause from one half of the room.

After many speakers in opposition to moving forward with negotiations or simply opposition to having a bottling plant, some stood up to speak either in favor of the project, or at least keep it as a viable option.

Brought up at the meeting was a recent California Supreme Court Decision which mandates an Environmental Impact Review before a contract is signed on any project having an appreciable impact on ecosystems, watersheds or other environmental systems.

While the MCSD could certainly negotiate a contract with Nestle without signing it until the EIR was complete, because Nestle did zero flow monitoring and environmental review prior to this year, the EIR won’t be complete for some time.

This leaves us asking the MCSD – what’s the rush? Why decide to enter into negotiations in two weeks when there simply won’t be any clear idea how much water is available?

Big Days for McCloud, Fryeburg as Nestle Saga Continues for Both

It’s a couple of very big days for Nestle Waters of North America (and those who oppose them).

Tonight (the 12th), the McCloud Services District’s agenda includes an item from Nestle proposing the district once again enter into contract negotiations with Nestle (at the end of this post, we included the statement presented by the Save Our Waters Coalition).

Despite the fact that Nestle has completed no flow studies and almost no environmental monitoring, they’re trying to rush back into negotiations for water – when nobody knows how much water is really available.

The problem, of course, is that Nestle believes the water that enters Squaw Creek and the world-renowned McCloud River is “wasted” – the kind of thinking guaranteed to make a real fisheries biologist soil his shorts.

After Nestle’s disastrous public meeting in McCloud (to read about that nightmare on wheels, click here), Nestle announced they weren’t going to bother with any further meetings, a move which suggests Nestle’s newfound “committment” to community involvement in the negotiation process is – like its committment to stewardship of the watershed – largely illusory.

Big Day for Freyburg

Tomorrow (the 13th), Nestle’s suit against Fryeburg – where Nestle’s trying to force its 24/7 truck loading station into a residentially zoned part of Fryeburg – will be heard again in Maine’s State Supreme Court.

Those who are counting along at home just ran out of fingers; this is the fourth appeal of the original lawsuit (that adds up to five), and we can only guess that Nestle’s aim wasn’t so much to win the legal case as it was to bankrupt their opponents, winning not by being right, but by default.

You’ve got to believe a loss for Nestle here would be the end of the line for their loading station, but they’ve made some mind-boggling moves in the past (in a prior suit, they argued their right to grow market share superseded Fryeburg’s right to say no).

In truth, Nestle’s incredibly heavy-handed legal maneuvering in Fryeburg has become something of an embarrassment for the company – a recent ad in a nearby newspaper largely pretended the whole affair simply wasn’t taking place – yet another triumph of Nestle’s PR over reality.

Hopefully, we’ll hear from folks at both events, and as soon as we know anything, we’ll pass it along.


Oops, forgot to post this after I said I would:

Statement the Protect Our Waters Coalition to be read at the January 12th 2009 McCloud Community Services District Board Meeting

Honorable Board Members,

Tonight I urge you to think about what is in the best interest of McCloud. We all want prosperity and a thriving community without sacrificing our area’s magnificent natural resources. Fortunately we now have a clean slate and can determine what is truly best for McCloud.

Good things are happening in McCloud right now. In the past few months while we’ve had the chance to breath we’ve started talking to each other and working together. We are coming up with good ideas and real economic opportunities. From the Chamber hosting Willits, to the Michael Shuman community meeting, to the Business Idea Contest to JEDI’s survey–good things are happening.

But then we come back to the Nestle issue and with it the feeling of our community being divided.  While the Kearns and West meeting was uncomfortable, the statements from the meeting, and their meeting summary show that our community does not have enough information to begin negotiations on a new contract with Nestle now.  How could we make a commitment to contract details right now?  We don’t know any more now about the impacts of a plant on our community than we did 5 years ago.

McCloud has a second chance to explore whether the idea of a Nestle plant in our community is a good one, and a second chance to do it the right way – with real public process, good science, and sound economic analysis of its likely impact on our community. We have other economic opportunities for this town’s future as well.  Saying No to Nestle now would enable us to build upon those opportunities as a united community.

Going into a negotiating process with Nestle now is premature.  Nestle should complete background studies on our water, air quality, historic preservation, and traffic among other issues, and let those studies inform the project description they present to the community.  We shouldn’t waste MCSD time now on discussing a contract negotiation process with Nestle when we lack so much information.

If it were me, I would just say ‘no thanks’ to Nestle now, like other communities have across the country, because mistrust of Nestle is the big ‘elephant’ in the room. Considering Nestle fired Kearns and West and is planning to host their own meeting about their revised project description it seems they are going back to business as usual.  It is hard for me to see the trust issues going away.

But at least, I would give our community time to discuss what we want, and tell Nestle “don’t call us, we’ll call you.”

Better Than Nestle: Building Local Economies (w/o the Trucks, Waste and [thankfully] Nestle Waters)

This press release caught our eye – it outlines one way a group of McCloud citizens are trying to revive their local economy, and without suffering the negative economic and lifestyle effects of the proposed Nestle water bottling plant:

McCloud, CA – The McCloud Local First Steering Committee announced today that they have launched the first-ever McCloud Basin Business idea Contest. The purpose of this contest is for area residents, elected officials, business leaders and others in the community to share and develop business ideas that could create jobs in McCloud.

The three best business idea authors will each win $100 cash and $100 in gift certificates to local businesses. Winners will also receive a free consulting session with the Jefferson Economic Development Institute (JEDI). Submissions will be judged by a panel of McCloud residents, business owners and JEDI.

“Starting local businesses that also create jobs for McCloud residents is critical to McCloud’s economy,” said April Gray, steering committee chair. “McCloud has the innovation, creativity and commitment to launch successful, long-term businesses in our area, but we need to work collaboratively in order get the best results. This contest is designed to help facilitate this community collaboration,” she said.

To enter, simply type or write no more than 2 pages about your business idea and e-mail it to or drop it off at the McCloud Market, McCloud General Store, or McCloud Mercantile by January 21st at 5 pm. All business ideas must represent viable, sustainable businesses that create jobs for McCloud residents. Anyone can submit an idea-as long as the business would be located in the McCloud Basin. Business ideas that are locally owned and operated, fill a niche in the local market, and have potential for export markets will receive extra consideration.

Submissions should include the following information:

  • Who will be working on this project (is it just you, or do you have a team?)
  • Description of your product or service
  • Name your market (who will purchase your product or service? Extra consideration for developing a local market.)
  • How will your business make money? How much will people be paying for your product or services?
  • Besides creating jobs, what environmental or social contributions does your business make?
  • How many jobs could your business provide?

“By inviting all area residents to submit their ideas and then sharing those ideas with a robust panel of judges, we hope to broaden our community’s ability to create local jobs,” said Brian Stewart, steering committee member and new McCloud Community Services District Board member.

All submissions will be delivered to the judging panel on Thursday January 22, 2009. The judges will return their scores Monday January 26th. The three contest winners will be announced at the McCloud Local First Steering Committee community meeting on Wednesday January 28th2009 (6:30 pm at Scout Hall). Contest winners will present their business idea and receive their prize.

About the McCloud Local First Steering Committee
The McCloud Local First Steering Committee formed this year to facilitate the development of a local first initiative and business alliance based on the BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies) network model, and to pursue ideas generated at the Michael Shuman community meeting. The current steering committee includes McCloud residents and business owners, supporting agencies such as the McCloud Chamber of Commerce and stakeholders including McCloud Watershed Council, JEDI and California Trout. The committee operates by consensus and is chaired by April Gray and vice-chaired by Robin Singler.

It’s often the case that small rural towns are stampeded into bad economic development practices by Nestle, whose plants (and water extraction operations) often don’t make sense.

They often buy the land and get the water for free (taking advantage of the lamentable state of groundwater resource laws), impact watersheds, run trucks through rural areas 24/7, and don’t deliver the jobs they promised.

And EcoNorthwest economic study – one that analysed the negative ecnomic impacts of a Nestle Waters of North America plant in the town of McCloud – revealed some fairly shocking numbers, one of which was that once the lifestyle impacts on the economy were considered, McCloud could actually suffer a negative economic impact.

One solution?

Local economic development where business profits stay local (instead of heading directly from McCloud’s springs to Nestle’s headquarters in Switzerland). Economist and author Michael Schuman outlines his strategy in his best-selling “The Small-Mart Revolution” book.

As we’ve noted in the past, Nestle often casts opponents of their water bottling operations as being “anti-business” when the truth is something else; they’re simply pro-local economies.

After all, we saw how a downturn in the bottled water industry translated to the local workforce in Calistoga, CA; 78 workers lost their jobs.

Local businesses contribute more in terms of living wages to local ecnomies, and yes, they’re less likely to hammer a big chunk of the town’s workforce to drive a fractional improvement on some Swiss accountant’s spreadsheet.

Nestle Opponents in McCloud Point to Nestle’s Lack of Stewardship, Legal Bullying as Reasons for Opposition

The local newspaper recently ran a lengthy interview with Dave Palais – Nestle Waters of North America’s operative in McCloud. In that interview, Palais (sadly) took the low road by suggesting that opposition to Nestle’s plant is coming from non-permanent residents and San Francisco fly fishermen.

It’s an astonishingly divisive statement, especially given that Palais himself doesn’t live in McCloud, and as far as we know, Nestle’s headquarters remain in Switzerland, not McCloud.

The Mount Shasta Herald recently published an interview with CalTrout’s Curtis Knight and Debra Anderson (President of McCloud Watershed Council), and while we’ve excerpted key parts below, it’s worth a read.

The relevant passages? First, CalTrout’s Knight immediately attacks Nestle’s oft-repeated (and largely disproved) claims of exemplary environmental stewardship:

Curtis Knight: California Trout’s work on this issue started with the release of the Draft Environmental Impact Report in 2006. We had never reviewed a more deficient document and were concerned about the lack of specifics potential project impacts and the lack of baseline information. For example, there was no attempt to collect stream flow and temperature data on Squaw Valley Creek.

California Trout’s goal has always been that if this project gets sited in McCloud that its operations do not harm the health of the McCloud River watershed. The lack of information in the DEIR raised a huge concern that Nestle, despite their public statements to the contrary, were not going to be good stewards of the water.

We have said all along that a responsible contract can only be drafted once we understand how a plant might impact the watershed and what mitigation measures might be implemented to protect the region.

You can read the entire interview here, but we’ll leave you with this response to a question about why Nestle’s encountered so resistance in other towns:

DA & CK: Reasons range from Nestle operations negatively impacting area water resources to legal bullying. In Michigan, a court ordered Nestle to halt operation after damages to area water resources were found. Nestle refused to fully comply and continued litigation activities including arguing to the Supreme Court that the citizens didn’t have standing to sue them.

In Maine, Nestle operates a plant in Hollis and wanted to expand with new wells in a nearby town, including a truck loading station. When the nearby town refused Nestle sued and argued before the Maine Supreme Court that Nestle’s right to grow market share superceded the town’s right of control. These examples suggest that once Nestle gets a foot hold in a community they are not always a ‘good neighbor’ and show a history of using their considerable legal clout to punish rural towns.

Nestle a Good Corporate Neighbor? Not to Highly Respected McCloud Businessman

In an attempt to mitigate the traffic impacts of Nestle’s proposed water bottling plant in McCloud, a highly respected McCloud businessman crafted a railroad transportation plan, and thought he’d created a solution that worked for everyone.

When he took his idea to Nestle, he met a wall of indifference to point where several meetings were canceled at literally the last minute.

While it remains to be seen if Forbis’ solution would have worked, the episode this angered locals who wanted to see the area’s railroad heritage respected – and didn’t want to see 300 trucks per day rolling in and out of town.

This excerpt from the Mount Shasta Herald describes Forbis’ discussion of the issue at a McCloud Services District meeting:

Forbis [ed: the local businessman and owner of the McCloud Railroad] then went on to describe his negotiations with Nestle over the years about the train servicing the proposed bottling plant as being “coolly received” by the water bottling company. Though admitting that an outside assessment of his company’s ability to ship Nestle’s bottled water from McCloud came up with economic figures which “weren’t what I had hoped for,” he described to the board a history of failed negotiations with Nestle which included Nestle cancelling meetings with him at the last minute.

Nestle’s Dave Palais responded by saying, “What Jeff said is correct. We did have missteps in getting Jeff to talk with our logistics people. We did have a couple meetings scheduled that got cancelled. It frustrated Jeff and it frustrated me. But you can’t just come to a company without a detailed concept. I told Jeff that early on… [Nestle] has had bad experiences with rail… problems with rail delivery schedules.”

Board member Al Schoenstein told Palais, “It appears that a serious effort wasn’t made to talk to Jeff… You probably could have worked with him more seriously, it would have been a ‘good neighbor’ policy to work with Jeff… He did go to meetings where nobody was there to meet him.”

One audience member told Forbis, “You’ve gone out of your way with Nestle, they’ve been dangling a carrot before us to get a contract. It’s a game.”

Now that Nestle’s original plans for a million-square-foot water bottling plant have been scrapped, the world’s largest food and beverage company wants to enter into new negotiations with McCloud, yet several missteps have led to a growing chorus of locals calling for local economic development – businesses more accountable to the community.

Many want to revisit the municipally owned water bottling plant idea that was rejected by the same McCloud Services District Council who negotiated the original (and wholly lopsided) Nestle contract.

Others point to the recent community meetings featuring the Willits Chamber of Commerce and rural economist Michael Shuman as possible paths.

It’s clear that Nestle’s latest PR efforts revolve heavily around a “good corporate neighbor” message. In fact, their just-released Corporate Citizenship Report features the title “The Shape of Citizenship” and a subhead of “Creating Shared Value.”

Sadly, where it counts, Nestle’s “good neighbor” policy falls far short of the hype – especially when it comes to respecting the local values and culture of a rural community.

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