QUESTION: I've been wondering for the last couple of years about the Caltrans cautionary sign on Stockton Road (northbound Highway 49) near milepost 17. The sign shows a cliff with falling rocks — indicating that it's coming up soon. But, motorists have just passed the area where there may be potential of falling rocks. There is a "potential" (but not very likely) area for falling rock up the road across from SaveMart, but that's over a half-mile away.

I've been thinking that a "You've just passed" sign be added to the current graphic cautionary sign. Shouldn't someone in Caltrans be embarrassed over this? Surely their employees/managers see this mistake often.

ANSWER: Well, it would seem that way at first glance but remember this is government, Here's what Rick Estrada of Caltrans District 10 had to say about it: “Caltrans always appreciates working with the public to answer questions, especially when they involve safe state routes. There is a cut bank on the left side of the highway just past the sign, and this sign is a reminder to motorists to be alert.”

Oh, so it's about the left side of the road. Maybe they need a special sign that adds a left arrow to be clear where the danger is.

Estrada went on to say, “We encourage drivers on our mountain roads to be mindful that while safety is Caltrans’ #1 priority, and our crews regularly patrol the roads to address any issues, obstacles can be around the next corner. That could be a deer in the road or rocks rolling down an embankment. Thank you for helping us spread this safety message.”



QUESTION: Turkey Talk: we are quite fond of the large flock of turkeys that peck and burble happily in our yard every day. We would never hurt one. But it does beg the question – can those wild turkeys be harvested for the dinner table? Do they taste like Thanksgiving?

ANSWER: This question was hiding in email for some time so apologies for the answer being a day late – although maybe we could consider it a month early for Christmas dinner.

You could harvest a wild turkey as long as you're within the proper hours and season as outlined by the state and far enough — 150 yards — of a dwelling or public or occupied private campground unless you have permission from the owner, as required by Tuolumne County ordinance. Which would be you so yes, you can, but you need a hunting license.

State wildlife experts say the wild turkey population is healthy and growing and make this comment on their website: “Where safe and legal, hunt wild turkeys on your property, or allow others to hunt them.”

The fall turkey season began Nov. 10 and continues for 30 days. There's another hunting season in the spring. Two birds per season.

As for the taste, I've never eaten wild turkey, but Naomi K. Shapiro, writing on the Big Game Logic website, says wild turkey doesn't taste gamey and is more like the dark meat of a domestic bird.

“What you get in a wild turkey is nature at its best. Wild turkey tastes like what it eats — which ranges from domestic crops such as corn and beans — to almost every type of wild seed,” she wrote.

Her ultimate pronouncement is “delicious,” which sounds a lot like it tastes like Thanskgiving.

QUESTION: During hearings on Stone Mill Center, Tuolumne County Community Resources Agency Deputy Director Duke York talked about proposed changes Caltrans will be making at the Parrott’s Ferry Road-Highway 49 intersection. The changes included eliminating the “swing lane” where northbound motorists currently merge onto Parrott’s Ferry and replacing it with a substantial right turn lane along Highway 49. If the intersection will be completely refigured, why did Caltrans recently resurface that entire intersection, including the swing lane?

ANSWER: York didn't say these words, but it seems like the essence of what he said was the two agencies didn't work together on this one. The county's intersection realignment, which will get rid of the swing lane, is a Highway Safety Improvement Project, and the resurfacing was handled through a Caltrans Highway 49 project. Tuolumne County usually works with a regional Caltrans office in Stockton, York said. The state controls the entire intersection, and therefore, when asphalt was laid, it covered all that is their responsibility. York said, in fact, when he saw the new asphalt he thought “Gee, that's goofy.”

He said the benefit to Tuolumne County residents, though, is that there will be a good road for the winter, and when the pavement is torn up next year, there will be plenty of grindings for the two- to three-foot-wide shoulder.

“It might reduce the cost of our project a little bit,” he said. The project is expected to get underway in the spring.

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