SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Memorial Day weekend is quickly approaching, and many Californians are preparing to kick off the summer with a holiday gathering or road trip. Forty-five people were killed in crashes in California during last year’s Memorial Day weekend, nearly a 30 percent increase from the same period in 2021. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) has a plan to help people arrive to their destinations safely, while reducing the number of deadly crashes on the state’s roads.
Beginning at 6:01 p.m. on Friday, May 26, the CHP will implement a statewide Maximum Enforcement Period (MEP) in anticipation of the increased traffic that often accompanies a holiday weekend. The MEP will continue through 11:59 p.m. on Monday, May 29.
“The core mission of the CHP is to provide the highest level of Safety, Service, and Security to the communities we serve,” said CHP Commissioner Sean Duryee. “This holiday, motorists can expect to see additional CHP officers patrolling California’s roadways. All available uniformed members of this Department will be on patrol during this Memorial Day MEP. Our primary focus will be to enhance public safety, deter unsafe driving behavior, and when necessary, take appropriate enforcement action.”
In addition to assisting motorists and looking for traffic violations that often lead to serious injury or death, such as failure to wear a seat belt, speed, and distracted driving, CHP officers will be paying close attention to people who are suspected of driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs and/or alcohol.
CHP officers made nearly 900 DUI arrests during the Memorial Day MEP in 2022. Keep yourself and others who are on the road safe by designating a sober driver or using a ride-share service.
If you see or suspect an impaired driver, call 9-1-1 immediately. Be prepared to provide the dispatcher a description of the vehicle, the license plate number, location, and direction of travel. Your phone call may save someone’s life.
The CHP’s Memorial Day MEP coincides with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s ongoing Click It or Ticket campaign, which continues through
June 4. Seat belts save lives. Take two seconds to secure your safety and buckle up.
The mission of the CHP is to provide the highest level of Safety, Service, and Security.
If you are looking to start a vegetable garden, but are not sure how, why not start with a low-key effort: a few herb plants in your garden or on your balcony. Growing herbs is incredibly easy. And you will have a continuous supply!
Which herb plants?Start with the herbs you use (almost) every day, like thyme (Thymus), rosemary (Rosmarinus) and chives (Allium schoenoprasum). These are all easygoing plants that you will be enjoying for months. Once you get the hang of it, you can expand your plant collection with slightly less common herbs, like tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus), sage (Salvia) and fennel (Foeniculum vulgare). And don't forget herbs for tea, like mint (Mentha) and anise hyssop (Agastache).
From border to herb gardenHerbs are easygoing and beautiful plants. You can simply plant them between your other plants in the border. They do like a sunny spot, though. If you prefer to have more of an overview, you can group the herb plants together in a part of the border or in a separate herb garden. Herbs also thrive in pots and containers. Put them near the kitchen door for easy access! For inspiration, please visit www.perennialpower.eu.
A square meter gardenOnce you get the hang of growing herbs, it's only a small step to a vegetable garden. You could set up a square meter garden, for example, with a mix of herbs, vegetable plants and edible flowers. But if you prefer, feel free to just enjoy your herb garden and leave it at that!
Tips & ideas
State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Announces Implementation of Proposition 28: Arts and Music in Schools
LOS ANGELES—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond joined fellow proponents of Proposition 28, passed by voters in 2022, to launch the Promise of Proposition 28 in Los Angeles on May 22, 2023. Proposition 28 provides nearly $1 billion annually in funding for arts and music throughout California schools so students in all grades can participate in arts and music programs. Superintendent Thurmond joined initiative proponents including former Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner, artists Aloe Blacc and Will.i.am, the California Teachers Association, and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 99 as well as philanthropists, school administrators, current arts and music educators, education union representatives, and aspiring arts educators at the Music Center in L.A. to discuss how the $933 million in funding will be rolled out this fall for the 2023–24 school year.
California Senate Republicans Eager to Work with Governor Newsom on Bipartisan Solutions for CEQA Overhaul
SACRAMENTO – Senate Minority Leader Brian W. Jones (R-San Diego) and Senate Minority Caucus Chair Janet Nguyen (R-Huntington Beach) have released the following statements in response to Governor Newsom’s announcement of sweeping changes to the problematic California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) today:
“California Senate Republicans have been advocating for CEQA reform for years. We are thrilled that Governor Newsom is finally taking action and we support his commitment to help build more housing and infrastructure projects. We remain eager to collaborate with the governor and our colleagues across the aisle in a bipartisan manner to fix California with solutions that address our state’s myriad issues ranging from homelessness to housing to water infrastructure,” said Leader Jones.
“California Senate Republicans have been at the forefront of the CEQA reform movement for years,” said Senate Minority Caucus Chair Nguyen. “As evidenced by our extensive legislative track record, we are eager to move California forward in this arena so we can build more housing, water storage, and sensible infrastructure projects in a reasonable timeframe and without costly settlements."
California Senate Republicans have led the charge on CEQA reforms for years and our legislative track record proves it. Click on this link to learn more about our bills on CEQA that we have introduced over the years.
Senator Brian W. Jones represents California’s 40th Senate District which includes the Cities of Escondido, Poway, San Marcos, Santee, San Diego City communities of Carmel Mountain Ranch, Mira Mesa, Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Peñasquitos, Scripps Ranch, Sorrento Valley, and University City, along with the San Diego County unincorporated communities of 4S Ranch, Alpine, Bonsall, Fallbrook, Lakeside, Pine Valley, Rainbow, Ramona, and Valley Center.
Elected in 2022 overwhelmingly, Senator Janet Nguyen represents California Senate District 36, which covers Huntington Beach, Garden Grove, Newport Beach, Corona Del Mar, Westminster, San Clemente, Capistrano Beach, Fountain Valley, Buena Park, Dana Point, Seal Beach, Surfside, Laguna Beach, Stanton, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Cerritos, Artesia and Hawaiian Gardens and unincorporated cities of Midway City and Rossmoor. Senator Janet Nguyen has previously served as a City Councilmember, Orange County Supervisor, State Senate in the 34th District, and State Assembly.
For press inquiries or questions, please contact Jacqui Nguyen, press secretary for the Senate Republican Caucus, at 858.999.7706.
Portola, CA - May 21, 2023 - On Sunday, May 21st, at approximately 12:58 PM, the Plumas County Sheriff's Office received a call regarding a suspected improvised explosive device near the 500 block of East Sierra Avenue in Portola near the disc golf course. Immediate action was taken as PCSO personnel were dispatched to secure the area.
Upon arrival, the PCSO contacted the Butte County Inter-Agency Bomb Squad, who responded to the scene. The highly trained bomb squad members conducted a thorough assessment and ultimately executed a safe operation to neutralize the suspected improvised explosive device.
The collaborative efforts between the Plumas County Sheriff's Office and the Butte County Inter-Agency Bomb Squad were crucial in ensuring the safety of our community. Their swift response and expertise in handling such situations played a vital role in resolving the incident without harm to anyone.
The investigation into the origin and reasons behind the placement of the device is currently ongoing. The Plumas County Sheriff's Office is working diligently to gather all available evidence to ensure a complete investigation.
Residents are reminded to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity or objects to the Plumas County Sheriff's Office immediately. The prompt reporting of such incidents greatly assists law enforcement in ensuring public safety.
Anyone with information related to this incident is urged to contact the Plumas County Sheriff's Office at (530) 283-6300.
Visit us online at plumascounty.us and follow us on Facebook ###
Caltrans District 2 and contractor Hat Creek Construction and Materials, Inc. are planning for continued sinkhole repairs later this week on State Route 70 in the Beckwourth area between the junction with Beckwourth Calpine Road and County Road A24.
Starting Wednesday morning (May 24), motorists should plan for 24/7 traffic control in the area with 15-minute delays. All work is currently planned to be completed by Friday (May 26) at noon prior to the holiday weekend.
Please plan ahead for delays and drive slowly and carefully in and around the work area. 24/7 updated highway conditions available via QuickMap: https://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/.
Congressman Doug LaMalfa
This week, Congress passed several pieces of legislation that aimed to reinforce our support of this nation's law enforcement officers in honor of National Police Week. We recognize the sacrifices that law enforcement officers make and honor the memory of those who gave their lives to protect and defend their fellow citizens from criminals. Over 54 law enforcement officers of California's First Congressional District have given their lives to protect their fellow citizens, a number that is far too high.
First, we introduced and passed House Concurrent Resolution 40, a simple piece of legislation that expresses Congress's support for America's law enforcement officers and condemning recent efforts to defund and dismantle the police. We have had plenty of experience with the latter here in California, where city governments have demonized and defunded their police departments, and the State has reduced penalties for lawlessness. These policies caused a surge in crime, drug abuse, and homelessness that has endangered the lives of millions of Californians. The past few years have proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that anti-law and order policy is destabilizing and leads to social collapse as well as chaos.
Our major piece of legislation for Police Week was the Protect Our Law enforcement with Immigration Control and Enforcement (POLICE) Act of 2023. The bill makes it an immediately deportable offense for an illegal immigrant to assault a police officer. Illegal immigrants have already broken our laws by entering our country, and to then go on to commit an assault against this nation's law enforcement further underscores the point that they should not be here and do not belong in American society.
Finally, Congress passed the Federal Law Enforcement Officer Service Weapon Purchase Act. This bill allows retiring law enforcement personnel to purchase their service weapons at market price from the government. Currently, when a law enforcement officer retires, their weapon is destroyed at cost to the taxpayer. Allowing them to purchase their weapon if they so choose is both fiscally sound and consistent with the Second Amendment. If an LEO wishes to keep his or her service weapon after being good stewards of it throughout their careers, then they should be allowed to do so in compliance with existing gun regulations.
House Republicans believe in the rule of law and social stability. These bills reinforce our nation's sovereignty and social cohesion and our appreciation for the courageous few who risk it all to preserve law and order. Painful experiences in California and cities across the United States have shown that soft-on-crime policies such as cashless bail, catch and release, and lenient sentencing do not work. Thinking like this must be brought to an end if stability and order are to return to our nation's streets.
Member of Congress
Ed's note: Sierra County Board of Supervisors wrote its own letter of opposition during its last Board meeting.
Joins multistate coalition in filing amicus brief calling on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to uphold the 60-year-old federal law that prohibits firearms retailers from selling handguns and handgun ammunition to individuals under the age of 21
SACRAMENTO -- California Attorney General Rob Bonta today joined a multistate coalition of attorneys general encouraging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to affirm a district court decision upholding the federal law restricting sales of handguns and handgun ammunition to people under 21 years of age in Reese v. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms & Explosives. The case addresses a Second Amendment challenge to the federal prohibition on sales of handguns and handgun ammunition to persons under 21 by federally licensed firearms dealers. The district court granted the government’s motion to dismiss, and plaintiffs have appealed. The multistate coalition argues that an opinion striking down the federal law could undermine efforts by states to protect their citizens through the application of similar age limitations laws.
“Upholding the federal law is especially important because individuals under 21 commit a disproportionate share of violent crimes,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. "For almost sixty years, federal law has prohibited federally licensed firearms retailers from selling handguns and handgun ammunition to individuals under the age of 21. It has stood the test of time and should be upheld to protect people across the nation. I stand with other states dedicated to safeguarding yet another commonsense gun law.”
Plaintiffs challenge this restriction on the ground that it unduly infringes upon the Second Amendment rights of young people. But the Fifth Circuit rejected that claim in 2012 based on a historical record that provides abundant evidence of a longstanding tradition of limiting young people’s access to arms, and the district court here correctly reasoned that the Court’s prior analysis remains sound after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v. Bruen. The Second Amendment allows governments to enact sensible and varied regulations designed to protect the public as long as those regulations are consistent with the nation’s historical tradition.
Exercising that authority, 19 states and the District of Columbia have established a minimum age requirement of 21 for individuals to purchase handguns — essentially mirroring the federal law at issue. A decision setting aside the longstanding federal prohibition on handgun sales to individuals under the age of 21 could call those statutes, and others, into question.
These efforts continue the ongoing work of Attorney General Bonta to protect the public from gun violence. Recently, the Attorney General launched a first-in-the-nation Office of Gun Violence Prevention, took legal action against ghost gun retailers, advocated for and defended commonsense gun laws, worked on the ground to keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals, and announced Senate Bill 2 (SB 2), to strengthen California's existing concealed carry weapon (CCW) laws. California’s Assembly Bill 1594 (AB 1594), which was sponsored by Attorney General Bonta and signed into law in July 2022, creates a pathway for Californians who have been harmed by gun violence to hold the appropriate parties — including gun manufacturers and distributors — accountable. AB 1594 goes into effect in California on July 1, 2023.
Attorney General Bonta also provided grants to local law enforcement to support activities related to seizing weapons from individuals prohibited from possessing them, called on credit card companies to do their part to end illegal gun trafficking and mass shootings, and promoted the use of the state’s red flag laws to remove weapons from individuals who pose a danger to themselves or others.
Attorney General Bonta joins the attorneys general of Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin in filing this amicus brief. A copy of the brief can be found here.
The Barbed Wire - May 19, 2023
On May 16th, the Biden-Harris Administration announced the availability of nearly $11 billion in grants and loan opportunities that will help rural energy and utility providers bring affordable, reliable clean energy to their communities across the country. Funding is available through two programs under the Inflation Reduction Act. Specifically, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be opening a Letter of Interest process for the Empowering Rural America (“New ERA”) program, which makes $9.7 billion available to eligible rural electric cooperatives to deploy renewable energy systems, zero-emission and carbon capture systems. In addition to New ERA, USDA will also be opening a Letter of Interest process for the Powering Affordable Clean Energy (PACE) program, which makes $1 billion available in partially forgivable loans to renewable-energy developers and electric service providers, including municipals, cooperatives, and investor-owned and Tribal utilities to help finance large-scale solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, hydropower projects and energy storage in support of renewable energy systems.
More information on the New ERA program is available here. Rural electric cooperatives, including current and previous USDA borrowers, are eligible for funding. To apply, eligible entities must submit a Letter of Interest between July 31 and August 31, 2023.
More information on the PACE program is available here. Loans through this program may be forgiven by 40% of the loan amount, and the maximum loan amount is $100 million. For this program, USDA will begin accepting Letters of Interest starting on June 30, 2023, on a rolling basis until September 29, 2023.
QUINCY, CA — Last night firefighters responded to a small fire on the Plumas National Forest Mount Hough Ranger District near Keddie.
The fire was reported at 7:55 p.m. and was quickly contained at midnight at less than a half acre. The cause is under investigation, but it is believed to be human caused.
The response included six engines, one hotshot crew, one hand crew and fire leadership. Firefighters are continuing to work on mop-up today.
California Highway 70 was closed between Quincy and the Greenville Wye for approximately an hour last night to provide room for firefighter response. The road reopened to one-way traffic and was fully open after midnight.
Drivers on Highway 70 should watch for increased firefighting traffic in the area as work continues.
“We appreciate everyone’s patience while we responded and quickly suppressed the Keddie Fire last night,” said Mount Hough District Fire Management Officer Tommy Grubbs. “The hard work and rapid response of our firefighters helped keep the Keddie Fire small.”
During the transition from spring into summer, conditions can be within prescription for prescribed burning, with the support of firefighters on engines, hand crews and other equipment to safely conduct operations.
However, warmer temperatures, lower humidity and afternoon and evening winds can create conditions for wildfire. In recent weeks, Plumas National Forest firefighters have responded to several small fires in the area, including the Keddie Fire, while also safely conducting prescribed burning work.
Area residents and visitors are asked to use caution with anything that can spark a wildfire.
This includes ensuring campfires are built within a fire ring and in an area clear of debris, are never left unattended, and are dead-out and cold to the touch before leaving. Trailer chains should be secured and tires properly inflated to avoid throwing a spark. And spark arresters should be in good working condition on motorized equipment.
“As the summer recreation and fire seasons start, it is important for everyone to help us prevent human-caused wildfires,” Grubbs said. “Our firefighters are committed this season to do everything we can on suppression efforts as we continue to work on critical fuel reduction to reduce the risk of devastating wildfires.”
For more information on the Plumas National Forest, visit www.fs.usda.gov/plumas or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/USFSPlumas.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.
SACRAMENTO — The California Transportation Commission (CTC) this week allocated more than $1.6 billion in state and federal funding that will continue transforming and improving transportation infrastructure throughout the state. The allocation includes nearly $500 million in funding from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 (IIJA) and more than $89 million in funding from Senate Bill (SB) 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017.
“The infrastructure projects funded with these state and federal dollars will benefit all Californians by reducing climate impacts, improving equity and access, and increasing traveler safety,” said Caltrans Director Tony Tavares. “These transformative investments are giving Caltrans the tools it needs to rebuild California.”
Projects the CTC approved include:
The IIJA, also known as the “Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” is a once-in-a-generation investment in our nation's infrastructure to improve the sustainability and resiliency of our energy, water, broadband and transportation systems. Since November 2021, California has received $20 billion in federal infrastructure funding. That includes more than $15 billion in federal transportation funding to upgrade the state’s roads, bridges, rail, public transit, airports, electric vehicle charging network, ports and waterways. These transportation investments alone have already created nearly 48,000 jobs.
The influx of federal funding is on top of California’s multiyear infrastructure investments in transit and intercity rail projects, safe walking and biking options, and upgrades to the state’s economy-powering supply chain, in addition to SB 1, which provides $5 billion in transportation funding annually that is shared equally between state and local agencies. Road projects progress through construction phases more quickly based on the availability of SB 1 funds, including projects that are partially funded by SB 1.
To provide Californians with the latest news and information on state and federal infrastructure investments, Caltrans expanded RebuildingCA.ca.gov – the website tracking the progress of SB 1 – to contain data on the increased federal funding. Website visitors can learn more about the different federal infrastructure programs, track the amount of funding California is receiving and find projects on an updated interactive map.
Mylar Balloon Caused Yesterday’s Vacaville Power Outage
CHICO, Calif.— With graduation season is in full swing and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is warning customers about the public safety risks associated with helium-filled metallic balloons. If your graduation celebration involves balloons, make sure they are secured with a weight. Otherwise they can float away and come into contact with overhead power lines, causing a public safety risk.
Just yesterday, a metallic balloon caused an 8-hour power outage in Vacaville impacting 2,700 customers after it damaged a power line.
In the first four months of 2023, metallic balloons striking electric lines have caused 91 power outages in PG&E's service area, disrupting service to more than 35,000 customers. These power outages can interrupt electric service to critical facilities such as hospitals, schools and traffic lights.
“Graduation season is a happy time for California students and families, filled with school commencements and celebrations. But the mass balloon releases we often see at graduation ceremonies can quickly put a damper on the fun. When metallic balloons make contact with power lines, they can cause widespread power outages. We urge everyone to celebrate responsibly and secure metallic balloons with a weight,” said Joe Wilson, Vice President for PG&E’s North Valley & Sierra Region.
Metallic balloons have a silvery coating, which is a conductor for electricity. If the balloons float away and make contact with power lines, they can short transformers, cause power outages and melt electrical wires, causing public safety risks. PG&E tends to see an increase in balloon-caused outages during graduation season.
To help ensure that graduation balloon celebrations are enjoyed responsibly, PG&E reminds customers to follow these important balloon safety tips:
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is a combined natural gas and electric utility serving more than 16 million people across 70,000 square miles in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit pge.com and pge.com/news.
CHP SHIFTS INTO OVERDRIVE TO HALT RECKLESS DRIVING BEHAVIORS
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The California Highway Patrol (CHP) is accelerating its efforts to halt illegal street racing and sideshows plaguing the state’s roadways and destroying the lives of innocent victims. To increase awareness about the devastation and destruction caused by this illegal and dangerous driving behavior, the CHP unveiled a new multi-media campaign while standing amid a three-dimensional installation featuring an actual crashed vehicle along Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles.
The billboard, a striking visual reminder, is just one of the more than 50 displays being erected throughout the state reminding drivers about illegal street racing and sideshows, “Thrills That Kill.” The public can expect to see the billboard campaign through the summer months in areas of California that have seen a high number of illegal street racing and side show activity. Among the locations: Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and the Central San Joaquin Valley.
Illegal sideshows have been occurring at an alarming rate in California, and they continue to get bigger and more dangerous. In 2021, the CHP responded to more than 7,300 incidents statewide with nearly 123,000 participants. While the number of incidents decreased by approximately 50 percent last year, there is still a significant amount of work to be done to keep California’s communities, and those who use our roads, safe.
“Illegal street racing and sideshows put lives at risk, upset the quality of our neighborhoods, cause damage to private and public property, and in some cases, have resulted in the death of innocent people,” CHP Deputy Commissioner Troy Lukkes said. “Through our ongoing efforts we want to send the message throughout California that this dangerous and illegal activity will not be tolerated.”
Over a 5-year period, illegal street racing and sideshow activities have resulted in 264 crashes. Of those incidents attributed to this reckless behavior, 30 crashes were fatal, and 124 others resulted injuries.
To combat this trend, the CHP has been working with its public safety partners and community-based organizations throughout the state. Together, we are engaging in a strong education and enforcement campaign with the goal of keeping all who use California’s roadways safe by encouraging others to make good choices behind the wheel.
Funding to support the CHP’s efforts were made possible by the Governor’s approval of a one-time state budget allocation of $5.5 million at the request of California Assemblymember Vince Fong and a former Assemblymember, Sacramento County Sheriff Jim Cooper. The funds are being used to support state and local task forces to end dangerous sideshow activities that have become a major problem in communities throughout the state.
The mission of the CHP is to provide the highest level of Safety, Service, and Security.
Where can the location of your colony sweeten or sour your beekeeping journey?
To mark World Bee Day on May 20, Lawn Love ranked 2023’s Best States for Beekeeping.
We compared 39 of the 50 states (with available data) based on four categories. We looked at honey production, colony loss, and apiculture classes, among 15 total metrics.
Some of the nation’s most populous states — California (No. 1), New York (No. 2), and Texas (No. 4) — buzz to the top of our ranking among apicultural epicenters like North Dakota (No. 3). North Dakota produced 31,200 pounds of honey in 2022 — nearly three times the amount produced by California.
Utah (No. 37) may be The Beehive State, but that nickname is irrelevant when it comes to discussing the state’s beekeeping industry. Utah disappoints with high total annual colony loss, low beekeeper salaries, and a lack of bee-friendly legislation, landing alongside Arizona (No. 38) and Wyoming in last place. These three states fall behind with low scores across the board.
DWR Launches ‘Be Well Prepared’ Program to Ensure Safe and Reliable Drinking Water for Households and Communities Dependent on Groundwater
Sacramento, Calif. – DWR today announced the official launch of the new Be Well Prepared program that provides information and resources to help well owners, well users, and local agencies be ready for impacts of climate-driven weather extremes on groundwater supplies and drinking water wells. Groundwater is a critical component of California’s water supply and is heavily relied upon by communities, agriculture and the environment, especially during dry and drought years.
While California’s surface water conditions have greatly improved thanks to recent storms, many communities across the state that rely on groundwater basins are still experiencing drinking water impacts from three years of extreme drought. Being well prepared empowers well owners, as well as state and local agencies, to understand local groundwater conditions, identify areas where drinking water supplies may be at risk and know how to access and allocate assistance when and where it is needed.
“Eighty-five percent of Californians depend on groundwater for some portion of their drinking water supply, yet most people have little understanding of this vital resource,” said DWR’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Office Deputy Director Paul Gosselin. “The Be Well Prepared program will bring increased awareness to groundwater as an important drinking water supply. It is of critical importance that well owners understand their water supply and that the state and local drought response agencies provide consistent and coordinated assistance.”
Groundwater basins across the state are heavily relied upon during drought – accounting for up to 60 percent of the state’s total water supply during dry years - and still have a long way to go to recover from decades of overuse. California continues to face water variability, with extreme swings between flood and drought, and the state is proactively planning for dry conditions that will eventually return, including anticipating potential impacts to groundwater supplies and drinking water wells.
Through the Be Well Prepared program DWR is providing information and resources that will be shared and coordinated with well owners, other state agencies and local agencies that serve in a drought response capacity. These resources will help well owners:
While groundwater recharge efforts have accelerated significantly this year, replenishment of groundwater basins is a slow process that will take some time to be realized. The State anticipates a slow rise in groundwater levels from this year’s storms, which will continue through the melting of the Sierra snowpack, but recovery from recent drought years will take much more than one good water year. With summer on the way, well owners are encouraged to use these resources now to Be Well Prepared for the weather whiplash ahead and keep household water supplies flowing.
For more information, visit:
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Upgraded facilities and protections promote the return of Chinook to North Yuba River A framework agreement between state, federal and local agencies will reopen miles of habitat to multiple native fish species and promote the return of imperiled spring-run Chinook salmon to their native habitat in the North Yuba River for the first time in more than 100 years, in one of the most ambitious watershed recovery efforts in California.
This collaboration between California through the Newsom Administration’s Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), Yuba Water Agency and NOAA Fisheries will resolve years of conflict and includes major actions to help recover imperiled fish:
“Where dams once broke up this important habitat, we can now use a holistic approach in returning anadromous fish to this important part of their native habitat in California,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “This agreement envisions a much-improved big picture of a restored watershed, with surging rivers and healthy fish populations once again.”
Agencies all contribute
The agencies have already committed at least $60 million, with part of the funds coming from funding proposed by the Newsom Administration and appropriated to CDFW by the California Legislature for river connectivity and salmon benefits.
California’s Central Valley once saw annual returns of spring-run Chinook numbering close to 600,000, greatly contributing to the fisheries and economy of the West Coast. The Yuba River was a Chinook salmon stronghold, supporting many miles of spawning grounds from its confluence with the Feather all the way up to the snow melt tributaries of the North, Middle and South Yuba rivers.
Currently, two federal dams built to control the devastating impacts of Gold Rush-era mining prevent native fish species such as Chinook salmon and green sturgeon from reaching their historic spawning grounds in the Yuba River watershed. Daguerre Point Dam (built in 1910) currently allows only limited passage for some fish species and Englebright Dam (built in 1941) is a complete barrier to fish passage to the upper Yuba River watershed. Both dams are owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The agencies’ collaborative implementation of the restoration plan announced today will promote Chinook salmon and other aquatic species recovery by improving access to currently limited habitats in the Yuba River watershed. This will be accomplished through the construction of a nature-like fishway around Daguerre Point Dam for volitional passage to spawning and rearing habitat in the lower watershed and by promoting the reintroduction of Chinook salmon into their ancestral home in the upper watershed above New Bullards Bar Reservoir through a comprehensive reintroduction program.
“We all want salmon to be part of California’s future. These actions will help make that happen: They will increase the resiliency of native Chinook salmon to the extremes we are seeing with climate change,” said Jennifer Quan, Regional Administrator in NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region. “Reliable river flows and diverse habitat including access to previously blocked areas help the species adjust to changing conditions. This agreement represents the best of what we can do together when we find common ground.”
“Yuba Water’s commitment to collaboration and environmental stewardship runs deep,” said Willie Whittlesey, General Manager of Yuba Water Agency. “Today’s historic announcement builds on the success of past partnerships, including the Lower Yuba River Accord and North Yuba Forest Partnership, which show that – when we work together and think creatively – we really can advance our missions of water supply reliability, flood risk reduction and zero-carbon hydroelectric generation while also supporting the needs of salmon and other native fish species.”
The agreement sets in motion a joint plan to return spring-run Chinook salmon and other aquatic species to their historic habitat in the North Yuba River above New Bullards Bar Reservoir and enhance habitat functionality in the lower Yuba River. The agencies are prepared to hit the ground running by immediately initiating implementation of the agreement with the goal of reintroducing spring-run Chinook salmon in the North Yuba River by 2025. In combination, the actions in the restoration plan represent an unprecedented effort to improve habitat conditions and contribute to the recovery of historic fish runs to this waterway.
“These actions, taken together, will bring a much-needed watershed approach to protecting and expanding spawning and rearing habitat,” Bonham said. “We will see the benefits in the form of increased populations of state and federally listed spring-run Chinook salmon and other aquatic species.”
CDFW, Yuba Water Agency and NOAA Fisheries expect to finalize a settlement based on the framework agreement by the end of 2023.
Digesting Friends of Plumas Wilderness National Monument ProposalAn Essay by Rick Maddalena, Sierraville CA. May 7. 2023
A good tool for evaluating a major strategic shift for any large scale resource management philosophy is to put the process to a clear set of analytic questions:
Problem to be solved:
Friends of Plumas argue that a very small share (between 4 and 7% depending on what list they use at a specific presentation) of the Upper Feather River watershed is “Protected.” That includes Wilderness, Wild/Scenic River, National Park, and Research Natural Areas. They do not account for other categories of protection. For example: State Parks, Fish and Wildlife preserves, lands with conservation easements, lands under Williamson Act, wildlife preserves, timber production zones and other local, state, or federal classifications.
Similarly, they do not include the National Forest Lands of the Plumas, Tahoe, and Lassen National Forests that are managed under the Multiple Use/ Sustained Yield Act and National Forest Management Act with supporting protection of a long list of protective legislation (passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law by the President) including:
Congress and the President mandated in the National Forest Management Act of 1976 that the Forest Service develop management plans for each National Forest. That process took years for each Forest to assemble the data for resource management strategies with extensive public involvement. The planning teams used that public, cooperating agency, and tribal input to develop alternatives and to evaluate those alternatives. The product of that work was put under intense scrutiny. Those who had issues with the outcomes were afforded an opportunity to appeal the decision to the Regional Forester. The Plumas completed that process in 1988 and underwent significant amendments including the Sierra Nevada Forest Plan Amendment 1998 (including adoption of the Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Group Act). The most recent amendment process (2010) was done to evaluate and develop and implement Public Motorized Vehicle Use Plan and ongoing Over the Snow Vehicle Plan. The 1988 plan and its amendments a adopt a series of Standards and Guidelines for the protection of each acre of National Forest land.
The question of there being an outdated plan might really be a lack of implementation of that plan in part stagnated by persistent appeals at the project level.
The only real question about what is “protected” VS “not protected” is the potential for land managers of the future to choose to relax protections in future forest plan updates. The reality is that future managers will likely adopt stronger protections unless science surfaces more clear direction.
THE RIGHT DECSION MAKER:
Friends of the Plumas Wilderness have offered themselves as the planner for new direction. Although this organization has said at public meetings that they don’t have a plan for the specifics of a land classification in a proposed “National Monument”, their web site says something different. They propose an additional 400,000 acres of classified “protection” and 100 miles of wild and scenic rivers.
They also propose a process that: One US Congress Representative (or one US Senator) must submit legislation to adopt the Upper Feather River National Monument. Once that has been submitted, the President can then proclaim National Monument Status.
The first problem here is that the Friends of the Plumas Wilderness is a special interest group with an obvious bias for resource management priorities built into their name and with a history of using the appeal process to force decisions to go their way and stall implementation of projects.
The second problem is the lack of transparency about what they are truly proposing and who is funding this effort and what conditions do these “anonymous donors” have for funding this effort. No doubt those deep pockets have been using “monkey wrench” tools to appeal and litigate their biased views of how the Forest should be managed and stall implementation projects.
The third issue is one of damage being done to our democracy. The National Forest Management Act, with the full debate in committee and on the floors of both houses, was adopted into law. That will of the people, in the most visible presentation of our constitutional design, will be bypassed by a Special Interest Group supported by one elected congressional representative and a President with a 42% approval rating. The environmental consequences (and determination of what uses will be allowed in the future) will be disclosed only after the evolution of a management plan designed to implement the priorities assembled by the special interest group. An astute observer referred to this process as the introduction of a Trojan Horse.
The Friends of the Plumas expound the value of bringing the knowledge of Native Americans to play in the active management of the resources, particularly by re-introduction of low intensity fire to promote forest health. Presuming that Native American representatives have that knowledge, it could be a simple matter of having the Plumas, Tahoe, and Lassen National Forest host a workshop where the knowledge could be transferred to the line officers, managers, and fuels specialist responsible for those actions. The workshops should include those responsible for the involved National and State parks. To maximize training value, representatives of Carb and the Air Resource’s Boards should be a part of the training.
RESPONSIBLE DECISION MAKING:
The final test of a good policy transition is to assure that the new direction is based on quality analysis of the problem at hand and the options for resolving the problem.
As outlined above, the Friends of the Plumas Wilderness has not defined a significant problem other than what they want to clandestinely change. The Friends of the Plumas Wilderness (a special interest group) is not the appropriate authority to propose a broad scale change in how the public lands are to be managed. Further, the executive order process is not an appropriate tool to change those classifications over the will of people as expressed by congress and the president who adopted the National Forest Management Act. Nor is it appropriate for these changes to be made behind the back of those that participated in the 1988 Land and Resource Management Plan and the subsequent amendments.
It would be appropriate for Friends of the Plumas Wilderness to lobby for an update to amend Plumas National Forest Plan (to address the circumstances leading to the major wildland fires of the last decade). It would also be appropriate for this group to work with the Forest Service to host a workshop with Native Americans with knowledge of how to use fire to restore forest health and to reduce the risk of stand replacing wildfire.
It would be appropriate for our elected representative and Senators to appropriately fund the Plumas, Tahoe, and Lassen National Forest to address the watershed restoration needs of the Dixie, North Complex, and Beckwourth Complex fire scars and fund fuels treatments on areas that haven’t recently burned.
It would be appropriate for a Native American who has knowledge about how to re-introduce fire as a forest health tool, to bring that knowledge to the authorized land managers.
As a society, it would be appropriate for us to do a detailed analysis about what went wrong with the management of the northern Sierra National Forest that led up to tragedies like the North Complex, Dixie Fire, Beckwourth Complex and the other catastrophic fires of the last decade.
FOREST HEALTH ISSUES:
Very large portions of the Upper Feather River watershed have been severely damaged by wildland fire. The list of major fires in the last 30 years is long and covers much of the watershed. There are many variables that influenced how and why these fires burned as severely they did. There is no simple answer to this question. Each of the following factors (and probably more) come into play:
Rick Maddalena, Resident, Sierraville, CA (Upper Middle Fork Feather River)
Feather River Action Calls for Plan to be Withdrawn
More info: https://featherriveraction.org/hat-creek-at-it-again-plans-delleker-asphalt-plant-directly-next-to-feather-river/
According to a public notice published May 10th, 2023, Hat Creek Construction Company, contractor for Caltrans, is planning to construct a "temporary" asphalt plant directly adjacent to the Feather River in Delleker, 2000 feet south (and upwind) of the Delleker residential area, and only 500 feet from homes in the Iron Horse community across the river. The operation would run from April to November, from 6am to 6pm, up to 24 hours/ day for 3 years (but probably longer) mainly to supply Caltrans with asphalt for its Highway 70 repaving project.
The project would generate at least 150 round trip truck trips per day, all crossing the railroad at an uncontrolled crossing, risking accidents and derailments, including possible oil spills directly into to the river. Even in the best case scenario, the plant would pollute the land and the river, which provides drinking water to more than 27 million Californians. If Plumas County is serious about protecting the river and the watershed, as is stated on the Feather River Tourism Association website, this plant cannot be permitted to proceed.
The Humbug Valley (including Portola) is already in federal non-attainment status for the air pollutant PM 2.5, which is increasingly being linked to asthma, respiratory diseases, even cancer and brain damage including cardiovascular damage, stroke, and dementia. With dense smoke from wood burning in the winter, and wildfire smoke in the summer and fall months already burdening the health of the population, an asphalt plant would only add to the health and environmental challenges the area faces. Portola residents report that odors from the sewage treatment plant are routinely carried into town by prevailing westerly winds. Asphalt fumes would likely travel directly into Iron Horse, Delleker and Portola for much of the year, making it impossible for residents to cool their homes by opening windows at night. Only those who can afford air conditioning would be able to keep cool during heatwaves. The noise of the operations would reverberate around the entire valley. In addition to being irritating, noise pollution is associated with heart disease, and other serious diseases. Sadly this is another case of environmental classism, forcing lower income people to bear the brunt of pollution.
The impacts of asphalt plants are well known, and Caltrans and Hat Creek should not be so irresponsible or out of touch to locate one near a residential community and directly next to the Feather River.
The site was historically Feather River floodplain land, and will one day likely revert to being a part of the river again. Given forecast higher river flows in the future, that day may come sooner that we think. All the asphalt byproducts would wash into the river, down to Lake Oroville where they would pollute agricultural water and drinking water.
Several years ago, Hat Creek purchased a 713 acre plot of land in North Portola and planned to construct a sand mine and asphalt plant but were stopped by strong community opposition including from Feather River Action! (FRA!) in 2021, and the land was purchased by local resident Linda Judge and Plumas Sierra Partners to preserve the open space and prevent the mine.
Now Hat Creek is back with an equally ill conceived plan that would harm the entire Portola area. In order to stop this plan, the public needs to get involved now to learn more about the plan and take action. See below.
What you can do:
1. Read the environmental documents and learn more about the project and its impact on the community. Go to this website, and click on "download all attachments" at the bottom of the page to download the environmental documents. Hat Creek and Caltrans are trying to get away with a "mitigated negative declaration" but this project, given its location to the protected Feather River, should be required to do a full environmental impact report (EIR) or be withdrawn.
2. Submit a comment opposing the plant to the Plumas County Planning Department, deadline June 10th, 2023.Send to TimEvans@countyofplumas.com or mail to Tracey Ferguson 555 Main Street, Quincy, CA 95971
3. Volunteer to help FRA! alert and mobilize the public in the area. We could use donations, volunteers, etc. as soon as possible Contact us for more info.
On 05/11/2023, at approximately 1430 hours, Jesse Ackley (44 yrs old out of Meadow Valley) was driving his 2003 Harley Davidson motorcycle northbound on State Route 89, just north of Dawn Institute Road. Ackley made an unsafe turning movement and allowed the Harley Davidson motorcycle to drive onto the east gravel shoulder. The Harley Davidson motorcycle continued to drive across the east shoulder then overturned. The Harley Davidson motorcycle and Ackley came to rest down the east shoulder embankment. Ackley was care flighted to Enloe medical center for his injuries, according to California Highway Patrol, Quincy area
10 CANDIDATES applied for the Sierra Plumas Joint Unified School District Superintendent position. Those applications will be vetted and a short list will be brought before the School Board to be interviewed after May 19th.
A Full-time music teacher was discussed at the School Board meeting in Loyalton on May 9th. Superintendent James Berardi stated Prop 28 funds for music and arts education would be used for this position. He received letters of support from Sierra Schools Foundation and Sierra County Arts Council. Initial plan is the Sierra Plumas Unified School District would cover benefits and Prop 28, SSF and Sierra County Arts Council would cover the rest of the salary. Salary amounts would depend on the credentialed teacher’s years of experience. This will be an action item on the next agenda June 21st.
TITLE IX was discussed during the joint meeting of the Sierra County Board of Education and Sierra-Plumas Joint Unified School District Governing Board on May 9th. Superintendent James Berardi reported there was a complaint girl’s softball didn’t have the same access as boy’s baseball at Loyalton High School. He stated they were collecting bids on fencing and backstops and have space to build a softball field behind the boys field. He said the girls need equal access, adding the other option is to take away from the boys so it becomes equal. Berardi stated they would rather add than take away.
A FOREST SERVICE UPDATE was given to the Sierra County Board of Supervisors’ at its regular meeting held May 2nd in Downieville. Sierraville District Ranger Rachel Hutchinson reported the front desk position will start May 22nd and the office will be open Monday through Friday. She stated a road closure order was in effect through May 23rd but roads should open up as snow melts.
The Sierraville Shooting Range was due to be open the following week.
Campgrounds in Sierraville will not be open until May 26th.
Jackson Meadows is not expected to open until July 4th. Snow there, is still up to the traffic signs.
Acting District Ranger for the Yuba Ranger District, Andrew Mishler reported that the District is getting close to making a final selection for the District Ranger position. He stated the Ramshorn Campground tree removal project is over 50% complete. Both Sierra and Yuba Pass Campgrounds that also need tree removal are still under snow.
GOLD LAKE ROAD was discussed during the Sierra County Board of Supervisors’ meeting held May 2nd in Downieville. Deputy Transportation Director Bryan Davey reported they have been getting a lot of pressure on opening Gold Lake Road. He said it is not likely to be open at the normal time, adding there’s still 12 feet of snow in spots on the Plumas County side. He felt it would be mid-June before the road can open. Davey stated they moved the trailheads for the OSV program up to the Windy Point. They were able to get the contractor out to Packer Lake Road to work on a bridge project, but Salmon Lake road is still inaccessible. Snow is still over the top of the signs, adding it’s been a historic snow year.
Davey said Sardine is the one resort that would be able to open earlier as snow has significantly melted there.
the Downieville COMMUNITY CENTER RENOVATION PROJECT was discussed during Department Manager’s reports at the Sierra County Board of Supervisors’ meeting May 2nd. Deputy Transportation Director Bryan Davey reported on talks of hiring a contractor as a temporary employee to significantly reduce the cost of the overall budget. He stated they are looking at redesigning the kitchen and stage. He felt they were closing in on something over budget but not significantly like it was. Davey was confident they may get to a solution. He said USDA was not comfortable with the negotiated contract content, but they are working to get final approval so they can execute the plan.
DISCUSSION regarding contracts with Feather River Forestry, LLC for Forestry and County Coordinator services and direction to move forward with the Upper North Yuba Forest Health & Resilience (Yuba 49), Green Acres Forest Health & Resilience, and Roadside Fuels projects was held during the Sierra County Board of Supervisors’ meeting in Downieville on May 2nd. County Counsel David Prentice submitted an opinion on the matter which states in part: On April 18, 2023, the Board of Supervisors approved an amendment to the Master Stewardship Agreement (County Agreement 2020-095) providing for a supplemental project putting significant funds towards roadside fuels reduction (project). It is anticipated that Danielle Bradfield will act as project manager. Ms. Bradfield is the County Forester under contract with the County of Sierra through Feather River Forestry Services, LLC. A question regarding conflict has arisen regarding Ms. Bradfield and her company as related to the project.
All contracts existing between the County and Ms. Bradfield have been reviewed in conjunction with the project agreement. Following this review, no conflicts of interest have been identified. As the County Forester, it is expected that Ms. Bradfield would be involved in a project of this nature. The possible conflict identified in Government Code section 1090 does not apply here. There is no evidence that Ms. Bradfield participated in the making of the project agreement which is a federally funded project. The agreement was presented to the County and approved by the Board without input from Ms. Bradfield other than as the County Forester. While Ms. Bradfield benefits from the agreement, she did not make the agreement. Therefore, unless other material facts exist which are not known to this office, there is no conflict or Section 1090 violation.
A question regarding the application of prevailing wage to the project has also been raised. Forest thinning projects and forest fuels reduction are not “public works” projects subject to prevailing wage. AB 1717 sought to include like projects as public works, but said bill was vetoed by the Governor based on wildfire concerns if fuels reduction was not carried out due to expense of prevailing wage. Moreover, prevailing wage does not apply to federal projects. Supervisor Paul Roen stated they wanted to get contracts instituted this summer. Bradfield stated Yuba 49 and Green Acres are ready to go they just have a lot of snow. She said they’d like to get a Request for Proposals (RFP) released to start the lower elevation road side fuels projects. By consensus, the Board gave direction for Bradfield to move forward.