Monday, 27 May 2024

Regional



As targeted law enforcement efforts in Oakland and the East Bay continue, Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday announced the California Highway Patrol, in partnership with local law enforcement, has recovered 726 stolen vehicles, seized 46 crime-linked firearms, and arrested 355 suspects linked to organized crime, carjackings, and other crimes.

“I commend the work of the CHP to support local law enforcement efforts statewide, including in the East Bay, to ensure the safety of our communities. The state will continue to hold perpetrators accountable for criminal activity,” said Newsom.

“The ongoing crime suppression operation in Oakland and the East Bay is a testament to our unwavering commitment to enhancing public safety,” said CHP Commissioner Sean Duryee. “By targeting high-crime areas and deploying additional resources, we are working with our law enforcement partners to reduce criminal activity and create safer communities throughout the region.”

Throughout continuous law enforcement operations, suspects have been arrested by the CHP for charges including possession of stolen property, auto theft, transportation of narcotics, DUI, and felony gun possession, as well as arrests for outstanding warrants.

The CHP continues undercover operations and uniformed patrol, while coordinating with allied local law enforcement agencies.

CHP’s initial surge was announced by the governor on Feb. 14, 2024 and later that month reported 145 stolen vehicles recovered, 71 arrests made, and four crime-linked firearms seized.

Tuesday’s announcement is part of Gov. Newsom’s ongoing effort to improve public safety in the East Bay, including through a temporary CHP surge operation and increased enforcement focused on combating auto theft, cargo theft, retail crime, violent crime, and high-visibility traffic enforcement.

Late last month, the governor announced the state is installing a network of 480 high-tech cameras in Oakland and the East Bay to aid state and local law enforcement in identifying vehicles linked to crimes using real-time information and alerts.

In March, the governor released Caltrans’ 10-Point Action Plan in support of the city’s efforts to improve street safety and beautification. The comprehensive plan outlines actionable steps the state is taking to further support the city through blight abatement efforts, homeless encampment resolutions, community outreach initiatives, employment opportunities, and other beautification and safety efforts.

California has invested resources and personnel to fight crime, help locals hire more police, and improve public safety. Earlier this year, Gov. Newsom called for new legislation to expand criminal penalties and bolster police and prosecutorial tools to combat theft and take down professional criminals who profit from smash and grabs, retail theft, and car burglaries.

In 2023, as part of California’s Real Public Safety Plan, the governor announced the largest-ever investment to combat organized retail crime in state history, an annual 310% increase in proactive operations targeting organized retail crime, and special operations across the state to fight crime and improve public safety.




Caltrans is alerting motorists about a late season storm in the Sacramento Valley and the Sierra Nevada that is expected to create some travel delays for the weekend.

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory from 11 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Sunday for areas above 5,000 feet.

Snow accumulation is forecast between 4 to 8 inches with localized amounts up to 1 foot over the highest peaks.

The heaviest snowfall is expected Saturday afternoon and evening with wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour.

Motorists should be prepared for travel delays, slippery roads, periods of reduced visibility and chain controls.

If motorists travel during the storm, Caltrans advises to have a full tank of gas or full electric charge and pack extra supplies in the event of an emergency or if traffic is held for an extended period of time. Those supplies should include snacks, water, blankets, and a flashlight.

In the Sacramento Valley, rain amounts are forecast between 0.5 and 1.5 inches. The highest amounts are anticipated near Chico, Marysville and into the foothills. Motorists should be prepared for periods of slick travel conditions.

Updates to the forecast can be found on the National Weather Service website. Motorists are also encouraged to check Caltrans’ QuickMap before traveling for current road conditions and chain requirements or download the QuickMap app from the App Store or Google Play.

Road information is also available on Caltrans’ website or by calling the California Highway Information Network automated phone service at 1-800-427-ROAD (7623).

John Richard Wesley Nicholson Jr. Courtesy photo.

Napa County District Attorney Allison Haley on Thursday announced the filing of murder charges against Vallejo resident John Richard Wesley Nicholson Jr., age 22, in connection with the shooting deaths of a 19-year-old woman and a 17-year-old girl that occurred on the evening of April 13 in the city of Napa.

The defendant is accused of shooting the two victims during an altercation that took place along the 400 block of Riverside Drive at 8:10 p.m., Saturday.

In addition to the two murder charges filed against Nicholson, he is charged with the special circumstance of multiple murder. Additionally, he is charged with the special allegation of personal and intentional discharge of a firearm causing death.

It is further alleged that the crimes involved great bodily harm and involving a high degree of cruelty, viciousness and callousness; that the crimes were carried out with planning, sophistication, and professionalism; and that the defendant engaged in violent conduct that indicates a significant danger to society.

Nicholson last appeared in court on Wednesday afternoon for an arraignment hearing in which he did not enter a plea and was assigned a public defender.

In addition to the charges against the defendant, the Napa County District Attorney’s Office is investigating charges against two suspected accomplices – Santa Rosa residents Jessica Whitten and Judith Adolph, both 19 – who were also arrested in connection with the murders.

Further details regarding this case will not be released at this time as Napa County Deputy District Attorney Agnes Dziadur and Napa County District Attorney Investigator Nick Conrad, along with the assistance of the Napa Police Department, prepare the case against the defendant on behalf of the People.

An artist’s rendition of the Calpella two bridge replacements project. Courtesy photo.

NORTH COAST, Calif. — Beginning Monday, May 20, at 6 p.m., Road 144 at Route 20 will be fully closed as part of our ongoing efforts to replace the two Calpella bridges spanning the Russian River and Eastside Calpella Road.

This closure, slated to last until the end of August, is necessary to reconstruct the intersection which features enhanced acceleration and deceleration lanes.

Additionally, Eastside Calpella Road will undergo a brief closure at a later date for the removal of the existing bridge.

A detour has been arranged for commuters traveling to and from Redwood Valley and the Business District, with clear signage provided for guidance.

This $32.4 million improvement project, spearheaded by Myers and Sons Construction and supported by $5.2 million from SB 1, is anticipated to conclude in 2025.

Visit here for further details.

Humboldt County residents have something new to celebrate this Earth Day, with the announcement of a $6 million grant from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, to fund long-planned efforts to restore the Elk River watershed.

The funding will support the first of several phases of the Elk River Recovery Program which includes a suite of restoration actions along approximately 14 miles of river channel from Highway 101 to portions of the North and South Forks of the river.

Nonprofit lead California Trout collaborated with Elk River communities, local advocacy organizations, agencies, consultants, and the Wiyot Tribe to develop the Recovery Program.

“After ten years of community engagement, planning, and permitting, we’re excited to finally be able to get to work,” said Darren Mierau, North Coast regional director with CalTrout. “The Elk River has taken a beating over the years due to shortsighted land use decisions. This is the first step in a multi-phase project to help bring this watershed back into balance so that agricultural activity can continue with fewer impacts on water quality and wildlife. It’s also a critical part of a region-wide effort to improve habitat for native salmon and other aquatic species.”

Funding for this phase of the Recovery Program, which focuses on priority actions within the Elk River estuary, is coming from the 2022 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and directed through NOAA as part of a nationwide effort to improve the resilience of coastal lands under threat from sea level rise.

As described by NOAA, this phase “is the initial implementation step of a decades-long, community-based program to resolve legacy sediment and water quality impairment issues from excessive timber harvest, while also providing regional resilience to sea level rise and large episodic storm events. The project is intended to improve hydrologic and sediment processes, water quality conditions, and aquatic and riparian habitat functions in Elk River, ultimately reducing nuisance flooding in rural residential properties and agricultural land in this economically disadvantaged community.”

With this funding, CalTrout will reconstruct tidal marsh restoration along Swain Slough, restoring this important habitat type and increasing resilience of this land to sea level rise.

The lower Elk River valley was once an ecologically rich landscape, comprised of dunes and tidal marshes, prairie grasslands, deciduous and coniferous forest, and wetland habitat that supported aquatic species.

Restoration of this area is crucial to the ecological function of the Elk River watershed, and to the recovery of salmon, steelhead, and other state and federally listed fish and wildlife.

The land is also vulnerable to sea level rise, and conversion to salt marsh is already occurring in unmaintained pastures, resulting in a loss of working lands important to the local economy.

A prior $5.5 million grant from the Coastal Conservancy was also critical in supporting engineering design, permitting compliance, and funding for acquisition of up to 175 acres of former tidal marsh from willing landowners.

“Our planned land acquisitions and restoration work in the Elk River estuary are part of a managed retreat strategy that will allow local ranchers to move operations to higher ground while creating space to increase the resilience of the estuary ecosystem to climate change,” added Mierau. “This work brings significant regional economic benefits, both in providing millions of dollars directly for the restoration activities and in ensuring the area can continue to support productive agriculture.” CalTrout will announce the acquisition once plans have been finalized with the current and future landowners.

The NOAA-funded phase of restoration will include removing and upgrading existing drainage infrastructure; reducing or removing levees; restoring tidal slough channels and their connectivity to mainstem channels; and creating features for seasonal waterfowl and winter salmon rearing habitat.

Other activities will include managing invasive vegetation and expanding native plant communities. The project has been designed with climate resilience in mind, and ongoing monitoring of the project will allow it to serve as a template for future climate change response and retreat strategies in Humboldt Bay and the nearby Eel River estuary.

“We're deeply grateful to NOAA's Coastal Zone Management program for their generous support, particularly as state funding diminishes. This award marks a pivotal moment in our mission to protect and recover wild fish and their habitats,” added Curtis Knight, CalTrout’s executive director. “This project aligns with our overall mission to restore and support healthy habitat for California’s native fish, which in turn leads to better land and water management and clean water for the people who depend on our shared natural resources — namely, all of us.”

Recovery of the Elk River watershed is a collaborative effort between CalTrout and the ranching/dairy community; non-profit conservation and advocacy organizations including Salmon Forever, Environmental Protection Information Center, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Association; the Wiyot Tribe; timberland owners; State and Federal agencies; a dedicated team of consultants including Northern Hydrology and Engineering, Stillwater Sciences, GHD, and others; and Elk River residents. Mierau acknowledged Elk River communities who have worked to recover the Elk for decades as well as all Elk Recovery Program participants who donated their time, historical recollections, photographs, and access to their properties so the CalTrout-led team could explore and learn about the river, watershed, and social setting. “We cannot thank you all enough for your commitment to the Elk River,” Mierau said.

More information about NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management and its new awards for Coastal Zone Management Programs is available here.

Monday’s announcement of 22 projects across 16 states (coastal zone management) and eight projects across seven states (research reserves) will advance the resilience of coastal communities across the country. Award information is available here.

California Trout is a nonprofit fish and watershed advocacy organization. CalTrout’s Humboldt County-based North Coast Region works to recover and protect threatened salmon and steelhead populations and their habitats through the implementation of species recovery plans and proof-of-concept projects, and by advocating for science-based approaches and policy reform.

One of the bears that call Lake Tahoe home. Photo courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The snow will melt soon in the Lake Tahoe region and winter will give way to a busy spring for area wildlife. Bears that have been wintering in their dens will emerge soon and they will be hungry.

Each fall, black bears go through hyperphagia (pronounced hi·per·fay·jee·uh) which is an increase in feeding activity (consuming about 25,000 calories a day) driven by their need to fatten up before winter.

Over the course of the winter, bears’ bodies utilize those fat stores during hibernation when food is scarce. Come spring, their body mass will have naturally decreased and as a result, bears will be on the lookout for easily accessible food sources to help rebuild those fat reserves.

Bears will instinctively seek out areas where they can find fresh greens like grasses and forbs which can bring them into neighborhoods.

As bears make their way through human-populated areas, please be vigilant about cleaning up and securing bear attractants.

The Tahoe Interagency Bear Team, or TIBT, knows that many people choose to feed birds in winter, but please do not let bird feeders attract and feed bears. Now is the time to take those bird feeders down completely.

Proper disposal of garbage can be difficult when snow piles up on the roads. Tahoe Basin residents should take a few minutes to dig out bear boxes to allow garbage to be easily secured inside.

Clean out vehicles, and always keep vehicle windows closed and doors locked with no food or visible coolers inside. In addition, remember to keep doors and windows locked on buildings to prevent bears from breaking into structures.

Individual actions can impact an entire ecosystem

Bears play an important role in Lake Tahoe’s ecosystem and allowing them access to human food and garbage is detrimental to the natural processes in the region. Bears help spread berry seeds through their scat, transport pollen, clean up animal carcasses after winter, eat insects, and provide other essential functions of nature.

As a result, if bears find food and garbage, bird seed, pet food, coolers, or other sources of human food, the Tahoe Basin loses the benefits bears offer to these natural processes. Unnatural food sources can impact their overall health by damaging and rotting their teeth and jeopardizing their ability to remain wild.

In fact, bears will unknowingly eat indigestible items from human trash like foil, paper products, plastics, and metal that can damage their internal systems and even lead to death. If these items do make it through their digestive system, they leave it behind in their scat rather than the native seeds and healthy fertilizer needed to grow the next generation of plant life.

Call the experts

Spring is also the time of year that residents or visitors may see a bear they believe looks unhealthy, sick, or orphaned. Bear health concerns should be reported to TIBT’s wildlife professionals at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife or the Nevada Department of Wildlife, or NDOW.

These agencies have the training, expertise, and veterinary resources to assess a bear’s condition and transport it for care. Healthy bears mean a healthy Lake Tahoe ecosystem, but it takes everyone’s cooperation to contribute to the success of both.

For great tips about responsibly coexisting with bears, visit tahoebears.org and bearwise.org.

The bottom line is that the Lake Tahoe Basin is bear country. It’s up to everyone, including those living in, visiting, or recreating in the Tahoe Basin to practice good stewardship habits by always securing food, trash, and other scented items. Good habits will help ensure Tahoe bears remain healthy and wild.

To report human-bear conflicts or bear health concerns:

• In California, contact CDFW at 916-358-2917 or report online using the Wildlife Incident Reporting system at apps.wildlife.ca.gov/wir.
• Non-emergency wildlife interactions in California State Parks can be reported to their public dispatch at 916-358-1300.
• In Nevada, contact NDOW at 775-688-BEAR (2327).
• If the issue is an immediate threat, call the local sheriff’s department or 911.
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