Monday, 27 May 2024

Regional

SACRAMENTO — Assembly Bill (AB) 454 by Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters), which provides greater flexibility to the California Rice Commission to maintain district representation of all rice farmers, has been signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The California Rice Commission, established in 1999, functions as a quasi-governmental entity within the Department of Food and Agriculture, providing for the orderly production, milling, and marketing of California rice and the associated environmental benefits.

The commission’s board is made up of rice producers and handlers. Previously, each board member had to actively produce or handle rice to maintain board eligibility.

Extreme drought and water shortages have severely constrained rice production in the Sacramento Valley.

As California farmers confronted a third year of catastrophic drought impacts in 2022, less than half the state’s typical 500,000 acres of rice were planted.

Due to the massive drop in rice production, many producers and handlers were no longer eligible to serve on the Rice Commission’s board.

Likewise, because of reduced acreage in production, the allocation of commission board seats by district was poised to be dramatically impacted.

AB 454 allows the Rice Commission to annually review and evaluate state drought conditions and, if warranted, issue a drought declaration.

Under a drought declaration, a commission member who is a rice producer or handler would be allowed to continue serving on the commission and vote to issue a declaration if they historically produced or handled rice or if they participated in the Prevented Planting Program at USDA.

“Year-after-year, our rural family farms, agricultural communities, and businesses face mounting pressure from unprecedented climate events,” said Aguiar-Curry (D- Winters). “It’s imperative that we not lose the input of our farmers and handlers because of catastrophic droughts that they can’t control. I want to thank the Rice Commission for continuing to be a close partner on public policy that affects our agriculture and rice industry communities. Their leadership is incredibly valuable to our State Department of Food and Agriculture, and to me as I continue to serve my farming constituents. The governor’s support will help us maintain the rural voices that are so important to instructing decisions made by our state government.”

“We greatly appreciate Asm. Aguiar-Curry’s support of the rice industry. We are still feeling the impacts of last year’s drought and this bill will help us include growers on our board who were not able to plant last year due to the lack of water,” said Tim Johnson, president and CEO of the CA Rice Commission.

Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry represents the Fourth Assembly District, which includes all of Yolo, Napa, Colusa, Lake Counties, and parts of Sonoma County.

Christopher Ramos, 45, of Santa Rosa, was sentenced on Thursday to four years in prison after an investigation by the California Department of Insurance found he stole over $189,000 from consumers and left them uninsured.

Ramos was convicted of multiple felony counts of grand theft, theft of fiduciary funds and additional enhancements for theft over $100,000.

Ramos was also sentenced to five years of mandatory supervision and ordered to pay $189,526 in restitution to his victims.

Ramos worked as an insurance broker from 1999 until 2015 under the business names See Solutions Insurance Brokerage LLC and CDR Insurance Agency LLC.

The department’s investigation found between 2014 and 2016, Ramos collected money from his victims that was intended to be premiums to pay their respective insurance carriers, but Ramos failed to remit the money to the insurance carrier and kept it for his personal use.

Ramos also created fraudulent certificates of insurance so his victims would be unaware that policies were not placed with insurance carriers. His actions resulted in the victims’ policies being canceled, which they did not discover until the investigation began.

Ramos’ insurance license was suspended and eventually revoked in 2019. The Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office prosecuted this case.

The Pudding Creek bridge in Mendocino County. Photo courtesy of Caltrans.

NORTH COAST, Calif. — The full closures on Route 1 at the north end of Fort Bragg at the Pudding Creek bridge has been reduced from 10 to four overnight closures.

Originally scheduled to begin this week, the first full nighttime closure will occur next Tuesday, July 18, from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Construction will escort emergency responders over the bridge for the following full nighttime closures.

• Two nights: July 18 to 19 (10 p.m. to 4 a.m.).
• Two nights: Sept. 13 to 14 (10 p.m. to 4 a.m.).

Around-the-clock one-way traffic control will continue at the Pudding Creek bridge until Aug. 29. Traffic will be controlled with a temporary signal system.

Motorists from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. can expect up to 20-minute delays Monday through Friday and 30-minute delays are anticipated on the weekends.

The safety project includes widening the Pudding Creek bridge to accommodate two 12-foot wide lanes, two 8-foot wide shoulders, two 6-foot walkways and new bridge railings.

The project also includes “Complete Streets” improvements by constructing sidewalks on both sides of SR 1 from Pudding Creek bridge south to Elm Street and north to Pudding Creek Drive and drainage improvements and relocation of the city of Fort Bragg’s waterline from the Pudding Creek Dam to Route 1.

We appreciate your patience during construction of this safety project along the Mendocino Coast.

For more information, visit https://dot.ca.gov/caltrans-near-me/district-1/d1-projects/puddingcreekbridge.

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA — On Thursday, Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-04) announced that two water storage and conveyance projects in Northern California, Sites Reservoir and Los Vaqueros Reservoir, are receiving $30 million and $10 million respectively in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

“Reliable sources of water are vital to our communities as we face extreme drought and weather events,” said Thompson. “The funding for Sites and Los Vaqueros announced as part of the Investing in America agenda will help provide our families, farmers, and communities with the water resources we need to combat drought and live healthy lives. When I was in the State Senate, I appropriated the first funds for the Sites Reservoir, and this funding will help move the project forward. Proud to have voted for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that is part of the largest investment in climate resilience in our nation’s history.”

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is providing:

• $30 million for the Sites Reservoir Project to pursue off stream storage capable for up to 1.5 million acre-feet of water in the Sacramento River system located in the Coast range mountains west of Maxwell, California. The reservoir would utilize new and existing facilities to move water in and out of the reservoir, with ultimate release to the Sacramento River system via existing canals, a new pipeline near Dunnigan, and the Colusa Basin Drain.
• $10 million for the Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Phase to efficiently integrate approximately 115,000 acre-feet of additional water storage through new conveyance facilities with existing facilities. This will allow Delta water supplies to be safely diverted, stored and delivered to beneficiaries.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is investing a total of $8.3 billion over five years for water infrastructure projects, including water purification and reuse, water storage and conveyance, desalination and dam safety.

The Inflation Reduction Act is investing an additional $4.6 billion to address the historic drought.

Thompson representS California’s Fourth Congressional District, which includes all or part of Lake, Napa, Solano, Sonoma and Yolo counties.

NORTH COAST, Calif. — The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the discovery of human remains over the weekend.

On Saturday, July 8, at 7:53 p.m., the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Communications Center received a call regarding skeletal remains found by California Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists in the Mattole River near the Ettersburg bridge.

A Humboldt County Sheriff’s deputy responded to the scene and took custody of the remains, which were identified as a human jawbone or mandible. No additional remains were located.

On Tuesday, sheriff’s deputies are conducting a ground search of the surrounding area in an attempt to locate additional remains.

Identification of the remains has not been made at this time.

Anyone with information about this case is encouraged to call the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.

The Department of Water Resources announced $9.2 million in grants to five projects that will restore streams and creeks to more natural environmental conditions and reduce flood risk across multiple communities in California.

The projects are funded by DWR’s Riverine Stewardship Program and Urban Stream Restoration Program, which deliver technical and financial assistance for the protection of listed fish species in combination with flood risk reduction and ecosystem enhancement of urban streams.

The awarded projects are designed to promote community participation in the planning process, encourage public support for long-term management and increase public awareness of project benefits to the community, the environment, and the sustainability of California’s water resources.

“Our communities and wildlife alike are facing multiple challenges posed by climate extremes, including both drought and flooding,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “This funding will help manage future flooding events, and protect watersheds, local wildlife, and aquatic habitat.”

In Sonoma County, the Lower Colgan Creek Restoration Project received $4.3 million to restore 11.27 acres of aquatic habitat along 1.3 miles of creek. The project will prevent flood damage to nearby homes and businesses by widening the creek and reconnecting it with a more natural floodplain. The funding will support the removal of non-native and invasive plants, which will be replaced with native vegetation. The project will also utilize environmental education curriculum and public outreach to engage the community in helping to care for the creek.

In Monterey County, the Carr Lake Restoration project received $2.5 million to convert 67 acres of urban agricultural land into fish and wildlife habitat. The project will enhance fish and wildlife habitat, improve water quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance carbon sequestration in creeks and vegetated areas, and offer public access to a large natural area in the center of the largest city in Monterey County with trails, boardwalks, interpretive signs and educational opportunities. The project will also protect surrounding homes above the site location from flood impacts.

In Nevada County, the Donner Creek Restoration project received $1.3 million to restore 6.5 acres at four sites along Donner Creek impacted by urban development located within a disadvantaged community in Truckee. The project will use a watershed approach to reduce flood risk, improve bank stabilization, reduce excess sedimentation, enhance wetlands to treat pollution from urban runoff and install native vegetation to enhance aquatic habitat. The project team will include the local community throughout the process by educating local students about environmental issues, conducting community outreach in an underserved community and providing volunteer opportunities to support restoration.

In Marin County, the Lagunitas Creek Salmonid Spawning Gravel Improvement Project received $590,000 to install 1,700 tons of river gravel for spawning and rearing habitat for salmonids, balance the loss of sediment from upstream dams and improve drought resiliency and water quality. The project will benefit endangered coho salmon, steelhead and freshwater shrimp.

In Stanislaus County, Phase III of the Stanley Wakefield Wilderness Area Salmonid Habitat Restoration Project received $561,243 to restore more than 45 acres of habitat along the lower Stanislaus River to benefit salmonids and other native fish. The project will improve fish migration corridors and habitat to provide food resources and shelter and has the potential to improve salmonid and fish species’ resilience to climate change. The project will improve water quality and habitat, and support groundwater recharge and carbon sequestration.

The Urban Streams Restoration Program will continue accepting applications for project funding on a rolling basis. DWR has a total of $5.4 million in funds available through the program. Eligible applicants include Tribes, local public agencies and certified nonprofits as specified in the program guidelines and proposal solicitation package. Other applicant types such as community groups, will be considered on a case-by-case basis. For-profit corporations, non-public entities and individual landowners are not eligible.

Project proponents can submit concept proposals and grant applications using DWR’s online submittal tool, GRanTS. DWR will identify projects through the grant application process and will match concept proposals to the appropriate funding source based on eligibility. Awards will be made based on how responsive the application is to program priorities and will be made on a rolling basis until all funds are committed.

The guidelines and proposal solicitation package, as well as detailed information on the solicitation rules, procedures and process can be accessed at the Riverine Stewardship Program – Grants webpage.

This is just one example of how the state is investing in strategies and projects to prepare all communities of California for a hotter and drier future. Since 1985, the Urban Streams Restoration Program has awarded $96,259,824 to 328 projects in local communities. Other funding efforts from DWR include $1,151,243 in funding through the Riverine Steward Program in 2022 and $11,004,792 through the San Joaquin Fish Population Enhancement Program in 2019.

For more information about upcoming environmental grant opportunities, visit DWR’s Grants and Loans webpage.

Upcoming Calendar

27May
05.27.2024
Memorial Day
28May
05.28.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
29May
05.29.2024 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
PG&E virtual town hall
1Jun
06.01.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
4Jun
06.04.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
8Jun
06.08.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
11Jun
06.11.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
14Jun
06.14.2024
Flag Day
15Jun
06.15.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile

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