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Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Thursday, February 9th, 2012.

Coordination Attorney meets with Siskiyou County

Coordination process OR -- Fred K. Grant, Siskiyou County

Attorney Fred Kelly Grant in Siskiyou County

County conducts two-day legal planning session.

County Supervisors and natural resources staff recently spend two days reviewing and developing legal strategies concerning county natural resource protection and utilization. The strategies being developed are for consideration by the full Board over the course of 2012.

Included in the two day session was Fred Kelly Grant, an Idaho attorney, well known for his work on resource issues throughout the western United States.

Numerous topics were reviewed and discussed including travel management and harvest management on Forest Service property, Klamath Dam issues, Coho plans, NOAA/NMFS relations, and surface and groundwater use as well as other resource issues.

Due to California Brown Act restrictions this two-day session only included Supervisors Jim Cook and Michael Kobseff.

“The legal options and strategy developed with staff and Mr. Grant will need to be thoroughly reviewed, vetted and adopted by the full Board of Supervisors as well as affected by input gathered from citizens of the County throughout the coming year. This intensive session should help County staff develop and present legal options for the full Board to consider,” stated Jim Cook, who was the Board Chair when the meeting date was established.

Both Supervisors Cook and Kobseff praised County staff for their dedication and thanked Fred Kelly Grant for his insight and perspective regarding the natural resource legal issues besetting the County.

The County’s long term natural resource goal is to force State and Federal agencies consider local communities’ concerns with natural resource utilization and reduce, or at least mitigate, environmental, social, and economic impacts caused by State and Federal decisions.

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Oregon Wild sues to secure Rogue water for coho salmon

Agriculture, Federal gov & land grabs, Greenies & grant $

PNP comment:  Once again, a Greenie group is spouting nonsense. See how many of their statements are lies? Most of them. — Editor Liz Bowen

Group also is suing Federal Bureau of Reclamation for failing to adopt ‘biological opinion’ on how agency will protect wild coho

February 08, 2012

By Mark Freeman

Mail Tribune

A conservation group filed suit Tuesday to force the federal government to operate irrigation canals and reservoirs in the Upper Rogue River basin in ways that will ensure enough water is available for threatened wild coho salmon.

The Portland-based group Oregon Wild wants the federal Bureau of Reclamation to alter Emigrant Lake water releases, as well as water diversions in the Little Butte Creek basin, to meet draft minimum flow levels in various tributary streams as outlined by federal fish managers but not adopted for use here.

The group also is suing the bureau for failing to properly consult with NOAA-Fisheries to create and adopt a so-called “biological opinion” on how the agency’s activities in the basin will protect wild coho, which were listed as threatened in Southern Oregon and Northern California in 1997.

Bureau officials have promised to fulfill this requirement under the federal Endangered Species Act for nearly a decade, but the agency has failed to do so, said Steve Pedery, Oregon Wild’s conservation director.

The suit asks a judge to set a formal date for the bureau to adopt that biological opinion and seeks to bind the bureau from storing or diverting any water from Hyatt and Howard Prairie lakes and elsewhere in the upper Rogue basin until the opinion is completed and adopted.

Oregon Wild has been at loggerheads with the bureau over protecting wild Rogue coho since 2003, when bureau biologists concluded its operations in the South Fork of Little Butte Creek likely harmed coho.

The group filed suit in 2009 over the issue, and a settlement with the agency required it to complete its biological opinion by March 2010. That date passed without the document being completed.

“The bottom line is, we’re here today because the Bureau of Reclamation has refused to do its job,” Pedery said. “The bureau sees itself as a water-delivery (agency) and not one doing projects for salmon.

“This is probably the most egregious example of a federal agency refusing to do its job,” Pedery said Tuesday.

Venetia Gempler, a Bureau of Reclamation public affairs officer in Boise, Idaho, said in an email to the Mail Tribune that agency leaders were disappointed by the lawsuit.

Bureau officials understand Oregon Wild’s concerns with the lengthy consultation process, Gempler said, adding that officials hope the suit will not disrupt what she called “considerable progress” in getting the necessary documents completed.

“We share the same goal of finding a sustainable Rogue River Project operation that works for fish, farms and communities,” Gempler said.

The suit does not include operations at Lost Creek and Applegate lakes, which are operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

At issue is how the bureau moves and stores water for the Talent Irrigation District and others across various basin divides and into the upper Bear Creek basin’s Emigrant Lake.

The agency cuts releases from the lake into Emigrant Creek in the fall after the irrigation season and just as wild coho migrate for spawning in these tributaries.

Oregon Wild’s suit contends these low flows harm spawning capabilities and fail to protect young wild coho during their roughly 14 months in freshwater habitat before they migrate to the ocean.

The government’s long-awaited draft recovery plan for wild coho in Southern Oregon and Northern California lists coho in the upper Rogue basin, including Bear Creek, as facing a moderate risk of extinction, with suitable rearing habitat for juveniles the main obstacle.

The opinion states that dams and diversions in the upper Rogue basin represent an overall “high” threat to coho. That threat level, however, is less than roads, agricultural practices, urbanization and diking, the draft states.

That draft plan is now out for public comment. NOAA-Fisheries biologists will be in White City on Wednesday, Feb. 15, for a public hearing on the draft and to take comments. That meeting will run from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Jackson County Parks Auditorium, 7520 Table Rock Road.

A similar meeting is planned for 5 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14, in Yreka, Calif., at the Yreka Community Center.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or email at mfreeman@mailtribune.com.

Read more at:

http://www.mailtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120208/NEWS/202080319/-1/NEWSLETTER100

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From Families Protecting the Valley Newsletter

Agriculture - California, Federal gov & land grabs, Greenies & grant $

The environmentalists will never stop their campaign of disinformation, misleading stories and lawsuits.

Feb 08, 2012

NRDC Disinformation Campaign

The articles below do a good job of deconstructing the NRDC’s ‘Myths and Facts’ marketing campaign to convince Californians that exporting water from the Delta is the reason for all water problems in the state. As readers of this newsletter know, there are at least 40 known ‘stressors’ in the Delta, Sacramento has been ordered to ‘clean up’ the treated sewage they dump into the Delta, and the Department of Fish and Game was forced to propose new limits on striped bass to reduce their population and keep them from eating smelt and salmon. Unfortunately the proposal was rejected.

The environmentalists will never stop their campaign of disinformation, misleading stories and lawsuits. Read any and all stories from these people with 100% scepticism. The two stories below are worth the read.

Disinformation Floods Delta Water War

By WAYNE LUSVARDI

Ready for another phantom “drought”? The National Resources Defense Council is. The NRDC’s bogus Delta Smelt lawsuit brought the court-ordered “drought” from 2007 to 2010.

Now the NRDC is launching a disinformation campaign to divert the public’s attention from the bigger water issues of the Sacramento Delta. On Sept. 16, 2011, U.S. District Court Judge Oliver Wanger threw the case out of court as based on bogus science.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared the “drought” over in 2011. Yet water rates have risen anyway across the state as a result of the bogus “drought.”

In the Feb. 6 issue of the San Francisco Chronicle, NRDC attorney Doug Obegi said there are three “facts” and three “myths” about the Sacramento Delta. Like any slick attorney, he is working on you as if you were on a jury to make sure you are persuaded of his case.

The Delta is where most of the water runoff from the snowpack of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range ends up. California depends on the Delta for most of its water for farms and cites, as well as fishing and water recreation.

To understand the big issues with the upcoming Delta Plan of the State legislature’s Delta Stewardship Council and the proposed $11.1 billion Water Bond on the November ballot, it is important not to be distracted by small facts and alleged irrelevant myths.

The NRDC’s device for distracting you from the water issues of the Sacramento Delta is a purported checklist of so-called “facts” and “myths” about California’s water system. Let’s look at them without being diverted from the larger issues.


Small Facts and Big Myths as Diversions

NRDC Diversion No. 1: “Northern Californians don’t get their water from the delta, so we shouldn’t care what happens.”

Obegi wants Northern Californians to care about what happens with the water from the Delta. Northern Californians should not think that they don’t get their water from the Delta. Ok, being involved is a good thing.

But NRDC’s emotional appeal is to your intelligence. If you were smart and knew that Northern California relied on water from the Delta you would be politically alert and active. People want to brag about being smart about the car they bought, about their “Smart Phone,” or the politician or ballot measure they voted for.

It is important for Northern Californians to be educated about the upcoming Delta water issues. But the above so-called myth is just used as a subtle set-up to make you believe that Southern California is about to steal more water again from Northern California. As will be explained below, this is the opposite of what has happened and is likely to happen.

Water is a socialized commodity in California. It does not belong to Northern Californians or Southern Californians. There is no water to “steal.” Long ago Californians agreed to a social contract for water: Southern California got water and Northern California got flood protection from the occasional destructive rising of the inland sea of the Sacramento Delta. (Think Hurricane Katrina.) By subtly entering emotionalism into the issue, Obegi diverts you from the bigger facts that will be explained below.

NRDC Diversion No. 2:

Much more to read at:

http://www.familiesprotectingthevalley.com/news.php?ax=v&n=10&id=10&nid=156

 

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Oregon Wild Sues Bureau of Reclamation

Agriculture, Federal gov & land grabs, Greenies & grant $

February 8, 2012

By Ron Brown for KDRV TV in Medford, Oregon

NEAR ASHLAND, Ore. — An Oregon-based conservation group is suing the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation over the way it manages water in the Upper Rogue and Butte Creek drainages.

A lawsuit filed yesterday by Oregon Wild seeks to force the Bureau to complete the studies it promised to do several years ago, and develop plans to manage water that will ensure adequate stream flows for Coho salmon.

Oregon Wild Conservation Director Steve Pedery says that could even mean forcing the Bureau to stop storing water at Hyatt Lake, Howard Prairie Reservoir, and Emigrant Lake.

“…And what we’re really seeking is the Bureau conduct that analysis, do the scientific review, find out if they’re harming Coho, and we think they are, and if they are, modify how they’re operating the Rogue project so that it’s a little more fish-friendly,” said Pedery.

NewsWatch12 was not able to get any comment from the Bureau of Reclamation or Talent Irrigation District, which relies heavily on water from those reservoirs. However, Talent Orchardist Ron Meyer calls the Oregon Wild’s demands “extreme.”

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Doc Hastings pushes for water storage for Rural Communities

WA Congressman Doc Hastings, Water, Resources & Quality

Water Storage Vital to Rural Communities, Job Creation, Economic Growth

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 7, 2012 – The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power held an oversight hearing today on “Water for Our Future and Job Creation: Examining Regulatory and Bureaucratic Barriers to New Surface Storage Infrastructure.”The hearing highlighted the regulatory burdens that hinder vital water storage improvement projects that help create jobs, increase agriculture production, generate hydropower and grow the economy and common sense ways to overcome those hurdles.

Cumbersome environmental regulations have delayed critical water storage projects for years while urban growth, environmental litigation and age strain current water storage infrastructure. Rural communities, ranches and family farms across the country are dependent on a dependable water supply, which is directly linked to storage capacity. Current and new dams and reservoirs provides affordable emission-free electricity to millions of Americans, supports the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands hard-working families and protects America’s food security.

The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) has built more than 600 dams over the last century, however over 66% of their facilities were constructed over 50 years ago. A recent BOR study found nearly one hundred potential sites for new surface storage, yet due to environmental regulations and other factors it has been over a generation since BOR built multiple large scale water storage facilities.

“Regulations and associated litigation have hijacked these projects, to the point where their very purposes have been compromised and the construction of new water storage to continue to meet the needs of these regions is nearly impossible to achieve,” said Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings. “Water users throughout the West have been forced to stand by and watch powerlessly as increasingly burdensome federal rules based on questionable science and never-ending litigation makes it more and more difficult to continue to receive the water they need.”

“The legendary multi-purpose dams and reservoirs of the last generation turned deserts into farmlands, created vast new recreational areas, tamed the environmentally devastating cycle of floods and droughts, and produced clean and abundant hydropower that provided a foundation for unprecedented prosperity throughout the western United States,” said Subcommittee Chairman Tom McClintock (CA-04). “This hearing will explore the bureaucratic obstacles that federal agencies have placed in the way of water development. Congress must make a concerted effort to identify and remove these obstacles that lead to increasingly expensive water and power and affect our prosperity as a nation.”

“Prudent water storage can help aid agriculture, residential use, recreation, hydropower production and environmental protection. Water storage is a precursor for multiple use water management in arid regions such as Colorado’s third Congressional district,” said Rep. Scott Tipton (CO-03). “I am hopeful that this hearing will be a productive step in highlighting some of the shortcomings of the existing water storage regulatory framework, and how it can be streamlined to better support jobs and communities that depend on the availability of water.”

“I commend the Subcommittee for holding this hearing to address water storage concerns. In my district water is a vital resource to our livelihoods, and we must ensure we have a reliable storage and conveyance system in place in order to spur job growth. I introduced bi-partisan legislation, H.R. 1604, to eliminate duplicative environmental regulations in California and alleviate burdensome policies restricting job creation,” said Rep. Jeff Denham (CA-19).

“Reducing the burdensome regulations that the federal government has imposed is critical to the vitality of our nation. The American people continue to be strapped by the bureaucratic layers of protocols and hindrances that continue to skyrocket our federal deficit,” Congressman Raúl Labrador (ID-01) said.

Mr. Pat O’Toole, President of Family Farm Alliance, who represents family farmers, ranchers, irrigation districts, and allied industries in seventeen Western states, testified about the importance of increased storage to agriculture and food security. “There must be more water stored and available to farms and cities. Maintaining the status quo simply isn’t sustainable in the face of unstoppable population growth, diminishing snow pack, increased water consumption to support domestic energy, and increased environmental demands,” said O’Toole. “If we don’t find a way to restore water supply reliability for irrigated agriculture…our country’s ability to feed and clothe itself and the world will be jeopardized.”

The Committee also heard testimony from Mr. Thad Bettner, Clenn-Coulsa Irrigation District; Mr. Norm Semanko, Idaho Water Users Association.

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Liz Writes Life 2-7-12

Liz Writes Life

Feb. 7, 2012

Published Siskiyou Daily News

POW will meet Feb. 23

Scott Valley Protect Our Water will hold a meeting on Feb. 23rd at the Fort Jones Community Center. Time is 7 p.m. Several landowners have contacted me asking what they should do about letters they received from the State Dept. of Water Resources. These letters seem to be a little different, but demand the report of water usage from springs or a diversion (irrigation ditch). What is disconcerting is the expectation of reporting the amount of water usage from yearly to monthly and describing the device used for measuring. Sometimes the agency expects an expensive measuring device to be installed.

I have talked with Erin Ryan, staff to Senator Doug LaMalfa, about what to do. In some letters, the state agency cites regulations or water code which allows for their demands. We will talk about these situations and the DWR’s demands at the Feb. 23 meeting.

We will also talk about the present situation of dam removal on the Klamath River. The California PUC, Public Utilities Commission, is allowing Pacific Power to charge its customers (us) for the cost of dam removal BEFORE the dams are removed. This is pretty frustrating. Kinda like putting the cart before the horse. So we will share info on the PUC as well as U.S. Dept. of Interior and its Secretary Ken Salazar.

Or you can attend the Yreka Tea Party tonight at the Decision Life Church on Main St. to learn about solutions as well on the PUC. Time is 6:30 p.m.

Comment period on the Klamath dams removal’s EIR/EIS, which are federal and state environmental studies, closed on Dec. 30, 2011 and, shockingly, DOI released an Overview Report on those comments just 3 weeks later. Boy, I’ve never seen a federal agency move so fast. And it is 313 pages long!

Yes, I believe the document was in place early on and the comments made in November and December were not included in the Overview Report.

Also, we need to make comments on the Recovery Plan for Coho Salmon by March 5 to NOAA, which is the federal agency in charge of managing the ESA-listed fish. With all of these state and federal agencies making demands, there is always plenty to discuss.

Home Guard

Thanks to Dan Dorsey for instigating the Home Guard, which will provide support and aid to families with members leaving on a National Guard mission to Afghanistan. Many service groups and school children have been made aware that 16 individuals from Siskiyou County will be leaving for the year-long mission.

Be sure to attend the Deployment Ceremony on Feb. 18th at the Mt. Shasta High School gym to show appreciation of these National Guardsmen and women and their families. Time is 11 a.m.

Pie N Politics.com

If you have a chance to get on the internet, check out Pie N Politics.com. There is so much happening and I am trying to share it on this website. Some days I put up 10 articles or more. For specific info, check out and click on a “category.” If you missed the photos of the bull elk, I posted last week, just click “Photos” and scroll down. Yesterday, I put up a beautiful photo of Mt. Shasta taken by Lina Tallerico.

Recall

The Recall effort on Siskiyou County District 5 Supervisor Marcia Armstrong did not obtain enough signatures within the 90-day allotted time period, which ended Feb. 1st. But over 300 signatures were obtained during freezing cold competing with holiday activities, which is significant. And, the supervisors now realize they are being watched.

Supervisor Armstrong has stepped up and been vocal on several issues lately. Protecting the county citizens should be the supervisors’ goal. Our supervisors even sent a 15-page outspoken letter to the DOI Secretary Ken Salazar recently, telling Salazar “what you are about to do will be a failure of epic proportions.” This is in regards to the removal of the Klamath hydro-electric dams.

The Recall Committee was surprised that many people do not know how a Recall works. It is a rather difficult process as 25 percent of the voters in the district must sign, but that doesn’t recall an official. It only puts that elected person back on the next ballot and under another election. A recall only occurs, if an opponent runs and receives more votes.

But the committee leaders were really surprised when many people said they were unhappy with our Board of Supervisors, but were afraid to sign in case of retaliation. Wow! I guess folks have been watching the Keith Darrah case. Good.

Response: The County Clerk keeps the petition of signatures confidential and I trust Clerk Colleen Setzer to do just that. And more of us must find courage and time to educate ourselves. We can make a difference locally. Ultimately, “locally” is where we live.

Liz Bowen writes biographies and free lance articles. Contact her at lizbowen @sisqtel.net or call 530-467-3515.

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Liz Writes Life 1-31-12

Liz Writes Life

Jan. 31, 2012

Published Siskiyou Daily News

Big Constitutional Sheriffs events

Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey is in Las Vegas today, Jan. 31st, attending the last of a three-day convention sponsored by Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. The speakers today included Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America, Sheriff Bradley D. Rodgers and retired Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack.

Little did we know during the last election that supporting the U.S. and California Constitutions would become such a controversial issue. But it has and I am so impressed with Sheriff Lopey and his knowledge of our Constitutions as the law of the land. He has said many times that he “serves the people.” Wow what a concept. He believes he is responsible to his constituents. And yes, he is already taking flack for his statements and his stand. Those of us who care about our liberties need to show support for our sheriff.

Sheriff Lopey believes in the Bill of Rights. More than 100 sheriffs attended the convention this weekend, including several county sheriffs who attended the Defend Rural America event last October in Yreka.

Guess what? We are taking the sheriff panels on the road! Sheriff Lopey and other organizers of the Defend Rural America want to defend the Constitution and network with other like-minded folks. Tea Parties are especially supportive.

So, mark your calendars for Feb. 25, 2012 as Sheriff Lopey will host another sheriffs’ panel at the Siskiyou Golden Fairgrounds. It is a Saturday and this event will be held at 2 p.m.

But this is just the beginning. We are planning monthly panels of sheriffs in various counties. These will be touted as Support Rural America Sheriffs events. The next scheduled event is in Alturas on April 21, 2012 with the Modoc Independent Tea Party and Sheriff Mike Poindexter hosting. On May 19, 2012, Trinity Tea Party Patriots and Sheriff Bruce Haney will host a Support Rural America Sheriffs event.

As more county events are scheduled, I will share the dates and places with you. But Erin Ryan confirmed that Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko and Redding Tea Party Patriots will host a day-long event in October in Redding.

There are two websites that we will keep up-to-date as events are added. One is Support Rural America.com and the other is Pie N Politics.com. Yes, Scott Valley Protect Our Water is one of the event organizers. Please attend as many of these events as you can. We need to stand tall as the opposition is getting louder!

Sheriff’s County Support TEAM

Speaking of Sheriff Lopey, he has organized a county-wide Team to support him in coordination issues with state and federal agencies. This Team grew from a handful of people last June to about 30 individuals and will aid in other projects as well.

Bi-State Alliance

Then the sheriff and members of this Team are also part of a Bi-State Alliance. The mission of this Alliance is to stop removal of the Klamath Dams and save our local economies. Modoc County Sheriff Mike Poindexter and Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilbertson are also in the Alliance with a Team of citizens. Klamath County and Jackson County have Teams and are also participating in this Alliance. As more folks decide it is time to “stand up” for our liberties, freedom, culture, economies and livelihoods, we will be a strong brave force.

Federal agencies

A notice by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announces the availability for public review of the draft NMFS Recovery Plan for the Southern Oregon/Northern California Coast Coho Salmon Evolutionarily Significant Unit. NMFS is soliciting review and comment from the public and all interested parties on the Plan. Deadline is March 5, 2012.

Also just 20 days after comment period closed, a DRAFT Klamath Dam Removal Overview Report of the Secretary of Interior’s assessment of science and technical info was released on Jan. 23, 2012. Kinda fishy. More than 2,700 comments were received by the feds and they have a 312 page report already released? And I believe the comment on this report is extremely short.

The Siskiyou Co. Water Users Assoc. sent an extremely detailed letter to Dept. of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, which refutes statements made by both NMFS and the Klamath Dam Removal Overview Report. You can read it on Pie N Politics.com. Find it by checking out the right hand column of “categories” and look under Klamath River & Dams or Siskiyou Water Users and click.

Garden

After the rains and some warm days, I was shocked to find a bunch of lettuce growing from windblown seeds. They are about one inch-tall, quite tough, because they are surviving the cold nights we a having again. I put a clear plastic tub over part of them and hopefully in a month or so, I’ll have fresh lettuce. Guess we will see.

Liz Bowen lives near Callahan, CA., writes biographies and free lances. She can be contacted at Liz Bowen.co or call 530-467-3515.

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Quarterly loss hits $3.3B at Postal Service

U.S. Post Offices

PNP comment:  We will try to save our Callahan, CA Post Office and Forks of Salmon Post Office. — Editor Liz Bowen

By HOPE YEN
Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012 – 6:46 am

Last Modified: Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012 – 11:37 am

WASHINGTON — Teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, the U.S. Postal Service’s loss in the fourth quarter ballooned to $3.3 billion amid declining mail volume and the soaring costs of health benefits for future retirees.

From October through December 2011, losses were $3 billion more than the same period a year ago, even though that quarter is typically the strongest due to increased holiday shipping. The mail agency said that at this rate, it will run out of money by October.

The Postal Service is seeking new leeway from Congress to eliminate Saturday mail delivery, raise stamp prices and reduce health and other labor costs.

Also at stake are roughly 100,000 jobs, part of a postal cost-cutting plan to save up to $6.5 billion a year by closing 252 mail processing centers and up to 3,700 post offices. At the request of Congress, the cash-strapped agency agreed to wait until mid-May to begin closures so lawmakers would have time to stabilize its finances first.

Prospects for immediate congressional action remain uncertain.

“Passage of legislation is urgently needed that provides the Postal Service with the speed and flexibility needed to cut costs that are not under our control, including employee health costs,” said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe.

He said the post office must cut $20 billion in annual costs by 2015 so it can reach profitability, rather than becoming a “long-term burden to taxpayers.” The agency forecasts a record $14.1 billion loss by the end of this year.

If the post office were to run out of money, officials said, they would prioritize what mail services to provide. Private companies such as FedEx and UPS could handle a small portion of the material the post office moves, but they do not go everywhere. No business has shown interest in delivering letters everywhere in the country for a set rate of 45 cents for a first-class letter.

“We have a Postal Service that essentially is living from paycheck to paycheck, which is a very risky proposition for the American economy and the 8 million private sector workers whose jobs rely on the mail,” said Art Sackler, coordinator of the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service, a group representing the private sector mailing industry. “Each day Congress fails to enact postal reform, this problem grows more difficult and perhaps more expensive to resolve.”

Overall, the post office had income of $17.7 billion from October through December, the first quarter of its 2012 fiscal year. That was down $200 million from the same period last year. Expenses were $17.5 billion.

In addition, the Postal Service had costs stemming from yearly advance payments of roughly $5.5 billion to a future retiree health-benefit fund. Because the agency is low on cash, Congress agreed to extend the legal deadline for last year’s payment until this fall, when this year’s payment will also be due.

In its financial statement, the post office spread the total $11.1 billion in costs over 12 months, creating additional quarterly debt of more than $3 billion. Without those annual payments – not required of other government agencies – the post office would have posted a profit in most recent years and had a loss of roughly $200 million in the last quarter.

The Postal Service also has been rocked by declining mail volume as people and businesses continue switching to the Internet in place of letters and paper bills. The number of items mailed during the last quarter was 43.7 billion pieces, a 6 percent decrease, much of it in first-class mail.

On the positive side, postal shipping services such as express and priority mail had an 8 percent increase in income to $3.2 billion, with package volume in the holiday period nearly double that of FedEx and UPS, according to postal officials.

Separate proposals passed last year by House and Senate committees would scrap or reduce the annual health prepayment, but they differ widely on financial oversight and a reduction to five-day-a-week delivery. The Senate initially planned action earlier this month but stalled as some lawmakers pushed for changes that would delay decisions on closings and delivery cuts for at least two more years.

On Thursday, Donahoe said reducing the size of its postal network was critical to its efforts to reduce costs. Closure of mail-processing centers were still planned to begin after mid-May. He said the mail agency was revising some of its proposals to accommodate the needs of rural communities, which rely more heavily on postal service for the delivery of newspapers, prescription drugs and other services.

As part of the changes, the mail agency plans cuts to first-class mail that would slow delivery and, for the first time, virtually eliminate the chance for stamped letters to arrive the next day.

“We have to make sure we are taking actions that are swift to maintain our liquidity and pay our bills,” said chief financial officer Joe Corbett, warning that large losses will continue without changes. “This is no way to run a business.”

Last year, postal losses totaled $5.1 billion.

Online:

http://www.usps.gov

Read more here:

Quarterly loss hits $3.3B at Postal Service

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/02/09/4251034/quarterly-loss-hits-33b-at-postal.html#storylink=cpy

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Data shows snowpack at 37 percent of normal

Agriculture, Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather
By John Bowman
Posted Feb 08, 2012 @ 08:42 AM

Yreka, Calif. —

According to a recent press release from the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), the Feb. 1 statewide snow surveys “confirmed that water content in California’s mountain snowpack is far below normal for this time of year.”

DWR’s data shows that the snowpack’s statewide water content is at only 37 percent of normal for the date.

“That is just 23 percent of the average April 1 reading, when the snowpack normally is at its peak before the spring melt,” the release stated.
“So far, we just haven’t received a decent number of winter storms,” said DWR Director Mark Cowin. “We have good reservoir storage thanks to wet conditions last year, but we also need more rain and snow this winter.”

The DWR California Cooperative Snow Survey website – a collection of snowpack data gathered by multiple agencies and organizations – shows that the Scott River watershed snowpack as of Feb. 1 is at 55 percent of the 50-year average. According to the same DWR website, the Shasta River watershed snowpack as of Feb. 1 is at 53 percent of the 50-year average.

According to a Klamath National Forest (KNF) press release, the snow depth and water content are measured and calculated with a specially designedand calibrated aluminum tube. The depth of snow is recorded and the water equivalent of the snow core is derived by weighing snow samples. The KNF calculation of the Feb. 1 averages show that the Scott River watershed snowpack is currently at 47 percent of the historical average. This calculation is based on data records dating back as far as the 1930s. Much of the cooperative state snowpack data is collected by U.S. Forest Service employees.

Snowpack information is used to help the state forecast the amount of water available for agriculture, power generation, recreation and stream flow releases later in the year.

“Many months of winter remain, with most locations historically reaching their annual maximum by late-March and early-April,” the KNF release stated. “The next snow survey will occur in March.”

Based on the current snowpack, DWR estimates that the State Water Project (SWP) will be able to deliver 60 percent of the more than 4 million acre-feet of water requested this calendar year by the 29 public agencies that supply more than 25 million Californians and nearly a million acres of irrigated farmland.

The 60 percent delivery estimate is largely based on the known quantity of carryover reservoir storage, according to the press release. However, DWR acknowledges that there is no way to know exactly how precipitation and snowpack conditions may change throughout the rest of the season.

http://www.siskiyoudaily.com/news/x574396146/Data-shows-snowpack-at-37-percent-of-normal

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Rules, money blocking dam projects, officials say

CA. Congressman Tom McClintock, Dams other than Klamath, Federal gov & land grabs

PNP comment: We totally agree with Congressman McClintock. Over-regulations are not protecting the environment and are devastating rural America.  — Editor Liz Bowen

By Dana M. Nichols

Record Staff Writer

February 09, 2012 12:00 AM

SAN ANDREAS – Congressman Tom McClintock, R-Granite Bay, is calling for relaxation of “1970s-era” environmental laws that he says are blocking construction of much-needed dams in California and throughout the western United States.

McClintock represents the 4th Congressional District that was redrawn last year to include Amador, Calaveras and Tuolumne counties. He noted that most major dams in the region and in the Western U.S. were built more than 50 years ago.

He is also chairman of the House Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power that held an oversight hearing Tuesday in Washington at which representatives of western farmers and some water agencies said they agree that easing environmental rules could get dams built.

Others at the hearing, however, said coming up with money is a bigger hurdle than environmental rules, and appropriate and cost-effective water supply and storage projects still are being built in California.

Jerry D. Brown, general manager of Contra Costa Water District, said his agency was able to comply with environmental regulations to build Los Vaqueros Reservoir in the late 1990s and do an expansion of Los Vaqueros, which is now in construction.

And he noted that Contra Costa Water District is cooperating with East Bay Municipal Utility District to use Los Vaqueros as an alternative to a controversial expansion of Pardee Reservoir on the Mokelumne River.

Fellow Water and Power Subcommittee members John Garamendi, D-Elk Grove, and Grace Napolitano, D-Norwalk, both said it is high cost that is the barrier to building dams in California.

“Four billion dollars and you can build some nice dams in California,” Garamendi said. “Do you have four billion dollars lying around?”

That prompted McClintock to respond just before he closed the hearing. “Regulatory excesses are actively blocking projects even when they are funded.”

Environmental regulations last year helped push East Bay Municipal Utility District to reconsider its proposal to raise Pardee Dam as a way to increase water supply. Environmental groups won a legal ruling forcing the district to study some of the impacts of the proposal.

After that, East Bay MUD officials decided instead to cooperate on the Los Vaqueros project.

Katherine Evatt, president of the Foothill Conservancy, said that ultimately she believes environmental laws did EBMUD ratepayers a favor by prompting the agency to abandon an excessively expensive project.

“The cheapest water in California is the water you save through conservation,” Evatt said.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Michael Gabaldon, director of technical resources for Bureau of Reclamation, offered similar observations on why few new dams are built now.

“Most of the easy projects were built a long time ago,” Gabaldon said, referring the best locations for dams.

Later in the hearing, McClintock scolded Gabaldon, noting that the Bureau of Reclamation is studying about 19 potential water storage projects.

“You are now spending absolutely no time or funding to actually construct these facilities,” McClintock said.

Contact reporter Dana M. Nichols at (209) 607-1361 or dnichols@recordnet.com. Visit his blog at recordnet.com/calaverasblog.

http://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120209/A_NEWS/202090317/-1/NEWSMAP

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