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Browsing the blog archives for April, 2013.

Oyster fight advances with state and feds

Agriculture, Federal gov & land grabs

By Trevor Hunnicutt

        04/25/2013 

The battles facing oysterman Kevin Lunny and his family business advanced in state bureaucracies and in federal court last week, as lawyers submitted their final briefs to push an appellate court to prevent the cannery from being shut down. On Monday, Mr. Lunny’s lawyers argued to federal judges that the federal government overstepped its authority by attempting to convert to wilderness an estuary in which the state of California has reserved fishing rights.

Drakes Bay Oyster Company has been pushing the Department of Fish and Wildlife to take a more assertive stance in defense of the oyster farm, and commissioners who oversee the department discussed their legal options in closed session at a meeting in Santa Rosa last week that drew both supporters and opponents.

Meanwhile wilderness advocates unleashed new allegations, immediately denied by Mr. Lunny, that the cannery understated the costs of unwinding its operations in documents submitted to the state.

Environmental groups also pushed back against the argument by Drakes Bay advocates, including celebrity chef Alice Waters, that the public interest would be undermined if courts allowed the National Park Service to evict Drakes Bay.

The oyster farm is gearing up for a protracted lawsuit challenging a decision by former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to not issue a new permit that would allow continued harvesting. But before the lawsuit goes forward the oyster farm must convince an appellate court to prevent an eviction that could destroy the decades-old business. Oral arguments for the injunction order will take place on May 14 in San Francisco.

Drakes Bay on Monday filed a brief that accuses the federal government of pursuing an “obsession” to shutter the oyster farm and attempts to pry open the alleged flaws in their opponents’ legal arguments while rehearsing several arguments of their own. Congress intended to speed the issuance of a new permit for Drakes Bay in 2009—not exempt the denial of such a permit from judicial review, as the government successfully argued to a lower court judge—the brief states. Drakes Bay lawyers say Mr. Salazar’s decision violated a number of laws, including requirements that major federal actions be underpinned by sound science. Drakes Bay lawyers also stressed that Drakes Estero is falsely being converted to a legal wilderness status, contending that fishing rights reserved by the state of California and an ongoing state lease for Drakes Bay’s offshore operations preclude such a status.

In a statement this week, Neal Desai of the National Parks Conservation Association said Drakes Bay had estimated just $10,000 in costs for cleaning up the estuary in statements to officials for seven years, despite more recently filing court documents saying those costs could top $600,000. “Taxpayers should be outraged that they may have to foot the bill for cleaning up the significant mess that could be left behind by this unsustainable oyster operation,” he said.

Mr. Lunny disputed the charge, saying that the escrow account required by his lease was set before he purchased the farm and is managed by state officials, an assessment that state officials endorsed.

Mr. Desai and the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin also dismissed a brief by Alice Waters and others who wrote that the loss of the oyster company would have deleterious impacts on the Bay Area’s restaurant business, food and environmental quality and the livelihood of the aquaculture industry’s workers. They cited noise disturbance of harbor seals and birds, the presence of an invasive tunicate and the coastal-commission order as evidence that the oyster farm is “far from being environmentally benign,” causing harms that weigh more heavily than the social impacts of closing the business.

http://www.ptreyeslight.com/article/oyster-fight-advances-state-and-feds

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Facts are our friends

Agriculture, Federal gov & land grabs

By

Sarah Rolph
      
04/18/2013
 

In the course of writing about Drakes Bay Oyster Company (DBOC) I’ve had the privilege of spending time with Dr. Corey Goodman, and have picked up one of his sayings: “Facts are our friends.”

An inconvenient fact might wreck your theory or your dissertation, but it should still be welcomed. Science is an ongoing process of forming hypotheses, testing them, getting results and analyzing them. Scientists make their data and methods available to the scientific community be- cause a result is not considered reliable until other scientists have replicated it.

The importance of facts is not an aca- demic matter. The knowledge that there is such a thing as a fact is one of the few certainties we have. Facts are our friends because only facts can lead us to an un- derstanding of reality.

The extreme activists working against Drakes Bay Oyster Company have shown a disdain for the facts. Nowhere is this attitude more plain than in the Amici brief filed by the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin (EAC) against DBOC. The EAC was joined by the Na- tional Parks Conservation Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, Save Our Seashore and the Coalition of Na- tional Park Service Retirees. Their brief makes the same discredited arguments made by the park service in its environ- mental impact statement (EIS) on the oyster farm, a document so flawed it was never formalized by being filed with the EPA, as the process requires.

While it’s sometimes difficult for a nonscientist to know who to believe, it’s possible to get a good sense of whether something is true by paying attention to whether it seems to be factual, scien- tific and consistent with the rest of the field’s body of knowledge. The EAC brief doesn’t pass this test.

Consider this: In every discussion of alleged environmental harm, the brief cites not a body of scientific evidence, but rather one person who holds that view. The brief says the oyster farm’s noise dis- turbs seals, citing statements by Domin- ique Richard, described as an “engineer- ing acoustics expert.”

In his public comment letter about the EIS, Dr. Richard describes himself as “a professional in the field of mathematical modeling and statistical analysis.” That letter doesn’t mention seals, or noise, but since last year Dr. Richard has apparently developed an interest in seals and an ex- pertise in noise, and is quoted in the brief as saying, “the continued normal DBOC operations do make enough noise from motorized boats to have negative impacts to harbor seals.”

Missing from this section are the facts. Harbor seals are known for coex- isting with people (which is why they’re called harbor seals). The seal situation in Drakes Estero was examined by a panel of marine mammal scientists convened by the Marine Mammal Commission. All of the seal scientists who studied the issue for the commission affirmed that con- cerns about mariculture harming seals in Drakes Estero are unfounded. They said everything that is known about the relationship between other oyster farms and harbor seals shows that they do just fine together, and that oyster farms can be a haven. They found that the seals in Drakes Estero are so plentiful that there may soon be too many of them.

You can read these experts’ verbatim reports at mmc.gov/drakes_estero/pdfs/ appendix_f.pdf.

The EAC brief cites John Kelly claiming that DBOC’s boats bother birds. Dr. Kelly does at least have some expertise about birds. But he seems to have studied them in Tomales Bay, not Drakes Estero; the two environments are very different. Dr. Kelly is quoted as saying: “Motorized boat activ- ity introduces a level of disturbance that is incompatible with migratory and resident waterbirds that use the Estero’s natural resources for sustenance, rest, and protec- tion.” But there is no evidence provided of any “disturbance,” or any explanation of the purported “incompatibility.”

This section continues: “Drakes Estero is an important foraging and resting place for migrating and seasonally resident seabirds, shorebirds, and waterbirds [generically, waterbirds herein]. Large num- bers of waterbirds winter in the Estero, and many waterbirds that migrate along the Pacific Flyway between wintering grounds to the south and summer breed- ing areas in the Arctic depend on Drakes Estero for migratory support.”

All that is certainly true, which is why bird-lovers flock to the place. So what is the problem? It seems to be in an imag- ined future. The brief says Dr. Kelly con- cluded “that continued DBOC operations would have long-term adverse impacts on birds through noise disturbance and habitat loss.”

The argument here seems to be that although the oyster operation over the past eight decades hasn’t had any impact on birds that we know of, it’s a good idea to shut down the oyster farm because one scientist says its continued operation will be a problem in the future. This is not a factual argument.

One of the most peculiar claims in the brief is the notion that oysters don’t clean the water.

The fact that oysters do clean the wa- ter is perhaps one of the most widely rec- ognized facts about oysters. This is why oyster restoration projects are taking place all over the world, and why NOAA and other agencies support aquaculture.

The farmed oysters in Drakes Estero help clean the water, replacing the valu- able ecological services once provided by the native oysters in this estero before they were overfished. That’s a fact pointed out by the National Academy of Sciences in its May 2009 report on Drakes Estero.

Peter Baye is quoted in the brief saying otherwise. Dr. Baye is referred to here as a “coastal ecologist.” In references found online, Dr. Baye refers to himself most of- ten as a “coastal plant ecologist,” since his specialty is, in fact, botany.

After this astonishing display of non- factual statements, strange quotes and peculiarly individual findings, the au- thors of the brief have the temerity to conclude: “In sum, the unsubstantiated assertions about DBOC’s ‘sustainable’ business do not comport with the facts about its operations in Drakes Estero.”

As Kevin Lunny said to me a few years ago with genuine, pained, astonishment, these people do not care about the truth.

   http://www.ptreyeslight.com/article/facts-are-our-friends

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Fishermen sue Interior and parks

Agriculture

By Trevor Hunnicutt

        04/25/2013 
 

http://www.ptreyeslight.com/article/fishermen-sue-interior-and-parks

Herring fishermen filed suit last Thursday challenging a ruling by the managers of Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) that would prohibit the historic commercial fishery from operating in San Francisco Bay.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco, alleges the government overstepped its authority by saying in November that it would prevent fishing because of existing law and “to conserve the scenery and natural and historic objects and wildlife of the parks, and at the same time to provide for public enjoyment of the parks in manner that will leave them unimpaired for future generations,” wrote GGNRA superintendent Frank Dean, who is named as a defendant alongside Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and National Park Service (NPS) director Jon Jarvis.

The San Francisco Herring Association, which represents commercial operations in the historic bay fishery and filed the lawsuit, said the federal government lacked jurisdiction to ban fishing enterprises, according to their San Francisco-based lawyer, Stuart Gross. “For over forty years the San Francisco Bay herring fishery and the GGNRA have existed side-by-side,” Mr. Gross said in a statement. “Now, inexplicably, the NPS has asserted jurisdiction over the waters abutting the GGNRA and prohibited fishing in those waters. Quite simply, the NPS has no legal authority to do so.”

Fishermen also argue that allowing low levels of regular herring fishing helps younger populations of the silvery fish develop. Alexandra Picavet, NPS spokeswoman, declined to comment on a pending lawsuit. Pregnant herring, captured during spawning season from January to March, are desired for their roe, a delicacy in Japanese cuisine.

 

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Cal Fire State Responsibility Area (SRA) Fees

Fire Fees

California Farm Bureau Federation

http://www.cfbf.com/sra/

A law signed by Gov. Brown last year imposes an annual fee assessed to rural residents living in “State Responsibility Areas.” The charge per habitable dwelling is supposedly to cover fire prevention services. The California Farm Bureau Federation, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and other organizations believe that this fee places undue burden on rural residents.

Farm Bureau members are encouraged to visit the state website at www.firepreventionfee.com, where they can find information about the fee as well as a protest form, titled “Petition for Redetermination.” Within 30 days of submitting the fee payment, those who object to the fee should fill out the petition and submit copies to each of the following:

  • Special Taxes Remittance Processing, State Board of Equalization, P.O. Box 942879, Sacramento, CA 94279-6199

  • Fire Prevention Fee Service Center, Attn: Petitions, P.O. Box 2254, Suisun City, CA 94585

  • Board of Forestry and Fire Protection, P.O. Box 944246, Sacramento, CA 94244

Cite the reason for protest as “Other.” The description can include the member’s concern about the fee and illegal taxation.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has filed a lawsuit to challenge the legality of the SRA fee. To learn more, visit  firetaxprotest.org.

Below is a sample letter for reference when protesting the fee:

Special Taxes Remittance Processing, State Board of Equalization
P.O. Box 942879
Sacramento, CA 94279-6199

Fire Prevention Fee Service Center
Attn: Petitions
P.O. Box 2254
Suisun City, CA 94585

Board of Forestry and Fire Protection P.O. Box 944246 Sacramento, CA 94244

RE: Strong Opposition to SRA Tax-Paying under Protest!

DATE

To Whom It May Concern,

We are only paying this tax (you call it a fee) under duress of a state tax lien and possible property confiscation.

We strongly oppose and protest paying any Fire Prevention Taxes issued by the State Board of Equalization (BOE) on behalf of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE).

This is an unconstitutional tax because Article XIIIA of the California Constitution requires that new taxes be approved by two-thirds of the membership of both houses of the Legislature. Because the money from this charge will not be redirected to local jurisdictions proportionate to their direct charge, there is no way to ensure that I will receive any direct benefit from the payment of this bill. Thus, this charge is a tax, and because it has not been properly approved by two-thirds of the Legislature, it is illegal.  We intend to support any legal action(s) taken by any organization(s) opposing this illegal taxation.

Paid Under Protest,

NAME

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The Power Of Eminent Domain And California Farmers And Ranchers Today

Agriculture - California, Constitution

California Farm Bureau Federation

The government’s power of eminent domain is the power to condemn private property for a public purpose. While this requires compliance with certain procedures, the government’s power of eminent domain is otherwise quite broad and is shared by many governmental bodies and agencies at the federal, state, and local levels.

The government’s power to condemn and take property is essential for many beneficial public infrastructure projects. However, the government’s legitimate exercise of the power of eminent domain for the public good must be balanced against the rights of private property owners and individuals. The basic limitations on the government’s power of eminent domain are the statutory procedures that the government must follow and a landowner’s constitutional right to just compensation and due process.

With several large regional or statewide infrastructure projects in the planning stages, government eminent domain issues have surfaced for rural landowners in many parts of California. Public works under consideration range from water and flood-control projects to utility upgrades to major transportation projects such as California High Speed Rail, a statewide train system for which construction is slated to start in the Central Valley.

The “Overview of the Eminent Domain Process” provided below and available in PDF form here is intended to serve as a resource and general starting point for Farm Bureau members and others who wish to gain a better understanding of the eminent domain process. For private landowners who may be impacted by a proposed public infrastructure project, an understanding of the process is necessary to ensure that one’s legal rights, property, family, and farming or ranching operation are adequately protected.

Overview Of The Eminent Domain Process1

While a private landowner may not be able to stop the government from using the power of eminent domain to condemn the landowner’s property, in many instances getting competent legal representation early and gaining familiarity with the eminent domain process may help to ensure that the landowner receives fair compensation for loss or depreciation of his or her property, relocation expenses, and other impairments of the landowner’s business or operation.

1 This “Eminent Domain Summary” is not intended in any way to substitute for detailed legal advice from a private attorney. Individuals should consult a private attorney for guidance on their particular facts and circumstances. This information is provided as a general overview of the eminent domain process. While the information is believed to be generally correct, CFBF makes no representation as to this information’s legal or factual accuracy. In making this information available, CFBF disclaims any and all liability for any party’s reliance on the information provided.

Finding And Retaining Competent Legal Representation Early

In all cases, landowners facing a potential condemnation action will be well-served to obtain legal counsel experienced in eminent domain law as early in the process as possible. The process begins with the very first letter from the government requesting access to the landowner’s property in connection with a proposed public project.

For landowners who already have an attorney whom they consult for advice on general legal matters, a good starting point in the search for competent legal representation in this specialized area of the law is this existing attorney. An existing attorney can likely help a landowner to locate a competent eminent-domain attorney and appraiser (assuming this attorney does not possess the expertise to represent the landowner directly).

Local knowledge and expertise is typically a bonus in eminent domain proceedings due to a local attorney’s greater familiarity with the locale, with land values and the local economy, with local appraisers, the local court, and the like. On the other hand, landowners impacted along with many other similarly situated landowners by a single large project may see advantages to a mix of coordinated local representation on an individual basis, in combination with some form of collective representation by a firm specializing in eminent domain law, including potentially a firm or firms with exceptional credentials from outside of the local area.  Groups of landowners who are impacted by a single project can potentially reduce costs by pooling resources and coordinating actions.

For projects impacting large numbers of property owners in the same county, landowners may contact their local county Farm Bureau to determine whether eminent domain workshops may be conducted or other assistance provided.

READ MORE:

 http://www.cfbf.com/issues/landuse/eminentdomain/

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Rail settlement includes farmland mitigation plan

Agriculture - California

Issue Date: April 24, 2013

http://www.agalert.com/story/?id=5449

By Christine Souza

Ag Alert

Now that county Farm Bureaus in Madera and Merced counties have reached a settlement with the California High-Speed Rail Authority regarding the Merced-to-Fresno section of the project, those affected say they expect property appraisals to come next.

Madera County Farm Bureau President Tom Coleman said he expects the rail authority will soon start sending appraisers out to properties to conduct land valuations.

“Our biggest concern is that the authority follows through with what it has committed to, and that is to provide mitigators or facilitators,” Coleman said. “As a result of this settlement, (the rail authority) is supposed to now have people available to consult with the landowners, both prior to and after an appraisal, to help walk them through the process and be an advocate. This is not something that happens every day and landowners are concerned that they get all of the information that they should.”

The settlement was signed last week by Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley. The county Farm Bureaus in Madera and Merced counties said the settlement includes:

  • Creation of an Agricultural Lands Mitigation Fund of $5 million to purchase additional conservation easements elsewhere in the region, beyond what is already required to make up for the loss of farmland for the railroad right-of-way.

  • An option for landowners to require the state to purchase the whole of any affected parcel where the remainder created by the project is less than 20 acres.

  • A requirement that the state consult with affected property owners in the area of the “Central Valley Wye” section, which branches off from the north-south route in Chowchilla as the rail heads toward San Jose.

  • Legal fees incurred by the plaintiffs.

All joint petitioners in the lawsuit joined in the settlement agreement, including the Chowchilla Water District, Preserve Our Heritage and the Fagundes Brothers Dairy entities.

Although Coleman describes the settlement as “far from being perfect,” he added he believes “this settlement forces the authority to compensate and mitigate individual landowners for agricultural impacts that this project will have on the farming community in Madera County.”

The two county Farm Bureaus and the other plaintiffs filed suit against the rail authority in June 2012, claiming the mitigation measures provided in its environmental documents were not adequate to address agricultural impacts or to analyze properly the project’s total impact.

“The settlement actually increases the amount of mitigation the authority is going to be required to provide to property owners and towards agricultural impacts,” said Anja Raudabaugh, Madera County Farm Bureau executive director. “It also provides for appropriate severance damages towards properties affected by the alignment of the high-speed train.”

Merced County Farm Bureau President Jean Okuye said the agreement “will not only reflect the section from Merced County south to Fresno but for all future routes in Merced County under consideration.” Specifically, this would include the proposed “Wye Section” and a future section from Merced to Sacramento.

For the Fresno-to-Bakersfield section of the $68 billion high-speed rail project, authority engineers recommended earlier this month a route that travels along the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe Railway and bypasses the city of Hanford to the west, around Corcoran, Wasco and Shafter. The other main alternative bypasses Hanford to the east, although there are at least a dozen other alignment alternatives and variations. Final environmental documents for the Fresno-to-Bakersfield section are expected to be released soon.

That section of the project also prompted a legal challenge, filed by plaintiffs in Kings County and due to be heard May 31 in Sacramento County Superior Court. The suit challenges the project’s funding plan and consistency with Proposition 1-A, the statewide high-speed rail initiative approved in 2008.

“The immediate settlement applies in Merced and Madera counties only,” California Farm Bureau Federation environmental policy analyst Justin Fredrickson said. “However, it seems that the way the settlement addresses some of the issues of agricultural mitigation, agricultural impacts, severed parcels, landowner participation and the land acquisition process, for example, could suggest a partial roadmap for better addressing impacts to agricultural lands elsewhere in the state.”

Information about land acquisition and eminent domain processes may be found on the CFBF website at www.cfbf.com/issues/landuse/eminentdomain/.

(Christine Souza is an assistant editor of Ag Alert. She may be contacted at csouza@cfbf.com.)

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

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Conservation dogs sniff out endangered animals

Endangered Species Act

PNP comment: What they won’t think of next to spend money on! — Editor Liz Bowen

By Elizabeth Devitt

edevitt@mercurynews.com

 

Posted:   04/26/2013 10:56:51 PM PDT

Megan Parker carries poop in her purse. At least she does when she’s working with her dog Pepin, who’s trained to track the scat of endangered wildlife.

Having the right scent on hand allows Parker to direct her dog during a search.

Parker and Pepin have helped conservation workers protect wildlife all over the world. With Pepin’s superior sense of smell, the 7-year-old Belgian Malinois has tracked everything from endangered kit foxes in the San Joaquin Valley to the perilously small population of Cross River gorillas in the mountains of Cameroon.

“Scat is a gold mine of information,” said Parker, one of four co-founders of Working Dogs for Conservation, a nonprofit group of six biologists who trained

Pepin, a Belgian Malinois with Working Dogs for Conservation, gets ready for a demonstration in Palo Alto, Calif. on April 13, 2013. (LiPo Ching)

their canines to work on behalf of wildlife.

Scientists can extract DNA — the genetic blueprints found in cells — from scat samples to check the sex of animals and learn who’s related to whom. Stool can also be used to evaluate diets, test hormone levels and check for diseases. By mapping areas where samples are found, an animal’s home range can also be determined. All that information helps conservationists keep tabs on endangered animals without having to hunt, trap or tag them.

“People see and hear the world,” said Parker. “But dogs are really good at this because they smell the world.”

With samples of wolverine and cheetah scat from her stash, Parker recently demonstrated Pepin’s search skills. From the moment Parker

fastened a bright orange service-dog vest on Pepin, the dog focused on finding his target scents. He sniffed relentlessly around a cavernous lecture hall and trotted briskly among 50 people seated in rows of chairs. In less than 10 minutes Pepin made his finds, alerting Parker by promptly sitting down and throwing her a hard stare.

Pepin is one of nine dogs on staff at Working Dogs for Conservation. A mix of breeds — retrievers, border collies and German shepherds — most of the dogs come from shelters where their high-maintenance traits made them great for detection training, but not so perfect for the easy life of a pet.

The dogs all live with their handlers. That close relationship is part of what makes their teamwork so successful, said Parker. In the field, the dogs work off-leash. So it’s critical to know the dog well enough to know whether he has truly found a target or is just testing the handler, she said.

With highly sensitive noses, dogs such as Pepin have proven they find samples quickly and more accurately than human-based methods, said Alice Whitelaw, another cofounder of the group. Reliability matters because testing scat samples from the wrong animals wastes time and money. Using dogs is also less costly than capturing and radio-collaring animals, which are intensive efforts in terms of manpower, money and handling the wild animals, she said. So far, the dogs have worked on 38 projects in 11 countries.

Scat isn’t the only thing these dogs can find. With scent-discrimination capabilities at least twice as good as those of people, the dogs have nosed out specific plant species — a critical skill on islands where one invasive species can wreak havoc on the rest of the ecosystem, said Whitelaw.

More:

http://www.marinij.com/ci_23133258/conservation-dogs-sniff-out-endangered-animals

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Western Governors: Private sector should be utilized to improve federal forest management

Forestry & USFS

http://www.healthyforests.org/western_governors_private_sector_should_be_utilized_to_improve_federal_forest_management

Western Governors: private sector should be utilized to improve federal forest management

Posted by Nick Smith 5pc on April 26, 2013

The Western Governors’ Association delivered a letter (attached) to Secretary of Agriculture Thomas J. Vilsack last week requesting increased attention on environmentally stressed national forest land and inclusion of the private sector in efforts to reduce epidemics such as pine beetle infestations and wildfires. The letter:

 

Dear Secretary Vilsack,

We have been concerned for some time that federal forest lands throughout the West are experiencing serious environmental stresses that affect the health and vitality of these ecosystems. They are overgrown; they exhibit all the symptoms of an unhealthy ecosystem; and they demand urgent attention. Now is the time for the U.S. Forest Service to accelerate its efforts to promote sound forest management policies that maintain ecological balance.

As you know, millions of acres in states throughout the West have fallen victim to bark beetles and other insect and disease plights. These epidemics, an overgrowth of vegetation, and the persistent drought have increased the number and complexity of wildfires, leading to exponentially higher suppression costs. The workload and costs to restore these forests and reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfires is staggering and necessitates an immediate commitment of financial and other resources. Western Governors have passed numerous policies acknowledging the extent and severity of our forest health crisis. We have met with you and your staff on many occasions and shared our concerns, yet we remain dissatisfied with the pace of response.

It is our understanding that in 2010 only about 30 percent of the total U.S. Forest Service budget was allocated to manage our national forests. In the mid-1980s, that number was closer to 70 percent. Most of the agency’s budget is spent on fire suppression, administrative support, research, and other programs. The current approach to resource allocation results in fewer funds available to manage the more than 193 million acres of national forests for forest health and fuels reduction. To that end, we request a specific accounting of the areas in which these funds have been spent. We further request that the U.S. Forest Service work to put the private sector to work on vegetative management activities on National Forest lands throughout the West.

We support the goals of the U.S. Forest Service’s Restoration Strategy, which will increase restoration acres while utilizing the wood produced by these efforts. Achieving the goals of this strategy will require developing and implementing new, more efficient ways of doing business and forest products industries are an integral part of this effort. We request that the U.S. Forest Service provide state-by-state specifics on how many additional acres it plans to treat through the Restoration Strategy over the next five years, including how much biomass, board feet, and other forest health and restoration projects are envisioned. We would also like to work with you to convene a forest industry task group to identify ways that the timber industry can assist with forest management. Private sector forest professionals are a cost-effective tool that the U.S. Forest Service can utilize to handle this immense workload. They stand ready and willing to do so.

By improving forest management through the use of the private sector, we also help support our declining forest industry and suffering rural economies. Our forest industries are already faced with low margins and limited markets; if we lose these industries, any restoration efforts will suffer a significant blow. As Governors, we support the type of proactive forest management that leads to healthy rural communities, improved forest conditions and increased utilization of wood products as outlined in the U.S. Forest Service Restoration Strategy. In addition, we are committed to successful implementation of the Western Regional Action Plan – National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy. We support efforts to fully utilize existing mechanisms and provide additional authorities to the U.S. Forest Service, including Stewardship End-Result Contracting, grants, agreements, local labor force, opportunities to increase biomass utilization, and Good Neighbor policies.

With continued uncertainty due to sequestration and the potential for further federal budget cuts, we recognize the financial challenges involved in such an endeavor, but believe that engaging the forest products industry as a partner can help alleviate some of these challenges. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Gary R. HerbertGovernor, State of Utah, Chairman, WGA

John HickenlooperState of Colorado, Vice-Chairman, WGA


To arrange interviews
 and learn additional information, contact Joe Rassenfoss, Communications Director of the Western Governors’ Association, at 720-897-4555.

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News from California Farm Water Coalition 4-29-13

CA Farm Water Coalition

BAY DELTA CONSERVATION PLAN

Delta plan doesn’t sit well locally

Story
From Vacaville Reporter – Sunday, April 28, 2013
Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta communities are calling foul on a plan orchestrated by Gov. Jerry Brown that he touts as they best way to deliver more water to the south and restore the Delta.

Coalition response…The concern the water users in the Delta have is one that other water users in California can relate to – water shortages for the last 20 years. A large part of the water lost due to environmental regulations flowed to the ocean with no measurable ecosystem benefit. A part of that water could have been serving 25 million people and growing local food in a farm state that is more productive than any other region on earth. That water can be put to use when the right conditions make it available.

The Bay Delta Conservation Plan is focused on creating a reliable water supply and a restored Delta ecosystem. Public water agencies are seeking the reliability that would provide near average deliveries to what they have received over the last 15 years, which is a reasonable compromise Californians can support.

Water sale just the beginning?

Letter
From Chico Enterprise-Record – Saturday, April 27, 2013
The Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District’s plan to sell 5,000 acre-feet of water to the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority this year reminds me of the old frog-boiling metaphor. If you put a frog in hot water, it will jump out immediately. But, supposedly, if you put a frog in cold water and heat it slowly enough, the frog will allow itself to be boiled alive.

Coalition response…Voluntary water transfers add flexibility to California’s water system and provide benefits to both the buyer and the seller. Its important to understand that transfers like this undergo a review process by the State of California that must prove no harmful effect to the area of origin or the environment. As water moves downstream through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, part of it remains in the Delta for environmental benefits as well.

Comparing a boiling pot of water to transfers leaves out a very important factor—the oversight and assurance that the transfers meet their needs of the recipients as well as protecting the area of origin.

(This article was previously printed in the Woodland Daily Democrat.)

Report: Bay Delta Conservation Plan flooding could ruin Yolo Bypass rice crop 

Story
From Chico Enterprise-Record – Sunday, April 28, 2013
Burying two 40-foot-wide tunnels beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta will make a mess, but state officials hope to offset the environmental damage by improving the ecosystem in other parts of the Central Valley.

Coalition response…A clarification is needed to this story regarding who is paying for parts of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. The improved conveyance measures, including the twin tunnels, will be paid by those users who receive the water and not the public.

BAY DELTA CONSERVATION PLAN

Finding a way to share design and construction oversight

Blog
By Nancy Vogel
From BDCP – Friday, April 26, 2013
The California Department of Water Resources (DWR), the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and public agencies that buy water from the State Water Project and Central Valley Project have been discussing the potential structure of a partnership to oversee design and construction of new water intakes and conveyance in the Delta, as well as associated mitigation under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP).

Feds need to press Brown to look at all options for a Bay-Delta fix

Editorial
From Sacramento Bee – Sunday, April 28, 2013

If Gov. Jerry Brown had his way, the tunneling machines would be boring right now under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, carving out space for a pair of 40-foot-wide tunnels to ship Sacramento River water to cities and irrigation districts south of the Delta.

Interactive map: Sacramento Delta tunnel project

Story
From Sacramento Bee – Sunday, April 28, 2013
The Bay Delta Conservation Plan would affect 3,530 acres of land in Sacramento County, mostly between Freeport and Courtland, to divert Sacramento River water. This map shows the latest official location and size of the proposed facilities, which may change when a final proposal is released later this year.

Delta tunnel project to radically change Sacramento County landscape

Story
From Sacramento Bee – Sunday, April 28, 2013

When Daniel Wilson learned earlier this year that the state of California wants to bulldoze his family’s pear orchard to build a giant Sacramento River water diversion, he and his brother were making a major new investment in the crop.

Tunnels won’t create more water

Letter
From Chico Enterprise-Record – Sunday, April 28, 2013

I appreciate the Enterprise-Record recently printing my letter about the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. In that letter, I suggested we learn the facts, so here is information about the plan from a commentary by Carolee Krieger of the Water Impact Network in the Sacramento Bee on April 25.

$35B overhaul of water system on tap

Story
From San Diego Union-Tribune – Sunday, April 28, 2013
The combined price tag for a grand redesign of California’s plumbing network now surpasses a staggering $35 billion, although there are signals that the final bill will eventually shrink.

Remarks about Delta spur call for resignation

Story
From The Record – Saturday, April 27, 2013
Five members of Congress called this week for the governor’s point man on Delta issues to resign, after two environmental advocates said he commented that the twin tunnels project will not save the estuary.

WATER SUPPLY

A possible new way to manage water and snow in thirsty California

Story
From Washington Post – Sunday, April 28, 2013
Like a pitcher taking the mound on opening day, Frank Gehrke gets the spotlight in California every early April. That’s when the otherwise obscure state water official trudges into the Sierra Nevada mountains, media in tow, and plunges aluminum tubes into the snow.

Water shortage in state affects Kern County

TV News
From KGET 17 – Friday, April 26, 2013
With a severe water shortage around the state, local water officials say Kern County is in crisis mode.

LEVEES

California’s aging levee system an issue that needs full attention

Column
By Byron Williams
From Contra Costa Times – Saturday, April 27, 2013
It is understandable that our collective attention is swayed by the issue de jour. After all, the world of 24-hour news — which is actually closer to four hours of news and 20 hours of looping prods — bombards us until we acquiesce our attention to what is offered.

SALTON SEA

Officials discuss solutions for Salton Sea

Story
From Desert Sun – Saturday, April 27, 2013
Federal, state and local officials met at the Salton Sea on Friday to share ideas for preserving California’s largest lake despite limited government funding and diminishing flows of water to sustain it.

MEETINGS

Water transfers and storage on Butte County Water Commission agenda for Wednesday

Story
From Chico Enterprise-Record – Sunday, April 28, 2013
Water transfers and water storage are on the agenda for the Butte County Water Commission, which meets at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Board of Supervisors Chambers, 25 County Center Drive in Oroville.

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Yreka Tea Party Patriots meet 4-30-13

TEA Party

Meeting for Tuesday, April 30th   

6:30PM

Decision Life Church Corner of Main and Oberlin…1301 South Main St. Yreka

Program: Open Microphone: Possible subjects, you decide:  Benghazi cover up, Common Core, unanswered questions about the Marathon bombing and Chem trails.

 

Free, Public welcome   Contact Louise for more information at              530-842-5443.

I have 3 DVDs left on “Chem Trails”, more will be available at the May 7th meetings.   I am completely out of DVDs on “Common Core”, more will be available at the May 7th meeting.    I have 14 bumper stickers, “Stop Common Core” available for sell for $1.00.   I also have about 30 “Common Core” books available for sale for $15.00 but lots of free handouts.

It would be helpful if you would email or call if you want any of the above mentioned DVDs so I will have a better idea of how many to order.  All DVDs are only $1.00.

Louise

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