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2022

Draft bill to protect sequoias has no money for Calaveras Big Trees
A 38-page draft bill to protect endangered giant sequoias, being touted this week by the House Committee on Natural Resources, authorizes $325 million in federal funding over 10 years — and it contains zero dollars for the fire-threatened North and South Groves of Giant Sequoias in Calaveras Big Trees State Park. "We'd like to see the state act with urgency to do now at Big Trees what the federal bill will do for sequoias on federal land…" Click here for article—The Union Democrat, June 28, 2022

SPI Closes Forestlands Temporarily To Public
Citing the ongoing drought and high fire danger, Sierra Pacific Industries is closing its forestlands to public access until conditions improve… The closure is effective this Friday, July 1st… SPI owns over two million acres of forestland across California, Oregon and Washington. Click here for article—MyMotherlode.com, June 27, 2022

Calaveras Consolidated Add Additional Firefighters
Valley Springs, CA– The leaders of Calaveras County's largest local fire district have decided to use financial reserves to hire six seasonal firefighters…The funding and extra staff are not considered to be a long-term sustainable program… "Measure A is a way to guarantee adequate fire staffing countywide and to ensure that at least some of our young people can afford to live and work in the community they love." Click here for article—MyMotherlode.com, June 24, 2022

Crime surge limits after-hour access to post offices
The Valley Springs post office has limited hours customers have access to their mailboxes due to thefts and vandalism… Another factor in closing the lobby at night was for health and hygiene reasons, she said, as vagrants were regularly sleeping inside… Another recent casualty was the mail drop box at the intersection of State Route 26 and Vista Del Lago Drive. It appears someone plowed into the box with a vehicle to gain access to the contents. They were unsuccessful… Click here for article—The Valley Springs News, June 24, 2022

Head Of PG&E's Wildfire Trust Fund Resigns
The Fire Victim Trust was set up in 2020 to provide a combined $13.8 billion in compensation to victims of select wildfires in 2015, 2017 and 2018. It includes the Butte Fire that ignited in Calaveras County in 2015… $4.5 billion has been distributed to this point and the trust is about $2-billion below its required funding, citing sagging PG&E stock prices. Some victims have also been voicing displeasure with the pace of payments. The trust also requested a $1.5 billion loan from the state last year, but it has not been approved… Click here for article—MyMotherlode.com, June 23, 2022

Tuolumne County Proposing 1-Percent Sales Tax Increase For Specific Services
The breakdown is 40-percent for sheriff, 40-percent for fire, and 20-percent for roads. If approved by voters in November, it would go into a special fund and bring in a combined $7-million in additional new revenue, annually… It would also have a 10-year sunset clause, meaning that it will go away, if not renewed by the pubilc, in another decade. Click here for article—MyMotherlode.com, June 22, 2022

Debate brews over proposed vegetation ordinance on Tuolumne County landowners
Many county residents have already complained that only the wealthiest among them are prepared to spend hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars annually to comply with a new law that will likely be more stringent than existing state laws that mandate defensible space… The new ordinance is intended to improve on PRC 4291, which does not address vacant lots, for example… John Buckley, executive director of the Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center in Twain Harte, suggested tweaks in the draft ordinance… Click here for article—The Union Democrat, June 20, 2022

CCWD imposing 20% water use reduction restrictions
The Calaveras County Water District following directions from the California State Water Resources Control Board last week formally adopted a "Stage 2" water shortage contingency plan by calling on all customers to reduce water usage by 20 percent…In addition, all CCWD customers are expected to adhere to the following conservation practices: Irrigation is prohibited between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m… Click here for article—The Valley Springs News, June 15, 2022

Calaveras receives $4 million wildfire prevention funding
More than half of the money coming to Calaveras County will fund two projects. The Utica Water and Power Authority will receive $1.2 million for the Hunter Reservoir Fuels Reduction Project and the Calaveras County Resource Conservation District has obtained $1 million for the Mokelumne Hills Fuels Reduction Project. In the west portion of the county, $213,180 was granted for continuation of the Rancho Calaveras Fuels Reduction Program that is clearing a 100-foot wide defensible space around the subdivision. Click here for article—The Valley Springs News, June 8, 2022

Roundabout Being Considered In Mokelumne Hill
As a safety improvement measure, Caltrans is considering installing a roundabout at the intersection of highways 49 and 26 in Mokelumne Hill. Caltrans spokesperson Bob Highfill says the purpose is to reduce the amount, and severity, of crashes at that particular spot…Caltrans will host a meeting on the potential project on June 14. Click here for article—MyMotherLode.com, June 2, 2022

Consideration to increase road work fees momentarily on hold
Rancho had a 3.19 percent response rate and 67.54 percent voted against higher fees. Despite those findings, District 5 Supervisor Benjamin Stopper…voiced his desire to push the matter forward with a preliminary engineer's report to solidify what those fee increases would be and go for a vote. "If they really want their roads fixed they have to say 'yes we're willing to pay for it,'" Click here for article—The Valley Springs News, May 27, 2022

CAL FIRE Stresses Need For Defensible Space
"Recent wildfires and research have highlighted how the combination of Defensible Space and Home Hardening retrofitting are essential to improve a home's chance of surviving a wildfire, It is critical that all Californians take preparedness steps now"… CAL FIRE has provided a couple of tips for homeowners that include. -Use hardscapes like gravel, pavers, concrete, and other noncombustible materials. No combustible bark or mulch… Click here for article—MyMotherLode.com, May 26, 2022

CA Stepping Up Water Conservation Rules
The California Water Resources Control Board passed "emergency water conservation measures" in response to the ongoing drought. It includes a ban on watering lawns outside of places like commercial buildings, spaces managed by homeowners associations, and institutions like hospitals, colleges and government buildings…The new statewide restrictions take effect on June 10…It includes starting to limit outdoor water use to certain days or hours… Click here for article—MyMotherLode.com, May 25, 2022

Reasons Not To Plant A Veggie Garden
A publication, "Keeping Plants Alive under Drought or Water Restrictions" (https://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/pdf/8553.pdf) had this blunt advice: "Vegetables are not drought-resistant plants and are difficult to maintain during a drought." During drought, focus water on long-lived trees and shrubs to keep them alive… Grow no more than you need… Click here for article—MyMotherLode.com, May 22, 2022

Tuolumne County supervisors overturn denial of Twain Harte apartments
What the board approved Tuesday also included amending the General Plan and changing the property's zoning from commercial to mixed use so that the renovations could move forward as proposed… John Buckley, "Look, you guys have retail and commercial structures that sit around vacant throughout the county," he said. "At the same time, there's a desperate need for residential units in the county. … It is a struggle for me to see why this is not obvious." County Supervisor David Goldemberg said he believes mixed-use has "so much potential" with the co-location of housing, services, and shopping. Click here for article—The Union Democrat, May 20, 2022

Celebration Saturday at Burson Market
Reopening festivities at the Burson Market will celebrate the Alborati family's eight-year quest to provide the community with a first-class convenience market and gas station. The exterior of the new store looks more akin to what the old Burson railroad station built nearby more than 100 years ago would have looked like than a modern gas station and convenience store… Hani said they rejected a modern big glass and steel look in favor of a western motif. Click here for article—The Valley Springs News, May 20, 2022

Wildfire season heats up - CalFire issues burning ban
Firefighters from CalCo, CalFire and San Andreas Fire responded to the scene south of New Hogan Lake at 4:46 p.m. and contained the blaze to 3.5 acres. "The grass is dry and the fire season is here," said CalCo Fire Chief Rich Dickinson… The outdoor burning of debris has been banned in the area as of Tuesday. …prepare your home for wildfire by creating defensible space and hardening your home ahead of wildfires. Here are some tips to help prepare homes and property: Clear all dead and or dying vegetation 100 feet from… Click here for article—The Valley Springs News, May 18, 2022

Meeting Called For Tuolumne County's Climate Action Plan
Tuolumne County government leaders have been working to develop a first-of-its-kind, state-mandated, local Climate Action Plan. It identifies existing and projected greenhouse gas emissions, sets emission reduction targets, and establishes policies and actions to reduce emissions. A proposed plan has been developed and the county is currently accepting public comments on it through June 15. To find an online copy of the document… Click here for article—MyMotherLode.com, May 18, 2022

'Awesome' April offers welcome California storms, but drought persists
The welcome wet pattern will probably delay what would have been a very early start to fire season. But the state remains entrenched in a multi-year drought…"Unfortunately, this is definitely on par with those weather extremes that we are going to expect to get more of," Schwartz said. "Anthropogenic climate change is certainly exacerbating that and making that natural variability more severe." Click here for article—Washington Post, April 20, 2022

Court sides with Stanislaus National Forest, cattle ranchers in grazing lawsuit
[Judge] O'Neill in Fresno wrote in August 2019 that he is "sympathetic to the concerns that sparked this lawsuit. Technical violations of water quality standards persist, and the process in place to address them is moving at a glacial pace…" John Buckley, the CSERC executive director, said Friday that CSERC and Sierra Forest Legacy filed suit against the Forest Service five years ago "for the agency allowing poorly managed livestock grazing to pollute forest streams and damage meadows and riparian areas in the Sierra Nevada." Click here for article—The Union Democrat, April 19, 2022

Preventing Catastrophic Wildfires With Public's Help
The Calaveras Big Trees Association…noted that in 2019, Cal Fire put Arnold on a list of small towns with the greatest potential for a catastrophic fire. In a webinar, last fall, after the Big Basin State Park mega-fire, Dr. Stephens was asked, "What state park is best poised to be the next big basin?" He answered, "Calaveras Big Trees." Click here for article—MyMotherLode.com, April 15, 2022

Plans For A New Native American Museum And Mural In Angels Camp
The M.A.C.T…Health Board is looking to build a new administration building and Native American museum in Angels Camp that will include a mural along Highway 49… "Outdoors they're going to have a traditional roundhouse, some bark houses, greenery, public bathrooms. They're going to have a mural of traditional Native American dancers that will flank either side of the roundhouse. " Click here for article—MyMotherLode.com, April 13, 2022

Calaveras Hires New Planning Director
[Gabriel] Elliott replaces Peter Maurer who retired last May. Elliott told the board, "I am excited about this opportunity. You can guarantee that I will do my utmost to make sure that I follow your guidelines, goals and policies are executed, and I will diligently develop my staff. And anything that needs to be turned around in the county planning department will be turned around." Click here for article—MyMotherLode.com, April 12, 2022

Foresters, scientists discuss need for prescribed fires this spring
People at Calaveras Big Trees State Park…have ambitious plans to do prescribed burns on more than 1,300 acres of overgrown understory and old growth forest lands this spring, in an effort to save endangered, fire- threatened monarch giant sequoias and to prompt reproduction of the rare giant trees…"We want to burn the entirety of the South Grove. Sequoias are a fire-dependent species. It would be a dereliction of duty if we don't reintroduce fire to these groves…Yeah, it's dry out there, that's why we're trying to do a burn in late April, not late May."… Click here for article—The Union Democrat, April 12, 2022

April 1 survey finds Sierra Nevada snowpack at lowest in 7 years
State water scientists staged a manual snow survey Friday 60 miles northeast of Sonora in a grassy mountain meadow with a patch of snow 2.5 inches deep, where the average April 1 depth since 1941 is 66.5 inches… "After April 1 we shift from snowpack building to snowpack melting…" "Really as the snowpack continues to melt, the big unknown is how much runoff will make it into the reservoirs." Click here for article—The Union Democrat, April 4, 2022

Some CA Farmers Could Be Paid To Leave Land Vacant
It is being promoted as a peace treaty in California's ongoing water wars. Governor Newsom argues it balances the need for a "healthy ecosystem and healthy economy." The Associated Press reports that it would result in an extra 824,000 acre feet (1 billion cubic meters) of water each year flowing through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Some environmental groups are already coming out against it, arguing that it doesn't go far enough to conserve water, and protect certain fish species. Click here for article—MyMotherLode.com, March 30, 2022

California calls for more local water conservation
"Our lives here in California are really going to be shaped by water scarcity going forward." Roughly 385 cities and other local water districts have to submit drought response plans to the state detailing six levels of conservation actions based on water scarcity… consider requiring those local suppliers to move to the second step of their conservation plans, which assumes water scarcity of 20%. Click here for article—AP News, March 28, 2022

Calaveras Will Vote On Sales Tax Increase For Fire Protection
A citizen spurred initiative to increase the sales tax in Calaveras County by a penny per dollar will go before voters in November. If approved, the revenue would be allocated to the nine-county fire districts, and the Angels Camp Fire Department. Committee Chair Dana Nichols reports that it would help improve staffing and assure that firefighters are available 24/7 throughout the county… last year the new tax would have brought in $5.7-million. Click here for article—MyMotherLode.com, March 28, 2022

Volunteer Spotlight: Rob Williams is bicycling into the future
CalBike and the MLBC recently collaborated with transportation agencies from five counties—Alpine, Calaveras, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Tuolumne—and CalTrans to study opportunities for bicycle tourism and economic development… "People come to Calaveras and the Mother Lode to hunt, to fish, to ski, to camp and picnic. I think we need to add bike riding as a tourist amenity." Click here for article—Calaveras Enterprise, March 5, 2022

Survey estimates more than 585K dead trees in Stanislaus National Forest
Pilots and scientists who did an aerial survey of dead trees up and down California last year found elevated levels of tree mortality, with an estimated 9.5 million dead trees on 1.3 million acres, according to a 2021 Forest Service report, summaries, and a graphic released last week. Separate estimates for counties that comprise the federal forest, from north to south, showed… 168,000 dead trees on 24,000 acres in Calaveras County… Click here for article - The Union Democrat, March 4, 2022

Drought returning after back-to-back dry months
Although early season storms helped alleviate some drought impacts, a lack of storms in January and February heightens the need for conservation. The governor has asked all Californians to cut back water use at least 15 percent compared to 2020 levels… snowpacks are all standing at just above 59 percent to 66 percent of average for this date, impacting watersheds across the state. Click here for article - The Valley Springs News, March 4, 2022

Rancho residents willing to pay more for road repairs?
Calaveras County has begun a survey to determine whether residents in communities such as Rancho Calaveras want to pay more money for additional road improvements… Public works invites CSA property owners to participate in the survey and provide their input. Property owners will find the survey posted to the Calaveras County Public Works homepage… The survey will conclude at 11:59 p.m. on March 31 and the results are scheduled to be presented April 26 to the Board of Supervisors for them to decide… Click here for article - The Valley Springs News, March 4, 2022

Rancho Calaveras property owners, click here to take the survey and learn more.

Survey To Raise Parcel Fees For Calaveras Service Areas
The current per parcel rates range from a low of $19 – $38 in Rancho Calaveras to a high of $240 – $360 in Golden Springs… The goal of the survey is to "determine if CSA property owners would be interested in having the current parcel assessment fee raised to fund additional road improvements and a higher level of ongoing maintenance in their service area," The survey runs through the end of the month (March 31) at midnight. Click here for article—MyMotherLode.com, March 3, 2022

Calaveras housing market this year expected to resemble '21
It looks like 2022 will be another year of inflated home prices, but not as dramatic as 2021. This still leaves many low to medium income locals at a loss when it comes to purchasing a quality home in their price range, as well as a challenging situation for renters and affordable workforce housing… Click here for article - The Valley Springs News, March 2, 2022

Campaign to 'save the Calaveras Big Trees' continues
An SOS call put out by the Calaveras Big Trees Association (CBTA) on Feb. 2 asked the state to send a "cavalry of forest crews" to address the park's imminent fire risk… Bellah advised CBTA that State Parks has plans to burn over 200 acres in the North Grove…and that they also "plan to broadcast burn the 1,300-acre South Grove as a priority project in 2022." CBTA, however, says they "continue to believe that the state's five-year plan to cleanup one-sixth of the park is neither fast enough nor comprehensive enough." Click here for article—Calaveras Enterprise, March 2, 2022

Penny sales tax proposal for better fire protection could reach the ballot
The Calaveras Local Fire Protection Committee website asserts that this measure would provide funding to improve emergency response in all nine local fire districts as well as the municipal fire department in Angels Camp. Based on actual sales tax distributions, a 1-cent-per-dollar sales tax during the 2020-21 fiscal year would have provided $5.68 million… Click here for article - The Valley Springs News, February 25, 2022

Meeting set to discuss VS Elementary traffic safety project
This project was identified in the Valley Springs Town Center Connectivity Plan, which has been in the works for several years and calls for $7.8 million in safety and improvement projects in downtown Valley Springs…could be a traffic signal at the State Route 12 entrance into the Valley Oaks Shopping Center and a left turn lane off eastbound SR 12 into Castle Rock Mobile Home Park. Click here for article - The Valley Springs News, February 23, 2022

OUT THERE: Seeing is believing — remote South Grove of giant sequoias in Tuolumne County
I woke early enough to arrive at Calaveras Big Trees State Park off Highway 4…and start walking just after 8:30 a.m… Fire conditions in the South Grove are bad, just as bad as they are on the north side of the river, and worse in places… What I saw in and near the Calaveras South Grove Natural Preserve looks as badly overgrown and choked-out as any sick forest I've seen in Southern and Central California over the past two decades. What happens to the 1,000 giant sequoias in Tuolumne County, and the 100 giant sequoias in Calaveras County, these 1,100 rare giants in Calaveras Big Trees State Park — this spring, this fire season, and in the future — that remains to be seen. Click here for article – The Union Democrat, February 25, 2022

Giant sequoia advocates put more pressure on state to act quickly on fire threat
A nonprofit group advocating for emergency action to reduce threats of a megablaze that could burn up the Mother Lode's share of rare and dwindling giant sequoias in Calaveras Big Trees State Park continued calling for urgent action Friday, criticizing state parks authorities' response to their initial call to action earlier this month. Calaveras Big Trees State Park is home to more than 1,100 mature giant sequoias on about 10 square miles of overgrown forest in the North Fork Stanislaus River watershed… Click here for article – The Union Democrat, February 22, 2022

California Water Board unveils new 'Water Watch' site to track statewide water information
California has new tools to monitor and predict our water supply. A new water-tracking website shows things like drought pictures, mountain snow, and well depths... "Water supply availability differs depending on where you are in the state…So the California Water Watch tool is a new tool to help us monitor and track conditions when California is experiencing drought," The website is available at cww.water.ca.gov - Click here for article – YourCentralValley.com, February 17, 2022

New outreach coordinator for Community Action Project -
"We are fortunate to find someone who brings Austen's educational and local journalism experience to our organization," said CAP co-chair Joyce Techel. "He starts out with a foundation in county and state issues, and existing local challenges such as fire safety, water availability and land use. He brings fresh eyes and new ideas to CAP/CPC's efforts to engage the public in working together for a Calaveras County that can thrive in these challenging times." Click here for article - The Valley Springs News, February 11, 2022

Study finds Western megadrought is the worst in 1,200 years
Shrunk reservoirs. Depleted aquifers. Low rivers. Raging wildfires. It's no secret that the Western U.S. is in a severe drought. New research published Monday shows just how extreme the situation has become. It's time to "pull out all the stops" and plan for less water… Click here for article—NPR, February 14, 2022

'This is an emergency': Calaveras Big Trees staff, advocates raise alarm about fire threat to iconic giant sequoias
Three wildfires in 2020 and 2021 killed or mortally burned 13% to 19% of the world's giant sequoias, which grow naturally only on the west slope of the Central and Southern Sierra Nevada range, and now the nonprofit Calaveras Big Trees Association is warning that the Mother Lode's share of the largest trees on earth are facing catastrophic wildfire threats. Click here for article—The Union Democrat, February 7, 2022

Weather whiplash: Historically wet start to winter turns into driest January on record
The record-setting wet start to the current winter that chilled, soaked, and snowed-in the Mother Lode and the rest of the Central Sierra in December is a month-old memory now, with the driest January on record since 1913 coming to a close on Monday… despite no measurable rain or snow in January so far, major water storage reservoirs in Calaveras and Tuolumne counties were still holding 40% to more than 50% of capacity as of Thursday. Click here for article—The Union Democrat, February 1, 2022

Caltrans invites comments on proposed North Fork Calaveras River Bridge replacement project
Caltrans is proposing the replacement of the North Fork Calaveras River Bridge on Highway 12; their reason for this being, "The current bridge has above-average collision rates and nonstandard bridge railings, width, superelevation, and horizontal alignment." Caltrans is allowing the public to submit any comments or concerns they might have about the project…no later than 3/2/2022. Click here for article—Calaveras Enterprise, January 31, 2022

Tuolumne County Approves Affordable Housing Project
The project developer is Visionary Homebuilders of California, and the property owner is Adventist Health. In total, 72 apartments will be constructed Visionary Homebuilders is also looking to incorporate an onsite childcare facility… The county helped the developer acquire a $500,000 state grant two years ago to help cover the costs of the prep work. The total project is anticipated to cost over $30-million. Click here for article—MyMotherLode.com, January 19, 2022

Day Use Park To Open At Lake Tulloch
A groundbreaking ceremony was recently held for the Tulloch Day Use Park at 7430 O'Byrnes Ferry Road in the Copperopolis area along the shores of Lake Tulloch. Set to open sometime this spring ahead of the busy recreational season, it will feature picnic tables, a fishing pier, pathways, shoreline access, a swim area, parking and restroom facilities. There will also be a launch area for canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. Click here for article—MyMotherLode.com, January 14, 2022

State Says Lingering Drought Prompts Mandatory Water Restrictions
Californians could face fines of up to $500 a day if they do not obey new rules regarding lawn watering and vehicle washing. Despite the recent heavy precipitation, the state cites drought concerns… The move comes as residents continue to fall short of Gov. Gavin Newsom's call for a voluntary 15% reduction in water use compared to last year. Click here for article—MyMotherLode.com, January 4, 2022

 

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