Wednesday, 17 April 2024

Community

At its February meeting, the California Fish and Game Commission acted on several issues affecting California’s natural resources.

The following are just a few items of interest from this month’s meeting held in Sacramento, with an option for the public to join via Zoom.

The commission elected Commissioner Samantha Murray as president and re-elected Commissioner Erika Zavaleta as vice president, marking the second time in its history that commission leadership is two women; the first time was in 2022 when Murray and Zavaleta served in the same roles.

Commissioners accepted committee assignments. Commissioners Eric Sklar and Murray will co-chair the Marine Resources Committee. Commissioners Zavaleta and Darius Anderson will co-chair the Wildlife Resources Committee. Commissioners Jacque Hostler-Carmesin and Anderson will co-chair the Tribal Committee.

The commission unanimously voted to reduce the bag and possession limit for California halibut to two fish north of Point Sur.

The commission unanimously voted to extend the unlimited recreational take of purple sea urchins at Caspar Cove, Mendocino County to continue to gather data and assess the efficacy of community-led kelp restoration efforts at this location.

The commission unanimously voted to approve an experimental fishing permit, or EFP, to test alternative gear in the commercial Dungeness crab fishery and approved several modifications to an existing EFP to test alternative fishing gear in the California commercial Dungeness crab and hagfish fisheries.

The commission unanimously voted to notify interested parties of its intent to amend Klamath River Basin sport fishing regulations related to fall-run Chinook salmon.

Commissioners unanimously voted to adopt amendments to regulations for lands owned or managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, or CDFW.

The numerous new site-specific regulations improve public safety, increase recreational opportunities, and provide resource protection.

Additionally, two properties were designated (one as a wildlife area and the other as an ecological reserve) and a new regulation was created to prohibit the use of neonicotinoid pesticides on CDFW lands.

The commission received one-year status review reports on the petitions to list Mohave desert tortoise and southern California steelhead under the California Endangered Species Act. The commission will consider whether to list each species at its April meeting.

Commission Vice President Erika Zavaleta and commissioners Eric Sklar and Darius Anderson were present for the full meeting. This was Anderson’s first meeting.

Commission President Samantha Murray was present on the first day and part of the second day. Commissioner Jacque Hostler-Carmesin was present on the second day.

The agenda for this meeting, along with supporting information, is available on the commission website. Archived video of past Commission meetings is available online.

The full commission has a teleconference scheduled for March 26. The next meeting is scheduled for April 17 and 18 in San Jose.

The California Fish and Game Commission was one of the first wildlife conservation agencies in the United States, predating even the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries. There is often confusion about the distinction between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Commission. In the most basic terms, CDFW implements and enforces the regulations set by the Commission, as well as provides biological data and expertise to inform the Commission’s decision-making process.

SACRAMENTO – Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, announced new legislation on Tuesday that would grant power wheelchair users the right to have their own equipment repaired, eliminating delays that could leave them immobilized while reducing costs to one of California’s most vulnerable populations.

“This measure is about enhancing quality of life for people with mobility issues,” Sen. Dodd said. “It allows power wheelchair users to get their wheelchairs fixed in an efficient and timely manner when things go wrong. By doing so, it ensures those who rely on wheelchairs can be operating as soon as possible.”

Under existing law, manufacturers of power wheelchairs are not required to provide information or replacement parts directly to consumers or independent repair shops.

Colorado became the first state in the nation to address the issue, adopting a right-to-repair laws that granted wheelchair owners and independent shops access to parts, manufacturer software, specialized tools and other items needed to ensure timely and affordable wheelchair repair.

In California, Sen. Dodd has introduced Senate Bill 1384, which would ensure the same right to repair for California wheelchair users and streamline the process for getting complex rehabilitation technology repaired.

Among other things, it requires independent repair shops to require written notice to consumers before conducting repairs and establishes guidelines on what parts can be replaced.

The bill is supported by advocates including Sacramento disability rights activist and wheelchair user Russell Rawlings. It is expected to be heard in committee in about a month.

“If you have a power chair and are using it daily, it needs regular maintenance,” Rawlings said. “But the industry as it stands has very little interest in making repairs. There can be months if not longer of wait time. This bill seeks to change that by making it easier for owners and smaller shops to fill the repair need. Also, power chairs are increasingly controlled by software that is currently restricted to a small number of vendors. Owners having access to these tools would enable more freedom and ability to control their driving experiences.”

Dodd represents the 3rd Senate District, which includes all or portions of Napa, Yolo, Sonoma, Solano, Sacramento and Contra Costa counties.

CLEARLAKE, Calif. — The Clearlake Oaks Moose Lodge will hold a veterans dinner on Wednesday, Feb. 21.

It will take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

They will serve spaghetti and garlic bread, with salad and dessert.

Fiddler and Marsha will perform.

The event is free to all veterans, with a $10 donation requested for non-veterans.

The Moose Lodge is located at 15900 East Highway 20, Clearlake Oaks.

For more information, call the lodge at 707-998-3740.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Assemblymember Steve Bennett (D-38) introduced A.B. 3162, the California Oppose Cruelty to Octopuses, or OCTO, Act, to prohibit octopus farming on land or water and ban the import of farmed octopus in California.

The bill, cosponsored by Animal Legal Defense Fund and Social Compassion in Legislation, positions California as a humane leader on this developing issue, preempting the controversial and cruel industry before it has an opportunity to develop in the state.

These animals have significant cognitive abilities and can learn new skills, navigate complex mazes, are known escape artists and even use tools.

Due to their complex mental ability, octopuses have high enrichment needs that simply cannot be met in farming environments. Intensively confining these highly intelligent, solitary animals in unnatural farming conditions is inhumane, as there is a high likelihood of stress, aggressive activity, and high mortality among octopuses in these settings.

Methods of slaughtering octopuses have historically been highly inhumane, including clubbing, slicing, asphyxiation, and chilling.

“This is a key moment, not only in California but around the country, in the effort to protect octopuses from the scale of suffering that other animals already endure on factory farms,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Senior Legislative Affairs Manager Jennifer Hauge. “Californians have demonstrated their concern for the welfare of animals, and this bill is an opportunity to continue that commitment by leading on this issue with proactive legislation. We commend Assemblymember Bennett’s efforts to stop octopus farming in its tracks in California.”

“These highly functional creatures have captured our fascination for as long as we have been telling stories,” says Assemblymember Steve Bennett. “Octopuses are primarily solitary creatures that are not suited for large scale breeding. They have demonstrated an aptitude for learning and their acute intelligence is becoming well recorded among the scientific community. Outside the U.S., there is a growing trend of recognizing the sentience of this eight-legged cephalopod and the inappropriateness of captive breeding and harvesting it. AB 3162 will prevent needless, systemic harm to these captivating animals.”

In addition to the animal welfare concerns, octopus farming could have problematic environmental consequences.

Aquaculture facilities for octopuses have the potential to create an increased risk of nitrogen and phosphorus runoff, contributing to environmental pollution and potential algal blooms that create low-oxygen dead zones devoid of life, disrupting local marine ecosystems.

Antibiotics and pesticides may also be used to control the spread of disease and presence of parasites — as they already are with sea lice in salmon farms — and these can end up in the diets of wild fish, making them sick and disrupting food chains.

“Jurisdictions around the world, including California, are restricting or banning various forms of aquaculture due to its negative environmental impact and the risk of bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections in marine life,” says Judie Mancuso, Founder and President of Social Compassion in Legislation. “Factory farms are environmental disasters whether on land or in the water, and the cruelty inherent in their business model is unspeakable. Octopus aquaculture would be a harmful and truly inhumane practice, and AB 3162 will prevent it from getting established in our great state.”

Similar bills have also been introduced in Washington state (H.B. 1153) and Hawaii (H.B. 2262).

Assemblymember Gail Pellerin (D-Santa Cruz) has introduced AB 2839 to crack down on AI-generated deepfakes that spread misleading information about elections, including candidates running for office and voting logistics.

Specifically, AB 2839 prohibits a person from knowingly distributing digitally modified and materially deceptive communications about candidates running for office, elected officials, elections officials, voting procedures and sites, and equipment used to conduct an election.

These prohibitions would apply to AI-generated deepfake audio, images, and videos, 120 days before an election inclusive to 60 days following the election.

The bill is timely, following an AI-influenced general election in Argentina and coming weeks after a deepfake audio recording impersonating President Biden which sought to discourage Democratic voters from voting in the New Hampshire primary election.

“There have always been bad actors who try to wreak havoc on elections. I remember an election where people distributed door hangers which gave people the wrong polling location in order to disrupt the election outcome,” said Assemblymember Gail Pellerin. “But now the widespread access to generative AI is making that type of damage so much more sophisticated and easier to disseminate.”

Assemblymember Pellerin served as the chief elections official in Santa Cruz County for 27 years. She also served as President of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials from 2010 to 2012 and currently chairs the Assembly Committee on Elections.

“Getting the right information to voters is crucial to a functioning democracy, and it becomes very difficult to ensure the integrity of the election when these deepfakes are spread online to intentionally misinform voters,” said Assemblymember Pellerin.

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. — The Lake County Registrar of Voters Office will convene an election observer panel to observe activities associated with the presidential primary election, which will be held on March 5.

Representatives of the Lake County Grand Jury, political party county central committees, local clubs, media and other groups or individuals expressing an interest in observing Election Day activities will be invited to participate.

The purpose of an election observer panel is to provide the public with the opportunity to observe and make suggestions on ways to improve the election process; maintain the integrity of the election process; build voter confidence and encourage voter and public participation in the election process.

Typically, members of the panel visit one or more polling places on Election Day and then visit the central ballot counting center located in the Registrar of Voters Office, 325 N. Forbes St. in Lakeport, to observe the tabulation of ballots on election night.

Panel members are also invited to observe the processing of vote-by-mail ballots at the Registrar of Voters Office.

Members of the panel will be provided with the information they need to participate in these activities.

Anyone interested in serving on the election observer panel should contact the Registrar of Voters Office by phone, email, or in person.

Please respond with names and mailing addresses of those interested by Feb. 26.

For more information, call the elections office at 707-263-2372 or toll-free at 888-235-6730.

Upcoming Calendar

17Apr
04.17.2024 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Free veterans dinner
18Apr
04.18.2024 11:00 am - 3:00 pm
Earth Day celebration
20Apr
04.20.2024 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Earth Day Celebration
Calpine Geothermal Visitor Center
20Apr
04.20.2024 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Boatique Wines Stand-up Comedy Night
25Apr
04.25.2024 1:30 pm - 7:30 pm
FireScape Mendocino workshop
27Apr
04.27.2024 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Northshore Ready Fest
27Apr
04.27.2024 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Prescription Drug Take Back Day
27Apr
04.27.2024 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Inaugural Team Trivia Challenge
5May
05.05.2024
Cinco de Mayo

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