Thursday, 30 May 2024

Regional

A condor, called “prey-go-neesh” by the Yurok Tribe, that’s set to be released on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2023. Photo courtesy of the Northern California Condor Restoration Program.

The Northern California Condor Restoration Program, or NCCRP, will attempt to release three prey-go-neesh, or California condors, into Yurok ancestral territory at approximately 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 8.

After assessing each of the new condors, NCCRP biologists deemed that all are ready for release.

NCCRP biologists will wait for previously released prey-go-neesh to be present and feeding at the condor management facility before initiating the release of the young condors.

The proximity to free-flying prey-go-neesh will signal to the new birds that it is safe to leave the secure flight pen.

The release attempt can be viewed live here.

For the initial release of new condors, the NCCRP utilizes a “soft” approach. The program intends to open the flight pen to give the three birds and a mentor from the first cohort the opportunity to leave the facility at their own pace.

“We always hope the birds will immediately depart the flight pen, but it is out of our control. After we open the gate, we are on condor time,” said NCCRP Manager and Yurok Wildlife Department Senior Biologist Chris West. “If the birds remain in the flight pen for several hours, we will reevaluate and possibly reinitiate the process on another day.”

On Oct. 9, the NCCRP received the three approximately year and a half old condors from the Los Angeles Zoo.

The two females and one male, include, 1140, wing tag B0 (female); 1148, wing tag B1(male); and 1151, wing tag B2 (female).

The three prey-go-neesh were hatched and reared at the Los Angeles Zoo. At the zoo, the birds were also vaccinated against Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, or HPAI. They will be the first condors vaccinated for HPAI to be released into the wild.

Condors are extremely social animals. During the last month, the new condors have been regularly visited by free-flying birds, laying the groundwork for their integration into the population.

NCCRP biologists expect the eight free-flying birds to aid the new condor cohort in getting acquainted with their new environment.

Last year, the NCCRP, a partnership between the Yurok Tribe and Redwood National and State Parks, released the first eight condors to fly over far Northern California in more than a century.

Overall, the birds are doing very well in their new home. The birds are exhibiting positive behaviors, such as eating, soaring and resting in protected roosts.

They have explored much of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, including excursions as far south as Hyampom and as far north as the Notchko area on the Yurok Reservation.

To date, the longest distance traveled from the release site is 52 miles.

Yurok connection to the condor

The restoration of this sacred species reflects the Yurok Tribe’s cultural obligation to maintain balance in the world.

It is also a component of the tribe’s plan to restore as much fish and wildlife habitat as possible in Yurok ancestral territory.

The tribe’s terrestrial territory extends from Damnation Creek in Del Norte County to the Little River in Humboldt County on the coast and heads up the Klamath River for 44 miles from the ocean to the confluence with the Trinity River.

In addition to the reintroduction of the critically endangered condor, the tribe is currently rebuilding fish and wildlife habitat on significant portions of the Klamath River, Sacramento River and Prairie Creek as well as other Klamath tributaries.

The tribe is also integrally involved in the ongoing removal of the four Klamath dams, which represents the most ambitious salmon habitat restoration project in US history. The removal of the dams will also benefit many other fish and wildlife species, including condors.

The Yurok Tribe initiated the condor reintroduction project in 2008 with funding support from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Redwood National Park, as well as the Administration for Native Americans, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Global Conservation Fund, the National Park Foundation, and many more corporate, agency, and private supporters and citizens.

The Yurok Wildlife Department performed an immense amount of work to prepare for the reintroduction of this imperiled species.

ROSEVILLE — California Attorney General Rob Bonta on Thursday announced the arrest of a suspect in Placer County for providing a lethal dose of fentanyl that killed a Rocklin father in July of 2023.

The suspect was arrested as a result of an investigation by the Placer Special Investigations Unit, led by the California Department of Justice, which uncovered evidence that the suspect was aware of the lethal nature of the fentanyl that caused the death of the individual.

“This arrest must send a strong message to California communities: Those who knowingly distribute dangerous fentanyl will be held accountable,” said Attorney General Bonta. “We have seen too many deaths from this lethal drug: children, parents, and friends taken from their loved ones too soon. I can’t say it enough: Californians must steer clear of cheap, dangerous, and lethal illicit drug. We will continue to work with partners throughout California to get this drug out of our communities.”

California DOJ’s Bureau of Investigation PSIU and the Special Operations Unit (SOU) arrested the suspect on October 25, 2023 after he was located in his vehicle in Sacramento.

During a search of the suspect’s vehicle, agents located one ounce of fentanyl powder, a quarter ounce of cocaine, and methamphetamine in his possession at the time of arrest.

Agents booked the suspect into the Placer County Jail on charges of homicide, possession of opioids for sale, and sale of opiates.

The Placer County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting this case.

The Placer Special Investigation Unit, or PSIU, is a California DOJ-led narcotics and high-risk probation/post release community supervision task force.

The team is supervised by a California DOJ Bureau of Investigation Task Force Commander who leads task force agents from Placer County Sheriff’s Office, Roseville Police Department, Rocklin Police Department, Auburn Police Department, and Placer County Probation, with support from the California National Guard Counter Drug Team, and the Placer County District Attorney's Office.

Additional work by the task force in Placer County includes:

• The Aug. 10, 2022, arrest of Nathaniel Cabacungan for the June 2022 homicide of J. Wolf, a 15-year-old female from Roseville. On Oct. 10, 2023, Attorney General Bonta and Placer County District Attorney Morgan Gire announced a 15-year sentence of Cabacungan.

• Felony arrests on Aug. 18, 2023 of two suspected narcotics traffic and the seizure of various illicit drugs including fentanyl, as well as illegal handguns, and large amounts of cash.

• The arrest and manslaughter conviction of Virgil Xavier Bordner, after a 17-year-old high school senior, Zach Didier, tragically lost his life in a fentanyl overdose in Placer County in 2020.

Fentanyl is a powerful and potentially addictive synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin. A small amount of fentanyl, just two milligrams, can result in overdose and potentially death.

Fentanyl can be found in different forms, including pills, powder, and liquid, and is produced legally through the legal pharmaceutical market and illegally through the illicit drug market. Illicit fentanyl has been found in many drugs, including heroin, methamphetamine, counterfeit pills, and cocaine.

Fentanyl mixed with any drug increases the likelihood of a fatal overdose. Illicit fentanyl has also reportedly been produced in rainbow colors, potentially aimed at increasing consumption among users, especially young adults.

In California in 2020, 5,502 people died due to opioid overdose, and 3,946 died due to fentanyl overdose.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nation has experienced the overdose epidemic in three distinct but interconnected waves: an increase in deaths from prescription opioid overdoses since the 1990s, an increase in heroin deaths starting in 2010, and a more recent surge in deaths from other illicit opioids, such as fentanyl.

Attorney General Bonta is addressing this challenge through an all-in, multifaceted approach using ongoing enforcement, litigation, and effective public policy strategies for prevention.

In April 2021, Attorney General Bonta established the statewide Fentanyl Enforcement Program that is designed to detect, deter, disrupt, and dismantle criminal fentanyl operations and prevent fentanyl from reaching California neighborhoods and communities.

The program is housed in California DOJ’s Bureau of Investigation, which works with allied task forces, including local and federal law enforcement partners through California.

Since April 2022, the California DOJ task forces have seized approximately 9,348,852 fentanyl pills, 1,213 pounds of powder, and made over 200 arrests.

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA — With negotiations between city and Glenn County officials yielding no new agreement to cover law enforcement services, the city of Willows is about to be left without law enforcement services.

Beginning at 11:59 p.m., Monday, Oct. 16, the Glenn County Sheriff’s Office will no longer provide law enforcement and animal control services to the city of Willows.

The sheriff’s office will continue to provide dispatching services and respond only to felonies in progress. Routine calls for service will be transferred to the City of Willows.

Following several months of negotiations, the Glenn County Sheriff’s Office and the city of Willows have been unable to come to an agreement on the contract for law enforcement services for the city of Willows.

Since July, there has been no contract for law enforcement services in effect for the City of Willows.

The Glenn County Sheriff’s Office said it has continued to provide services to the city of Willows in good faith, however, the Sheriff’s Office has been unable to bill for the actual costs of the services, which exceed $700,000.

The Glenn County Sheriff’s Office is unable to continue providing law enforcement services to Willows without adequate funding from the city.

County officials said the sheriff’s office cannot continue to shoulder the cost of city services without significant impacts to county services, county residents, and risks to officer safety.

The city of Willows jurisdiction accounts for approximately 50% of our total law enforcement caseload. The cost of providing services has increased significantly since 2017 due to increased wages, benefits, and inflation on supplies, equipment, and transportation.

Per government code 51350, the county must contract for actual costs for services and cannot provide services at a discounted or lower rate than actuals, therefore, providing services at a reduced rate to the city is not an option.

“We continue to negotiate with the city of Willows to provide essential law enforcement services. A potential solution being explored is an option to provide phased law enforcement coverage by the Sheriff’s Office until the City Police Department could be reinstated,” the sheriff’s office said.

Citizens with questions regarding law enforcement services in the City of Willows should contact the City of Willows at 530-934-7041 or in person at City Hall 201 N Lassen St. Willows.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday certified the Sites Reservoir Project for judicial streamlining, marking a significant step in California's ongoing efforts to expedite critical infrastructure projects that will deliver clean energy, ensure safe drinking water, and modernize the state's transportation system.

As part of SB 149 administrated by the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, or OPR, the Sites Reservoir Project will benefit from California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, streamlining limiting the length of time the project’s environmental impact report can be challenged in court.

Infrastructure streamlining legislation, including SB 149 enacted earlier this year, is part of Gov. Newsom’s actions to leverage available federal investment — projected at $180 billion over the next ten years — to build and retrofit infrastructure that advances the state’s goals.

SB 149 establishes the Infrastructure Streamlining Program at OPR under which an expanded list of eligible projects — including energy infrastructure, semiconductor, or microelectronic, transportation-related, and water-related infrastructure projects — can now receive streamlined judicial review if they are challenged in court under CEQA.

Without streamlining, more contentious CEQA litigation can take upwards of three to five years before a decision is reached in California’s Court of Appeals.

“We’re cutting red tape to build more, faster. These are projects that will address our state’s biggest challenges, and the Sites Reservoir is fully representative of that goal — making sure Californians have access to clean drinking water and making sure we’re more resilient against future droughts,” said Newsom.

“California will make historic investments in infrastructure through the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Inflation Reduction Act, and CHIPS and Science Act, as well as those investments reflected in California’s record-setting budgets over the last few years,” said Samuel Assefa, director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. “SB 149 and the Governor’s certification of the Sites Reservoir Project today put us on a path to take full advantage of these investments to build infrastructure that will benefit generations of Californians to come.”

Infrastructure projects benefiting from SB 149 are part of California’s efforts to accelerate new transportation, clean-energy, and water-related facilities that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect Californians from the effects of climate change, and create good-paying jobs.
Streamlining projects that meet the state’s high environmental and labor standards can help projects successfully compete for available federal investments and catalyze projects aligned with the state’s environmental, climate, and labor goals.

The Sites Reservoir Project, a reservoir designed to capture water during wetter months and store it for use during drier periods, addresses the critical need to manage water supplies when other sources are scarce.

As part of the streamlining of the Sites Reservoir project under SB 149, OPR reviewed nearly 1,000 public comment letters from organizations and members of the public.

Upon certification by the governor, the Sites project will be sent to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee for review and final approval.

On Sept. 12, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors provided direction to Planning and Building Services to establish a one-year amnesty program that waives all Violation/Penalty fees related to building permits submitted after work has already commenced or been completed, which are not associated with a confirmed code enforcement case.

The amnesty program applies to all residential and commercial building permits, subject to the following limitations:

• The permits are not associated with a confirmed code enforcement case.
• The permits are not already under review with the Department.
• The program does not apply to zoning violations.

Amnesty building permits for residential construction will be subject to meeting the building code standards for the year in which we can verify the construction occurred. If no construction date can be verified, they will be subject to current building code standards.

Amnesty building permits must meet all standards for the zoning district in which they are located.

This program is limited to one year starting Nov. 1, 2023 and ending Nov. 1, 2024. All amnesty building permit applications must be submitted on or before Nov. 1, 2024 in order to be eligible for this program.

All members of the public are invited to self-report any unpermitted structures and legalize improvements during this Amnesty Program.

If you have specific questions regarding the process, please contact the Mendocino County Department of Planning and Building Services at 707-234-6650 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA — The city of Willows and the Glenn County Sheriff’s Office are trying to come to an agreement on a new contract for services, but officials said they’ve been unable so far to agree on terms, which could result in law enforcement services in Willows coming to a halt later this month.

The Glenn County Sheriff’s Office has provided law enforcement services to the city of Willows since 2017 under a contract for services. This contract expired on June 30.

Following several months of negotiations, the Sheriff’s Office and the city of Willows have been unable to come to an agreement on the 2023 contract for services.

Due to increased costs to provide services and increased caseload within the city of Willows jurisdiction, the total cost of the contract has increased.

The city of Willows jurisdiction accounts for approximately 50% of the sheriff’s office’s total law enforcement caseload. This increase in costs and caseload must be accounted for in the contract renewal, officials said.

Per government code 51350, Glenn County must contract for actual costs for services provided and cannot provide services at a discounted or lower rate than actuals. Additionally, the sheriff’s office said it will not sacrifice officer safety by agreeing to staffing levels below the minimum required.

The sheriff’s office has continued to meet with city management to discuss this issue and has provided documentation for the increased costs as well as the required increase in staffing to meet the law enforcement needs of Willows.

The sheriff’s office has also presented alternative solutions to the city of Willows including a transition plan for the restart of city provided law enforcement services. This transition plan would come with phased law enforcement coverage by the Sheriff’s Office until the City Police Department could be reinstated.

Currently, there is no contract for law enforcement services in effect for the city of Willows. The sheriff’s office continues to provide law enforcement services within the city limits, however, has been unable to bill for the services provided since July 1. Currently the costs incurred exceed $600,000.

If the sheriff’s office and the city of Willows are unable to come to an agreement by Oct. 16, contracted law enforcement services, including animal control, will end in the city of Willows. The sheriff’s office said it will continue to provide dispatching services and respond only to felonies in progress.

The sheriff’s office said it remains committed to finding a solution that ensures the safety of the residents of Willows as well as the safety of its deputies.

For additional information regarding this matter, including the letters to the city of Willows dated Sept. 1, 22 and 25, 2023, can be read below.

Letters to City of Willows 9-1 Thru 25-23 by LakeCoNews on Scribd

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