Saturday, 25 May 2024

Regional

WILLITS, Calif. — The Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians and environmental advocates are calling on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to revoke a permit that would allow Pacific Gas & Electric to cut a tree in Mendocino County that contains a historic eagles nest.

Since the late 1990s, bald eagles have successfully reproduced in this tree and did so most recently in 2022. The Service issued the permit to take the nest after a rushed environmental analysis and consultation process to remove the tree.

“The Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians has requested formal government-to-government consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service related to the proposed cutting of a bald eagle nest tree within the Pomo’s ancestral territory,” said Michael Hunter, chairman of the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians. “We ask that no harm occur to this tree during consultation because we need time to explore reasonable solutions that will help protect our bald eagle relatives.”

Bald eagles have returned to the tree for the 2023 nest season and have been observed making improvements to the nest. The tree is dying and near a powerline that services one property. PG&E asserts that removal of the tree is necessary for public safety, although the line has been de-energized.

“Our organization is dismayed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to grant this rushed permit when the threat had already been mitigated by the decision to de-energize the line,” said Matt Simmons, an attorney at the Environmental Protection Information Center. “The Service and PG&E have demonstrated that they do not take seriously their responsibility to protect these iconic raptors.”

Alternatives to tree removal exists, including the undergrounding of existing powerlines and offering renewable energy solutions to the property owner. PG&E and the Service have thus far refused to consider those options.

“Chopping down a historic nest tree should never be the first option, particularly as bald eagles have returned for the breeding season,” said Peter Galvin, director of programs at the Center for Biological Diversity. “A multibillion dollar company has the means and ability to avoid this reckless act, if it wanted.”

SACRAMENTO — The California Transportation Commission, or CTC, this week approved $1 billion for 93 new walking and biking projects for disadvantaged communities as part of the 2023 Active Transportation Program and allocated nearly $878 million for projects to repair and improve transportation infrastructure throughout the state.

The allocation includes more than $209 million in funding from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 (IIJA) and more than $339 million in funding from Senate Bill (SB) 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017.

The active transportation projects approved at the meeting will benefit disadvantaged communities throughout California, two-thirds of which will implement safe routes for children to walk or bike to school.

The projects make up more than half of the 2023 Active Transportation Program, with an additional $700 million to be awarded in the spring. Much of the funding comes from a one-time infusion of $1 billion for active transportation in the 2022-23 state budget as part of a nearly $15 billion transportation infrastructure package.

“California and our federal partners are continuing to make historic headway in addressing our transportation needs and advancing safety, equity, climate action and economic prosperity,” said Caltrans Director Tony Tavares. “Importantly, this includes significant investments in infrastructure that allows everyone to access active means of transportation, like walking and biking.”

Active transportation projects approved at the meeting include:

• Approximately $9 million toward the city of Eureka Bay to Zoo Trail in Humboldt County.

• Approximately $2.3 million toward the city of Eureka C Street Bike Boulevard in Humboldt County.

• Approximately $7.7 million toward the Gualala Downtown Streetscape Enhancement Plan in Mendocino County.

The $878 million in projects the CTC approved include:

• Approximately $12.4 million including more than $10.9 million in federal IIJA funding toward the construction of a retaining wall and drainage improvements along Route 254 south of Maple Hills Road near Miranda in Humboldt County.

• Approximately $1.6 million toward emergency allocations in Eureka for roadway and sidewalk repairs from I Street to W Street on U.S. 101 southbound in Humboldt County.

• Approximately $21 million including more than $18.6 million in federal IIJA funding toward improvements at Eel River Bridge No. 10-0236 on Route 162 near Longvale in Mendocino County.

• Approximately $6 million toward roadway and culvert repairs from south of Old Sherwood Road to north of Piercy along U.S. 101 in Mendocino County.

Approximately $3.8 million toward emergency allocations toward guardrail, sign, fence, embankment and drainage repairs along U.S. 101 south of Willits in Mendocino County.

Approximately $2.7 million toward median barrier and retaining wall construction and roadway improvements near Willits from Black Bart Road to Waterplant/Grider Road along U.S. 101 in Mendocino County.

SB 1 provides $5 billion in transportation funding annually that is shared equally between the state and local agencies. Road projects progress through construction phases more quickly based on the availability of SB 1 funds, including projects that are partially funded by SB 1.

For more information about transportation projects funded by SB 1, visit RebuildingCA.ca.gov.

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA — The Yurok Tribe and Friendship House, a Native-led nonprofit serving urban Indians in San Francisco, are partnering to build a residential treatment center in Yurok territory and two housing projects in San Francisco.

The projects will serve Native people living in both rural and urban areas in Northern California.

“This is one of the first times that an urban-rural support network is being created for Native peoples,” said Joseph James, chairman of the Yurok Tribe. “Too often, tribes and urban Indian organizations are pitted against each other for limited funding. This partnership shows what is possible when we put the needs of all native people first and foremost, and focus on providing holistic services on and off-tribal lands.”

With support from Gov. Gavin Newsom and Friendship House, the Yurok Tribe received $15 million from the California Department of Health Care Services to construct a residential treatment center on the Yurok Reservation in Northern California.

The center is part of Yurok Tribe’s $100 million dollar Regional Wellness Plan for the region, and will provide outpatient and medication assisted treatment services to serve tribal citizens from seven different tribes and native peoples throughout the region.

Friendship House, a leader in treatment and recovery programs for native peoples since 1963, will provide technical assistance to the tribe in operating the facility.

The Yurok Tribe and Friendship House will also develop two housing projects for native people in San Francisco — a 65-unit sober-living transitional housing facility and an 85-unit affordable housing facility for first-time Native homeowners.

“Other successful models of treatment and housing have proven what we know to be true,” said Gabriel Pimentel, executive director of Friendship House. “Safe, affordable housing is key to long-term sobriety and well-being.”

The treatment center and housing projects are part of a larger Friendship House-led environmental and racial justice campaign called “The Village SF Initiative” to reclaim and rebuild community for urban Indians.

Both Yurok Tribe and Friendship House are focused on Indigenous-led solutions for native peoples. Friendship House has seen high rates of success with its treatment programs, with more than 80% of its graduates maintaining sobriety six months or more after completing the program.


“The health, violence, poverty and housing disparities that exist today in native communities can be traced directly to federal and state policies including genocide, boarding schools and federal relocation,” said Abby Abinanti, chief judge of the Yurok Tribe. “But it is up to native people, leaders, and organizations to develop solutions. We must not wait for the solutions we know that work. And what we know is that native communities are safest when we create and build our own solutions.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, Rep. Jared Huffman’s (D-San Rafael) legislation The Katimiîn and Ameekyáaraam Sacred Lands Act passed out of the U.S. House of Representatives and is on its way to President Joe Biden to be signed into law.

The legislation will place federal lands located in Humboldt and Siskiyou counties into trust for the Karuk Tribe.

“Today, we can finally correct a historic injustice and return sacred land to its rightful owners, the Karuk Tribe. Thanks to the partnership of Senator Padilla and the Karuk’s tireless work, our Sacred Lands Act will now become law. These lands, known as Katimiîn and Ameekyáaraam, are not only majestic, they are central to Karuk history, religion, traditions, and identity. Placing them in trust ensures that the Karuk culture and way of life can endure for future generations,” Rep. Jared Huffman said.

“For Karuk people, the lands covered by our bill represent the center of the world, which is why they deserve unrestricted access to these ancestral sites in order to practice their religion and preserve their customs for future generations,” said Sen. Padilla. “Restoring these lands to the stewardship of the Karuk Tribe is a long overdue moral imperative, and I look forward to the President singing our bill into law.”

“It means the world to have our most sacred sites returned to us. The Karuk Tribe appreciates the hard work of Congressman Huffman, Senators Padilla and Feinstein, and their teams. This accomplishment is great for the Karuk People and all of Indian Country,” said Karuk Chairman Russell “Buster” Attebery.

For Karuk people, the land identified in this legislation is the center of the world. The historical village and ceremonial site of Katimiîn is the location of a final series of annual Pik-ya-vish world renewal ceremonies.

Pik-ya-vish translates as “to fix it,” how Karuk people approach their responsibility to keeping these places in balance with their cultural and spiritual values.

Ameekyáaraam, just down river from Katimiîn, is the site of Jump Dance and First Salmon Ceremony — both vital components of world renewal ceremonies and for pre-contact inter-tribal coordination of fish harvest up and down the river to ensure long-term sustainability of salmon runs.

These ceremonies were also ways to keep the world in balance between individuals and families. This area is essential to inter-generational teaching and learning needed to ensure future generations of Karuk people know and understand Karuk culture and customs.

Currently the tribe has a Special Use Permit with the United States Forest Service that allows access to the grounds for ceremony. This access is not guaranteed and in some years the tribe is interrupted by public intrusions during private and sacred components of the world renewal ceremonies.

Only United States Forest Service lands will transfer to the tribe; all private lands, allotments and existing rights associated with those will be excluded.

Huffman Legislativemap-katimiinarea 08-09-2021 by LakeCoNews on Scribd

SACRAMENTO — The Department of Water Resources has announced an initial State Water Project allocation of 5% of requested supplies for 2023.

The State Water Project, or SWP, provides water to 29 public water agencies that serve 27 million Californians.

As the state prepares for a fourth dry year and continued extreme drought conditions in California, DWR will also assess requests for additional water that may be necessary for health and safety including minimum domestic, sanitation, and fire suppression needs.

“This early in California’s traditional wet season, water allocations are typically low due to uncertainty in hydrologic forecasting. But the degree to which hotter and drier conditions are reducing runoff into rivers, streams and reservoirs means we have to be prepared for all possible outcomes,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth.

Lake Oroville, the State Water Project’s largest reservoir, ended Water Year 2022 about 400,000 acre-feet higher than the previous year, which was the lowest storage level on record. However, Oroville remains just 55% of average for this time of year.

DWR is conserving existing storage in Lake Oroville in the event dry conditions continue. The initial 5% allocation would be met by flows from winter storms entering the Delta as well as stored water in San Luis Reservoir.

If storage levels in Lake Oroville improve as the wet season progresses, DWR will consider increasing the allocation if warranted. DWR is also working closely with senior water rights holders on the Feather River downstream of Lake Oroville to monitor conditions and assess water supply availability should dry weather persist.

“We are in the dawn of a new era of State Water Project management as a changing climate disrupts the timing of California’s hydrology, and hotter and drier conditions absorb more water into the atmosphere and ground. We all need to adapt and redouble our efforts to conserve this precious resource,” said Nemeth.

California traditionally receives half its rain and snow by the end of January. Water managers will reassess conditions monthly throughout the winter and spring. Starting in February, the assessments will incorporate snowpack data and runoff forecasts.

For the second year in a row, DWR is broadening the deployment of more sophisticated technologies, such as aerial snow surveys, that can collect snow measurements farther upslope of the Sierra Nevada. This will improve forecasts of spring runoff into reservoirs.

Water managers will be monitoring how the wet season develops and whether further actions may be necessary later in the winter.

If dry conditions persist, DWR may also pursue submission of a Temporary Urgency Change Petition, or TUCP, and reinstallation of the West False River Emergency Drought Salinity Barrier in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Each year, DWR provides the initial State Water Project allocation by December 1 based on available water storage, projected water supply, and water demands. Allocations are updated monthly as snowpack and runoff information is assessed, with a final allocation typically determined in May or June.

The lowest initial SWP allocation was zero percent on Dec. 1, 2021, with limited water designated only for any unmet human health safety needs.

Last year’s final allocation was 5% plus unmet health and safety needs. Four of the 29 State Water Contractors ultimately requested and received additional health and safety water supply.

A bee sculpture created by Orland artist Jake Midgley. Photo courtesy of Caltrans.

ORLAND, Calif. — Caltrans recently began construction on a unique city gateway project that will bring new buzz to the city of Orland, known as the “Queen Bee Capital of North America.”

The centerpiece of the $2.7 million project at the interchange of Interstate 5 and State Route 32 will be two bee sculptures created by Orland artist Jake Midgley that will stand about 16 feet high at opposite sides of the interchange and will be complemented by unique honeycomb-like paving.

The project is made possible through Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Clean California initiative, a sweeping, $1.2 billion, multiyear clean-up effort led by Caltrans to remove trash, create thousands of jobs and join with communities throughout the state to reclaim, transform and beautify public spaces.

“Public art and public transportation are a natural, powerful pairing, one that Orland’s new queen-bee themed city gateway will wonderfully demonstrate for many years to come,” said Caltrans Director Tony Tavares.

This project — the second of six Clean California projects to begin construction in Caltrans District 3, which includes Glenn County — also will upgrade the interchange where 2,500 vehicles travel each day. Increased safety measures will include additional paving and new landscaping with inert material such as rock, gravel, and recycled glass.

The contract was awarded to Vanguard Construction of Livermore.

Many Clean California projects throughout the state will include public art and other design aesthetics. Among its many positive attributes, art in public spaces has been shown to benefit communities by reducing illegal dumping and graffiti.

“The city of Orland is pleased and proud to partner with Caltrans in beautifying the freeway interchange at exit 619 in Orland,” said Orland City Manager Peter R. Carr. “The unique, locally hand-crafted honeybee sculptures and honeycomb-stamped concrete will announce to motorists that they have arrived in the Queen Bee Capital of North America, will become an enduring asset of local esteem, and will instill public pride in the state’s highway system. Leveraging the talents of a local welder-artist and state contractors, this project benefits the community and the traveling public with an improved freeway interchange experience.”

Caltrans District 3 Director Amarjeet S. Benipal said the feedback Caltrans received from the city during the planning stages for the project, and from the public during the community meeting held in January, were extremely valuable.

“Caltrans fully appreciates the effort the City of Orland made to gather public input for this project,” he said. “This engagement provided us with important information to improve the safety and aesthetics of this gateway to the City of Orland. The two locally designed bee sculptures and honeycomb paving included in the project will make clear the city’s unique identity as the Queen Bee Capital of North America.”

This project is among 126 Clean California beautification projects worth $312 million designed to help energize communities and create connectivity along the state highway system.

There are an additional 105 projects statewide funded by nearly $300 million in Clean California local grants to remove litter and transform public spaces in underserved communities. Collectively, these projects are expected to generate 7,200 jobs.

The new state budget includes $100 million to fund another round of Clean California local grant projects.

Since launching Clean California in July 2021, Caltrans has removed more than 1.1 million cubic yards of litter from state highways — the equivalent of nearly 19,000 tons or enough to fill 344 Olympic-size swimming pools — and hired more than 800 new team members as part of Clean California, including 420 maintenance workers who collect litter and remove graffiti. For more information, visit www.CleanCA.com.


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