Saturday, 25 June 2022

Regional

A black bear is spotted trying to break into a South Lake Tahoe home. CDFW photo.

LAKE TAHOE, Calif./Nev. — The Lake Tahoe Interagency Bear Team, a partnership between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California State Parks, Nevada Department of Wildlife, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, and the USDA Forest Service, is asking all community members to expect increased bear activity following the Caldor Fire as bears prepare to emerge from their winter dens.

Generally, fire can be a revitalizing event for a forest, with downed logs providing great forage spots for hungry bears looking for insects such as termites and grubs.

Wild animals are typically resilient and able to adapt to fire and other environmental changes: It’s part of their nature.

However, during last year’s Caldor Fire, some bears and other wildlife were forced to flee from the flames.

While some bears were hit by vehicles on highways, others may have traveled to the Tahoe Basin for refuge, while many sheltered in large pockets of unburned forest or were temporarily displaced.

A black bear stands next to a South Lake Tahoe home it was attempting to enter. During the evacuation last fall, when streets and homes were empty and no one was around to secure houses, vehicles, dumpsters, or other attractants, habituated bears in the Tahoe Basin — meaning those bears already comfortable around people or those bears that look to people, their homes, and cars for food — were left to roam neighborhoods freely with little resistance. These habituated bears suddenly had no humans yelling, making noise, chasing or hazing them, and no electric deterrents because of power outages.

In the Tahoe Keys community, bears broke into garage doors, windows, and vehicles, causing some homeowners thousands of dollars in property damage (video). The lack of consequences during the evacuation period will have rippling and lasting effects on bear behavior for seasons to come.

Because bears are so intelligent, once they learn something, it’s difficult to break their bad habits. For this reason, it’s extremely important to be proactive in preventing bad habits from forming in the first place.

Due to the amount of damage bears caused to homes, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife last year conducted a Trap/Tag/Haze operation in South Lake Tahoe to provide relief to hard-hit areas, which allowed residents to begin repairs, replace doors, refrigerators, and other damaged items in order to move back into their homes.

Bears were marked and moved to nearby, unburned habitat in an attempt to interrupt the cycle of break-ins and food rewards that went unchecked during evacuations.

Once moved, these bears were hazed upon release with airhorns, paintball guns, and nonlethal rounds, to give the bears a negative human interaction that will hopefully prevent them from returning to the area.

Not all these problem bears were caught and hazed, as evidenced by the continued presence of several bears that continued to break into homes in the Tahoe Keys area throughout the fall and winter months.

While what happened during the Caldor Fire evacuation couldn’t be prevented, homeowners and visitors can do their part to prevent or deter this kind of bear behavior in the future, especially as this mild winter turns to spring and bears begin to emerge from their dens in search of food.

Below are steps residents and visitors can take to help Tahoe bears live a wild but fruitful and healthy life:

• Businesses should require employees to keep dumpsters locked at all times.
• Use bear-resistant trash containers.
• Do not allow unsecured attractants such as bird feeders.
• Remember that feeding bears (or any wild animal) is against the law.

For more information on peacefully coexisting with bears, visit www.TahoeBears.org. To report human-bear conflicts:

• In California, contact the California Department of Fish and Wildlife at 916-358-2917 or report online using the Wildlife Incident Reporting (WIR) system at apps.wildlife.ca.gov/wir.

• Non-emergency wildlife interactions in California State Parks can be reported to its public dispatch at 916-358-1300.

• In Nevada, contact the Nevada Department of Wildlife at 775-688-BEAR (2327).

• If the issue is an immediate threat, call the local sheriff’s department or 911.

With California now in its third year of drought, collaboration among state, federal and local partners is critical to improving the resiliency of California’s water system.

The California Department of Water Resources announced it has released $29.8 million in funding to the Friant Water Authority, or FWA, to repair segments of the Friant-Kern Canal, a key water conveyance facility in the San Joaquin Valley damaged by land subsidence.

“Through this investment, we are furthering a partnership to restore California’s major water conveyance systems to improve the resiliency of California’s water supply during drought and flood conditions,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “The projects, when completed, will maximize the canal’s capacity to move water efficiently through the system and improve California’s ability to boost and store its water supply.”

The state-funded program, which aligns with Gov. Newsom’s Water Resilience Portfolio to improve water quality and supplies for California, is part of a cooperative approach to fixing California’s water conveyance infrastructure pursued by local, state, and federal agencies, who will financially support the projects.

The Friant-Kern Canal plays a critical role in delivering water to one million acres of farmland and more than 250,000 Californians from Fresno to Bakersfield.

In January, FWA began the first phase of the Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project, which will restore carrying capacity along 33 miles of the 152-mile-long canal in eastern Tulare County.

The Friant-Kern Canal, owned by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, has lost more than 60 percent of its original conveyance capacity in the middle section due to land subsidence. Phase one of the project is expected to cost $292 million and be completed by early 2024.

“This funding is a large part of the reason that we were able to break ground on the Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project in January,” said FWA Chief Executive Officer Jason Phillips. “Our partners at the State of California have invested in the San Joaquin Valley’s future at a critical time, and we are grateful to the Newsom Administration and for DWR’s dedicated efforts to release these funds as quickly as possible in recognition of the urgent need to implement the project.”

The Friant-Kern Canal is one of four projects that will receive funds as part of a $100 million initiative in the California Budget Act of 2021 to improve water conveyance systems in the San Joaquin Valley.

DWR is working on agreements for projects on the Delta-Mendota Canal, San Luis Canal, and California Aqueduct.

To receive program funding, participants must show proof of adequate non-state cost share to match the state financial assistance.

Program funds will be used to pay for planning, permitting, design, and construction of near-term subsidence rehabilitation projects, such as raising canal embankments or repairing check structures. Agencies with funded projects will need to investigate the risk of subsidence and how to prevent continued subsidence.

An additional $100 million in funding is slated for the coming fiscal year.

Subsidence is a long-term issue for water conveyance systems that has been exacerbated by recent droughts. If not addressed, continued subsidence will further reduce the water delivery capacity of regional canals and aqueducts and increase the costs for remediation.

The Cottonwood Creek Bridge in Butte County. Photo courtesy of Caltrans.

BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. — Caltrans announced Monday it has completed construction of the new Cottonwood Creek Bridge in Butte County.

The $15.3 million project includes $3.2 million in funding from Senate Bill (SB) 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017.

The new bridge, located on State Route 99 north of the Thermalito Afterbay reservoir, replaces an aging structure damaged by erosion.

Over the years, swiftly moving water from Cottonwood Creek removed sediment around the bridge piers, compromising the integrity of the structure.

“The project is part of Caltrans’ effort to rehabilitate or replace several bridges in Butte County and neighboring Yuba and Sutter counties,” said Caltrans District 3 Director Amarjeet S. Benipal. “We’re continuing to honor our SB 1 commitments to all California travelers.”

The Cottonwood Creek Bridge in Butte County. Photo courtesy of Caltrans.

In addition to building a new bridge, construction crews realigned a segment of roadway and widened the Nelson Avenue intersection at SR 99 by providing an additional left-turn lane onto eastbound lanes.

In the past two years, Caltrans has also upgraded the Western Canal Bridge on SR 99 in Butte County and replaced the SR 70 Simmerly Slough Bridge north of Marysville, the SR 20 Wadsworth Canal Bridge in Sutter County, and the SR 20 Dry Creek Bridge in Yuba County.

SB 1 provides $5 billion in transportation funding annually split 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 other transportation projects funded by SB 1, visit rebuildingca.ca.gov.

SACRAMENTO — The California Transportation Commission, or CTC, has allocated $578 million for projects to repair and improve transportation infrastructure throughout the state. Senate Bill (SB) 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, accounts for $317 million — more than half of the funding.

“The CTC’s welcome decision to green light more than half a billion dollars to maintain and repair California’s aging transportation infrastructure is not only in keeping with our time-tested ‘fix-it-first’ strategy but also represents another big step to build and maintain a transportation system that serves all who travel in California, whether by foot, bicycle, bus, train or automobile,” said Caltrans Acting Director Steven Keck.

Projects approved this week include:

· $2.1 million toward erosion control on Route 36 near Bridgeville in Humboldt County.

· $11.5 million toward improvements on Route 96 at Aikens Creek Bridge, Bluff Creek Bridge, Slate Creek Bridge and Rube Creek Bridge on Route 169 in Humboldt County.

· $3.5 million toward culvert replacement on U.S. 101 near Garberville from the Alderpoint Road Overcrossing to south of Myers Flat in Humboldt County and on Route 271 near Piercy in Mendocino County.

· $4.1 million toward construction of a retaining wall and roadway realignments on U.S. 101 near Piercy in Mendocino County.

· $1.8 million toward roadway realignments on Route 1 in Mendocino County near Gualala.

· $1.4 million toward pavement and guardrail upgrades on U.S. 101 near Willits in Mendocino County.

· $1.2 million toward pavement and guardrail upgrades on U.S. 101 near Fortuna in Humboldt County.

· $1.88 million toward improvements at Elk Creek Bridge on Route 1 near Fort Bragg in Mendocino County.

The CTC also approved the 2022 State Highway Operation and Protection Program, or SHOPP, a four-year, $17.9 billion program of projects to preserve and protect the state highway system.

Most of the 2022 SHOPP projects are focused on improving pavement, bridges and other highway infrastructure. All the 2022 SHOPP projects are available on the Caltrans’ Ten-Year Project Book website, ProjectBook.dot.ca.gov.

SB 1 provides $5 billion in transportation funding annually split 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.

Crab pots. Photo courtesy of California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton H. Bonham has assessed entanglement risk under the Risk Assessment Mitigation Program (RAMP) and announced the closure of the commercial Dungeness crab fishery in Fishing Zones 3, 4, 5 and 6 (Sonoma/Mendocino county line to the U.S./Mexico border) effective at noon on April 8, 2022.

This closure is being implemented because of two recent humpback whale entanglements that occurred off San Mateo County and in Monterey Bay involving California commercial Dungeness crab fishing gear.

All commercial Dungeness crab traps must be removed from the fishing grounds by the April 8 closure date.

While this closure shortens the season for many fishermen, the RAMP regulations are designed to minimize risk and provide for a long-term viable fishery for all Californians.

In addition, the Director has authorized the Lost and Abandoned Gear Retrieval Program to begin removing commercial Dungeness crab traps left in the water beginning April 15, 2022, at noon in Zones 3, 4, 5 and 6.

CDFW asks fishermen and mariners to be on the lookout for entangled whales and report them so that a disentanglement response team can be mobilized to remove the gear. Reports can be made to 1-877-SOS-WHALE or contact the U.S. Coast Guard on VHF Channel 16.

The recreational fishery in these zones remains open but may be subject to a future trap restriction when humpbacks return to forage during the spring and summer.

In addition, CDFW is continuing a Fleet Advisory and reminds all in the commercial and recreational fisheries to implement best practices, as described in the Best Practices Guide.

“The past few seasons have been difficult for fishing families, communities and businesses, but it is imperative that we strike the right balance between protecting humpback whales and providing fishing opportunity,” said Director Bonham. “The fleet has done an impressive job helping CDFW manage risk of entanglement in the commercial fishery, including starting to remove fishing gear when the entanglements were first reported. This partnership helps ensure we protect future opportunities to fish and the incredible biodiversity of our ocean.”

A map of all Fishing Zones can be found on the CDFW website.

For more information related to the risk assessment process, please visit CDFW’s Whale Safe Fisheries webpage.

For more information on the Dungeness crab fishery, please visit CDFW’s Crab webpage, including FAQs for the 2021-22 commercial fishing season and FAQs for the new recreational crab trap regulations.

On Wednesday, Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05) and Rep. Jared Huffman (CA-02) announced that Sonoma County is set to receive over $3 million in federal funding to provide local jurisdictions the tools necessary to reduce the risks of natural disasters, including wildfires and earthquakes.

This funding comes from the California Department of Housing and Community Development’s Community Development Block Grant Mitigation Resilience Planning and Public Services program which allocates $2,078,100 for Sonoma County and $1,000,000 for Santa Rosa.

“Mitigating the effects of natural disasters is one of the most important tools we have to reduce the impact these destructive events have on our lives,” said Thompson. “Reducing the risks of natural disasters could help us save lives, prevent property damage, and keep our communities safe. I’m glad to see this funding for our district so we can effectively prepare for fire season and ensure a robust response to any threats our district faces.”

“As the climate crisis worsens, so does the risk of natural disasters,” said Huffman. “We know all too well the devastating impacts these events can have on our region, and mitigation efforts are a critical part of our response. Rep. Thompson and I have been pushing for federal support that meets this urgent need, and this funding from the Biden-Harris administration will help ensure our communities are more resilient against future disasters.”

For Sonoma County, the $2,078,100 includes:

• $500,000 for a Community Emergency Response Team Training
• $500,000 for a Community Resilience Center Needs Assessment
• $500,000 for a Community Education and Marketing Plan
• $374,500 for a Disaster Recovery Plan
• $203,600 for a General Plan Safety Update

For the city of Santa Rosa, the $1,000,000 includes:

• $500,000 for a Storm Drain Master Plan
• $500,000 for a Vegetation Management Education and Inspection Program

The California Department of Housing and Community Development established the Resilience Planning and Public Services Program to provide federal resources to local jurisdictions for the acquisition of public services needs and mitigation-related planning that will reduce the risks of three primary hazards: wildfire, flooding and earthquake.

Upcoming Calendar

27Jun
06.27.2022 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Scotts Valley Advisory Council
28Jun
06.28.2022 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
28Jun
06.28.2022 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Rotary Club of Clear Lake
30Jun
06.30.2022 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
2Jul
2Jul
07.02.2022 9:00 am - 11:00 am
Junior Ranger Program: Lake ecology
2Jul
07.02.2022 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
2Jul
07.02.2022 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Weekly writing workshop
2Jul
07.02.2022 11:00 am - 11:00 pm
64th annual Redbud Parade and Festival
4Jul
07.04.2022
Independence Day

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