Monday, 22 July 2024


MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST – The Mendocino National Forest is entering into fire restrictions beginning Monday, Aug. 2, due to dry conditions and increased risk of wildfires.

The fire restriction will continue through the end of fire season.

Under the restrictions, fires, campfires, charcoal fires or stoves are prohibited on the National Forest unless in the following designated recreation sites:

  • Grindstone Ranger District – Red Bluff Recreation Area and Big Springs Day Use Area; Whitlock, Kingsley Glade, Sugarfoot Glade, Three Prong, Wells Cabin, Sugar Springs, Letts Lake, Mill Valley, Dixie Glade, Plaskett Meadows, Masterson, Little Stony, Grey Pine, Fouts Springs, Davis Flat, South Fork, Cedar Camp, Mill Creek, North Fork and Old Mill Campgrounds.

  • Upper Lake Ranger District – Fuller Grove, Fuller Group Camp, Navy Camp, Pogie Point, Oak Flat, Sunset, Middle Creek, Deer Valley, Bear Creek, Penny Pines and Lower Nye Campgrounds.

  • Covelo Ranger District – Eel River, Little Doe, Howard Lake and Hammerhorn Lake Campgrounds.

California Campfire Permits are not needed in the designated recreation sites listed. In all other areas of the forest, lanterns or portable stoves using gas, jellied petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel with be allowed as long as the person has a current California Campfire Permit with them.

California Campfire Permits may be obtained at any Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management or Cal Fire office in California, as well as most Forest Service field employees. They may also be obtained online at

The following activities are also prohibited as part of the fire restrictions:

  • Smoking except within an enclosed vehicle or in the designated recreation sites listed above;

  • Welding or operating an acetylene or other torch with an open flame;

  • Using explosives;

  • Possessing, discharging or using any kind of fireworks.

Forest visitors will be able to continue riding Off-Highway Vehicles (OHVs) on designated roads and trails, provided that the vehicles are equipped with the required spark arresters.

Spark arresters also are required on chainsaws being used for people filling valid personal use wood cutting permits, and may also only be used on designated roads and trails.

“This summer the Mendocino National Forest has been very fortunate when it comes to wildland fire,” said Forest Supervisor Tom Contreras. “We would like Forest visitors to help us continue this by being safe when using fires in designated areas, complying with these fire restrictions and reporting smoke when they see it. By being aware we can all help protect the forest’s resources from human-cased wildfires.”

Temporary fire restrictions are put in place annually to protect natural resources and limit the threat of human-caused wildfires.

Similar restrictions are going into effect on neighboring forests. However, restrictions can vary by forest and visitors should check with the forest they plan on visiting for the latest fire restrictions and conditions.

For the Mendocino National Forest, the fire restrictions are formally referenced through Order Number 08-10-03.

Violation of these fire restrictions is punishable by a fine of no more than $5,000 for an individual, $10,000 for an organization, or up to six months imprisonment or both.

Fire season typically ends in late fall following a series of drenching, measurable rains in the mountains. An announcement will follow when fire restrictions are lifted.

For more information, please contact the Mendocino National Forest at 530-934-3316 or visit

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LAKE COUNTY – Despite ample rainfall and higher lake levels this summer, the blue-green algae that last year proved troublesome for several shoreline areas on Clear Lake has reemerged.

The algae blooms recently have been observed in the same general areas as last year, mainly in the southern sections of the lake where prevailing winds tend to cause localized accumulation of the algae, in the form of a filmy layer or mats on the surface of the water, health officials reported Thursday.

As in the bloom last year, the predominant genera of this blue-green algae bloom is known as lyngbya. The Lake County Health Department and Department of Water Resources said that recent tests of water in Clear Lake have not detected toxins.

Precautionary health advisories have been posted at a few southern beach locations where the blue-green algae has accumulated, per state guidelines that call for the posting of areas where there is visible film or mats.

The affected public areas are currently limited to Austin Park, Highlands Park and Redbud Park, the county departments reported. The majority of the lake remains open for recreation.

Health officials said avoidance of contact with water in the immediate vicinity of algae accumulations is prudent. Because of the potential for harmful substances to be present in dense accumulations of blue-green algae, people and pets are advised to avoid swimming, wading and drinking water in the immediate vicinity.

For more information about the algae bloom and efforts to mitigate its impacts, contact the Lake County Department of Water Resources at 707-263-2344.

For health-related questions, contact the Lake County Health Services office at 707-263-1164.

For more information regarding blue-green algae, visit

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THE GEYSERS – A 3.3-magnitude earthquake was reported near The Geysers geothermal steamfields on Wednesday afternoon.

The earthquake was reported at 3:37 p.m. Wednesday, according to the US Geological Survey.

Its epicenter was one mile north northeast of The Geysers, 15 miles southwest of Clearlake and 25 miles miles north of Santa Rosa, with the quake recorded at a depth of 2.1 miles, the survey reported.



The US Geological Survey received seven shake reports from six zip codes, ranging from Middletown, Geyserville, Santa Rosa and Calistoga, to Sacramento and even Eureka, the latter being 248 miles away from the epicenter.

A 3.4-magnitude quake was reported near Lake Pillsbury on Tuesday, as Lake County News has reported.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

People want the gifts stated in their will or trust respected. Protecting such gifts against future attack entails foreseeing subsequent claims by disappointed parties alleging undue influence, incapacity, mistake or fraud.

Litigation over the validity of such gifts can cause great expense and personal aggravation to the surviving loved ones. Preventative actions should be taken by the testator and his or her attorney prior to the testator’s death, as discussed below.

Undue influence means that the testator did not make the gift out of his or her own free will, but yielded to the undue pressure of another.

To protect against an undue influence claim, the client should always meet individually (alone) with his or her own attorney, outside of the presence of his or her own beneficiary.

The attorney and client should fully discuss the client’s reasons for any disproportionate gifts. The client may write a handwritten letter stating his or her own wishes and any relevant circumstances.

For example, if the client has previously made large gifts to another child during life, then the letter could include that fact.

If prudent or necessary, a second attorney may meet with the client and review the documents in order to issue a certificate of independent review stating that the reviewing attorney has determined that it is not the product of undue influence.

Incapacity means that the testator lacked the legally required attention (presence of mind), understanding (grasp of the issues) and awareness (insight into the choices and their consequences) to execute his or her will or trust at the time of its signing.

To protect against a claim of incapacity, the attorney should preserve written notes during the attorney client meeting that show that the client had mental capacity as illustrated by the client’s thoughtful consideration of all relevant particulars concerning the client’s family, assets and relevant circumstances.

In addition, the attorney may request a physician’s evaluation to hopefully confirm the client’s mental capacity before proceeding further.

Importantly, the witnesses to the signing of the testator’s will should themselves be mentally competent and trustworthy individuals who know the testator personally. At the signing, the testator should affirm any controversial gifts.

Lastly, if necessary, the gifts can be confirmed by a court order, obtained by means of a conservator who files a court petition for “substituted judgment.”

Allegations as to a mistake could entail a claim that a drafting error occurred that went unnoticed and that the testator accordingly did not truly intend to make a particular gift.

To forestall such an attack the testator might sign a document (often prepared by the attorney) that states in layman’s terms the specific gifts to the individual beneficiaries (and alternative beneficiaries).

The client also can share his wishes with his family while he or she is still alive to get everything out in the open. This can be very uncomfortable and may or may not be a recommended course of action.

Dennis A. Fordham, attorney (LL.M. tax studies), is a State Bar Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Law. His office is at 55 First St., Lakeport, California. Dennis can be reached by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 707-263-3235.

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LAKE COUNTY – Pacific Gas & Electric reported that it's planning an outage for some of its Lake County customers on Sunday, and the company is requesting a conservation effort the previous day in preparation.

Over the weekend PG&E crews will be working to improve reliability at its Konocti Substation in Lake County, according to a report from spokesperson Brandi Ehlers.

Areas affected by the planned outage will include Kelseyville, Middletown, Soda Springs Anderson Springs, Hidden Valley, Hidden Valley Lake and surrounding areas, Ehlers said.

Approximately 3,300 customers will be de-energized from midnight to 7 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 1, to allow for reliability work at the substation as well as some line work to be completed. Ehlers said all customers affected by the early morning planned outage have been notified through the mail.

In an effort to help with this planned work, PG&E is requesting customers in Lake County to conserve energy on Saturday, July 31, from 7 a.m. to midnight, prior to the planned outage.

Conservation tips including setting the air-conditioner thermostat at 78 degrees or higher, health permitting; avoiding the usage of large appliances Saturday including dish washers, washing machines, electric driers or the vacuum cleaner; and turning off unnecessary lights and appliances during the day and overnight until the power is restored.

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One of the signs recently installed by the Lake County Department of Public Works Road Division gives information about Manning Creek and the bridge that crosses it. Photo courtesy of Steve Stangland.



LAKE COUNTY – The next time you're driving over local bridges, watch for new signs that highlight the county's tributaries and offer information about bridges and roads.

The Lake County Department of Public Works Road Division is in charge of the signs project, according to Road Superintendent Steve Stangland.

State stormwater management mandates require the county do public outreach about the importance of protecting local water bodies, Stangland said.

Caltrans also requires that the county identify its bridges, so Stangland said they decided to take all of those mandates and create informative and interesting signs.

They didn't want plain markers, Stangland said, but instead sought to create signs that would help brand Lake County.

“We wanted something we could be proud of,” he said.

Stangland said Jaliece Simons and Jim Stuckert in the road division's sign shop designed the signs.

The signs include the creek that's being crossed, the outline of Clear Lake, a notation to “Help keep our waterway clean,” the bridge number, the year the bridge was built, the road number and the mile post marker number.

“They cover a multitude of issues,” said Stangland.

Stangland said the planning for the signs project started last fall.

Lake County Water Resources partnered with the road division, supplying $5,000 in funding for materials, he said. The road division is providing the manpower for the installation.

The first sign was tested out last fall at Rodman Slough, Stangland said.

Over the last several months the signs have started popping up all over the rest of the county, from Kelseyville to Lucerne.

Stangland said the biggest message of the signs is to remind people that they're crossing creeks. He said many people don't realize how often they travel over tributaries as they make their way around the county.

The education aspect of the effort also intends to inform people that all of the local tributaries drain to Clear Lake, he said.

If someone dumps motor oil in a creek in Cobb, that oil eventually will get to Clear Lake and will affect not only the lake but its wildlife, Stangland said.

“The message that we're trying to get out to people is that everything is connected,” he explained.

Stangland said the signs project will be ongoing, with the road department installing them in phases.

The first $5,000 for materials has covered 45 bridges, said Stangland. The county has 125 bridges altogether.

Eventually, the goal is to have the tributary signs installed on every county maintained road, Stangland said.

In a separate project, Stangland said the road division is working with watershed groups to install signs that designate watershed areas.

Visit the road division's Facebook page at!/group.php?gid=112943542078816&ref=ts.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST – A 24-year-old transient was shot and killed by Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies on Tuesday after he allegedly confronted them at the scene of several illicit marijuana grows in the Mendocino National Forest.

Sheriff's Capt. Kurt Smallcomb identified the man who was fatally shot as Angel Hernandez Farias.

The shooting occurred at 6:45 a.m. Tuesday on the Boardman Ridge area of the Mendocino National Forest near Covelo, Smallcomb reported.

Deputies were in the area investigating a large marijuana growing operation on forest lands when they encountered Farias, Smallcomb said.

Smallcomb said Farias was pronounced dead at the scene and the cause of death is pending completion of the autopsy and toxicology investigation.

Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies assisted by the state's Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) were called in and eradicated 11,635 marijuana plants from the three gardens at the scene, he reported.

Investigators with the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office, with assistance from the California Department of Justice, are continuing the investigation, Smallcomb said.

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Smoke testing of the Southeast Regional Wastewater Collection System is taking place in Clearlake and Lower Lake, Calif. Photo courtesy of Lake County Special Districts.




CLEARLAKE – In an effort to improve the Southeast Regional Wastewater Collection System, Lake County Special Districts reported this week that it's conducting smoke testing on sections of the system.

The agency, which provides water service and wastewater treatment in many areas of Lake County, said it has so far completed several weeks of smoke testing for 200,000 lineal feet of the sewer collection system in sections of Clearlake and Lower Lake.

Testing involves use of non-toxic liquid smoke that leaves no residual and pinpoints potential leaks in sewer lines. Leak detection and subsequent repairs may have a significant impact on minimizing spills next winter.

Miksis Services Inc. specializing in leak detection, and Special Districts crews are introducing smoke under pressure into manholes.

“Smoke is introduced into the system approximately every 400-800 feet,” said John Thompson, Special Districts systems compliance coordinator.

“If there is a leak in the sewer line including service lateral, smoke will appear out of the ground,” he explained. “Smoke is also visible where there are leaks such as private cleanouts that are open and not capped properly. We’ve seen many cleanouts that are not capped off.”

Another common problem detected is rain gutters and roof vents that are illegally connected to the cleanout to avoid flooding yards, Thompson said. All these holes contribute to excess rain water entering the collection system.

Additionally, if a building waste drain system is faulty, smoke may appear in the building, Thompson said.

“It’s difficult to quantify the exact savings resulting from smoke testing but we do know that any preventive measures taken now will reduce inflow the amount of storm water treated at the wastewater treatment plant,” said Thompson. “This method of regular inspection ensures continued proper operation of the collection system.”

In addition, homeowners are encouraged to do their part.

That includes inspecting the rain gutters on your house to see if the downspout connects to a sewer line.

Such connections are illegal. If the gutter downspouts are connected to the sewer line, have them disconnected – the large amount of water from the roof can cause a sewage spill. The rainwater needs to be directed onto your lawn and/or to the storm drain system.

Also, look for and check your sewer cleanout. The cleanout is usually a small pipe, about 4 inches in diameter, outside your house that is used to access the sewer lateral for cleaning. You will normally find it near the house (where the sewer lateral comes out) and/or near the property line (where the sewer lateral connects to the main sewer line).

Make sure the cap to the cleanout pipe is not missing and has not been damaged – such as by a lawn mower. Replace missing caps so that rainwater cannot get into the sewer line.

Check to see that outdoor patio, deck or yard drains are not connected to the sewer. Also, be sure that pool or pond overflow drains are not connected to the sewer. These connections are not allowed by the Lake County Sewer Use Ordinance.

“Special Districts is appreciative of the cooperation shown by the community during the testing which will resume over the next few days in the Clearlake and Lower Lake area,” Thompson said. “Residents are taking an active interest while observing the procedure, asking questions and taking time to explore potential corrective actions on their property.”

Any individuals with questions about smoke testing of sewer lines are encouraged to contact the administrative office at 707-263-0779.

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LAKEPORT – The Lakeport Senior Center is preparing a day of fun for the whole family and an opportunity to help continue the Meals on Wheels program that currently provides 150 meals per day to homebound seniors in the community.

The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday, July 31, at the Lakeport Senior Center, 527 Konocti Ave.

There will be a massive rummage, with many great items already donated and more still being accepted.

In addition, the barbecue grill will be fired up with top quality hot dogs for sale.

The day will include fun and games for all age, including face painting for children; an appearance by McGruff the Crime Dog and the California Highway Patrol; Francis Ford, an advocate for senior aging in place will speak; and Shari Koch and the Lake County Line Dancers will perform.

The Lake County Veterans Service Office will be on hand to share information, identification kits for children will be available, and there will be information booths on health and safety.

Other events will include a drawing of the winners of the 50/50 progressive raffle that has been running for two months. The first place prize currently is more than $1,400 and will continue to grow until the winner is drawn at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

With continuing budget cuts and increasing expenses the program can only be continued through the generous donations and involvement from the many volunteers that faithfully support it, as well as fundraisers like this.

This event is only possible by the countless hours of help from volunteers and the generous support of local businesses.

Sentry Market recently contributed to the Meals on Wheels program with an industrial meat slicer that gets daily use in preparation of the home delivered meals.

Safeway and Bruno’s Market continue their faithful support in donations and discounts making a huge impact on the centers ability to continue its services.

Come out Saturday, have fun for the whole family, and help make a difference in your community.

Call the Lakeport Senior Center at 707-263-4218 to get involved or for more information.

Jonathan Crooks is the assistant director at the Lakeport Senior Center.

LAKEPORT – Following months of trading allegations, one of two unions involved in an election that had been scheduled to take place this week for Sutter Lakeside Hospital employees abruptly pulled out on Tuesday.

Between 130 and 140 Sutter Lakeside Hospital employees in a variety of categories – including lab technicians, certified nursing assistants, pharmacy, housekeeping, supply, and medical, surgical and acute care – were expected to cast their ballots Wednesday to either stay with Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West or go with the newly formed National Union of Healthcare Workers.

“We are looking forward to our employees having a choice and expressing their will as a group,” Sutter Lakeside Hospital Chief Executive Officer Siri Nelson said on Monday.

But on Tuesday morning NUHW abruptly called off the election. NUHW accused Sutter Lakeside of teaming with SEIU-UHW “to get rid of the strong union that management has been fighting with for years.”

“There's no election. It's over,” said Amanda Cooper, a spokesperson for SEIU-UHW, noting the outcome was a victory for the workers.

While the Sutter Lakeside election was off, elections for more than 500 other employees at three facilities – Sutter Medical Center in Santa Rosa and two Daly City nursing homes – were continuing as scheduled, according to NUHW spokesperson Sadie Crabtree.

The Daly City polls closed Tuesday evening and Santa Rosa's election is set for Aug. 2, Crabtree said.

NUHW is led by Sal Rosselli, former president of SEIU-UHW, and other former officials of that union who allege that they were ousted from the group.

Cooper said the group of ousted officials “really wreaked some havoc in the organization” on their way out, leaving many contracts open, with SEIU-UHW needing time to get back on its feet.

Sutter Lakeside's employees – represented by SEIU-UHW for more than a decade – ratified their contract this past Feb. 24, said Cooper, with new negotiations set to start in 2012.

“If they go to a new union right now, they would need to renegotiate with management for a new contract,” Cooper said, noting the union worked hard to get the employees a great contract and that putting them back into negotiations would have been a terrible thing to do to the workers.

Even with the election canceled, the accusations between the two groups continued.

Cooper alleged that NUHW has withdrawn “dozens of times” from elections at the last minute. “They only run elections they think they can win,” she said.

Of the 77,000 SEIU-UHW members, 72,000 have elected to stay with the union rather than going with NUHW, said Cooper. “There's a trend here and they're on the losing side of it.”

For its part, NUHW blasted Sutter, calling it “one of the most anti-worker health care employers in the state,” and accusing the nonprofit organization of partnering with SEIU-UHW, which it called “one of the most anti-worker unions.”

“For years, workers have protected patient care at Sutter Lakeside by using pickets and job actions to hold Sutter accountable and stop management's race to the bottom,” NUHW said in a statement issued to Lake County News.

NUHW alleged that when SEIU-UHW took over the union last year, they actually helped Sutter managers fire the most vocal caregivers – which it said was documented in rulings by the National Labor Relations Board but did not involve the Sutter Lakeside facility – and settled a contract with significant takeaways.

“The National Labor Relations Board has said Sutter's preference for SEIU is clear,” NUHW's statement explained.

This spring NUHW – which claimed a series of “landslide” victories in union elections in January – had accused SEIU of blocking elections in 58 nursing home and 19 hospitals – including Sutter Lakeside.

In response, Cooper said that after the ouster of SEIU's former leaders, the National Labor Relations Board agreed that it wasn't a good time to do elections because the union wasn't stable. Now, however, with SEIU stabilized it's pushing forward with elections.

With the Sutter Lakeside election done for now, and with the rhetoric still going back and forth, Cooper suggested, “It's time for this divisiveness to go.”

NUHW reported that it's continuing to pursue elections affecting thousands of workers, including 44,000 in the Kaiser health care system.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

Upcoming Calendar

07.23.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
07.24.2024 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
ReCoverCA Homebuyer Assistance Workshop
07.27.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.30.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.03.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.06.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.10.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.13.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.17.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.20.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park

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