Sharing Information | Encouraging Engagement
The first BOS meeting of August included several interesting and informative updates as well as votes on a number of important matters. Here are the notes I took during today’s meeting. Please understand that this is not meant to be a comprehensive documentation of discussions and decisions that took place.
The updates were the first things on the agenda. If would like to view the updates (or the rest of the meeting) you can watch the meeting on YouTube with this link. If you would like to know more about what was on the agenda, here is a link to the online agendas and minutes (when available) for BOS meetings.
River Restoration Update & Proposal – Seven representatives participated in the update. The update included notice that the group would like to be back in front of the BOS in September for input before taking their proposal (again) to the TMC (Trinity Management Council). Here are some notes I took during this lengthy update.
- State, Federal, County, and Tribal organizations are all part of the Trinity River Restoration Program.
- For measuring (and release calculation) purposes, the water year is Oct 1 through Sep 30. Levels of precipitation tracked during this period determines the level of releases for the following year.
- Post-dam releases restrict increased water flows to a much shorter time period than that of natural flows… especially during the first part of the year
- Cold water from dam suppresses juvenile salmon growth and delays the timing of outmigration.
- The group’s proposal is for releases to be modified to better reflect natural flows. This modified schedule/pattern of releases will support the development of the insects that feed the fish and better support the growth of juvenile fish. For reference, 60% of fish have out-migrated prior to current release dates.
- The proposal is based on conservative models that predict available water and natural flows. The proposal includes two key aspects:
- Flow synchronization period – 12.15 – 2.15
- Elevated base flow period – 2.15 – 4.15
- Total water flow would remain about the same (no request for additional water). The focus is on the timing of the releases.
- The group addressed what they consider to be some key concerns shared in the past. These include:
- Power Generation – Included estimates of impact on power generation. On average, the estimate is that more power can be generated
- Reservoir Elevation – levels are projected to be slightly lower for a short period of time during dry years and higher during some parts of the year during wet years.
- Note – The TMC chose not to approve a similar proposal last year
- The Bureau of Reclamation has the ultimate decision-making power on this matter. The BOR does look to the TMC for input/guidance.
- Carrying over water from one year to another (for fisheries purposes) was discussed as a means of helping to manage flows better. This was based on the acknowledgment that forecasting has limitations. The group noted that the models in use today have never over-predicted precipitation levels (due to a conservative approach).
- There was some discussion about the overall health of the river and of concerns about current reservoir management practices.
- It was mentioned that, by Fall, we are projected to be at the lowest reservoir levels in decades.
- It was also noted that, in 2021, almost twice as much water was sent through the Whiskeytown tunnel for the Central Valley than was released into the Trinity River for restoration/fishery purposes.
PG&E Presentation Regarding Community Wildfire Safety Program – representatives provided an update regarding the status and scope of plans impacting Trinity County. Here are some notes:
- 154 of 167 of PG&E electric line miles are in high fire risk areas
- PG&E is hardening infrastructure (stronger poles, etc). Three miles have been completed so far.
- Vegetation Management – 85 miles planned in 2022
- Wildfire Wood Management Program – removing wood (with landowner permission). You can learn more with these links – http://www.pge.com/woodmanagement and www.Wildfirewoodmanagement@pge.com
- Establishing weather stations to improve weather forecasting – 8 completed to date
- High-definition cameras to monitor wildfires – 4 completed to date
- Enhanced Powerline Safety Settings. They are fine-tuning to impact how lines respond to situations. Any contact that damages a line shuts it off in 1/10th of a second. Not set at this level year round. It is based on fire risk conditions
- Customer resources include food bank support (donations and grants), Firewood, temporary generators, portable batteries, and generator/battery rebate programs, installation of transfer switches, etc. You can learn more via these links. www.pge.com/backuppower and www.pge.com/transfermeter
- Online Safety Maps are available during incidents.
- There is a ”PG&E Report It” app that you can find at www.pge.com/reportit
- Residents can expect a 24 hour response time when they use the Wildfire Safety email platform – www.pge.com/wildfiresafety
USFS Update | Rachel Birkey and Tara Jones – This update covered a number of important subjects. Here are some notes:
- The McKinney Fire is over 55,000 acres. A full complement of resources is available and deployed. They are bringing on contractor services as well. The focus is to put out the fire as quickly as possible.
- Ten Year Fire Fighting Strategy is in place and being worked
- Fuels management efforts are underway in areas impacted by wildfires
- Hiring – filled nine positions and still actively seeking more candidates. This is the strongest hiring level in 30 years.
- A Unified Management approach is in place to streamline efforts and enhance impact.
- USFS is making financial Investments in partners to increase its capacity to address fire incidents.
- Good Neighbor Authority – USFS is interested in working with Trinity County on this. Discussions are already underway regarding this approach.
- Tara addressed concerns raised earlier in the meeting, indicating that hazard trees identified by PG&E are taken down within 10 days. Fuels are then sold.
- There was discussion regarding fires in trimming piles. USFS is asking CalFire to disburse piles to minimize this risk.
- Addressed concerns regarding piles of fuels from previous burns that have not yet been addressed.
- Addressed concerns regarding the historic conflict between USFS and CalFire. Relationship building is underway with Chiefs in Trinity and surrounding counties. They are identifying differences in objectives and approaches and working to become better aligned. They pointed to the McKinney Fire collaboration and the unified command approach as a good sign that things are changing.
Cannabis Division Update | Director Sean Connell – this update included a look back, a status update, and a description of new steps being taken. Here are my notes:
- There has been significant progress in staffing. The goal is to be fully staffed by the end of August.
- Representatives from both consulting firms were in attendance (in person and zoom)
- Consultants discussed primary issues with Appendix C submissions:
- Inconsistencies between documents
- Lack of impact analysis
- Missing or inadequate technical studies
- Incorrect application of mitigation measures
- Office Hours – consultants originally provided 4 hours/day coverage. This has been expanded and there has been more flexibility around the timing of these office hours.
- Presenters indicated that the quality of application materials has dramatically improved.
- The status update included the following:
- 212 site inspections
- 205 file completeness reviews
- 7 approvals in office for review now
- Director Connell noted that variance and re-zone requirements are identified during this process.
- He also described Communication Efforts
- Weekly Updates
- Newsletters – working on an online signup form for monthly newsletters
- Public Division Updates
- A Cannabis Division YouTube channel is being launched
- New reports include permit types and permits by zoning district
- The new Office of Emergency Services Manager was introduced
- An August Complex OES Update was provided
- The long-term recovery group is pursuing grant funding from multiple sources and looking into establishing a cooperative to address long-term issues
- State listening sessions are underway to gather information about ongoing/long-term recovery needs
- Cleanup from 2021 fires is almost complete
- Some of the recent inclusion requests to FEMA have been denied. Representatives are following up and appealing the decisions.
- Concerns were raised about the potential for toxins in areas damaged by fires to enter waterways during storms while we wait for Federal or State inclusion. It was noted that county-driven cleanup efforts are limited by available funding. A contingency fund could help in the future.
- Dispatch Center – final issues being addressed. A meeting is scheduled toward the end of August with all parties involved in this initiative.
- Evacuation Zones – a new plan was developed and information will be shared with the public starting this week. The website provides information on resources and support locations by zone.
- Code enforcement Update – July 32 reports, 11 abatement operations, 1 code enforcement complaint
Housing & Grants
- They are working on the renewal of grants and on three new funding sources.
- New ambulance and emergency units are coming to Trinity County as a result of grants.
Cannabis AdHoc Update
- Still strong concerns about the process and delays are being voiced by some cultivators
- 100 CCLs from the original priority list have still not filed an appendix C. It was noted that failure to submit will mean others move ahead in the review/approval process.
- No meeting will take place on the 11th.
Public Hearing | Limited Density Rural Dwellings – this matter was rescheduled so that additional documentation can be made available for review.
Public Hearing | Solid Waste Delinquent List – This was the final hearing on fees for delinquent notices. The department will now move forward with the next steps.
Secure Rural Schools Funding – Trinity County has the ability to choose how funding is allocated for the coming two years. The last time the BOS had this opportunity to select allocation was in 2013. Funding comes via Title l, ll, and lll… with different allowable uses for funds in each category. Pat Frost provided an update to the BOS on this matter.
- We consistently have more requests/options for use of funds than available funding
- Recommendation made to make small adjustments… allocating more funds to title 3 for use by volunteer fire departments
- The board approved the proposed (revised) allocation
Veterans Hall – this facility has not been comprehensively updated since its original construction. A decision was made to authorize efforts to determine the feasibility of grant funding for the renovation of this facility. In approval of this matter, the BOS included requirements that no county match requirements would be considered. Spring 2023 is the target for the completion of this feasibility study. Supervisor Cox indicated that there is strong informal interest from some community members.
Cannabis Processing Ordinance | 2nd Reading – Public comments included discussion regarding the decision during the last BOS meeting to not include Churches in the (youth-oriented) facilities that require setbacks. There was also discussion about the definition surrounding “self-processing.” The BOS approved a change to the definition of “self-processing” and added churches to the setback list. These changes mean that the ordinance will have to come back during the next BOS meeting for the first reading.
I hope these notes are helpful in your efforts to stay informed about county matters.