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A planning group for the Russian River Water Forum met for the first time yesterday in Ukiah. In KymKemp and the Mendo Voice online, that initiative of Sonoma Water met to plan how to maintain a diversion from the Eel River into the Russian River after PG&E decommissions the hydroelectric dam site.  The utility will submit a draft on how they’ll do that this coming November. The utility plans to remove the dams unless someone comes up with a plan they will consider. The forum has used most of a $400,000 grant from the California Division of Water resources in their work on the governance of the Upper Russian River Watershed. Sonoma Water is applying for a grant from the Bureau of Reclamation for continued diversion plans. Members of county, tribal and environmental groups that make up the forum hope to have viable choices as they figure out how to proceed. Four working groups have been put together to focus on water supply, fisheries, finance and water rights.

In an effort to protect the Clear Lake hitch the Bureau of Land Management Field Office in Ukiah will be closed the Scott’s Creek gate near Lakeport through the end of the month.  In MendoFever today, the South Cow Mountain OHV area is remaining open with access to it at the Westside Staging area near the city.  BLM says closing the Scott’s Creek entrance will help protect water quality as young fish migrate back to Clear Lake from Scott’s Creek.  The threatened fish are found only in the Clear Lake basin and have been declining in numbers for the last several years.  The hitch are under review to be listed on the Endangered Species Act.  Thanks to a very wet spring, the Scott’s Creek habitat is helping the hitch with a replenished breeding ground.  The agency will work with local tribes and governments to continue to protect the species.

The old Kmart on Main Street in Lakeport is being built into new stores. Construction began yesterday as the over 90,000 square foot building is converted.  An Arizona architecture firm is busy subdividing the space into three retail leases. Two of the new tenants will be Marshalls and Tractor Supply on either end.  The middle space has yet to be leased. Lake County News reports demolition and remodeling in underway, and includes improvements to the outside with sidewalk work. The Lakeport Planning Commission will discuss plans for a sign at its June 14th meeting.

Congressman Mike Thompson hosted a town hall this week on gun violence prevention.  Thompson mentioned that there have been more than 225 mass shootings this year alone, costing taxpayers $280 billion dollars. In the Record Bee today, the congressman talked about legislation that could help including expanded background checks and rules on ghost guns.  During the virtual meeting, a medical expert said that the pandemic years saw the largest ever increase in firearm homicide in 100 years.  Thompson said there had been bipartisan support for community violence intervention programs and mental health and work continues on that front.

California will get support to reduce homelessness with federal support.  The White House announced they will send a federal official to help cut red tape and access programs in a plan that the Biden administration plans to unveil today.  The new initiative they’re calling “ALL Inside” aims to boost local efforts to shelter people.  Biden has a goal to reduce homelessness by 25 percent by 2025.  The initiative will help communities take advantage of federal programs to fight homelessness through health care, drug abuse, transportation and employment. 

The price of gas is going and that’s good news for area tourism. With the holiday weekend coming fast the AAA says 20% more tourists will be hitting the road this year. Mendocino’s tourism industry sees a majority of visitors during the summer months, and local tourism officials say this year is expected to be a good one. Over the pandemic area attractions had to close down, but now the official end if the pandemic has arrived, so are the expectations for lots of visitors to town this year.

The state is closing three more prisons and has plans to downsize several others.  In CalMatters today, inmate are worries about their education.  Community colleges in California that developed special programs to help prisoners earn degrees are worried.  The colleges stand may lose 10 percent of their enrollment and millions in state funding. The Department of Corrections says they’re trying to help inmates continue their education, but say there is no coordinated system.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources announced the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument Expansion Act with unanimous support. Lake County News reports the bill expands public lands on the monuments eastern edge. The legislation establishes tribal co-management of the monument with a name change.  The Patwin name for Condor Ridge, Molok Luyuk is replacing Walker Ridge.  A regional conservation organization called Tuleyome marks the area as a cultural heritage site with diverse flora and fauna and recreational activities. The area hosts a diverse landscape including rare plants, mountain lions and black bears. People have enjoyed hiking, mountain biking and more at the national monument. The proposed expansion is part of Governor Newsom and President Biden’s shared goal to protect lands and waters in historically marginalized communities.  

Sonoma County roads will get much needed work done this summer.  The Press Democrat reports construction crews will target 50 miles of county roads as part of a $29 million program.  The Sonoma County Department of Public Infrastructure plans to resurface many roads next year and in 2025.  Funding comes from the Pavement Preservation Program, the Fire Damage Recovery Paving Act and from the county budget.  Parts of those funds come from a PG&E settlement over the 2017 firestorm.  They need to invest about $48 million per year to improve roads in the county, according to the Sonoma County Long-Term Road Plan.  They’re off to a start, but it may not be enough.

A group in Mendocino County is working to boost economic development locally.  The organization called “Keep it Local” met for its second meeting on Tuesday.  During the group’s first meeting, they discussed incorporating Mendocino as a city and working with the Mendocino Historical Review Board.  In MendoVoice online, “Keep it Local” aims to focus local control of businesses, instead of far off investors.  This weeks meeting included speakers involved with the Grocery Outlet in Fort Bragg.  The group also discussed working with county officials. The group hopes to see upgrades to services for the people who live there as well as tourists who visit.  The effort to preserve local ownership continues as the group works through high costs and the long-term economic outlook for Mendocino County.

The cost of insulin is the target of work in California to help those who need it, get it.  In the last two decades, the price of insulin has increased by 600 percent.  California lawmakers have introduced bills targeting the out of pocket costs for all drugs.  The Attorney General is suing the largest insulin manufacturer and pharmaceutical managers alleging unfair business practices. Governor Newsom has announced a state contract with a generic drug company to help diabetic residents. Around 37 million in the US, and about 3 million people in the state need insulin to live, according to CalMatters.  The federal government has imposed price caps that prompted the drug manufacturers to drop prices to $35, but in a Senate hearing last week, some pharmaceutical companies say they can’t commit to keeping those prices. 

The Mendocino County’s annual Mendo Pride event is happening this weekend. This year is the first time the event will take place in Hopland, according to MendoVoice online. The LGBTQ + community event will happen on Saturday, May 20th. The vendor fair starts at 1pm, and at 6pm Hopland Tap will host performers in a contest. Proceeds from Mendo Pride will benefit the Ford Street Project Community Food Bank. The food bank, based in Ukiah, distributes thousands of pounds of food, five days a week, to community members needing support.

The California Speedboat Association will host the Buckingham Test and Tune this weekend.  The Lake County news reports classic cars and custom boats are returning for the event after a COVID hiatus.  It all starts Saturday at 9am with vintage and historic speedboats.  There will be an award ceremony with handcrafted trophies at the Buckingham Golf Club and Community Center for the event.

The Jackson Demonstration State Forest has listed roads closed for the summer.  The Department of Forestry and Fire Protection announced that starting next week Road 240 will close for logging, maintenance and repairs.  There are multiple roads and campsites that may be temporarily closed due to hazardous conditions and timber operations in the forest. Officials are asking residents to check the JDSF website for the closures, permits and more.  

Governor Newsom sent a letter to House Speaker McCarthy warning of dangerous flooding as the state’s snowpack begins melting down the mountains.  The governor said immediate action is needed.  Last week, the governor’s budget proposal marked funds for infrastructure, but more is needed.  Newsom used terms of urgency saying people are in a path of destruction.  He said House Republicans refused to act on their request from a month ago and instead pushed for cuts to local infrastructure projects.  According to the Hill, the governor says the state has spent millions to try to reduce the likelihood of disaster.

California’s weather continues to surprise.  The driest years happened from 2020 to 2022, breaking records, according to the Bay Area News Group. After a parade of atmospheric rivers, reservoirs are full and wildfire risk is lower, for now.  The Sierra snowpack is at its highest level in 4 decades.  In December, 80 percent of the state was in severe drought.  By April the state ended the drought emergency.  And as residents recover from weather whiplash, people in the Bay area may see smoke from the Canadian wildfires as a high pressure system approaches Northern California.  

A quarter of kids in child care centers are drinking dangerously high levels of lead.  The information, released by the California Department of Social Services reveals thousands of the California’s youngest are exposed to the brain damaging metal.  In the LA Times today, lead was found in 1,700 child care centers licensed by the state.  It is the first time that the facilities have been required to test for lead with the worst levels exceeded 2,000 times the limit.  Lead damages brains and nervous systems and impairs development.  According to the state, facilities must immediately stop using the tainted water.  The latest tests happened after a bill was passed in 2018 requiring state licensed centers to monitor for lead.  New legislation is aimed at helping schools and child care centers to clean up their drinking water systems. Assembly Bill 249 would also require the state to allocate $5 million annually to pay for water efficient facets and fixture fixes. 

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