Interview: Wildfire scientist says LaMalfa’s recently introduced wildfire suppression legislation takes the wrong approach
The latest North State and California news on our airwaves for Monday, March 14.
Editor's note: Today’s Headlines audio solely contains an interview with wildfire scientist Zeke Lunder. All other news from today can be read below.
Interview: LaMalfa’s wildfire suppression legislation would be ‘impossible’ to implement, bad for forests, wildfire scientist says
Earlier this month, Northern California Rep. Doug LaMalfa, along with Rep. Tom McClintock, introduced legislation that would require the U.S. forest service to immediately suppress wildfires on national forest system lands.
In a press release, LaMalfa said the forest service has been “monitoring” wildfires, and this policy to “‘watch and wait’ has allowed multiple catastrophic fires to unnecessarily escalate and devastate our wildlands and rural towns.”
But wildfire scientist, Zeke Lunder, disagrees. He recently wrote on Twitter: “Not only is putting out every fire impossible, it has also proven to be the worst possible thing for the health of our forests.”
NSPR’s Sarah Bohannon recently spoke with Lunder, first asking him to expand on that comment. Listen to the interview in today’s Headlines.
— Sarah Bohannon, NSPR
If you’re driving to Table Mountain, watch where you park your car
The spring bloom of wildflowers at Table Mountain in Oroville attracts a large group of sightseers each year. That’s causing parking headaches for the county.
On Tuesday, the Butte County Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance placing a parking ban on the paved portions of Cherokee Road near the North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve.
Joshua Pack, the county’s public works director, said the annual crowd of visitors — and their parked cars — is causing dangerous conditions on the narrow two-lane road.
“This is really to eliminate that issue with crowding of the road, which impacts emergency vehicle access, which impacts the ability of vehicles to pass on each side,” Pack said.
Pack added that parking along unpaved portions of Cherokee Road is still allowed. Signs will alert visitors to the rules and cars in violation may be towed.
— Andre Byik, NSPR
Weather Service climate report shows record rain, dry spell; state still in drought
The 2022 Winter Climate and Drought report just issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows the state went from record wet to record dry.
January through February were the driest on record for many parts of Northern California, according to NOAA. Sacramento, Stockton and Modesto each saw less than five-one-hundredths of an inch of rain during those two months. But December set records in the other direction, with rainfall totals from 125% to 200% of normal. In the higher elevations, that meant snow.
For the period from Oct. 1 to Feb. 28, Blue Canyon saw 106% of average precipitation. Higher than normal temperatures — especially in February — accelerated snowmelt, and the Weather Service said most of Northern California is in the "Severe Drought" category.
— CapRadio Staff
Pumping groundwater now could lead to less for farmers in the future
As California continues its third consecutive dry year, the lack of rainfall is expected to hit many farmers hard.
Jay Lund, professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering UC Davis, said many California farmers are being forced to rely on dwindling groundwater reserves have been overdrafted for many years in some areas.
“There’s now state policy to reduce that,” Lund said. “So this additional pumping that the farmers are doing during these recent drought years is all going to have to be repaid over the next 20 years to comply with [the] Sustainable Groundwater Management Act."
Lund said surface water could be used to recharge some aquifers, but overdrafted areas will likely need to pump less groundwater in the future.
In terms of conditions, Lund said Northern California saw some moisture restored in December, but the area is still below average in terms of precipitation. He expects another dry year and said he doesn’t think the region will experience as much groundwater replenishment as had been anticipated.
— Alec Stutson, NSPR
Stories from NPR partner stations are edited by NSPR Staff for digital presentation and credited as requested.
In other news
- UPDATE: Evergreen Fire northeast of Weed 50% contained; evacuation orders lifted: “The Evergreen Fire blazing northeast of Weed in Siskiyou County is 50% contained after burning across12 acres near Evergreen Lane and Highway 97, according to the Cal Fire Siskiyou Unit. All evacuation orders and warnings have been lifted, Cal Fire said.” — Redding Record Searchlight
- Konkow Valley Band of Maidu granted land in traditional homeland: “The Konkow Valley Band of Maidu, a federally unrecognized tribe, was granted 10.72 acres of land in an agreement with Konkow Partners in December last year and are now beginning to work on their newly acquired land.” — Chico Enterprise Record
- One person dead in Siskiyou County officer-involved shooting: “Siskiyou County law enforcement authorities are investigating an officer-involved shooting that left one person dead outside of Mount Shasta on Friday night. The shooting took place about 9:53 p.m. Friday, the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office said.” — Redding Record Searchlight
- COS, Shasta College fire instructor inspired generation of firefighters: “Siskiyou County firefighter Michael Wilson is remembered for his wicked sense of humor.” — Redding Record Searchlight
- Local politicians support bill to redefine mental health conservatorship criteria: “Local leaders met Friday morning at the Fred Davis Municipal Center to voice support for Assembly Bill 2020, introduced to the state legislature by Assembly Minority Leader James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) aimed to increase opportunity of conservatorship treatment for people with mental illness by expanding the definition of “gravely disabled.” — Chico Enterprise Record
- Shelter in the spotlight: “Still empty, the 177 Pallet shelter units at the Chico Emergency Non-Congregate Housing Site are perfectly square and stark white … questions about the site’s operation have many people wondering if the final picture will be a masterpiece, a mess or something in between.” — Chico News & Review
- LaMalfa visits southern border: “Yesterday, Congressman Doug LaMalfa joined a group of Republican members of Congress on an official trip to view the southern border in Arizona. During this trip, members received an operational briefing from the U.S. Border Patrol Station in Yuma and toured their Centralized Processing Center.” — Lassen County Times
- Sutter County GOP endorses candidates for June 7 primary: “On Thursday night, the Sutter County Republican Central Committee heard presentations from area candidates running in the upcoming June 7 primary and officially endorsed a handful of those that spoke and some who weren’t in attendance.” — The Appeal Democrat
In case you missed it
- Solidarity with Ukrainians reaches Paradise Town Council— NSPR (Headlines, March 11)
- Chico mayor tells city’s critics to stop complaining and ‘get to work’ during State of the City address — NSPR (Headlines, March 11)
- Pandemic brought on dramatic drop in Black-owned small businesses, research shows — NSPR (Headlines, March 11)
- California bill would address twice-yearly clock change — NSPR (Headlines, March 11)
- New evaluation ordered for woman suspected of starting Fawn Fire — Redding Record Searchlight
- 'Painful consequences' for Latinas linger after Papini's 'kidnapping' — Redding Record Searchlight
- Plumas chambers unite and seek funding to promote county — Plumas News
- LaMalfa opposes $1.5 trillion spending package — supports defense and Ukraine aid package — Lassen County Times
- Chico sued over records request — Chico Enterprise-Record
- Tehama County Employer Advisory Council offers active shooter training — Red Bluff Daily News
- Hybrid ‘deltacron’ COVID virus is a biological curiosity. Is it a cause for alarm? — San Francisco Chronicle
- With no respite from drought, officials call upon Californians to conserve water — Los Angeles Times