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Prescribed fire risk fund | Whiskeytown reopening | Rampant fraud in California’s hospice industry

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The latest North State and California news on our airwaves for Thursday, March 31.

Bill would create fund for risks associated with prescribed fire

Prescribed fires continue to gain traction in California as one method of reducing fuel loads that frequently lead to large wildfires.

A new bill moving through the state Legislature would set up a $20 million fund that would cover the cost if a planned fire gets out of hand and causes damage to neighboring properties.

Lenya Quinn-Davidson, a fire advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension, said more California communities are embracing the idea of prescribed fires.

"People are so eager to be part of a solution,” she said. “The fire situation in California is not unlike the larger discussion around climate change or even COVID where there's this feeling of helplessness, and so prescribed fires really come into focus because it's a place where people can have some control over their local landscape."

Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill changing liability laws around setting prescribed burns.

— CapRadio Staff

Whiskeytown trails and campgrounds to reopen after the Carr Fire

Parts of Whiskeytown National Recreation Area are set to reopen for the first time Friday since the 2018 Carr Fire. According to a press release from the National Park Service, some of the areas to reopen include the trails to Boulder Creek and Brandy Creek Falls Trailhead and the campgrounds at Brandy Creek and Sheep Camp.

The National Park Service is reminding visitors that many post-fire hazards still exist, including burned trees that are especially risky on windy days.

— Adia White, NSPR

*Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that the trail to Brandy Creek Falls Trailhead has reopened, but the trail to Brandy Creek Falls is still closed

State authorities seize more illegally-owned weapons last year

State Attorney General Rob Bonta Wednesday released the annual Armed and Prohibited Persons System (APPS) report, saying agents took away 15% more firearms than the previous year.

“We seized almost 1,500 firearms, including 602 guns that were previously unknown to us,” Bonta said.

APPS cross-checks several databases to find people who legally purchased weapons but are not banned from ownership because they’ve been convicted of felonies or have a history of domestic violence or mental illness.

California is the only state to set up a system for tracking firearm owners who fall into a prohibited status.

— CapRadio Staff

Bill to mandate COVID vaccine for California employees put on hold

A proposal to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for California workers will not move forward this year in the state Legislature. For a second straight year, the idea of a COVID vaccine mandate has been dropped without a vote.

Legislation from Oakland Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks would have required employers to collect proof of vaccination from their employees.

Many public safety employee unions oppose the idea, arguing the vaccine policy should be set in local collective bargaining.

In a statement, Wicks said California's low COVID case rate “provides us the opportunity to work more collaboratively with labor and employers to address concerns.”

— Guy Marzorati (KQED), The California Report

Interview: State report shows rampant fraud in hospice industry

A new investigation from the state of California shows rampant fraud within the hospice industry. The state audit comes more than a year after a report in the Los Angeles Times uncovered very similar problems with end-of-life care facilities.

Ben Poston is an award-winning investigative reporter for the LA Times and worked on that story with his colleague Kim Christensen.

He spoke with CapRadio’s Randol White to discuss what they found in the industry and how it matches with the new report. Listen to the interview in today’s Headlines. 

— CapRadio Staff

Stories from NPR partner stations are edited by NSPR Staff for digital presentation and credited as requested.

In other news

  • Rancheria Health Care Campus opens: “The large lobby of the brand-new Redding Rancheria Trinity Health and Wellness Campus hosted a standing room only crowd for its grand opening ceremony Monday.” — The Trinity Journal
  • Yuba City confronts homeless issue: “For any local leader, one of the top questions they receive is: What are you going to do about the homelessness problem? On Tuesday night, the Yuba City City Council took its first steps to try and solve the many layers and complexities of dealing with the homeless population in the city.” — The Appeal Democrat 
  • Garner seeks to unseat Engel for District 5 Supervisor: “District 5 Supervisor Jeff Engel is seeking to retain his seat on the Plumas County Board of Supervisors. He is being challenged by businesswoman and Realtor Mimi Garner, and voters from Mohawk Valley to East Quincy will see their two names on the June 7 Primary ballot.” — Plumas News

In case you missed it

Headlines is published every weekday morning at 8:30 a.m. Subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and NPR One. Theme song Borough is courtesy of Blue Dot Sessions

Sarah is an award-winning reporter, producer and editor. She’s worked at North State Public Radio for six years and was previously the station’s News Director before leaving to study at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.
A graduate of California State University, Chico, Andre Byik is an award-winning journalist who has reported in Northern California since 2012. He joined North State Public Radio in 2020, following roles at the Chico Enterprise-Record and Chico News & Review.
Angel Huracha has been a part of the journalism field since 2006 and has covered a range of topics. He is a graduate of Chico State with a Bachelor's degree in news-editorial and public relations with a minor in English.
Adia White is a broadcast journalist and producer with nearly 10 years of experience. Her work has appeared on WNYC, This American Life, Capital Public Radio and other local and national programs. She started at North State Public Radio as a freelance reporter in 2017 before leaving for a stint at Northern California Public Media in Santa Rosa.