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Rancho Fire update | Fire department reimbursements | Lawmakers target nonprofits accused of treason

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The latest North State and California news on our airwaves for Wednesday, June 15.

Forward progress stopped on Tehama County fire

The Rancho Fire burning in the Tehama County community of Rancho Tehama is 593 acres and 40% contained, according to Cal Fire.

The fire started Monday afternoon, and Cal Fire Public Information Officer Aaron Johnson said forward progress on the fire has been stopped.

“We have firefighters actively engaged in continuing our containment,” Johnson said. “[Tuesday] morning we had some air resources on the incident, but based on fire activity they've been placed on hold.”

All evacuation orders and warnings were lifted Tuesday afternoon. Officials asked residents to be mindful of hotspots and watch for firefighters working in the area.

Johnson recommends county residents have a “go bag” ready in case they need to evacuate. He also recommends that they should be familiar with their local evacuation zone map. Officials say if you live in a fire-prone area that you should also make sure you’re signed up for your local emergency alerts.

— Alec Stutson, NSPR

Putting fire on the ground with the Butte Prescribed Burn Association 

Using fire to keep safe from fire may seem counterintuitive, but that’s exactly what some volunteers in Butte County are doing.

The Butte Prescribed Burn Association (PBA) which is made up of volunteers who help landowners in the county conduct intentional burns on their properties recently conducted a prescribed burn in the community of Forest Ranch.

“Putting fire on the ground and having the ability to do this kind of burning low intensity burning that's not actually burning the soil or actually damaging the trees is beneficial for defense around a house that's in the wildland,” said Andrew Logan, a volunteer with the Butte PBA. “It's also good for the environment.”

Logan explained that prescribed burns can create a helpful space for firefighters especially when they’re done on adjoining properties.

“When we’re able to take and tie these different projects together, then we have an ability to basically to have a fireline pre-established on these different control burns that are kind of tagged together or stitched together,” he said. “And then have the opportunity to have defensible spaces that are on private property. That are strategically placed. So we can start to slow down and put out fires.”

You can hear the full story today during All Things Considered. Read other stories in NSPR’s ‘Fire Returned’ series.

— Sarah Bohannon, NSPR

House members seek quicker reimbursements to local fire departments

A bipartisan bill introduced Tuesday in Washington D.C. is aimed at speeding up reimbursements to local fire departments that help put out blazes on federal lands.

California Democratic Rep. Josh Harder of Turlock co-wrote the bill. Currently, he said, some fire departments are waiting up to a year to be reimbursed.

“This is becoming more and more common,” Harder said during a House Agriculture Committee hearing earlier this year. “As these fires are getting bigger, we're having more local fire departments spend weeks, even months, on this federal land helping support the Forest Service.”

Harder wrote the Fire Department Repayment Act of 2022 with Republican Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Buetler of Washington state. Among other things, the bill sets standard operating procedures for fire suppression cost agreements, and it expedites reviews of those procedures.

— CapRadio Staff

State lawmakers target nonprofits accused of treason

A bill that would strip the tax-exempt status from organizations that incite insurrection is advancing in the California state Legislature.

The author is San Francisco Democratic Sen. Scott Wiener.

“We know, from January 6th, that there was a very organized effort to prevent the peaceful transition of power and to overthrow our government and tragically, there were nonprofits involved,” Wiener said. “And we want to make sure that, going forward, that these nonprofits do not get tax subsidies from California taxpayers.”

The measure has passed the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee and heads next to the Appropriations Committee. It's already been approved by the state Senate.

The bill gives the Franchise Tax Board the authority to revoke the California tax-exempt status of a nonprofit group after the state Attorney General determines the group has actively engaged in, or incited: treason, insurrection, or advocating overthrow of the government.

— CapRadio Staff

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

In other news

  • Calls overwhelm disability benefits call centers: “Calls to California’s Employment Development Department disability insurance call centers surged to 12 times their normal volume in late 2021 and early 2022 as the department dealt with fraud. Many went unanswered, leaving some Californians in the lurch for months.” — CalMatters
  • Shasta College awarded $18 million grant: “Shasta College was recently awarded an $18.13 million award over five years from the Regional K-16 Education Collaboratives Grant Program.” — Red Bluff Daily News
  • Gold Rush Days returns Friday to downtown Yreka: “A multi-day festival to call attention to Yreka’s gold rush and frontier past will also double as a prime event to showcase downtown businesses.” — The Siskiyou Daily News
  • California lawmakers OK budget over governor’s objections: “California lawmakers on Monday passed a $300 billion operating budget over the objections of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, highlighting disagreements among Democrats about how to spend a record-breaking surplus that, by itself, is more than most other states spend in a year.” — The Associated Press

In case you missed it

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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.