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Fire Returned: Part 3 | COVID-19 test-to-treat sites | Gas price politics

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The latest North State and California news on our airwaves for Thursday, June 16.

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol is holding a public hearing today about the deadly attack. NSPR will be airing special coverage of the hearing at 10 a.m.

Fire Returned: Volunteering with the Butte Prescribed Burn Association

In Butte County it’s estimated that humans should be treating more than 18,000 acres with fire or a fire surrogate each year. That’s according to a data analysis by the U.S. Forest Service, Fire Safe Council and Butte County Resource Conservation District (RCD).

To help get more fire on the ground, the RCD has developed a Prescribed Burn Association (PBA). This group is one of 20 in California and is made up of volunteers who help landowners complete intentional burns on their properties.

Lilly Trejo is a volunteer with the group.

“I grew up in Santa Barbara along the coast. If someone told me 10 years ago I would be mapping fires [and] putting fire on the ground, I would have laughed and said no way,” Trejo said. “But here I am.”

Lisa Speegle who lives between Forest Ranch and Chico also volunteers with the PBA. She says she and her neighbors have been working for years to get their properties ready for wildfire, but there’s no comparison to how the group helps.

“Everything that we’ve done on our property, we’ve done just a little bit at a time with making small piles and burning them a little bit at a time,” Speegle said. “Over 30 years we made a difference, but this kind of burn makes so much more difference.”

This story is part of NSPR’s 'Fire Returned' series. Read the full story. 

— Sarah Bohannon, NSPR

COVID test-to-treat sites serving fewer patients than expected

California’s COVID-19 test-to-treat sites intended to target the uninsured — are serving far fewer high-risk coronavirus patients than anticipated.

The state has expanded 138 free COVID testing locations throughout the state into such sites. The one-stop treatment centers are modeled after a federal initiative to get antiviral medication instantly to older, chronically ill and other high-risk patients who test positive for COVID-19.

But state health officials are reporting that a month into the program, fewer than 800 people — most of them insured — have received treatment at the test-to-treat sites. That comes despite new COVID cases in California hitting 14,000 per day. Health officials say it’s the state’s priority to make the pills accessible in order to keep patients out of the hospital.

— CapRadio Staff

Sacramento tries to curb anti-abortion harassment outside clinics

The Sacramento City Council Tuesday unanimously approved an emergency ordinance intended to prevent harassment at reproductive health care facilities.

Before voting, council members heard from Dr. Jessica Hamilton, who works at a Planned Parenthood site in Sacramento.

“One of our nurses told me today that as she was walking into our health center, she was told over a loudspeaker that she is a worse human being than the shooter at [the] Uvalde elementary school who murdered 19 children and two teachers,” Hamilton said. “And she was just coming back from maternity leave.”

Planned Parenthood says aggressive anti-abortion protests have increased by 25% from last year. Councilmember Katie Valenzuela said that will likely surge once the U.S. Supreme Court rules on Roe v. Wade.

The ordinance aims to prevent the obstruction or intimidation of people entering and exiting health care facilities while preserving the fundamental constitutional right of others to assemble peacefully and express opinions.

— CapRadio Staff

Republican state lawmakers call for action on rising gas prices

California Republicans, Democrats and Gov. Gavin Newsom remain at an impasse over how to help residents with soaring gas prices. Republicans want to suspend the state’s gas tax, which stands at just over 51 cents per gallon.

Southern California Assemblymember Suzette Valladares spoke Wednesday at an event at the state Capitol.

“My colleagues and I are here on behalf of millions of struggling families and workers to remind Gov. Newsom that it has been nearly 100 days since he promised he would bring Californians relief from the highest gas prices in the nation," Valladares said.

Democrats and the governor have made their own proposals, which would involve using the state’s budget surplus to make direct payments to drivers. But Republican lawmakers argue it would take too long for people to receive that money.

— CapRadio Staff

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

In other news

  • Man found dead in Bidwell Park, Chico police say: “The Chico Police Department found a deceased man inside of a parked car in the One-Mile Recreation Area parking lot at Lower Bidwell Park, according to a Chico police press release.” — Chico Enterprise-Record
  • Report: New home sales decline in region: “A recent report from the North State Building Industry Association showed a decline of new home sales within the Central Valley through May. Across the Yuba-Sutter area, only 20 new houses were sold last month.” — The Appeal-Democrat
  • Challengers leading in supervisor races: “With both Trinity County supervisorial district seats that are up for election this year having only two candidates each, last Tuesday’s primary will decide the winner without the need for a November runoff.” — The Trinity Journal
  • Children’s day camps: Attend at your own risk: “As summer kicks off, more than a million California children are gearing up for horseback riding, swimming, archery, computer coding, and hip hop day camps. As parents scout out fun activities for their kids, most are likely unaware of the risks.” — CalMatters

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.