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Cal Fire fumbles fire prevention | Dixie Fire debris removal | California abortion legislation

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The latest North State and California news on our airwaves for Wednesday, June 22.

Investigation: Cal Fire falls short on fire prevention, forest management

A monthslong investigation from The California Newsroom, a public media collaboration, found Cal Fire has fumbled key responsibilities when it comes to managing forests and preventing catastrophic fires.

Cal Fire has failed to implement certain laws. It’s struggled to track wildfire prevention projects, like brush clearing and prescribed burning. And its workforce to do these projects has stagnated.

Those were just some of the findings.

Cal Fire’s new chief, Joe Tyler, said the department is making progress on improving forest health but acknowledges there’s a need to rebalance the department’s priorities.

“Yes, I have to change some of the historic culture within Cal Fire to continue our investment not only in suppression, but also in prevention,” Tyler said.

But the clock is ticking, as California stares down what could be another devastating wildfire season.

Read the full story or hear an interview with one of the reporters who investigated Cal Fire in today’s Headlines. 

— CapRadio Staff

Dixie Fire debris removal on track to end in July, official says

Following last year’s Dixie and Beckwourth fires, state officials say their debris-removal project in Plumas County is on track to meet a completion deadline next month.

Kelsie McInnis is with the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. At a Dixie Fire Collaborative meeting Saturday, she said fewer than a dozen properties remain to be cleared of structural debris.

“While there are still some final applications and things that need to occur on the properties before we wrap up the work entirely, we are on track for our project to be wrapped up by the end of July,” McInnis said.

Some of the remaining work includes soil sampling and erosion control.

Six hundred eighty-six properties in Plumas County are enrolled in the state’s debris-removal program. Five hundred seventy-five properties or 67% have been cleared to be returned to property owners.

— Andre Byik, NSPR

California lawmakers approve bill to make constitutional change guaranteeing right to abortion, contraception

As the country waits for a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court in a case out of Mississippi that could overturn Roe v. Wade, California lawmakers are pushing forward with their own legislation to protect reproductive rights.

The state Senate approved an amendment to the state constitution Monday that would guarantee the right to an abortion and contraception in California.

Democratic state Sen. Connie Leyva spoke in favor of the proposal on the Senate floor.

“Not only should a woman have the right to choose and have an abortion if she so wishes. Birth control it is shocking to me that there are people who say ‘you can’t have an abortion, oh but you know what you also can’t have birth control,’” she said.

Republican state Sen. Melissa Melendez voted against the amendment.

“Under no circumstances that I can possibly imagine is abortion going to be in peril in California no matter what the Supreme Court decides,” she said.

The amendment now moves to the state Assembly, where it must be approved by June 30 to make it on the November ballot.

— Keith Mizuguchi (KQED), The California Report 

Legislation targets catalytic converter thefts

The state Assembly Transportation Committee has passed a bill aimed at fighting catalytic converter theft in California. It requires car dealers to apply a vehicle identification number (VIN) to an automobile's exhaust emission control device.

“The reason that catalytic converter theft has exploded is because this crime pays a lot of money and there's virtually no risk to doing it,” said Alex Karkanen, a deputy district attorney with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, who supports the bill.

The California New Car Dealers Association is opposed to the bill, saying it would cost too much money to permanently mark each car's catalytic converter. The bill's authors say they're working with opponents to come to a compromise.

The measure now advances to the Public Safety Committee.

CapRadio Staff

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

In other news

  • Work continues on 70, no time estimate yet for reopening: “Highway 70 remains closed to through traffic between Jarbo Gap and the Greenville Wye. Access for local residents and businesses is allowed from both sides of the closure but there is no access through the affected area.” — 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.