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August 2, 2021

UPDATED: SWRCB Considers Curtailing Pre-1914 Rights in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Watershed
On Friday, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) issued an updated notice signaling its intent to consider a drought emergency regulation for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed, which it will consider at a Board hearing tomorrow. The revised text for the proposed regulation is available here.

The SWRCB held a staff workshop on this proposed regulation last Tuesday. The workshop presentation is available here. More information regarding curtailment orders is available on the SWRCB’s drought webpage.

The emergency regulation would allow the SWRCB to issue curtailment orders to pre-1914 water rights holders in the Delta watershed to protect water supplies necessary to meet human health and safety needs, preserve stored water needed to prevent salinity from the ocean from intruding into the Delta and to minimize impacts to fish and wildlife. The regulation would curtail all pre-1914 appropriative water rights in the San Joaquin River watershed and would affect diverters in the Sacramento River watershed with a priority date of 1883 or later (though some water rights with earlier priority dates may also be curtailed within certain Sacramento River tributaries).

The proposed regulation covers around 5,000 users in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta area, with exemptions only for human health and safety and non-consumptive uses. This is the newest in a slew of emergency diversion curtailments, with the last being released just over a week ago regarding the Scott/Shasta River watersheds. Notably, this is the second proposed emergency regulation curtailing diversions from the Delta: In June the SWRCB issued a notice of unavailability for all post-1914 water rights in the Delta.

Under the emergency regulation, all water right-holders issued a curtailment order are required, within seven calendar days of the date of the curtailment order, to submit under penalty of perjury a certification of one or more actions taken in response to the curtailment order.

While rightsholders will be mailed any curtailments issued under the emergency regulation, within the draft emergency regulation it does state that water right-holders and claimants in the Delta watershed must either subscribe to the Delta Drought email distribution list, or frequently check the SWRCB’s drought webpage to receive updated information regarding water diversion curtailment and reporting orders and water unavailability. A list of water rights for which water would be unavailable under the emergency regulation can be found here.
It should be noted that curtailment orders do not implicate water already diverted to storage in stock ponds and other reservoirs. The SWRCB has clarified that “curtailment of water rights does not limit the use of water previously stored in a pond or reservoir. Therefore, uses of previously stored water authorized by a permit, license, registration or certificate can continue.” However, the proposed regulation does authorize the SWRCB to require reporting of prior diversions, including diversion to storage.

CCA will continue to keep members apprised of further developments related to the drought and water curtailment orders.

SWRCB Orders Additional Curtailments for the Russian River Watershed
As previously reported in Legislative Bulletin, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) in June approved a Resolution and Emergency Regulation which established a framework for curtailing pre-1914 and riparian water rights in the Russian River watershed.

That Emergency Regulation tied water curtailments to storage levels in Lake Mendocino. For instance, the Emergency Regulation authorized the SWRCB to issue curtailment orders for the Upper Russian River watershed if Lake Mendocino’s water storage fell below 26,109 acre-feet prior to August 1 (yesterday).

On Friday, the SWRCB announced that “Storage levels in Lake Mendocino have fallen below the August 1, 2021, storage threshold.” Accordingly, today the SWRCB announced that it is issuing curtailment orders to all 861 water right holders in the Upper Russian River watershed.

The curtailment orders require rightholders to submit an Online Curtailment Certification Form within seven days of the issuance of the orders (August 9). Rightholders’ login and password information will appear atop the curtailment order issued by the SWRCB; the Curtailment Certification Form can be completed here.

According to the SWRCB’s announcement, the agency has “also released an analysis of the Lower Russian River demonstrating that approximately 222 right holders need to be curtailed to meet demands on the river. The board anticipates issuing orders to these right holders next week.”

CCA will continue to keep members apprised of drought developments, including curtailment orders on the Russian River and elsewhere.

Governor Declares Wildfire Emergency in Alpine, Butte, Lassen and Plumas Counties
On July 23, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a proclamation declaring a state of emergency in Plumas County due to the Dixie and Fly fires, in Butte and Lassen counties due to the Dixie Fire and in Alpine County due to the Tamarack Fire.

According to a press release issued by the Governor’s office, the state of emergency is necessary because “The fires collectively have destroyed homes, caused the evacuation of residents and damaged critical infrastructure, with the Dixie Fire alone having burned 142,940 acres.” The emergency declaration provides impacted counties with greater access to state resources to combat the blazes

The designations come on the heels of a similar emergency proclamation issued by the Governor on July 16 declaring a state of emergency in Siskiyou County due to the Lava Fire and in Lassen and Plumas counties due to the Beckwourth Complex Fire.

CCA will continue to keep membership informed about state and federal responses to wildfires within the state. Additional information about these and other wildfire incidents can be found via Cal Fire and InciWeb.

Receive Updates in Your Inbox from the California Cattle Council
The California Cattle Council has launched a new monthly email to keep all cattle producers and interested subscribers updated. Anyone is able to sign up for the newsletter by visiting calcattlecouncil.org and subscribing in the popup form. The monthly emails will focus on highlighting recent investments the Council has made as well as hearing an update from a producer board member each month. Sign up today to make sure you’re on the mailing list before the August edition of the newsletter goes out later this week!

PLC Introduces Emergency and Disaster Tool Dashboard
Last last month, CCA affiliate the Public Lands Council (PLC) unveiled a new Emergency and Disaster Tool Dashboard. According to PLC, the dashboard was developed “In response to persistent drought conditions and pervasive wildfire conditions across the West,” and “outlines federal disaster and emergency programs available to producers who need assistance.”

The dashboard also includes some non-federal assistance programs, such as programs established by certain western states and information regarding the Internet Hay Exchange.

While not as extensive as PLC’s dashboard, the CCA website also provides details about federal wildfire disaster assistance available for ranchers. Additionally, a recording of a CCA-sponsored webinar held last November regarding Post-Fire Relief and Recovery Programs for Ranchers can be viewed here.

Webinar: Grazing on public lands: what are the true costs?
Last year, CCA communicated about working closely with researchers at the University of Wyoming (UW) to analyze the non-fee costs of grazing livestock on public lands. The research was funded by CCA-affiliate the Public Lands Council (PLC).

PLC is now hosting a webinar this Wednesday, August 4th at 5 p.m. PST to highlight this research work that was conducted by Kasey Dollerschell. PLC says Dollerschell’s research “is vital to the understanding of the investments made by permittees that go far beyond the federal grazing permit rate.”

This webinar is free, but please register in advance by clicking here. To learn more about the webinar click here.

USDA Soliciting Public Input on Meat Processing Infrastructure
As previously detailed in Legislative Bulletin, President Joe Biden’s July 9 Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy and a subsequent U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) press release announcing the agency’s intention “to make significant investments to expand processing capacity and increase competition in meat and poultry processing to make agricultural markets more accessible, fair, competitive, and resilient for American farmers and ranchers.” USDA’s announcement included a commitment of “$500 million in American Rescue Plan funds to expand meat and poultry processing capacity.”

Now, USDA is soliciting public feedback on how it should invest those $500 million in funds. On July 16, the agency filed a request for public comment in the Federal Register “seeking input from the public on how to invest an estimated $500 million of American Rescue Plan funds to improve infrastructure, increase capacity, and hasten diversification across the processing industry.”

The request for public feedback poses several specific questions within six broad categories: (1) general considerations, (2) fair treatment of farmers & workers and ownership considerations, (3) loans and other financing considerations, (4) grant considerations, (5) technical assistance considerations and (6) partnerships and combined funding considerations.

Comments are due to USDA no later than August 30, and can be submitted here by clicking “Comment” in the upper left hand section of the page.

Finally, USDA will be scheduling a series of stakeholder meetings on this topic; CCA will keep members apprised of those meeting times as information becomes available.

Upcoming CCA Events

Feeder Meeting
August 18-20, San Diego
Registration is now open! Click here to learn more and register!

Midyear Meeting + Cattle PAC Fundraiser
August 25-26, Paso Robles
This year’s meeting will be held at the Paso Robles Inn and a Cattle-PAC fundraiser will take place at the Mid State Fairgrounds on the evening of August 25. To learn more, see the tentative schedule and register click here.

Learn more about the importance of supporting Cattle-PAC and see a handful of the auction items being offered (spoiler: there are football tickets, a puppy and more) on August 26 by clicking here.

Understanding California Law & Regulations Regarding Prescribed Burns & Utilizing Controlled Burns to Reduce Fire Fuel and Lessen Wildlife Risk Workshop
August 26, Paso Robles
Join us on the Central Coast for a free workshop in our series on Wildfire Preparedness: Assisting Ranchers with Wildfire Risk Minimization, Wildfire Response, and Post-Fire Recovery. This workshop is free and open to anyone interested. More details will be available here in the coming weeks. This material is based upon work supported by USDA/NIFA under Award Number 2018-70027-28587.

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Upcoming Industry Events

California State Adaptation Strategy Extreme Heat Workshop Series: Public Awareness, Early Warning, Emergency Response, and Community Service

August 19, 4-6PM, Virtual
“The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research and the California Natural Resources Agency will be hosting two upcoming Extreme Heat Workshops on July 27th and August 19th from 4-6 PM,” according to the California Natural Resources Agency’s website. “At these workshops, the state will be asking for your input and expertise to ensure California takes the actions necessary towards mitigating and building resilience to the impacts of extreme heat events across built, natural, and social systems.” The first workshop was held on July 27. Learn more about the workshops here.

Sustainable management of California’s fire-prone landscapes: grazing for community resilience workshops
August 5 and 12, 10AM, Virtual
“The Range Management Advisory Committee, an advisory body to the California Natural Resources Agency under the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection is co-hosting a virtual workshop with the California Fire Science Consortium to discuss the use of prescribed livestock grazing as a tool to support sustainable fuel reduction and environmental management in multi-use landscapes,” according to the event post on the California Fire Science Consortium’s website. “This year will focus on the ins and outs of contract grazing on public and private lands in the wildland-urban interface and other at-risk communities.” For the two remaining workshops, see the speakers, proposed schedule and information on registering here.

Public Lands Council Annual Meeting

September 8-10, Seaside, Oregon (and virtually)
CCA affiliate the Public Lands Council (PLC) is accepting registrations for its 53rd Annual Meeting in Seaside, Oregon, to be held September 8-10. According to an announcement from PLC, it “is the only national organization dedicated solely to representing the interests and perspectives of cattle and sheep producers who utilize federal lands and grazing permits as part of their operations. Each year, the PLC Annual Meeting brings these producers together, and provides a forum for them to discuss current issues and emerging opportunities with federal agencies, industry partners, and Congressional leadership. This year’s conference combines policy priorities with fun in the sun as attendees craft policy solutions that will shape the future of the industry.”

In addition to an in-person registration, PLC is once again offering a virtual registration for its Annual Conference. Registration options and pricing are available here. An agenda, as well as information about accommodations and travel to Seaside, Oregon can be found here.

CCA in the News

‘Liquidation of cows.’ How the drought creates chaos on California ranches, dairy farms The Sacramento Bee “‘It’s pretty much statewide,’ said Tony Toso, a Mariposa County beef rancher and president of the California Cattlemen’s Association. ‘My goodness, there’s pastures out there that just look like moonscape.’” To continue reading, click here.

California Wolf Reintroduction – Communication with Ranchers a Key to Success Sierra Nevada Ally “‘If you’re someone who prides yourself on the proper care of your animals only to see that animal suffering or its herdmates suffer from the stress that nearby wolf activity can cause, that is likely going to be very emotionally draining as a beef producer,’ said Kirk Wilbur, director of government affairs for California Cattlemen’s Association.” To continue reading, click here.

California may curtail pre-1914 water rights Western Farm Press “The regulation would curtail all pre-1914 appropriative water rights in the San Joaquin River watershed, and would affect diverters in the Sacramento River watershed with a priority date of 1883 or later, the California Cattlemen’s Association explained in a bulletin to members. Some water rights with earlier priority dates may also be curtailed within certain Sacramento River tributaries, according to the CCA.” To continue reading, click here.

Industry News

California says federal ‘let it burn’ policy is reckless as wildfires rage out of control Los Angeles Times “Volunteer fire chief Kathy Catron wants answers about why the Sugar fire ever grew large enough to burn her town, why it wasn’t put out before it exploded and turned uncontrollable.” To continue reading, click here.

Gavin Newsom asks Biden for more ‘boots on the ground’ in fighting California wildfires The Sacramento Bee “California Gov. Gavin Newsom pleaded with President Joe Biden for more federal support in combating forest fires Friday during a virtual White House meeting with Western governors.” To continue reading, click here.

Will Delta water users sue — again — to stop California’s drought rules? CalMatters “Drought-plagued California is poised to bar thousands of farmers, landowners and others from pumping water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed, a move that irrigation districts said exceeds the water board’s authority.” To continue reading, click here.

Randy Moore starts as chief of U.S. Forest Service, the first Black man in the role Colorado Politics “Randy Moore, 66, took command as Chief of the United States Forest Service on Monday, replacing Vicki Christiansen, who had served in the role since 2018. Christiansen is retiring after 40 years in forestry and wildland fire management.” To continue reading, click here.

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