UPDATE: Midterm Election Results Come into Focus
Nearly three weeks after Election Day, final results have become clear in all but a few hotly-contested races. (To review previously-reported election results from CCA, see here and here.)
Democrats are currently projected to hold at least 31 seats in the 40-seat State Senate – the same number the party held prior to the election. In the Dem-on-Dem race for SD 8, the more moderate Angelique Ashby was leading Dave Jones by 5,488 votes as of late last week. In SD 16, Democrat Melissa Hurtado trailed Republican David Shepard by a mere 373 votes, significantly narrowing the gulf reported in last week’s Legislative Bulletin.
A handful of races remain uncalled in the State Assembly, though Democrats appear poised to moderately expand their existing supermajority in that chamber.
On Tuesday, incumbent Republican David Valadao was declared the victor over Democrat Rudy Salas in CA-22. The balance of power in the House of Representatives currently sits at 221-213 in favor of Republicans, with only the race for California’s 13th Congressional District remaining outstanding. In that race, Republican John Duarte led Democrat Adam Gary by 593 votes as of late last week.
While Democrats will retain control of the Senate with at least 50 seats, a December 6 runoff election will determine whether Georgia Democrat Raphael Warnock keeps his seat or whether it flips to Republican Herschel Walker; early voting in that election began this weekend.
CCA will continue to keep members apprised as election results are finalized.
CDFW Issues Quarterly Wolf News Update, Considers Pay for Presence Program
Last Monday, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CFDW) announced the release of its “Quarterly Wolf News” update for the period of July through September.
According to the update, there were approximately 30 known wolves in California during the quarter across three known wolf packs. The Lassen Pack in Lassen and Plumas counties currently sits at a minimum of 12 wolves, including two adults, five yearlings and five pups. The Whaleback Pack of Siskiyou County has at least 15 wolves, including two adults, five yearlings and eight pups. CDFW appears to know little about the Beckwourth Pack in Plumas and Sierra counties, writing that the pack includes “a minimum of two to three wolves, with some smaller tracks indicating [a] possible pup.” Indeed, CDFW is uncertain whether its most recent detections “are from the Beckwourth pack or a new pack.”
No wolf in the state is currently fitted with a functioning GPS collar. On August 19, the collar fitted to the breeding female of the Lassen Pack ceased operation, and efforts over 60 days this summer were unsuccessful in trapping and collaring any other Lassen Pack wolves. CDFW says that the breeding male of the Whaleback Pack, OR85, still has a “functioning” collar, but that “The satellite/GPS component of OR85’s collar was no longer functioning as of June 14” (presumably meaning that the mortality signal or some other functionality of the collar still works). Ten days of efforts to collar a Whaleback Pack wolf during September proved unsuccessful.
As has previously reported in Legislative Bulletin, the Whaleback Pack was responsible for four confirmed depredations throughout the quarter.
CDFW has developed a Wolf Livestock Loss Compensation Grant Program through which ranchers can seek compensation for livestock lost to depredation after September 23, 2021 or for costs associated with implementing non-lethal wolf deterrents. Earlier this month, CDFW held a Wolf-Livestock Stakeholder Meeting in Redding to take feedback on its Compensation Grant Program, particularly its draft proposal for a “pay for presence” program; CCA was well-represented at that meeting by CCA staff, several members of CCA’s Wolf Policy Subcommittee and numerous ranchers. CCA will alert members when the pay for presence grants are made available for application.
SWRCB Updates Curtailment Statuses for Multiple Watersheds
On Tuesday, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) announced that due to forecasted precipitation all previously-issued curtailments within the Russian River Watershed will remain suspended – meaning water rightsholders may currently divert water in accordance with their water rights – through at least next Monday, December 5. For more information, see the SWRCB’s Russian River Drought Response Webpage.
The SWRCB on Tuesday also issued curtailment updates for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Watershed. While there are no watershed-wide curtailments currently in effect, several tributaries of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers remain curtailed. Specifically, within the Sacramento River watershed, curtailments are in effect for appropriative water rights within the Cache Creek subwatershed with a priority date of 1856 or later, within the Stony Creek subwatershed with a priority date of 1930 or later, within the Bear River subwatershed with a priority date of 1942 or later, within the Putah Creek subwatershed with a priority date of 1945 or later and within the Yuba River subwatershed with a priority date of 1961 or later.
Within the San Joaquin River watershed, curtailments are in effect for appropriative water rights in the Fresno River subwatershed with a priority date of 1914 or later and within the Chowchilla River subwatershed with a priority date of 1959 or later.
The SWRCB will update its curtailment statuses for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Watershed tomorrow, and diverters within the region are encouraged to review the Delta Watershed Curtailment Status List after that time for the most up-to-date information.
Previously-reported curtailments on the Scott River, Shasta River, Mill Creek and Deer Creek watersheds remain in effect. For more information, see the Scott River and Shasta River Watersheds Drought Response webpage and the Mill Creek and Deer Creek Drought Response webpage.
CCA will continue to keep members informed regarding the latest curtailment statuses; for more information, contact the CCA office.
New episode of Sorting Pen: The California Cattleman Podcast
Before ending his term as CCA President, Tony Toso comes on the podcast to talk about his two years leading the Association. Hear about some of his favorite wins and parts of his presidency. Later in the episode we talk about what he’s seeing as far as water availability throughout the state as an ag appraiser. Click here to listen.
LAST CHANCE: USFS Seeking Permittee “Range Futuring” Feedback by Wednesday
The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is undertaking a strategic planning effort the agency dubs “Range Futuring,” seeking input from stakeholders such as grazing permittees to understand what the agency is doing right, what “isn’t working so well and what might be working OK now but might not work so well in the future.” Permittees are encouraged to submit feedback via the online Forest Service Rangeland Management Permittee Questionnaire by this Wednesday, November 30. USFS has also announced that it will host a webinar on December 13 at 9:00am Pacific to solicit feedback on its Range Futuring efforts. For more information or to register for that webinar, click here.
CARB Releases Final Draft of 2022 Scoping Plan
Earlier this month, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) released the final draft of its 2022 Scoping Plan for Achieving Carbon Neutrality. The document lays out a vision of strategies the State could employ to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045. The Scoping Plan takes an inconsistent approach to livestock grazing, arguing that the State should “Accelerate demand for dairy and livestock product substitutes such as plant-based or cell-cultured” products to diminish livestock methane emissions while simultaneously calling for “prescribed grazing…to support soil carbon sequestration” and utilizing “livestock to consume vegetation to reduce fuel loads…in forests, grasslands, and shrublands.” CARB will consider adopting the 2022 Scoping Plan at its December 15 meeting. For additional details, see last week’s edition of Legislative Bulletin.