March 13, 2023
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Emergency Proclamation Now Extended to 40 Counties Hit by Severe Winter Weather
Last week, Legislative Bulletin reported that Governor Newsom had proclaimed a state of emergency for 13 counties hard-hit by the ongoing series of severe winter storms. In subsequent proclamations issued Wednesday and yesterday, the Governor extended his state of emergency proclamation to an additional 27 counties: Butte, Calaveras, Del Norte, El Dorado, Fresno, Glenn, Humboldt, Imperial, Inyo, Kings, Lake, Mendocino, Merced, Monterey, Napa, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, San Benito, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Yuba.
The proclamations activate the California National Guard and taps “All agencies of the state government” to assist in disaster response and relief efforts in the 40 counties designated as suffering a state of emergency.
On Friday, in response to a request from Governor Newsom, President Biden approved an Emergency Disaster Declaration for the impacted counties. The Declaration authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency to “to coordinate all disaster relief efforts…and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures” to protect public health and property and to avert the “threat of catastrophe” in those counties.
CCA encourages ranchers to keep records of any cattle lost due to the severe winter storms as well as excess costs associated with providing feed and water to cattle at this time, as state and federal assistance programs may be available to compensate ranchers in affected counties.
Finally, as a reminder, the State has announced that the State’s tax filing deadline has been extended to October 16 for residents of 51 counties previously “affected by severe winter storms, flooding, landslides, and mudslides” during December and January. The move aligns the State with similar extensions announced by the federal Internal Revenue Service.
Governor Newsom Authorizes Diversion of Flood Flows for Groundwater Recharge
Governor Gavin Newsom on Friday issued an executive order suspending certain water rights and wildlife protection statutes to allow for the “diversions of flood flows” to reduce flood risk and accelerate groundwater recharge as the state experiences high flows and flooding from a series of atmospheric rivers. The order permits diversion of flood flows until June 1, though any diversions must “cease when the flood conditions have abated to the point there is no longer a risk of flooding and inundation of land, roads, or structures downstream of the point of diversion” (as determined by a flood control agency, city or county).
Under the Executive Order, flood flows may not be diverted for use on “dairy land application areas,” any agricultural lands upon which pesticides have been applied in the past 30 days or “any area that has not been in active irrigated agricultural cultivation within the past three years, including grazing lands, annual grasslands, and natural habitats.” Irrigated pastures are thus likely eligible to divert flood flows so long as all applicable requirements in Section 3 of the order are met, including required reports to the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) and applicable Groundwater Sustainability Agency (which will be made available for public inspection). The use of water diverted under the Executive Order is limited in use to the purpose of groundwater recharge.
To streamline groundwater recharge and flood protection, the Executive Order temporarily suspends the application of provisions of the Fish & Game Code relating to fish and wildlife conservation (including lake and streambed alteration agreement provisions), the California Environmental Quality Act and provisions of the Water Code relating to appropriations of water (though the order leaves in effect a statute clarifying that diversion pursuant to the E.O. create no new water rights).
For additional information, see the announcement on Governor Newsom’s website. In related news, the SWRCB on Wednesday approved a petition by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation allowing the federal agency to divert more than 600,000 acres of floodwaters from the San Joaquin River for purposes including underground storage and recharge.
Whaleback Wolf Pack Responsible for at Least Six More Cattle Kills
On Friday, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) released 11 livestock loss determination reports detailing suspected wolf attacks within or near the range of Siskiyou County’s Whaleback Pack. The newly-reported attacks were investigated between January 8 and February 15. Among the reports were five confirmed depredation events in which wolves killed a total of six cattle. Two other investigations found calf kills to be “possible” or “probable” attacks by the Whaleback Pack.
On January 8, a 650-pound calf was confirmed to have been killed by a wolf with DNA “consistent with the Whaleback Pack” 17 miles outside of the pack’s “normal area.” The next day another 650-pound calf was confirmed to have been killed by the Whaleback Pack in the same area. Whaleback Pack DNA was linked to a confirmed kill even further outside the pack’s territory on January 19, when an adult cow was killed after being chased by six wolves 27 miles outside the pack’s normal range. Within the Whaleback Pack’s territory, two calves were killed by wolves on January 15 and another on February 10.
An investigation on January 22 of a 90-pound calf carcass found within the Whaleback Pack area was hindered by the fact that “not enough carcass remained to make a…determination” of the species which killed the animal; a finding that the kill was a “Possible Wolf” depredation resulted in part from the presence of a wolf track “in the general vicinity of the carcass.” A February 5 report labeled the killing of a 150-pound calf a “Probable Wolf” depredation – despite a night watchman witnessing two wolves leaving the pasture on the night the calf was killed, the carcass was too fully consumed to permit a thorough investigation.
In the past year, the Whaleback Pack has been identified as the cause of 26 livestock depredations across 24 incidents, with many more suspected kills reported to CDFW.
SWRCB Extends Curtailment Suspensions, Prepares to Suspend Inefficient Livestock Watering Prohibitions in Scott and Shasta Watersheds Due to Expected High Flows
On Tuesday the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) announced via email that all water rights curtailments within the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed remain suspended. While the announcement did not detail a projected end date for the suspensions, the SWRCB has stated that “Notice of any reimposed curtailments will be provided by email and web posting at least 48 hours prior to going into effect.” Water rights holders within the Delta watershed are encouraged to monitor the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Watershed Drought & Curtailment Information Webpage for further updates.
The SWRCB on Tuesday also announced that curtailments within the Scott River watershed remain suspended through midnight tomorrow, March 14, so long as flows of 200 cubic feet per second (cfs) are maintained at the Fort Jones gage; if flows dip below 200cfs, diversion under all water rights listed in Addendum 44 must immediately cease.
On Friday, the SWRCB issued a reminder that “diverters in the Scott River and Shasta River watersheds [have] the opportunity to divert additional water for livestock during high flows,” which are anticipated this week. The SWRCB has for month imposed a prohibition on “inefficient livestock watering,” which for range cattle is defined as anything in excess of 150 gallons per head per day as measured from the point of diversion.
Water rightsholders may divert livestock water without complying with the SWRCB’s efficiency requirements under the following conditions:
- Minimum flows of 500 cubic feet per second (cfs) are maintained at the Fort Jones gage for Scott River watershed diversions, or of 220 cfs at the Yreka gage for Shasta River watershed diversions (note: that as of press time, neither gage was yet reporting sufficient flow volume to permit bypassing the inefficient livestock watering prohibition);
- Diverters first notify the SWRCB of their intent to divert by emailing ScottShastaDrought@waterboards.ca.gov, including details of the water right, point of diversion, anticipated amount of water to be diverted and the diverter’s contact information;
- Diversion is of no more than 20% of the instream flow; and
- Diverters allow the SWRCB and Department of Fish and Wildlife to access and inspect the point of diversion and surrounding area.
For further details, review the Scott River and Shasta River Watersheds Drought Response webpage.
Water rights curtailment suspensions and conditional curtailments for the Shasta River, Russian River, Deer Creek and Mill Creek watersheds remain unchanged from the statuses reported in the January 30 edition of Legislative Bulletin.
Severe Winter Storm Assistance
Given the current weather conditions affecting Humboldt County agricultural producers, it is possible that funding from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (USDA FSA) may become available to provide assistance for losses incurred by livestock death, feed loss, and additional feed costs. While Humboldt County Sheriff Honsal has declared a disaster for the county, the Humboldt County Ag Commissioner and UC Cooperative Extension service are working to provide supporting documentation to encourage USDA support. To further this effort, UCCE is requesting that Humboldt County producers fill out this informational loss survey.
Please take note that the FSA’s Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) sing-up period is February 13 – April 14, 2023. Producers can call, email, or stop by the Ag Center at Spruce Point to speak with the FSA’s Dolores Mayorga to initiate the process. Dolores can be contacted at (707) 832-5577 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Producers are ecourged to begin the application process even if they do not know the full extent of their losses. While the deadline is April 14, producers are also ecnopurged to submit notices of loss with the FSA even after the deadline passes. It is important that your operation keeps detailed records as you work through these events. Here are some things to keep in mind to be prepared for any potential FSA funding that may become available:
- Keep a detailed “before and after” inventory of cattle.
- Record and take pictures of any dead cattle including calves. (Take note of animal class (e.g. cows/calves/bulls) if able to identify)
- Record and take pictures of damaged agriculture infrastructure (pipes, fences, cattleguards, water tanks etc.).
- Record and take pictures of normal forage areas covered by snow.
- Keep records of any additional feed purchased beyond normal amounts due to the weather conditions.
New Episode of Stories from California Cattle Country
Stories from California Cattle Country, “Ranching on the Pt. Reyes National Seashore with Kevin Lunny” is out now. To listen to the episode, click here. Stories from California Cattle Country is produced by The California Cattlemen’s Foundation with support from the California Cattle Council. If you want a glimpse into our travels, follow the podcast’s Instagram account @calcattlecountry.
Upcoming CCA Events
May 24 – 26, San Diego, CA, Marriott Marquis
Registration for the California Cattlemen’s Association Feeder Council and Arizona Cattle Feeders Association Meeting is now open. To Register click here.
The California Cattlemen’s Association room block at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina is now open! To make your reservation, click here or call (877) 622-3056 and mention “CCA Annual Feeder Meeting 2023.”
Upcoming Industry Events
Cattle Health Online Webinar Series
March 1 – March 29, 2023, 5:30 – 7:00pm, Virtual
UC Cooperative Extension and UC Davis Veterinary Medicine are hosting the Cattle Health Online Webinar Series. Webinars will be held Wednesday evenings in March from 5:30-7:00pm. Sessions cover topics important to cattle health and management.
3/15 – Mystery of Calf Abortions
3/22 – Bugging Beef – Internal Parasites
3/29 – Bugging Beef – External Parasites
The event is FREE to participate. To register for the webinars click here.
For questions or assistance please contact Tracy Schohr, UC Cooperative Extension Livestock and Natural Resources Advisor for Plumas, Sierra and Butte Counties at email@example.com or 916-716-2643 (text or call).
Video recordings and additional resources from previous webinars can be found at https://ucanr.edu/sites/Rangelands/CattleHealth/.
NCBA Producer Education Webinar Series
March 16 – March 30, 7:00pm (Central), Virtual
3/16 – What Does the Drought Really Cost You? To register, click here.
3/30 – New Vaccine Technologies: An Addition to Our Animal Health Toolbox. To register, click here.
To view previous webinars click here.
UC Davis Bovine Artificial Insemination Clinic
March 27-29, 2023, Davis, CA, In Person
The UC Davis Young Cattlemen’s Association will host a Bovine Artificial Insemination Clinic March 27-29 at the UC Davis Feedlot and Beef Barn. Veterinarians from the UC Davis School of Medicine will teach the clinic. The cost for non YCA members is $425 and $375 for YCA Members. For more information and to register contact Davisyoungcattlemens@gmail.com.
CCA in the News
Cows stranded by snow are starving to death. The plan to save them: Drop hay from the sky San Francisco Chronicle “With a little bit of snow, you don’t worry too much,” said Jack Rice, a rancher in Fortuna who works with the California Cattlemen’s Association.” To continue reading, click here.
‘A foundation of racism’: California’s antiquated water rights system faces new scrutiny The Los Angeles Times “Bauer-Kahan has introduced a bill that she says would help the State Water Board effectively enforce water rights and curb illegal water diversions. The legislation, AB 460, would authorize the board to issue larger fines of up to $10,000 per day for violations, plus additional amounts for water illegally diverted. Other recently introduced bills would expand the State Water Board’s enforcement authority or its authority to investigate whether water is being legally diverted under a valid right.” To continue reading, click here.
Helicopters air-drop hay in bid to save thousands of California cattle starving in the snow The Los Angeles Times “Lauren Sizemore, a rancher in Kneeland, Calif., knew a storm was coming but had no warning that it would be so big. Her ranch is home to about 300 cattle that have been trapped by historic snowfall, unable to access food.” To continue reading, click here.
Wild weather driven by roiling Pacific, nature and warming Associated Press “In a world getting used to extreme weather, 2023 is starting out more bonkers than ever and meteorologists are saying it’s natural weather weirdness with a bit of help from human-caused climate change.” To continue reading, click here.
A New episode of Sorting Pen: The California Cattleman Podcast is out now. CCA Vice President of Government Affairs Kirk Wilbur joins Katie for the first legislative update of the year. To listen to the episode click here.