President Biden Issues Major Disaster Declaration for Seven Counties
Last week’s Legislative Bulletin reported that Governor Gavin Newsom had requested “a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to bolster the emergency response and recovery” in several California counties suffering the impacts of a series of atmospheric rivers which have hit the state in recent months. On Monday, President Joe Biden responded to the request by declaring “that a major disaster exists in” Kern, Mariposa, Monterey, San Benito, Santa Cruz, Tulare and Tuolumne counties “and ordered Federal aid to supplement State, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by severe winter storms, straight-line winds, flooding, landslides, and mudslides beginning on February 21, 2023, and continuing.” Other counties may later be added to the declaration after damage assessments are completed.
The declaration makes available “grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.” It also provides state and local governments cost-share funding “for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities,” as well as cost-share funds “for hazard mitigation measures statewide.”
In addition to requesting a Presidential major disaster declaration, Governor Newsom in recent weeks has proclaimed a state of emergency to exist in 47 counties and has issued an executive order to support Tulare Lake Basin flood response. Additional details on both actions are available in last week’s Legislative Bulletin.
Whaleback Wolf Pack Responsible for Three More Cattle Kills
On Thursday, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) released five livestock loss determination reports covering investigations of suspected depredation events throughout March. While two investigations found that livestock deaths were not caused by predation, three other incidents of livestock loss were confirmed as wolf kills.
On March 5, ranch personnel found an injured yearling heifer which later had to be euthanized due to the severity of its injuries. Though the incident occurred “about 85 miles outside of the normal Whaleback pack area,” DNA analysis determined that the heifer had been attacked by one yearling and two 11-month-old pups of the Whaleback Pack (males designated WHA07M, WHA11M and WHA13M).
On March 14 and 15, CDFW and Siskiyou County personnel investigated an attack on a 200-pound calf which was injured by wolves and died the next day. On March 16, the agencies investigated a 125-pound calf injured by wolves which also later died. Though neither report specifies which wolf or wolves were responsible for the depredation events, the reports both note that the attacks occurred in the “Whaleback wolf pack area.”
These three incidents are merely the latest in a long string of livestock depredations by the Whaleback Pack; over the past year, the pack has been responsible for more than two-dozen depredation events.
CDFW on Thursday also released the latest quarterly update to its “California’s Known Wolves – Past and Present” document. The update does not appear to include any new details from the first quarter of 2023, and does not reflect CDFW’s recent announcement that it has collared two members of the Whaleback Pack.
BLM Releases Proposed Rule on “Conservation and Landscape Health”
Last week, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) published a Proposed Rule, titled “Conservation and Landscape Health,” which makes significant changes to the agency’s authority under the Federal Land Management and Policy Act (FLPMA). Of concern to CCA, the Proposed Rule would clarify that conservation of land is a “use” within the meaning of FLPMA’s multiple-use mandate and would ramp up identification and designation of Areas of Critical Environmental Concern – both of which could have impacts on permitted grazing. The Proposed Rule may also have a benefit for permittees, though, as it would apply land health standards currently only utilized to evaluate grazing permits to all uses of BLM lands. BLM is accepting comments through June 20; for additional details, see last week’s edition of Legislative Bulletin.
CBCIA + CCA Tour
The California Beef Cattle Improvement Association and the California Cattlemen’s Association Industry Tour is taking place May 16-18. Participants will visit the Central Valley and have the opportunity to tour an array of livestock operations, local agricultural businesses and hear from industry leaders. Limited space is available and spots are on a first come first serve basis. To view the agenda and register for the tour click here.
SWRCB Rescinds Curtailment for Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Watershed, Russian River Watershed; All Other Curtailments Currently Suspended
Last week, Legislative Bulletin reported that the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) had “rescinded all curtailment orders…implementing the drought emergency regulation in the Russian River watershed.”
Last Monday, the SWRCB announced that is has likewise rescinded “all orders imposing water right curtailment and reporting requirements…for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta” watershed. The SWRCB explained that it is terminating the long-standing curtailment orders, which were first implemented on August 20, 2021 in light of Governor Newsom’s recent executive order easing drought restrictions and “in consideration of reservoir storage conditions and continued precipitation throughout the Delta watershed.”
While curtailment orders elsewhere in the state have yet to be rescinded, they nevertheless remain suspended. For instance, curtailments within the Scott River watershed are currently suspended through Friday so long as minimum flows of 150 cubic feet per second (cfs) are maintained at the Fort Jones gage. Shasta River watershed curtailments are suspended through the end of this month so long as minimum flows of 70 cfs are maintained at the Yreka gage. The SWRCB has also suspended its prohibition against “inefficient livestock watering” within the Scott and Shasta River watersheds provided certain conditions are met.
Likewise, curtailments on the Deer Creek and Mill Creek watersheds are currently set to remain in effect until June 30, but are suspended so long as minimum flows of 50 cfs are achieved at their respective confluences with the Sacramento River.