Monday, 15 July 2024

Regional

A Humboldt County Superior Court judge approved a settlement that requires a cannabis cultivator to pay $1.75 million for building and diverting water from illegal onstream reservoirs without first obtaining permits required by the California Water Boards and California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The settlement, which was reached after a lengthy investigation, resolves violations by Joshua Sweet and his companies, The Hills LLC and Shadow Light Ranch LLC, that include: the owner’s destruction of wetland habitat and stream channels; conversion of oak woodland to grow cannabis; and failure to work with the State Water Resources Control Board, North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board and CDFW to satisfy permitting requirements.

If Sweet completes restoration of the damaged property by 2026, $1 million of the penalty will be suspended.

This work includes the removal of three unauthorized reservoirs and the rehabilitation of stream channels and damaged wetlands.

“It is critical for all cannabis cultivators to be environmentally responsible and protect California’s water supply and water quality,” said Taro Murano, program manager for the State Water Board’s Division of Water Rights cannabis enforcement section. “Sweet chose to operate his business while ignoring regulations designed to protect the environment. He must now remediate the environmental damage he caused and pay a significant penalty. No one should get a business advantage by ignoring the law and harming the environment.”

“This case represents years of hard work by dedicated staff to remediate damage to streambed channels, wetland habitat and oak woodlands,” said Nathaniel Arnold, acting chief of law enforcement for CDFW. “The settlement also speaks volumes to the egregious nature of this case and should send a strong message to those working outside of state regulations to cultivate cannabis. Our natural resources deserve to be respected.”

According to the settlement, Sweet must pay $500,000 to the Division of Water Rights, $175,000 to the North Coast Water Board, and $75,000 to CDFW over five years. Additionally, he is required to obtain all the necessary permits, cease unauthorized water diversions and use of water, restrict future property development and comply with all applicable regulations.

More information on cannabis enforcement is available on the State Water Board and CDFW websites.

The State Water Board’s mission is to preserve, enhance and restore the quality of California’s water resources and drinking water for the protection of the environment, public health and all beneficial uses, and to ensure proper water allocation for present and future generations.

CDFW's mission is to manage California's diverse fish, wildlife, and plant resources, and the habitats upon which they depend, for their ecological values and their use and enjoyment by the public.

The North Coast region stretches from the Oregon border to Marin County and is characterized by remote wilderness and towering redwoods. The area accounts for 12% of the state’s land area and 35% of its freshwater runoff. Timber harvesting, agriculture, recreation and tourism are mainstays of the local economy.

The Humboldt County Coroner’s Office has positively identified human remains discovered in the area of the Manila Dunes on Jan. 5 as that of 56-year-old Pete William Dibean of Manila, California.

Dibean was living in a well-established makeshift metal structure in a homeless encampment at the dunes.

On Jan. 5, at about 4:52 p.m., the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Communications Center received a call regarding human remains in the area of the Manila Dunes homeless encampment. Humboldt County Sheriff’s deputies and a deputy coroner responded to the scene and recovered the remains.

An autopsy was conducted on Jan. 10 and the manner of death was determined to be a homicide.

This case is currently under investigation by the Sheriff’s Major Crimes Division.

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office extends our deepest sympathies to Pete Dibean’s family and friends during this difficult time.

This is an active investigation, and the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office thanked those that have come forward with information relating to this case.

The agency encourages others that may have any information about this homicide to call the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Anonymous Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.

Caltrans is reminding motorists to plan for extra travel time and remember safe driving tips for foggy conditions this holiday season.

Throughout the fall, winter and early spring, the Central Valley often finds itself shrouded in thick ground fog, better known as tule fog, which emerges after rains saturate the soil.

Foggy conditions can form along the Sierra Nevada within mountain valleys in a similar fashion. At the higher peaks, fog can also form when moist winds blow toward a mountain and cause the air to rise and cool.

Nearly three in four fog-related traffic collisions are connected to motorists driving too fast, statistics indicate. These collisions also result in the highest fatality rates.

To help motorists navigate safely through foggy conditions, Caltrans offers these driving tips:

• Reduce your speed to ensure a safe stopping distance.
• Drive with headlights on low beam. Never drive with only the parking lights or fog lights on and avoid using high beams in fog.
• Use extra caution when crossing traffic or busy intersections, especially in dense fog. Lower your window and listen for traffic you can't see.
• Use windshield wipers and your defroster to improve visibility.
• Be patient and don't pass long lines of traffic.
• Use the “fog line” on your right shoulder as a guide.
• Avoid stopping along the freeway or highway shoulders.
• When looking to exit, the solid white line on the shoulder will veer to the right, breaks for a few feet, and then resumes along the ramp. Also, highways prone to fog will have markers that follow a 3-2-1 dot countdown pattern to let motorists know there is an exit ahead. On the right shoulder, drivers will see three reflective markers 2,100 feet before the exit, two markers at 1,400 feet and one marker at 700 feet.

Caltrans District 3 is responsible for maintaining and operating 4,385 lane miles in 11 Sacramento Valley and Northern Sierra counties. Caltrans reminds motorists to “Be Work Zone Alert” and slow in construction zones for the safety of travelers and crews performing these improvements.

The department will issue construction updates on X @CaltransDist3 and on Facebook at CaltransDistrict3. For real-time traffic, click on Caltrans’ QuickMap or download the QuickMap app from the App Store or Google Play.

Caltrans is reaching out to the public for valuable input on the design of a new welcome sign or monument to be installed at the Oregon border along U.S. Route 199 in Del Norte County.

The outdated welcome sign at the Oregon border is set to be replaced with a new monument, and Caltrans wants the community's feedback on its design.

As a component of Governor Gavin Newsom’s Clean California initiative, this project aligns with the broader mission of creating a welcoming atmosphere and enhancing public spaces throughout the Golden State.

To actively participate in shaping the visual identity of the new monument, community members are encouraged to complete a brief survey. The survey can be accessed here, and responses are requested through Sunday, January 28.

Caltrans values the public's insights and believes this collaborative effort will result in a monument that resonates with the community.

The installation of the new welcome monument is anticipated within the next year.

The Clean California initiative is a $1.2 billion, multiyear clean-up effort led by Caltrans to remove trash, create thousands of jobs, and engage communities to transform public spaces.

Visit CleanCA.com to learn more about how Clean California is transforming communities and educating the public.

The Calpella Two Bridge Replacements Project in Mendocino County, California. Photo courtesy of Caltrans.

NORTH COAST, Calif. — As construction continues on the Calpella Two Bridge Replacements Project, Eastside Calpella Road in Redwood Valley will be closed next week from Monday, Jan. 15, to Friday, Jan. 19.

Weather permitting, the road closure will be in effect from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Road 144 to Moore Street (Moore Street to Route 20 local traffic only).

The closure is needed so crews can perform falsework removal from the new bridge.

As a reminder, eastbound motorists on Route 20 are unable to turn left onto Road 144 or turn left from Road 144 to eastbound Route 20.

These changes are expected to last until next spring.

Please follow signage and thank you for your patience during this safety project.

Myers and Sons Construction is the contractor for the $32.4 million project with $5.2 million from SB 1 funding. Completion is expected in 2025.

Find more information here.

The Calpella Two Bridge Replacements Project in Mendocino County, California. Photo courtesy of Caltrans.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Cal Fire Wood Products and Bioenergy Grants Program is announcing $15 million has been awarded for 16 projects across the state.

These projects will fund expansion in workforce development and businesses involved in creating healthy, resilient forests across the state as outlined in California’s Wildfire and Forest Resilience Action Plan.

The 16 grant awards support private businesses, nonprofits, schools and tribes.

“Cal Fire’s Business and Workforce Development Grants Program is proud to support businesses and projects that are doing the vital work of maintaining and enhancing the wood products infrastructure of California to support healthy resilient forests,” said Cal Fire Assistant Deputy Director for Climate and Energy, Alan Talhelm. “Projects that receive support from these grants not only support forest health and wildfire resilience, but they also support the people and ecosystems that depend on California’s forestlands.”

The awardees address a wide variety of projects. Two grants will subsidize transporting lowvalue forest biomass. These projects are essential for the transportation of material out of high wildfire hazard zones, which would otherwise be cost prohibitive.

Five workforce development grants will provide new job training opportunities. One example being the Quartz Valley Indian Reservation in Siskiyou County, which will offer fire and fuels training to 100 people over the next three years, increasing local capacity for fuels management.

A total of four grants will be offered to small forest operations businesses. Grant funding was also offered to projects that further reforestation efforts in California as well as projects that will help build a new forest bioenergy production facility.

“Cal Fire’s Workforce Development Grant gives my team the opportunity to help California,” said current grantee Taylor Parker of the Sierra Nevada Alliance. “Because of this funding, we are able to fill some crucial forestry gaps, increasing the quality of life for habitats and people in this process.”

With these grant offers, the Wood Products and Bioenergy Team at Cal Fire has now awarded $103 million to 89 business and workforce projects that align with the state’s climate mitigation and economic development goals.

Cal Fire’s Business and Workforce Development grant awards are funded with State of California General Funds. The solicitation will soon open for new grant applications. Please visit Cal Fire’s Wood Products and Bioenergy webpage for details.

Upcoming Calendar

16Jul
07.16.2024 9:00 am - 12:30 pm
Board of Supervisors
16Jul
07.16.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
16Jul
07.16.2024 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Lakeport City Council
17Jul
07.17.2024 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Free veterans dinner
20Jul
07.20.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
23Jul
07.23.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
24Jul
07.24.2024 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
ReCoverCA Homebuyer Assistance Workshop
24Jul
07.24.2024 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
ReCoverCA Homebuyer Assistance Workshop
24Jul
07.24.2024 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
ReCoverCA Homebuyer Assistance Workshop
27Jul
07.27.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile

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