The Barbed Wire - December 3, 2021

December 3, 2021
Board of Forestry Releases Revised Draft of Fire Safe Regulations
RCRC Submits Comments to CPUC on Broadband Proceeding
RCRC Weighs In on Proposed Zero-Emission Transition of New Small Off-Road Engines
EPA Announces WOTUS Rule to Restore Water Protections
Senator Feinstein Calls on Biden Administration to Quickly Implement Infrastructure Provision on Federal Firefighter Pay
Federal Government Funding Update
Bipartisan Senators Urge Passage of Marijuana Banking Through Defense Bill

Board of Forestry Releases Revised Draft of Fire Safe Regulations

On Thursday, the Board of Forestry (BOF) released a revised draft of its Fire Safe Regulations proposal, to be discussed at the December 7th Resource Protection Committee. The Board will meet December 8th and may act on any committee recommendations, including the proposed Fire Safe Regulations.  

According to the meeting materials, the BOF intends to consider submission of the modified text for a 15-day comment period, set to begin January 3, 2022. Comments submitted outside the formal public comment period will not be part of the official rulemaking record and will not be considered by the BOF.  

The BOF has been in the process of making significant changes to the existing Fire Safe Regulations since early 2020, however, the Board has been unable to find consensus on those rules, receiving significant opposition from environmental groups, local governments and developers on the detrimental effects of the proposed changes. The BOF noticed the initial proposal with the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) on April 23, 2021 and has one year from that date to submit the final rulemaking package to OAL.  

For more information, contact RCRC Senior Legislative Affairs Advocate Tracy Rhine

RCRC Submits Comments to CPUC on Broadband Proceeding

This week, RCRC submitted formal comments to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on Phase III of its Broadband Proceeding. The 2021-2022 state budget provided a total of $2 billion of federal funding for last-mile broadband infrastructure over the next three years, split evenly to projects in “urban” counties and “rural” counties. Each county is required to receive $5 million for last-mile projects, irrespective of size, prior to distribution of the balance of the funding. The CPUC proposes to define “rural” based on the classifications of “metropolitan” and “nonmetropolitan” utilized by the Federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The Ruling also provides alternatives to defining “rural” for the purposes of distributing the federal funding, including utilizing the RCRC membership as the definition of “rural”.  

The three methodologies presented by the CPUC create funding disparities across the RCRC member counties. RCRC staff submitted comments recommending an alternative distribution methodology, based on the OMB methodology included the proceeding. Specifically, RCRC requested that the 21 “rural” counties under the OMB methodology, continue to be classified as “rural” but that the remaining 37 “urban” counties then be divided into “Large Urbans” and “Small Urbans.”  This hybrid methodology uses the RCRC definition to define the “Small Urbans” and allocates 16/37th of the Urban funding to those counties, based on number of unserved households. This methodology acknowledges the difference in kind and size between the counties in the “urban” classification, allowing rural counties to compete for funding with like-resourced jurisdictions. As currently constructed, the OMB methodology set forth by the CPUC would require 16 RCRC member counties to compete with large urban jurisdictions, such as San Diego and Los Angeles, for funds. 

For further information, please contact RCRC Senior Legislative Affairs Advocate Tracy Rhine.  

RCRC Weighs In on Proposed Zero-Emission Transition of New Small Off-Road Engines

This week, RCRC outlined numerous concerns to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) about the proposed transition from gas-powered Small Off-Road Engines (SORE) to zero-emission equipment (ZEE). The regulations have been proposed in response to Assembly Bill 1346 (Berman) signed by Governor Newsom several weeks ago, which requires CARB, by July 1, 2022, to adopt regulations to prohibit engine exhaust and evaporative emissions from new small off-road engines. CARB’s proposed regulations would set emission standards for smog-forming pollutants to zero for new equipment such as lawn mowers, leaf blowers and chainsaws beginning with Model Year 2024, except for portable generators, which will have stricter emissions standards beginning in 2024 and zero-emission requirements beginning with Model Year 2028. Stationary equipment and diesel-fueled engines are not affected by these regulations, nor is the use of existing SORE equipment.  

Given the unique landscapes and workforce needs in rural counties, RCRC requested that CARB create a pathway to use traditional spark-ignition SORE in rural communities and better account for rural challenges, including frequent power outages. A premature transition to zero-emission SORE equipment may, for example, impede residential and commercial efforts on a suite of wildfire preparedness efforts such as creating and maintaining fuel breaks and defensible space in forested communities, putting rural residents in a practical, logistical, and financially precarious situation in comparison to their urban neighbors. 

RCRC’s written comments can be viewed in full here. CARB will also accept comments at their public meeting on Thursday, December 9th. For meeting details and how to participate, please see here


EPA Announces WOTUS Rule to Restore Water Protections

On November 18th, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposed rule to return to the pre-Obama definition of what constitutes a "Water of the United States" (WOTUS). WOTUS defines the types of waterways qualifying for federal protection under the Clean Water Act (CWA) and has long been a point of contention among environmental groups, farmers, homebuilders, and lawmakers. In June, the Justice Department filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts requesting “remand” of the Trump rule. It argued that the Trump rule was "inconsistent" with the objectives of the CWA.  

The EPA’s action Thursday formalizes steps it has already been taking since the court order to transition back to the 2015-era rule.

Senator Feinstein Calls on Biden Administration to Quickly Implement Infrastructure Provision on Federal Firefighter Pay

On November 19th, Senator Dianne Feinstein sent a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of the Interior, and the Director of the Office of Personnel Management, calling on the Biden Administration to quickly implement the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provisions on federal firefighter pay, which will reduce the pay gap between federal and state wildland firefighters and increase hiring of federal firefighters for the 2022 fire season.

Federal Government Funding Update

On Thursday, Congress passed a continuing resolution (CR) bill that will keep the federal government funded until February 18th.  The vote was 221-212 in the House and 69-28 in the Senate, with the Senate first rejecting an amendment that would have barred private-sector vaccine mandates. The funding bill will head to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature well ahead of the midnight deadline on Friday. By funding the government into next year, Democrats hope to allow time in December to pass the Build Back Better Act, along with raising the debt limit.   

Regarding debt limit negotiations, Senators Schumer and McConnell have both expressed confidence that they can reach a deal within the next week. McConnell has repeatedly expressed a desire for Democrats to raise the debt limit through the budget reconciliation process, which would first require passing a new budget resolution or amending the current one, then passing a reconciliation bill with votes from 50 Democrats. However, going through the required Reconciliation process could take weeks and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has stated that the U.S. Treasury cannot guarantee the timely payment of obligations after December 15th. The continued dialogue between Schumer and McConnell is an encouraging sign that a deal may be reached before that point.

Bipartisan Senators Urge Passage of Marijuana Banking Through Defense Bill

Last week, five members on the Senate Armed Services Committee sent a letter to Senate and House leadership requesting that the final National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) include the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act. In September the House approved its version of the NDAA with language that would protect banks that service state-legal marijuana businesses, and Senators hope that once the Senate passes its version of the NDAA, the bicameral conference committee will include such language in the final bill.  


Announcements regarding hearings, grants, and public comment notices of importance to California's rural counties.


Opportunity to Support Agricultural Education and Leadership

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) provides an opportunity Support agricultural education and leadership through the California Special Interest License Plate (CalAgPlate) program.   

The CalAgPlate program is funded with proceeds generated through the sale of special interest, agriculture-themed license plates through the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Under the 2021 CalAgPlate program, CDFA has awarded $223,900 for organizations to enhance agricultural education and leadership opportunities. 2021 grant recipients include: 

  1. California Association, Future Farmers of America: $190,000

  2. Pala Band of Mission Indians: $9,500 

  3. Sacramento River Watershed Program: $9,400 

  4. 48th District Agricultural Association: $9,000

  5. California Farmland Trust: $6,000 

You can help support agricultural education and the CalAgPlate program by purchasing a special interest license plate at your local DMV office or online today. For additional details, read the press release here.  


Workshop Announced for $1.3 Billion in Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Funding

On Thursday, December 16th, staff from the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) are hosting a virtual workshop and seeking input on the implementation plan for grant funds contained in the 2021-22 State Budget that are expected to be awarded in early 2022. Drinking water funds (totaling $650 million) will be prioritized for infrastructure in disadvantaged communities, while wastewater funds (also $650 million) are prioritized for septic-to-sewer projects (with local investment). For more information, see here. To participate online, join here or dial 1-669-900-9128, meeting ID # 960 5283 7341.


GO-Biz Cannabis Equity Grants Available for Eligible Local Jurisdictions

The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) has announced $35 million is available in FY 2021-22 for eligible cities and counties to promote equity and eliminate barriers to populations and communities that were disproportionately harmed by cannabis prohibition. Local jurisdictions can be awarded up to $75,000 for assistance on cannabis equity program development, or up to $7 million for cannabis equity program applicants and licensees to gain entry to the state’s regulated cannabis marketplace. Grant applications must be received by December 13, 2021 and will be awarded no later than March 15, 2022. For more information on this grant and how to apply, see here


CDFA Accepting Applications for Water Efficiency Technical Assistance Program

CDFA’s Office of Environmental Farming and Innovation (OEFI) is accepting applications for a new competitive grant program, the Water Efficiency Technical Assistance program (WETA). 

The Budget Act of 2021 allocated $5 million to support technical assistance for water efficiency and nutrient management for California farmers and ranchers. Resource conservation districts, non-profit organizations, University of California, California State University campuses, California community colleges, and California and federally-recognized tribes are eligible to receive funding to provide technical assistance. Supported activities include one-on-one assistance, on-site pump and irrigation system evaluations, and training in irrigation efficiency and nutrient management.

Applicants must have demonstrated expertise in on-farm irrigation water and energy use efficiency standards as well as on-farm nutrient management. Lead applicants are encouraged to partner with groundwater sustainability agencies, irrigation districts, and/or water quality coalitions to address local concerns and utilize existing outreach networks.

Visit the CDFA OEFI technical assistance website to review the application materials. Applications will be accepted through January 19, 2022 by 5 PM, Pacific Time. Late applications will not be accepted.


Career Opportunities

  • Reclamation District 1500 (RD1500) and Sutter Mutual Water Company (SMWC) Seek General Manager

The Board of Trustees of Reclamation District 1500 (RD1500) and the Board of Directors of Sutter Mutual Water Company (SMWC), separate organizations, are seeking a common General Manager who reports to the respective Boards and is responsible for implementing the policies of the respective organizations as well as managing Basin Irrigation and Drainage Authority (BIDA), a joint powers authority created to comprehensively manage the activities of RD1500 and SMWC. The position closes December 19, 2021. See the job description here. For more information, please email Bob Thomas of TERM Strategies.

  • California Farm Bureau Federation Seeks Political Affairs Program Coordinator 

The California Farm Bureau Federation is seeking a Program Coordinator for the Political Affairs Division to provide support to the Director of Political Affairs and Political Affairs department by assisting with campaign reporting, fundraising, grassroots activities, and special events to further the California Farm Bureau’s political objectives and grow its political presence at the state and federal level. For additional information and instructions to apply, see the job description here.

  • Yolo County Seeks Sustainability Coordinator

Yolo County invites applications for the position of Sustainability Coordinator. The incumbent is responsible for the day-to-day effective operations and coordination of the County’s Sustainability Plan, Climate Action Plan, General Plan-related sustainability initiatives, and others as necessary.  The position closes December 6, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. For details and application instructions, see the job posting here.

  • Yolo Land Trust Seeks Development and Outreach Coordinator

The Yolo Land Trust is recruiting for a Development & Outreach Coordinator to join its small, but mighty team. The position is responsible for the planning, coordination, and operation of the Yolo Land Trust’s development and communication programs; serves as the lead staff for the Land Trust’s community and fundraising events and for the digital communications about the organization; and provides administrative support as needed. For additional information or to apply, view the job announcement here. This position is open until filled.


CDFA Healthy Soils Program Incentives Funding Available

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has opened up their applications for the Healthy Soils Program (HSP) Incentives Funding! The funding is distributed on a first come-first serve basis so get your application in as soon as possible to participate. The HSP is currently accepting grant applications until February 25, 2022 or until funds are expended.

The HSP Incentives Program provides financial incentives to California growers and ranchers to implement conservation management practices that sequester carbon, reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHGs), and improve soil health.

Do you need help with the HSP application? 

Click here for more information about Healthy Soils Program.


California Air Resources Board Offers Webinars on Regulatory Compliance Training

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is offering a variety of training webinars for regulatory compliance on issues affecting public fleets such as Off-Road Regulations, Truck and Bus Rules, and Diesel Truck Rules. 

The In-Use Off-Road Diesel-Fueled Fleets Regulation (Off-Road Regulation) requires fleet owners to report to CARB, label their off-road vehicles, and reduce emissions from older equipment.  This course provides detailed information to help fleet owners understand and comply with the Off-Road Regulation: 

Date:        December 9, 2021
Time:        1:00 p.m.
Webinar:   Register

The Compliance Overview: Truck & Bus Rule, Off-Road Regulation, and Portable Equipment course include the following topics:

Truck and Bus Regulation:

  • Regulation Applicability
  • Engine Model Year Schedule
  • Exemptions & Extensions
  • How to Report for Regulation Flexibilities
  • Broker and Dispatcher Requirements
  • DMV Registration

Periodic Smoke Inspection Program (PSIP):

  • Regulation Applicability
  • Program Updates

Advanced Clean Truck (ACT)

  • Manufacturers ZEV Sales Requirements
  • One-Time Reporting
  • Future ZEV Rules

In-Use Off-Road Diesel Vehicle Regulation:

  • Regulation Applicability
  • Requirements Currently in Effect
  • Future Compliance Deadlines

Portable Equipment Registration Program (PERP) & Airborne Toxic Control Measure (ATCM):

  • PERP Eligibility
  • Program Requirements
  • ATCM Program & Updates
  • Enforcement & Inspections

Date:        December 16, 2021
Time:        1:00 p.m.
Webinar:   Register


FEMA Announces Application Period for 2021 Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grants

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) began accepting applications on September 30, 2021 for $1.16 billion in FY 2021 Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grants, providing localities the opportunity to receive Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) and Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) pre-disaster mitigation grants. These grants recognize the growing hazards of extreme weather events and the need for risk mitigation activities to promote climate adaptation and resilience. The financial assistance through the BRIC program may fund state and local government pre-disaster capability and capacity building activities, mitigation projects, and cover management costs.

FEMA informational webinars can be accessed here, and more information can be viewed here or at The FEMA application period closes on January 28, 2022


Access the State Grants Portal for a Multitude of Funding Opportunities

Billions of dollars are up for grabs to public agencies and other entities, including tribes and businesses. Grant seekers can access a centralized portal of grant and loan opportunities here, or sign up to receive new grant opportunities delivered straight to your inbox. 


Announcements regarding key staffing changes of importance to California's rural counties.


Rick Braziel, of Truckee, has been re-appointed to the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, where he has served since 2015. Braziel has been President of Rick Braziel Consulting Inc. since 2016 and has been an Instructor at Humboldt State University since 2000 and an Independent Instructor and Consultant since 1995. Braziel was Chief of Police at the Sacramento Police Department from 2008 to 2012, where he held various other positions from 1979 to 2008, including Deputy Chief, Patrol Sergeant, Patrol Watch Commander and Captain. Braziel earned a Master of Arts degree in Communication Studies from California State University, Sacramento and a Master of Arts degree in Security Studies, Homeland Security and Defense from the United States Naval Postgraduate School. This position requires Senate confirmation and there is no compensation. Braziel is registered without party preference. 

Wendy J. Dier, of Alturas, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Modoc County Superior Court. Dier has been a Sole Practitioner since 1995 and has worked on contract in various positions, including with the Modoc County Superior Court, Modoc County District Attorney’s Office and Modoc County Department of Social Services. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Oregon School of Law. Dier fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge David A. Mason. She is a Democrat. 

Judge Yvette Durant, of Truckee, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Nevada County Superior Court. She has served as a Judge in the Sierra County Superior Court since 2016. Judge Durant served as a Commissioner at the Nevada County Superior Court from 2011 to 2016. She was a Sole Practitioner from 1999 to 2011 and an Associate at Tonon and Associates in 1999. Judge Durant was an Associate at Ashbaugh Beal from 1991 to 1993. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Washington School of Law. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Robert L. Tamietti. Judge Durant is registered without party preference. 

Gregory (Greg) Giusti, of Kelseyville, has been re-appointed to the North Coastal Regional Water Quality Control Board, where he has served since 2013. Giusti has been Director and Advisor Emeritus for Forests and Wildland Ecology at the University of California Cooperative Extension since 2017, where he was Director and Advisor of Forests and Wildland Ecology for the University of California, Cooperative Extension from 1985 to 2017. Giusti was Agricultural Biologist at the San Mateo County Department of Agriculture from 1981 to 1985 and Chief Biologist at the Marine Ecological Institute from 1978 to 1981. Giusti has been a registered Professional Forester since 2013. He earned a Master of Arts degree in Ecology and Systematic Biology from San Francisco State University. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $250 per diem. Giusti is registered without party preference. 

Sylvia J. Hanna, of Tulare, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Tulare County Superior Court. Hanna has served as Chief Deputy Public Defender at the Tulare County Office of the Public Defender since 2019, where she has held several positions since 2004, including Senior Attorney and Supervising Attorney. She served as a Law Clerk at the Fresno County Public Defender’s Office in 2003. Hanna earned a Juris Doctor degree from Notre Dame Law School. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Kathryn T. Montejano. Hanna is a Democrat. 

Stephanie L. Jamieson, of Patterson, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Merced County Superior Court. Jamieson has served as a Deputy Public Defender at the Merced County Public Defender’s Office since 2013. She was a Sole Practitioner from 2011 to 2012 and an independent contractor at the Law Office of Victor Vertner from 2011 to 2012. Jamieson earned a Master of Laws degree from the California Western School of Law and a Juris Doctor degree from the Santa Clara University School of Law. She fills the vacancy of a new position created on September 24, 2019. Jamieson is a Democrat. 

Essra Mostafavi, of Bishop, has been re-appointed to the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, where she has served since 2021. Mostafavi has been Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Geode Environmental Inc. since 2017. She was Senior Project Manager at VCS Environmental from 2015 to 2017. Mostafavi was Associate Environmental Planner at the California Department of Transportation District 8 from 2012 to 2015. She was a member of the Board of Directors at Global Majority from 2010 to 2012. Mostafavi was Acting County Director at Winrock International in 2010. She earned a Master of Arts degree in International Environmental Policy from Middlebury Institute of International Studies. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $250 per diem. Mostafavi is a Democrat. 

Tina Nieto, of Monterey, has been appointed to the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training. Nieto has been Chief of Police at the City of Marina Police Department since 2017. Nieto served in multiple roles for the City of Los Angeles Police Department from 1989 to 2017, including Commanding Officer, Lieutenant in the Consent Decree Unit and District Lieutenant. She earned a Master of Science degree in Leadership and Management from the University of La Verne. This position requires Senate confirmation and there is no compensation. Nieto is a Democrat. 

Valerie Quinto, of Santa Rosa, has been re-appointed to the North Coastal Regional Water Quality Control Board, where she has served since 2014. Quinto has been Executive Director at the Sonoma Resource Conservation District since 2017, where she was Program Director from 2012 to 2017. She held several positions at Sotoyome Resource Conservation District between 2009 and 2012 including Project Coordinator and Conservation Project Manager. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $250 per diem. Quinto is a Democrat. 

L. Carmen Ramirez, of Merced, has been re-appointed to the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, where she has served since 2011. Ramirez has been a Sole Practitioner since 2020. She was Partner at the Law Offices of Kelsey and Ramirez from 2014 to 2020, a Sole Practitioner from 2011 to 2014 and an Attorney at the Law Offices of Fagalde, Albertoni and Flores LLP from 2007 to 2010. Ramirez was a Redevelopment Associate at the City of Merced from 2003 to 2007. Ramirez earned a Juris Doctor degree from the San Joaquin College of Law. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $250 per diem. Ramirez is a Democrat.