The Barbed Wire - January 7, 2022

January 7, 2022
RCRC Postpones Annual Reception
Board of Forestry Publishes Revised Draft of Fire Safe Regulations for Comment
Bill of the Week: AB 1519 (Gallagher) - Creation of Biomass Transportation Subsidy to Enhance Wildfire Prevention and Forest Health Work
California Congressional Maps Released 
CPUC Proposes Requiring Large IOUs to Procure Biogas Derived from Organic Waste and Woody Biomass Gasification Projects
CalAIM Waiver Applications Approved
Seven Rural Counties Awarded Millions for Local Cannabis Programs
USDA Approves California’s Hemp Plan
Reconciliation Update

RCRC Postpones Annual Reception

In light of the new health order issued by the Sacramento County Health Officer on January 6, RCRC has postponed the Annual Installation and Awards Reception to a later date. The order, which requires all public boards to meet virtually and prohibits in person meetings due to increasing COVID-19 transmission rates, also strongly encourages that other business meetings and events be conducted remotely. Unfortunately, the confluence of this new health order combined with the impact on participation meant a change was necessary. 

The reception traditionally kicks off the new year honoring the recipients of the Rural Leadership Awards and celebrating the installation of the new RCRC Officers. While this postponement is unfortunate, RCRC looks forward to celebrating later this spring with robust participation from Supervisors, Sponsors, and State Government partners. 

Board of Forestry Publishes Revised Draft of Fire Safe Regulations for Comment

This week, the Board of Forestry (BOF) published its latest draft of the Fire Safe Regulations for a 15-day modified text comment period. The board will continue to receive comments on the revised draft through 5:00pm on January 19th. The BOF is only required to consider comments on revisions made specifically in this current draft, and may not be responsive to concerns raised on changes made in the original 45-day public comment period. RCRC has begun its initial review of the revised proposal and will be reaching out to our Fire Safe Regulations working group for feedback on the new draft.  

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. For more information, contact RCRC Senior Policy Advocate, Tracy Rhine.

Bill of the Week: AB 1519 (Gallagher) - Creation of Biomass Transportation Subsidy to Enhance Wildfire Prevention and Forest Health Work

Assembly Bill 1519, authored by Assembly Member James Gallagher (R-Nicolaus), seeks to create a new state program to offset the costs of transporting fuel to biomass energy facilities.   

AB 1519 requires the Natural Resources Agency to provide grants or other financial incentives to conduct forest fuel reduction projects that minimize wildfire risk or decrease wildfire intensity in or around communities in the wildland urban interface. Subsidies would range from $20 per bone dry ton for projects less than 20 miles from a biomass facility, up to $30 per bone dry ton for projects over 30 miles away from a biomass facility.  

AB 1519 will help local governments overcome some of the financial barriers to getting residuals out of the forest. A recent field study indicates that biomass energy generation results in 98-99 percent lower PM2.5, carbon monoxide, methane, and black carbon emissions compared to open pile burning (along with a significant reduction in NOx and carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gas emissions). By funding the transportation of fuels to biomass facilities, AB 1519 will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.   

Most importantly, AB 1519 will help communities in the wildland urban interface undertake fuel reduction projects that will reduce local wildfire risk and intensity. After the state’s worst fire year on record, this gives California an opportunity to  explore new programs like the one envisioned in AB 1519 to  help improve safety while providing significant environmental benefits. 

RCRC’s letter of support can be found here. For more information, please contact RCRC Policy Advocate, John Kennedy.

California Congressional Maps Released 

On December 20th, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission unanimously approved new congressional and state legislative boundaries. The new maps increase the number of Latino-majority districts in the state and give Democrats an opportunity to pick up more seats, even as the overall state delegation shrinks. The finalization of the maps prompted numerous members of Congress to announce their bid for re-election, but these same lines could also cause various interparty and incumbent clashes. The districts of five incumbent Republicans were changed in ways that may make those districts more favorable to Democrats, including the districts of Representatives Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove), David Valadao (R-Tulare), Mike Garcia (R-Palmdale), Ken Calvert (R-Riverside), and Michelle Steel (R-Orange County).

CPUC Proposes Requiring Large IOUs to Procure Biogas Derived from Organic Waste and Woody Biomass Gasification Projects

On January 3, the CPUC issued a proposed decision that would require PG&E, Southern California Gas Company, San Diego Gas & Electric Company, and Southwest Gas Corporation to procure biomethane derived from eight million tons of organic waste diverted from landfills by 2025. This is intended to compliment CalRecycle’s new organic waste diversion regulations. CalRecycle estimates that existing organic waste infrastructure will be able to process 10 million tons of organic waste in 2025, well short of the 18 million tons required by SB 1383 (Lara) of 2016. As a result, the CPUC is considering requiring gas utilities to create a market to achieve the additional 8 million tons of capacity. 

The proposed decision would bar facilities that enter into contracts with those gas utilities from leasing or purchasing new diesel vehicles. Instead, those facilities would have to commit to purchase or lease near-zero emission or zero-emission vehicles in the future. It is unclear whether this requirement would extend to or impact actual landfill operations, which would effectively neuter the program because of a lack of that equipment in the marketplace.   

The proposed decision also sets longer term goals for those utilities to procure roughly 15% of their natural gas demand from renewable gas from forest management, agricultural waste, and urban wood waste by 2030 (excluding livestock biomethane, which often participates in the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Program). Together, these two requirements seek to displace a significant amount of fossil fuel gas with renewable biogas. 

Finally, the proposed decision also requires PG&E and SoCalGas to implement pilot projects that convert woody biomass from forest, agricultural, and urban wood waste into biogas.   

It is unclear what the total impact of the proposed decision would be on ratepayers; those costs and allocations will be determined in forthcoming rate setting proceeding.  

Comments on the proposed decision are due on January 24 and a final decision is likely to occur in mid-2022. RCRC and ESJPA are working with local government and industry stakeholders to coordinate a response to the proposal. 

For more information, please contact RCRC Policy Advocate, John Kennedy.

CalAIM Waiver Applications Approved

On December 29, 2021, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) approved the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) application for the CalAIM (California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal) Section 1115 demonstration waiver, CalAIM Section 1915(b) waiver, and Medi-Cal State Plan Amendments. CalAIM’s mission is to shift Medi-Cal to a more equitable, coordinated, and person-centered approach, prioritizing prevention, addressing social drivers of health, and transforming services for communities that historically have been under-resourced in the health care system. CalAIM officially launched on January 1, 2022. RCRC continues advocacy efforts around CalAIM policy development and implementation.  For more information on CalAIM and an overview of the key provisions included in the waiver, please visit the CalAIM website. For more information, contact RCRC Policy Advocate, Sarah Dukett.

Seven Rural Counties Awarded Millions for Local Cannabis Programs

The Local Jurisdiction Assistance Grant Program directs funds support areas with the largest populations of provisional cannabis licenses to transition into annual licensure by helping clear application backlogs. On Thursday, the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) awarded nearly $100 million in local assistance grants to 17 cities and counties, including the counties of Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Monterey, Nevada, Sonoma, and Trinity. “Significant funding is being directed to process improvements and environmental assessments, both of which will help the state and local governments achieve short and long-term goals,” said DCC Director Nicole Elliott. For more detail on how each of the awardees plan to use the funds, see here

USDA Approves California’s Hemp Plan

Pursuant to the 2018 Federal Farm Bill, hemp cultivation became legal for states with regulatory structures that meet the guidelines of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), as well as have an approved State Plan. USDA’s Final Rule for hemp production became effective on March 22, 2021. In late December 2021, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) announced USDA formally approved California’s State Plan for industrial hemp in accordance with the USDA’s Final Rule, effective on January 1, 2022. Changes to CDFA’s current regulations will be needed in order to align with the State Plan and a new rulemaking process is expected to be announced by CDFA in the coming weeks. To stay up to date on California’s Industrial Hemp Program, see here. For more information, please contact RCRC Policy Advocates Leigh Kammerich or Sarah Dukett.

Reconciliation Update

Just before the new year, Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) voiced his opposition to the Democrat’s $2.2 trillion Build Back Better Act. In a longer statement , Senator Manchin explained that his long-standing concerns with the package, “have only increased as the pandemic surges on, inflation rises, and geopolitical uncertainty increases around the world.” In a “Dear Colleague” letter to his caucus, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) stated that the Senate would still consider the package “very early in the new year so that every Member of this body has the opportunity to make their position known on the Senate floor, not just on television.” He added that the chamber will keep voting on revised versions “until we get something done.”  

Since returning to session this week, Majority Leader Schumer has been focused on rallying support for a potential vote in the Senate to alter the “filibuster rule”, which would open the door for any legislation to pass the chamber by a simple majority vote rather than the current 60-vote threshold. Schumer has stated his intent to force a vote on this change by January17th if Republicans block a separate voting rights bill. Such a Senate rule change would also enable Democrats an easier vote on the $2.2 trillion Build Back Better Act along with a host of other items.  


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


Webinar on Community Economic Resilience Fund, Hosted by RCRC

RCRC will host an informational webinar on the Community Economic Resilience Fund featuring Labor and Workforce Development Agency Undersecretary, Stewart Knox, and Mary Collins, from the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. The webinar will be held on Thursday, January 13th via Zoom from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. For more information, contact RCRC Deputy Economic Development Officer, Bob Burris.
Join webinar


Webinar - Establishing a County "Ag Pass" or Livestock Pass" Program

On Thursday, January 20th, join this virtual workshop detailing how county officials can establish a county “Ag Pass” or “Livestock Pass” program.

The workshop is sponsored by University of California Cooperative Extension with support from groups that have previously implemented successful Ag/Livestock Pass programs. The workshop will:

  • address details of how to set up a functioning program;
  • discuss common challenges
  • describe considerations for harmonizing existing programs with AB 1103; and
  • provide case studies of successful efforts across California.

For more information, see the workshop flyer here.

Date: Thursday, January 20, 2022
Time: 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Click to Register


County Capitol Displays Must Be Removed by January 14, 2022

The Department of General Services (DGS) is giving counties until January 14, 2022 to remove the contents of the county display windows in the Capitol before the Annex is demolished. Please coordinate removal of your items by reaching out to Theresa Smith at DGS.


Career Opportunities

  • NCTC Seeks Deputy Executive Director - Nevada County Transportation Commission (NCTC) is seeking a Deputy Executive Director. Applications must be submitted to by 4:00 p.m. on January 21, 2022. For additional details, see here.
  • UC Cooperative Extension Broadband Seeks Broadband Deployment/Utilization Advisor (2 positions) - UC Cooperative Extension is hiring for two  Broadband Deployment/Utilization Advisor positions. The Broadband Deployment/Utilization Advisor will implement an innovative extension education and applied research program around the intersection of rural broadband access and utilization and associated economic and community development opportunities.

To assure full consideration, application packets must be received by February 18, 2022 – (open until filled)


CDFA Accepting Concept Proposals for 2022 Fertilizer Research and Education Program Grant Cycle

The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Fertilizer Research and Education Program (FREP) is now accepting concept proposals for the 2022 grant cycle. FREP’s competitive grant program funds research that advances fertilization practices and minimizes environmental impacts of fertilizing materials.

Applicants are invited to submit two-page concept proposals to FREP by Friday, January 28, 2022. Concepts submitted should be aligned with at least one of the identified priority research areas. For details, see the CDFA Grant Program webpage here. For more information, please send email inquiries to

Broadband Funding Resource Guide Now Available for Golden State Connect Authority

An overview of various federal and state funding programs for broadband is now available on the Golden State Connect Authority website under the “Resources” section and will be updated periodically.


2022 Dates for California Air Resources Board 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 New Programs and Regulations course covers the requirements of existing regulations and then CARB's new regulatory programs that will eventually be in effect. The goals for this class are to cover the proposed program elements and elicit participation in the regulatory process.

Date:               February 3, 2022
Time:               1:00 p.m.
Webinar:         Register

Date:               March 31, 2022
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:        January 27, 2022
Time:        1:00 p.m.
Webinar:   Register

Date:        March 17, 2022
Time:        1:00 p.m.
Webinar:   Register


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:        February 17, 2022
Time:        1:00 p.m.
Webinar:   Register


CAL FIRE Accepting Applications for Fire Prevention Grant Programs

CAL FIRE is currently accepting applications for the Fiscal Year 2021-2022 Fire Prevention Grant Program. The program provides funding for fuel reduction, wildfire planning, and public education. For more information, visit the Fire Prevention Grants Program webpage or view the procedural guide, available hereApplications are due by 3:00 p.m. on February 9, 2022. 


Caltrans Clean California Grant Program Now Open

The Newsom Administration has announced nearly $300 million in Clean California grants are now available. California cities, counties, transit agencies, tribal governments, and other governmental entities are encouraged to submit proposals of up to $5 million to beautify their communities and address trash and debris. Caltrans will award approximately 200 grants to create hundreds of sustainable, green beautification and litter abatement projects statewide. The department will match local investments and address the needs of more severely underserved communities.The grant application period closes February 1, 2022, and Caltrans will announce the grant recipients on March 1, 2022. Award recipients must complete their project by June 30, 2024. Program guidelines and application documents are available here.


Coastal Conservancy Announces RFP Wildfire Resilience Projects

The Coastal Conservancy is pleased to announce its Wildfire Resilience Program Request for Proposals. The Wildfire Resilience Program supports local partners to develop and implement projects that improve ecological health of natural lands and reduce the risk of catastrophic fire. The program will fund grants for on-the-ground activities to restore the health and increase resilience of California forests, grasslands, and natural lands to wildfire; and planning and capacity building to increase wildfire resilience in California for projects in coastal and bay area counties. The Conservancy's Wildfire Resilience Program recently hosted a webinar to provide an overview of this funding proposal and answer questions. The recorded webinar will be made available on the Wildfire Resilience Program webpage.

Pre-proposals are due by 5pm on January 14, 2022 for project approved by May 2022. Prospective applicants are encouraged to request a pre-application consultation with Conservancy staff. Submit pre-proposals, request pre-application consultation, or ask application questions by emailing  For additional details or to view the full RFP, visit the Coastal Conservancy website 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.


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

Patrick Butler, of Ukiah, has been appointed to the State Independent Living Council. Butler has been a Custodian for the Ukiah Unified School District since 2019 and did Work Study for the Citrus Heights Veterans Center from 2015 to 2018. Butler was a Fleet Marine Force Hospital Corpsman in the U.S. Navy from 2004 to 2009. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no compensation. Butler is a Democrat.

Blanca Castro, of Lincoln, has been appointed State Long-Term Care Ombudsman at the California Department of Aging. Castro was Advocacy Director for AARP of California from 2013 to 2021. She was Provider Outreach and Education Manager for Xerox State Health Care LLC from 2007 to 2013, Project Manager for MAXIMUS from 2005 to 2007 and Deputy Director of Public Affairs for the California Department of Social Services from 2000 to 2005. Castro was a Project Coordinator for the California Department of Health Services Diabetes Control Program from 1998 to 2000. Castro is a member of the American Society on Aging. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $145,008. Castro is a Democrat.

Michael “Mike” Keever, of Camino, has been appointed Chief Deputy Director at the California Department of Transportation, where he has served as Acting Deputy Director since 2021. Keever has served in several positions at the California Department of Transportation since 2003, including Division Chief – Project Management, Division Chief – Division of Engineering Services, Principal Bridge Engineer, Division of Engineering Services Deputy Division Chief, Supervising Bridge Engineer, Division of Engineering Services Structure Design Office Chief, Supervising Transportation Engineer, District 8 Design Manager, Acting Principal Bridge Engineer and Earthquake Engineering Office Chief. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $209,004. Keever is a Republican.

Charles Nies, of Merced, has been reappointed to the California Student Aid Commission, where he has served since 2018. Nies has served as Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs at the University of California, Merced since 2016, where he was Associate Vice Chancellor and Dean of Students from 2006 to 2016. He served in several positions at Miami University from 2000 to 2006, including as Assistant Dean. Nies earned a Master of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Educational Leadership from Washington State University. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Nies is a Democrat.
David R. O’Brien, of West Sacramento, has been appointed to the California Student Aid Commission. O’Brien has been Vice Chancellor of Government Relations for the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office since 2020. He served as Director of Government Affairs for the California Student Aid Commission from 2016 to 2020, as well as Legislative Manager and Acting Assistant Director for Legislation at the California Department of State Hospitals from 2012 to 2016. O’Brien was a Legislative Analyst at the California Department of Mental Health from 2010 to 2011. He was a Student Legislative Assistant for the California Environmental Protection Agency from 2009 to 2010. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. O’Brien is a Democrat.

Amarik Singh, of Placerville, has been appointed Inspector General at the Office of the Inspector General. Singh has been Senior Assistant Inspector General at the Office of the Inspector General since 2019, where she was Special Assistant Inspector General from 2016 to 2019 and served as Special Assistant Inspector General from 2007 to 2012. She was a Commissioner on the Board of Parole Hearings from 2012 to 2015. Singh served as a Deputy District Attorney in the Kern County District Attorney’s Office from 2005 to 2007 and as Adjunct Faculty at the Tulare-Kings County Police Academy from 2002 to 2005. Singh was a Deputy District Attorney at the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office from 1997 to 2005. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $192,382. Singh is a Republican.


RCRC press releases and related news clips about RCRC and our member counties. Please note that a subscription may be required to read some external publications.


Despite legalizing cannabis, black-market growers are overwhelming California communities’ -The Sacramento Bee 

In this commentary, Lake County Supervisors and RCRC Board members Eddie Crandell and Bruno Sabatier discuss the need for greater investment in illegal cannabis enforcement to protect public safety and support the legal cannabis industry.


This Isn’t the California I Married’-The New York Times 

Mono County Supervisor and RCRC Board Chair Stacy Corless is featured in this piece about the challenges of catastrophic wildfire in California.


No, California’s drought isn’t over. Here’s why.’ -CalMatters 

Despite abundant snowfall and rain in December, drought conditions remain for much of California and resulted in the State adopting new emergency regulations to reduce waste.


Information related to the current status of legislation impacting California’s rural counties.