The Barbed Wire - July 23, 2021

July 23, 2021
Registration Now Open for RCRC’s 2021 Annual Meeting in Monterey County
Bill of the Week: Assembly Bill 9 (Wood)- Fire Safety and Prevention
FINAL WEEK!! RCRC 5th Annual Photo Contest Ending July 31st – Submit Your Photos Today!
State Water Board to Provide $10 million for Drinking Water Drought Emergencies
USFS Pacific Southwest Region Announces New Regional Forester
New Deputy Director of SGMA Announced
Governor Signs Legislation Providing More Tools to Fight Illegal Dumping
Plastics Pollution and Recycling Initiative Qualifies for November 2022 Ballot
GOP Forestry Bills Introduced
Forestry/Wildfire Executive Agency Update
Senate Committee Advances Bipartisan Energy Infrastructure Bill

Registration Now Open for RCRC’s 2021 Annual Meeting in Monterey County

Registration is now open for RCRC’s 2021 Annual Meeting!  The conference will be held September 29 – October 1 at the Portola Hotel and Spa at Monterey Bay in Monterey County.  This year’s program will feature experts discussing a wide range of topics on critical issues shaping California’s future.  Register today to receive the “Early Bird” rate!


Bill of the Week: Assembly Bill 9 (Wood)- Fire Safety and Prevention

RCRC has withdrawn its support from Assembly Bill 9, authored by Assembly Member Jim Wood (D- Santa Rosa), and now has no official position. AB 9 was originally introduced as a vehicle to codify the Regional Forest and Fire Capacity (RFFC) program under the California Department of Conservation (DOC), which RCRC supports. However, recent amendments proposed a shift of several fire prevention programs under CAL FIRE, along with a few that are currently under the California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection (BOF), to the Office of the State Fire Marshal (OFSM). The amendments would create a Deputy Director of Community Wildfire Preparedness and Mitigation to oversee all of the following: 

  • The Fire Prevention Grants Program;
  • Defensible space requirements;
  • The California wildfire mitigation financial assistance program;
  • The establishment of fire hazard severity zones and very high fire hazard severity zones;
  • Working with local governments to identify subdivisions that are without secondary egress routes, and developing recommendations to improve the subdivision’s fire safety;
  • Utility wildfire mitigation plans;
  • General plan safety element review; and,
  • Wildland building code standards. 

AB 9 would also create a Wildfire Mitigation Advisory Committee, which could include membership from local governments. 

RCRC has no existing policy on the amendments to AB 9, and given the late stage in the legislative process, withdrew support in order to more carefully review the overarching implications of the new provisions. RCRC’s letter can be accessed here. For more information, contact Staci Heaton, RCRC Senior Regulatory Affairs Advocate by email or call (916) 447-4806.

FINAL WEEK!! RCRC 5th Annual Photo Contest Ending July 31st – Submit Your Photos Today!

The Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) is holding its Fifth Annual Rural County Photo Contest from July 1 through July 31, 2021. The contest invites amateur photographers to capture life in rural California by showcasing the beautiful scenery, activities, communities, history, and charm of RCRC’s 37 member counties.

Photo entries should be sent to All entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. on July 31, 2021 and must include:

  • Location where the photo was taken, including the county in which it was taken; and
  • Photographer’s full name and email address.

The grand prize winner will receive a $50 gift card, and the winning image will be displayed during RCRC's Annual Meeting taking place September 29 - October 1, 2021 in Monterey County. Contest details, a printable flyer, and official rules are available here.

State Water Board to Provide $10 million for Drinking Water Drought Emergencies

On Tuesday, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) put in motion allocating a $10 million appropriation from a recent budget trailer bill, Senate Bill 129, for emergency drinking water funding requests. A July 8th Governor’s Proclamation of a Statewide Emergency for drought conditions was expanded to include 50 counties. Drought conditions are expected to continue through 2022. The SWRCB’s Division of Financial Assistance will give priority for these funds to drought areas that are economically disadvantaged and have water systems that lack the cashflow to implement projects on their own. Services that could be provided through this funding include bottled water, storage tanks and hauled water, point-of-use and point-of-entry water treatment devices, well repair, rehabilitation or replacement, and technical assistance to communities in need, mainly in the Central Valley. For more information on drought funding opportunities, see here

USFS Pacific Southwest Region Announces New Regional Forester

On Thursday, the USDA Forest Service (USFS) announced Jennifer Eberlien as new Regional Forester of the Pacific Southwest Region (Region 5). Eberlien succeeds Randy Moore, who will be sworn in as the incoming Chief of the USDA Forest Service on Monday, July 26, 2021, replacing retiring Chief Vicki Christiansen.  

Eberlien has been with the USFS since 1992, most recently as associate deputy chief for the national forest system in Washington, DC. Eberlien also has experience in California, serving under Moore as deputy Regional Forester before a year-long stint as acting Regional Forester for the Rocky Mountain Region in Denver, Colorado. 
Eberlien will assume her duties immediately as Moore transitions to his role in Washington, DC. The official announcement can be viewed on the USFS website here

New Deputy Director of SGMA Announced

On Wednesday, Paul Gosselin joined the Department of Water Resources to oversee groundwater management activities, including implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Mr. Gosselin previously served as Butte County’s Director of Water and Resource Conservation, as well as the Chief Deputy Director at the California Department of Pesticide Regulation where he developed programs to protect surface and groundwater quality. 

Also on Wednesday, Commissioner Amy Cordalis announced she would be resigning from the California Water Commission and is relocating out of the state. 

Governor Signs Legislation Providing More Tools to Fight Illegal Dumping

Earlier this month, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 246 (Quirk), which allows the Contractors State License Board to take disciplinary action against a contractor for violating state or local laws prohibiting illegal dumping.  AB 246 provides another tool to take action against those who engage in illegal dumping. Illegal dumping continues to be a serious problem in many parts of the state, especially in unincorporated rural areas, and local governments spend considerable resources each year responding to and cleaning up illegal waste disposal.  The bill was sponsored by the Contractors State License Board and supported by a broad coalition of contractors and local governments. RCRC supported the measure and its letter urging the Governor’s signature can be found here.

Plastics Pollution and Recycling Initiative Qualifies for November 2022 Ballot

On July 19, the California Secretary of State certified the California Recycling and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act, which will now appear on the November 2022 ballot.  The measure is intended to reduce plastic pollution and litter in the terrestrial and marine environments.  It is also intended to improve the recyclability and increase the recycling of plastic products and packaging and to fund a broad array of recycling, litter abatement, and environmental restoration programs.

Under the initiative, CalRecycle must adopt regulations:

  • Requiring manufacturers to ensure that single-use packaging and food-ware is reusable, refillable, recyclable, or compostable by 2030.  
  • Restricting or prohibiting packaging and food ware it determines is unnecessary for delivery of the product or food.
  • Requiring manufacturers to reduce the number of packaging and food ware items sold into the state.  
  • Establishing mechanisms for convenient consumer access to recycling, including take-back and deposit programs.
  • Prohibiting use of expanded polystyrene food containers by food vendors.

To accomplish these objectives, the initiative seeks to require manufacturers to pay a fee of up to $0.01 per item of single-use food ware of packaging sold into the state.  Anticipated revenues in the billions of dollars annually would be allocated as follows:

  • 20% (upon appropriation by the Legislature) to local governments for groundwater and drinking water protection, litter cleanup and abatement, and local recycling and composting programs.
  • 50% (continuously appropriated) to CalRecycle for program implementation and enforcement and to support statewide solid waste reduction, recycling, and composting efforts and related infrastructure, including creation of incentives to maintain and increase infrastructure for organic waste composting.
  • 30% (continuously appropriated) to state and local agencies to mitigate the impacts of plastic pollution and protect and restore wildlife and the environment.

Major supporters of the California Recycling and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act include Californians Against Waste, the National Stewardship Action Council, Clean Seas Lobbying Coalition, and Recology.

GOP Forestry Bills Introduced

On Wednesday, Representative Jay Obernolte (R-Yucca Valley) introduced the Salvaging American Lumber Via Action with Greater Efficiency (SALVAGE) Act to improve forest management and decrease the risk of wildfires by expediting salvage and reforestation operations on federal lands.  The bill will give more flexibility and expediency to forest management on federal lands, helping to lower fire risks, decrease the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere, and protect communities across California and the West.
On Wednesday, Representative Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) introduced the Forest Litigation Reform Act which would prevent litigation from impeding forest management practices needed to conserve forests and mitigate wildfire risk by streamlining the litigation process and creating an alternative dispute process to resolve claims against forestry management projects to be resolved through arbitration.
On Tuesday, Representative Mike Garcia (R-Palmdale) introduced the Protecting and Restoring Our Trees by Enhancing Conservation and Treatments (PROTECT) Act, which would help improve forest management by allowing for more flexibility for federal land managers to utilize active forest management methods, like prescribed burns, to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire.

Forestry/Wildfire Executive Agency Update

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it is providing up to $200 million in relief to timber harvesting and timber hauling businesses that have experienced losses due to coronavirus as part of USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative.  Loggers and truckers can apply for assistance through USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) July 22 through Oct. 15, 2021. The Pandemic Assistance for Timber Harvesters and Haulers program (PATHH) is administered by FSA in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service.
On Monday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Forest Service have released updates to the AirNow Fire and Smoke Map to help protect communities across the country from the devastating impacts of wildfire smoke. EPA and the U.S. Forest Service launched the Fire and Smoke Map as a pilot in 2020 to give users the most localized air quality information possible.

Senate Committee Advances Bipartisan Energy Infrastructure Bill

Last week, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed the Energy Infrastructure Act by a vote of 13-7, with Senators Steve Daines (R-Montana), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana) voting with Committee Democrats in favor of the bill.  Forty-eight bipartisan amendments were incorporated into the bill during markup, with most being adopted en bloc by voice vote at the start of the meeting.  The Energy Infrastructure Act represents the Committee’s intended contribution to the infrastructure deal currently being negotiated by a bipartisan group of Senators.  Included in the nearly $100 billion overall authorization, the bill would authorize $3.5 billion to the U.S. Departments of the Interior and to reduce the risk of wildfires on federal lands as well as $1 billion for rural water projects.  Click here for a full summary of the bill. 
Additionally, on Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Schumer’s (D-New York) procedural vote to advance to debate on the bipartisan infrastructure package failed in a vote of 49-51.  Notably, Senate Majority Leader Schumer himself switched his vote to ‘no’ at the last second “for procedural reasons” to ensure that he would be able to hold another procedural vote at a later date.  The bipartisan group is still trying to finalize details of the proposal and is hoping to have actual language to vote on again early next week. According to Mitt Romney (R-Utah), a member of the bipartisan group, "I think we’ll get it done over the weekend, and then I hope that we get another cloture vote next week, and that will succeed."


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


CPUC To Host Public Briefings on Utility Readiness for 2021 PSPS Events

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has announced it will host virtual public briefings for electric utilities to discuss their readiness for Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events in 2021 with the public, as well as the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and CAL FIRE. Each respective utility will provide these briefings on the following dates:

• Tuesday, August 3, 2021, from 9 am to noon: Southern California Edison (SCE)

• Tuesday, August 3, 2021, from 1 pm to 4 pm: Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E)

• Wednesday, August 4, 2021, from 9 am to noon: Small Multi-Jurisdictional Utilities (such as Liberty Utilities and PacifiCorp)

To view the workshop, see here. Public participants may also hear the event and make comments by calling 1-800-857-1917, passcode 7218384#.



The Municipal Resource Group, a sponsor of RCRC’s 2021 Annual Meeting, is offering a comprehensive leadership development program for interested participants that starts on August 25th. For more information about the 10-month LX EVOLVE program, please see the flyer here.


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. 


Resource pages, deadline extensions, and available programs to assist communities impacted by COVID-19.


Coronavirus Relief Available from the Small Business Administration

The federal Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering several coronavirus relief options to help alleviate the financial hardships resulting from the coronavirus (COVID-19). The programs have received an overwhelming number of applications from businesses, so be sure to check the SBA website for the latest updates on the status of these programs.

  • The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provides loan forgiveness for retaining employees by temporarily expanding the traditional SBA 7(a) loan program. After initial funding was quickly depleted, the program received an infusion of an additional $310 billion, allowing the SBA to resume the program on April 27, 2020. Be sure to check the SBA website for the most recent information on the application process and availability of funds.
  • The Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Emergency Advance provides up to $10,000 of economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing temporary difficulties.
  • SBA Express Bridge Loans can be used to bridge the gap for businesses while applying for a direct SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan; small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly.
  • SBA Debt Relief provides a financial reprieve to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you are interested in programs for other disasters, the SBA Disaster Loan Assistance portal is available here.


Economic Development Resources for Communities and Businesses Impacted by the Coronavirus

The California Association for Local Economic Development (CALED) has assembled resources for communities and business impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19). The page will be continually evolving as new resources become available. To go directly to the CALED resources, click here.


Use of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funds for Infectious Disease Response

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds may be used for a range of eligible activities that prevent and respond to the spread of infectious diseases such as the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Check out the Quick Guide to CDBG Eligible Activities to Support Infectious Disease Response for guidance and additional information.


Coronavirus (COVID-19) County Resource Page Available

The California State Association of Counties (CSAC), RCRC’s local government partner, continues to provide excellent up-to-date state and federal information to counties on this ever-changing pandemic event.  We encourage visiting CSAC’s COVID-19 resource page, which contains vital links to all CSAC COVID-19 advocacy letters and resources.  CSAC’s staff continues to work around the clock to update activities so that all of California’s counties can remain properly informed.


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