The Barbed Wire - November 17, 2023

November 17, 2023
RCRC Barbed Wire on Hiatus for Thanksgiving Holiday
RCRC Supports Measure to Reduce Federal Roadblocks to Vegetation Management Near Powerlines
RCRC to Host Webinar November 30th
Energy Safety Approves PG&E’s 3-Year Wildfire Mitigation Plan, Requires Wood Haul Procedure Improvements
CPUC Releases Draft BEAD Proposal
Newsom Administration Certifies Sites Reservoir Project as Eligible for Streamlined Judicial Review
UC President’s Advisory Commission on Agriculture and Natural Resources Receives Briefing on UCANR Conservation Partnership Efforts in Rural Counties
USDA Invests More Than $1.2 Billion in Rural Cooperatives to Increase Economic Opportunity and Advance Equity in Rural America 
Congress Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Support Drought Resilient Agricultural Practices

RCRC Barbed Wire on Hiatus for Thanksgiving Holiday

The Barbed Wire newsletter will be on hiatus November 24th for the Thanksgiving holiday and will return December 1st.

RCRC Supports Measure to Reduce Federal Roadblocks to Vegetation Management Near Powerlines

On October 20th, U.S. Representative Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara) introduced the Fire Safe Electrical Corridors Act of 2023 (H.R. 6012) along with Representatives Jim Costa (D-Fresno), David Valadao (R-Hanford), and Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-Oregon).  The measure seeks to reduce utility-related wildfire risk by breaking down barriers to the removal of dead, dying, hazardous, and fallen trees along utility corridors on Forest Service Lands.  Specifically, H.R. 6012 allows the Secretary of Agriculture to provide permission to cut and remove trees and other vegetation near power lines without requiring a separate timber sale.   

RCRC is pleased to support this measure as a way to reduce federal obstacles for utilities to remove fuel loads from utility corridors after the clearances are created without the Forest Service having to conduct a timber sale.  This will help mitigate the risk and intensity of future fires by ensuring those materials are not simply left on the forest floor to fuel future fires.  RCRC’s letter of support can be found here

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

RCRC to Host Webinar November 30th

On November 30, join the RCRC team as they brief counties on the measures headed for the November 2024 ballot that will significantly impact how local governments do business. The webinar will cover: 

  • ACA 1- Affordable Housing and Infrastructure Financing 
  • Taxpayer Protection and Accountability Act (California Business Roundtable Initiative) 
  • ACA 13 – Voting Thresholds 
  • Government Transparency and Accountability Act

Date:  Thursday, November 30, 2023
Time: 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Register Here

During the webinar, RCRC's Government Affairs team will provide an overview of the need-to-know potential changes around financing, taxes, fees, and the Public Records Act and how they could shape state and local government operations in California. 

This webinar is limited to County Supervisors and public agency staff. Admittance requires registration with a valid county or public agency email address. 

Energy Safety Approves PG&E’s 3-Year Wildfire Mitigation Plan, Requires Wood Haul Procedure Improvements

On Monday, the Office of Energy Infrastructure Safety (Energy Safety) published a Draft Decision approving PG&E’s 2023-2025 Wildfire Mitigation Plan. All electrical utilities are required to construct, maintain, and operate their lines and equipment to minimize the risk of a utility-caused wildfire and undertake comprehensive mitigation measures through a Wildfire Mitigation Plan. This year, utilities filed comprehensive plans that cover a three-year period describing how the respective utility is calculating risk, prioritizing infrastructure upgrades, and choosing mitigation strategies. Energy Safety evaluates the completeness of a WMP; considers a maturity model and survey; identifies potential revisions; and issues strategies for continued improvement. This while the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) ultimately determines ratepayer costs during a utility’s General Rate Case.  

Among Energy Safety’s numerous recommendations for future improvement, the agency will require PG&E to update its procedures for wood management of woody debris and large diameter logs and include wood management commitments. RCRC has continuously advocated not only for PG&E to clear the backlog of felled hazard trees from its legacy Enhanced Vegetation Management program but has also repeatedly requested that PG&E’s WMP contain clear, durable assurances of wood haul (upon request) throughout all its vegetation management programs. Energy Safety noted that PG&E’s wood management approach diverges from other utilities and does not recognize the safety benefits of reducing the accumulation of woody debris to its customers, also noting that “a potential benefit could be increased willingness of property owners to allow PG&E to remove hazardous vegetation if large wood removal services were offered at no- or low- cost.” In 2024, PG&E will submit a 2025 WMP Update and report on its progress, including these identified areas of improvement.  

For questions, please contact RCRC Policy Advocate, Leigh Kammerich.  

CPUC Releases Draft BEAD Proposal

On November 7th, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) released its draft Initial Proposal of the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program. The BEAD program provides $42.45 billion to expand high-speed internet access by funding planning, infrastructure deployment and adoption programs in all 50 states. California has been allocated approximately $1.86 billion under BEAD based on the federal government's calculation of California's share of unserved locations nationally, estimated to become available for award in June 2024.  

RCRC is a formal participant in the CPUC’s BEAD proceeding. Through the proceeding the CPUC will develop program rules where they have the limited discretion to do so, such as criteria to choose competitive subgrantees. Subgrantees will carry out a variety of projects, including unserved and underserved service projects; projects that connect eligible anchor institutions; broadband data collection, mapping and planning; installing internet and wi-fi infrastructure or providing reduced-cost broadband within a multi-family residential building; and broadband adoption programs. 

The CPUC’s Initial Proposal is divided into a Volume 1 and Volume 2. Volume 1 centers around the challenge process and contains proposed rules to determine eligible locations and how eligible entities may challenge the current eligibility of locations. Volume 2 describes the subgrantee selection process and the proposed competitive process to select subgrantees to construct BEAD projects. The State must submit a complete plan to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) implementing the BEAD Program by the end of 2023. In late August, the CPUC submitted its final BEAD Five-Year Action Plan to NTIA. Ultimately, NTIA may modify the CPUC’s proposed challenge and subgrantee selection process to garner final approval.  

Interested local government entities and community-based, non-profit organizations that are not formal parties to the proceeding may also submit feedback to by December 7, 2023. For questions, contact RCRC Senior Policy Advocate, Tracy Rhine or Policy Advocate, Leigh Kammerich.

Newsom Administration Certifies Sites Reservoir Project as Eligible for Streamlined Judicial Review

On November 6th, the Newsom Administration announced that the Sites Reservoir project will be the first to benefit from new judicial review streamlining provisions authorized by this summer’s legislative infrastructure package. The new streamlining provisions apply to qualifying public projects, limiting the time for judicial review from CEQA challenges to eligible projects to a total of 270 days, if determined feasible by the court where the challenge is heard. 

By utilizing the new streamlining provisions enacted by SB 149 (Caballero, 2023), the Administration is asserting that this week’s action will meaningfully reduce the time to complete the Sites project. However, it should be noted that the 270-day judicial review provisions are not a mandatory requirement on California courts, and that judicial review is only one part of a more lengthy permitting, entitlement, and financial process required for completing large public projects. Even with this new expedited authority in place, completion of the Sites Project is expected to happen no sooner than a decade from now.  

Still, this designation by the Newsom Administration is important, not only to possibly shorten the timeline for the project, but it may also reduce costs and bolster market certainty and confidence in the project. In its press release, the Administration notes that the project has received a total of $46.75 million in early funding from the state, and that, in all, the project is eligible for up to $875.4 million of Proposition 1 funding. The estimated total project cost is north of $4 billion. 

To read the Administration’s certification of the project, see here. For more information on RCRC’s advocacy for Sites and other surface storage projects, please contact RCRC Policy Advocate Sidd Nag.   

UC President’s Advisory Commission on Agriculture and Natural Resources Receives Briefing on UCANR Conservation Partnership Efforts in Rural Counties

The University of California has a long-standing President’s Advisory Commission (PAC) on Agriculture and Natural Resources to provide guidance to the UC President, as well as the Vice President of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Division (UC ANR). Through the years various stakeholders, including RCRC, have been invited to serve on the Commission. RCRC is currently represented on the Commission by Mary-Ann Warmerdam, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.  

During the most recent monthly PAC meeting on Emerging Issues, UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Advisors Sarah Light and Laura Snell presented on the interagency collaboration efforts of the  California Conservation Planning Partnership involving recent soil health and water management projects. The session recording is available here, and the presentation is available as a PDF here

Key takeaways from the conversation 

  • These collaboration efforts demonstrate the importance of UCCE in rural counties, as they provide connections with resources and organizations, provide the necessary facilitation skills, as well as scientific expertise. 

  • Relationship building is essential to the success of these efforts. It was noted that as we think about rural challenges, the practice of making friends is important; this is true not only within the local rural community, but also in suburban and urban areas to increase their understanding of agriculture.  

  • Being a trusted partner allows UCCE to be a bridge and is critical to get anything done. UCCE’s collaboration with many different groups builds trust into the network, which is vital for agriculture and the state of California.  

RCRC thanks UCANR for providing the briefing. The entire PAC Emerging Issues series is accessible on YouTube here. For more information, contact RCRC Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, Mary-Ann Warmerdam

USDA Invests More Than $1.2 Billion in Rural Cooperatives to Increase Economic Opportunity and Advance Equity in Rural America 

On November 9th, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the USDA is investing more than $1.2 billion in loans and grants to spur economic development; catalyze rural prosperity; and advance equity through rural cooperatives in 36 states and Puerto Rico. Among the awards were several projects impacting California, including a rural development grant of $25 million to support the construction and development of a four-story hotel located in RCRC’s member county of San Luis Obispo, and a Value-Added Producer Grant for Sunsweet Growers Inc., headquartered in Placer County.   For more information, and additional projects impacting California, see the full list here.  

Congress Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Support Drought Resilient Agricultural Practices

On November 15th, U.S. Congressman David G. Valadao (R-Kings County) joined with Teresa Leger Fernández (D-New Mexico) and Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) to introduce the Support Water-Efficient Strategies and Technologies (WEST) Act (H.R. 5764), which would support agriculture practices more commonly used in Western climates.  

The WEST Act would support water-conserving Environmental Quality Incentives Programs (EQIP) practices as well as support perennial production systems and soil health – both of which help retain and conserve water. Specifically, the bill would:  

  • Allow the USDA Secretary to increase cost shares to 85 percent for EQIP practices that are water-conserving or drought resilient.

  • Make perennial productions systems eligible for supplemental payments within the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

  • Strengthen the soil health program by allowing the Secretary to conduct outreach on the program and offer payments for soil testing.


A monthly update regarding the important work of RCRC's affiliated entities, providing innovative services for the benefit of rural communities.


GSNR Hosts Board and Community Meeting in Tuolumne County

On October 30th, the GSNR Board of Directors held a Board meeting in Tuolumne County to provide the opportunity to discuss GSNR’s forest resiliency efforts and the status of the California and Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process with the local community. The day began with the regular GSNR Board meeting at the Chicken Ranch Casino, Event Hall in Jamestown, CA and included status updates on key aspects of GSNR’s proposed forest resiliency project including the CEQA and entitlement process. The Board then took a recess until the evening, with some taking the opportunity to tour the proposed pellet mill project site in Jamestown.

In the evening the Board reconvened for a GSNR Community Meeting also held at the Chicken Ranch Casino, Event Hall. Attendees included a cross section of residents, business owners, local elected officials, and representatives from the environmental community. Tribal Chairman Lloyd Mathiesen, of the Chicken Ranch Rancheria Me-Wuk Indians of California, opened the event, welcoming attendees and speaking to the potential benefit of GSNR’s proposed forest resiliency project. Attendees then received a welcome from GSNR Chair and Inyo County Supervisor Matt Kingsley, followed by a presentation overview of the proposed project efforts, including the pending Environmental Impact Report (EIR). After the presentation, attendees also had the opportunity to ask questions and meet the GSNR Board and the staff project team.

This meeting builds upon the outreach efforts underway in GSNR proposed project areas, such as the community meeting held in Lassen County on July 19th, and served as a follow-up to the community meeting previously held by GSNR in Tuolumne County in 2022; allowing staff to display continued commitment to the project and help mitigate some concerns.

An additional community meeting is anticipated in GSNR’s project area over the coming months in San Joaquin County, particularly around the Port of Stockton.


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


CARB Clean Truck Check Outreach Kit Available

By January 2024, all trucks driving in California must comply with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Clean Truck Check (CTC), formerly known as the Heavy-Duty Inspection and Maintenance Program, approved in 2021. CARB has made outreach materials available to assist with the three-phase implementation. View the Clean Truck Check Outreach Kit and additional information here.




Career Opportunities

  • Shasta County Probation Department is seeking a Chief Fiscal Officer. Full time. Salary range $83,340.00 - $106,368.00 annually. Closes December 7, 2023, at 5:00 PM. For details or to apply, see here.  
  • Shasta County is seeking an Assistant Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer of Weights and Measures. Full time. Salary range $84,984 - $108,468 annually. Closes November 17, 2023, at 5:00 PM. For details or to apply, see here.
  • Shasta County is seeking a Deputy Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer of Weights and Measures. Full time. Salary range $72,348.00 - $92,340.00 annually. Closes November 17, 2023, at 5:00 PM. For details or to apply, see here.
  • Yolo County is seeking a Senior Personnel Analyst to join the Yolo County HR team. Full time. Salary range $100,068.80 - $121,638.40 annually. Closes December 1, 2023, at 11:59 PM. For details or to apply, see 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


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


Ingrid E. Braun, of Mammoth Lakes, has been reappointed to the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, where she has served since 2020. Braun has served as a member of the State 9-1-1 Advisory Board since 2018. She has served as Sheriff-Coroner for Mono County since 2014. Braun was a Reserve Police Officer at the Mammoth Lakes Police Department from 2013 to 2014. She was a Deputy Sheriff and Retired Annuitant at the Mono County Sheriff’s Office from 2011 to 2013. Braun held several positions at the Los Angeles Police Department from 1990 to 2011, including Lieutenant, Detective Supervisor, Detective and Police Officer. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley. This position requires Senate confirmation and there is no compensation. Braun is a Democrat.

Tammy Campbell, of Visalia, has been appointed Warden of California State Prison, Corcoran, where she has been Acting Warden since 2022 and has served in several positions since 2000, including Chief Deputy Warden, Correctional Administrator, Captain of the Investigative Services Unit, Custody Captain, Correctional Lieutenant, Correctional Sergeant, Correctional Counselor II, Specialist, Correctional Counselor I and Correctional Officer. She was a Correctional Officer at Centinela State Prison from 1996 to 2000. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $175,332. Campbell is registered without party preference. 

Chris Chambers, of Lincoln, has been appointed Director of Correctional Policy Research and Internal Oversight at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, where he has served as Deputy Director of the Office of Research since 2020 and was Associate Director from 2017 to 2020. Chambers held several positions at the California Department of Justice from 1994 to 2017, including Data Processing Manager and Assistant Bureau Chief. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $189,000. Chambers is registered without party preference. 

Jennifer Gonzales, of Napa, has been appointed to the State 9-1-1 Advisory Board. Gonzales has been Chief of Police for the City of Napa Police Department since 2021, where she was Police Captain from 2015 to 2021. She was a Lecturer at California State University, Chico in the Political Science Department from 2009 to 2015. Gonzales served in several roles at the City of Chico Police Department from 1995 to 2015, including Police Officer through Lieutenant. She was part-time Community Service Officer and Dispatcher for the California State University, Chico Police Department from 1993 to 1995. Gonzales is a member of the Napa NEWS Board, California Massage Therapy Council Board of Directors, Napa Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council, Napa County Community Corrections Partnership Committee and the California Police Chiefs Association. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Latin American Studies from California State University, Chico and a Master of Arts degree in Negotiation and Conflict Management from California State University, Dominguez Hills. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no compensation. Gonzales is a Republican.  

Robert Pearce, of Chalfant, has been appointed to the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board. Pearce held several roles at the Natural Resources Conservation Service from 2003 to 2022, including District Conservationist and Acting State Rangeland Management Specialist. He was a Plant Ecologist at Pacifica Services Inc. from 2001 to 2002. Pearce was an Ecologist at Resource Concepts Inc. from 1998 to 2001. He earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Rangeland Ecosystem Science from Colorado State University, a Master of Science degree in Rangeland Science from Texas A&M University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture Management from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $250 per diem. Pearce is a Republican.

Ryan Sundberg, of McKinleyville, has been appointed to the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board. Sundberg has been General Manager of Cher-Ae Heights Casino since 2019. He was a Humboldt County District Supervisor from 2010 to 2018. Sundberg was Owner of Sundberg Insurance Agency from 2002 to 2009. He was a member of the Trinidad Rancheria Tribal Council from 1996 to 2010. Sundberg earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Humboldt State University. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $250 per diem. Sundberg is registered without party preference.


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.


Maps rank every California neighborhood by extreme weather – San Francisco Chronicle

An interactive map, based on recent peer-reviewed research, illustrates the climate vulnerability index of specific census tracts in California. Variability within the state and counties is evident. The map depicts tracts in yellow as less vulnerable and purple as more vulnerable to extreme weather. Percentiles reveal how each area ranks nationally in vulnerability. Further maps detail susceptibility to droughts, wildfires, and floods. The index, with 184 indicators, gauges regions' vulnerability to natural disasters and weather extremes, using data from FEMA and IPCC. Coastal areas face heightened flood risk due to sea-level projections, while inland regions like Santa Cruz Mountains and North Bay are more susceptible to wildfires. An interactive website enhances exploration of index indicators, fostering community dialogue and action.


‘Prompt action’ on fire insurance yet to help California homeowners – CalMatters

California homeowners, grappling with availability and affordability issues in home and fire insurance, face a prolonged wait for relief as Governor Newsom September executive order to address the insurance crisis may not yield results until 2026, leaving affected homeowners in limbo.


Column: It's about time California built the Sites Reservoir – Los Angeles Times

Recently, Governor Newsom implemented a new law to accelerate lawsuits related to the California Environmental Quality Act, expediting the approval process for the Sites Reservoir project in the Sacramento Valley. The proposed project would be situated in Colusa and Glenn counties and could store up to 1.5 million acre-feet of water, serving three million homes annually. If built, Sites Reservoir would be the largest reservoir to be built in California in 50 years with the goal of alleviating flood threats and providing irrigation water. The fast-tracking process aims to resolve environmental lawsuits within a year, significantly expediting the development of the project.