AM News for Friday, 12.13.13
Governors in 16 states are unveiling a high-tech wildlife habitat mapping project they hope will encourage economic development across the West while protecting the region's environmental treasures at the Western Governors Association's two-day, annual gathering in Las Vegas.
Five years in the making, the database will connect 16 western states from California and Alaska to Montana and Oklahoma with a first-of-its-kind online system of maps displaying wildlife habitat, wetlands and other valuable natural resources — much of it detailed down to square-mile increments.
The Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool, or CHAT, provides layers of data that rate the resources on a scale of one to six, from most to least "crucial."
It's expected to be especially helpful for projects that may encounter species of concern in multiple states, like the northern spotted owl in the Pacific Northwest, the sage grouse in the Great Basin or the prairie chicken in the Southwest.
Conservation groups have expressed interest in the data to help make decisions about prioritizing protection of wildlife or purchasing property most valuable to their preservation mission.
The freezing temperatures should be loosening their grip on the Ukiah Valley and Inland Mendocino County in the coming week, but caution is still urged on the road.
Although morning and nighttime lows are expected to be above freezing starting Friday and warming gradually through the coming week, drivers can still expect to see some icy patches on local roads.
"We still have a large part of Brooktrails where the roads have ice on them; in the Covelo and Laytonville areas some roads still have ice on them; some streets in Willits still have ice, and the schools are still open," Mendocino Sheriff Tom Allman cautioned.
The NWS also reported that no more snow is on the horizon for the area.
NWS meteorologist Jeff Tonkin, said "Temperature-wise, it looks like it's going to be above freezing through the next week. It looks like there's going to be some pretty benign winter weather."
Lows over the weekend are expected to be in the mid- to high 30s, and to reach the low 40s by the late part of next week. The afternoon temperatures are expected to gradually warm into the low 70s by the middle of the week.
Thanks to Tiffany Revelle & the UDJ.
New figures show that over the last year, California's population grew by the highest rate in nearly a decade.
The state Department of Finance said Thursday that California added 332,000 people between July 1, 2012 and July 1 of this year. The state population now stands at 38.2 million.
Demographers say the overall 0.9 percent growth rate was the highest since 2003-04, before the recession.
The increase was largely driven by new births. Migration added only 66,000 people.
Alameda and Santa Clara counties in the San Francisco Bay Area saw the largest percentage increases in population, followed by Santa Barbara, Placer and Kern counties.
When Brice Lee McKinnon, 22, was sentenced to six years eight months in prison for arson of forest lands, many were unaware that with prison realignment he will actually serve only half that sentence. Judge Ann Moorman adopted the Mendocino County Probation Office's recommendation for six year eight months in prison.
The county reserved the issue of reimbursement for the estimated $150,000 in firefighting costs associated with the five fires for a future date.
McKinnon pleaded guilty to five counts of arson of forest land but California does not include arson of forest land in its list of serious or violent crimes which reduce the amount of credits convicts receive for time served.
"I firmly believe the defendant needs to be sentenced to state prison for the maximum time allowed," stated Ryan Finn, CalFire investigator and fire captain.