Fifth Round of Fire Fee Bills Begins Mailing

Source: Micah Grant, Office of BOE Member George Runner  |  2016-03-01

George Runner

Fire Prevention Fee bills for fiscal year 2015-16 began mailing today to more than 700,000 rural Californians, many of whom are receiving a bill for the fifth time.

"Californians who live in rural areas already pay taxes to fund essential fire services," said Runner. "It's a shame this unfair and illegal tax continues to extract dollars from hardworking people. The Legislature and Governor should repeal it."

Approximately 10,000 bills will be sent each day in alphabetical order by county. The mailing schedule is alphabetical by county, starting today with Alameda County and concluding with Yuba County on June 13.

To protect their eligibility for a refund should the class action suit against the fee succeed property owners should protest by filing a Petition for Redetermination within 30 days of the billing date.

Information on how to appeal is available at

George Runner represents more than nine million Californians as an elected member of the State Board of Equalization. For more information, visit

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Amador Four Fires – Navigation Know How

Source: Jenny Kendrick  |  2016-02-23

Offering a total sensory immersion into four distinct wine growing regions, the second annual Amador Four Fires festival, slated for May 7, is an event like no other. As such, attendees are encouraged to devise a game plan designed to fully embrace this unique experience, which showcases Amador’s rich wine and culinary offerings.

“Strategizing with your crew is actually part of the event’s appeal as you are all discovering the four regions together,” explains festival founder Deirdre Mueller.

At first blush, attendees may feel at bit overwhelmed by all the choices, but never fear, Mueller has provided some insider tips for navigating the event with ease.

Program 101: Mueller suggests starting with an attendee’s best friend, the festival map and program. “Do a quick study of the offerings and select the cooking demonstrations and seminars you want to attend,” Mueller says. Using this as “dots” to connect, she suggests exploring each tasting region in between, pairing the region with the demonstration or seminar you want to attend.

Italy, Iberia, France or Heritage California? The four-region concept is what distinguishes the Amador Four Fires festival. “This event celebrates the distinct regions that inspire our county’s chefs, winemakers and winegrowers,” Mueller explains. “The wines are separated by region so attendees can taste them side-by-side. People love how intimate the experience is.” Participants will sample wines and perfectly paired dishes while chatting with the winemakers and chefs themselves. Some folks hop from winery to winery within a region, others pick a varietal, like Barbera in the Italian region, and make taste comparisons.

Attention Shoppers! Mueller advises attendees shop early to avoid the end-of-the day rush. Check out the local purveyors of olive oils, cooking sauces, candies and more. But don’t miss the wines available for sale as there are some great values, plus shoppers receive a free tote with the purchase of four or more of their favorite wines. The staff will be happy to set side attendees’ wine purchases for pick up at the event’s conclusion.

Get Cookin’: From grilled lamb and simmering paellas to whole pigs and seared fish, open flame cuisine is a hallmark of this event. Attend a cooking demonstration, sample the delicious results, and then query the chef. “They love sharing tips,” Mueller notes.

Sensational Seminars: The festival’s engaging seminars are a great way to gain knowledge and then put it into action in the next region. “For example, attend the “Olive Oil: Virgins and Extras” seminar before sampling the olive oils at the festival and you’ll have a deeper understanding of what you are tasting,” Mueller explains. Attendees should also stop by the Sensory Station to hone taste and smell that will assist them in picking out the subtle notes of the four distinct wine regions.

Soak up the Experience: Mueller suggests that attendees take time to relax. Take a seat in the shade; browse artwork and listen to live music provided by a winemaker who doubles as a musician. “It’s always a good idea to slow down and refresh your senses before diving back into the rich foods and wines of the festival,” Mueller notes.

The event takes place at the historic, spacious Amador County Fairgrounds. Proceeds from Amador Four Fires benefit the non-profit Amador County Fair Foundation and their “farm to future” mandate to revitalize the county’s beloved fairgrounds as a year-round event venue.

The festival takes place May 7 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tickets are all inclusive (with souvenir glass) and cost $75 in advance (via online purchase) and $85 at the door. VIP tickets are $125 in advance and $155 at the door. Designated driver tickets are $60 in advance, $70 at the door. All tickets will be available for purchase Feb. 1 at For more information, call 209-418-5707. The Amador County Fairgrounds are located at 18621 Sherwood St., Plymouth, Calif.

The Amador Four Fires Festival was created by the founders of the Barbera Festival, which takes place June 11 at Terra d’Oro. Both festivals were designed to educate visitors and locals about the intricacies of Barbera and Sierra wines, as well as spark a passion for unique flavors from around the world. The second annual Amador Four Fires festival celebrates four distinctive wine regions with an immersive array of activities, demonstrations and seminars, designed to ignite all senses in a celebration of flavor and life. Proceeds from the Four Fires Festival go to the Amador County Fair Foundation and its Farm to Future Initiative. For more information, go to

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Fire Clean-up in Full Force

Source: Rusty Harris-Bishop, Environmental Protect  |  2015-11-06

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its federal, state, and local partners continue the assessment and clean-up of household hazardous wastes in the aftermath of the Valley Fire in Lake County, CA and the Butte Fire in Calaveras County, CA. EPA mobilized to the two fire-impacted areas first to clear properties near public schools in Lake County, then more broadly in fire impacted communities under mission assignments from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

As of the end of October, the number of properties cleared are as follows:

  • Butte Fire: 610 parcels have been cleared as of Oct 24th, 2015 (approximately 90%)
  • Valley Fire: 632 properties have been cleared as of Oct 27th, 2015 (approximately 61%)

Accomplished and Ongoing Response Activities

EPA has three household hazardous waste task forces and one survey team in Lake County to assess residential properties destroyed by the fire. Each task force conducts air and radiological monitoring, and once completed, begins household hazardous waste characterization and removal. To date, 981 properties have been identified for household hazardous waste assessment and removal. This number is determined by the County as those properties where Right-of-Entry has been granted by the homeowner.

In Calaveras County, EPA has three teams assessing residential properties following a similar process, and three teams from the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) are also working in the area. The cleaned-up properties listed above are for all six teams working in Calaveras County. 678 properties have been identified to date.

Response Background Information

The Governor of California, Edmund G. Brown Jr., issued Executive Orders (B-33-15 and B-35-115) in response to the wildfire in Lake, Trinity, and Calaveras Counties to initiate clean-up of burnt debris and ash. The Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) has been assigned to manage the removal and proper disposal of the solid waste and debris left over from the fires. On September 28th, 2015, EPA On-Scene Coordinators (OSCs) from the Pacific Southwest Regional Office in San Francisco, using Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) authority, began clearing properties of household waste in a buffer zone around public schools and performing air and radiation monitoring.

On October 3rd, 2015, EPA received two Mission Assignments from FEMA for debris management and to collect, stage, and dispose of household hazardous waste.

For these tasks, EPA manages the categorization, removal, and appropriate disposal of household hazardous waste and orphaned containers at properties with destroyed residential structures within the Valley Fire boundary in Lake County and the Butte Fire in Calaveras County. Teams first sample the air for possible volatile or radiation contaminants, then assess the property for household hazardous waste (propane tanks, aerosol cans, pressurized cylinders such as oxygen tanks and SCUBA tanks that can pose an explosive hazard, and other containers that could have wastes that survived the fires). Items are collected and brought to the staging area, sorted, and properly disposed. Larger items such as drums and household propane tanks are also removed from the properties before CalRecycle removes the remaining debris. Properties are then sampled to ensure that contaminants have been removed and are suitable for rebuilding.

Source: Rusty Harris-Bishop, Environmental Protection Agency

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