Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019
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Natural Resources

What Can You Do to Protect Local Waterways?

Don’t pour used motor oil down the drain. Used motor oil or radiator coolant could pollute local waterways or harm aquatic life.

If you own a RV empty your waste tank at one of the local RV dump stations located at Bass
Lake-Forks Dump Station, Chowchilla and Madera Fairgrounds, and the Yosemite South/Coarsegold Campground (to name a few) to prevent chemicals from entering the watershed.

If you’re a dark room hobbyist, dispose of spent fixer, developer, and other photographic chemicals in separate containers and dispose of them on a hazardous waste disposal day. Like household hazardous wastes and used motor oil, photographic chemicals can result in pollutants being discharged into local waterways or groundwater.


Effects on Humans and the Ecosystems

What is PM 10? Particulate matter is made up of tiny, airborne pieces of soot, dust, fly ash, smoke and other solids or liquids. When inhaled, particulate matter can sneak through the body’s natural defense system, which includes nasal passages, mucous membranes and tonsils. The fine particles can carry into the body toxic chemicals that become lodged in the lungs, causing serious health problems. Some sources of particulate matter in the foothills are unpaved roads, construction and demolition, wild fires, and fires conducted for agricultural, residential and land management purposes.

Sources of PM10 Emissions in the San Joaquin Valley Air Basin are estimated at 481 tons per day (2000 Estimate). Sources include 26% from unpaved roads; 26% from farming operations;
15% from paved roads; 12% from windblown dust; 12% from waste burning; 6% from construction & demolition; and 3% other.

What’s Ozone? Ozone is a poisonous gas that helps protect humans when it occurs where it belongs: in the upper stratosphere. High above the Earth’s surface, the ozone layer helps filter out the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. But at ground level, ozone can be inhaled by people and can destroy lung and airway tissue, causing serious health problems. It is also harmful to animals, interferes with plant photosynthesis and erodes buildings and other man made material. A large part of the Valley’s ozone problem is due to mobile sources, such as cars and trucks.

Ozone in our mountain communities: Eight hour averaged ozone levels are higher in the foothill areas of the District than in many valley floor areas. During morning hours pollutants are held close to ground level by temperature inversions where temperature increases with height. As the day heats up, the surface layer where atmospheric mixing occurs grows. In addition, this heating causes upslope wind flow, and pollutants from SJV cities to be transported into mountain areas. On poor air quality days this mixing of the atmosphere is limited to the 3000-4000 foot level. Ozone levels transported into foothill and mountain areas stay moderately high into nighttime hours. This phenomenon occurs because ozone is both created and destroyed by fresh emissions. Once ozone is away from significant hydrocarbon and oxides of nitrogen sources concentrations can remain relatively high even into the night, thus creating broad peaks that result in high eight-hour averaged concentrations.

Incentives Promote Clean-Air Choices: Voluntary Programs
Financial incentive programs include Clean Green Yard Machines and Money for a newer, cleaner Vehicle program encouraging residents to invest in cleaner lawnmowers, passenger cars, and commercial vehicles.
The Clean Green Yard Machines Residential Rebate Program (Residential CGYM) provides two flexible options for rebates to San Joaquin Valley residents. Replace an old gas/diesel -powered lawn mower with a new electric lawn mower or purchase new electric powered landscape equipment for your yard!

The Valley Air District’s Replace program is available to individuals whose household income is at or below 400 percent of federal poverty level (FPL). Additionally, residents living in disadvantaged communities that choose to purchase a hybrid, plug-in hybrid or zero-emission vehicle can receive a higher funding amount. The tables below indicate the funding available based on the type of vehicle you intend to purchase, your household income and whether you live in a DAC zip code. The incentive calculator above can estimate your potential funding level.

Rules passed to reduce air pollution
1. Regulation VIII, which contains rules addressing fugitive PM10, was amended in late 2001. The rules were tightened to reduce the amount of airborne particles kicked up into the air by earthmoving operations, construction sites, unpaved and paved roads, as well as mining and oil operations. Road owners have the option of submitting a fugitive PM10 management plan to show how they’ll reduce dust emissions to 50 percent of a set standard. Without the plan, a road owner would have to ensure that dust from the road does not exceed 20 percent opacity. This means the dust cloud can block no more than 20 percent of the light coming through it. Otherwise, the road owner might be in violation of the regulation. The road owner also would be required to suppress dust on the road with water, approved oil treatments, or other methods.

2. Rule 4901 (Wood Burning Fireplaces and Wood Burning Heaters): This rule imposes mandatory “no burn nights” when the Air Quality Index reaches the unhealthy level of 150. This restriction does not apply to homes located above 3000 feet, without natural gas service, or for which the wood heater is the sole source of heat. The rule also limits the number and type of wood burning devices in new development, based on neighborhood density. The rule requires older, non-EPA-Phase II certified wood stoves to be removed or replaced at the sale of existing homes (this requirement does not apply to open-hearth fireplaces for which no EPA standard has been developed).

For more information please contact the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District at 559.230.6000. or on the web at




False bamboo, or giant reed, can rapidly spread through our waterways; even into thickly vegetated areas, and crowd out the native plants.  This bamboo looking plant shares a network of shallow roots that trap sediment, becoming a tremendous flood hazard and disrupting stream flow; often times the roots become undercut and break off taking soil with them causing landslides, clogging culverts and channels and redirecting the water. This plant with its unpalatable/toxic chemicals within its tissues provides no food or habitat for native animals; and its virtually non-existent canopy allows sunlight to raise the water temperature, causing water loss through evaporation and poor habitat for the fish by increasing water temperature. It is also a poor habitat for land animals due to no protection from predators and the weather. Arundo fuels dangerous wildfires, causes local flooding, and eliminates native plants and wildlife habitat.

Imagine our sloughs as highways for wildfire! It can happen when Arundo takes over. Arundo is highly flammable and burns even when green. When it carries fire into a waterway, riverside trees are killed and nearby crops and buildings may be destroyed; but Arundo grows back rapidly from its roots, thicker than before, and now without competition from other plants. Arundo transforms a naturally fire-resistant buffer along our sloughs into a threat to our environment and our homes. Arundo consumes more water than native species, Arundo consumes as much as 500 gallons of water per day.  Arundo can also be a tremendous flood hazard. Its shallow roots are easily undercut by stream flow. The roots then break off from stream banks, taking soil with them. Clumps of Arundo float downstream and clog culverts and channels. The obstructions cause flooding and sometimes wash out bridges, resulting in millions of dollars of damage. Large Arundo infestations can alter stream flows by redirecting the water against stream banks, undercutting them and causing landslides.

Due to its rapid growth, Arundo consumes huge amounts of water, turning water use into water waste by consuming three times more water than native plants. The water wasted by Arundo is water that native plants, fish, wildlife, and people need to survive.

Tree of Heaven

Chinese Sumac, Ailanthus altissima, is a deciduous tree up to 60 feet tall, with gray bark. This plant produces abundant root sprouts and seeds, thus forming large areas of thickets that displace native vegetaton, especially in riparian areas; shoots typically have a life span of 30 to 50 years. Tree of Heaven produces chemicals that may prevent native plants from establishing near by. Because they spread rapidly and continuously, they often need to be eliminated, posing a health concern for those who remove them. Hand pulling of young plants is effective, provided most of the root is removed so that resprouting does not occur. When removing or trimming/cutting the trees, wear gloves, long sleeve shirts, and long pants, and make sure you do not have open cuts, ruptured blisters, or other breaks in the skin that are exposed. If the sap from the tree gets into any of the openings in the skin, you can become sick. The sap of the Tree of Heaven contains proteins called quassinoids; that may cause myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and other heart and gastrointestinal symptoms of illness.

Himalayan Blackberry

Himalayan blackberry is a thorny, thicket forming shrub in the Rose family that produces large, edible blackberry fruits. Leaves are somewhat evergreen, divided into 3-5 leaflets that are rounded and have toothed edges. Flowers are small, white to light pink in flat-topped clusters of 5 to 20 flowers. Stems can grow 20 to 40 feet long and 13 feet tall, they can root at the tips when they touch the ground, and they have stout, hooked, sharp prickles with wide bases. The plant creates dense thickets that are impassable and sprawls over surrounding vegetation. It has large, deep, woody root balls that sprout at nodes. Himalayan blackberry out-competes native understory vegetation and prevents the establishment of native trees that require sun for germination. Dense and impenetrable blackberry thickets can block access of larger wildlife to water and other resources; not to mention causing problems for people trying to enjoy parks and natural areas. Himalayan blackberry is abundant along rivers and wetland edges, often blocking access to these areas. Riversides covered with blackberry often indicate degraded conditions and may mask eroding banks.



Biological Pollution: What you should know about invasive plants in California

A unique natural heritage
California is home to some of the world’s most beautiful and biologically rich landscapes. From redwood forests to oak woodlands, coastal dunes to desert springs, alpine meadows to delta sloughs, these landscapes are home to an astonishing variety of plants and animals. Many of these exist nowhere else on Earth. Unfortunately, these landscapes are being destroyed by invasive plants. Human development has disturbed nature’s processes, and every day invasive plants degrade more of our treasured natural heritage.

What are invasive plants?
When plant species that evolved in one region of the globe are moved to another region, a few of them flourish outside cultivation in their new home, crowding out native vegetation. These invasive plants have a competitive advantage because they are no longer held in check by their natural predators, and they can quickly spread out of control.

How do they get here?
Shipping, international travel, and the aquarium and horticultural trades are major routes of introduction.

How do they spread?
• Fragments break off and regrow
• Birds or mammals carry seeds
• Seeds are blown by the wind
• Clothing and vehicles spread seeds
In addition, some invasives are still used in landscaping.

Threatened wildlife
Invasive plants rob sunlight, nutrients, and water from native plants, which wildlife depends on. Invasives damage habitat for at least half the species federally listed as threatened or endangered. In California, 415 special status species are threatened by invasive plants.

Diminished outdoor recreation
Hunting and fishing are less rewarding, even impossible, when wildlife is under stress. Invasive plants can blanket waterways, trails, and scenic landscapes, making boating, hiking and other activities difficult, while lowering the land’s value for photography and wildlife viewing.

Degraded range and timber lands
Invasive plants impact working landscapes that support agriculture as well as wildlife. Rangeland invaders such as yellow Starthistle can be low in nutrition and even toxic to livestock, and removal costs decrease land values. On timber lands, Scotch broom invades forest openings, preventing tree seedling growth. U.S. agricultural losses to invasive weeds are estimated at $33 billion each year.

Increased wildfire potential
Invasive plants generate more fire fuels than the natives they replace. Their rapid and dense growth, along with high flammability, can change fire patterns in an area and be a recipe for catastrophic wildfire. Such fires can take a heavy toll on both wildlife and human communities.

Reduced water resources
Some invasive plants consume enormous quantities of precious water at the expense of wildlife, farms, boaters, and households. Tamarisk trees alone will cost $7-$16 billion in lost water over the next half-century.

Accelerated erosion and flooding
When invasive plants displace natives on streamsides and wetlands, the likelihood of flooding and erosion can be increased. In a vicious cycle, this erosion can enable even more establishment of invasive plants.

The California Invasive Plant Council (Cal-IPC) works to protect California wildlands from invasive plants through research, restoration, and education. The above information was provided by Cal-IPC and more can be found at



Are you Fire-Ready?!

You are responsible for ensuring that your property is fire safe. It is important for homeowners to take proactive steps to protect their property from a wildfire not only in the woodland/urban interface areas, but as we have seen more and more, in the towns and cities as well. Homeowners and renters need to clear out flammable materials such as brush or vegetation around their buildings to 100 feet (or the property line) to create a defensible space buffer. This helps halt the progress of an approaching wildfire and keeps firefighters safe while they defend your home.

New homes to should be constructed with fire-resistant materials. By building your home with materials like fire-resistant roofing, enclosed eaves and dual-paned windows, you are hardening your home and giving it a fighting chance to survive a wildfire. This will also help prevent buildings from being ignited by flying embers, which can travel as much as a mile away from a wildfire. Or existing structures should be hardened for fire safety.

Do you know what to do if you had to leave in 5 minutes or if your family became trapped? Here are six ways you can prepare your home, family, animals, and property to survive any fire emergency.

#1 & #2 – Take a few minutes to keep your home, family, and possessions safe & protect from Embers –                    Click #1&#2
#3 & # 4 – The six Evacuation Advisories you must be prepared for & the Evacuation Checklist –

Click #3&#4
#5 & #6 – How to keep your animals safe before, during, and after an evacuation & what to do if you become trapped in your home – Click #5&#6

Click Here to find more helpful tips that may save you, your family (two legged and four legged), and your property. And if you have not yet signed up to be notified in the event of a fire, flood or other emergency, now is the time to register. It is free and it’s important, not only for your safety but for the safety of first responders.

MCAlert is used to update residents regarding emergency evacuation during the fire season. By signing up, you will help keep everyone in the community safer including our deputies and firefighters. MCAlert is also used for other natural disasters such as floods, severe weather and missing persons, such as Amber or Silver Alerts when necessary.

To ensure you are receiving alerts, please sign up at (click on the MCAlert logo) or go by the Madera County Sheriff’s Office to complete the form in person.
The system is free and beginning May 1, 2019, the phone number for calls from MCAlert has changed. Registered users should program the number 1-800-915-2371 into their phones as “MC ALERT” and if possible, assign a unique ringtone to this number to further prompt you to pick up.