Supervisors hear update on invasive mussels emergency lobbying effort

Supervisor Anthony Farrington thanked Assemblywoman Fiona Ma for facilitating a meeting to discuss an effort to lobby for a statewide emergency relating to invasive mussels.

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The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday got an update on the effort to lobby for a statewide emergency relating to invasive mussels.

In August, the board passed a resolution urging the governor to declare a statewide emergency because of the appearance of invasive mussels – in particular, the quagga and zebra – in Southern California waters, as Lake County News has reported.

Since then, Supervisor Anthony Farrington and Supervisor Denise Rushing have met with state officials, and other jurisdictions – including the cities of Lakeport and Clearlake – have passed similar ordinances supporting a gubernatorial emergency declaration.

Farrington said Tuesday that they’ve had “very positive response” from other counties, including San Luis Obispo, San Benito, Yolo, Madera and Riverside. He said Sonoma also is considering such a resolution.

“We've had a lot of traction with the other counties following suit,” he said.

Farrington and Rushing are scheduled to meet on Thursday with state Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird and California Department of Fish and Game Director Chuck Bonham to discuss the proposal. Farrington thanked Assemblywoman Fiona Ma for her assistance in facilitating that meeting.

Another goal is to get a legislator on board to craft supporting legislation. Farrington said they are seeking a response on that request from state Sen. Noreen Evans, Assemblyman Wes Chesbro and Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, who will represent Lake County after 2013 due to state redistricting.

Rushing added that they’re also still seeking an audience with the governor.

Melissa Fulton, chair of the Clear Lake Advisory Committee, said they want to see the emergency move forward as quickly as possible.

“This is a threat, as we know, to the entire state,” she said, adding that invasive mussels are becoming more of a top of mind concern for people in California and elsewhere.

To keep the process rolling, Farrington told the board he wanted to send out a second round of letters to counties that haven’t responded to Lake’s request to support the resolution.

The board voted unanimously to continue moving forward with the efforts that Farrington and Rushing are spearheading.

Rushing also had asked for a discussion on a work plan from the Clear Lake Advisory Committee. Fulton said the group is planning to meet soon to discuss the 2012 work plan.

Rushing said the board needed specifics from the committee due to the level of complexity surrounding lake protection.

She said different committee members will come to the board with long lists of things that need to be done. “The only way we are going to get ourselves out of this is to put some structure to it.”

Betsy Cawn, the committee’s secretary, told the board that there are very poor communications between the committee and county staff.

Rushing said the goal was to improve communications, and asked for a short list of goals. Cawn protested, stating that the committee already had given the board such a list in June.

Farrington responded that it was the Clear Lake Advisory Committee’s job to advise the board, not set policy. He recounted bringing lake-related issued to the board previously – including an algae harvester – and getting pushback from the committee.

“Ultimately, we set the policy,” he said, adding that the supervisors needed specifics if they were to address the shortcomings in the interactions between the committee and board that Cawn said existed.