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Children plant first new trees in forest burned by Rim Fire

Under bright, warm sunshine Thursday, about 150 students from Tenaya Elementary School in Groveland helped plant the first new trees in part of the Stanislaus National Forest burned in the massive 2013 Rim Fire.

The youngsters worked between pockets of burned brush and mature trees with blackened trunks, with their teachers and other grownups as part of early Earth Day activities.

Glacier Point Road to open Saturday

Yosemite National Park officials are planning to open Glacier Point Road on Saturday for the spring and summer.

Highs in Yosemite Valley and Tenaya Canyon are expected to approach 80 today and through the weekend. Visitors can expect temperatures 10 to 20 degrees cooler at higher elevations including Glacier Point.


CCWD suspends rate hike

The Calaveras County Water District Board of Directors on Wednesday voted to suspend for one year a rate increase that was scheduled for September.

The board suspended the increase after adopting a list of projects that will be less costly than earlier planned.

Feds start 4B gallon fish water release

Boat ramps don’t reach water at New Melones Reservoir’s Tuttletown Recreation Area. Maggie Beck / Union Democrat, Copyright 2015.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will release more than 4 billion gallons of water from New Melones Reservoir into the Stanislaus River over the next couple of weeks for “pulse flows” intended to push salmon smolts out to sea.

Bureau spokeswoman Erin Curtis said the releases will reduce the amount of water stored in New Melones by about 15,000 acre-feet. For perspective, the amount of water that will be released could serve roughly 40,000 Tuolumne County residents for an entire year.

Sierra Views: Veteran volunteer Mario Salas

Sonora resident Mario Salas is a Vietnam veteran Vietnam. His girlfriend, Mimi Bareilles (right), had his Mini Cooper painted red, green and yellow to resemble the Vietnam Service Medal ribbon and match his trike. Jesse Jones / Union Democrat, Copyright 2015.
Longtime Sonora resident Mario Salas has spent much of the past 25 years volunteering at nearly every veteran event in Tuolumne County.

Salas, 68, who served one tour in the Army during the Vietnam War, said he is proud of his service and supports veterans and soldiers.



Tuolumne County's water outlook worse than thought

Water levels at Pinecrest Reservoir are lower than normal because of California’s four-year drought. Jesse Jones / Union Democrat, Copyroght 2015.
 Tuolumne Utilities District, reluctant this year to impose the early and stiff water-conservation measures implemented last year, learned this week that the county’s water situation is more dire than expected.

District General Manager Tom Scesa at a Wednesday evening TUD board meeting said he learned this week from Pacific Gas and Electric Co. that Pinecrest Reservoir — TUD’s second-largest source of drinking and farm water — is not supposed to fill this year, as earlier forecast.

Woman dies in Mokelumne Hill car accident

A San Andreas woman died in a Wednesday afternoon accident in Mokelumne Hill. 

Connie Sullivan, 53, was pronounced dead about 3:15 p.m. at the scene of the collision, according to a California Highway Patrol report. 

PG&E: Water outlook bleaker

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is now saying that Pinecrest Reservoir is not expected to fill with water this spring.


Calaveras County probation to arm officers

The Calaveras County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday authorized the purchase of guns for its probation officers, one of the last counties in the state not to have them. 

Chief Probation Officer Sam Leach requested some of his officers be allowed to carry firearms because of the greater threat posed by criminals released from prison and placed into county probation programs. The prisoners have been released under 2011’s AB 109, a law intended to cut prison populations as required under a federal court order.

Flood maps will be redrawn

The Calaveras County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved an agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to fix flood maps that forced many residents to buy unnecessary flood insurance.

The maps, mostly originating from the Department of Water Resources, were adopted by the county following a 2008 presentation by FEMA. The speakers warned that homeowners could become ineligible for flood insurance if the county didn’t adopt the maps. 

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