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Study: State forests denser, more vulnerable to wildfire

Dense tree growth in the Stanislaus National Forest can be seen along Highway 108. Jesse Jones / Union Democrat, Copyright 2015.
 A study released Tuesday found that California forests over the past 70 years have become more dense and more vulnerable to wildfire.

Firefighting tactics, timber harvest practices and drought all have helped shape the state’s forests, leading to this vulnerability.

New Moke River bill introduced

New legislation calling for a study of the Mokelumne River before it can receive “Wild and Scenic” protection has been introduced by a pair of Mother Lode lawmakers. 

Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, R-O’Neals, and Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Twain Harte, introduced Assembly Bill 142 last week. It directs the secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency to conduct a study to “ensure that all environmental and water supply effects are taken into account” before Wild and Scenic status can be granted. 

Sierra Views: Blacksmith is living history

Shaws Flat area resident Zane Orr ran a stagecoach business at Columbia State Historic Park for a number of years. Guy McCarthy / Union Democrat, Copyright 2015.
 A 91-year-old former blacksmith, wheelwright, lumber plant worker and World War II Navy veteran lives in the Shaws Flat area. 

Zane Orr is retired and spends part of his days at coffee shops like the Heart Rock Cafe in Sonora. He gets around fine on his own, and he is known as a sharp wit with storytelling skills. He says he once shod 16 horses in eight hours for the pack station at Kennedy Meadows.

January may be driest on record

Sonora has had no precipitation this month and, depending on whether any rain falls between now and Jan. 31, it could be the driest January in Mother Lode history.

Both the National Weather Service and Tuolumne Utilities District agree that Sonora’s rainfall so far in January 2015 is a big fat goose egg. But that could change.

Houseboats burn at Don Pedro

Two houseboats were destroyed by fire Wednesday night at Lake Don Pedro near the north side of Jenkins Hill.


The fire was reported about 10 p.m. The cause of the fire is under investigation and no injuries were reported.


Watch for flaggers on Mono Way

Flaggers will be directing traffic at Mono Way and Greenley Road today and Friday for construction.


Angels Camp hopes to build 4.4-mile trail to lake

Angels Camp City Council members directed city staff on Tuesday to apply for a trail grant that would connect the city’s historic downtown area with trails around New Melones Reservoir. 

The 4.4-mile Angels Creek Trail would follow a path from the Vallecito Road area, across Highway 49, down Finnegan Lane, following an old water flume to connect with existing trails at New Melones, city staff said. 

Sonora High OKs bids on first bond project

The Sonora Union High School District Board of Trustees on Tuesday approved nearly $4.6 million in bids for renovation of the Humanities building and related site work as its first project with Measure J bond money.

The bids are nearly double the original $2.4 million estimate, mostly due to additional utilities that will be installed now instead of later, according to Paul Bonaccorsi, from WLC Construction Services, who attended the meeting.

Downtown trees to get ax

Read more...Seven of the 18 historic trees in downtown Sonora’s Courthouse Square will be chopped down this winter as part of an extensive maintenance project approved by the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

In approving the estimated $40,000 project, the board largely ignored recommendations made by the Tuolumne County Historic Preservation Review Commission at a Jan. 5 meeting.

City of Sonora homeless ordinance on ice

A proposed extension of Sonora’s citywide ban on unauthorized camping failed to gain enough votes for approval Tuesday.

The Sonora City Council voted 2-1 to approve extending the ordinance that criminalizes unauthorized camping on public or private property within the city. However, an ordinance needs at least three votes of support from the five-member council to pass.

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Tue, 27 Jan 2015 20:31:43 -0800