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By Chris Neklason
Published Jun 24, 2024

An image from September 2020 of Lake Tenaya in Yosemite National Park, with sunlight and shadows cast in the wildfire smoke hanging over the lake water. An image from September 2020 of Lake Tenaya in Yosemite National Park, with sunlight and shadows cast in the wildfire smoke hanging over the lake water. Image credit: Chris Neklason contributed

Fire Season Begins with a Roar

A whiff of smoke on the breeze the other day had me thinking back to 2020. 

I was up at our family cabin outside Yosemite that August, and one night watched the most intense thunderstorm of my life take place off to the east over the Sierra. Lightning lit up the sky and thunder crashed and boomed for hours, though little or no rain fell. 

It was the same up and down California, and the next day, the state was on fire.

I was back up at the cabin a month later in September, and the smoke was so thick I donned goggles and an industrial respirator and headed up into the Yosemite high contry in search of breathable air.  After driving a couple hours I found some up in Tuolumne Meadows, and remember hiking to the river and wondering if I should camp out for a few days.

That summer there were so many fires buring in the state, I'd found the best air in California and was loathe to leave.

Since then, more communities have become firewise certified, more homeowners have embraced defensible space, and more funding has been directed toward clearing beetle-killed trees in forests.

Hopefully, this summer won't see the return of the lurid yellow and orange skies of 2020.

7077-fire-smoke.jpg
The author in September 2020 on a quest for clean air.


Summer Has Arrived

Summer arrived this year on June 20, but fire season got here first with the ignition of the Corral Fire south of Tracy in San Joaquin County on June 1. Now 100% contained, the fire burned over 14,000 acres of grasslands and led to evacuations of some neighborhoods.

As I write this, there are several other fires burning in the state and experts are forecasting more to come until it rains. 

It's not too late to prepare for fire season, and this issue of The Newsletter features a couple of articles to help.


Give Your Home a Fighting Chance in a Wildfire

Many of Robert Kerbeck’s neighbors in Malibu Park lost their homes in the 2018 Woolsey Fire, which left behind lots where only chimneys still stood.
California wildfires are becoming larger, more frequent and more ferocious. ‘Malibu Burning’ author Robert Kerbeck shares simple steps you can take to protect your home.

On the Lookout for California Wildfires

Hundreds of Internet-connected cameras  provide a birds eye view of California.
The UC San Diego-managed ALERTCalifornia network of mountaintop cameras act as remote eyes for fire fighters, and the public.


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Direct your browser to https://sanbenito.californialocal.com/ to catch up on the latest news in California and San Benito County. Bookmark the link and visit often, there's a lot happening in your community!


Recipe of the Week

Our friends at Sacramento Digs Gardening publish a recipe from their gardens every Sunday, which we feature here so you can start your week with some yum.

See more recipes in their Taste Summer! cookbook.


Cobble together plums and cherries for a summer treat

Cherries and plums are botanical cousins, so pair beautifully in an early summer cobbler.
New! Easy fruit creation's worth a little oven time


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Gilroy Dispatch logo Sales Tax Ballot Measure Headed to Gilroy Voters

Voters in Gilroy will be asked in the Nov. 5 election to approve a quarter-cent local sales tax that would be dedicated strictly to increased police, fire protection and related public safety services.

Benito Link logo Officials Host New High School Town Hall

More than 90 people attended San Benito High School District’s two town hall meetings on June 12 and 13, where district officials presented a plan to fund the construction of the second high school, discussed the campus design and revealed …

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Recent Statewide News

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• What You Need to Know About the California Budget Deal

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• 90,000 Acres Burned So Far

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• YIMBYs Endorse California Forever

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• These Cities Have a New Tactic to Evade California Housing Laws. Legal Experts Are Dubious

A recent court ruling exempted five charter cities from a controversial housing law. That’s given anti-density advocates across California an idea.

(06/17/2024) → CalMatters

• Active Fire Season Forecasted

With multiple fires already burning in the state, forecasters predict the coming fire season will be "very active."

(06/17/2024) → Los Angeles Times

• In Rain, Snow and Drought, California’s Fights Over Water Rights, Supplies Persist

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Government Announcements

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Image of United States seal. United States   (06/21/2024)

Vitakraft Sun Seed Recall of Sun Seed Vita Prima Hedgehog Food Due to Possible Salmonella Health Risk

Vitakraft Sun Seed Inc. of Weston, OH, is voluntarily recalling one lot of Sun Seed Vita Prima Hedgehog Food because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. Salmonella can affect animals eating the products and there is also a risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products,
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (06/20/2024)

Dawn Addis CA Assembly 30:
Addis Attends Juneteenth Celebration and Recognizes One of District 30's Women of the Year

Addis Attends Juneteenth Celebration and Recognizes One of District 30's Women of the Year sanchema Thu, 06/20/2024 - 08:46 Wednesday, June 19, 2024
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (06/20/2024)

Dawn Addis CA Assembly 30:
Addis Hosts Juneteenth Celebration and Proudly Recognizes District Women of the Year

Addis Hosts Juneteenth Celebration and Proudly Recognizes District Women of the Year sanchema Thu, 06/20/2024 - 08:46 Wednesday, June 19, 2024
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (06/19/2024)

Dawn Addis CA Assembly 30:
Addis Joins Community for 5th Annual Juneteenth Jubilee in Seaside

Addis Joins Community for 5th Annual Juneteenth Jubilee in Seaside piperch Wed, 06/19/2024 - 15:56 Title Chief of Staff Email julie.cravotto@asm.ca.gov Phone 916-319-2030 Wednesday, June 19, 2024 SEASIDE, CA Assemblymember Dawn Addis (D-Morro Bay) joined community members and leaders over the weekend for the 5th Annual Juneteenth Jubilee Celebration, hosted by the Monterey County Black Caucus. The event commemorated the …
Image of United States seal. United States   (06/18/2024)

Hudson Harvest Issues Voluntary Recall of Tomato Basil Sauce Due to Potential Under-Processing

Hudson Harvest of Germantown, NY, is voluntarily recalling Hudson Harvest Tomato Basil Sauce because of reported swelling, leaking, or bursting jars. There is a possibility that the product has been under processed, which could lead to the potential for spoilage organisms or pathogens.
Image of United States seal. United States   (06/17/2024)

Snapchill LLC Recalls Canned Coffee Products Due to Potential Clostridium botulinum

Snapchill LLC (Snapchill) of Green Bay, WI is voluntarily recalling all canned coffee products manufactured by the company, within expiration date, because their current process could lead to the growth and production of the deadly toxin, botulinum toxin, in low acid canned foods. Botulism, a poten
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (06/17/2024)

Dawn Addis CA Assembly 30:
Juneteenth Celebration

Saturday, June 15, 2024 Celebrating those who have made significant change and incredible sacrifice in our community.
Image of United States seal. United States   (06/12/2024)

FSIS Issues Public Health Alert For Not-Ready-To-Eat Pork And Beef Bacon Products Due to Sodium Nitrite Levels in Excess of Regulatory Limit

WASHINGTON, June 12, 2024 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing a public health alert for not-ready-to-eat pork and beef bacon products due...
Image of United States seal. United States   (06/12/2024)

Bonneval Foods, LLC Recalls Barbecue Pork Skin Product Due To Misbranding And Undeclared Allergens

WASHINGTON, June 12, 2024 - Bonneval Foods, LLC, a Gonzales, La. establishment, is recalling all barbecue pork skin product that is currently available in commerce due to misbranding and undeclared...
Image of United States seal. United States   (06/11/2024)

Villa Nueva Interservices LLC Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Milk in "Arepas LA Mejor" 25 oz Bags of Arepa de Choclo /Chocolo

Villa Nueva Interservices LLC. in Lake Worth, FL is recalling "Arepas LA Mejor" 25 oz bags of Arepa de Choclo /Chocolo because it contains undeclared milk. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to Milk run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these pro