California Lifts Virus Stay-At-Home Orders, Curfew Statewide
Speaker 1: 00:00 The stay at home order is lifted. Speaker 2: 00:03 All regions effective immediately are no longer in the stay at home order. And we'll move back into the blueprint. Speaker 1: 00:11 I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Jade Heinemann. This is KPBS mid-day edition Purple tier restrictions returned to San Diego. Speaker 3: 00:28 We are going to be in the purple tier guarding today. The most significant parts of that is outdoor dining personal services, hair salons, barber shops, massage tattoo. Speaker 1: 00:38 We'll get an update on today's wild winter weather in San Diego, and hear about an effort to make San Diego's federal juries, more diverse that's ahead on midday edition. Governor Newsome says a projection of the state's ICU capacity and the trend of COVID case rates gives officials confidence that California can lift it's regional stay at home. Speaker 2: 01:11 Our projections statewide is in the aggregate beat at 30.3% on the 21st of February. They're getting variables that are constantly changing, but these are the projections you can see in Southern California. It would exceed even that state rate, San Joaquin Valley a little bit below Bay area, tiny bit below. Speaker 1: 01:33 That means that the state will resume its County to County evaluation of COVID restrictions. Most of the state, including San Diego will return to the purple tier. And depending on the final decisions announced by County officials, that change probably means the reopening of hair salons and outdoor dining. I spoke with Nathan Fletcher, chair of the San Diego County board of supervisors about what the end of the stay at home order means to us. We heard that the metrics on positivity rates, ICU bed capacity and hospitalization are improving in many areas of the state. Is that true here in San Diego? Speaker 3: 02:11 Well, we have seen improvements, uh, certainly in the daily case count and in the percentage of positivity, uh, we've seen very slight and modest improvements, uh, in, in ICU and hospitalizations, but again, all of the numbers are headed in the right direction. Um, and I think that's a Testament to the, the work that San Diego ans did, uh, to, to really claw back and fight back against, uh, the largest surge we've seen in COVID. So it is encouraging. Speaker 1: 02:36 The state is still experiencing a high death rate from the virus. How does that factor into this statistic? Speaker 3: 02:42 Well, it's always important. We remembered the significant delay. Uh, people take, uh, an unsafe action and that action may show up in cases seven to 10 days later, uh, that increase in cases will show up in hospitalizations 21 to 24 days after. And then the loss of life will show up after people could do the right things and you could still see cases go up. There's a frustration. You could see cases begin to go down, but not hospitalizations. And then you could see cases and hospitalizations go down and deaths continue to go up because of the significant lag between each of these steps. So right now our cases and positivity are holding and are going in the right direction. Hospitalizations are ever so slightly beginning to trend there. Uh, but it is likely that loss of life will continue to increase, uh, for a, for quite awhile. Speaker 1: 03:28 And is the rate of vaccinations? Is that now one of the metrics included in evaluating the state of the virus in a particular County? Speaker 3: 03:37 Well, it's a metric. We can, we hold ourselves accountable to daily and we have worked tirelessly to stand up multiple superstations with more coming. Uh, you know, the real limiting factor to date is the availability, uh, of the vaccines and the steady supply of them. And, you know, we're hopeful, uh, that that will improve and increase, but the quicker we get more people vaccinated, uh, the quicker, there are fewer places for the virus to spread and the quicker we can work our way out of that. Speaker 1: 04:04 Well, now that the blanket stay at home order has been lifted, will San Diego again, be in the most restrictive purple tier. And can you remind us what that would mean? Speaker 3: 04:15 So we are going to be in the purple tier, uh, starting today. Uh, the most significant parts of that is outdoor dining was allowed, uh, along with personal services, uh, can operate, uh, that's your, your hair salons and barbershops massage tattoo, uh, various components like that. Um, and so we will go back in that purple tier, um, and we'll basically return to where we were prior to the regional stay-at-home order, uh, where every week we will assess our case rates, uh, and, and begin to work to go down to that next tier, which is red, but I want to caution our, our case rates are still quite high. And, and we are a, a, a long way away from descending into the red tier, uh, which is what we got ourselves, uh, down into, uh, last fall. Speaker 1: 05:00 What kind of latitude does San Diego County have in controlling reopenings under their purple tier? Speaker 3: 05:06 Well, San Diego can be more restrictive, uh, than what the state of California allows, but cannot be less restrictive. And so what is allowed for us right now is to move into the purple tier, uh, our public health, uh, experts, our doctors, scientists think that that is okay, given the general trajectory of where we are, uh, to, uh, to move into that purple tier. But again, we, we really continue to plead the public that our, our case numbers are still very, very high, and there's still tremendous strain on our healthcare system. Uh, and so we really continue to, uh, to implore the public, to follow the public health measures, wear a mask physically distance from non household members, you know, avoid these high risk settings and let's continue the trajectory that we're presently on. Speaker 1: 05:50 There was a concern that San Diego, even most of California perhaps opened up too soon, early last, bringing on a new wave of the virus. Is that something you're also thinking about right now? Speaker 3: 06:04 Um, I shared that concern, uh, both, both last year as we headed into the summer and again, in the fall, uh, as we went into the tiered system. And so it, it is, it is always, uh, something that is, is certainly on my mind and something I think greatly about, uh, I think outdoor dining can be done safely and responsibly. Uh, and I think that the personal care services again, if they follow the health protocols, um, you know, can also be done, uh, reasonably safely. And, and hopefully this can alleviate a little bit of pressure, um, on, on, on some of those entities. But, you know, I'm very mindful that COVID remains with us. And even though every day, we're vaccinating more people that is still a very small percentage of the total. And so we haven't yet seen real substantive relief from COVID due to vaccinations. And so we can't lose our focus on, on battling COVID and adhering to the orders and measuring every day where we are, uh, while we also embrace and celebrate the opportunity that the vaccinations arrival presents to us. Speaker 1: 06:59 I want to just ask a closing question. If I may, the state has announced that the eviction moratorium, which was just extended by the federal government to the end of March, will be extended in California until June 30th. Do you think that's a good idea? Speaker 3: 07:16 I do. We, we don't want people to be put out on the street, um, because they're experiencing hardships around COVID. We don't want to further complicate an already very serious, uh, crisis of, of the unsheltered, but I think it's vitally important that we also move forward in as a County. We are moving forward, uh, with expansions and extensions of rental assistance, uh, because it's also not fair to, uh, landlords, uh, to have, you know, no one can, can pay the rent, but they still have to pay their bills. And so we will be moving forward with rental assistance programs to continue those on a similar trajectory. Uh, so then individuals who've been impacted by COVID, uh, won't be evicted, but there also is a mechanism by which, uh, they can help, help pay the rent. And I think that two of those really do have to go together. Speaker 1: 08:00 I've been speaking with the chair of the San Diego County board of supervisors, Nathan Fletcher, supervisor Fletcher. Thank you very much. Thank you for having me. Speaker 4: 08:13 The wind is howling rain and snow are falling and even Hale is pelting some parts of San Diego County today. The winter storm closed the Petco vaccination site this morning, and also knocked out power to 1700 SDG and E customers before Dawn and areas scattered across the County. Alex tardy, a meteorologist for the national weather service in San Diego County joins us now, Alex, welcome. Thanks for having me on, Hey, so the power outages across the County that I mentioned are very likely due to high winds. Talk to us about the wind conditions across San Diego County. Yeah, Speaker 3: 08:48 That's exactly right. So last night when most of us were sleeping, a vigorous cold storm out of Alaska, Speaker 5: 08:56 Western Canada moved across our area. And so that did a couple of things. It brought rain, uh, beneficial rain. We need the rain, uh, but it also brought a little bit too much wind. Uh, and those winds were gusting all nights, uh, 20, 30 miles per hour. And in some other Wendy's locations, over 50 miles per hour. So this wasn't the Santa Ana wind. This was a wind coming off the ocean, and we're not done with the wind either. The winds are gonna pick up again this afternoon, uh, across the ocean and across our coastal communities. Speaker 4: 09:28 Hmm. You know, it's been raining on and off since Saturday. How're the rainfall totals looking. Speaker 5: 09:33 Yeah, it really has. So these storms have kind of blended together. We had a break on Sunday, these two storms Saturday and today, Monday. So they're adding up to two big numbers. Uh, we have a lot of locations that are over an inch of rain, uh, with more to come this afternoon and this evening. So when all said and done, we're talking about some of our wet locations, and these are in the cities, uh, close to two inches of rain, at least everywhere, an inch of rain and a little bit more in the mountains, but in the mountain, that's been several inches of snow, including places like Julian. Speaker 4: 10:09 And how do the rainfall totals and precipitation totals compare to typical a winter event? Speaker 5: 10:15 Yeah, that's the thing. So we were starting off really low. Um, prior to this storm, over the weekend, we only had two storms total. So we were sitting at about a quarter or 25% of average before this storm. So we've now kind of doubled the totals, uh, but we're still well short. Uh, you know, we're still about half of where we should be. So the good news is that more rain is in the forecast for later on Thursday into Friday. So we still got a long ways to go to get back to near normal, but it is beneficial rain. Speaker 4: 10:51 Um, as you mentioned, it's been snowing in the mountains, what areas and how much? Speaker 5: 10:55 Yeah, so, uh, we saw snow all the way down to about 2,500 feet. We saw cumulating snow down to about 3000 feet, and we're still looking for additional snow this afternoon. And even this evening tonight, uh, so some places will pick up six to 10 inches of snow, like Palomar mountain Mount Laguna, but even some of our towns such as Julian overnight picked up four inches of snow. And I, like I said, more snow is on the way. So the snow is piling up and it's noticeable up in those areas. They've had the plowing and chain controls in effect Speaker 4: 11:33 Early on. You said the storm is coming out of Alaska. Tell me a bit more about that. Speaker 5: 11:38 So for us here in Southern California, uh, this type of storm is, is, you know, maybe once a year, if we have a very cold, active winter, we might get it two or three times a year, but in this case, um, it's coming directly from the North. So we're getting pure Arctic air coming of Alaska. Uh, it's not a good storm for Northern California. So believe it or not. And Northern California, didn't see much out of this. Um, over the weekend or today they're going to get their rain from the atmospheric river Lake this week. But this particular storm here is coming directly out of Canada. So it's about as cold as it can get for our part of Southern California. Gotcha. So some of that for us, what can we expect for the rest of the week? So for the rest of the week, you know, we catch a break, there'll be a few rain and snow showers when, when everyone's waking up tomorrow morning. Speaker 5: 12:25 So, so keep that in mind the roads, uh, in some unusual areas that low elevations will be IC tomorrow morning, especially if you get up early and you have to travel on interstate eight, for example, tomorrow morning, but by tomorrow afternoon, Tuesday afternoon, we'll see a lot of sunshine everywhere. Uh, we'll have a nice day on Wednesday and a warm up a little bit after really cold start that we talked about for Wednesday morning. The next round of rain is different. Uh, it comes from tropical moisture and it comes in Thursday late afternoon. It's gonna cover all of California. So first it'll go into the Bay area on Wednesday, then it'll hit LA Thursday morning. And then by Thursday afternoon, it'll be moving into San Diego and it'll be with us all the way through Thursday night and Friday morning. And that will be more of a tropical rain. So I don't expect any snow in the mountains except maybe way up around 6,000 feet by Friday morning. But overall, this is going to be a Rainmaker and significant rain too. We could see widespread inch of rain Thursday afternoon into Friday morning, even in the San Diego Metro area. I've been Speaker 2: 13:36 Speaking with Alex tardy meteorologist for the national weather service, Speaker 1: 13:39 San Diego County, Alex, thank you for joining us. Thanks so much for having me. Speaker 2: 13:43 Yes. Speaker 1: 13:50 This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Jade Hyman. The speed of California's vaccine rollout remains one of the slowest in the nation. Can it be done faster? Some volunteer tech workers with ties to Silicon Valley? Certainly think so. KQBD science reporter. Leslie McClurg explains a few weeks ago, Tim Schwartz was watching the nightly news. New guidelines will be issued today. Speaker 2: 14:16 That will expand vaccine eligibility Speaker 1: 14:19 To suddenly qualified for a shot. He's a 67 year old resident of San Francisco, but he had no idea how to get one Speaker 2: 14:27 Calling me, emailing me, telling I'm eligible for anything. Speaker 1: 14:31 He checked his doctor's office, but they weren't vaccinating people his age. So we went down to his local pharmacist and asked if they were offering shots. Speaker 2: 14:39 No, uh, he had heard from corporate Walgreens corporate office that they might in the future Speaker 1: 14:46 Short started scouring the internet, but to no avail, even California's public health, didn't provide Speaker 4: 14:52 Any links to drive. Upside's walk up appointments or even a help desk. Speaker 6: 14:56 Oh, it's frustrating that in one of the most tech savvy cities in the most tech savvy country in the world, that this kind of information is not available to the residents. Speaker 4: 15:07 The state promises a user-friendly solution soon, but Patrick McKenzie, isn't waiting around. He's a tech worker based in Tokyo with ties to California. He was floored that vaccines were sitting on shelves rather than saving lives. Speaker 7: 15:20 So I tweeted out on Twitter and said, one of the best things that I could imagine a technologist spending time on right now is calling the places that could have the vaccine and putting who says yes, in a single place, Speaker 4: 15:32 The call to arms roused, many of Mackenzie's followers, which is a hundred thousand people, a group of really smart folks started designing a dashboard immediately. A few hours later, Mackenzie checked in on his friends. Speaker 7: 15:44 This is all fantastic. You know, just one thing though, when you're, when you're doing the call center management, I have some suggestions and then one thing led to another. Speaker 4: 15:52 They launched a website the next morning, less than a week later, 250 volunteers were calling hundreds of doctors and pharmacists across the state. Every day, one afternoon, they found 60 new places offering shots just in Los Angeles. Their dashboard called vaccinate CA offers up-to-date information about where supplies exist, who qualifies and how to make an appointment. Similar efforts are underway in Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania throughout the pandemic. Private citizens have crowdsourced everything from COVID case tallies to behavior risk calculators. Speaker 7: 16:27 If you go to those sites, you get much more accurate data in a more timely way. Then even the federal government is delivering at least today. Speaker 4: 16:36 Dr. Georges Benjamin is the executive director of the American public health association. Speaker 7: 16:41 I think this citizen engagement is here too, Speaker 4: 16:44 But he says crowdsourcing can't solve everything. And without regulation, of course, no, one's checking to see if information stays accurate or up-to-date one big problem. People without access to technology will be left out. Benjamin says everyone needs better information. Speaker 7: 17:01 So that may use communicating with trusted messengers. That means flyers. That means radio TV. That means social media Speaker 4: 17:09 Hope the new Biden administration leads communication efforts from the federal level, rather than rely on underfunded, local health departments. In the meantime, volunteers like tech worker, Patrick McKenzie will keep staying up all night until the government offers something better. Speaker 7: 17:25 I have never worked on anything that feels as important as what we have done in the last week. And I hope that we are able to do it much faster over the next week. Speaker 4: 17:37 He wants to connect as many people to as many vaccines as fast as he can. That way Speaker 6: 17:43 Science reporter, Leslie McClurg, Speaker 4: 17:50 Even with efforts to get teachers in higher priority groups for the COVID vaccine schools may not be reopening any time soon, and maybe not even this school year KPBS education reporter, Joe Hong joins us now to talk about what needs to happen to get students back in the classroom. Joe, welcome. Speaker 8: 18:07 Hey Jay, thanks for having me. So Speaker 4: 18:09 Even if teachers are able to get vaccinated in the coming months, there's still no guarantee that widespread in-person learning will resume. Why is that? Speaker 8: 18:18 It's mostly because of the way that the teachers unions and the school districts have reached an agreement of when they'll reopen and, uh, reopening dates are tied to the case rates in the community rather than vaccinations. So, um, even if teachers are vaccinated, there is a huge concern that, you know, case rates will, will continue to stay up because students and other members of the community will not get their vaccines until, until after teachers get theirs. Speaker 4: 18:52 There are some teachers who are still required to work in person with students. Tell me about the push to get them in tier one, a along with healthcare workers in some, Speaker 8: 19:03 The vast majority of teachers and educators are in a tier one B, and right now into your one 80, you have folks like school nurses and speech language pathologists, but there is a push right now to get special education teachers and school psychologists, uh, who are currently in one B up to one a, because they're currently doing a face-to-face sort of work with students, um, especially special education teachers. A lot of them are working, you know, in small groups with students who, because of their disabilities, can't wear a face covering or, um, or a mask. So, uh, yeah, districts like Poway and Chulavista have told me that they are pushed to get those folks up into two, one eight. Speaker 4: 19:46 And can you talk about what school districts are in areas seeing the highest number of COVID cases and what they're experiencing? Speaker 8: 19:54 Yeah, I mean, it continues to be just, uh, heartbreaking in, in areas in the South Bay, um, like, uh, Sweetwater union, high school district, Chula Vista elementary school district. Um, you know, I was talking to a teacher's union president, uh, from, from Sweetwater and she was telling me that, you know, everyone knows someone at this point who has COVID or has died from COVID. So the idea that vaccinating teachers will lead to sort of mass school reopenings is just kind of out of the question for them, Speaker 4: 20:30 You know, in your report, you mentioned LA unified school district is urging officials to turn schools into vaccination sites to focus on vaccinating teachers. Are there any plans to do that here in San Diego? Speaker 8: 20:42 No. There, there aren't. And none of the school district officials are sort of, you know, making those calls or, um, urging the County to sort of coordinate with them. I've been told that there has been some communication, but it's still very preliminary. Um, and so the idea is that, you know, turning school gyms or something into vaccination sites could really expedite the vaccination of, of teachers and, and eventually students as well. Speaker 4: 21:13 Would that plan in LA get students back into the classroom sooner? Speaker 8: 21:17 That's certainly the hope. So once teachers are vaccinated, if they could transition into vaccinating students, eventually that that would, that would definitely get schools reopened sooner. Speaker 4: 21:30 What are school districts here saying about what needs to happen before schools can reopen? Speaker 8: 21:35 So San Diego unified school district is, uh, focusing on three things before they're comfortable reopening. Um, the first thing is getting case rates down in the community. They don't want to reopen schools and have that contribute to a growing case rate. Uh, the second thing is mass regular testing, uh, on, on school campuses. So this would be like bi-weekly testing for all students and staff who are on campuses. And then the third thing really is vaccines. They really want to see all those pieces come together and they're not really seeing, uh, vaccinations as sort of, you know, the silver bullet to reopening schools. Speaker 4: 22:14 Well, do any local school districts feel optimistic about reopening the school year? Speaker 8: 22:19 You know, no one at this point wants to, wants to make any predictions right now, just because of the way things have gone back and forth so much in the past year, uh, when it comes to school reopening, um, it seems less and less likely that schools reopened this school year, but there are conversations about, um, summer school for all students this year, just to make up for the learning loss. And it seems more likely that more students will be able to return to campus safely in the summer months. Speaker 4: 22:54 I've been speaking with KPBS education reporter Joe Hong, Joe. Thank you very much. Thanks for having me Speaker 1: 23:05 A new administration takes power in Washington. There's usually a shakeup among federal prosecutors around the nation up in LA, for instance, the U S attorney appointed by former president. Trump has just resigned, but here in San Diego is there's a more fundamental issue about federal court procedure. That's coming under fire. The U S district court for the Southern district of California has published its plan to increase the diversity of jurors. But critics say their proposal will not correct. A racial imbalance that has existed for decades. Joining me is voice of San Diego reporter Maya, Sri Krishnan, and Maya. Welcome to the program. Thank you so much Speaker 9: 23:46 For having me Speaker 1: 23:47 The court's plan was submitted for public comment last month. What kind of reaction did it get? Speaker 9: 23:54 So several different groups, including a group of federal defense attorneys who work in the district, um, community organizations, and then law professors and social scientists from around the country, all submitted letters, expressing concern that the district is not doing several best practices to help diversify its juries and ensure that they're actually representative of the community that it's serving. So one of the biggest criticisms, um, that was present in all the letters was that the district was planning to continue its use of only voter registration lists as its sole source, um, to pull candidates for its master jury wheel when it's generally recommended to use other less. In addition to that, like DMV records are a state list of tax filers. Speaker 1: 24:38 So why would limiting the jury pool to the names on voter rolls? Why would that tend to limit black and Latino representation? Speaker 9: 24:46 So voter registration, including in San Diego County tends to skew older and it tends to skew white. So that leaves out a lot of people and not just black and Latinos, but also even, you know, some younger white people and, um, Asians. So what these letters show, they did an analysis of court reports that have come out every year that track the representation in the master jury wheel. And they found that between 1999 and 2019, you know, only pulling from voter rolls resulted in only 62.2% of expected African-American citizen representation in the districts. Jury Speaker 1: 25:25 Is the method of selecting the jury pool different from one federal district court to another. Speaker 9: 25:32 Yes. So something that I learned in the story, and I think a lot of people don't know is that local court jurisdictions actually have a lot of say in how they form their master jury wheel, which is like the big wide pool of potential jurors that they select who gets summons from. And according to these letters, they did an analysis of the other federal district courts in California. And the Southern district of California was the only court that was only using voter registration, all of the other federal district courts, at least using DMV records to supplement that. Speaker 1: 26:09 So according to these criticisms in these letters that were sent to the federal district court here in San Diego, the main problem, hampering diversity on federal juries, isn't due to what we might think of as strikes made by lawyers during jury selection, but to who's in the jury pool itself, is that right? Speaker 9: 26:28 All of these experts think that those strikes are problematic as well. Um, but their point was sort of that a lot more attention is given to the strikes and less attention is given to the fact that there are skewed numbers of people coming into that jury selection process to eat before you even get to the strike process. So the people who are getting summons, the people who are arriving at the courthouse to potentially be selected, those groups are also not representative of the actual community. And if that's not representative, then you can't even, you know, get to the next phase. Um, and have it be potentially fair. Speaker 1: 27:04 How long have critics here been concerned about the lack of diversity on federal juries? Speaker 9: 27:10 So I think it's been an issue for quite a while, um, especially for defense attorneys and community organizations that represent some of the groups that often end up, um, as defendants in these criminal proceedings. But I know back in 2017, several of these same organizations sent letters once again, to the Southern district of California, basically requesting that they start adding DMV roles and other records to supplement their master jury wheel list. In addition to just using voter registration lists. So that's been a discussion for at least a couple of years now, Speaker 1: 27:45 Former San Diego County, public defender, Genevieve Jones, right, submitted her criticism to the Southern district with a commentary on why a diverse jury pool is essential. What did she have to say Speaker 9: 27:58 Have basically was saying that the jury pool really needs to represent the community, especially given who is in these proceedings in court. You know, people who do not have similar backgrounds to the defendants will have a different perspective on, you know, maybe why they committed the crime or, you know, their interactions with a police officer or things like that. That someone who is maybe white and wealthier would have a different outlook on because they've had completely different experiences with police. They, you know, maybe haven't had to have ends meet. So, you know, she felt that it was really important in order to commit to racial equality, justice, and inclusion, that the jury's also be representative of the community. Speaker 1: 28:44 And has there been any reaction at all from the federal district about these criticisms? Speaker 9: 28:50 Uh, I reached out to the chief judge, um, and the Southern district of California. And he declined to comment for this story. He said that since the plan is sort of still in the or public comment phase, they don't feel comfortable discussing it yet because no final decision has been made on the plan. Speaker 1: 29:07 Speaking with voice of San Diego reporter Maya Sheree, Christian Maya. Thanks Speaker 9: 29:11 A lot. Thanks so much for having me Speaker 4: 29:20 Record-breaking wildfires in 2020 turned huge swaths of Western forest into barren burn scars, those forests store, winter snow pack that millions of people rely on for drinking and irrigation water, but with such large and wide reaching fires, there's little data to work with on what comes next as K U and UNCs. Luke reports, Speaker 10: 29:42 Scientists are investigating what happens when a river's headwaters goes up in flames roaming through a burn scar is like running an obstacle Speaker 11: 29:51 Course. Speaker 10: 29:54 There are downed trees to climb over duck under and get, Speaker 11: 30:02 Oh no. I'm okay. Yep. Speaker 10: 30:05 And the trees that are entirely burned out, leaving gaping holes in the ground. Speaker 11: 30:11 Wow. There's so much Ash there. Oh my gosh. That is so much Ash. Speaker 10: 30:15 It's Stephanie camp, a hydrology professor at Colorado state university. Speaker 11: 30:19 Like all the way down underground, just like followed the roots. Yeah. Look at that. Speaker 10: 30:26 M and a team of researchers are installing a weather station and stream gauges along a steep Creek within the Cameron peak burn scar and more than 208,000 acres. The Northern Colorado fire is the state's largest on record. Camp wants to know what happens to the snow that falls on a burned area. This big, Speaker 11: 30:46 Some of these streams had burned so much. I don't know if you noticed coming up like the whole riparian zone is burned. And so there's nothing alive at all. Speaker 10: 30:56 Snow in the West equals water and camp says research shows fires can affect snowpack in very different ways with no trees, more snow accumulates on the ground. But the lack of tree cover also means it's more exposed to the sun. And in the spring melting can become erratic Speaker 11: 31:16 And then a brave new world when it comes to snow and wildfire Speaker 10: 31:20 And Nolan studies geography at the university of Nevada Reno, she says another side effect of fire is how it can change the composition of snow. When it falls on the ground, it becomes darker, picking up charred bits of Ash, Speaker 11: 31:33 And then all that black duck on the snow makes it melt a lot faster, Speaker 10: 31:39 Are an important part of forest ecology in the Western us. But Nolan says the fires in 2020 were unprecedented. Speaker 11: 31:47 The scale that we're experiencing now, we actually don't know what the hydrologic impacts will be. Speaker 10: 31:54 That's because no two fires are alike. Gabrielle boiler Mae is a researcher at the desert research Institute in Las Vegas. She's looked closely at one Creek in Yosemite national park. Their land managers have been hands off and allowed smaller fires to burn more frequently. Speaker 11: 32:13 Did those kinds of fires then lead to less sedimentation and less problems with flooding and water quality. Um, and it looks like they do Speaker 10: 32:23 Hurdle is getting good data from burn scars, landslides and floods. After a fire can destroy scientific instruments, leaving the record in complete, but as fires burn bigger and hotter, boy rhe may says there's a push for researchers to get the field and understand how fire and water intersects. Speaker 11: 32:43 And so people are starting to realize that and starting to realize that we're working on such thin margins in terms of water supply in the West that no, we actually need to know. Okay, well I'm guess I'm think we just got to do this. And if you want to spend another day looking for more sites Speaker 10: 33:00 After an hour and a half of scrambling through the Cameron peak burn scar researcher, Stephanie camp and her team have found a location for their weather station and begin staking it into the burnt ground camp says it can be easy to think of wildfires as singular acute events that displace people from their homes and choke the air with smoke until they're put out. But when it comes to snow pack and water supplies, the impact can last for decades. Speaker 11: 33:30 And so when those areas get stressed by something like a whole series of severe wildflowers, then we're talking about affecting the water supply of not just that area, Speaker 10: 33:39 But the entire water supply of the West. Since most of our region's rivers start in relatively small snowy forests. I'm Luke Runyon in pewter Canyon, Colorado. Speaker 12: 33:53 This story is part of ongoing coverage of the Colorado river produced in partnership with public media station, K U N C in Northern Colorado with financial support by the Walton family foundation. This is KPBS day edition. I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Jade Heinemann in her California Foodways series, reporter Lisa Morehouse visits, every one of California's 58 counties to take us into orchards, tiny family run cafes and into the woods to forage for wild mushrooms. She's also introduced listeners to some incredible Californians who harvest and prepare the food we eat. And as 2020 came to a close, she learned that some of them passed away. Reporter Lisa Morehouse talks to California report magazine, host, Sasha Coca about those food pioneers and their legacies. Let's start with somebody who many consider to be the godfather of organic farming in California. My name is amigo Bob. Speaker 11: 34:56 Yes, I do have a last name. A lot of people don't even identify me that way. It's rare. Speaker 12: 35:00 So most people knew him as amigo, Bob or amigo. That's a nickname he got in high school. Amigo was a ninth generation Californian and at an earth day rally back in 1970, he found some inspiration for the rest of his life. That's when he learned about pesticides and he began farming and modeling how to farm without pesticides. You did a story about him back in 2016 in Nevada County. And you talked about how he's a kind of treasure Hunter. These treasures that he was looking for were trees and the fruit and nut and ornamental trees that had been at homesteads and stagecoach stops and little orchards in gold country in the late 18 hundreds. When I meet with conscious Sano at his house outside of Nevada city, he straps a ladder on his car, tosses bags in his trunk and takes me on a tour. Speaker 13: 35:54 Is there our favorite wallet here right there, Speaker 12: 35:56 And this pear tree standing between a community hall and a gas station. It's probably 120 years old. Speaker 13: 36:04 It is absolutely just the most Hardy tree. It is thrown huge crops every year in the drought. It doesn't get diseases. It doesn't get insects. Nobody prunes it, nobody waters it, nobody fertilizes. It just prolific it's hack. I've picked over 500 pounds of pears off of it. Speaker 12: 36:22 Wow. Off of that one tree, he and two partners run a nonprofit, the Felix chalet Institute named for the French Nevada city. Nurseryman who imported and introduced hundreds of plants to the region over a century ago, they find and propagate these resilient heirloom trees, which conta Sano says have lessons for growers in California today where highly tended crops, spaced drought, pests, and disease. Speaker 13: 36:49 Figure out how to take those characteristics and meld them into modern agriculture. We're going to have a more sustainable agriculture Speaker 12: 36:57 With a name like amigo dreadlocks down to his waist and a year round outfit of shorts and tie dye. Conscious. I know has had plenty of people write them off over the years. I'm a hippie, but amigo Bob was also a very serious and influential figure in the farming movement. Oh yeah. He spent a lot of time advising big agricultural companies on how they could go organic and amigo started California's first natural food distribution company and its first organic farm supply company. So amigo died in late December after a long fight with cancer. And since then, the tributes have really been pouring in from people who bought trees at his nursery to fellow farmers and to folks like Michael Pollan and Alice Waters who say he was really influential in changing food and farming in our state. I love that part in your interview with him, Lisa, where he talks about how we as human beings and plants kind of have an intertwined history. He told me that he felt that every time he stopped and looked at a tree, Speaker 13: 37:59 I oftentimes just stop and try and feel the vibe of the person that planted it. You know, I know this sounds a little lot. I haven't trees talk to me going, Oh, thank you. You're actually taking care of me again. And you know, I've been alone. There's a spirit in those plans. Speaker 12: 38:19 Lisa, let's talk about another big loss for California. The death of Marshall McKay. He died of COVID just before new year's at the age of 68. Tell us about him. Well, when I met him, Marshall McKay was the chairman of the yoga D he went to nation in the KP Valley, which is about an hour West of Sacramento. Um, and at that time he told me about how before European contact that KP Valley was a kind of thoroughfare, um, connecting indigenous people from the Bay area and the central Valley with Clearlake and the Mendocino County Speaker 2: 38:53 When people outsiders came into the Valley gold rush, prospectors cattle, ranchers as soldiers. Okay. Speaker 12: 39:02 K says his ancestors fled to the Hills, but many were still mastered. Speaker 2: 39:06 We were in the way. And so we were removed. It was a genocide. It just hasn't been, it hasn't been talked about in history, Speaker 12: 39:16 Those who survived were relocated to Barrington. Speaker 2: 39:19 It was a way of, uh, slowly killing the tribe. Speaker 4: 39:23 But Marshall McKay's life's work was really to preserve and revive his tribe. Speaker 12: 39:28 He told me then that the tribe had almost been decimated, but they were brought back to life through gaming and the lucrative cash Creek casino that they built. And then really what they did with those earnings. Speaker 4: 39:40 Well, part of it was in agriculture, right? Speaker 12: 39:42 Right. The tribe was able to actually buy pieces of land in their ancestral territories. And they planted all of trees and started producing olive oil under the brand sake of Hills. Speaker 4: 39:54 Marshall McKay also worked for indigenous causes more broadly here in California, he served on California's native American heritage commission, Speaker 12: 40:02 Right? And, and he also fought against the use of indigenous symbols as mascots in sports. But in our interview and our time together, he really emphasized the importance of economic independence for his tribe of owning and working the land there. And he told me that doing that work really eased the tensions between tribal members and their farmer neighbors in the KP Valley, who had been pretty resentful of the tribes casino. After they got into agriculture, they were all in the same line of work Speaker 2: 40:33 That wasn't like that a few years ago, people were not looking at us in the eye and we weren't looking at them in the eye. And now it's changed. Speaker 12: 40:42 The tribes membership is up to about 70 people and McKay says to keep them grounded and engaged, despite their newfound wealth, they receive higher incomes. If they've graduated from high school or work or attend college, full time, Speaker 2: 40:56 Doing something for yourself instead of sitting down and just waiting for the hand. Yeah. Speaker 12: 41:01 All members belong to committees to learn about tribal governance and casino, operations and farm and land management. So they can make thoughtful decisions about their future. Speaker 2: 41:12 I think our main objective these days is to acquire pieces of land that are significant to us and that have meaning. Speaker 12: 41:21 And he says, all of this Valley has meaning to his tribe. Speaker 4: 41:30 Finally, Lisa, you learned that another farmer you from center Speaker 12: 41:34 County also passed away at the end of last year. Yeah. I met Mohinder sin God at a CIC festival in Yuba city called Nagar Cureton. It's a multi-day festival and a parade which centers around the CIC temple. There Speaker 14: 41:49 There's more recognition that we are a community living here. And then since then it's been going on bigger and bigger every year, Speaker 12: 41:56 80,000 people. A lot of them are six for sure, but plenty of other Californians come to Yuba city every year for the celebration, you got to spend some time on Mahindras farm. Let's play a clip from that part of your day. At 86, he still farms on his property in live Oak, just outside. You have a city today, he's overseeing the Kiwi harvest, but for most of his life here, God grew peaches Speaker 14: 42:22 Colder nights when temperature drop silence prevail. Speaker 12: 42:26 Here's where I tell you that in addition to being a farmer Mohinder is a bit of a poet with a number of books published in twin Javi. Speaker 14: 42:34 If my priests survived the frosty night, I, you forget all the pain. I'm a peach farmer Speaker 12: 42:40 Talked about being one of the few men in the area wearing a turban. When he came to the U S in the 1960s Speaker 14: 42:46 Would help me hold lock the Durbin. Speaker 12: 42:48 I just really remember that. I did a double-take when he said this, just knowing about all of the hate crimes that sick community have endured in California. I asked him a bunch of questions about isolation and discrimination, but Mohindra just insisted that his turbine opened doors. And he was a man who really dove into civic life and connecting with the community. And he was even a delegate to the democratic party and tragically. Speaker 2: 43:12 He died after a tractor accident on his farm. Last doctor, Speaker 12: 43:16 Uber. Yeah, that's right. His grandson wrote me soon after and told me that at age 89, he was still farming every day until the accident. And here's something else that he wrote. He said amid our own fears about everything happening in this country. My grandfather always reassured us that our home gives us back all the love we put into it. Very appropriate words to come from a farmer. No, that was California food waste reporter Lisa Morehouse speaking with the California report magazine host, Sasha Coca.