DPAC Minutes 2024-04-09

Meeting Minutes
Delta Protection Advisory Committee

Tuesday, April 9, 2024, 5:30 p.m.
Sacramento County Farm Bureau, 8970 Elk Grove Blvd., Elk Grove, CA 95624

1. Call to Order/Flag Salute – Anna Swenson, DPAC Chair

Chair Swenson called the meeting to order at 5:35 p.m.

2. Welcome and Roll Call

A quorum was present with members Swenson, Steven Hutchason, Gary Mello, Russ Ryan, Arron Pellarin, Craig Watanabe, Todd Bruce, Edward Hard, Morris Lum, Erin Chappell, Heather Swinney, Mario Manzo, Mariah Looney, Jim Cox, and Douglas Hsia in attendance.

DPC staff present were Blake Roberts, Holly Heyser, and Heather McClure. Guests present were Amber McDowell, Bill Morrow, and Gerry Goodie Jr.

3. Welcome new member (tribal representative) Steven Hutchason – Anna Swenson

The committee welcomed the newest member to DPAC for the tribal representative seat, Steven Hutchason, Historic Preservation Officer for the Wilton Rancheria.

4. Public Comment – An opportunity for members of the public to address the Committee regarding items not on the agenda.

There were no comments from members of the public.

5. Approval of February 6, 2024, Meeting Minutes – the Committee

Vice Chair Ryan moved, and Member Watanabe seconded, a motion to approve the February 6, 2024, Meeting Minutes. The motion passed unanimously.

6. Update on Delta Protection Commission activities – Bruce Blodgett

Blake Roberts filled in for Executive Director Bruce Blodgett, who was unable to attend the meeting. The National Heritage Area (NHA) Management Plan was submitted on March 12 to the National Park Service. They have up to six months to review the plan and give us feedback, so the next report from them is expected this Fall. Other work includes updating the Socioeconomic Indicators report, which is released every five years. Its latest update will be completed in the next few months. Finally, planning has begun for the Delta Heritage Forum, which will be held this November.

Chair Swenson asked for comments and there were none. She announced the next Commission meeting will be May 16 at the Point in Rio Vista.

7. Presentation on Aquatic Invasive Species programs – Edward Hard, Chief of Aquatic Invasive Species Programs, Department of Parks and Recreation, Division of Boating and Waterways

Committee member Hard spoke on the role of Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) to control non-native, aquatic invasive plants in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta and the Suisun Marsh. This is a 101,000-acre area but only 5,000 acres are actually managed due to limited resources. The program currently targets 10 species that are found growing underwater or on the water’s surface. These species are found to have such recreational, economical, and environmental impact to the Delta waterways that there is need to control their growth and prevent their spread. As part of Integrated Pest Management, DBW uses primarily herbicides, but also biocontrol agents and mechanical harvesting. It was noted that counties must give permission before herbicides are used. He spoke at length on the environmental, regulatory, and funding challenges the program faces, but reassured that the DBW is focused on finding solutions.

8. Discussion about California Forever – the Committee

Chair Swenson led the discussion by stating this is a Solano County project to build a new city on land that was said to have no other use. Member Bruce explained that California Forever has been buying property since 2018 and owns land from Fairfield to Rio Vista. Therefore, even if the project isn’t approved or the ballot measure fails, they will still be able to build on land they already own right outside Rio Vista. The community they are proposing will be roughly 30 square miles and large enough for a population of 400,000 people. He considered how the vernal pools would disappear if this city were built, as well as the pasture lands necessary to sustain the pools. He hoped their subsidiary, Flannery Associates, would be presenting at this meeting in order to ask such questions. Chair Swenson answered that she had no response from them yet but will continue to reach out to them. Member Cox questioned where they would get their water, given that the nearest slough is brackish; they would need a desalination plant. Member Chappell pointed out water supply would be one of many regulatory issues California Forever faces, but first they need enough petition signatures to get on this November’s ballot. Member Looney requested follow up to have them come speak to the Committee before November.

9. Honoring Gerry Goodie – the Committee

Chair Swenson reflected on Gerry Goodie as a dear friend and blooming advocate of the Delta, someone who was deeply connected to people and nature. She stated volunteering was his way of life, and he was honored to be a member of the Committee. His passing at the end of February followed his very first DPAC meeting as a newly appointed member and was a shock to all. Many comments highlighted how quick Gerry was to befriend everyone he met and the big smile always on his face. Member Looney recounted how he loved to give tours of his restaurant, Wimpy’s, in Walnut Grove. Other members agreed he regularly invited people out to the restaurant and thoroughly enjoyed hosting. His son, Gerry Goodie Jr., announced that a Celebration of Life for Gerry would be held at Wimpy’s on Saturday the 13th, and everyone was invited. He said he will continue his father’s legacy to put Delta on the map. Chair Swenson ended by saying Gerry will be greatly missed and to honor him, people can spend time outdoors in the Delta.

10. Member Announcements and Next Meeting

Member Pellarin brought up Congressman Garamendi’s bill, HR7719, the Abandoned Vessel Removal Act, which could bring funding to the Delta, and suggested reaching out to thank Garamendi. Member Hard said he, related to that, is currently working on amending the penalty schedule for Quagga/Mussel Fee sticker. Member Looney spoke on several items, including a special thank you to Executive Director Blodgett for stepping in to fund this year’s harmful algal blooms (HABs) tests after the State Water Resources Control Board forgot to order them. Other upcoming events were announced. Chair Swenson shared that the next DPAC meeting will be held June 4 at Big Break Visitor Center in Oakley.

11. Adjourn

Chair Swenson adjourned the meeting in Gerry Goodie Sr.’s memory at 7:13 p.m.