DPC Minutes 2023-09-21


Delta Protection Commission Meeting

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Village West Marina and Resort, 6649 Embarcadero Drive, Stockton, CA 95219

1. Call to order 

Chair Burgis called the meeting to order at 5:10 p.m. and Commissioner Patti led the meeting participants in a flag salute.

2. Welcome and roll call 

Commission Clerk Morgan Matz called the roll. Present at roll call: Chair Burgis, Vice Chair Vasquez, Commissioners Villegas, Hume, Steele, Slater, Patti (for Ding), Ruiz (for Mussi), Agar (for Omishakin), and Vogel (for Crowfoot), as well as ex-officio designee Udang (for Sen. Talamantes Eggman) and ex-officio designee McCann (for Assemblymember Villapudua). Commissioners Kott, Nakanishi, Paroli, Ross, and Bugsch were absent with no alternate present.

3. Public comment – Opportunity for the public to address the Commission regarding items not on the agenda 

Chair Burgis asked for public comment and there was none. 

4. Report on Delta Stewardship Council Activities 

Chair Burgis announced that members of the Council had recently been led by the Department of Water Resources and the Delta Conveyance Design Construction Authority on a tour of sites related to the Delta Conveyance Project, and that at its last meeting the Council had received an informational presentation about educational opportunities in the Delta.

Chair Burgis asked for public comment and there was none.

5. Commissioner comments/announcements 

Commissioner Agar drew attention to the updated map of Caltrans construction projects in the Delta region that had been distributed to Commissioners prior to the meeting. He also announced that Caltrans would be participating in California’s Coastal Clean-Up Day on September 23, and continues its beautification efforts through the Clean California program; that Caltrans is working to make equipment and personnel available to assist California residents during potential severe weather events during the coming winter; that the QuickMap application, which provides up-to-date information about all Caltrans road closures, is available for download; that Caltrans District 10’s org chart showing contact information for all deputies has been updated and would be distributed to Commissioners soon; and that Caltrans has numerous job and internship opportunities available.

Commissioner Steele announced that further information is needed regarding permitting and other requirements before construction can start on a new boat launch and water park in Isleton, but that those projects are otherwise nearly ready; that a revitalization effort in Wilson Park will begin on October 1; that despite some challenges, the Crawdad Festival had been held for the first time in 16 years and plans to repeat the event next year are in the works; and that the Spam Festival is still set to occur in February 2024.

Commissioner Slater announced that the grape harvest throughout the state had been damaged and delayed by unfavorable weather, and distributed a handout outlining relevant economic information organized by county.

Commissioner Vogel announced that DWR recently released the California Water Plan, which is an extensively detailed water usage plan that is required to be published every five years; the plan will be open for public comment until October 19, and is available online. A webinar regarding the plan will be held on October 3 and 4.

Commissioner Hume announced that he recently served as co-host of the Asian-American and Pacific Islander Public Affairs Association’s Save The Delta forum. Speakers at the event included the Commission’s own Blake Roberts, Delta Protection Advisory Committee Chair Anna Swenson, and others.

Commissioner Burgis announced that Contra Costa County is struggling to combat invasive oriental fruit flies with quarantine measures; that the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s office had volunteered boats for use during Coastal Clean-Up Day; that Bethel Island and Knightsen have both been experiencing drainage issues; that the County will beginning convening an ad hoc committee on sea level rise; and that the City of Discovery Bay has been battling invasive weeds.

Commissioner Villegas announced that he is hosting a clean-up effort in the secondary zone of the Delta along the Sacramento River near the Tower Bridge.

Ex-officio designee Udang announced that the Stockton East Water District is undertaking efforts to prepare for potential severe winter weather.

It was noted that Commissioner Christine Birdsong (for Ross) arrived at 5:28 p.m.

Chair Burgis asked for public comment and there was none.

6. Consider approval of July 20, 2023, meeting minutes 

Motion: It was moved by Vice Chair Vasquez and seconded by Commissioner Hume to approve the July 20, 2023, meeting minutes; in a voice vote, the motion passed 11-0-0 with all Commissioners present voting aye.

7. National Heritage Area (NHA) Management Plan update

Program Manager Blake Roberts provided a progress update on the National Heritage Area Management Plan, including a summary of important considerations and required components of the Plan; outreach efforts undertaken by Commission staff, including the formation of focused committees and task groups, tribal consultation, public workshops, the Delta Heritage Forum, and online surveys and interviews; planned chapter topics; established goals of the Plan; interpretive themes; and supporting themes. He also outlined a schedule of production for the Plan, which aims to make a draft of the Plan available for Commission review and public release by the end of 2023, and a final version of the Plan available for review by the National Park Service and Department of Interior by March 12, 2024.

Mr. Roberts also presented a brief summary of other projects underway related to the development of the NHA including sign production and placement, a marketing plan update, a passport program, a Junior Ranger program, Operation Pollination, and America 250.

Commissioner Vogel invited Mr. Roberts to ask for assistance from Commissioners when needed.
Commissioner Steele suggested that those involved in the NHA can attend city council meetings in cities included in the NHA in order to better understand their needs and available resources.

Commissioner Villegas suggested involving the state legislature in NHA efforts.

Commissioner Vasquez commended efforts to reach out to Delta native tribes.

Mr. Roberts further acknowledged that the current boundaries of the NHA do not include all relevant areas in the Delta; however, advice from other NHAs indicates that official boundaries have only a limited impact on development efforts and can be changed through legislation later.

Executive Director Bruce Blodgett suggested that the Commission appoint a subcommittee to review NHA materials before the next Commission meeting in order to streamline the presentation and approval of that material. Chair Burgis and Commissioner Villegas volunteered to serve on the subcommittee.

Motion: It was moved by Commissioner Hume and seconded by Vice Chair Vasquez to appoint Chair Burgis and Commissioner Villegas to a subcommittee to review NHA materials before the next Commission meeting; in a voice vote, the motion passed 10-0-0 with all Commissioners present voting aye.

Chair Burgis asked for public comment and there was none.

8. Receive Executive Director report 

Executive Director Bruce Blodgett reminded Commissioners that Commission staff had assembled and made available informational binders containing essential information regarding the Commission’s present and historic programs as well as important legislative documents and various other documents that guide the Commission’s work, and encouraged any Commissioner who had not received a binder to take at least one before leaving the meeting.

He announced that the Environmental Impact Report and Environmental Impact Statement regarding the Delta Conveyance Project are expected to be released soon, and that the Commission is still in the process of finding a cultural heritage consultant; that hiring efforts to fill the Commission’s vacant Environmental Planner position are ongoing, and that efforts to replace outgoing Commission Clerk Morgan Matz had begun; and that due to ongoing poor performance by the Department of General Services Office of Human Resources, the Commission is searching for another organization to take on human resources responsibilities with the support of the California Natural Resources Agency.

He further announced that he and Program Manager Blake Roberts will be attending an NHA conference in Massachusetts from October 1 to October 6, and will be returning to Washington D.C. along with Chair Burgis to meet with members of Congress in February 2024; that efforts to install welcome signs at various locations in the Delta are ongoing but have been delayed for unknown reasons by the California Conservation Corps; that the Commission is working with the Delta Conservancy to use funding allocated for emergency response to develop quick-response public communication channels throughout the Delta; and that the Commission is looking into ways to partner with organizations that are combating invasive plants and abandoned vessels in Delta waterways, including promotion of a Delta 311 mobile reporting app.

Finally, he drew attention to various upcoming events in the Delta listed in the written report.
Commissioner Vogel commented that the next installment of the CNRA speaker series, which will feature Mr. Roberts, will take place on October 31.

It was noted that Commissioner Patti left the meeting at 6:25 p.m.

Chair Burgis asked for public comment and there was none.

9. Receive Delta As Place report

Deputy Port Director of Regulatory and Public Affairs for the Port of Stockton, Jeff Wingfield, delivered a presentation on current activities at the Port of Stockton, detailing the capabilities and limitations of the port and the economic impact of recent port activity and top imports and exports. He also drew attention to the port’s importance to the city of Stockton, highlighting its workforce development efforts, partnerships with local schools, Delta waterway cleanup efforts, “Green Marine” certification, beneficial dredge material reuse program, and local infrastructure improvements.

Chair Burgis asked for public comment and there was none.

10. Receive Delta Protection Advisory Committee (DPAC) report 

DPAC Chair Anna Swenson reported that a variety of topics had been discussed at the most recent DPAC meeting, including invasive plants and abandoned vessels. These conversations were valuable, but the Committee realized that discussion would benefit from a more focused approach and requested guidance from the Commission on pressing issues facing Delta stakeholders. She also stated that members of the Committee support the initiative to amend its charter to add two additional members.

Finally, she announced that the next DPAC meeting will take place on October 10.

Chair Burgis asked for public comment and there was none.

11. Consider amending DPAC Charter to add one tribal representative and one additional public member (PRC § 29753)

Executive Director Bruce Blodgett reiterated that all members of DPAC support the proposed charter amendment.

Motion: It was moved by Commissioner Villegas and seconded by Commissioner Hume to amend the DPAC charter to add one tribal representative and one additional public member; in a voice vote, the motion passed 10-0-0 with all Commissioners present voting aye.

Chair Burgis asked for public comment and there was none.

12. Bagley-Keene training 

Commission legal counsel Carlos Mejia delivered a presentation explaining the requirements for public meetings set forth in the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act, including new requirements for public meetings held via teleconference.

Chair Burgis asked for public comment and there was none.

13. Adjourn 

Chair Burgis adjourned the meeting at 7:28 p.m.