DPC Minutes 2024-03-07

Meeting Minutes
Delta Protection Commission

Tuesday, March 7, 2024, 5 p.m.

The Willow Ballroom and Event Center, 10724 CA-160, Hood, CA 95639


1. Call to order and Flag Salute

Chair Diane Burgis called the meeting to order at 5:08 p.m.

2. Welcome and Roll Call

Commission Clerk Heather McClure called the roll. Present at roll call: Chair Burgis, Vice Chair John Vasquez, Commissioners Oscar Villegas, Pat Hume, Paul Steele, Alan Nakanishi, Jim Paroli, Tom Slater, Jennifer Lucchesi, Christine Birdsong (for Karen Ross), and Nancy Vogel (for Wade Crowfoot). Commissioners Tom Patti, Ron Kott, Nick Mussi, Toks Omishakin; and ex-officio members Senator Talamantes Eggman, and Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua were absent with no alternate present. At this time, we did have a quorum present.

3. Public Comment – an opportunity for members of the public to address the Commission regarding items not on the agenda.

Chair Burgis asked for public comment and there was none.

Consent Agenda

4. Approval of January 18, 2024, Meeting Minutes

Motion: It was moved by Commissioner Vasquez and seconded by Commissioner Vogel to approve the January 18, 2024, meeting minutes; in a voice vote, the motion passed 10-0-0, all Commissioners present voting aye with the exception of Chair Burgis, who recused herself because she wasn’t present at the January meeting.

Regular Agenda

5. Report on Delta Stewardship Council Activities

Chair Burgis reported that the Stewardship Council met for two days. The first day was focused on the Conveyance Project. The second day’s focus was the Bay-Delta Adapts Plan. She commented that Contra Costa County will be bringing the Bay-Delta Conservation and Bay-Delta Adapts plans together at some point and is interested to see how well both plans work together.

Chair Burgis asked for public comment and there was none.

6. Delta as Place Presentation

Mike Campbell, Board Vice President of Friends of the 1883 Clarksburg Schoolhouse, gave a slideshow of the oldest known schoolhouse in the Delta, covering its history and the restoration project he was a part of. His pictures showed its beginning in 1883 having only two rooms as the Merritt Elementary School, with an additional room added before the school’s closing in 1923. He noted it was the largest building in the community at that time. The restoration began in 2015 when it was moved to its new location in Clarksburg and raised a foot above the floodplain. As the completion of the project is near, the building’s purpose is still unknown. Proposals as a repository for the history of Clarksburg, a Delta Welcome Center, and a K-6 public charter school are being considered.

Chair Burgis asked for public comment and there was none.

7. Delta Protection Advisory Committee (DPAC) Report

DPAC Chair Anna Swenson, full of emotion, reported “with deep sadness and regret” that recently appointed DPAC member Gerry Goodie had passed at the age of 67. She described him as a vibrant member of the Sacramento community and a “huge volunteer,” mentioning his involvement with the Rotary, the Delta Chambers, and the Delta Leadership Program, as well as a lengthy list of activities he pursued. On top of being a dedicated family man and friend to so many, she labeled him a true “Champion of the Delta.”

Commissioner Steele recalled Goodie’s great devotion to the Delta, saying he was always involved and fought for it until the day he died.

Commissioner Hume stated Gerry poured a lot of himself into the Delta with a “stature that cast a long shadow.”

Chair Burgis said his was an amazing life and an amazing man who will be greatly missed. The meeting was to be adjourned in Gerry Goodie’s memory.

Anna Swensen ended by noting the February 6 meeting topics on Broadband in the Delta, the Delta Cross Channel, and the Delta Conveyance Project.

Chair Burgis asked for public comment and there was none.

8. Executive Director’s Report

Executive Director Bruce Blodgett spoke on the opportunity to extend the Great Delta Trail from West Sacramento to Clarksburg through grant funding. The application for the grant will be submitted on February 29. He then brought up an item regarding Commission Land Use that had not been included in the packet, the Zanker Green Waste Facility. A comment letter has been submitted based on concerns of lost resources in the Primary Zone. He said there will be a copy in the packet the next meeting. Another item not in his written report was the National Academy of Sciences study on State Water Project Operations, for which he participated in a panel the week prior in Davis. He found it to be of significance particularly to the Delta Counties Coalition and suggested everyone follow this.

Executive Director Blodgett touched on the great job Information Officer Holly Heyser is doing moving Commission communications forward through all avenues of social media. He referred to the highlights in his report on page 9 and the upcoming Delta events on page 10.

Chair Burgis asked for public comment and there was none.

9. Delta Sustainable Insurance Model

UC Davis PhD student Kathleen Schaefer presented on Community Based Climate Insurance, a pilot program she is trying to implement in Isleton. They formed the Geologic Hazard Abatement District (GHAD), a task force board to facilitate the development of a disaster recovery plan with community input. She said the appeal of this insurance model is better affordability and quicker payout than the current National Flood Insurance program. But even more, the current model is not serving the communities it needs to and “felt like paying for other people’s disasters in other communities.” She came today to ask for assistance with putting the grant funds in place and to work with the City of Isleton to implement this program.

Legal Counsel Carlos Mejia stated he was not clear on what was being asked and wanted to know if staff had a recommendation.

Executive Director Blodgett responded that more time was needed to consider a recommendation and questioned if there were enough staff to carry out her request.

Chair Burgis asked for clarification on what was being asked of the Commission.

Commissioner Steele asked what he needed to do to get this accomplished. Then came to the conclusion that he would come up with a plan, bring that to Legal Counsel Mejia to look over, and after passing legal inspection it will be brought back to the Commission for approval.

Commissioner Villegas asked for a staff analysis and then a staff recommendation before he would be able to give his response.

Chair Burgis asked for public comment and there was none.

10. Approval of the National Heritage Area Management Plan

Program Manager Blake Roberts expressed what a long journey this has been since March 12, 2019, when it was formally designated a National Heritage Area (NHA). The very first project was to develop this Management Plan and he called out the members of the NHA Management Plan Advisory Committee who were present at tonight’s meeting: Vice Chair Elizabeth Patterson, Janet Lake, Mike Campbell, and Bruce Blodgett, who is the Chair. He gave a brief overview of the six chapters and the appendices, then outlined the goals: Interpretation, Resource Stewardship, Heritage Tourism, Partnerships, and Organization. Roberts reported that at last count, there were 45 letters of commitment and support from various partnerships that are incorporated into the plan. He distributed a summary of public comments and the responses to each comment, which led to revisions in the draft plan.

Executive Director Blodgett clarified that tonight was not a final approval of the plan but approving to forward the plan to the National Park Service for its review, and once we get their final feedback it will come back to the Commission for further approval.

Chair Burgis asked what the funding amount will be qualified for if approved. Roberts responded that once we get approval it is anticipated at $400,000-$500,000. Chair Burgis commented that federal representatives keep bringing up $1,000,000. She then asked what the monies will be used for, and Blake responded grants, staffing, and events such as the 250th Anniversary of the United States.

Commissioner Villegas added that he would like it brought back to the Commission for further discussion on how to use the funding.

Executive Director Blodgett clarified that there is a $1,000,000 potential every year, but they (Congress) are only allocating $500,000 at this time.

Chair Burgis asked for public comment and there were three:

Anna Swensen had a question regarding the public comment from Katherine Marquez of the California Department of Water Resources mentioning there may be an opportunity to coordinate between Delta Conveyance Project Community Benefits Program and the NHA. Blake responded that it is just conjecture at this point.

Elizabeth Patterson commented how rewarding the experience was to be on the Committee and thanked everyone for this project.

Kathleen Schaefer commented how important stories are to the Delta as Roberts had said and encouraged collecting all the stories of the Delta floods. She brought up the reason for the location of Sutter’s Fort was due to the Native Americans telling the stories of the floods.

Motion: It was moved by Commissioner Villegas and seconded by Commissioner Steele to approve the National Heritage Area Management Plan moving forward; in a voice vote, the motion passed 11-0-0 with all Commissioners present voting aye.

11. Appointments to Delta Protection Advisory Committee

Executive Director Blodgett reported that we had one applicant for the tribal seat, Steven Hutchason, who is the Historic Preservation Officer for the Wilton Rancheria tribe. He gave his recommendation for Hutchason to serve for that position.

Chair Burgis asked for public comment and there was one:

Anna Swensen, DPAC Chair, commented that she was super excited to have him on the committee.

Motion: It was moved by Commissioner Hume and seconded by Commissioner Villegas to appoint Steven Hutchason for the tribal representative seat to the Delta Protection Advisory Committee; in a voice vote, the motion passed 11-0-0 with all Commissioners present voting aye.

12. Commissioner Comments/Announcements

Commissioner Steele announced that the skate park in Isleton is finally complete.

13. Adjourn

Chair Burgis adjourned the meeting in memory of Gerry Goodie and in celebration of all he did to make the world a better place. The meeting was adjourned at 6:51 p.m.