Bill could ease wildfire woes

SACRAMENTO -- As federal officials have cited a high fuel load as one of the reasons they're bracing for what could be a dangerous wildfire season, a bill in the California Legislature would address the issue.

Senate Bill 1541 by Sen. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, would maintain an exemption for smaller property owners from timber harvest plan requirements and allow them to harvest smaller trees to pay for fuel reduction. The exemption is set to expire in January.

LaMalfa's bill faces a May 7 hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee after passing the Natural Resources Committee unanimously on April 24.

LaMalfa authored the original bill in 2004 that provided the exemption for property owners, who would otherwise have to file harvest plans which can cost thousands of dollars to prepare.

Water discharge meetings slated

OLYMPIA -- The Department of Ecology will hold public workshops starting May 7 on possible changes to the state's fish consumption rates.

The sessions will share information on the agency's work to update regulatory standards for in-water environmental cleanup and water pollution discharges. Ecology also proposes to amend existing regulatory tools to help entities meet permit limits.

Part of this effort includes updating the state's fish consumption rates, which help guide regulatory standards about how clean Washington's waters and sediments must be.

The workshop schedule:

* Ellensburg -- 8:30 a.m. to noon May 7 at Central Washington University, Student Union Ballroom.

* Tacoma -- 8:30 a.m. to noon May 8 at the University of Washington's Tacoma Campus, Keystone Building (Carwein Auditorium).

* Spokane Valley -- 1 to 4:30 p.m. May 15 at the CenterPlace Regional Event Center.

More information is online at www.ecy.wa.gov (click on Reducing Toxic Threats, go to Projects and click on Reducing Toxic Chemicals).

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