Bond crisis halts juniper studies
According to a press release from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, “The University of California Cooperative Extension, Lassen County and faculty at the University of California, Davis have assisted in developing the monitoring methods for this project and will act as the quality control. Information gathered from these sites will provide valuable insight into the effectiveness of the restoration efforts throughout the sagebrush steepe ecosystem.”
The Proposition 84 Strategic Opportunity Grant for the project was awarded to the Lassen County Fire Safe Council, Inc.
Bob Kingman, the Mount Lassen area manager for the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, said his agency serves 22 counties — from Kern County at the southern tip of the Sierra all the way to the Oregon border.
About 2,000 projects statewide came to “a screeching halt” with the state’s decision to freeze bond funding, Kingman said.
Current projects were able to expend money up to and through Dec. 17, even if they had advanced funding, Kingman said. Because the state cannot issue any new bonds to replenish its coffers, all bond-funded projects are frozen.
Kingman said many contractors had already completed work on a number of projects and were preparing to submit invoices to the state, but missed the Dec. 17 deadline.
“There are a lot of folks out there who have done work and can’t get paid for it,” Kingman said. “It’s terrible.”
Kingman hopes a Jan. 9 meeting by the Pooled Money Investment Board, the state lending agency for bond fund disbursement, may help clarify the situation.
“Hopefully the meeting will shed some light on what the future has in store,” Kingman said. “Right now, it’s not looking good.”
PIMB members include Bill Lockyer, California treasurer, John Chiang, state controller and Michael C. Genest, state director of finance.
According to the PIMB’s Web site, the board’s two responsibilities are to design an effective cash management and investment program to realize maximum return through safe and prudent investments of the state's idle money and designate the amount of money temporarily available for investment.
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