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KUNR Today: Drought Ravaging California Reservoirs, 2020 Wildfire Killed 10% Of Giant Sequoias

An image of firefighters working during a wildfire.
Juan Najera
Bureau of Land Management
Crews battle the Castle Fire in 2020.

Here are your local news headlines for the morning of June 3, 2021.

Nearly Half Of Residents 12 And Older In Carson City And Washoe County Are Fully Vaccinated
By Lucia Starbuck

Several counties in Northern Nevada have the highest percentage of their population vaccinated compared to the rest of the state. More than half of the residents 12 and older in Carson City, along with Douglas and Washoe Counties, have received their first COVID-19 shot. In Carson City and Washoe County, nearly half of those 12 and older are fully vaccinated.

Those rates are higher than the statewide vaccination rate. Across Nevada, nearly 40% of the population 12 and older is fully vaccinated.

The daily vaccination rate also continues to decline statewide. On average, more than 8,500 people are vaccinated per day. For comparison, about a month ago, nearly twice as many people were getting vaccinated per day on average.

Nevada officials are also reporting an average of about 116 COVID-19 cases daily over the last two weeks, along with two deaths per day.

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccinations in Nevada, or view the stateand Washoe County COVID-19 dashboards.

Lucia Starbuck is a corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project.

Proposed Interior Budget Would Create Civilian Climate Corps
By Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

The Interior Department recently released its budget proposal for fiscal year 2022, and the agency is asking Congress for $85 million to create public lands jobs for youth, tribal members and veterans.

The money would go towards establishing the Civilian Climate Corps within multiple agencies, including the National Park Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The budget says the corps would work on public lands improvement projects, and it promises good paying jobs.

The department also has an eye on hiring youth, veterans and tribal members to make up the ranks of the corps.

Jeremy Peters is the CEO of the nonprofit National Association of Conservation Districts. He said the new Civilian Climate Corps is modelled after the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s. That corps was created to fight the impacts of the Dust Bowl.

“Fast forward 80, 90 years and we’re dealing with an ecological issue that’s probably even broader than the Dust Bowl of the ‘30s,” he said.

The Biden administration is also asking Congress for $46 million to establish corps units within the Department of Agriculture. They would work on wildfire mitigation projects and the removal of invasive species from public lands and waters.

Study: California Fire Killed 10% Of World’s Giant Sequoias
By The Associated Press

A draft study says at least a tenth of the world’s mature giant sequoias were destroyed by a single California wildfire that tore through the southern Sierra Nevada last year. The Visalia Times-Delta obtained a copy of the report that describes catastrophic destruction from the Castle Fire in Sequoia National Park. Researchers used satellite imagery to determine that up to 10,000 of the towering species perished. The study’s author cautions that the numbers are preliminary and the research has yet to be peer reviewed. Next week, scientists will hike to the groves that experienced the most fire damage for the first time since the ashes settled.

Drought Ravages California's Reservoirs Ahead Of Hot Summer
By The Associated Press

The drought in the western United States is putting California's reservoirs at dangerously low levels. This drought is hotter and drier than previous ones. That means the water is evaporating faster. Experts say the state’s more than 1,500 reservoirs are 50% lower than they should be this time of year. And the state Department of Water Resources predicts the water level at one key reservoir, Lake Oroville, could reach historic lows by late August. The drought is making it harder for farmers to grow crops and for endangered fish species to survive. And it's tough for tourism as low water levels make the lakes less enticing for boaters.

Washoe Co. Assessor Michael Clark Banned From County Property After Harassment Allegations
By KUNR Staff

Washoe County Assessor Michael Clark is banned from stepping foot on all county buildings after being accused of harassment, but he can work remotely.

The Reno Gazette-Journal reports that the elected official is accused of mailing more than 100 document packets to other officials. The packets included a photo of a Washoe County official in a swimsuit and innuendo that she used sex to advance her career. This prompted Washoe County to request a temporary restraining order, which was approved late last month.

Clark told the RGJ that he didn’t create the documents, but decided to forward them. A hearing with the Reno Justice Court is scheduled for next week.

Most WCSD High Schools To Hold In-Person Graduations
By Lucia Starbuck

Instead of drive-by caravans, most high school seniors in Washoe County will have an in-person graduation this spring. A spokesperson with the Washoe County School District said that a majority of high schools will hold graduations outdoors and individual schools are in charge of determining capacity limits and mask requirements. Most schools have not released that information yet.

Lucia Starbuck is an award-winning political journalist and the host of KUNR’s monthly show Purple Politics Nevada. She is passionate about reporting during election season, attending community events, and talking to people about the issues that matter most to them.
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