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Latest News in Crows Landing, CA
Northern California city turns to lasers in attempt to chase off crows
The city of Sunnyvale in Northern California recently employed a secret weapon to shoo away thousands of nesting crows from its popular downtown area: lasers.It appears to be working. The crows are disturbed and dispersed by the intense beam of light.But it turns out the Federal Aviation Administration also doesn’t like lasers.In a recent letter, the FAA reminded city officials that Sunnyvale is located near four airports: Mineta San Jose International, Moffett Field, Palo Alto and San Carlos airports. Planes landi...
The city of Sunnyvale in Northern California recently employed a secret weapon to shoo away thousands of nesting crows from its popular downtown area: lasers.
It appears to be working. The crows are disturbed and dispersed by the intense beam of light.
But it turns out the Federal Aviation Administration also doesn’t like lasers.
In a recent letter, the FAA reminded city officials that Sunnyvale is located near four airports: Mineta San Jose International, Moffett Field, Palo Alto and San Carlos airports. Planes landing and taking off fly at low altitudes near the Silicon Valley community.
“Lasers are an aviation safety hazard to flight crews,” FAA regional administrator Raquel Girvin wrote in a letter last month to city officials. “Lasers may blind a pilot. Our office alone receives approximately one laser complaint daily solely regarding hazards to flight crews.”
City officials said they were aware of the FAA guidelines, and noted that there is only one city employee on crow patrol armed with a single $20 hand-held laser pointer. Each day around dusk, the worker briefly shines a green light into the canopy of trees.
They said the city followed guidelines from the Humane Society of the United States, the Audubon Society of Portland, Ore., and officials in Rochester, Minn., which has a similar crow patrol program. Sunnyvale’s pilot program is slated to end next week, after which time the city will review its success. The FAA in a statement said they will be “closely monitoring for laser-strike reports” from pilots flying around the city over the next few months.
In the last few years, roosting crows have massed in the thousands around Plaza del Sol in Sunnyvale, the city square that houses cafes, restaurants and a few software companies.
Outdoor eating during the pandemic has become the norm, but so have bird droppings fouling sidewalks, Mayor Larry Klein said.
“Crows roosting overnight in trees creates quite a bit of a mess in downtown,” Klein said. “We’ve had to spray wash over the last year and a half: the sidewalks, the parks, the streets downtown.”
Not to mention the cawing.
The city has tried other novel approaches to chasing away the crows. Previously, it installed reflectors and hired a trained falconer to try to banish the birds. Neither of those really did the trick, Klein said. Then came the crow effigies and boomboxes that play the sound of crows in distress.
“Just seeing what the streets look like, what the sidewalks look like, and hearing from some of our residents, all of it has definitely helped,” Klein said.
The spectacle of thousands of crows returning to their roosts around dusk is a noisy affair, but also a marvel of nature to some.
“It’s like clockwork, every day,” Briah Falmoe, general manager at Philz Coffee near Plaza del Sol said. “Huge swarms of them pass through. Customers think it’s kind of cool to watch.”
Sunnyvale’s crow saga was first reported by the Mercury News, but the city is not alone in its struggle.
Large swarms of crows blot out the sun across the San Francisco Bay Area and in the Central Valley, said Steven Beissinger, a professor of ecology and conservation biology at UC Berkeley. Crows amass in most major urban location where there is an abundance of food, he said.
Nearly 20 years ago, Californians witnessed a mass die-off of crows, magpies and jays due to the West Nile virus. The mosquito-borne virus had spread across the United States with infected migrating birds. But the impact to crows was short-lived, Beissinger said.
“They have just really come back,” Beissinger said. “And I think they’re probably more abundant than they were before. That’s just my sense.”
Sunnyvale’s laser approach might be effective, Beissinger said, but eventually the crows become someone else’s problem as they leave to roost elsewhere.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesperson Jane Hendron said green lasers do not violate any federal laws. But some point out there are other possible deterrents, such as using trained dogs to chase away birds from airports or the careful placement of strips of bird spikes to discourage congregating.
There are also concerns that a laser could blind a crow, said Matthew Dodder with the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society.
“We have provided a good habitat for the crows and they’re now making use of it,” Dodder said. “Lasers could very well be hurting this widespread species.”
Dodder thinks Sunnyvale’s approach goes too far. He said the problem should fly away with mating season, sometime around March.
Plans advance for new Seventh Street Bridge in Modesto. When might you drive on it?
Plans are coming together for a new Seventh Street Bridge over the Tuolumne River in Modesto, replacing one dating to 1916.Construction could start in the summer of next year and take until fall 2025, under the latest timeline from the city and Stanislaus County Public Works. Detailed engineering and right-of-way purchases are happening this year.The current bridge provides just two lanes for motor vehicles and narrow sidewalks for pedestrians and bicyclists. It has had a 4-ton limit since 1979 because of its condition, about a...
Plans are coming together for a new Seventh Street Bridge over the Tuolumne River in Modesto, replacing one dating to 1916.
Construction could start in the summer of next year and take until fall 2025, under the latest timeline from the city and Stanislaus County Public Works. Detailed engineering and right-of-way purchases are happening this year.
The current bridge provides just two lanes for motor vehicles and narrow sidewalks for pedestrians and bicyclists. It has had a 4-ton limit since 1979 because of its condition, about a 10th of a typical semi-truck load.
The new bridge will have four lanes for cars and trucks, and more room for pedestrians and bicyclists. The project also includes improved connections to Crows Landing Road on the south and B Street and Tuolumne Boulevard on the north.
A federal bridge program will cover most of the $64.5 million cost, county Public Works Director David Leamon said by email Friday.
The construction will require detours from the current bridge, which will be demolished when its replacement is done. Some residents had urged restoration of the landmark instead, but the planners said that was not practical.
The north end also will have a plaza overlooking the Tuolumne River Regional Park. It will feature two of the lion sculptures that long graced the original span but are now crumbling.
The new bridge will be made of concrete and have eight arches across its 1,238 feet. The old one is a design known as “cantilevered concrete,” which was innovative a century ago.
More details on the project’s estimated cost and funding:
The right-of-way purchases will be aided by Nossaman LLP, a national law firm with a few offices in California. The county Board of Supervisors approved a $718,765 contract with the firm Tuesday, Jan. 11.
The project has support from Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock. He mentioned it in a Jan. 13 letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
“Until this bridge is fixed, the majority-Latino community of south Modesto will continue to lack a convenient and safe route for pedestrians, bicycles and vehicles to the rest of the city,” Harder wrote.
He also said the next Highway 132 project near Modesto would be a good use of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package enacted in November.
A two-lane 132 bypass is nearing completion between Highway 99 and Dakota Road. Future phases would make it four lanes as far west as Gates Road.
Weekly Digest: April 2022 Class I base price nears record high
Digest HighlightsThe Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) advanced Class I base price moved near the all-time record high in April.At $24.38 per hundredweight (cwt), the April price is up $1.50 from March 2022 and $8.87 more than April 2021. It’s just 9 cents below the record high of $24.47 per cwt in May 2014.The four-month average 2022 Class I base is $22.15 per cwt, up from the January-April average of ...
The Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) advanced Class I base price moved near the all-time record high in April.
At $24.38 per hundredweight (cwt), the April price is up $1.50 from March 2022 and $8.87 more than April 2021. It’s just 9 cents below the record high of $24.47 per cwt in May 2014.
The four-month average 2022 Class I base is $22.15 per cwt, up from the January-April average of $15.35 cwt in 2021, and is second only to the January-April 2014 average of $22.70 per cwt.
A Class I differential for each order's principle pricing point is added to the base price to determine the Class I price. With those additions, April 2022 Class I prices will average $27.20 per cwt, ranging from a high of $29.78 per cwt in the Florida FMMO #6 to a low of $26.18 per cwt in the Upper Midwest FMMO #30.
The Class I mover “average-of” formula again took a small bite out of the Class I base price paid to producers.
The difference between the advanced Class III skim milk pricing factor ($11.97 per cwt) and the advanced Class IV skim milk pricing factor ($14.51 per cwt) declined slightly from March to $2.54 per cwt.
Based on Progressive Dairy calculations, the Class I mover calculated under the “higher-of” formula would have resulted in a Class I base price of $24.89 per cwt, 51 cents more than the price determined using the “average-of plus 74 cents” formula.
That combination of lower supply and increased demand is generating higher U.S. average all-milk prices, notes National Milk Producers Federation’s Peter Vitaliano, summarizing markets in the March 2022 Dairy Management Inc./National Milk Producers Federation Dairy Market Report.
Looking ahead, Vitaliano said late February dairy and grain futures indicated that feed costs will tend to track milk prices over the next several months, keeping the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) margin from rising much above its January level of $11.54 per cwt. The current outlook also indicates that the February margin – to be announced March 31 – will drop considerably from a month before, as the milk price took a pause before rising again and feed prices show the full force of the grain markets’ reactions to the potential drop in Ukrainian production.
High feed prices, scarcities in obtaining replacement cows, labor, machinery and construction materials will likely keep milk production very constrained well into the year, he said.
For more information on commercial use, dairy trade, milk production, product inventories, prices and margins, click here.
The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is seeking nominees for the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board (NDB). The deadline for nominations is April 25.
From the nominees, 12 individuals will be appointed to serve three-year terms, from Nov. 1, 2022, through Oct. 31, 2025.
Nominees must be dairy producers in the region for which they are nominated.
Nominees are being sought to fill:
The 37-member NDB consists of 36 dairy producers from 12 regions and one dairy importer. Nomination forms are available on the AMS National Dairy Promotion and Research Board webpage.
Editor’s note: The following article was generated from press releases.
Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), the nation’s largest dairy cooperative, held its annual meeting, March 23, in Kansas City, Missouri.
“COVID-19 variants and ongoing supply chain challenges have made 2021 a difficult year for many, but our family farm-owners and employees have continued to persevere and stay focused on keeping people across the United States and the world nourished with milk and other dairy products,” said Rick Smith, DFA president and chief executive officer.
Financial year in review
In 2021, DFA continued to integrate the plant assets and regional brands acquired out of the Dean bankruptcy, while also focusing on expanding global customers.
DFA officials reported net income of $199 million for 2021, up $28 million (16.4%) compared to 2020. Net sales for 2021 totaled $19.3 billion, up $1.5 billion (8.1%) from 2020.
Contributing to higher income and sales were a full year of operations of former Dean Foods’ facilities compared to a partial year in 2020, along with a higher U.S. all-milk price. The average milk price paid to DFA members was $18.37 per cwt in 2021 compared to $17.79 per cwt in 2020.
In 2021, DFA directed the marketing of 65.5 billion pounds of milk for both members and others through the cooperative’s consolidated businesses, which represent approximately 29% of the total U.S. milk production.
Cash distributed to members in 2021 totaled $71 million. Of the cash distributed to members in 2021, $47 million was in capital retirements and $24 million represented the cash portion of the allocated patronage dividends.
DFA continued to support local communities in 2021 through its Farmers Feeding Families Fund, which helps raise money and get dairy products to food banks across the country. This last year, 17 of DFA’s regional milk brands stepped up to help fill a need at food pantries across the country with the donation of more than 2 million shelf-stable “Giving Cow” milks.
Members of distinction
Due to virtual meetings in previous years, dairy farm families in each of DFA’s seven regions were recognized as 2020 and 2021 members of distinction. They included:
Finally, the cooperative named 53 recipients of DFA Cares Foundation Scholarships totaling $74,800. Scholarship selection criteria included a commitment and passion for a career in the dairy industry; extracurricular activities, awards and work experience; and academic achievement.
DFA has more than 11,500 family farm-owners and manufactures a variety of dairy products, including fluid milk, cheese, butter, ice cream, dairy ingredients and more.
Districts finalize new trustee maps
The West Side Index & Gustine Press-Standardhttp://www.westsideconnect.com/community/districts-finalize-new-trustee-maps/article_052f25ac-8f68-11ec-a45b-7be2ef6381ba.html
Local school districts are finalizing the new school district area maps due to redistricting that took place this year. Every 10 years new districts are drawn due to new information courtesy of census data.There are federal and state laws that need to be met when drawing new maps such as the maps have to have identifiable boundaries and there cannot be any racial gerrymandering. Another requirement is an attempt to balance out the population of each trustee area.Gustine Unified School District has already approved the new maps ...
Local school districts are finalizing the new school district area maps due to redistricting that took place this year. Every 10 years new districts are drawn due to new information courtesy of census data.
There are federal and state laws that need to be met when drawing new maps such as the maps have to have identifiable boundaries and there cannot be any racial gerrymandering. Another requirement is an attempt to balance out the population of each trustee area.
Gustine Unified School District has already approved the new maps and some community members find themselves sharing area districts with neighbors they are not quite familiar with.
Area one is the largest district with land distance. It begins on the corner of E. Stuhr Road and travels all the way to Pacheco Pass Highway. The southeast corner of the district by Henry Miller Road is newly added and used to be a part of the third district.
Area two remains the same and encompasses the high population area near Fourth Street. Area three got a little bit bigger and now stretches from the north side of Lander Avenue to State Highway 140. There is an area near Sullivan Road and Highway 33 that has been added to district three that was previously in area four.
District four got a bit smaller thanks to parts of it being added to district three, however much of it remains the same. The district starts near Noble Road and goes down to W. Henry Miller Road. Finally, district five remains the same with it representing the high population area on Sullivan Road.
Newman Crows Landing Unified School District had been debating between three final maps and the school board voted on a final map last week. The new map keeps District one intact as by far the largest geographic area covering a lot of the rural parts of the town. The rest of the four districts encompass larger population areas starting from W. Stuhr Road going to downtown Newman.
District two got parts of north of Kern Street added, which was previously part of District three. District three is the second largest geographic district with parts near Merced being added, which were previously District five. District four remains mostly intact except for an area near Hills Ferry Road that was added from District three. Finally, District five is at the south part of the town and got parts south of Inyo Avenue added to it that was originally in District four.
Crows Landing Road in Modesto can be rough on walkers, bicyclists. Help is on the way
Crows Landing Road in south Modesto will get about $6 million in upgrades to make it more inviting for people on foot and bicycle.The work will happen on the 1.5-mile stretch between Pecos and Whitmore avenues, just south of Highway 99. Crows Landing will get a bike lane on each side, raised medians in the center left-turn lane, and flashing beacons at a few crosswalks. Sidewalk, lighting and disabled-access upgrades are coming, too.The plans emerged after city and Stanislaus County officials decided not to widen Crows Landing ...
Crows Landing Road in south Modesto will get about $6 million in upgrades to make it more inviting for people on foot and bicycle.
The work will happen on the 1.5-mile stretch between Pecos and Whitmore avenues, just south of Highway 99. Crows Landing will get a bike lane on each side, raised medians in the center left-turn lane, and flashing beacons at a few crosswalks. Sidewalk, lighting and disabled-access upgrades are coming, too.
The plans emerged after city and Stanislaus County officials decided not to widen Crows Landing from four to six lanes for cars and trucks. They hope to make it somewhat more of a neighborhood street for the largely low-income area.
The work between Hatch and Whitmore roads is expected to be done by October under a $3.92 million contract approved June 23 by the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors. Teichert Construction of Roseville got the job, funded from state and federal sources.
The portion between Hatch and Pecos is a Modesto project scheduled for summer 2021 at a cost of about $2 million, city spokesman Thomas Reeves said. Details are still being refined for the project, funded by federal sources.
“The city’s and county’s design have been coordinated and will feel like one continuous project to travelers (once both are complete),” Reeves said in an email.
Crows Landing Road is a key part of the county’s transportation system. An average of about 32,000 motor vehicles pass through the project area each day, said a memo from Stanislaus County Public Works.
The road extends about 20 mostly rural miles from Seventh Street in Modesto to Highway 33 on the West Side. The project area has a mix of grocery stores, restaurants, automotive businesses, furniture shops and other uses.
Several thousand people live on the blocks east and west of Crows Landing. The homes date to Depression-era settlements by migrants from the Dust Bowl states. The corridor has a decidedly Latino flavor today.
Navigating the road can be nerve-wracking because the center left-turn lane has raised medians in only a few spots. Drivers dart from the many parking lots fronting the businesses. Bicyclists have to share the road with motor vehicles. Pedestrians have few safe crosswalks. Sidewalks tend to be narrow, and are missing in places.
Back in 2001, the strip got a visit from Dan Burden, a Florida-based expert on walkable streets, before he spoke at a public meeting on the topic.
“It’s as challenging a road as I’ve found anywhere in America,” he said. He suggested raised medians and filling of sidewalk gaps.
Around the same time, parents at Shackelford School got the county to install stoplights at Crows Landing and School Street. Many children walk across five lanes of traffic to and from the campus.
The Hatch-Whitmore design emerged from public meetings in the affected area.
The bicycle lanes will be buffered from motor vehicles with pavement striping, rather than raised berms. New light poles will aid cyclists and pedestrians alike. The county portion of the project includes beacons protecting walkers crossing at Amador, Imperial and Colusa avenues.
The county will remove one oddity from Crows Landing, the stoplight at Butte Avenue. It is a mere 100 or so feet from another stoplight at Winmoore Avenue.
The county project does not include landscaping on the mostly treeless street. That would have required a special tax on property owners in the corridor, an unpopular idea, said Christopher Brady, a deputy director at Public Works.
The contractor will shift traffic across the lanes as needed to install the improvements.
The city/county plans do not include the quarter-mile of Crows Landing north of the freeway, a two-lane route. It eventually will connect with the Seventh Street Bridge over the Tuolumne River, which will be widened from two to four lanes in the coming years.
The upcoming work on Crows Landing will hardly turn it into a grand boulevard. The lack of trees is one reason. Another is that the streetscape is dominated by the parking lots fronting most businesses, a bane to advocates for walkable urban areas.
But the city has a vision for making the north end of Crows Landing something different. A large vacant space could get a multistory mix of homes and businesses that hug the sidewalks. This would happen on the former site of Modesto Tallow, a rendering plant that sent a foul odor into the neighborhood for decades.
The current property owners are working with the city on the plan, but details and a timeline are not set, Reeves said.
Modesto laid out this vision in a 2015 study on Crows Landing Road as far south as Whitmore. It suggested short-term projects, such as the upcoming bike and pedestrian upgrades, and a rethinking of land use.
“In order to improve the pedestrian-friendliness of Crows Landing Road, it is important to slow traffic and make motor vehicle movements more predictable, reduce potential conflicts between pedestrians and traffic, and locate buildings and building entries near the sidewalk,” the report said.
This story was originally published July 15, 2020 5:30 AM.