Commercial salmon-fishing regulations are so tight in California that the Small Business Administration is offering federal disaster loans to the industry. A SBA Disaster Outreach Center is located in the Bodega Bay Grange Hall (Wednesday, noon-4:30pm; Thursday-Friday, 9am-4:30pm). "The key thing is that those impacted come in to find out more about it," says SBA spokesman Mark Randie. But loans aren't the answer, says Mark Hudson of the Small Boat Commercial Salmon Fishermen's Association. "A loan you have to pay back. The way it's looking for the next three years, loans don't help us a whole lot." He notes that 10 to 20 years ago, the commercial salmon season opened in April and lasted until mid-October; more recently, the season started in May. In order to restore dwindling salmon supplies in the Klamath River, commercial boats this year couldn't start until July 26, and are limited to 75 fish a week through August. These restrictions are driving up the price for consumers. For those who make their living catching salmon, it isn't easy to switch to another type of fishing. "The boats are very specialized and the process of catching the fish is intricate and varies from species to species," Hudson explains. Loans won't help, he adds. "A loan is just another way to get fishermen in debt. What we do need is disaster relief grants and we desperately need some money for restoration on the Klamath River."
With the recent spate of oven-hot temperatures drying out a bumper crop of potential fuel, the need for fire awareness and prevention appears obvious. Recent research, however, indicates that not everyone is paying attention. The California Fire Safe Council and the Allstate Foundation surveyed 312 homeowners in nine Bay Area counties, including Marin, Napa and Sonoma. For those with property in high-fire-danger zip codes, 67 percent of those polled believe that their fire risk is "low," while 84 percent of those surveyed say its "somewhat" or "very" unlikely their home will be damaged by a wildfire. If only 'twere true. Anyone residing in or near California's grasslands, foothills or mountains is at risk. "We live in an area that burns, and it burns every year," says Battalion Chief Roy Sprague of the California Department of Forestry. "In the summertime, we always have a fire problem. This year it's a little worse and a little earlier than usual, but people always need to be vigilant in the summer." There are a number of safety steps residents should take, from creating a "defensible" landscape around a home to making sure street address numbers are posted and clearly visible from the road. For more specifics, visit www.firesafecouncil.org.