Whew! Still time to comment on vernal-pools plan
If you missed the deadline to weigh in on the plan that would designate 1.7 million acres of critical habitat for 15 wetland animal and plant species, fret not: You have another month.

The proposal covers areas with vernal pools and endangered species all over California and parts of Southern Oregon. In Butte County, that includes 69,000 acres hosting Butte County meadowfoam and fairy shrimp.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has extended the deadline for public comment from Nov. 25 to Dec. 23.

“We extended it because we released a draft economic analysis of the proposal,” explained Jim Nickles, a spokesperson for USFWS. “We have more stuff for people to look at and factor into their comments.”

The 100-plus-page analysis breaks down, county by county, the impact the plan will have on private landowners and public agencies—between $5.4 million and $11.9 million in administrative costs, plus up to $122.9 million in project modification costs as those who choose to develop residential or commercial buildings in sensitive areas comply with Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act as is already required by law. There would also be economic benefits.

Once the USFWS gets all the comments together, “they’ll be putting together the final rule,” which should be out by the middle of next year, Nickles said.

To comment or just see the reports, go to

The book rook
One of the supreme injustices of college life is being forced to pay outrageous sums of money for required textbooks, which may or may not even get read. What’s worse, college bookstores often buy used textbooks back at the end of a semester for paltry sums and then repackage them for sale at an obscene markup to the next crop of suckers—er, make that students.

But a team of crafty scholars at Butte College and Chico State University have come up with a way to lessen the pain. Ben Clark, a Chico marketing major, explained how he came up with the idea of his new Internet textbook service,

“Last semester I sold a couple of books just by running around putting up flyers,” Clark said. “That was a lot of legwork, though. I felt like I’d be willing to pay a couple bucks not to have to do that.”

So Clark and company set up what is basically an Internet billboard for students to post textbooks they want to buy and sell. By charging a small posting fee, they are able to cut out the middleman, save students money and tell the profiteering publishers to cram it, all at the same time.

If it works out, Clark hopes to take the idea nationwide and maybe even make some money on the deal himself. For now, he’ll be happy just to cover his costs. As for how he came up with the name, Clark said, “Well, unit kind of goes along with school, and when you see people coming out of the bookstore they always look mad, so… There you go.”

County works to stamp our bar smokers
Butte County reserve deputies are working with the Butte County Department of Public Health to stamp out those nefarious bar patrons who insist on smoking cigarettes while imbibing their alcoholic drinks inside the bar. That is against state law. So the deputies are making unannounced visits to bars and looking to catch the perpetrators yellow-fingered. “All California employers must provide a clean, safe working environment for their employees,” says Byron Brace of the health department. “Breathing second-hand smoke in the workplace is not an acceptable condition of employment.”

According to a press release from public health, bartenders and owners can be cited for allowing—or encouraging—patrons to light up. Even providing ashtrays can be a violation and No Smoking signs must be posted in the bar. And, of course, the smoker will be cited as well. So far 11 citations have been issued.