Rattlesnakes are shy, but watch your step.

Rattlesnakes are shy, but watch your step.

Spring is here. Watch out! Spring in this area is wonderful, but it does have a down side—and not just for hay fever sufferers. Snakes are out, for one thing. Chico’s general services director, Dennis Beardsley, reports that there have been several sightings of snakes, including rattlers, at Wildwood Park. And it isn’t unusual for large wild animals, such as bears or mountain lions, to roam in Upper Bidwell Park—and mamas are extremely protective of their young this time of year. Best advice: Leave ’em alone.

Officials are also warning of the danger posed by water. The snowmelt is 190 percent of normal and reservoirs are full. “The stage is set for the largest snowmelt-caused reservoir spill in eight years,” said PG&E’s Randy Livingston. And the water in Northstate streams and rivers is extremely cold and moving swiftly. Kayakers, rafters, swimmers and anglers are urged to be cautious. Best advice: Stay aware, wear a life jacket and avoid alcohol.

Signs of the times Speaking of spring, it’s also the time for political signs to start, well, springing up. City Clerk Debbie Presson wants people to know the rules about them: Take them down within a week after the June 6 election; no more than four per residential parcel, none larger than four square feet; non-residential signs can be any size but can’t be more than six feet above grade and can’t obstruct street views; no signs on street signs, poles, trees, etc. Got it? Violations are infractions, supposedly.

Both Steve Bertagna and Maureen Kirk, whose signs are popping up like, well, poppies in supervisorial District 3, report that signs are being stolen or tagged. “Probably about 50,” said Kirk. “Even one out of my own front yard.” Bertagna said he’s thinking of setting up a video camera to catch a thief.

How big is big? It’s subjective, of course. What we do know is that Chico is getting bigger, both the city and the greater urban area. State Department of Finance figures released last week estimate the city’s population as of Jan. 1 at 79,091, an increase of 5,173, or 7 percent, in the past year.

Sounds like a lot, we know, but 73 percent, or 3,708 residents, was the result of annexation of existing homes. There were 1,393 brand-new residents, 27 percent of the growth. The greater urban area came in at 103,625, while Butte County has 217,209 residents.