The duties of the Butte County Mosquito Abatement District (BCMAD) area are about to change dramatically following a request by the Butte Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) board.
LAFCo has requested that the BCMAD take over abatement services of 15,000 acres primarily planted in rice land in Durham. The Durham Mosquito Abatement District (DMAD) is not able to continue to perform these services due to financial constraints and a lack of necessary equipment. DMAD is on a one year probationary period currently in order to bring the district up to Butte County standards. LAFCo has instructed Durham to create a website in order to post agendas and minutes.
BCMAD has been asked to file an application to annex the additional land into their workload.
As BCMAD Manager Matt Ball explained, Durham is not against losing the 15,000 of acres to service and Butte County is not opposed to taking on the service area. Though Durham will lose approximately $15,000 in revenue, Butte County will be happy to make this extra money.
As Ball explained the added work, would mean a loss to Butte County of $350,000 if they were to spray just 50 percent of the acres they are gaining at half the frequency of their spraying.
Durham has had a disadvantage over the years in not being able to spray the 15,000 acres which has gone uncontrolled, claiming they have been able to spray the edges of the fields.
The BCMAD has also been asked to take over Oroville Mosquito Abatement District (OMAD) which is in the process of dissolution and once their debts are satisfied, BCMAD will file an application to take over this service area also. This service area will include 1,259 square miles which includes 8,140 parcels for 25,000 people. The work in Oroville will begin in March and it will be a slight learning curve for the staff as they have not placed traps or performed surveillance there yet.
"The geography is a little different. We will find out about the catch basins, breeding sites, etc. We know about their big ponds and dredger ponds," Ball explained.
Though the BCMAD will be stretched thinner financially with two acquisitions, Ball stated they will make do with what they have. They will not need additional staff and the increased work will not take away service from other areas.
The Butte County Mosquito Board met Wednesday evening and agreed to enter into a contract with OMAD pending their legal counsel's approval and approved the resolution for application for annexation of DMAD's rice lands.
Board members representing this area are Biggs Councilman Bo Sheppard, Gridley Vice Mayor Bruce Johnson and Jack Bequette.
The Butte County Mosquito Abatement District was formed in June of 1948 and covers 1,600 square miles including all of Butte County and until now has not included the 15,000 acres covered in Durham and Oroville Mosquito Abatement District. Butte county also covers Hamilton City in Glenn County.
Vector Control was added to the name in 1994 to reflect the additional disease surveillance and information now provided.
BCMAD prides itself on changing the behavior of residents in all their areas especially when it comes to swimming pool maintenance while the temperatures are still cool, usually one month before. Targets by air are decreased 50 percent with the addition of billboards and press releases by BCMAD especially with the influx of West Nile Virus.
"This is a very important mission for us when it comes to West Nile concerns," Ball stated.
He stated he agrees with Governor Brown when it comes to climate change saying mosquito and vector control will be paramount.
"We are getting more warm temperatures, new diseases such as Zika and more are coming in our area," he said.
BCMAD monitors for Western equine ensephalitis, st. Louis encephalitis, California encephalitis and West Nile Virus activity by collecting blood samples from sentinel chicken flocks strategically placed throughout the District, collecting live mosquitoes trapped throughout the District, and collecting dead wild birds District wide," their 2017 annual report states.
Ball feels he is lucky to have such a great job, a supportive 11 person board and a great hard-working staff.
BCMAD employs 16 full time and hire 14 seasonal workers May through October.
"We feel confident we can take care of not only our district, but Durham and Oroville also. No different than Butte County," he stated.