Kjos was appointed commissioner in June 2014, having served as deputy commissioner under Mary Pfeiffer. He joined the commissioner’s office as an investigator in 1988. Previously, he worked in Glenn County. Growing up mostly in Merced, he attended Humboldt State University, where he graduated in 1983 with a degree in rangeland management. “I went to school to reclaim coal mines,” he said. “It just really interested me to reclaim a strip mine and return it to the plains.”
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The commissioner’s office has been working with a multi-agency group on “weed free forage”—devising a national standard for certifying that forage contains no invasive plant seed. The department also adopted 1-mile buffer zones between nucleus yards— locations where queen bees are raised for sale—an effort to preserve the bees’ genetic integrity. In its pesticide programs, the commissioner’s office is trying to do more outreach, like proctoring exams, for maintenance gardeners who hold or need a DPR qualified applicator license (QAL) to use pesticides in their work.
The department is also working to reduce injuries from anti-microbial type cleaning products, frequently used in the county’s many retirement homes. The department’s outreach program includes a tri-fold fact sheet. In addition to these activities, the department is trying out CalPEATS, a new pesticide-use database that allows county agricultural commissioners to input and track pesticide-enforcement information. CalPEATS (the California Pesticide Enforcement Activities Tracking System) is being developed by DPR and the California Agricultural Commissioners and Sealers Association (CACASA). The office also monitors applications of agricultural pesticides, including methyl bromide used to treat fields where strawberry nursery stock is grown. “We have notifications, talk to the neighbors, inspect tarps,” Kjos explained. “We’re very fortunate it’s much less populated,” than other counties, he explained.