By Ryn Gargulinski

Triplicate staff writer

Until recently, the most current books about indigenous plants and wildlife at the Del Norte County Library were pretty much past their prime.

andquot;A lot of them were outdated,andquot; said library director Patty Hector. andquot;Some were from the 1970s, and the pages were falling out.andquot;

Help came in the form of the Resource Advisory Committee, a local 15-member panel that collaborates with federal land managers on projects that are on federal land or will benefit federal land.

Hector said a library board member told her about the RAC, so she filled out paperwork and wrote up a grant proposal which was among the 11 projects accepted for 2005-06.

The library got $20,000 and recently bought boxes full of resources such as new books, videos, puzzles, computer software and learning tools all dealing with ecological or environmental matters.

andquot;It's like Christmas in April,andquot; Hector said.

Unfortunately, the RAC program which has doled out more than $1 million to good causes in Del Norte since it began in 2000 also will soon be past its prime.

The program is scheduled to end with the 2006-07 fiscal year. The RAC which recently disbursed the current-year funds will submits its final recommendations for funding in September. RAC member Clarke Moore said he does not know if any similar programs will be offered in the future.

Other area projects that benefited from the most recent RAC grants, which totaled about $250,000, include improvements along the Hurdy Gurdy Trail and its recreation area parking lot, an upgrade to Fox Flat Road and a two-week program for the Gateway Education Youth Summer Camp.

andquot;We work from the federal level all the way down to the private property owner,andquot; said Moore. andquot;Sometimes it's an individual donating time and labor with a backhoe. These are the kinds of things that has everyone doing their part.andquot;

Moore said one of the most important projects has been the shiny new restrooms RAC has helped install along U.S. Highway 199 and its environs.

andquot;At one time, Chimney Flat was known as 'Fecal Flat,'andquot; Moore said, describing the dire need for a restroom facility in that area.

Last year, bats at Big Flat benefited from RAC funding with a new bat house for their colony, while the North Coast Nature Center in Six Rivers National Forest got a new Pacific Salmon Exhibit and Lado Del Rio Campground got $40,000 for upgrades.

A Knopki Watershed restoration and a Rattlesnake Road improvement also were among projects winning funds in 2004-05. Fifty percent of RAC funds have to be used for road and watershed projects.