Board wants NH 2020 done June 30
Only a bugler playing taps was missing Tuesday as Nevada County supervisors unanimously voted to wrap up their controversial resource protection program by June 30.
“The end of NH 2020,” Supervisor Peter Van Zant said about embattled Natural Heritage 2020.
The board voted to direct staff to bring back a new time line wrapping up the work of the program’s committees by July. Supervisors voted May 9, 2000, to begin the program.
Supervisor Elizabeth “Izzy” Martin, a leading proponent of the program and a non-voting member of the program’s lead committee, made the surprise request of colleagues in an April 30 letter.
In the letter, Martin said she didn’t want to spend any more of the county’s money nor split the community in half any longer.
Tuesday’s meeting was one in a series of confrontations at the Rood Administrative Center over NH 2020, where even the prospect of the program’s demise did little to quell the distrust and disgust liberals and conservatives developed for each other during the program’s duration.
If Sierra Business Council, the county’s nonprofit partner in the program, paid for creating watershed maps, the primary product of the program, what did the county get for its money? asked Supervisor Sue Horne, the board’s only critic of the program.
The county spent $208,000 on the program, said Mark Tomich, county planning director.
“Look at the good time we had. That’s the cost of a party. Look at all the nice people we’ve gotten to know,” Supervisor Peter Van Zant said to guffaws from the dozens of people attending the quarterly update on the program’s progress.
Jim Sayer, president of SBC, which picked up two-thirds of the tab for the program, said three foundations that gave grants to the program let him know that “the fund-raising climate right now is really chilly,” so no more funds were likely to be forthcoming from the council.
Scientists on an advisory committee plan to produce a 600 page natural resource report this month, and recommendations on agriculture should join similar reports on forestry and recreation by May 23.
Some of the program’s leading critics took the microphone for another acrimonious public comment period.
We told you so, said Calvin Clark, who spearheaded a failed recall effort against Martin, and Rene Antonson, who ran unsuccessfully against Martin this year.
Robert Ingram, a forester for Sierra Pacific Industries who resigned from the forestry working group, said Martin’s surprise reverse on the program “only added to the credibility of property rights groups.”
He urged supervisors to “shred this program” and a “coarse filter” biological survey he said was inaccurate.
Several others urged supervisors to use the data that biologists collected during field surveys last summer.
Norm Saylor, an vocal opponent of the program, lauded Martin’s switch.
Josephine Jorda of Penn Valley told opponents of NH 2020 that “the past is past. Get over it.”
Pat Davison, field director for California Association of Business, Property and Resource Owners, said, “It’s no secret we’ve consistently criticized the board about NH 2020.”
“The 180 degree flip-flop is something we could certainly speculate about,” Davison said. “The program never did achieve community buy-in.”
Cat Cook of Nevada City said that opponents of NH 2020 “were whining and sniveling about the program, and now they’re whining and sniveling about getting rid of it.”
Barbara Bashall, executive director of the Nevada County Contractors Association and vice chair of NH 2020’s Community Advisory Community, voiced her disappointment and surprise to the board.
“I spent 18 months giving a lot of time to the program and doing a lot of homework,” Bashall said. She asked about the future use of the maps.
“That was the most important part of the program for me,” she said.
Bashall asked that Horne select biologists to review the expected 600-page scientific report.
Supervisors will review the matter and a revised timeline next Tuesday.
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