Election not halting NH 2020 for now | TheUnion.com

Election not halting NH 2020 for now

Whither Natural Heritage 2020?

Does the outcome of Tuesday’s primary election change the fate or schedule of Nevada County’s embattled long-range open-space protection program?

Two of NH 2020’s biggest supporters – Supervisors Elizabeth Martin and Bruce Conklin – now face November runoffs against opponents who say they ran in response to widespread opposition to the program.

Robin Sutherland, Martin’s opponent in the 4th District, said that her in-laws’ frustration with forums to provide public input for NH 2020 was one thing that made her decide to run.

Drew Bedwell said he ran for the more than 8,000 people who signed unverified petitions stating they opposed the program for fear of losing property rights.

After Tuesday’s election outcome – Bedwell drew more votes than Conklin in the 3rd District and Sutherland had 300 fewer votes than Martin – are supervisors reconsidering pursuing the program, which is scheduled to wrap up this time next year?

No, said Conklin. “I think NH 2020 is a community process, so it’s up to the community.”

Two days after the election, no plans had been made to drop or slow down the process, which has been under way since mid-2000, he said.

As for retooling the program, supervisors have done that all along the way, he noted, citing the following examples:

— When asked to clarify private property rights, supervisors did so by passing a resolution reinforcing them.

— When asked to expand the membership of the lead committee in the program, supervisors added three members.

— When asked to give voting rights to an advisory member representing Nevada Irrigation District, supervisors did.

Supervisor Barbara Green, who joined the board after the program was initiated but who often votes with the environmental majority, declined to discuss the issue. Martin and Supervisor Peter Van Zant couldn’t be reached for comment.

Supervisor Sue Horne, the minority vote on the board, said that Tuesday’s vote should “serve as a reality check to the Board of Supervisors regarding NH 2020 and the level of support in the community to pursue this program in its present form.”

Horne said there are myriad ways information gathered for the program could be used outside of the NH 2020 process.

“I believed that the level of distrust for the NH 2020 process to date by the electorate was expressed by their votes on Tuesday,” Horne said.

That Nevada County voters rejected Proposition 40, $4.3 billion in bonds for parks that passed statewide with nearly 57 percent of the vote, is further evidence that locals distrust conservation efforts, she said.

“Even with the lure of $1.5 million to Nevada County, people voted it down 57 percent,” Horne said. “Proposition 40 has millions of dollars set aside for state conservancies and land conservation easements, and our voters soundly defeated that.”

The county’s partner in NH 2020, the nonprofit Sierra Business Council of Truckee, will continue to work with the county to facilitate the public process, said Steve Enos, the council’s coordinator for the program.

“We’re here to serve the public and the Board of Supervisors,” he said.

The 15 voting members of the NH 2020 Community Advisory Committee have been meeting monthly since October 2000 and are scheduled to meet through October, according to a schedule posted on the NH 2020 Web site at http://www.nh2020.org

Scientists working on the program are scheduled to make their recommendations to the CAC in April.

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