Groups share views on NH 2020 report
Comments from professionals and local groups on recommendations from the Natural Heritage 2020 Forestry Working Group followed predictable paths when they were surveyed recently by The Union.
County supervisors approved starting the long-term planning program, NH 2020, in 2000 and formed the Community Advisory Committee, which in turn formed three working groups to focus on specific areas.
The Community Advisory Committee plans to consider recommendations from the three working groups, and then forward its own recommendations to county supervisors.
Comments from individuals and organizations follow.
Andy Cassano, land-use planner, Nevada City Engineering, Inc.:
“It is too early for me to take a position on NH 2020 as a whole. … I briefly reviewed the forestry and recreation sections and found them fairly nonthreatening to property owners, but many suggestions seem difficult to fund, as noted in a recent The Union editorial. Nevada County is not the easiest place to raise money through tax increases, so I’m pessimistic about that avenue of revenue.
“Regarding NH 2020 in general, I deeply regret the harsh polarity caused by the process. Personally, I would rather see time and money spent on projects that avoid divisiveness and address issues where there is broader consensus.
“Looking back, I don’t know how this polarity could have been avoided. I guess that we can only now hope that somehow the final product will be so spectacular that it will make all of this heartburn worthwhile.”
Kim Janousek, President, Citizens for Property Rights In Nevada County, a property rights group:
“We recognize the time, effort, energy and dedication that the members of the Forestry Working Group gave to this report, and we thank them for their efforts. However, we found the report to be very vague and lacking in actual facts and figures.
“It is our opinion that there need to be:
— Detailed descriptions of the recommendations. Exactly what is to be done? Who, or what agency, will be responsible?
— Estimated costs of the recommendations.
— Funding sources identified. Where will the money come from? Throughout the report there are recommendations to apply for grants. How long do the grants last? Do they fund the entire project, or are we going to be ‘dipping’ into the county’s general fund? And what if we start the program, fund it for a few years, then discover that we can’t fund it – do we do away with it? And what long-term/short-term effect does abolishing the program have on the county?
— An analysis of the benefit versus the cost of the recommendation. Are we getting enough ‘bang for our buck’ or are we just creating positions so we can ‘manage/control’ the situation? And how much of this will become part of the county General Plan? Will new zoning ordinances be required?
“In conclusion, many of the recommendations require a ‘price tag’ BEFORE we can make any other comments.”
Janet Cohen, executive director, South Yuba River Citizens League:
“Responsible forestry is an essential part of protecting our water quality and the health of our rivers, streams and lakes. These are limited recommendations, but they go a long way toward improving fire safety and reducing the regulations and costs on responsible timber operations in our county.
“Best of all, the recommendations show that opposing interests can come together and forge a reasonable compromise on a complicated issue. I congratulate the dozens of volunteers who worked on the report. They represent the diversity of Nevada County. The recommendations seem sensible, and I think that the average person reading them will find something they like and can support.”
Karen Cox, board member, Rural Quality Coalition:
“It appears that the group concentrated its efforts on the preservation of the timberlands rather than the other values which make up … a forest.
“The Rural Quality Coalition would have preferred that more emphasis be placed on the protection of wildlife habitat, watersheds, air quality and visual quality. It is clear that the Forestry Working Group decided that the timber-producing land must first be preserved before the other values are protected, but what benefit results if the timberland is preserved and then clearcut?
“The … coalition does agree with most of the recommendations as long as the details are worked out (to) protect the wildlife, watersheds and air quality, etc.
“The … coalition has more of a problem with some of the Private Forested Lands recommendations. We understand the motive for reducing the minimum Timberland Protection Zone district from 40 to 20 acres, but we would have some concern if that occurs close to the towns and community centers.
“We do not agree that a registered professional forester be hired as a county forestry advisor. Should such a position be created, the job description should include knowledge of the Forest Protection Act and knowledge of forest biology and ecology.
“The recommendation for an additional exemption in Timber Harvest Plans for reducing fuel loads needs clarification. Reducing fire danger through thinning, cutting small diameter trees and fuel ladders is acceptable, but if the exemption means reducing fuel loads by cutting all the large diameter trees, we are against it.”
Carolyn Hinshaw, chairwoman, Sierra Nevada Group of the Sierra Club:
“(T)he Forestry Working Group was only charged with focusing on goals that provide present and future opportunities for timber resource management, mineral extraction, and public health and safety. As a consequence of that narrow objective, issues of habitat, open space and species diversity were given less emphasis than we would have hoped for.
“There are a couple of recommendations that we take issue with:
“The Forestry Working Group recommended that a position of Nevada County Forestry Advisor be created and that only registered professional foresters would be qualified to fill that position. We feel that this position shouldn’t be restricted to registered professional foresters. Certainly there are individuals in this county who have knowledge of county planning requirements, the Forest Protection Act and forest management just like … foresters and would be qualified to advise the county.
“Also, we are not convinced that the formation of a Forestry Advisory Committee is advisable, given the contentiousness that marred the progress of the Forestry Working Group. Having just been stung by the ‘conversation’ about the forest, we would certainly be suspicious of the advice of so-called ‘forestry experts.'”
Tomorrow: Comments from Frank Stewart, registered professional forester for the Quincy Library Group; California Association of Business, Property and Resource Owners; the John Muir Project; The Nevada County Forest Coalition; and Sierra Pacific Industries.
On the Net
NH 2020 Forestry Working Group report
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