NH 2020 forestry group meets goals | TheUnion.com

NH 2020 forestry group meets goals

Our Forestry Working Group of Natural Heritage 2020 is composed of a diverse group of citizens from our community. The issues we covered included: fire safety and risk, private and public forest issues, and minerals. Our meetings were open to the public, and input was received from both the public and invited speakers. Our recommendations were derived from a consensus-based process.

We are proud that the group arrived at a reasonable range of recommendations.

Some members of the working group resigned, but each of them provided valuable input, much of which was included in the recommendations to the Community Advisory Committee. We believe that our recommendations will benefit individuals, businesses and landowners; and will provide incentives to decrease wildfire risk, enhance resource production, and protect natural resource values.

For example, to help protect the county from catastrophic fires, we recommended that the county:

— Develop and fund a countywide fire safe plan

— Work with the California Department of Forestry to provide up to two more California Department of Corrections/California Youth Authority camps in the county

— Help nondiscretionary building permit applicants make building sites fire safe

— Provide funds (along with local and state agencies) to landowners to reduce fuel loads

To help create new markets for timber products, we recommended that the county:

— Develop local markets for slash, brush and non-merchantable trees (e.g. biomass, compost, mulch)

— Facilitate local end-use industries and specialty markets

— Increase the zoning designations that allow the processing and marketing of forest products

We also recommended that the county provide incentives for certain mining and forestry activities:

— While requiring buffering around mines to reduce conflicts, provide financial incentives for mine operators to acquire land for buffer zones

— Waive timber protection zone fees

— Reduce cost of timber harvest plans for smaller landowners

— Exempt requirement of timber harvest plans for certain forest management practices

— Let owners of five-acre parcels partner with other owners to create 20-acre TPZ districts, down from the currently required 40 acres

Finally, we wanted to help ensure that Nevada County families would continue to have access to safe, clean water by recommending that the county obtain easements on Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and Nevada Irrigation District lands near reservoirs to protect water quality.

We came up with many more recommendations that you can read by going to http://www.nh2020.org, by visiting Rood Administrative Center in Nevada City, or by visiting your local library.

The efforts of our working group are recommendations: we wish to emphasize that while public input has been important, these recommendations are a platform to elicit a broader range of comments from our citizenry. Wider input will provide the opportunity to enhance, refine, or delete elements of these recommendations, as the CAC begins deliberations on the efforts of the working groups.

The term “open space” is contained in our recommendations. We recognize that this term may have different meanings to different folks. To many of us, open space is a working landscape. However, before the process is complete, most of us believe that the term “open space” should be and will be clearly defined by the CAC.

At this point in time, public input is as important as ever. We encourage Nevada County residents to read the recommendations and contact us or the county to provide feedback. With your involvement, we anticipate that the final set of recommendations presented by the Community Advisory Committee to the Board of Supervisors will benefit the entire community.

To close, we would like to thank our fellow citizen volunteers who made these recommendations possible: Bruce Boyd, Betty Simpson, John Skoverski, Nancy Moss, Jim Ciaffoni, Don MacKenzie, Don Rivenes, Craig Combes, Don Jacobson and Dave Nelson.

Bruce Van Zee from Nevada City is a retired U.S. Forest Service district ranger and forest supervisor. Barbara Bashall is the executive director of the Nevada County Contractors Association.

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