NH 2020 recommendations go unread | TheUnion.com

NH 2020 recommendations go unread

For a year now, Nevada County has been in a fuss about Natural Heritage 2020 – a fuss that’s been all the more remarkable because there was no there there.

Only a few weeks ago did the NH 2020 working groups which have been thinking about specific questions begin making their recommendations public. Before then, NH 2020 existed only as a process, and those who supported or opposed NH 2020 had little grist for their mills other than the way the process was set in motion and the ways that participants in NH 2020 were selected. The lack of substance, of course, didn’t stop the debate. It may have puzzled bystanders who couldn’t figure out why we’d fight so much about nothing, but it didn’t stop the fight.

The recent flow of recommendations from NH 2020 working groups, however, should change the scope of the discussion. Now we have real questions to debate.

The NH 2020 forestry working group suggests, for instance, that the county should seek exemptions from air quality standards to allow more prescribed burning. More prescribed burning, it says, would reduce the risk of forest fires – a trade-off that its members say justifies a temporary decline in air quality.

The working group that dealt with recreation, meanwhile, suggests that the county government get into the business of operating regional park and recreation facilities.

The NH 2020 working groups have issued page after page of recommendations – some detailed, some the merest sketches of ideas. For the first time since the NH 2020 process began, the public has real questions – and many of them – to discuss.

But get this: Although the specific recommendations began coming out almost two months ago, the public debate on NH 2020 remains stuck almost exactly where it was a year ago. There is little indication that those who care passionately about NH 2020 – either for or against it – have devoted the time to read and think about the specific recommendations.

It’s easier, in short, to spout off, look for conspiracies, throw up vague fears, and rehash political battles from years ago than it is to read and think about real recommendations for the direction of public life around here.

It’s time to move the debate along. The reports of the working groups are available at nh2020.org. If you care about the issue – no matter what you may think – you owe it to yourself and your community to make knowledgeable arguments about NH 2020.

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