Board Highlights and Nightlights
The Sierra County Board of Supervisors met in Downieville in continued regular session; all supers were present and sober.
Public comment period saw Robert Eshleman describing how AIS is a genuine problem, and a rational solution was easily available to the problems of Independence Lake and TNC has the money to do an exemplary program ensuring both protection against AIS and allowing access. Everyone agreed in principle.
A business owner from Sierra City whose name we didn’t catch stood in support of Kathy Breed and the Sierra County Chamber of Commerce. Everyone agreed, but no one has money to support her.
Supervisor Lee Adams thanked Heather Foster and others for putting on a great Snow Ball again this year. There is no way to overestimate the value of events like this both to fund local schools and services and to bring the community together to remind us what really great folks we share the county with.
Dr. Carol Roberts reported to the Board that the Child Welfare Services improvement plan would have a meeting of stakeholders on March 10th from 9:00 AM to noon. She said the public was welcome and joyfully invited, though the scope of the meeting was narrow and was primarily intended to have people already in the loop give input on integrated services to clients.
Director of Planning, Building Inspection, and Public Works Tim Beals announced that the county is now officially a stakeholder in the Aquatic Invasive Species group.
He amazed everyone in the room with the news that the State of California has agreed under the Truckee River Operating Agreement that the State of Nevada, freaking NEVADA, would have the right to reject any permit for a well in the freaking state of CALIFORNIA in Placer, Nevada and Sierra Counties. It’s water, which will make people crazier than whisky.
Mr. Beals warned of the drastic hit the county will take if the Secure Schools and Community Self Determination Funds
are not approved by congress. Mr. Hardeman was not present from the schools, but he will no doubt have a similar story.
Director Beals sought direction from the Board about the increasing burden on his department’s time for technical support for Loyalton.
The Board addressed its resolution for Independence Lake, and the restrictions The Nature Conservancy has placed on the use of the lake.
The resolution originally began as a strongly worded statement by Bill Nunes regarding the importance of access to IL. The first motion, last meeting, specified motorboat access, but was reduced to simply insisting that land paid for with public funds should have public access.
However, Mr. Beals and County Council Jim Curtis realized, as did all the ranchers in the Valley and the Citizen’s Alliance for Property Rights, that a whole lot of property in the county has received some public money one way or another, either through conservation easements or other transactions. By the time the resolution came up for a vote it merely said “the board of supervisors supports public access to Independence Lake.”
The Friends of Independence Lake noticed the change, and recognized it as backing way down from where it originally started.
Supervisor Nunes, who is on the Sierra Nevada Conservancy board, spoke of a meeting arranged by Tim Holabird of Congressman McClintock’s office, with The Nature Conservancy. The problems which did exist should be dealt with in a reasonable manner. Bigshots from TNC were there, and they are willing to consider increased access to traditional users.
Julie Osburn of Friends of Independence Lake stood and hammered the Board over the change in wording, but she was assured the Board still supported full access. Yes, the current resolution was different from the one originally made, but the board had had two weeks to sober up.
Chris Fichtel, of TNC said the giant non-profit corporation wanted openness in the process. This will constitute a new way of doing business for Mr. Fichtel and TNC in the area. A consultant has been hired (Ooooh, a CONSULTANT) who will orchestrate this new openness. There will be a website with documents, but we later learned from a local man in the know that the website won’t be a TNC site, but a SNC supported page.
Bill Bate of Calpine stood and said that Mr. Dewit Zeleke, a director of something at TNC California, said that there were timelines to get the management plan for the lake accomplished.
Scott Schlefstein pointed out that the new language was specific to Independence Lake, and might be an improvement.
The Board passed the resolution, but Ms. Osburn stood her ground. She wanted something better. The land was purchased with public money.
To be clear, there is very little the Board can do. If the road to the campground and boat ramp isn’t clearly county road, then the county has no jurisdiction over it, beyond requiring a permit from whoever does own it.
Then, though it is not the purview of the Board to determine the public nature of non-county roads, the Board launched into a long opinionated discussion of public money on private lands.
Dave Goicoechia made a great speech about the Louisiana Purchase and Alaska and how you better not go there and talk about public money and access to private land. He spoke about how he’d prosecute trespassers on his land and frankly, everyone agrees. It still had nothing to do with the subject which they’d already voted on.
In the end, we’re left with everyone’s assurances that TNC will reopen Independence Lake to the full public access.
Van Maddox, County Auditor, gave the board a report on the budget. In a nutshell, we still have to wait to hear from the state, and from the feds. Tax receipts are likely to be down $50-100,000 dollars. The county is likely to take other hits, as well. Of the $5.5 million dollars in the general fund, most of it is restricted by state and federal law. There is about $600,000 which the supes could write a check on.
Mr. Maddox reported that, thanks to Mr. Beals staff in public works, the transportation audit was the best in years.
The Board discussed bringing federal representatives into the discussion of the Forest Service presence in Downieville, there is none. Mr. Adams pointed out how the FS benefits from having us live here, as do TNC and the other land trust organizations. The Forest Service needs a representative in Sierraville AND in Downieville. The Board instructed staff to call up our congressmen and senators and schedule brunch, or some other, unspecified action.
If anything else happened, I missed it!