strip bannernew-logo25Kirk Pharis
Board Chair of CABPRO

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“California just passed three water management bills, bringing meters to some wells. New state “super priorities” now places habitat protection first (yellow-legged frogs), health and safety next (humans), and agriculture last in regard to water. Previously, the priorities were listed as human consumption first, then agriculture, then habitat preservation.”

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Wildfire Severity

On August 26th the Nevada County Board of Supervisors (BOS) unanimously passed a resolution “declaring an ongoing emergency due to the … threat of wildfire in Nevada County, and urging the Governor of California to take an active role at the federal level to demand that the federal government take action…” That may sound like a great idea to many, but there may be more to the picture.

On July 22nd the Sierra County BOS was the first to sign a county “Proclamation of Local Emergency” resolution. In the supporting documents provided regarding that agenda item, there was far more information than what is seen in their resolution.

Sierra County wants the governor not only to get involved, but to “seek concurrence of the President of the United States over the Sierra Nevada-wide declaration of local emergency.” Do we need – or want – an Executive Order (EO) from the President to dictate to our county what will be done in our forests? Currently there are laws in place that require the federal government to harmonize with county plans when making decisions about public land within the county. Could an EO end that?

If the president declared a State of Emergency for the Sierra Nevada Region, would it be an emergency forever, as is usually the case at the federal level? At the county level, an emergency can be called off when it’s over. What happens to local control if the president declares the emergency?

There’s more. Sierra County wants all 22 counties in the Sierra Nevada Region to support the request for a “Sierra Nevada Presidential Forum”, and to “place the Sierra Nevada Conservancy in a prominent role for coordination and administration of this program.” It wants all the counties to hand over their duties to a department of the State of California. Could this be a move toward regionalism?

The counties were pushed by the Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) to sign emergency resolutions before RCRC rolled out its strategic plan regarding the wildfire severity issue. That was to happen Sept. 23 – 26 at their annual meeting. Why the rush? All who testified at the BOS meeting requested that the supervisors NOT pass the Nevada County emergency resolution until after all plans are disclosed. The supervisors ignored that request. Why? It was a wait of only one month. I don’t find that to be too much to ask.

The question comes to mind, is this really about fire safety?

Strategic Goal 2 of the USDA Strategic Plan FY 2014 – 2018 reads as follows:
Ensure Our National Forests and Private Working Lands Are Conserved, Restored, and Made More Resilient to Climate Change, While Enhancing Our Water Resources.

California just passed three water management bills, bringing meters to some wells. New state “super priorities” now places habitat protection first (yellow-legged frogs), health and safety next (humans), and agriculture last in regard to water. Previously, the priorities were listed as human consumption first, then agriculture, then habitat preservation.

The EPA has proposed a “Waters of the US Rule” to change The Clean Water Act in order to extend their regulatory control to temporary wetlands and waterways, including culverts, ditches and ponds.

Might this really be about our water?

The terms ‘wetlands restoration’ and ‘wildfire’ are spoken together these days like salt and pepper. Yes, the wetlands are affected by wildfire. But we need to consider the multiple plans being implemented to control all of our water when considering any wildfire plan. Conveniently, people in the West especially, are very fearful of wildfire at this time and are likely to accept ‘anything’ because of that fear.

This map from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy website depicts the water yield of California and pictorially represents the flow of water to recipients throughout the State.

Link to Sierra Nevada Conservancy MAP

More than 60% of the state’s developed water supply originates in the Sierra Nevada Region, and half of the water flowing into the Delta comes from watersheds in the Sierra Nevada forests.

If our BOS supports handing over coordination and administration for forest management to the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, they might very well be handing over control of our water as well.

Does it make sense to appeal to the very agencies that have caused our problems to solve them?

The California Association of Business, Property and Resource Owners encourages everyone in our community to watch closely and make sure we retain local control of our forests and our water supply.

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http://www.sierranevada.ca.gov/our-region/map-gallery/CapitolWaterUsesPoster200906111400.jpg/view