EMERGENCY – NO POWER, NO CELL PHONE, NO LANDLINE! NOW WHAT???

In an article below, my friend Dale Knutsen discusses safety and communication while in the forest.  His suggestion regarding the use of Citizens Band (CB) Radios has me thinking about all the times when our regular means of communication was unavailable.  The Almanor Basin area has suffered through a number of instances when we were without power, no cell coverage available and landlines down too.

Now, what if you or a loved one is suffering a major health emergency?  How do you call for help?  I am thinking having a CB would be a good solution.  CB requires no infrastructure; only needing a charged battery.  If we could get our emergency responders to pick a channel(s) to be used in emergency situations in the Basin, we would have at least a chance of contacting someone who could relay a call for help.  CBs are relatively inexpensive and as I said, require no infrastructure.

Our Fire Chiefs meet on a regular basis.  I suggest you contact yours and ask that they establish this additional means of getting help.  I have mentioned this to them a number of times; however, they did not seem to be receptive to the idea.  Perhaps if they received enough encouragement from citizens in their area, they might work on providing us with yet another possibility to save a life in an emergency!

I hope you enjoy the following article regarding safety and communications in our beautiful forests.  My thanks to Dale for providing this valuable information!

Enjoying Your Forest Outings

By Dale Knutsen

The passage of winter brings out the urge to go visit the forest once again.  Fishing and hiking beckon, and there are delightful sights, sounds and even smells to enjoy in the woods.  But there are a few cautions to keep in mind if we want to keep our outings pleasant.

First is the matter of planning.  Know where you are going, and let a responsible person know your destination, your planned route and when you expect to return.  That way, if you don’t reappear by the appointed time, someone will be able to get help on its way without delay.

Be sure you are dressed and equipped for the outing.  An unexpected rain shower can dampen more than spirits, and running out of water on a warm hike starts to raise safety concerns.  There are numerous sources of advice for what to carry for various kinds of outings; it’s smart practice to consult those lists from time to time.

Most of us rather enjoy the quiet time of a forest outing and we’d just as soon be “disconnected” from electronic devices while we’re enjoying nature.  But we’d also like the ability to communicate with someone if we should experience a vehicle problem, a turned ankle or some other unplanned issue.  And this can be a challenge in our neck of the woods.

 

Cell phones are great … when they have service.  It’s no surprise that cell service is very spotty in our region, so you may not be able to connect with anyone when you really need to.  Walkie-talkies are a good way to stay in touch with nearby forest companions, like fellow hikers, as long as they aren’t very far away.  People who spend a lot of time in the forest sometimes a carry personal locator beacon, like SPOT, that can send a one-way distress message via a satellite link.

Another communication alternative is the good ol’ Citizens’ Band (CB) radio.  It turns out that the timber people who work the forest use CB radio for safety, to communicate their location on those narrow dirt roads.  That way they know when to pull over at a wide spot to let an oncoming big rig come by safely.  Here’s how it works:

  • At the highway on an active logging route you will find a paper plate or some other sign attached to a tree with a CB channel number listed; this is the channel being used on that particular route.
  • Along the route there will be other paper plates attached to trees with distance numbers printed on them (e.g., 1, 2, 3, etc.); these indicate the approximate distance in miles from the highway entrance.
  • Inbound trucks will report their location on the designated CB channel with words like “inbound, marker 3” or “coming in, mile 7”.
  • Outbound (heavily loaded) traffic will do the same with words like “loaded, mile 9”, “heavy, marker 5” or “coming out, at 11”.

Just by listening to the CB and keeping track of the paper plate markers you can tell when it’s time to get out of the way.  If you actually transmit your location as well, it will help the truckers know what traffic is coming up (e.g., “red pickup coming in, marker 5”).  And, if you should encounter a problem, contacting a trucker by CB may cause them to make your situation known when they reach civilization.  It’s worth a try!

Of course, it helps to know your location when you call for help.  That’s where maps and GPS come in.  But that’s a story for another time.

THIS IS WAR – THE PEOPLE VS. THE USFS!

In war, battles are lost – ultimately winning the WAR is what counts. We intend to win this war!

On 5 April 2017 the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) filed the “Notice of Appeal” in our law suit against Plumas National Forest/Forest Service’s 2012 Travel Management Rule. The Rule, if left in place, attempts to close hundreds of miles of roads and trails on the Plumas National Forest to motorized travel and recreation thus denying us access to our lands.

This denial has huge impacts on our County and its residents. Perhaps the most significant result of the closures is the inability of our citizens (those who are disabled, including disabled veterans, and elderly) to use their forest. They have every right to enjoy our forests, lakes and streams that will be inaccessible to them without the use of a motorized vehicle. Remember – these are our lands!

I am one of those older people who cannot hike like I did when I was 20; I still love the forest and want to be able to visit some of the areas that will be closed to me unless I can drive there.

In addition, we rely upon the user-created routes for access in emergency situations such as wildfire, law enforcement and other government services to our residents. Once a route is closed it will no longer be maintained, ultimately making access in an emergency by that route impossible.

There is also significant impact to our economy due to the adverse impact on recreation and tourism. Years ago, as timber management and logging on National Forests was all but discontinued, the U.S. Forest Service management presented the “golden carrot”, stating they would increase recreational opportunities for the public. This has not been true; instead they have opportunistically taken every relative step to reduce access and thus recreational opportunities.

PLF will be completing our briefing on the appeal by the end of this year and hope to be before the Ninth Circuit Court in 2018.

Please see the press release (below) issued by Pacific Legal Foundation for more detail and information.

PLF files appeal in challenge to Plumas National Forest road closures

 

SAVE OLSEN BARN – PROTECTING A COMMUNITY TREASURE

Olsen Barn Background:

The Olsen Barn property is 107 acres of meadow, creek side forest,Olsen Barn and wetland adjacent to Lake Almanor at the eastern entrance to the town of Chester, California. Besides the stunning vistas of Lake Almanor and Lassen Peak, the property is best known for the over 130 year old historic barn. The Olsen Barn property is both environmentally and culturally significant and has long been treasured by the surrounding community.

Save Olsen Barn–Now or Never! The Olsen Barn property appears frozen in time, altered little over the last century, but that could change if the property is not conserved. The property has recently changed hands several times and is again up for sale. Because of the threat that future landowners could diminish wildlife habitat or block public access, Feather River Land Trust secured an agreement in late January 2015 with the owner to purchase the property for permanent conservation and public recreation. Now comes the fun part–raising the money to make this happen.

We have until April 15 to raise the initial $65,000 to secure an option to purchase it. Once we secure the option we will have until October to raise the additional funds. Once the option is in place we gain access to $400,000 in state water bond funding for protecting river parkways. We have raised over $50,000 to secure the option and need a little more help from the Almanor Basin community to raise the remaining few thousand.

We plan to hold a number of events this spring and summer to engage the community and help raise the additional funds needed to make protecting this community treasure forever.

There will be another tour of the Olsen Barn property this Saturday, 28 March, at 1 p.m. Meet at the end of the Causeway on Highway 36 just east of Chester. Parking at the Collins Pines Rail Trail. Co-leaders will be Mike Yost, Ryan Burnett, Greg McIntire and Paul Hardy.

http://www.frlt.org/saveolsenbarn

FINAL DAYS – THE CLOCK IS TICKING

The final countdown has begun! Comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) are due to the State Water Resources Control Board no later than noon on 26 March 2015.

Plumas County District Three Town Hall Meeting:

Transcript of Public Comment

Many of you have said that you do not feel technically qualified to make comments. In order to assist you in this process I asked our attorney to draft a letter that you can print and send or cut and paste into an email. Clicking on this link (Water Board Comments) will take you to the letter.

If you have not as yet sent comments I urge you to take this opportunity to assist in our effort to Save Lake Almanor!

You can make a difference!!!

THERMAL CURTAINS ~ REALITY??

There will be a Town Hall Meeting here in Chester on 11 February 1015 at the Veterans Memorial Hall, 225 Gay Street, Chester starting at 6:00 pm. Representatives from PG&E will be presenting information on the operation of Lake Almanor/Butt Lake. This presentation will be immediately followed by a PUBLIC HEARING conducted by the Water Board where they will take comments from the public regarding the DEIR and the proposed alternatives.

State Water Resources Control Board
State Water Resources Control Board

With the release of the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) by the State Water Resources Control Board, THERMAL CURTAINS in Lake Almanor and Butt Lake are nearing a reality!

The DEIR identifies two alternatives for cooling the water in the Feather River below Lake Almanor. Both alternatives include the use of thermal curtains in Lake Almanor at the Prattville outlet and at Butt Lake. We only have until noon on 26 March to provide the Water Board with comments regarding the DEIR!

Lake Almanor, Plumas County, CA
Lake Almanor, Plumas County, CA

I know we are all concerned about the serious, adverse impacts of these recommendations. However, most will not take the initiative to write out comments by letter or email. It is extremely important that the Water Board hear from us!!

I cannot overemphasize the importance of your attendance and comment at this meeting. People, you have the power to change the direction the Water Board is heading! Please show up, participate and get the word out to everyone you know.

For additional information, please visit my previous blog: “SAVE LAKE ALMANOR” – IT’S HERE!! The following link to the Whiskeytown Lake Thermal Curtain provides insight related to appearance and function of that project.

BE THERE – 11 February 2015 at 6:00 pm, Veterans Memorial Hall, Chester!!!

“SAVE LAKE ALMANOR” – IT’S HERE!!

State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB)

Draft Environmental Impact Report

Folks it has been 12 years since PG&E started their re-licensing process for the Upper North Fork Feather River Hydroelectric Project, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Project # 2105.

This re-licensing requires a Section 401 Water Quality Certification from State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB). We have been waiting NINE long years for the SWRCB to release their Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR). The report was finally released 26 Nov 14, it examines two alternatives for cooling water to a maximum of 20 degrees Celsius at the Rock Creek/Cresta reaches of the Feather River (about 40 miles below Lake Almanor). Both alternatives call for a variety of actions to take cold water from Lake Almanor; both include installation of thermal curtains in Almanor and Butt Lake.

Canyon Dam Outlet - Lake Almanor
Canyon Dam Outlet – Lake Almanor

While staff recommendations do not call for immediate installation of the curtains; they instead recommend a form of adaptive management using increased cold water releases from Canyon Dam outlet between June and September each year. SWRCB staff also recommends the Water Board reserve the option to install thermal curtains in the future should the adaptive management practices not prove effective in reducing downstream temperatures. We have always taken the position that removal of cold water from Lake Almanor will have many and lasting negative impacts.

The goal of reducing downstream water temperatures was developed as part of a negotiated settlement reached in 2001 during the re-licensing of Rock Creek/Cresta License # 1962. It required that “reasonable” attempts would be made to meet the proposed water temperature (max 20 degrees Celsius) in the Feather River.

Project 2105
Project 2105 Website

A number of excellent resources are available if you wish to learn more about the thermal curtains, cold water issues and the Project 2105 process through the years. An excellent website, maintained by Bob Lambert, is www.project2105.org. Another website, maintained by Wendi Durkin of Save Lake Almanor, is www.savelakealmanor.org. I urge you to visit these websites; they contain tremendous historical data and documentation and they will be updated as new information becomes available. Of course, I will be posting information on my website (www.almanorpost.com) as well. For reference: Issues_Project 2105.

Our local population has changed dramatically over the years since the start of this re-licensing process. Many are not familiar with the potential impacts of removal of our limited cold water pool, the thermal curtain, etc. We only have until 26 March 15 to submit comments on the DEIR – Now is the time to get educated and take action!

Tampering with very sensitive ecological systems, given the uproar over climate change and the panic precipitated by drought, does not make sense!

TIME LINE FOR 2105 Re-licensing

2002 – PG&E files application for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license

2004 – PG&E old license expires – now operating under year to year extensions

2004 – Settlement Agreement reached, signed by stakeholders, not signed by SWRCB

2005 – FERC completes NEPA evaluation – recommends re-licensing

2005 – SWRCB begins EIR scoping

2006 – SWRCB scoping report issued

2006 – 2007 – SWRCB completes special studies reports

2007 – SWRCB releases EIR Level 1 & 2 reports with potential alternatives

2009 – SWRCB releases EIR Level 3 report narrowing proposed alternatives

Nov 2014 – SWRCB releases Draft Environmental Impact Report with recommended actions

Nov 26, 2014 – Comment period begins will all comments due 26 Mar 15

 

ALMANOR RECREATION CENTER – A WORK IN PROGRESS

Our Almanor Recreation Center is about to undergo a change!

I am very excited to announce the Almanor Recreation Center will be undergoing some very positive changes. The Center will be taken off line for a few months, starting the first week in January, in order to allow for much needed improvements.

Once again our community has stepped forward with the offer of help where help is badly needed. It has formed a team of volunteers who are willing to donate their time and skills to enhance what they see as a valuable resource to the Almanor Basin. This type of spirit is what makes living in our small, mountain community so wonderful!

The Center was originally constructed with grant funding. There were a number of things that were not completed due to lack of money, as well as the need to complete construction within the timelines of the grant. Since completion, we have been looking for opportunities to finish the work we began almost eight years ago; however, the County budget never presented the ability to fund the work.

When the senior nutrition site was closed in Greenville a few years ago, we were able to get their kitchen equipment donated to the Center. This equipment has been stored, awaiting the day that Plumas County could fund and complete that phase of the work. Last June, the County budget process presented an opportunity and money was allocated to the upgrade. While the funding will cover the costs of materials, the project would be unattainable without the dedicated community volunteers.

Changes will include an upgrade to the kitchen, electrical service, exterior lighting and any other needs that we are able to address within the resources available, in the labor pool and money. The Center will continue to be a work in progress, and someday, a future phase will include completion of the parking lot. The present phase of work has been scheduled for the winter months when the volunteers are available during our “off-season”.

While planning work for the Center, it became obvious that we needed to include the Memorial Hall in a coordinated approach at best utilizing both without redundancy. Achieving a balance between the two facilities is indeed a challenge. There is never a lack of needs and wants; only a lack of available dollars. Future upgrades to Memorial Hall, which serves many community needs as well as that of our designated emergency shelter, will certainly enhance her functionality. Improvements to the Recreation Center and Memorial Hall will be evaluated in a coordinated manner so as to compliment one another. This work is truly a community driven project.

Please revisit my blog as we progress with the plans for the Memorial Hall and her role in our community.

The Center will be unavailable for any use during this time; individuals and groups who regularly use it shall be directed to the Memorial Hall. Although work on the ARC will continue to be a work in progress as time, funding and community support allow, it is such a pleasure to finally see this phase, scheduled for months and planned for years finally becoming a reality!

MAYBE, JUST MAYBE TOWN HALL MEETINGS ARE NOT A THING OF THE PAST

Our town hall meeting on 27 August 14 was well attended. Forest Service Travel Management (TMP) Subpart C, “Over the Snow Vehicles” (OSV) was the topic of the evening. This Subpart deals with access by OSV to National Forest lands.

Concerned citizens were given an opportunity meet with representatives from both the Lassen and Plumas National Forests. Lassen NF will be the first of five national forests to start the process of evaluating routes and access via OSV. They expect to start their public meetings sometime in October. This is the time, to get the word out to everyone interested in travel management on public lands. We need to engage now, to be certain our concerns and opinions are considered early in their planning process. You have influence; but, only if you engage with large numbers and many voices. If your voice is not heard early in the planning stages, it will be too late down the road; most likely you will be displeased with the result.

Many thanks to our two forest supervisors, David Hays, Lassen National Forest Supervisor, Earl Ford, Plumas National Forest Supervisor and to Kathleen Nelson, District Ranger, Almanor Ranger District, Michael Donald, District Ranger, Mt. Hough Ranger District and their staff for attending and participating.

LASSEN NATIONAL FOREST:

DAVID HAYES, LASSEN NATIONAL FOREST SUPERVISOR rdhays@fs.fed.us 257-2151

KATHLEEN NELSON, ALMANOR DISTRICT RANGER kgnelson01@fs.fed.us 258-5110

CHRIS O’BRIEN, cjobrien@fs.fed.us 257-2151

PLUMAS NATIONAL FOREST

EARL FORD, PLUMAS NATIONAL FOREST SUPERVISOR eford@fs.fed.us 283-2050

MICHAEL DONALD, MT. HOUGH RANGER DISTRICT mdonald@fs.fed.us 283-0555

DAVID WOOD, dcwood@fs.fed.us   283-2050

All of the above contact phone numbers are within the 530 area code.

You do not have to wait for future meetings! You can and should contact the folks listed above with your concerns and comments, by phone and email.

We already have a graphic example of the route we don’t want to go in TMP Subpart B – Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) use of National Forest roads; nor does the Forest Service. The outcome of that process has resulted in law suits, including Plumas County. When that route is followed, even if you win, you lose.

At the town hall meeting, a lot of emphasis was placed on the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The reason the Forest Service has to redo their Subpart C plans is due to the fact they were sued over the perceived inadequacy of their prior NEPA work, albeit updated. NEPA is a very detailed process of public engagement/input and scientific evaluation of any proposed Federal project. I plan to write more about NEPA in a future blog. However, by viewing the YouTube video series of the Town Hall Meeting, you will have a very good understanding of NEPA through the presentations made by the Forest Service staff.

I have created a YouTube channel under Almanor Post. You will find the links, along with other information related to the issues on this website: Travel Management Plan Subpart C (OSV) . You can watch the entire meeting on TMR Subpart C, at your leisure. If you were unable to attend, or were there and want to review the discussions, please take this opportunity to view the video series. It is very informative!

Again, I would like to thank everyone who participated or attended. I will be posting additional information as it becomes available.

TOWN HALL MEETINGS – ARE THEY A THING OF THE PAST ?

With the advent of texting, tweeting, facebooking and other social media, are Town Hall Meetings a thing of the past? I hope not! SinceTown Hall the very beginning of our country, the town hall meeting has provided a forum for citizens and their elected representatives to get to know each other, exchange ideas and share information.

I am planning to start holding Town Hall Meetings and it is my hope that you will find them of value and worth attending.

My first meeting will be on Wednesday, August 27 at 6:00 pm in the Almanor Recreation Center on Meadowbrook Loop, Chester.

The subject of this meeting is the National Forest Travel Management Plan (TMP) Subpart C. This Subpart deals with “over the snow vehicles” ( OSV – snowmobiles) and their use of National Forest trails. Both the Lassen and Plumas National Forests are in the very early stages of addressing Subpart C. Now is the time for us to become informed and engaged in their planning process. It is critically important that we are involved from the first stages of planning so that our concerns are included as they move through their processes.

Representatives from both the Lassen and Plumas National Forests are planning to participate in the meeting and will be available to answer questions and hear your concerns. There will be at least one of the two Forest Supervisors in attendance as well.

Please plan to join us!

For more information: Travel Management Plan – Subpart C

REALITY

It is once again time for Plumas County to begin the budget process. And lately, it seems that many of us are once again experiencing the “Irrational Exuberance” of a number of years ago. I hear that the economy has recovered from the recent recession. I just don’t see it! True, a number of urban centers (the Bay Area for example) are experiencing a robust economy; however, we are living in a rural economy and are experiencing similar results of others with our demographics.

These past few months I have been tracking County revenue streams and they are not indicating much improvement. As a matter of fact, in some areas, the revenues are less than last year.

To begin the budget process, the Board of Supervisors requested our County departments submit status quo budgets. In most cases, that did not happen. When looking at projected revenues versus “requested” budgets, we came up with a projected shortfall in the general fund budget of more than 3 million dollars ($3,000,000). Folks we cannot spend what we don’t have!

In the next few months the Board will be meeting with each department, working through their requested budgets, line item by line item. I am certain those budgets include items that we can eliminate, and must. However, I seriously doubt we will find $3 million worth of fluff. We will have to face the fact that cuts will have to be made. In some cases this may result in reorganization of some of our departments and a reduction in the level of service we would like to provide in a perfect world. Sadly, this is not a “perfect world” in terms of revenue.

Plumas County Sales Tax Comparison 2005-2014
Plumas County Sales Tax Comparison 2005-2014

Sales tax figures are a good indicator of what is happening in our economy, its health. Take a look at the historical figures on this graph. I have included all years going back to when the economy was considered to be booming – 2005 forward. Even when removing the highest and lowest years, the trend line is still going down. Many persist in believing those years preceding the subprime collapse will return, that this recession is of a historical nature. Clearly, it is not and we must adjust to what is.

I see our current situation not as a disaster, but rather an opportunity to streamline County government. As the Board goes through this process, I will keep you posted on our progress.

Please check back for updates; be informed.