Category Archives: Issues


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



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!!!


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!!!


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 Another website, maintained by Wendi Durkin of Save Lake Almanor, is 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 ( 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



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.




CHRIS O’BRIEN, 257-2151




DAVID WOOD,   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.


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


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.


For a number of years the Water Quality Subcommittee of the Lake Almanor Watershed Group (LAWG), formerly known as the Almanor Basin Watershed Advisory Committee (ABWAC), has contracted for water quality testing at Lake Almanor. These efforts have been funded by contributions from our local homeowner associations and concerned residents. Recently we were successful in recruiting Scott McReynolds of the Department of Water Resources (DWR) to conduct this testing at no cost to our local community. The program has been significantly expanded, including a monitoring broad array of elements.

The DWR folks identified a need for water temperature data to correlate with the other data they will be gathering. This required a buoy to be placed in a deep water area of the lake. I am pleased to announce that the buoy is in place and ready to provide the location for DWR’S temperature monitoring “logger” string.

I have to say the buoy placement was a huge cooperative effort and I want to acknowledge those who played such a valuable part in it becoming a reality. First and foremost, the cooperation we received from PG&E was phenomenal. Joe Wilson & Scott Perkins managed to grant permission for placement and produced a permit in record time. The Plumas County Sheriff and his boat patrolman Rich Ross provided the means to locate the perfect spot via their boat, outfitted with depth & GPS gear. Aaron Seandal, Chair of the Water Quality Subcommittee, submitted the required permit information back to PG&E so that we could move forward with placement. Doug Maxfield of Big Valley Divers, Inc. made time in his busy schedule to acquire the buoy & related rigging, deploying it in position so that we could start accumulating the necessary data in conjunction with our other monitoring protocol. And, last but certainly not least, a huge THANK YOU goes to Jeff Greening who spearheaded and coordinated the entire effort!

Lake Almanor Projected Water Levels 2014
Lake Almanor Projected Water Levels 2014

It is great to see such a spirit of cooperation. As our lake levels rise and fall throughout the year (see the 2014 Projected Water Levels graphic), this information will give us a much clearer picture of water quality and temperature and how it impacts Lake Almanor. As Gary Freeman’s climatology data indicates, the character of the Almanor Basin and Feather River Watershed is changing. All of us, the residents of the Almanor Basin and PG&E, will benefit from this effort for many years to come. THANK YOU to everyone who made this possible!


The Board of Supervisors constantly hears concern expressed for the economic health of Plumas County and our communities. Believe me, this is one of the top concerns of the Supervisors as well. We would love to have large companies locate here and bring the jobs we so badly need. However, in this economy, this is most likely not going to happen anytime soon. That got me thinking about what we can do, which brings me to looking at the businesses that are already here and in most cases struggling to keep their doors open.

Around Christmas each year you will see encouragement to patronize our local businesses in the “Buy Local” campaign which asks us to spend $100 in local shopping over the holidays. You have all participated and have given our businesses a boost they so badly needed to get through our long winters. But, what about the rest of the year? Think about the difference it would make if we all spent $100 locally every month or even every other month. I am thinking things like new tires, auto repair, clothing, and professional services.

Looking at our local businesses and their needs started me thinking about our Chambers of Commerce. Chambers of Commerce have been in existence since the early 1900’s. Their functions and purpose have changed over the years with changes in business and technology as they adjusted to new and different demands. Our Lake Almanor Chamber of Commerce has been in existence since around 1939. That is a long history of service to our businesses and community.
A Mountain 4th

It is my observation that all of the Chambers located in Plumas County are struggling with lack of staffing, lack of members and lack of money to do the things they would like to do to promote our area. I’ve been thinking about the role the Chamber has played over the years. Some examples: they field events, such as the 4th of July parade & fireworks, that bring visitors to our area, their mixers give business owners and the public an opportunity to meet and share ideas and concerns, they provide a listing of local business members by category so if you are looking for lodging, a service or the like it is easy to access the appropriate information. They are usually the first place a person planning a visit or looking to move here goes to obtain information.

The Lake Almanor Chamber of Commerce currently has about 210 members out of approximately 400 businesses in the area. In recent years there have been efforts on the part of some members to break away from the Chamber and start other merchant groups/associations. While I can understand this movement, I can’t help but think there is such power in numbers and we have such a small population to draw from, it seems banding together, addressing any services that they find lacking and effecting change within the Chamber organization would be a better, more effective method to address those needs.

Many of us tend to think of the Chamber as purely providing service to business owners however, over the years I have seen the positive impact an active, healthy chamber brings to the residents of the community at large. This brings me to thinking about how we, as a community, can help the Chamber prosper thereby helping all of us prosper. First thing that comes to mind is we could volunteer to help at events. Recently some of the events the Chamber sponsored have been cancelled or are no longer Chamber events due to lack of volunteers. Not only would we be helping the Chamber but the events are fun and a chance to meet our neighbors.

Secondly, the Chamber has numerous categories for membership. If you own a business and are not currently a member please consider joining. They also welcome Nonrofit organizations as members. For those of us who benefit from having healthy, successful businesses to provide for our needs, there are ways to contribute as a “Friend of the Chamber”. Friends of the Chamber are described as “individuals and families who want to connect to, invest in and support the community organization that is working to enhance the quality of life in the Basin”. Sounds like that would fit most of us. Let’s do what we can to support our businesses and an organization that has been serving us for more than 70 years!


Gary J. Freeman, Hydrologist, has been studying and tracking climatology and changes in the Upper Feather River Watershed for many years. He recently presented a paper at the annual Western Snow Conference and has made that information available to us.
He points out: “while warming along with an earlier snowmelt has been occurring throughout California, the relatively low mountain elevation, “rain shadowed” topography of the upper North Fork Feather River has been more sensitive to the effects of climate change compared with the remainder of the Sierra Range to the south. The changes are very specific to topography. Even within the entire North Fork Feather River watershed above Lake Oroville, the Hwy 70 Canyon sidewater inflow area near Rock Creek, Cresta and Bucks Creek power houses, including the Bucks Lake-Grizzly drainage show little change, while the “rain shadowed-mountain barrier blocked” Lake Almanor and East Branch of the North Fork Feather appear to be on the other end of the “change scale”.

Lake Almanor Natural Flow & Precipitation
Lake Almanor Natural Flow & Precipitation

Take a minute to enjoy his observations and some excellent slides showing our trends over a period of years. After all; we may be in a drought now but come winter, we may experience an abundance of moisture brought to us by El Nino.

Gary Freeman – 2014