Category Archives: Government


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!!!


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


Plumas County Board of Supervisors meetings have been live streamed since 4 Feb 2014. More importantly, we now have most of the bugs worked out! I could really use some feedback from you about whether or not you see this as a valuable resource, that which could be done to improve upon it and, any other suggestions you might wish to convey. While streaming is quite useful to the Board members and staff, for reference to specific agenda items, it is for you that the system was implemented.

Plumas County Homepage

Proceedings are easily viewed while the Supervisors are meeting, in “real time”. However, suppose you read a newspaper article or heard about something the Board discussed, or a report that was presented and you wish you could have attended the meeting or watched while it was live streamed. It is not TOO LATE – all video records of meetings are archived and can be accessed through the Plumas County website. Click on the button titled “Live Board Meetings” in the table on the left of the screen, beneath the County Districts interactive map. This will take you to a listing of the meetings by date; select the appropriate date and then click on “View” which will take you to the video and agenda for that meeting. If there is an agenda item for that meeting that is of particular interest, click on that agenda item in the listing below the video to view that specific agenda item; you may have to scroll through the list.

Plumas County BOS Streaming Website
Plumas County BOS Streaming Website

At the 6 May 2014 (1:30 p.m.) meeting of the Board of Supervisors, for example, we received a presentation from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife regarding the removal of trout from Gold Lake in the Bucks Lake Wilderness area. The trout are being removed in hopes that the Yellow Legged Frog population (there are 10 of them in the vicinity) will migrate to the lake and take up residence. The Board room was packed to the extent it was standing room only inside the chambers, with many standing in the adjacent hallway – outside the chambers. This is not atypical of a hotly debated issue. Even if you attended the meeting in person, you may well have missed part, or most of what was said. If standing in the hall, you would also have missed the interaction throughout, always an important element of the process. To better illustrate this, you should visit the frog presentation & discussion – Agenda item 24.  While you might find this report and discussion of interest, you will definitely get a feel for why streaming (with archives) is so beneficial to you, when issues of interest arise. Or those you would like to refer to others.

As I have expressed in the past, while we as Board members appreciate those of you who attend our meetings and engage, there are many of you, who for a number of reasons (time, weather, distance to Quincy …) cannot do so. It is for all of you we have taken the long overdue step in providing streaming technology to you, wherever you may be, at your leisure.

In the near future, many of the other committees and commissions are planning to live stream their meetings as well, having seen the benefits in outreach and participation. Plumas County is finally joining the modern age!

Please take a moment to visit the website and let me know what you think!!! This is your government; we are making decisions on your behalf.


A friend recently forwarded me an article from the Wall StreetGetty Image Journal.  Most of the ideal propounded by the author seemed to me to be spot on!  He talks about his ideas for a free society; a society whose vision is based on respect for people and what they value.

He quotes Thomas Jefferson who warned that “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.”  As I read the article I couldn’t help but revisit something that has been on my mind of late and wonder when it was that we started expecting government to take care of all our needs and the freedoms we have given over to government in return for that care.  Are we truly headed to a complete “nanny state”; or, are we perhaps already there?

Over the years, it has been my experience that government over-regulation and interference has acted to stifle innovation, cost many businesses out of existence, or cause entrepreneurs to give up before they begin.  I have also noticed that government usually does not do a very good job when it attempts to do things that are better done by private industry/business.  As the author says, “This is what happens when elected officials believe that people’s lives are better run by politicians and regulators than by people themselves.”

Read the article.  There are some thought provoking ideas expressed – Who do you think wrote it?

I would love to hear your thoughts on the issues raised by the author.


Almost every child at some time fears the monster in the closet.  Well folks, we have a monster in our closet!  Our monster is the thing that will ultimately reduce your government services and potentially impact the future viability of many local governments. monster-in-the-closet       For years, local government was not required to show their obligation to pay for retiree benefits on their balance sheets; thus, most decision makers were unaware of the future debt they were incurring.

A few years ago that changed, when local governments were required to recognize their retirement debt obligation as part of their budgeting process.  We are required to show the debt obligation; however, we are not required to account for how we plan to meet that indebtedness. It must be remembered that Plumas County is required to have a balanced budget each year, that balances expenditures with anticipated income / revenue.

Past practice in Plumas County budgeting has been “pay as you go”; in other words, to estimate the current year’s requirement to pay for retiree benefits and build that into the budget, without looking to the compounding problem going into the future.  Last year, for the first time, Plumas County set aside dollars to be placed in an investment account whose earnings will help to meet the retiree debt load.  Due to extremely tight constraints, we were only able to establish an account with a small contribution; however, it is my intention to lobby heavily during this budget cycle for continuing to fund this account, if not to increase our contributions.

If we do not recognize this obligation and begin addressing it now, we will be facing dire consequences going into the future. We will see a large portion of our County labor force retiring due to the aging out of the “baby boomer” generation, without the increased revenue to pay for that growing liability. This will be further compounded by the obligations toward funding staffing hired to replace them!

This is not exclusively a local problem!  Governments all over the United States are in the same boat.  California is currently in a position where the average State retiree is receiving benefits that are far greater than the income the average citizen is currently earning. What part of this equation does not make sense?

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article discussing the situation on a national level – How to Become a Public Pension Millionaire .  In California, public employee unions are very strong; to the point that it becomes almost impossible for cities and counties to negotiate contracts that require workers to shoulder a greater portion of their retirement benefit contributions. Public pressure to maintain salaries and benefits for sheriff deputies, police and fire has compounded the problem.

Over time, many local governments, including Plumas County, have negotiated contracts with employee unions that saw the employer paying a greater portion of the employees’ share (in some instances 100%) in addition to the employer’s contribution to the Public Employee Retirement System costs. This has created a situation that cannot be sustained!

As it stands now, “it is truly a broken, unsustainable system…created with good intentions, yet with unfortunate consequences”. In future blogs, we will look at how this works, process and what must be done to fix it. We no longer have the luxury of “kicking this can down the road”!


Chapter 1 – SOME HISTORY

I am currently a member of the governing board of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC) , my second term, representing the North Central Subregion (there are 6 subregions in SNC).   The Conservancy, a California state agency created by the Legislature (AB2600) in 2004, has a mission “to initiate, encourage and support efforts that improve the environmental, economic and social well-being of the Sierra Nevada Region, its communities and the citizens of California.”  The SNC has an excellent website where you can view information on Board of Directors, Grants that have been awarded, meeting information, minutes and much more.

Funding for SNC’s programs comes from the California Environmental License Plate Fund and Proposition 84 (Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coast Protection Bond Act) approved by California voters in 2006.  SNC was given $54 million of Prop 84 funds for grants and grant administration.  By March of last year it had awarded over $50 million to 296 projects throughout the Sierra Nevada.

It is the goal of SNC to support the Sierra Nevada region by funding local projects, providing technical help and supporting collaborative projects in partnership with local government, nonprofits and Tribal organizations.  Programs aim to accomplish the following:

Increased opportunity for tourism and recreation

Aid in the preservation of working landscapes

Reduce the risk of natural disasters, such as wildfire

Protect and improve water and air quality

Assist the economy

Enhance public use and enjoyment of public lands

Protect, conserve and restore the physical, cultural, archaeological, historical and living resources

Photo by: Katie Bagby
Photo by: Katie Bagby

For a number of years it seemed the Conservancy was funding mostly grants that placed land in trusts.  About 4 years ago, representatives of the North Central Subregion made a push for more funding of projects to promote good forest and watershed management practices.  SNC governing board agreed and recently, projects have focused on those goals.

This is the first in a series of blogs I will be writing about the Conservancy and its grant programs and focus areas of Healthy Forests and Abandoned Mine Lands. I see problems within that need to be addressed.

Stay tuned!


At the Board of Supervisors meeting on 11 March, I will be announcing a proposal for a new partnership with the USFS Plumas National Forest (PNF).  For the past month I have been working with PNF Supervisor Earl Ford formulating a program to provide an economic infusion for our community.

As a result of settlements coming out of the Storrie and Moonlight fires, the Forest Service has funding for forest restoration projects in the fire “footprints”.  The proposed program would have the PNF contracting with Plumas County to create a workforce made up of residents of Plumas County to perform various restoration works which could include the following:

  • Tree plantation maintenance, trails restoration and facility work, clearing and hand piling.
  • Road restoration, storm proofing, stream restoration, drainage repair, and grapple piling.

This program is envisioned to run about 4 years, providing training and employment. Ultimately, it could infuse millions of dollars into our economy.  While many of the details remain to be worked out, the potential for huge benefits to the people of Plumas County is great.

An overarching agreement on the part of the County and the PNF is that we do not wish to use these funds to “grow government”; rather, to “grow jobs” in the community.

The preliminary plan is for Plumas County to put out contracts based on a “Request for Proposal” type program, where contractors would be encouraged to submit proposals for accomplishment of various identified work elements.  Plumas County would act as contract administrator.

The Team
The Team

Today we had our “kick-off” meeting with the entire team; a very  productive meeting at that.

As you can well imagine, there are so very many details to be addressed, it is at times mind boggling.  However, if successful, this could be a vehicle to change the economic climate in Plumas County!  It will be a work in progress for some time – but what an exciting, challenging opportunity!

Please check back as I will be blogging about our progress as details become available.