DOWNIEVILLE – At this past Tuesday’s meeting in Loyalton, all five members of the Board were present for the roll call and after fielding no public comments or Committee Reports/Announcements, the Board’s business commenced with Department Manager Reports.
First, Chuck Henson, Chief Probation Officer for Sierra County, told the Board about July 17-23 being Probation Services Week and he read a letter he received from Gov. Newsom commending the good works being done by Probation Offices across the state.
Next, Vicki Clark, Director of the county’s Health and Human Services Dept. began her report by telling the Board the State had responded to complaints about the water quality in Sierra City by testing the water and they had not found any contaminants. Clark also mentioned her department is now the recipient of federal grants totaling $462,000 per year, funds allowing her to hire staff, purchase equipment, and pay for some remodeling work. Clark closed her remarks with an update on COVID: the federal government has extended the public health emergency through the end of October; cases in California are slowly reaching the “red” level again; Sierra County is seeing one or two cases per day of the slightly more contagious B-5 variant; no new mask mandates are anticipated; anyone who is feeling sick should seek medical assistance because medications are available to reduce the severity of B-5 illnesses; more variants can be expected to continue appearing; a new MRNA vaccine can be expected to appear this fall.
Sheriff Fisher followed Clark by telling the board he is looking to fill the long vacant west-side Sergeant position with a Deputy II or III employee and said recruitment for employees is being hampered by the higher wages being paid by law enforcement agencies south of Sierra County. Fisher also warned the Board the fingerprinting machine purchased when Lee Adams was Sheriff is no longer being supported by the manufacturer. Therefore, he will be looking for $15-$20K to spend on acquiring a new device.
Moving on to the USFS update portion of the agenda, Rachel Hutchison, the Sierraville District Ranger, spoke about the release of Stage 1 fire restriction orders being released for the Tahoe National Forest. Hutchinson also informed the Board she is working with the Sierra Nevada Conservancy to develop on a Phase 2 fuels reduction grant application along Smithneck and with the Nevada Irrigation District on the development of grant application for similar work in Jackson Meadows.
Lon Henderson, the Yuba River District Ranger, began his presentation to the Board by speaking about a two-day tour of the North Yuba Landscape Resilience Project next week by officials from the Wildfire Risk Reduction Infrastructure Team in Washington, D.C.. Accompanied by staff from the USFS’s Regional Office in Vallejo and members of nine local organizations within the North Yuba Forest Partnership, the tour is indicative of national interest in the success of this effort.
Henderson also spoke about the current biomass and hauling operations in Sierra County and warned users of USFS Road 93 to be on the lookout for large trucks carrying heavy loads on this narrow road. He also told the board the beleaguered Sand Pond boardwalk, in the wake of several unsuccessful attempts to replace the damaged structure, has now been temporarily decommissioned (closed) to avoid anyone being injured there. On a more positive note, Henderson noted the district has filled vacancies for a Public Affairs Officer, Watershed Coordinator, and Support Services Secretary. Moreover, approval has been granted for the hiring of a Deputy District Ranger in the near future. As for the status of the Trapper Project, Henderson said the Alaska Peak timber sale to Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI) has been completed, however, harvesting the trees from this sale is being delayed because SPI’s workforce is concentrating its efforts on salvage operations in areas affected by wildfire over the past two years. However, Henderson was pleased to report the receipt of additional funding from the federal Infrastructure Bill is allowing the National Forest Foundation to increase the Sleighville treatment area to 2,700 acres, up from the original 1,200 acres scoped there for fuel reduction efforts.
Next the Board held a public hearing concerning an appeal filed by Andrew Woodruff of the Planning Commission’s denial of a Zone Variance for a reduction of the front yard setback for a 111-square-foot woodshed on Woodruff’s small property in Sattley. Over the course of nearly an hour of the hearing, the Board learned of Woodruff’s neighbors support for the appeal and the many constraints Woodruff was facing in his attempts to comply with county regulations, the Board found a way to punt the issue back to the Planning Commission and extended public hearing until September 20.
Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, due to space constraints, readers will have to wait for next week’s paper for additional information about this rest of this week’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors.