A Heavy Snowfall: A Missing Person, An Overdue Party, Search & Rescue Efforts Ensue

(Downieville) This past Saturday, January 30, the Sierra County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) received information about a man from the Tahoe area who left Grass Valley for Truckee along CA-49 the previous Sunday but had not been heard from since then.

With photos of the missing individual and his vehicle in their possession, the SCSO forwarded this information to all local law enforcement agencies, CalTrans, and the California Highway Patrol (CHP), asking them to be on the lookout for the man and his truck. However, despite the efforts of these groups, as well as family members checking CA-49 through Nevada, Yuba, and Sierra counties, these endeavors proved fruitless. 

However, on Sunday, January 31, one week after going missing, the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call from the missing person. Although the call was dropped, they confirmed it was from the missing person and obtained the caller’s GPS location, Henness Pass Road east of Alleghany in Sierra County. 

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King’s Sugar Pine

The Dethroning of a Sierra County Forest Monarch by Tom Gilfoy

The author’s friends Mitch Sgteffensoen and Wagon Train Bill Seely posing in from of the forest monarch in 1949

There used to be a big ole sugar pine sitting high up on a ridge overlooking the North Fork of the Yuba River. Although a real giant, it probably appeared even larger than it really was because it was so much bigger than all the other trees around it. The Forest Service must have thought this old forest monarch was something special too as it put up a sign designating it, “King’s Sugar Pine.”

It’s hard to tell someone exactly where the old tree was located as there is no well known landmark in the area that can be used as a starting point for directions. About the closest thing to it is the old shut-down Brandy City Cal-Ida mill on the hill above Indian Valley, but the old mill is still miles away.

It was clear back in 1949 that I and a couple of my friends first stumbled on this beautiful old tree. It was while we were exploring the area in an old Model A Ford and traveling along a logging road between the Brandy City mill and Saddleback Mountain. We were rattling along the bumpy road at the old A’s max speed, say about 25 mph, when we came around a bend and BANG, there it stood in all its magnificent glory. I mean, it really leaped out and caught your eye. That’s when I took the picture accompanying this story. If you look closely you can see the Forest Service sign in the lower left of the picture. The two characters wrapped part way around the tree are my partner Mitch Steffensen and Wagon Train Bill Seely.

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Help the Salmon, Steelhead, and Bears

Good news, readers, the period for commenting on a new federal rule designed to facilitate the re-introduction of salmon and steelhead runs to the upper reaches of the Yuba River has been extended through March 12, 2021. To learn more about the rule and an environmental assessment of the proposal, readers can point their browser to the following link: <https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/proposed-rule-authorize-
reintroduction-central-valley-spring-run-chinook-salmon-upper-yuba
>.

For those who want to make a formal comment about the proposed rule, readers should visit <https://beta.regulations.gov/docket/NOAA-NMFS-2020-0139/document>.
The editor of this paper has long championed the re-introduction of the native fish who, for eons, kept the local bears fat and happy. Thus, for the sake of the bears, alone, forget the tourists, he filed a comment with NOAA. He also hopes readers will also comment to support the fish and bears.

“Mountain Messengers”

Concerto Named in Honor of The Mountain Messenger Premiers in Switzerland

Late last month, The Mountain Messenger received an e-mail we thought had to be from a prankster. But, we checked and there really is a Basel Sinfonietta, a Swiss symphonic orchestra specializing in contemporary classical music. Moreover, on Sunday, January 24, at 10 AM (PST) this group really will be giving a free, video, live performance of a new concerto whose name, Mountain Messengers, was invented after the composer read an article in the New York Times about this newspaper’s unexpected survival early in 2020. The composer, Christian Wolff, was born in Nice, France, during 1934 and is a renowned member of the New York School of composers who circled around John Cage during the 1950s.

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Vaccine Program Commences in Western Sierra County

Betty Jo administering first dose of Covid vaccine to Frank Lang.

Health Officer, Dr Celia Sutton-Pado holding a vial of Moderna. Marty Creel and Frank in the background.

This past Tuesday, December 29, marked the beginning of the western Sierra County COVID-19 Vaccine Program. This joint effort between the Downieville Ambulance and Urgent Care organization and the Sierra County Health Department started operation at the Downieville Community Hall when 40 doses of the Moderna vaccine were administered to EMS and First Responders of the Downieville, Sierra City, Alleghany, and Pike City fire departments.

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