We would like to wish all our supporters a happy holiday season and happy new year from everyone here at Sierra Nevada Alliance.
Our monthly update on projects the Regional Climate Change Program is working on as part of our effort to maintain and improve the health of our beautiful "Range of Light."
Regional Climate Change Program Update
December 20th, 2013
By Gavin Feiger
Regional Climate Change Senior Program Associate, Sierra Nevada Alliance
For each of the next few months, we will highlight one of the key projects that the Regional Climate Change Program is working on to help protect and preserve the Sierra.
Plumas County Adopts General Plan with Strong Conservation Language!
After over four years of hard work by the Sierra Nevada Alliance, our Member Groups, and advocates in Plumas County, the Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to adopt a new General Plan and accompanying environmental impact report (EIR) on Tuesday the 17th. The Alliance believes the Plan contains some model language and policies that other Sierra Nevada counties may want to build upon. General Plans are the “land use constitution” for a county – guiding the amount, types, and locations of development. Plumas’ plan will shape the county through 2035.
Thanks to the diligent work of the Regional Climate Change Program and our Plumas County allies (Plumas Tomorrow, Plumas Audubon Society, Moonlight Valley Alliance, Quincy Transition Initiative, and the Sierra Institute for Community and Environment, among others), the General Plan contains some strong conservation and climate change language, a standalone Water Resources element, and support from the community. The General plan focuses new growth into existing communities, helps protect open space, agriculture, timber, and water resources, and maintains rural character. We successfully stopped Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI) from advancing a plan alternative and specific language that would have allowed more residential development on productive timber lands.
It is a model General Plan for the Sierra in a number of ways – balancing economic development with the protection of open space and natural resources and gaining broad community and governmental support. We hope other counties in the Sierra will use aspects of this plan to help shape their land use plans.
In 2009, the Board of Supervisors signed the contract with Design Workshop and the Sierra Business Council, consultants based out of Lake Tahoe, to update Plumas County General Plan and environmental documentation. The Alliance got involved with the Plumas effort in late 2010. We built a small coalition of Alliance Member Groups, individual advocates, and policy experts. We helped the coalition become more engaged in the public process, write effective comments on the Plan and EIR, communicate with the County staff, elected officials, and consultants, and push back on pressure from developers, the timber industry, and fringe political views to design and adopt their General Plan. Some of the things we like most about the plan include:
• In the early workshops and visioning sessions, community members took markers to maps to identify “planning areas” around existing communities where they thought the County should direct growth. The County then did their best to have the plan align with this community vision.
• There is robust discussion of climate change and there is a climate change icon that indicates climate change language throughout the proposed plan.
• Large lot sizes are basically disallowed on agriculture, open space, and timber lands (discouraging “ranchette” style development)
• Subdividing a lot into more than four units requires a general plan amendment
• Clustering of homes is encouraged in agriculture and forest designations and the remaining land must be put into permanent protection.
• Developers, not the County, must provide community services (roads, water, sewer, fire protection and response, etc.) for proposed developments.
• There are non-required elements in the Plan for Water, Economics, and Agriculture and Forestry.
While there is plenty of good language, policies, and intent, no plan is perfect. There could be stronger implementation language, more protection for sensitive areas such as ridgelines, riparian zones, and meadows, and smaller planning areas. We are also concerned that some of the mitigation measures that make the plan strong are unlikely to be implemented due to financial or political constraints.
The Alliance has been working on land use issues for two decades, publishing reports, toolkits, and guides
to aid our Member Groups and individual advocates. We work closely with our partners to build coalitions, analyze policies, and conduct advocacy and outreach to help protect and preserve the Sierra.
While developing strong plans is essential in our efforts to protect and restore the Sierra, our Plumas County allies will have to be diligent to ensure the plan is implemented. The Alliance is here to help. We will continue to track general plan updates in all 22 counties in the Sierra, support our Member Groups and individual advocates, and take the lead when needed. We cannot do our important work without you.
Please donate today to help us help the Sierra.
The Sierra Fund is hosting the Annual Winter Legislative Reception for Sierra Nevada leaders, organizations, and agencies. This year's honorees are assembly member Richard Gordon and Senator Fran Pavley.
Date: January 21, 2014 6:00 PM-8:00 PM
Place: Tsakopoulos Library Galleria 828 I street, Sacramento, CA
This January, SYRCL’s (South Yuba River Citizens League) 12th Annual Wild & Scenic® Film Festival returns with another incredible selection of films to change your world. Each year, the Wild & Scenic® Film Festival draws top filmmakers, celebrities, leading activists, social innovators and well-known world adventurers to the historic downtown of Nevada City, California
Date: January 9th-12th
Place: Nevada City, CA
More Information: Click here for more information
REI invites you to join in this national celebration of winter fun at Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Center in Truckee, CA. Winter Trails Day offers those new to snow sports the chance to try snowshoeing and cross country skiing for free, and discover the great fitness and social benefits with these easy-to-learn winter activities.
Date: January 11th
Place:Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski and Snowshoe Center, 15275 Alder Creek Road, Truckee, CA
More Information: Click here for more information
Comic of the Month
Newsletter contents prepared by Cody Bear.
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