Natural Heritage 2020 forum March 13 | SierraSun.com
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Natural Heritage 2020 forum March 13

NIK DIRGA, Sierra Sun Editor

Truckee residents will soon get a chance to voice their views on Natural Heritage 2020, Nevada County’s plan to identify and protect natural habitats and open spaces.

A public forum to discuss the goals of the effort and to answer concerns will be held Tuesday, March 13 at 6:30 p.m. at the Recreation Center.

With Natural Heritage 2020, a county-wide survey will inventory natural habitats, plant and animal species and open space resources. Once finished, the survey will be used to fashion a management plan to conserve these resources.

The program is designed to help shape Nevada County’s future, said county authorities. State Department of Finance projections call for county population to grow by 40,000 people by 2020, and 69,000 by 2040.

“Basically the intents of the forum are to ask people what they want the county to look like in 20 years,” said Kateri Harrison, senior planner/resource manager with the Nevada County Planning Department.

The goal of Natural Heritage 2020 is to create a scientifically-sound design to protect sensitive environmental elements that is incorporated into the county general plan and day-to-day planning decisions, said Harrison.

“We’re asking the public four questions,” Harrison said. “First, what are the benefits of open space to you, your family and community; second, what are our options for protecting open space in Nevada County; third, what are the most important priorities for the program, and fourth, what are your concerns about the program and/or are there any parts of the program you don’t understand and want more information about?”

In the proposal approved by the county supervisors, several goals are outlined for Natural Heritage 2020, including the maintaining or enhancing of:

— The diversity of plant and animal species in Nevada County.

— Nevada County’s working landscapes, including forestry, farming and ranching lands.

— Open spaces for passive recreation (fishing, biking, hiking).

— Watersheds, flood plains and other areas needed to protect public health and safety.

No surveying has yet begun, said Harrison.

“The public forums are basically a kick-off to the work,” Harrison said.

Natural Heritage 2020 is a county partnership with the Sierra Business Council, and a county supervisor-chosen group of citizens are on a community advisory committee that will develop recommendations for the plan based on both the biotic surveys and on community input.

The advisory committee members are Sherry Bartolucci, Barbara Bashall, Brian Bisnett, Bruce Boyd, Jim Chatigny, Galen Drace, John Eaton, Patti Ingram, David McKay, Elizabeth Martin, Jim Meshwert, Chauncey Poston, John Regan, Betty Simpson, John Skoverski, Josh Susman and John Taylor.

The plan was approved by the Nevada County Board of Supervisors in May 2000, and has an estimated budget of $700,000 to $800,000. Of that money, 33 percent is planned to be paid by the county, while the Sierra Business Council is working to raise the remaining 67 percent.

Natural Heritage 2020 has its opponents, who claim it will violate the rights of property owners, reduce the value of their land and result in restrictions on land use.

Pat Davison, Truckee-based field director of the Nevada County branch of the California Association of Business, Property and Resource Owners (CABPRO), said there are still many questions to be answered.

“CABRO is opposed to the program as it has been explained in conceptual and scientific terms,” Davison said. “A landowner may be the unwilling victim if his or her land is identified for preservation and/or acquisition.”

Davison cited concerns that rural landowners have not been properly notified about the program, and CABPRO’s feeling that the study could lower property values.

CABRO has also stated that it opposes publication of any maps showing targeted habitats on private lands.

Opposition has been particularly vocal so far in the Western end of Nevada County, where County Supervisor Elizabeth Martin has been targeted for a recall effort by Rough and Ready resident Calvin Clark, who opposes Martin’s vote in support of Natural Heritage 2020.

Harrison said concerns that opponents of Natural Heritage 2020 have are unfounded.

“The Board of Supervisors has said from the very beginning this project will be based on a willing buyer, willing seller basis,” she said. “There’ll be no trespassing, there’ll be no condemnation, no eminent domain.”

“[The county] isn’t going to come and take people’s land from them,” Harrison said. “I think that the process itself is laid out and designed to be really interactive.”

The March 13 forum in Truckee is one of five gatherings county-wide designed to publicize the proposal. Members of the Nevada County Natural Heritage 2020 Community Advisory Committee will be in attendance.

Following the March meetings, another series of public forums will be held in September, with additional forums planned for January and June 2002.

For more information on Natural Heritage 2020, call Kateri Harrison, Nevada County Planning Department, at (530) 265-7058 or Kerri Timmer, Sierra Business Council, at 273-7329, or check the Web site link on the county’s home page at http://www.co.nevada.ca.us.


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