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NH2020 surveys to begin within month

Grace Karpa, Sun News Service

Scientists plan to start field surveys within the next month as part of Nevada County’s open-space study – which they hope doesn’t start the “shoot, shovel and shut up” action.

Counting the variety and number of plants and animals is part of the county’s Natural Heritage 2020 program, a two-year planning effort the Board of Supervisors approved in May.

Biologists fear property owners may try to kill plants and animals on their property before they are counted.

Now, biologists should look for eight particular plant species, Bruce Pavlik, a botanist with University of California at Davis, told the 28 people at the Natural Heritage 2020 Scientific Advisory Committee meeting Friday morning at North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center.

“This is very exciting,” Pavlik said about the discovery that one plant, the Scadden Flat checkerbloom, is unique to Nevada County.

“If we have public cooperation, we’ll find they’re not as rare as we think,” Pavlik said. Organized opposition last fall collected letters from citizens to notify county officials they did not want biologists on their land.

Pavlik said he hoped program opponents would not tear out plants so biologists won’t find them.

The scientists will look for Pine Hill flannelbush, Stebbins’ morning glory, Stebbins’ phacelia, Brandegee’s clarkia, Cantelow’s lewisia, Follett’s monardella and closed-throated beardtongue.

Committee member Peter Stine, science integration team leader for the Sierra Nevada Framework Program of the U.S. Forest Service, outlined the “challenges of managing at an ecoregion level” during an overview of the agency’s management plan for California’s 11 national forests.

Margaret Urke, executive director of California Association of Business, Property and Resource Owners, read a letter to the eight scientists asking they “refrain from using the framework as a basis for your study.”

CABPRO is not alone: John Hofmann, director of natural resources for Regional Council of Rural Counties, said his organization filed an appeal April 17 because the plan, which proposes reducing logging and cattle grazing, would increase the chance for catastrophic fire by leaving more fire fuels.

Hofmann planned to give a presentation at the county Board of Supervisors’ meeting Tuesday.

California Farm Bureau President Bill Pauli appealed the plan as well.

No date has been set for starting the field surveys.

The Scientific Advisory Committee plans to meet Sept. 14.


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