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Timber reps quit NH2020 group

Grace Karpa, Sierra Sun News Service

NEVADA CITY – Representatives of the county’s largest private landowner quit a controversial county planning program Tuesday night.

Robert Ingram and Dario Davidson, licensed professional foresters for Sierra Pacific Industries, resigned from a group that plans to make recommendations to a committee that will advise county supervisors on open-space and habitat protection.

“I’ve never resigned from a committee before,” Ingram told the Natural Heritage 2020 forestry working group at its meeting in Nevada City. He said he planned to “return to the fight to defeat NH 2020.”

“This is a flawed process and cannot be fixed or repaired,” said Ingram, who served on the Nevada County Resource Conservation District and Yuba Watershed Council.

“I sincerely apologize,” he said as he handed a prepared statement to chairman Bruce Van Zee.

“OK, Robert,” Van Zee said.

Davidson said he resigned because county supervisors had already made decisions on forestry matters without awaiting recommendations from any committee.

Supervisors are working at the state level to help pass a bill that would give counties the right of appeal on timber harvest plans after they have been approved by state agencies, he wrote in a prepared statement he handed to Van Zee.

Nevada County Supervisor Elizabeth Martin said the state Senate bill would give counties the same power as state agencies and that the NH 2020 program would advance, regardless of the outcome of the bill.

The measure failed to pass during the recently concluded state legislative session.

The committee with power to vote on recommendations – the 16-member Community Advisory Committee – does not represent any large landowners and is heavily weighted toward people who think like county supervisors, both men wrote in their statements.

Ingram applied to serve on the Community Advisory Committee last year.

The forestry working group is one of three – the others focus on recreation and agriculture – formed in July to include experts and professionals in the field of focus. The forestry experts were included as a bow to public pressure, Ingram wrote.

SPI owns 48,000 acres without one structure in Nevada County, Ingram said.

Van Zee said he could see the resignations coming.

“The attitude in the forestry community is very pessimistic,” because supervisors seem to be pursuing more regulations from the state when they said NH 2020 would create no more regulations, Van Zee said.

Ingram said he would return to the board of Citizens for Property Rights in Nevada County, which opposes NH 2020.

Van Zee noted that the evening’s speakers – Keith Chambers, timberland manager for Applied Forestry Co. of Yuba County, and Paul Violett, a forester with Soper-Wheeler in Strawberry Valley – provided “a lot of good information.”

Violett decried the increases in state regulations in timber harvest plans. A timber harvest plan he prepared for 650 acres in 1986 was 12 pages long; another his company had prepared in 1997 was 100 pages for 47 acres.

He said his company has purchased 12,000 acres in New Zealand to grow trees on because it has become too difficult to do business in California.

“The timber we grow there will be brought back to this state,” he said.

Chambers said he hoped the county would encourage timber production zones down to 40-acre parcels. Zoning currently sets the zoning minimum at 160 acres.

He said that Santa Cruz County supervisors passed an ordinance that became an extortion scheme “for no other reason than ‘We don’t want you to do it.'”

They banned cutting within a 1,000-foot buffer zone unless the timber owner had neighbors’ permission to cut.

Neighbors could agree for a price – say, $50,000 – he said.


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