My Turn: Making communities healthy, friendly and caring places |

My Turn: Making communities healthy, friendly and caring places

I recently returned home after a season of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. What greeted me upon arriving home in Sierra Valley was the view of large earth-moving machines across from my house working on a grand scheme to turn flood lands, zoned Agricultural Preserve, on the Sierra Valley floor into housing sites. To anyone that has lived here a long while, those properties have been known as the flood parcels after the floods of 1986 and 1997 covered them with water. Sierra Valley once again became a lake in 1986.

Fill Sierra Valley with houses and this valley will cease to be scenic. The wetlands will dry up into a concentrated brew of weed and feed, etc. that cattle and wildlife will ingest. The stars in our big sky are fading from view. The air will turn brown with smoke, obscuring our mountain views. While Plumas County reviews the General Plan there is no moratorium to protect open space until a new General Plan is completed.

While traveling home through Oregon I noticed the main theme there is green living, being in tune with your natural environment. Many of the newest houses in Sierra Valley have their backs turned toward the sun (free energy) that shines all day long in Sierra Valley. Whatever happened to passive solar design? You would have to be an ostrich to not know that our energy policy is fastly becoming coal, which is a dirty, toxic energy source.

Just imagine coal companies leveling our mountains for coal, turning our mountains into man-made mounds (mountain-top removal). Take the California Zephyr to Chicago and count the coal trains that pass by every few minutes. All that toxic smoke will be blown into the farm belt in the Midwest, poisoning crops and people.

It’s ironic that while we are increasingly going organic because of the health benefits to ourselves and the environment, we are at the same time building coal-fired power plants that will poison people and crops and scar our scenic lands forever and ever.

We must have smart growth to preserve water quality and the scenic quality of our wide-open spaces. Put affordable housing in town, close to services to reduce the need to drive long distances. Parceling working ranches in scenic Sierra Valley is not smart growth. Walking to work or the store, greeting neighbors and friends along the way is the glue that makes communities a healthy, friendly, caring place.

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