Supervisors ask Fish and Wildlife to halt trout removal plans over violations of environmental process
The Plumas Board of Supervisors focused on the process, not the project, in a June 17 letter sent to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife requesting a halt to the removal of trout from Gold Lake.
The letter lists six areas in which the state agency violated environmental law — five times with regard to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and once for its national equivalent, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
Both acts are designed to include local jurisdictions and the public in environmental decisions.
Public Works Director Bob Perreault presented the letter during the Board of Supervisors’ June 17 meeting and the board voted unanimously to send it to Charlton Bonham, the department’s director.
The letter asks Bonham to halt the proposed removal of fish from Gold Lake, a small lake in the Bucks Lake Wilderness Area. The department is removing the fish to preserve habitat for the yellow-legged frog.
“This letter is focused on the process, not the merits of the project,” Perreault told the supervisors, as he noted the specific areas in which the department failed to follow CEQA.
The letter asserts that the supervisors didn’t have an opportunity to submit formal comments, that no alternative remedies were offered, that the public was unable to participate in the process, that there was no interagency coordination, that there was no opportunity to participate in decision making and that there were no NEPA documents.
“The Board considers the shortcomings of your agency staff to result in a grievous situation if implementation of your agency’s proposed project is commenced at this time,” the letter read in part.
As the three-page letter draws to a close, it reads, “Accordingly, the Plumas County Board of Supervisors respectfully requests your immediate intervention to halt any and all construction or implementation activity until such time that the procedures mandated upon your agency by CEQA, your own CEQA purposes and NEPA are satisfactorily completed.”
It also asks for future notification of projects, as well as regular visits from Department of Fish and Wildlife staff.
The letter followed a May 6 public meeting during which biologist Kevin Thomas and other staff members from Fish and Wildlife discussed the project, and the supervisors and their constituents learned that the project had been in development for several years, without any notification or effort to work with local officials.
The boardroom had been packed to overflowing for the May meeting, with many county residents speaking out against the plan, fearing the move could jeopardize fishing, tourism and the economy throughout Plumas, since 80 percent of the county is deemed frog habitat.