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Dwight Ceresola, chairman of the Plumas County Board of Supervisors, visits sites planned for rebuilding in downtown Greenville on a walking tour hosted by the Dixie Fire Collaborative. Photo by Jane Braxton Little

County officials meet with Dixie Fire Collaborative

 By Jane Braxton Little

Special to Plumas News

GREENVILLE – The Plumas County Board of Supervisors met April 25 with the Dixie Fire Collaborative in a first-of-its-kind event that promises a long-term partnership.

Gathering for the first time since the 2021 Dixie fire destroyed most of downtown Greenville, county officials and community members sounded a commitment to work together for long-term recovery of fire-damaged areas while adopting new approaches.

“There is no playbook” for addressing the challenges facing recovery in Greenville and other heavily affected areas, said Supervisor Kevin Goss, whose district includes Greenville. Along with Greenville, Indian Falls, Warner Valley and Canyon Dam are among the areas designated for attention.

Dixie Fire Collaborative Chair Sue Weber called for an approach that looks through a 50- to 100-year lens. After the initial post-fire months, when “everybody was finding their way,” the next phase requires a longer-term vision. It’s important to build back infrastructures that will serve all of Indian Valley for generations, she said.

“We have to have everyone at the table if we’re going to build back,” Weber said. “We have to look at all the possibilities to do things differently.”

Tom McGowan, supervisor of the district that includes Chester and Warner Valley, agreed. The wide-spread fire damage, including destruction of over 900 residential and commercial buildings, demands an innovative approach.

“We need to rewrite the rules,” he said.

The workshop-style meeting was preceded by a walking tour of downtown Greenville to sites where community members described buildings lost and plans for rebuilding. At the Greenville Rancheria, Danny Manning, representing the Maidu tribal group, announced plans to construct a two-story medical and dental clinic that will include a pharmacy. He and Shelby Leong, with Manning a representative of the Roundhouse Council, held up an architectural design for the Maidu education center on Bush Street.

Construction on the Greenville Post Office building is scheduled to start within weeks, said Weber.

The Greenville Townhall, library and sheriff’s substation are county-owned facilities now considered surplus properties, said Dwight Ceresola, chair of the Plumas County Board of Supervisors. No plans for their future have been announced.

Ceresola emphasized the importance of innovation in post-fire building: “There’s never a wrong idea… I’m not bashful about saying let’s try it.”

Plumas National Forest Supervisor Chris Carlton, one of several state and federal officials who joined the meeting, said the ecosystem recovery work is challenging.

“We are doing things we haven’t done before – working at a scale we never have before. And we know we don’t have forever,” said Carlton. The U.S. Forest Service manages around 75 percent of the 768,130 acres burned in Plumas County in the 2021 fires.

In addition to Carlton, officials attending the meeting included Plumas County District Attorney David Hollister, Sheriff Todd Johns and representatives of Caltrans and Senator Brian Dahle’s office. All said they are committed to facilitating the rebuild process.

Plumas County Supervisor Greg Hagwood praised the Dixie Fire Collaborative for taking the lead, and for its strength and character. “Not every community has the resolve to come back as strong as you have,” he said.

Shelby Leong, who represents the Greenville Rancheria and Roundhouse Council on the Dixie Fire Collaborative Steering Committee, said Maidu have been involved in recovery for a very long time. “It’s an honor to do this work not just for the tribe but for the community,” he said.

After 20 months of addressing the most pressing needs of residents and business owners who lost everything in the fire, the work ahead demands the full participation of communities and the county, Weber said. The Collaborative is working on adopting a partnership agreement that will clarify responsibilities and establish a timeline for activities, she said.

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