Golf clubs and guitars: Plumas debates summer options
By Debra Moore
Are the golf courses going to open? Will the High Sierra Music Festival go on as planned?
Those are questions that Plumas County leaders are grappling with as they balance the need for recreation and a tourism-based economy with what is best for public health.
Plumas County Supervisor Sherrie Thrall asked specifically about golf courses during the board’s April 14 meeting. “They are important to our area,” Thrall told Public Health Director Andrew Woodruff, who was updating the supervisors about the latest information and guidance surrounding coronavirus.
Thrall represents the Lake Almanor Basin, home to three golf courses. There is also a golf course in Crescent Mills, and Eastern Plumas is home to seven golf courses, and is traditionally a popular draw for neighboring Nevada residents.
“Golf courses are a challenge,” Woodruff said, noting they are not an essential business, the only type of activity currently allowed.
If restrictions ease, there are still considerations. Woodward said that while golfing would present a lower risk activity (as compared to going to a bar for example), especially if proper precautions were taken, the danger comes from people it would draw from outside of the county. “People love to come here from elsewhere; their operation (golf course) could put our people at risk.”
Supervisor Lori Simpson mentioned the risk that exists from Nevada residents visiting Plumas. “Washoe County has 500 cases and their hospital ICU beds are 50 percent full with COVID,” she said. “Their golf courses are all closed. So those people would all come to Graeagle.”
Simpson added that she would “like to keep them open …but …”
Some mitigation measures for golf courses have been discussed including allowing only one person per cart, removing flags from holes, retrofitting holes so that a golfer doesn’t have to reach in to retrieve a ball, and more. While such mitigation efforts make the time spent on the golf course safer, Woodruff and others worry about where else the golfers would venture.
Supervisor Jeff Engel, whose district includes several golf courses, said, “I’ve been an advocate of people not coming in, but this is a tough one.”
And it’s not just golf.
“We’re renowned for summer,” Simpson said, and mentioned fishing.
She said that Inyo and Mono counties wanted a ban on fishing “because a lot of people from LA come up.”
The Fish and Game Commission tried to hold a virtual public hearing on fishing throughout the state, but was unsuccessful. Simpson said that Plumas sent in comments asking that fishing remain open for locals.
While the annual High Sierra Music Festival held at the fairgrounds in Quincy around the Fourth of July holiday is the largest festival in the county; others are held throughout the course of the summer.
Supervisors considered an application submitted for the Sunset Cam
pout scheduled for July 24-27 in Belden. While they weren’t optimistic that it would be allowed to happen, the supervisors approved the application because of a clause crafted with the assistance of County Counsel Craig Settlemire that reads: “This event will not take place unless the COVID-19 emergency orders expire, are rescinded, or otherwise modified to remove prohibitions against this type of event.”
The board discussed that decisions would be made based on the guidance of the governor and local public health officials.
Simpson referenced the High Sierra Music Festival, which draws up to 10,000 people to the fairgrounds. “It’s all going to depend on what the governor says about gatherings,” she said.
Tickets are still for sale on the High Sierra Music Festival website and an announcement on its Facebook page said to expect more information next week.
Simpson said she didn’t see any music festivals happening this year.
“I think this is just having paperwork in place, in case a miracle happens,” said Kevin Goss, chairman of the board of supervisors, about the application for Sunset.