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Letter to the Editor: Plumas Economy 1,2,3

Some recent postings and particularly one LTE seemed to offer constructive criticism to the Portola City Council and to the Board of Supervisors.  The writer seems to think the City can afford to smooth the roads to make bicycling safer and more enjoyable, and the County can easily afford to find well-qualified dispatchers and deputies, and bump up salaries all around.  The puzzling part is that the writer was casting shade at those crucial industries that first established Plumas County’s economy and remain a prominent part of the County’s economic survival.

A degree in rocket surgery isn’t required to understand the early days of Plumas County.  A nationwide need for minerals prompted the opening of mines.  The mines required timbers to shore up mineshafts and to provide housing for workers.  Ranching and farming were established to feed the miners and their families.  The railroad, and later the highway, facilitated shipment of ore, and locally milled lumber.  The ice deck enabled valley growers to expand their market for perishables.  Trout fishing and golf spurred the recreation industry.

Assuming the objections to a gravel mine could generalize to an objection to mining in general, the person overlooks that mining was essential to manufacturing rims, forks, frames and bearings, and some extremely rare minerals are needed for the batteries that power electric vehicles.  Bear in mind the basic rule of barter, if you want something from elsewhere; you need to have something to trade.

A half century ago the timber industry in Plumas County could cut green timber on a sustainable-yield basis providing lumber for many Californians, and greatly helped local schools and roads.  Perhaps too many primary-grade teachers were reading “The Lorax” to students, and not emphasizing an appreciation for having a roof over their heads.

A Plumas County ranching family of seven generations would have used the same tried and true method to minimize losses to predation, but some recent legislation and lawsuits tend to discourage that technique.  Why the sudden switch?

Even the small, but important source of revenue; recreation, doesn’t escape the shade.  Even though established businesses have paid into County taxes, with the understanding that the County Roads Dept. would plow open some of the higher-elevation roads, to hopefully open camping and fishing opportunities a few weeks earlier, which would (at least in theory) generate more income and thus more revenue, somebody doesn’t see the need.

Thanks to all who have read this far.

Gene Nielsen

Crescent Mills

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