Sheriff reports on countywide flooding

Sheriff Greg Hagwood, in his capacity as director of the Plumas County Office of Emergency Services, declared a “Countywide

Local Emergency” on Jan. 8 due to recent winter storms.

Since the board of supervisors was not in session to make the proclamation, the sheriff was empowered to do so.

The supervisors had seven days to ratify the proclamation, which they did unanimously at their Jan. 10 meeting.

As of the time of the meeting, Hagwood said the roads and streams seemed to have “fared much better than they have done during earlier major flooding events.”

Hagwood noted however that the county had “barely scratched the surface” in terms of determining what damage the storm has caused to public and private property. The county’s current knowledge is based on information given by citizens to county dispatch and information that comes from county employees out doing their jobs.

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Hagwood expects that county departments will spend the next couple of weeks “doing an inventory countywide of damages.”

Disaster assistance

One of the reasons for claiming a countywide emergency is to qualify later for state and federal disaster aid.

Hagwood said that, at the time of the meeting, monetary damage thresholds had not been met. However, that situation could easily change as more information becomes available.

John Kolb, who consults with the public works department, noted that the county received both federal and state disaster relief funds following the 1997 flood. The federal government paid 75 percent, the state paid 19 percent and the county 6 percent of the cost of disaster relief.

State of the disaster

At the time of the board meeting, Hagwood’s stated his primary concerns were about high winds expected over the next two days which would probably knock down trees, damage buildings, close roads, etc. He pointed out that, “When it comes to roads, anything can happen at any moment,” so the situation is always changing.

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Sheriff Greg Hagwood talks to the Plumas County Board of Supervisors about ongoing flooding in Plumas County on Jan. 10. Hagwood addressed the board in his capacity as Plumas County Director of the office of emergency services. Photo by Steve Wathen

The areas hardest hit by flooding were in the east county, including Portola and Beckworth. Hagwood expected that the city of Portola might be asking the county for assistance soon. He said that, in that case, the county would turn to the state for assistance for Portola.

As director of the Office of Emergency Services, Hagwood  commented, “All of our [cooperating] parties have responded and worked well together.” Hagwood particularly wanted to thank Jerry Sipe,  previous director of the Office of Emergency Services, for the time and energy he spent helping Hagwood manage the disaster. Sipe is the director of Environmental Health for the county.

Supervisor Sherrie Thrall spoke for the board in offering her thanks to the fire, road, sheriff and other county departments for responding so well to the flooding.

Solid waste ordinance

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The board took its final vote on approving changes to Chapter 10, Title 6, of the Plumas County code concerning solid waste control. These changes largely reflected changes in state law.

Public Works Director Bob Perreault said that the county had received no comments from citizens and there had been no revisions to the version submitted to the board on Jan 3. The board unanimously approved the changes, which will take effect Feb. 11.

Coordinating Council

Board member Sherrie Thrall said the county has been dissatisfied with the workings of the Plumas County Coordinating Council for the last six months due to the lack of attendance by officials from the Forest Service with decision-making power and the limited range of issues discussed at the meetings.

Thrall said that the original intent for creating the Coordinating Council was to get the three forest supervisors or district rangers, from the three national forests in Plumas County, and from other federal and state agencies, to meet with representatives from the board of supervisors and department heads to discuss the various things that each party was doing that involved the others.

She said that it just isn’t working for the county right now in terms of effort and time expended. Bob Perreault was asked if he agreed and he responded that he did.

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Three county members of the coordinating council, Thrall Perreault and Randy Wilson, have formed a subcommittee within the council to explore how the council meetings can enhance Forest Service attendance and make the meetings more productive.

The board unanimously appointed Supervisor Jeff Engel to replace past Supervisor  Terry Swofford on the Coordinating Council. Engel will join Thrall on the council.

Thrall noted that Engel has been trying to work constructively with Forest Service district rangers and the Forest supervisor.

Re-licensing of Bucks Lake

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Bucks Lake is undergoing environmental review as part of the Bucks Creek Hydroelectric Project license renewal process.

Supervisor Lori Simpson reported that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service maintain that not enough studies have been made of the history of endangered yellow-legged frogs in the area.

Simpson is concerned that the USFWS may call for creating more yellow-legged frog habitat around Bucks Lake and reducing the stocking of fish into the lake.

Simpson said that the board had been assured in the past that there would be no problems in the future with re-licensing of Bucks Lake, because of the earlier gill netting at Gold Lake to create habitat for the yellow-legged frog, which was controversial,

Simpson warned the board that the next controversy might revolve around Bucks Lake and yellow-legged frogs.

Yellow-legged frogs were once widespread in the Sierras in the absence of fish in many lakes. Introduced fish compete with the frogs for insects and eat the frogs. In addition, a fungal disease called chytridiomycosis  was inadvertently introduced to yellow-legged frog habitat.

As a result, both the state and federal government now list two species of yellow-legged frogs in the state as endangered or threatened. The National Park Service reports that “the mountain yellow-legged frogs have disappeared from 92 percent of their historic range.”

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