Wednesday August 24, 2016


This is the weekend Downievillians await all year. The ECV Clampers are here and that means the Native Daughters will be having their Ice Cream Social, Saturday at noon. Can’t wait to see what flavors we have this year and who will win the coveted title of Ice Cream Maker of the Year.

Meanwhile in Sierra City the Kathy Breed’s 9th Annual Original BIG CITY ROD RUN Friday and Saturday August 26th & 27th, Live music, raffle, poker walk & over 40 unique awards from local businesses. Call (530) 862-1560 for more information.

The following weekend is Labor Day weekend and lots of doings in the county, in Downieville the first ever Yuba River Rib Cook 0ff, see more inside.

Don’t forget to check out the Highway 49 website regularly, Stephen and Brandi love Sierra County give good info:

Sierraville Summerfest is happening Sunday, August 28th. This looks like a pretty fun event! If you’re around next Sunday, bring a side dish and enjoy neighbors and awesome music!

This week there is tons of news, fun stuff, and of course Carrie’s Corner, DeVita Writes, Cats, Others, Carol’s Movie, Tom Hastings, Mel Gurtov and Curtis Bell weigh in on stuff we need to know, remember, do something about and think of course. Thinking is a good thing. One more week and school is back in session. Teachers and pupils throughout Sierra County are thrilled.

The beautiful Salmon Lake photo on the front page was taken by Lynn Zanetta you can see more of her photos at Downieville Day Spa in Downieville or order from Lynn on her Facebook page.

DeVita Talks Climate 8/24/16


Laurenc DeVita

Laurenc DeVita

Ice Free Arctic; what does it mean to us?                  by the DeVita

The system of Arctic ice is unraveling, as predicted. We will see a “blue water” Arctic this fall. Why is it unraveling/ What are the implications for us?

The Arctic is “sea surrounded by land” while the Antarctic is “land surrounded by sea”. The implications are obvious: ice on land is insulated from the sea, which is salty and tends to freeze at a much lower temperature. The Arctic ice is more vulnerable to the feedback loops which encourage or discourage ice formation.

The Arctic ice pack, as mostly sea ice, is always changing. There are regular seasonal shifts, and there are structural upheavals caused by the weight of ice itself, and then, there are storms which can shove the ice around or add snow. Sea ice is very important to many animals in the Arctic, notably the Polar bear.

Why is that dynamic system unraveling? As any tailgate partyer can tell you, temperature is everything. If you leave your beer cooler in the sun, it gets warmer faster. If it is a dark color, it heats up quicker. If you don’t drain the water and add new ice, the whole thing goes “south” and the beer is warm and flat (unless you drink a good German beer).


One of the energy loops that can warm or cool the Arctic is albedo, the amount of light reflected. Ice reflects a lot of light; ocean water is dark and warms more easily. Less ice, equal warmer water and less ice. That is a negative feedback loop. It is one thing that can lead the Arctic to melt. A “blue water” Arctic sounds pretty, but it is very bad news for the ice.

Also bad news is that the poles are warming more quickly than the rest of the planet. It has been suggested that, while the global average for degrees Celsius above 1750 is about 1.3-1.5 C higher, the Arctic is at 4C. Last January, when the Arctic was supposed to be gathering some cold, the temperatures were alarmingly high, up to 60F, far too warm to support ice formation.

Not all sea ice is equal; old sea ice is more dense, takes longer to melt, while new ice melts rather easily. Old is thicker; new ice is thin and is easily blown about by storms. It was thought that 28% of the Arctic basin was old ice, 10-14 feet thick; now it is estimated that only 14.5% of the basin is multi-year ice. Some suggest it is already breaking up and soon there will be none. The old ice is disappearing in the Arctic, with the implication that an ice free Arctic is possible year-round.

Why it matters.

We will miss the Polar bear, but otherwise, why does this matter to us? There seem to be some good effects: the US and Canada are already squabbling over some land that appears to be suddenly useful. Shipping companies are thrilled at how much time they will save by cutting across the Arctic Sea, the previously forbidding Northwest Passage; it’s even greener because it will use less fuel to get huge containers of plastic junk from one hemisphere to the other.

We care for a much bigger reason, though, weather, and the health of the lower oceans. It is the difference in temperature from the poles to the tropic which helps power the huge thermohaline circulation, the complex currents which move water from one ocean basin to the others, and from the surface to the depths. The thermo (temperature) haline (salt) circulation (THC) relies on the differences of temperature and salinity (warm water and fresh water are lighter than cold water and fresh water) provide the energy, along with winds and tides.

The THC also powers our weather, adding moisture or not to the winds, shaping our high and low pressure areas, and creating the weather patterns we rely on for food and precipitation. The Arctic has profound impacts on the jet stream which bands the upper latitudes and drives our continental weather.

Another significant change will be the temperature of air leaving the Arctic to cool Greenland and Siberia, the other huge reserves of ice. Polar winds, if the Arctic is cold enough, can have a cooling effect on the lower continents. A warm Arctic means a warmer planet.

The warming in the Arctic Circle, including, Siberia and Alaska and parts of Canada also means the release of methane, a powerful if short lived green house gas which might be released in many gigatons, resulting in a warmer Arctic and more methane release, a positive feedback loop.

What does a blue water Arctic mean to us? Likely, it will result in weather changes, some of which will become trends, or the “new weather”, like rain instead of snow in the winter. Other changes are implied, but we can’t guess what they will be.
More quoting Peter Wadhams:

BrewFest Funds Raised 8/24/16

Greetings!  I hope you’re all sitting down before you read this! I made the bank deposits today for the Brewfest. We will be getting a check from Brown Paper Tickets within the next 7-10 days for the sold-out 850 tickets that were sold online. So here is the tally from the Brewfest:

Brown Paper Ticket sales $25,500 At the door sales 6,560
Local pre-event ticket sales 8,070 Tickets held at door 450 Total ticket sales $40,580

Donation from food vendor 200 Parking at school (we deposited
but will return to school) 460 Additional glasses sold 296


Ticket sales were amazing!! This doesn’t include money paid out for bills-we haven’t received all of them yet. When we have all the expenses, Ingrid will prepare a profit/loss statement and compare it to our estimated budget. From talking to many businesses, the senior van shuttle and food vendors, everyone had a great day. This was a wonderful community effort and it wouldn’t have been possible without everyone pitching in. THANK YOU!

We don’t have a Sept. meeting date set yet, but I’ll email as soon as we set it. Several suggestions have been made to make the Brewfest an even better event for next year, so that will be the main focus while it’s still fresh in everyone’s mind.

Thanks again! Cherry Simi

Delays on I-80 Westbound 8/24/16

SACRAMENTO – Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol unveiled plans today to manage traffic during this weekend’s major lane closures on westbound Interstate 80 due to construction work near the Sacramento River in North Natomas.

80 Across #3 8-23-16The Department of Transportation urges motorists to plan ahead and leave early because of anticipated traffic congestion around westbound I-80 / Interstate 5 junction. Motorists can expect more than 45 minutes in travel delays. Caltrans urges motorists to plan ahead before travelling along this corridor by using an alternate route and to expect serious delays with extended distances.

The closures are scheduled to start at 6 p.m. Friday, August 26 and continue through 5 a.m. Monday, August 29. Access to and from eastbound I-80 will remain open. “Caltrans and the CHP are ready and prepared for this weekend’s major lane closures. We have a traffic management plan that will help motorists travel through Sacramento efficiently while allowing our contractor to complete crucial roadwork before the Monday morning commute,” said Amarjeet S. Benipal, Caltrans District 3 Director.

BLM Wants RAC Nominees 8/24/16

BLM Seeks Nominations to Central California, Northern California and Carrizo Plain Advisory Groups

EL DORADO HILLS, Calif. –The Bureau of Land Management is extending the call for public nominations to the Central California and Northern California resource advisory councils and the Carrizo Plain National Monument Advisory Committee.

The groups advise the BLM on public land issues. As published in a notice in the Federal Register,
the BLM will consider nominations for 30 days.

The Central California RAC advises BLM officials for the Central Coast, Mother Lode, Bakersfield, Ukiah and Bishop field offices.

The Northern California Resource Advisory Council advises BLM officials for the Arcata, Redding, Eagle Lake and Applegate field offices.

The Carrizo Plain National Monument Advisory Committee advises BLM officials for the monument.

The five positions open in the Central California District RAC are in the following categories:

Category One (three positions) – Public land ranchers and representatives of organizations associated with energy and mineral development, the timber industry, transportation or rights-of-way, off-highway vehicle use, and commercial recreation.

Category Two (one position) – Representatives of nationally or regionally recognized environmental organizations, archaeological and historical organizations, dispersed recreation activities, and wild horse and burro organizations.

Category Three (one position) – Representatives of state, county, or local elected office; representatives and employees of a state agency responsible for the management of natural resources; representatives of Indian Tribes within or adjacent to the area for which the RAC is organized; representatives and employees of academic institutions who are involved in natural sciences; and the public-at-large.

The Northern California RAC has five openings in the following membership categories:

Category One – Two seats are open. Members are public land ranchers and representatives of organizations associated with energy and mineral development, the timber industry, transportation or rights-of-way, off-highway vehicle use, and commercial recreation.

Category Two – One seat is open. The group includes representatives of nationally or regionally recognized environmental organizations, archaeological and historical organizations, dispersed recreation activities, and wild horse and burro organizations.

Category Three – Two seats are open. The group consists of elected representatives of state, county or local government; representatives and employees of a state agency responsible for the management of natural resources; representatives of Indian Tribes within or adjacent to the area for which the RAC is organized; representatives and employees of academic institutions who are involved in natural sciences; and the public-at-large.

For the Carrizo MAC, five positions are open representing the Carrizo Native American Advisory Committee, those authorized to graze livestock within the monument and the public-at-large.

Nomination forms and additional information about the advisory groups are available on the web at

Nominations for the Central California RAC and Carrizo MAC should be sent to David Christy, BLM Central California District public affairs officer, 5152 Hillsdale Circle, El Dorado Hills, Calif. 95762, call (916) 941-3146, e-mail

For more information on those groups, contact Christy at (916) 941-3146.

Nominations for the Northern California should be sent to Jeff Fontana, public affairs officer for the BLM Northern California District, 2550 Riverside Drive, Susanville, Calif. 96130 call (530) 252-5332 or by email to

Individuals may nominate themselves or others. Nominees, who must be residents of the state or states where the RAC has jurisdiction, will be judged on the basis of their training, education, and knowledge of the council’s geographical area. Nominees should also demonstrate a commitment to consensus building and collaborative decision-making. All nominations must be accompanied by letters of reference from any represented interests or organizations, a completed RAC application, and any other information that speaks to the nominee’s qualifications.

Sierraville Internet 8/24/16

In case you haven’t heard, Plumas Sierra Telecommunications is bringing high speed internet to Sierraville, Sattley and Calpine

According to Corby Erwin with Plumas Sierra Rural Electric, plans for broadband to reach our end of the Sierra Valley is still in the works. Erwin says that they are working on the permissions to change out their transmitters that feed Sierraville, and that they don’t have a firm date at this time, but they are hoping that they can begin offering broadband services to customers in our area in the next month or so.

If you haven’t filled out an interest form yet, they would like to hear from you. Print out the below form, complete it, scan it and email it to Corby at, or they have a fax number so if you still have the ability to send a fax, that works too.

Option B: If you are satisfied with your current internet provider, then do nothing!


Not Learned Lessons 8/24/16

The valley of the Somme in 1916 and now.- by Curtis Bell

Curtis Bell

Curtis Bell

During my stay in Paris, I spent a day on a tour of the World War I battlefields of the Somme to the North and East of Paris.

I was interested in WW I because my father fought in it and I wanted to learn more about what he experienced. He enlisted in the US marines as a young man of 20 and fought in 1918. He was injured by mustard gas and by shrapnel, and in fact a piece of metal stayed in his body for his whole life.

I am also interested in WW I because of my general opposition to war and my peace activism. WW I was a horror for Europe and its consequences have been awful not only for Europe but for the whole world too. WW I was perhaps the most significant event of the 20th century in terms of its consequences, many of which are still being played out today. Those consequences include Nazism, the holocaust, and WWII that arose in large part from the economic hardship and humiliation that Germany was forced to bear after WW I. Indeed, some view WW II as a continuation of WWI. The consequences of WW I also include the seemingly unending violence and turmoil in the Middle East which can be traced in part to the colonial ambitions of France and England and their denial self-government to the region after the collapse of the Ottoman empire. Finally, Russia might have developed in a more humane way if the desperate conditions caused by the war had not facilitated the totalitarianism that arose under Lenin and Stalin.

Ten million soldiers and seven million civilians were killed in the war and there were 20 million wounded. The war was global. Fighting took place in the Middle East, in Turkey, in Eastern Europe, in Northern Italy and in Northeastern France. The trench warfare in Northeastern France was particularly awful and the battle of the Somme was one of the worst battles in that region.

The battle of the Somme took place along a front of about 60 kilometers in the valley of the river Somme. The battle began on July 1, 2016 as an allied offensive to reduce German pressure on Verdun, a battlefield a few hundred kilometers to the South where the Germans had been concentrating massive power in order to break through the line. 30,000 men were killed on the first day of the Somme offensive and by November 2016, when the battle of the Somme ended due to cold and snow, over one million men had died and the allies had moved the front only a few hundred yards to the East.

The countryside of the Somme today is beautiful and peaceful, a land of gently rolling hills and ridges. The bright green fields of wheat and potatoes are broken here and there with clumps of dark green woods and small villages where the farmers live who work the fields. One is struck by the contrast between the violence and mayhem of what went on here a hundred years ago and the pastoral peacefulness of today.

But it is not only clumps of woods and villages that dot the landscape. Cemeteries do also. The individual cemeteries range in size from less than a hundred graves to tens of thousands (Figure 1). There are cemeteries for the French dead, the British dead, the Canadian dead, the German dead, the South African dead, the Australian dead, the New Zealand dead, the Moroccan dead and the Indian dead. Each cemetery has a monument honoring the men who were buried there. The larger cemeteries have very large monuments. The one at Thiepval Is 50 meters high (Figure 2). It is dedicated to the 72,000 British and South African dead in the battle of the Somme whose bodies were never found. These large monuments are inscribed not only with noble words about how the dead will never be forgotten, but also with the thousands of names of the missing whose remains were never found.

Some remains of some of the dead were found but there was not enough there to identify the bodies and the remains are buried with a headstone saying simply “A soldier of the Great War, known unto God” (Figure 3).The phrase was coined by Rudyard Kipling a strong advocate for British imperialism, the defense and expansion of which was one of the causes of the war.

The remains and bodies of these soldiers were buried near where they fell because, we were told, the task of sorting them all out and sending the remains back to their home towns would be too difficult and besides there was not enough room in the local cemeteries for all the bodies. Monuments to the dead were established in the home towns, however. Anyone who has spent time in France has seen the monuments in every town and village, placed in the central square near the city hall. The monuments say “Mort pour la France”, have a long list of names, and are usually topped by a statue of Marianne the symbol of France. Almost two million young Frenchmen died in the war.

The Somme offensive began on July 1, 1916. The British had prepared for the offensive by making tunnels at 30 sites along the area of engagement and placing massive mines under the German lines. The plan was that these explosions would get rid of the barbed wire and German defenses at these sites allowing allied soldiers to pour through the openings. The mines were all exploded at 7:30 in the morning on July 1 and they say that the explosions were heard as far as England. The huge craters caused by these exploding mines can still be seen today .

But the fog of war intervened and things did not go according to plan. Too much time intervened between the advance of the soldiers and the blowing up of the mines and the soldiers could not easily advance through the blown up areas. Moreover, the explosions showed the Germans where the attacks would be made and they had time to move their forces and guns into defensive positions. The allied soldiers were met with massive artillery and machine gun shelling from the Germans as they tried to advance and most of them didn’t come back.

The battle settled back within a few days into the stalemated trench warfare that it had been before the start of the offensive. After five months of fighting the line had moved no more than a few hundred yards.

Soldiers from Newfoundland were responsible for one small piece of the front. Six hundred of them went over the top out of their trenches on the morning of July 1. Only fifty came back. The site with its cemetery is now a monument maintained by the Canadian government on land given to them by the French. A huge bronze moose stands on a hillock above the names of the dead

The hillock is surrounded by ditches that are the remains of the trenches that so few young men returned to. A small museum nearby shows pictures of those who died and their life in the trenches, including pictures of their bagpipe players. Young, clean-cut, French speaking Canadians now staff the site and talk to people about what happened (Figure 6). Maple trees planted by the Canadians dot the site along with a few dead shattered trees from the battle that occurred a hundred years ago.

The museums of the war that I visited, such as one in Peronne near the Somme and another near Verdun, gave a good picture of the horrors of life in the trenches (Figures 6 and 7). The conflict was basically between vulnerable human bodies and minds on the one hand and a massive machinery of death in the form of machine guns and exploding artillery shells on the other.

The museum in Peronne also described some of the factors that allowed the war to begin and to then continue even after it became clear what a disaster it was for all concerned. Imperialism, militarization of culture and control of information were three of the prominent factors.

It was an imperialist war. The war began with the Austrians wanting to cement their control of the Balkans. But the territory being fought for was not just in Europe. Both sides hoped to expand their empires through the war, and the victors, France and England, succeeded in doing so by taking as their own the former German colonies in Africa and by dividing up the Middle East into French and British spheres after the defeat of the Ottoman empire.

A culture of militarism was endemic in France and Germany before and during the war. Conscription played a large role in ensuring the prominent place of war in people’s consciousness. Even before the war French and German young men had to spend two or three years in the military and could be called to serve for 20 more years.

Information was tightly controlled. Letters and cards from the front to families back home were censored and soldiers were not allowed to describe conditions in the trenches. Newspapers back home spoke only about victories and advances to a degree that men returning home from the front could not recognize the war they were experiencing in the descriptions they read in the press.

But the museums do not go into the consequences that the war has had for the world. Nor do they go into the callousness, short sightedness, overweening pride, ambition and stupidity of those who were responsible for starting the war and allowing it to go on and on in spite of the horror and futility.

It is fitting perhaps that the ordinary soldiers, “les petits soldats”, who died are honored and their names inscribed on the stones of monuments. Many of them were sure they were dying and suffering for a noble cause. But what is not so fitting and indeed disturbing is that the politicians and generals who were responsible for the horror and its consequences, who started the war and kept it going, are honored much more than the soldiers who died and suffered. The politicians and generals have boulevards named after them and bronze statues of them placed in the centers of squares.

WW I has lessons to teach us about the dangers of nationalism, imperialism, control of information, militarism, and the blind following of ambitious leaders, but we have not learned those lessons.

Curtis Bell is a retired neuroscientist living in Portland Oregon active in the peace movement and the movement for Palestinian human rights.

SCHS Sierran Newsletter 8/24/16

The Sierran Spring 2016 issue is posted on our website. Here are a few of the highlights:
Introduction to History of the Schools of the Sierra Valley
Sattley School (Rocky Point) 1860’s – 1937 by Bill Copren
Sierra County Historical Society 2016 Annual Meeting
Concert Series Finale at the Kentucky Mine Amphitheater Tickets are available now! Good idea to become a member and help keep our history alive, go here to see newsletter

The Sierran

Zika & Travels 8/24/16

End of Summer Travelers Urged to Take Precautions to Prevent Zika

SACRAMENTO – Travelers coming back from the Olympic Games in Rio and other vacation spots where the Zika virus is spreading are urged to take precautions upon return to help prevent the spread of the virus in California. While the virus is primarily transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, it can also pass from one person to another during sex.

“Summer travelers who spent time in Brazil or any other region with Zika-infected mosquitoes can protect themselves, their families and community members by taking a few simple steps,” said California Department of Public Health Director and State Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith. “Continue using insect repellent to prevent spreading the virus to mosquitoes in your community upon your return and refrain from unprotected sex so you don’t pass the virus to your partner.”

Men and women should use condoms for at least eight weeks after travel, and men who have tested positive for Zika should use condoms for six months to prevent transmission to their partners. Travelers returning from an affected region should also continue using insect repellent for three weeks to prevent the virus from spreading to mosquitoes, which might then infect others.

“Pregnant women and couples planning to have children need to be especially cautious because Zika can cause significant harm to a developing fetus,” said Dr. Smith. “Pregnant women who have traveled to an area with Zika should inform their doctor upon return, and couples returning from an affected area should speak with a doctor before getting pregnant.”
Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause severe birth defects, including microcephaly. Two infants with Zika-related microcephaly have been born in California this year to women who had Zika virus infections during pregnancy after spending time in an area where the virus is circulating in mosquitoes.
While mosquitoes that can carry the virus have been found in 12 California counties, there is no evidence these mosquitoes are transmitting Zika in the state at this time. A team of experts across several disciplines at CDPH is working closely with local public health departments, vector control agencies and the medical community to ensure that California is responding aggressively and appropriately to the emerging threat of Zika virus.

As of August 19, CDPH has confirmed 170 travel-associated Zika virus infections in 26 counties. A total of 24 infections have been confirmed in pregnant women.
For more information about Zika, visit the CDPH Zika website, which includes the following resources:

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