Gabby Fringette 9/18/13

Am I weird?

By Gabby Fringette

Here is a ten question quiz to determine

Am I weird.

Weirdness is any increment higher, or lower than normal.

-10, -9, -8, -7, -6, -5, -4, -3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Zero is dead boring normal. –1 or 1 on the scale is still normal.  –2 or more is creepy weird. You don’t want to be creepy weird. –10 is the creepy weird aunt we had to move away from, and 10 is the zany weird, the absolute fringe of socially acceptable weird.

This test does not discuss creepy weird.

I have one friend, who is a bit odd (it’s not Liz, though). Here’s some questions based on her.

  1. Do people avoid you at Costco.

A) Yes. B) No.

I may point out that, just because of her odd sorceress-like appearance, people avoid her, but if they got to know her, they would shop on the other side of the store.

My answer is No

  1. Do you try to pay off parking tickets with ten thousand dollar Zimbabwe note?

A) Yes. B) No.

Maybe this isn’t weirdness. Or maybe the traffic cop was high when she paid the ticket cause she hasn’t had a court summons about a parking ticket in more than a week.

My answer is No

  1. Do you bring a date to the sample stands at the supermarket?

A)   Yes. B) No.

I actually have no comment about this.

My answer is No

  1. Do you wear headphones when you not listening to music?

A)  Yes. B) No.

I don’t have an excuse. My answer is Yes

  1. This one is related to the last one. Do you sing the lyrics to Beatles’s songs while listening to Pink Floyd songs?

A) Yes B) No

My friend says they go together well. They do.

My answer is No.

  1. Do you have a catch phrase that you say on a terrets-y level?

A)  Yes B) No

My answer is Yess Yess.

My non-Liz friend has several catch phrases, but none of them are appropriate to put in any gabby I’ll ever write.

  1. Do you have one obscene or offensive comment every 90 seconds or more per film, any genre.

A)  Hells Yeah! B) No

Every 110 seconds is only a little less offensive, but that means my answer still has to be No!

  1. Do you have comments of obscene or offensive commentary for real life?

A)  Yes B) No

I do have a point though, flat buns and skinny jeans don’t mix.

  1. Do you have a running sound track of grunts, groans, ticking, humming?

A)  Yes [Grunting, hummm.]  B) No

[Ticktick hmmmm] My answer is, umgh, yes.

  1. Are you wacky, and loud?

A)  YES! B)no.

I maybe a bit LOUD. Yiss yiss.

My score is four out of ten! I’m almost, nearly, normal!

Of course, I was told a line going from –10 to 10 is a little weird, so maybe I should add a point… but I’m not gonna act on what they said.

Four outa ten!

Sierra County Board of Supervisors 9/17/13


The Sierra County Board of Supervisors met in Loyalton on Tuesday, September 17 Chair Scott Schlefstein asked Supervisor Lee Adams to lead the Pledge of Allegiance and  then the Board commenced with business.

Public Comment : Mike Filippini thanked the Board of Supervisors for sending a letter to the State Department of Water Resources asking to curb water master fees  established by DWR for water users of in the Sierra Valley .

Julie Osborne, asked that the Board of Supes set a meeting with Friends of Independence Lake (FOIL) as agreed upon previously, Osborne said they have been waiting patiently with “irrefutable” evidence and “we are not going to go away”. Supervisor Adams informed her the meeting is set for October 18 with an Agenda published soon. He also commented that “irrefutable” is in the eye of the beholder.  Osborne also suggested the Board send representatives to the Defend Rural America meetings and that Sierra County should join Siskiyou County in seceding from the State of California.

Bill Bates told the Board he applauded the new county website. (Editor Note: be sure to check out the History of Sierra County by Bill Copren under the “Your Community” page on the county website)

Committee Reports & Announcements:  Supervisor Lee Adams reported that Senator Ted Gaines will hold a Meet and Greet at Coyoteville on Thursday October 10 from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. at Coyoteville Cafe, 15921 Hwy 49, Downieville. Downieville Meet and Greet Flyer

Supervisors Adams and Huebner suggested the issue of county septic system inspection be put on the October 1st agenda to discuss the possibility of having the Planning Dept be responsible so that a more timely response could be made when residents need septic inspections and resolutions.

Department Managers’ Reports & Announcement: Auditor/Treasurer/Tax Collector/Risk Manager/Personnel Manager/Scrooge Van Maddox, speaking as Tax Collector Vampire Maddox reminded everyone property tax bills will be in the mail on October 20th so be on the lookout for your bill and be sure to call if you don’t get one and he will be happy to make sure you do.

U.S. Forest Service Update: Sierraville District Ranger Quentin Youngblood mentioned there have been some small lightning induced fires, that we were fortunate the Sierraville Gun Range Fire was quickly controlled as “it could have been as bad as the Cottonwood”. He mentioned the cooperation from the County particularly Tim Beals in getting resources together and that Miriam Dines had managed to enact a facilities usage within 30 minutes for use of the Sierraville Airport and that the forest is still under fire restrictions and the seasonal employees are still here.  Youngblood said the timber sales have been slow, they have four active but  none of the operators are working and one of the issues is no place for the Biomass to go. The Carmen Valley project is complete and there is the upcoming Castle sale of 10 million board feet of a multi product sale.

Item 6 -Health & Human Services – Janice Maddox

6A -Agreement for the Public Emergency Preparedness (PHEP), Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) and State Pandemic Influenza (Pan Flu) for Fiscal Year 2013/2014. A discussion about the costs of training required ensued with Supervisor Adams mentioning he was concerned about SRS funding not being available to plow roads and paying for two participants travel expenses for training seemed a little much for a county of 3,200, after much discussion the Board agreed to send one employee for training instead of two. (Let’s hope there are no Public Health Emergencies this year).

6B– Approval of space use agreement between Sierra County and Maximus. After a presentation from Assistant H&HS Director April Waldo and a representative from Maximus the Board agreed an agreement with the county was unnecessary for Maximus to provide their service in providing information on the Affordable Healthcare Act to county residents seeking coverage. They can offer assistance without a contract.

Item 7 Public Works / Transportation – Tim Beals

7A – Discussion and direction regarding response to formal County purchase offer from the City of Santa Clara for expansion of the County Landfill Property.

Tim Beals and Supervisor Adams will meet with the County of Santa Clara staff next week.

The Board was presented with this information:

“Background: The County upon preparation of an appraisal made a formal offer to the City of Santa Clara using the stated market value per care and for 50 acres proposed for acquisition, the appraised value was $50,000. This process was inclusive of Santa Clara staff and they elected not to review appraisal qualifications or wish to have any review of the appraisal methodology and basically “had confidence” that the appraisal would be fair and impartial. The City also was quite encouraging that the “friendly condemnation” process would be satisfactory and the County was closing in on a completion of the transaction awaiting a formal acceptance by the City Council. After submitting a formal offer to the City in late July, a response was finally provided to the County but only verbally. This response came on August 26 which followed an executive session that was conducted by the City Council on or about August 22. This response was proved to me by phone from City staff and the response was clearly that the City Council balked at what it felt was a price that was too low. City staff in my opinion were very surprised at this position although they did not so indicate. I have asked City staff for written response to the formal offer and have received nothing to date. I asked City staff on August 26 for an opportunity to meet with the City manager and two council members and have not received a reply at this point. Needless to say this is frustrating and without as much as saying this, it appears that the City knows full well that the County is in a “corner” with the methane issues and pending enforcement order and is trying to use this as leverage for a better per acre price. While I continue to hound City staff for a written reply and for setting up a meeting, the County needs to move on and either initiate a formal condemnation process, seek to negotiate with the City Council, or estimate what the direct cost to the County would be for completing a formal condemnation and add this to the appraised value of $50,000 and make one last effort to amend its offer to include this cost.

Recommendation: It is my recommendation that the Board ascertain the estimate of cost for a formal condemnation and add this to the existing appraised value of $50,000.

Then, make a second and written counter proposal to the City in an effort to avoid condemnation proceedings by the County.”

7B – Introduction and first reading of an ordinance establishing a 12 hour parking limit on both sides of Durgan Flat Road from the southern line of Lot 5, Durgan Flat to the end. This was approved for the first reading with an amendment to make it a 24 hour limit.

Background: The County after negotiations with the USFS, received and approved a special use permit from the USFS giving the County jurisdiction and control of the road that extends from the end of Nevada Street (at the approximate corner of the Downieville River Inn) to the Ranger Station and ending at the entrance to the new USFS parking area at Downieville Trailhead. Upon execution of the special use permit, the Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution placing Durgan Flat Road into the County maintained system of roads. There is no parking ordinance in place for this section of road and it is widely used by Courthouse visitors when more convenient parking space is not available. Also, it is often cluttered with non-operable vehicles, trailers, and long-term parking for adjacent residences that gain access to their properties from Water Street located one block away from this road.

The USFS has approved the form of agreement (as specified in the special use permit) and we have mailed notice of the proposed ordinance to approximately six (6) property owners who may have used parking spaces in the past or who may be currently using these spaces. The time restriction is consistent with the restriction imposed for the spaces on Nevada Street so that the time restrictions are consistent.

7C – A hold harmless agreement for use by the County in accessing the Wixson Spring across property owned by a private party was approved.

Background: The Wixson Spring is located on the south face of the Sierra Buttes approximately one mile up the south face. It is a developed spring that is subject to a joint spring maintenance agreement between Tschopp Mutual Water Company, Maple Grove Water Company, RR Lewis Water Company, and Sierra County. Sierra County serves the Kentucky Mine from the spring. The access road to this spring crosses a private parcel and the property owner being concerned with liability has asked that each water company and the County provide some form of hold harmless agreement for his review and approval. Once signed, the four systems can resume maintenance activities that are required annually and any testing or inspection that must routinely occur.

7D – Discussion and direction to staff regarding filling the plant maintenance position with one full time versus two regular part time positions: The staff was given discretion to take either option.

A cost analysis demonstrates a savings to the county  as the two part times and related benefits would cost more than having one full time person and related benefits.

7E – Review of Sierra County Transportation Commission request for identification and prioritization of County transportation projects to be considered for inclusion in the upcoming State Transportation Improvement Program funding cycle. The Board approved this.

Background: The County Local Transportation Commission is preparing to update its prioritization of projects for the upcoming STIP cycle and is proposing to adopt a list of projects for inclusion in the cycle in October or November. The current identified priority of the Sierra County Transportation Commission is the construction of a bicycle path from Loyalton to/through Sierra Brooks. The projects listed within the existing County Transporation Plan as well as the proposed list of projects that have been openly discussed over the past are also included for your review.

Please understand that county bridge projects are fully funded by the federal bridge program so any local match that may be required is minimal. The proposed list of bridge projects should be included in any adopted priority recommendation since the fiscal impact is virtually neutral.

Projects discussed in the past include construction overlay for Stampede Dam Road; construction overly for Smithneck Road; reconstruction of the roads leading to public lands recreation areas of Salmon, Sardine, Gold, and Packer Lake Roads; reconstruction of West Willow Street; reconstruction of Sierra Brooks roads; pedestrian and drainage improvement project on SR 49 in Sierra City (drainage, underground utility, pedestrian improvements, traffic calming improvements); truck turnout lanes on SR 89 from Sierraville to Nevada County line; reconstruction of Mountain House Road from Pliocene Ridge to Forest City, bike path improvements from Sierra Brooks to SR 49/Loyalton.

Projects must qualify and Project Study Reports must be prepared for each project prior to programming to determine initial costs estimates and funding, right of way issues, environmental issues, and feasibility.

Although three members of the Board of Supervisors sit on the County Transportation Commission, these three participating as Transportation Commissioners are not to be construed as acting on behalf of the Board of Supervisors. A full review of proposed projects and approval of project listing and priorities from the Board of Supervisors is requested so that the county projects are clearly identified. City projects are dealt with by the City Council and should not be included in County project priorities.

7F – Resolution of intent to utilize Title III funding in the amount of $2,000.00 to fund road department and aviation costs incurred in cooperating with the Tahoe National Forest – Sierraville District in closing the airport and issuing a facilities use permit for exclusive use of the Sierraville-Dearwater Airport during the Sierraville Fire Incident on August 26-28, 2013. The Board approved this’

7G – Resolution approving participating agreement between the County of Sierra and the USDA Forest Services, Tahoe National Forest the Sierra County Pilot Aquatic Invasive Species Management Program. This was approved.

Background: The Board directed the preparation and application to the Sierra County RAC earlier this year proposing a comprehensive AIS program that included watercraft inspection, education., and outreach. The funding for Title II comes from the Secure Schools legislation, Title II and funding is exclusively administered by the Forest Service upon recommendation of the Resource Advisory Committee (RAC). We have been advised that the County is to be awarded a grant of $16,000 and the USFS is requiring an agreement for the administration of these funds

Upon submittal of the application we learned that the SCFSWC had also applied for the same funding for the same purpose, less inspections. The RAC during its review of the applications received determined that it would allocate funds to both the SCFSWC for  education and outreach only and to the County for watercraft inspection only. The Board of Supervisors also adopted a local AIS ordinance as did the County of Nevada and the Town of Truckee so the next step in implementation of this program was to conduct actual inspections.

The County is currently being served in part by the Tahoe RCD operating with Truckee and Nevada County on funding provided by TMWA for the Truckee-Little Truckee watershed system. Therefore, Stampede Dam in Sierra County (along with Boca, Prosser, Glenshire Pond, and Donner in Nevada County) are being handled by Tahoe RCD who is conducting boat inspections during the boating season on all of these lakes. This leaves Lakes Basin area and leaves Jackson Meadows Reservoir for the County to take on. Independence Lake is a closed system to watercraft meaning that the property owner manages a fleet for public use but no boats or watercraft are allowed to be used otherwise. Webber Lake is private but will soon become public so this lake will have to be folded in when the lake becomes a public use area.

I have made inquires of Tahoe RCD who has agreed in concept to a services agreement with Sierra County to be the County’s AIS service contractor for purposes of this Title II grant. Upon approval of the attached agreement with the USFS, the Board of Supervisors can then anticipate a second agreement between the Tahoe RCD and the County for actual AIS inspection services anticipating a program that will start in the spring of 2014.

Recommendation: It is recommended that the attached agreement be approved and per request of the USFS (Ranger Youngblood) the signed copy of the agreement needs to be immediately transmitted with original signature to him for further processing at the USFS end of the process. He indicates that this is a time sensitive issue and needs to be in his hand shortly after the meeting if possible.

7H – Discussion and direction to staff regarding an apparent new legal agreement between conservation groups and the U.S. Forest Service that requires an assessment of impacts of snowmobiles on wildlife, plants and quiet recreation in five California national forests – the Stanislaus, Eldorado, Tahoe, Plumas and Lassen – within the next two years. Sierraville District Ranger Youngblood said this is not a new issue the orginal litigation was a year ago and is about NEPA. He said the east side has complied with NEPA and some areas are closed for monitoring to not affect wildlife and they were on good ground as far as fulfilling requirements. Christian Curtis, acting as County Counsel said NEPA was “less onerous than CEQA”. No action was taken by the Board, information only. (Be sure to read The Fringe Talks Snow this week )

From: Tim Beals

Sent: Thursday, September 05, 2013 10:32 AM

To: Lee Adams JPS; Peter Huebner; Paul Roen AOL; Jim Beard Gmail; Scott Schlefstein

Subject: FW: Legal Agreement Requires Forest Service to Examine Wildlife Impacts of Snowmobiling in California

This is something that we will need to review very soon as it could have serious impacts on the winter snow grooming program and the County’s agreement with the State and the Forest Service.

Tim Beals


Legal Agreement Requires Forest Service to Examine Wildlife Impacts of Snowmobiling in


Author: Center for Biological Diversity

Published on Sep 4, 2013 – 12:51:39 PM

SACRAMENTO, Calif. Sept. 4, 2013 — A new legal agreement between conservation groups and the U.S. Forest Service requires the agency to fully assess the impacts of snowmobiles on wildlife, plants and quiet recreation in five California national forests — the Stanislaus, Eldorado, Tahoe, Plumas and Lassen — within the next two years. The agreement settles a lawsuit that challenged the Forest Service’s practice of avoiding detailed environmental review on these national forests in the central and northern Sierra and southern Cascades by issuing “categorical exclusions” – decisions that avoid environmental review – and relying on outdated environmental studies for its snowmobile trail-grooming program in California.

Snowmobiles are extremely noisy and polluting. The Environmental Protection Agency found in 2002 that one snowmobile can emit nearly as much pollution as 100 passenger cars; and in 2008, a report by the Congressional Research Service found that in one hour, a new-model snowmobile emits as much hydrocarbon as a 2008 model automobile emits in about four years — 54,000 miles â€” of driving. Snow compaction, noise and related stress can do serious harm to wildlife. “We’re delighted that the Forest Service has finally agreed to take a hard look at the impacts of snowmobiles on wildlife in the winter months,” said Lisa Belenky, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The harm that snowmobiles do to Sierra Nevada red foxes, Pacific fishers and mountain lions urgently needs to be studied.”

Conservationists believe the Forest Service also needs to consider providing greater protections from snowmobiles for rare plants,

riparian areas, wetland habitats and at stream crossings; the impacts to under-snow vegetation and soils can be devastating if riding is allowed when snows are too shallow. In addition to pollution, studies show that snowmobiles harass wildlife, causing increased physiological stress responses in winter months when many animals are already vulnerable from low temperatures, inclement weather and reduced food supply. Chronic stress can inhibit reproduction and cause other health problems. The vehicles can also cause disruption in wildlife movement patterns, making it more difficult for animals to find reliable food sources.

The Center for Biological Diversity, Snowlands Network and Winter Wildlands Alliance were all co-plaintiffs in this litigation and participated in the settlement. Advocates for the West’s attorney Laurie Rule represented them in this lawsuit.

© Copyright

7I – Presentation of bids and adoption of resolution awarding contract on the Sierra City Park Improvement Project. No bids were received, Planning Director Tim Beals was authorized to negotiate a contract.

 7J – Presentation of bids and adoption of resolution awarding contract on the Lions Park Improvements Project. No acceptable bids were received, Planning Director Tim Beals authorized to negotiate a contract.

7K – Resolution naming the Sierra City Community Park and approving dedication to be made on October 12, 2013 at the park site. This was approved.

7L – Resolution naming Alleghany Community Park and approving dedication of the park site to be held in fall of 2013. This was approved.
Item 8 -Assessor/Information Systems Manager Laura Marshall
8A – Approval to upgrade County email operating system from Microsoft Exchange 2003 to Microsoft Exchange 2013. The Board approved the request.
Item 9 – County Bd of Supervisors & County Service Areas Joint Meeting
9A – Resolution approving appropriation limits for the 2013/2014 fiscal year for the County of Sierra.
9B – Resolution approving appropriation limits for the 2013/2014 fiscal year for the County Service Areas 2,3 and Sierra Brooks 4A5A (Sierra Brooks).
9C – Resolution adopting the 2013/2014 final budget for the County of Sierra.
9D – Resolution adopting the 2013/2014 final budget for the County Service Areas 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 4A5A (Sierra Brooks Water).
All the above were approved.
Item 10 – Board of Supervisors
10A – Discussion/direction regarding a letter to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife requesting the department to fund aquatic invasive species (AIS) inspections at the Long Valley Border Protection Station located on US Highway 395. (CHAIR SCHLEFSTEIN) The Board is seeking information from the Truckee Inspection Station and the item will be back on the agenda at a future meeting.
10B – Discussion/action with respect to the Board’s response to the 2012/2013 final report of the Sierra County Grand Jury. (SUPERVISOR ADAMS) The response was approved to submit.
Item 11 – Timed Items
  • Conduct public hearing on approval of a zone change on a portion of an existing 437 acres parcel within the Sattley Community Core from Agricultural (A-1) District to Rural Residential 5 (RR-5) District and a Tentative Parcel Map to create a single 5-acre parcel within the Community Core of Sattley; Robert Church, Applicant and Evelyn Church Trust, et al., Landowner. The project site, identified as APN 013-070-019, is located at 119-127 Road A23, Sierra County.
  • Resolution 1) finding that the project is exempt under CEQA Guidelines CCR 15183 and 15061 (b)(3) Public Resource Code Sections 21083.3 (a)(b) and (e)-rezone and subdivision consistent with the General Plan and Environmental Impact Report with no potential for causing a significant effect on the environment: and, 2) approving a zone amendment amending Section 15.12.320.80 (c) to add 5.1 acres to the Rural Residential (RR-5) Zoning District; and, 3) approving a tentative parcel map to subdivide a 437 acre parcel into a 5.1 acre parcel with a 432 acre remainder.
  • First reading and adoption of an ordinance amending Section 15.12.220 of the Sierra County Code to add 5.1 acre to the Rural Residential (RR-5) Zoning District.
Assistant Planning Director Brandon Pangman prepares Exhibits and maps for Public Hearing on Church property request.

Assistant Planning Director Brandon Pangman prepares Exhibits and maps for Public Hearing on Church property request.

This item turned into a two hour presentation by Assistant Planning Director Brandon Pangman Involving 80 pages in 17 Exhibits outlining the County’s position in the request for the parcel map and zone change by land owner Robert Church. Three people in the audience spoke in support of the proposal. No one appeared in opposition. There was a one page letter of support from Bill Copren.

High Sierra Rural Alliance is the only person/entity opposing the request. And to everyone watching the proceedings the mystery is why? It is extremely apparent the only reason for the request is to have a small portion (5 acres) of a 437 acre parcel set separately as rural residential. The area is above the valley floor, outside of the floodplain and clearly just a means to maintain the other 432 acres as agricultural and allow the 5acres with three existing structures within the core of the Sattley community as a family site.  This is the second time HSRA has taken the position against an existing residential site and turned it into a mudball of cost in time and money for the County and owners of the property. Unfortunately because of last minute receipt of another letter from HSRA (dated 9/12 and received by fax on the evening of 9/16) this will appear on another Board meeting agenda. As Rob Church said at the meeting, “all I want to do is change lines of property to hand down to the kids.”

Editors Note: For the life of me, I cannot fathom why HSRA is doing this. They need to use better judgement in picking their fights. What purpose is served by harassing local residents and property owners over non existent issues or technicalities that only serve to lessen the credibility of HSRA. At one point I and others I know have supported this group but now I just can’t and have seen other supporters back away. Our rural character and environment is important and we need to be ready and able to work together for the good of the community when Disney wants to build a roller coaster in the backyard, but this isn’t what’s happening. HSRA is not good for the county and it is costing us dearly.)

Four Items on the Consent Agenda  # 12 F,G,H,J were pulled off so that Supervisor Jim Beard could vote no on them.

The Fringe Talks Snow 9/18/13

What Does Snowlands Network Want in the Woods?

A Fringe Inquestination

Snowlands Network has been active in Northern California in calling on the Forest Service and the state to open a discussion on over-the-snow use of the forest.  See the website here .  Snowlands Network has also partnered with the Center for Biological Diversity, an organization seen by some ( as one of the most pernicious green huckster organizations in the country; one that has been demonstrated doing pointless harm and damage to ag and recreation and getting rich doing it.  That association alone makes Snowlands suspect in the eyes of some.  A recent lawsuit on behalf of Snowlands and CBD might curtail snowmobiling in the Sierra.

What does Snowlands want, and how might that effect the people who matter most: us.  A lot of Sierra County businesses make it through the winter because of snowmobile use of the woods.  Things are very hard in the hills; logging is gone; dairies are gone; hard rock mines are mostly caving in; sluicing for gold is a criminal offense; people grow pot indoors now, which they can do right in the city; there are ever increasing restrictions on ag and recreational use of surface water; there are ever increasing restrictions on off-highway use of the forest; high gas prices discourage tourists.  Sierra County has plenty of only three things: hazard fuel, aging alcoholics, and gravity.  The hazard fuel brings in some fire fighters, alkies bring in some social service dollars, but gravity brings cyclists of every sort, and cross country ski and snowmobile buffs, and it is a local belief that snow tourists spend money and get otherwise flagging businesses through the long cold winter.

In the interest of disclosure, your Fringe Editor, like many in the county, both cross country skis and enjoys his snowmobile.  With worsening arthritis I cross country ski less and snowmobile more.

I’m squarely in neither camp on this issue.   However, I will confess an increasing impatience with mostly well off, mostly urbanized people who want us to stay out of the woods so they can play in Eden, summer and winter.  A local boy can’t get a deer tag; can’t cut firewood like in the old days; can’t access the lakes; can’t visit old haunts.  As some local folks get gray, the intersection of aging joints and hearts and muirish land use lawsuits mean some people can’t use the mountains they live in at all.  Busy bodies trying to do good are making life unlivable in general.   That’s my bias going in.

Snowlands Network focuses on a social issue, and not really an environmental one, and the organization is honest enough to admit.  The heart of the problem is simple: a jerk on a $15,000 snowmobile carrying extra fuel and a couple extra spark plugs can travel a hundred miles in the time it takes a bird watcher carrying a hypoallergenic water jug and lentil and squash whole grain gluten-free pita bread to cross country ski five.  Such a jerk can zip to the top of a scenic peak, spend a few pleasant hours with his honey, and be back to the launch pad in the time it takes a snow-shoer to struggle and trudge to the top, only to find spoiled snow, discarded spark plugs, empty beer cans, a topped off condom and a roach too small to smoke.

Or, consider someone who has worked their way up into the hills to enjoy the song of the bird, the wheezing of their own laboring lungs, throb of their pounding, pre-bypass heart, only to be distracted by a noise that starts like an angry bee and resolves to the stink and thunderous roar of half a dozen snowmobile demons who give a friendly wave as they blast past at 40 mph.

The meat of the problem is that snowmobiles burn gas to go fast and far, and cross country and snow shoe pumpers go slow and not so far, and the people who can’t go so far want to control where people who can fly across the snow can go.  Snowmobilers on the other hand, complain very little about the pokey cross country skiers, and, as far as I know, no snowmobile organization is trying to keep the slow out of the woods.

There are over 20,000 registered snowmobiles in California, according to the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association, who provide many other facts about snowmobiles, including how wonderful they are and how wonderful snowmobile riders are.  What reason would they have to BS us, right?  Even so, their various statistics do describe what I know about snowmobile riders in our area.  The average owner, according to IMSA is 41; he is most often male, and makes $68,000 a year.  According to the site, snowmobiling is a 23 billion dollar a year industry.  The IMSA also tells us: “Approximately 80% of snowmobilers use their snowmobile for trail riding and touring on marked and groomed trails. 20% of snowmobilers use their snowmobile for work, ice fishing and transportation.”  That doesn’t leave any snowmobilers to tear up the wild lands and be a nuisance to Mom Nature and cross country skiers.  It’s possible they are jiggering statistics, as all groups tend to do.  Read their take on the issue here:

California Parks has a document which describes a Draft Envirionmental Impact Report for a ten year study on the impact of over the snow vehicle recreation.  It can be found here: .  There is a copy of the final EIR on the internet, but the draft is a cleaner document to work from.

Published in 2010, the report states that Over the Snow Vehicles bring 200,000 visitors to the study area which includes the Tahoe National Forest.  It claims that OSV ownership increases 4% a year.  The study proposes 235-300,000 OSV by 2020.  That’s a lot of visitors to places between 4,000 and 9,000 feet of elevation, which Sierra County has a great deal of; hence our gravity.

The Draft was finalized, and in 2011, Snowlands Network, Center for Biological Diversity, and other “environmentalists” (a phrase which has lost all meaning) brought suit and recently prevailed, forcing yet more study on the part of the Forest Service.

The Draft EIR primarily addresses the environment.  Of course, the environment gets dragged into the issue by the anti-snowmobile effort; poor Mother Nature gets called in on so many causes I’m kind of surprised I haven’t heard she’s in rehab.  The study identified potentially significant and less than significant issues.  Among the potentially significant issues are: riding in wetlands in low snow periods; training the Red Fox to beg for food instead of hunting; trespass into wilderness areas; parking demand; and, even though wolverines are NOT known to be in the area, wolverine lovin’ and raising kits.  There are plans for mitigation described for each issue.  When considering bias in the report we keep in mind that the DEIR has three tasks: 1. To prove the issue under study is of social importance (a lot of people use snowmobiles); 2. To prove the environmental importance of the issue (it is an environmental impact report); 3. To prove their work is necessary to understand and correct the social impact on the environment (we can have our cake and eat it too through mitigation).  As a result of this complicated and difficult task, the report should be expected to prove the work is necessary since without it someone loses a job.  The report does that.

Snowlands Network, on their website, complain of noise, environmental damage including air pollution, and trespass.  Do snowmobilers drop more stuff; do they litter spark plugs and spill fuel mix and pollute the air?  Some are litterbugs; there is very little we can do about people who leave their mark on the wilderness by leaving trash.  People who cross country ski sometimes also litter, and crap in the snow, and leave brown smeared paper neatly folded under a rock.  There are more snowmobilers in our woods, and they go farther.  Most probably don’t refuel on the trail or change plugs, and if they do they use the small caution necessary not to foul the earth.  Two cycle sleds do make more smoke, particularly when they get older, but four stroke sleds often last longer, though they cost a little more and weigh more.  Research has demonstrated that snowmobiles, particularly two cycle engines, create more air pollution than cars.  By virtue of the fuel they burn and their greater speed (but not necessarily weight; some snowmobiles put down less weight per square inch than a pair of cross country skis) snowmobiles do pollute somewhat more than fart powered snow travel.  But, enough more to make the case?  In specific instances, or in early or late seasons, perhaps, but not typically.  Play out the “environment” card altogether and nobody should get to go in to the woods.

One way to look at it is like this: the people on cross country skis should get a snowmobile and get out past where most snowmobilers go.  After all, they could snowmobile, but they choose not to, and so they suffer, and they want everyone else to be held back, too, like the slowest kid in a kindergarten class who cries until the faster kids wait for him.

Another way to look at it is that some people who can now physically travel across snow on snowshoes and skis assume they’ll always be able to get to their favorite places, and so they’d like to prevent those who can’t get there on legs from going at all.

Another way to look at it is that some people believe in a “pristine” experience, one free from the coarser elements of society, and they feel it is appropriate to set aside places for that.  It isn’t clear what their “pristine” experience is worth, to the state generally and more importantly, to us, but it is very important to Snowlands Network, and they’ve said so publicly.

It is possible there are other ways of looking at it, or at least other ways of talking about those ways.

I asked Snowlands Network a few questions, and Bob Rowen, spokesperson for Snowlands, was kind enough to provide a lengthy answer, below.  It’s cherry picking to lure someone in to a long statement and then pick it apart at leisure, and I for one am not above such tactics.  I encourage readers to read all of Mr. Rowen’s remarks.

A natural question for those concerned about snow tourism is: How many cross country skiers, specifically skiers who can’t live alongside snowmobilers, are there?  Mr. Rowen suggests that leg powered users don’t use the county gravity as much as they might if snowmobilers were more restricted and there were more snowmobile free areas.  We who live in resource extraction communities understand what the urban muirsh forget because they can afford to be distant from it: all resource use has a cost to the resource.  Fish died so vegans could have organic rice; the environment is a closed system, though a large one, and making a living, eating food, driving a car all require someone to negatively impact the environment.  What is the benefit to the county?  How much will new regulations cost our county businesses in lost snowmobiler revenue, and how much will snow hikers bring in?

At this juncture, we have only Bob Rowen’s assurance: “There is sufficient land and recreation potential in Sierra County that there is no reason why the County should not attract its fair share of both snowmobile and ski/snowshoe tourism.  This will require some restrictions on snowmobile activity but will leave plenty of terrain for continued snowmobile recreation and will not impact people who depend on snowmobiles to access their houses or cabins and it does not need to impact the bottom line of businesses who depend on snowmobile tourism.  By attracting a greater number of skiers and snowshoers to the community, the community should financially benefit.”

From his discussion it becomes clear that in his opinion there are certain areas which attract both snowmobilers and snow hikers. Part of his solution is to curtail snowmobile traffic to those areas.  But, according to Snowland’s site, only 80% of our snow recreation area is “dominated” by snowmobilers.  That still leaves 20%, does it not?  Of all snow recreational users, are more than 20% “snowmobile intolerant”?  Further, snowmobiles are prohibited from going in to a wilderness area, and there are nearly 150  wilderness areas in California, many of them partially or entirely above 4000 feet.  If Snowlands Network seeks a “balance”, isn’t that what we already have?  A minority, not more than 20% of snow recreationists and probably fewer, wants fart power only zones, and 20% or more of our snow recreation areas are off limits to snowmobiles.  We’re there with room to spare.

The judge did not agree.  The lawsuit (link below) insists the state didn’t go far enough to prove how stinky and scary to bunnies and deer snowmobiles are.  Snowlands et al insist the state regulate and enforce on the Forest
Service on Forest Service lands.  It complains that plowing parking areas makes it easier for snowmobilers and it should be easy only for fart powered recreation.  It complains that there are at least 46 access points for snowmobilers (and skiers) to access snow, but only 7 reserved for fart powered only.  That isn’t balance, we guess, because it is less than 20%, but can’t people walk to snow in many, many more places along the road than snowmobilers can back up trailers and stage?  Are we sure we haven’t reached “balance”?  The suit says no, because they don’t get a CHOICE in which places they can go, even though, yes, they can go more places than snowmobilers, per capita, as well as all the places snowmobilers go.

The judge sent the plan back to have more work done.  It might be possible to demonstrate that sufficient work was done on the plan, that a balance has been struck, that non-motorized over the snow recreationists are being sufficiently represented.  We all know that the state can’t re-find as I’ve described; the complainers have won at least a bit of ground; there will be more regulations, more cost for enforcement, less money for trail grooming and marking.  It will be easier to exclude some areas than to go back to court.

I have several objections to Snowland Network’s approach.

First, they begin with the assumption that fart powered is good, more pure, and closer to nature than snowmobiling.  I don’t think that’s actually been proven.  In fact, all their complaints would best be addressed by keeping everyone, including skiers, out of the woods.  To that end I refer Snowlands Network and their partner Center for Biological Diversity to Voluntary Human Extinction, found here .  To keep the earth pure, remove humans altogether, and perhaps our intrepid environmentalists would like to lead by example.  I for one would like it if everyone stayed out of the Sierra all they can, but I don’t earn my living from tourism.

My second objection is that, once again, we’re looking at a relatively small group of people who want to “manage” the majority.   Freedom stops where “management” begins.  Once again, people from somewhere else, with different lives and culture, are trying to impress their way on the hayseeds that live in the hills.  They are the 20% who wants to control the 80%.

That being said, I’m willing to turn over my 30 year old 2 cycle snowmobile if Snowlands Network will give me a nice new 4 cycle sled.

I’m also willing to concede that Snowlands Network has every right to try to impose their will on others; it’s the American way to drub your opposition senseless with lawsuits. If you don’t want to let them have their way, make your voice heard.  You might start by joining an organization like Sierra Access .

I’d also like to thank Mr. Rowen for his time and cooperation; read his entire response below.  He showed more honesty and candidness than most people who respond to a request for information from the Fringe.  You Snowlands Network folks prove me wrong: come on to Sierra County, spend some money here, eat something with meat in it and have a beer.  I’m sure we’ll be glad you came.

The Tahoe National Forest has a document controlling snowmobile use. It outlines where one may not use a snowmobile.  This version is dated; I couldn’t find a newer version.

Link to the petition:

Thanks to Bob Rowen for responding from Snowlands Network.  Read his responses; maybe you’ll be convinced.

Questions and responses

1.  What, specifically, do you want to achieve?  Please don’t use pointless terms like “a more balanced approach” but rather state your point clearly: what do you want to see in the mountains?

Well, I need to start with “a more balanced approach” because that is what we seek and there are several different ways in which it can be accomplished.  Snowmobiles create a lot of noise and air pollution, as well as rapidly shredding powder snow on skiable slopes, and so many skiers and snowshoers do not want to recreate in areas with snowmobile use.  Because of these impacts, snowmobile use dominates areas where there is significant snowmobile activity and precludes clean and quiet ski and snowshoe recreation.  This has happened, for instance at Brockway Summit (near Northstar.)

The fact that some skiers and snowshoers are content to recreate together with snowmobiles does not alter the fact that many do not.  Some of this is due to some people giving a greater importance to being in a clean and quiet environments, some is due the type of recreation that an individual pursues.

For instance, a backcountry powder bowl literally can provide fresh powder skiing to dozens of skiers, but this same powder can be shredded in an hour by one snowmobile.  Nothing is more frustrating to a group of backcountry skiers than to spend an hour or more accessing a backcountry slope only to find that the powder has all been “consumed” by just one prior user on a snowmobile.  Management of snowmobiles will create fair opportunity for all.

The Lakes Basin is an example of an area dominated by snowmobiles that could, with some management, provide recreational opportunity for everyone.  The area is heavily used by snowmobilers – for good reason – but has very little ski and snowshoe use as compared, say, to Carson Pass, where skiers and snowshoers have ready access to areas closed to snowmobiles.  The touring potential in the Lakes Basin is just as good as Carson Pass, with a variety of lakes and buttes and vistas and forest…a primary reason the Lakes Basin has comparatively little skier/snowshoer activity is, in large part, due to the unrestricted presence of snowmobiles.

There are a few ways in which management of snowmobiles can reduce this conflict.  Areas can be closed to snowmobiles; areas can be restricted to trail-riding only; areas can be restricted to BAT (best available technology) snowmobiles.  We think a creative solution would use a variety of these restrictions to substantially improve ski and snowshoe recreation opportunity without a comparable negative impact to snowmobile recreation.

2.  Have you considered the result of your actions on the people who live in the mountains?  I don’t mean urban transplants who live in Truckee or Tahoe, I mean real no kidding rural Sierra people.  Is there some reason a negative impact on them can be ignored for some greater good?

The fears of a negative impact on local residents are greatly exaggerated.  We do not seek to prevent people from using snowmobiles to access their houses or cabins or to prevent people from using snowmobiles for their business.  Locals who enjoy snowmobile tourism and snowmobile play will still have plenty of opportunity to continue these activities.  Locals who enjoy skiing or snowshoeing will have enhanced opportunities.

Whenever an area is closed to snowmobile use, no matter how small the area, there is the possibility that someone will say that such area was their absolute favorite place to recreate.  This is regrettable, but we live in a big world with a lot of people and compromises need to be made so that we can all enjoy it.  This is not an issue of locals vs. tourists, it is recognition of the fact that some uses of the land have a bigger impact than other uses and thus must be managed.

3.  What long term benefit do you see to the environment and why do you believe curtailing snowmobile use would accomplish that?

The primary focus of Snowlands Network is on creating and preserving ski and snowshoe recreational opportunity.  However, it is beyond dispute that snowmobiles are very dirty machines and it is also beyond dispute that our society is just beginning to comprehend all the global environmental dangers and problems from dirty burning of fossil fuels One of the amazing statistics from the studies in Yellowstone National Park is that snowmobiles – even though representing a small fraction of total visitation to the park, accounted for the majority of hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions from ALL visitation to the park over the course of a year.

At a local level, science is just beginning to assess the impacts from snowmobile use.  Numerous studies have documented the adverse impact of snowmobiles on wildlife: impacts that can take decades to fully manifest themselves in serious declines in wildlife populations.  We believe it is foolish to ignore these problems until they demand attention through ecological calamity.  All too often society has woken up too late to find that some form of activity has seriously damaged the environment.  For instance, there is a significant concern about the impact of snowmobiles on fragile high alpine terrain – impacts that may not become apparent until it is too late to stop long-term damage.

It is a clear and undeniable fact that environmental restrictions imposed by government in the last fifty years have had a huge benefit to society: much cleaner air, much cleaner water, old-growth forests preserved, increased opportunities for fishing, hunting and nature tourism.  This is especially important for Sierra County: a community that increasingly depends on the beauty and bounty of its natural environment for its economic health.  The community should weight the slight impact from increased management of snowmobiles to the uncertain long-term cost of environmental damage.

4.  Send a message to our rural, tourism dependent people.

We recognize that some people do ski and snowshoe in the same areas used by snowmobiles.  I myself have skied on the roads in the Lakes Basin, the ski trail at the Gold Lake staging area and also at Bucks Lake, as well as other mixed-use areas outside Sierra County.  But it is not preferred, and many skiers and snowshoers simply will not come to Sierra County to recreate unless they can be assured of enjoying clean and quiet recreation on scenic trails.  This does not mean that snowmobile recreation as an economic driver needs to stop.  It does mean that some compromises need to be made.

There is sufficient land and recreation potential in Sierra County that there is no reason why the County should not attract its fair share of both snowmobile and ski/snowshoe tourism.  This will require some restrictions on snowmobile activity but will leave plenty of terrain for continued snowmobile recreation and will not impact people who depend on snowmobiles to access their houses or cabins and it does not need to impact the bottom line of businesses who depend on snowmobile tourism.  By attracting a greater number of skiers and snowshoers to the community, the community should financially benefit.  And by ensuring that the Sierra Nevada continues to be ecologically healthy – and possibly restoring its natural bounty of wildlife – the lives of local residents and tourists will be enhanced.

Camptonville Cans & Freezes Sept 25th

Camptonville–Taught by former Camptonville School Chef Patsy Prout, on Wednesday, September 25 from 5:30-8 p.m. at the Camptonville School kitchen, a workshop will cover the basics of preserving your garden veggies.  Including freezing and canning techniques. Open to participants 11 years of age and up, participants should bring a canning jar, about 4 tomatoes or zucchini (or both).
You will go home with a new skill, a container of preserved produce, information about food safety, and some recipes to get started.
No fee required. Donations to Camptonville Community Partnership are always welcome!
To register or for more information call the Resource Center 288-9355 or email us at
This opportunity is funded through Prevention Early Intervention, Sutter/Yuba Mental Health.

6th Annual Chicken & Polenta October 5

Calpine–Calpine Volunteer Fire Department, Station 84 will host its 6th Annual Chicken & Polenta Feed on Saturday, October 5th at the Calpine Community Center.
Tickets are $12.50 per person children under 12 $6.25. Cocktails will be served at 5 p.m. with dinner following a 6 p.m. Menu is BBQ Chicken, Polenta, Salad, Roll and Dessert.
There will also be a raffle,      music, auction and T-Shirts sales. All proceeds will be usedto purchase equipment for  Calpine Volunteer Firefighters.
This year Calpine Fire will be raffling off two full cords of wood, so you have two chances to win!
For more Information Call: Calpine Firehouse 994-3941 or Lisa Tuggle: 994-1003 or

Jerusha 9/18/13


Vol V #273

Dear Jerusha:Jerushaboys

Do you have any advice that someone could actually use? I have to say after reading your column faithfully in the hope of becoming a better human being, it hasn’t worked. I have a friend, let’s just call him/her Twink, that is very nice, friendly, kind, generous and just the overall wonderful person that everyone likes. I mean everyone likes her/him. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t like him/her. Meanwhile I am just your average person who some people like and some people don’t like, everyone thinks Twink is wonderful, not everyone thinks I am wonderful. I want to be wonderful too and hope that you have some idea of how I can accomplish this goal. Please try to make your advice useful.

Sincerely, Mason Smith

Dear Mason :

Since Mason is a name that either a her or a him could have and the same for “Twink” I have no idea what your real problem could be. Could it be that maybe you are just not as wonderful as him/her? Do the people who don’t like you have a succinct reason? Is it possible Twink is sabotaging you by being too nice? Are you aware your comments above about my advice not being useful is not nice. I am beginning to think the more I think about it that it is possible that Twink may be the nice one. At any rate if you read my column you also know I don’t like to think, and I have had to use the word “think” too many times already. Did you realize that “think” rhymes with “Twink”. You are really beginning to irritate me now.

Sincerely, Jerusha

Path to Citizenship 9/18/13

 International Institute of the Bay Area selected as USCIS Citizenship Grant recipient

San Francisco – The International Institute of the Bay Area (IIBA) has been selected to receive a $250,000 two-year grant from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to promote immigrant civic integration and prepare permanent residents for citizenship.

IIBA, a 95-year-old non-profit that helps Bay Area immigrants become citizens is the only Northern Californian agency awarded the competitive USCIS grant.  Nationally, only 40 non-profit agencies received grants.

“Our entire community benefits when immigrants become citizens, “ said Ellen Dumesnil, Executive Director of the International Institute of the Bay Area.  “Citizenship means higher family income, higher educational attainment for the children of immigrants that naturalize, higher proficiency in English and more active engagement in community affairs.”

Last year, with USCIS funding, IIBA provided legal consultations, eligibility assessments, application assistance and civics classes to 1,000 legal permanent residents in the Bay Area who hailed from 83 countries.

“We are very excited – and thankful – for this funding because it will enable IIBA to strengthen our civics classes and naturalization legal services for legal permanent residents throughout our five county service area, “ said Sheryl Muñoz-Bergman, IIBA’s Director of Programs. “This grant enables us to expand our efforts to assist even more immigrants.”

The International Institute of the Bay Area is a nonprofit organization founded in 1918, with the mission to welcome, educate and serve immigrants and their families as they join and contribute to the community.

IIBA has offices in San Francisco, Redwood City, Oakland, Antioch and Fremont. It recently opened an office in Napa. It serves immigrants in the counties of San Francisco, Alameda, Santa Clara, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Napa.

For more information, visit

Carol’s Movies 9/18/13

Carol Says:

American Dreamer

I love this movie.  I have watched it over and over since the 80’s.  JoBeth Williams is a housewife who has entered a writing contest.  The winner gets a free trip to Paris – and guess what:  she wins!  The contest is based on the “Rebecca Ryan” mystery series (this is in the movie, folks) and she must write a mystery with Rebecca as the main person.
When she gets to Paris she is hit by a car and wakes up thinking she is really Rebecca.  She gets involved (by accident) into trying to help someone who she thinks is in trouble.  This is a fast paced, fun movie.  I don’t want to go into it much because it will just spoil it for you.  It is fun, fast paced, funny and I just love it.

Netflix says:

American Dreamer1984PG105 minutes

Bored housewife Cathy Palmer (JoBeth Williams) has ambitions to be a writer and unexpectedly wins a mystery-writing contest to win a free trip Paris. Once there, she gets hit by a car and awakens thinking she’s Rebecca Ryan, the heroine in a series of pulp mysteries. Much craziness ensues as she draws the real author (Tom Conti) of the Rebecca Ryan novels into her amnesia-induced fantasy world.

Sierra City Post Office 150th 9/18/13

The Sierra City Post Office will mark its 150th birthday on June 23, 2014.
Local history buffs propose that a celebration is in order to commemorate this sesquicentennial. An event planning session will be held at the S C Community hall on Monday, September 30th at 7:00 p.m. Community organizations, local businesses, and individuals are encouraged to attend and put in their two-cents- worth.

This is a better deal than when, prior to the establishment of the first post office, mail was delivered by the Pony Express via Marysville and Downieville at the rate of one dollar per letter. If you don’t want to pony up the gas money to attend the meeting, send your suggestions to

SC Health Coordinating Committee Formation 9/18/13

 The Sierra County Health Coordinating Committee is being formed as a consolidation of multiple committees. The intent is to foster collaboration and streamline meetings related to public health in Sierra County. Currently Prevention, aspects of Behavioral Health, and Public Health Emergency Preparedness are included with this effort.

The attached agenda is the first meeting of the transition period. I apologize for the late notice. I hope you are able to participate at this meeting. Your input and suggestions are valuable and I believe critical to future success.  Agenda is attached.

Sierra County

Health Coordinating Committee Agenda

September 19, 2013       1:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Sierra County Court House, Court Room, Downieville, CA  95936

1.  Welcome and Introductions

2.  Public Health Updates

Health Faire:  September 21, 2013

Flu Vaccination Clinic and Drive -Thru Schedules

3.  Drug & Alcohol Prevention Updates

4.  Behavioral Health within the schools – Marlene Mongolo

5.  Tobacco Use Reduction Program

Communities of Excellence (CX) description and process

Schedule CX meetings

Retail Environment Campaign Presentation

Healthy Families Calendar

6.  Bylaws for the Sierra County Health Coordinating Committee

7.  Local advocacy projects (news from the field).

8.  Scheduling of next regular meeting date for October

Join together and improve local capacity and strengthen advocacy efforts to address health in Sierra County.


Johnsville Ski Bowl via Moonshine Ink 9/18/13

GET OUT & GO: Saving Johnsville

Sept. 20 to 22, Johnsville Ski Bowl, Johnsville, CA
Friday, September 13, 2013
Melissa Siig, Moonshine Ink Staff
see the complete article with more pictures here:  Moonshine Johnsville

Info: $50 weekend ticket (includes guided hikes, two nights at the hoedown, and free Klean Kanteen reusable cup)/$15 per person onsite camping or parking ticket/kids under 12 are free, gates open at 12 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 20. For music line-up and tickets, visit

Ski historians may tell you that the history of downhill skiing in California begins in the 1920s with the opening of the Olympic Hill Ski Jump at what is now Granlibakken, or with the state’s first chairlift, which opened at Sugar Bowl in 1939. Or maybe they would point to the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley, which put the Tahoe region on the map as a ski destination.

But they would all be wrong.

Alpine skiing in the Sierra can be traced back to a place that most people have probably never heard of — the Johnsville Historic Ski Bowl near Graeagle in Plumas County. It was there, in the 1860s, that miners-turned-skiers used the ore buckets that traveled up Gold Mountain as impromptu chairlifts, making these possibly the first ski lifts in the world. Johnsville was also one of the first places in the Western Hemisphere to hold organized ski races, where skiers on longboards reached speeds of up to 80 miles per hour. This feat is still commemorated today at the ski bowl with the annual Historic Longboard Revival Series, where skiers dressed in period clothing race on longboards using only old-fashioned wax recipes.

None of this history was lost on Drew Fisher, a senior at Sierra Nevada College and coach for the Auburn Ski Club, when he was invited last winter by his rep at SKILOGIK, Azariah “Z” Reynolds, to do some backcountry skiing at Johnsville — a ghost town of a family ski hill that operated from the 1950s until it was abandoned in the early 2000s.
“Something about the ski history hit me like a brick wall,” said Fisher, 23. “I have been a skier for 20 years, but I didn’t know that one hour north of me were the first races.”

Fisher, along with two other SNC students, decided to make it their school project to help revive the Johnsville Ski Bowl. The three students, along with Reynolds, are putting on the Lost Sierra Hoedown at the ski area from Sept. 20 to 22 to raise money to re-open the defunct community ski bowl. The camping and music fundraiser features the Dead Winter Carpenters, Rose’s Pawn Shop, and Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit.

The Johnsville Ski Bowl, also known as the Plumas Eureka Ski Bowl, was operated by the nonprofit Plumas Ski Club as a community ski area starting in the 1950s. The ski area, which Fisher compared in size to the Tahoe Donner Ski Area, consisted of two Poma tows, two tubing lifts, and a lodge. On Saturdays, students from all over the Sierra Valley would come to the ski hill, which sits on state park land, to learn to ski. The ski bowl’s fate took a turn in 2000 when the Gold Mountain Corporation purchased the ski area. After a few years, the developer ran on hard times and, in a reversal of the normal corporation-buys-mom-and-pop-ski-hill, Johnsville reverted back to the Plumas Ski Club.

But the ski club had no money.

The Ski Johnsville Fund was created to raise money to re-open the ski bowl, but so far less than $30,000 has been raised, “a painfully low number,” according to Dan Gallagher, a board member of the Eastern Plumas Recreation District, which has been heading up the fundraising since 2009. However, $375,000 in capital improvements has gone into the ski bowl, including securing Squaw’s old Mainline chairlift. But Gallagher estimates it will take $275,000 more to erect the two-chair lift, remove one Poma tow, and be able to re-open the ski bowl.

Gallagher said the region desperately needs the ski area, for many reasons.

“There is a whole generation that grew up skiing at Johnsville and now we don’t have much of a skiing resource for the community,” he said. “Plumas was hard hit by the economic downturn. Without the draw of a little ski hill, no one comes here in the winter.”

Fisher said he hopes to raise $15,000 to $25,000 with the hoedown; tickets are $50 for the weekend and are limited to 500 people. All profits go to the Plumas Ski Club. The hoedown organizers have already helped to improve the state park land by picking up trash and spreading native mulch to prevent erosion.

“The site has already had a makeover because of their efforts,” Gallagher said. “I am astounded by their vision.”
So why is Fisher putting all this sweat equity into his SNC service learning project, which requires 60 to 70 hours of community service, a number that he has gone well over?

“My whole life I’ve been blessed to be a skier,” he said. “My parents are school teachers. If I’d been born today, would they be able to afford to take me skiing?”

According to Fisher, lift tickets at Johnsville are forecasted to be in the $20 range, a far cry from Squaw/Alpine’s almost $100 ticket. But modeling itself after the big ski areas is not Johnsville’s goal.

“We are never going to be Squaw, and we don’t want to be a mega-alpine destination,” Gallagher said. “We want to offer a family experience that we don’t have in Tahoe anymore.”

For Fisher, it’s all about making skiing available to everyone, regardless of their pocket books.

“The fact that it’s a nonprofit, it’s just back to the roots,” he said. “It makes skiing less exclusive. It saves lives by getting people into the sport. I don’t know where I’d be without skiing.”

Sheriff’s Public Log 9/9 to 9/15/13


SO BadgeSierra County Sheriff’s Public Information Log


  • Welfare check needed on resident in Sierra City
  • Family verbal argument in Loyalton
  • Animal cruelty in Loyalton
  • Vandalism of a sign in Loyalton
  • Alarm activated at Loyalton Elementary School


  • Animal atack on family pet in Sierra City
  • Abandoned vehicle in driveway in Loyalton
  • Unauthorized marijuana on property in Downieville
  • Civil dispute regarding scooter in Loyalton
  • Court ordered Booking at Downieville Jail
  • Sheen on the water at Stampede Reservoir
  • Suspicious persons in remote area near Alleghany
  • Medical emergency in Loyalton
  • Workplace phone calls deemed suspicious in Loyalton
  • Medical emergency in Sierra City
  • Restraining Order issued for someone somewhere
  • Another Restraining Order for someone somewhere
  • Air brakes on timber trucks being used at night near Indian Valley
  • Annual registration for 290PC from Pike
  • Audible alarm sounds in Loyalton


  • Over due party from 89 corridor Sierraville to Portola
  • Chair and BBQ near Goodyears Bar for a week
  • Probation violation arrest in Downieville
  • Graffiti symbols in Sierraville restroom
  • Credit card theft in Downieville
  • Civil dispute in Downieville
  • Civil standby in Sierra City


  • Injured deer near Loyalton
  • Parking and animal problem in Loyalton
  • Civil standby at rental property in Loyalton
  • Local warrant arrest in Loyalton
  • Parking problem in Loyalton
  • Strong suspicious odor in Loyalton
  • Mountain Lion running down street in Downieville at 8PM

9/13/13 (Friday)

  • Rock on Hwy 49 north of Downieville
  • Abandoned RV with running motor near Verdi
  • VIN verification in Loyalton
  • Many loose cattle heading towards Hwy 49
  • Portable corral stolen  from Henness Pass Rd
  • Also cattle pens were dismantled
  • Alarm activated in Loyalton
  • Single cow roaming on Hwy 89
  • Smoke report in Loyalton
  • Speeding motorcycle in Loyalton
  • Loud noise at vacation home in Downieville


  • Trespassing and vandalism to property near Sierra Brooks
  • Citizen assist needed in Downieville
  • Civil standby in Sierra City
  • Husband is overdue from camping trip to Downieville area
  • Welfare check needed in Downieville
  • Threatening phone call received in Loyalton
  • Bear clawing its way into Downieville residence
  • Loud country music in Loyalton


  • Medical emergency in Loyalton
  • Tow truck needed in Indian Valley for broke down vehicle
  • Suspicious vehicles in neighbors driveway in Sierra City
  • Medical emergency for injured woman south of Indian Valley Campground
  • Older couple sought for DUI, defrauding an innkeeper and assault Sardine Lake


  • Nevada Co SO makes Sierra Co SO Warrant arrest in Grass Valley


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