The mill closures of 2009 in Northern California have brought about the formation of two regional coalitions to address the issues surrounding the economic and social impacts when these closures occur. In Plumas County, the Plumas County Economic Recovery Committee (PCERC) was formed to address local needs as well as another working group addresses state and federal issues and legislation. PCERC has representatives of local elected officials, county services, education, small and large businesses, real estate, chambers of commerce, hospitals, local utilities, news service, city management, timber industry and citizens at large. Their mission statement is; Enhance Plumas Counties Economic Vitality through our Natural Resources.
The second coalition that was formed was the Sustainable Forest Action Coalition (SFAC). It has members of the Board of Supervisors from El Dorado, Amador and Tuolumne Counties, Chamber of Commerce from El Dorado, Calaveras, and Tuolumne County, Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber and Lincoln; El Dorado County Fire Safe Council, County Farm Bureau, Business Alliance and Agricultural Commission, California Forestry Association and Sierra Pacific Industries.
These two coalitions realized that their goals and objectives were very similar and have worked together to form a larger geographic coalition. The main goal of this larger coalition is to work at the State and Federal level to bring regulatory reform to restore our healthy forests and maintain the existing timber production infrastructure. By meeting this objective, the coalition also recognizes the additional benefit that thinning to improve forest health provides to our watersheds and furthering our efforts in protecting our natural resources from catastrophic wildfires.
The group works separately from the Board of Supervisor’s but in a parallel fashion to try and add additional input and support to natural resource issues that impact our county’s economic and social wellbeing. In order to provide a larger support base for this effort, both the PCERC and SFAC organized a meeting in Chico, California on February 19, 2010, to try and form a coalition that would encompass the central and northern Sierra’s as well as the Klamath Province. This initial meeting was attended by members of PCERC, SFAC, Board of Supervisor and County members from Butte, El Dorado, Modoc, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou and Trinity Counties. Also present were representatives for Congressman Herger and McClintock and State Assemblyman Logue. In addition, State Senator Aanestad, Cogdill, Gaines and Assemblyman Nielsen have provided representatives as part of this effort but could not make this meeting. It was recognized that it is important that this new coalition involve as wide a participation from varies county agencies, businesses, industry, chambers of commerce, farm bureau’s and concerned citizens.
The meeting was successful in gaining the wider support to move forward with this larger coalition effort. A broader support base has been developed since our original meeting and now includes representatives from Amador, Calaveras, Colusa, Del Norte, Glenn, Inyo, Lassen, Nevada, Placer, Tehama, Tuolumne and Yuba counties. In addition to these twenty Northern and Central California Counties, SFAC has been joined by County Commissioners from Douglas, Jackson and Lake County Oregon, Nye County Nevada and Carbon County Wyoming. Most recently, we have also been joined by the Association of Nevada Counties, Communities for Healthy Forest, Inc. of S. Oregon, Chamber of Commerce, Jackson County, Oregon and providing information to Senator Heller (Nevada) with our information.
SFAC has established bi-annual meetings with our Congressional Representatives and the Forest Service, Region 5, Regional Forester and Staff to provide inter-action with our Counties that is centered on the social and economic issues that are impacting these counties. Congressman LaMalfa is taking the lead on these meetings. SFAC continues to build on our working relationship with our Federal and State representatives as well as with adjacent State representatives at the Federal and County level. By building these relationships, SFAC will continue to work for our rural counties with a wider voice to bring the vital message that we all must work together to assure that we can revive our rural counties by returning jobs that sustain our communities.