Mining Nightmare

By Heidi Zimmerman

Are YOU, the inhabitants of the Grass Valley region, aware there is exploratory drilling for gold occurring right now and has been for the last year?

The 90 acre parcel (was 5 different owners) is the Idaho Maryland gold mine and was the 2nd largest mine in the country back in the 50’s. Unbeknownst to anyone around here, this land was sold to Rise Gold Corp, a Canadian company who amassed 2.5-3 million dollars from Canadians in hopes of striking gold with this company.

We have a Canadian company mining for gold in our back yard directly next to residential properties! How can this be allowed to happen in this day and age?

They have been drilling 24/7 through all holidays, weekends and evenings nonstop looking for gold. They are drilling under our residential properties! They are using hundreds of gallons of drilling fluid, compounds and lubricants, which are injected into the wells. How will this impact our ground water and adjacent perennial streams? Needless to say this has been an extremely disruptive issue to those living within proximity to this atrocity along Brunswick, E. Bennett Rd and surrounding areas. Do you realize there is zoned residential land, which borders this heavy industrial zoned land that Rise Gold is working on. This is heavy industrial activity running 24/7!

The sound is very loud and carries a high din (vibration) non stop. There is light pollution as well every single night.

The reported violations and complaints are:

  • Violations of 100’ riparian setback
  • Violation of comprehensive management plan
  • Violation of timber harvest regulations(2 citations were issued)
  • Multiple violations of SWMP(storm water management practices)
  • Constant loud vibration drilling sound
  • Light pollution: bright floodlights running all night long.
  • Reports of strong solvent smells and dust.
  • Soil contamination: What chemicals are leaking out of containers onto our soil?

Sound testing was done for noise level violations at the more remote previous site, but no sound testing has been completed at the current location next to residential inhabitants.

Given the poor record Rise Gold has already created, we should be alarmed and concerned about how much damage they are doing to the ground water, the creek and the surrounding wildlife.

They are penetrating multiple shafts through impermeable rock layers that underlay local shallow aquifers. How will this impact local residential water wells? What is done with the thousands of gallons of drilling slurry discharge? There are no restoration or reclamation plans in place. There is no bonding, licensing or insurance required either.

I personally have spoken to a person on our board of supervisors twice and they felt, we as a community would never let drilling for gold happen in this day and age. Why then is Rise Gold Corp doing exploratory drilling at all? Why are they operating on a very old code more than 20 years since its been updated? Why is heavy industrial zoning butting up to residential living?

We as a community have a responsibility to ensure we manage and care for our beautiful surroundings for our children and their children. It’s up to us, the inhabitants of grass valley etc to create the change that we wish for. Perhaps it is time for a revamp or redraw of where the industrial zoning can be allocated. And perhaps it’s time to close the door on mining for gold in this county forever! There are 2 California state penal codes already written (372 & 373) to support our right to quiet enjoyment where we reside. We pay taxes for this right of quiet enjoyment. This is why most of us live here. We need Rise Gold Corp to cease and desist immediately. We need to change or redraw the zoning. And we need to have the codes updated to better reflect what we as a community support and want in this county in this day and age.

I call any and all of you to action to save our precious community from gold mining.

This operation needs to be shut down now!! We the people must demand this from our county.

Here’s how you can get involved:

Contact your elected representatives.

Join or support local groups that advocate for protecting our environment such as Community Environmental Advocates or Wolf Creek Community Alliance.

Submit comments to the local media.

Put your voice and energy into action PLEASE and help get them closed down.

Thanks much,

Heidi Zimmerman

Heidi Zimmerman is a resident of Grass Valley, and lives very near Rise Gold’s exploratory drilling operation.

Editor’s Note: The following short video is an approximately 10-minute excerpt from Rise Gold’s own video showing an underwater survey of a section of the mine tunnel. Is this the quality of the water that will be dumped into local streams (e.g., Wolf Creek) when the mine is “dewatered” (emptied of water prior to the mining operation itself)?


See also Rise Gold’s full 20-minute survey video (“Rise Gold Corp. ROV Survey of New Brunswick Shaft”) here.

California Knew the Carr Wildfire Could Happen. It Failed to Prevent it

Dozens of interviews and a review of records show that virtually every aspect of the blaze had been forecast and worried over for years. Every level of government understood the dangers and took few, if any, of the steps needed to prevent catastrophe.

by Keith Schneider for ProPublica

On the afternoon of July 23, a tire on a recreational trailer blew apart on the pavement of State Route 299 about 15 miles northwest of Redding, California. The couple towing the Grey Wolf Select trailer couldn’t immediately pull it out of traffic. As they dragged it to a safe turnout, sparks arced from the tire’s steel rim. Three reached the nearby grass and shrubs; two along the highway’s south shoulder, the third on the north. Each of the sparks ignited what at first seemed like commonplace brush fires.

But if the sparking of the brush fires was an unpredictable accident, what happened next was not. Fire jumped from the roadside into the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, a 42,000-acre unit of the National Park Service. There, it gained size and velocity, and took off for the outskirts of Redding. The fire burned for 39 days and charred over 229,000 acres, and when the last embers died on Aug. 30, the fight to contain it had cost $162 million, an average of $4.15 million a day. Almost 1,100 homes were lost. Eight people died, four of them first responders.

Dozens of interviews and a review of local, state and federal records show that virtually every aspect of what came to be known as the Carr Fire — where it ignited; how and where it exploded in dimension and ferocity; the toll in private property — had been forecast and worried over for years. Every level of government understood the dangers and took few, if any, of the steps needed to prevent catastrophe. This account of how much was left undone, and why, comes at a moment of serious reassessment in California about how to protect millions of people living in vulnerable areas from a new phenomenon: Firestorms whose speed and ferocity surpass any feasible evacuation plans.

The government failure that gave the Carr Fire its first, crucial foothold traces to differences in how California and the federal National Park Service manage brush along state highways. Transportation officials responsible for upgrading Route 299 had appealed to Whiskeytown officials to clear the grass, shrubs and trees lining the often superheated roadway, but to no avail.

At the federal level, the park service official responsible for fire prevention across Whiskeytown’s 39,000 acres of forest had been left to work with a fraction of the money and staffing he knew he needed to safeguard against an epic fire. What steps the local parks team managed to undertake — setting controlled fires as a hedge against uncontrollable ones — were severely limited by state and local air pollution regulations.

And both the residents and elected officials of Redding had chosen not to adopt or enforce the kind of development regulations other municipalities had in their efforts to keep homes and businesses safe even in the face of a monstrous wildfire.

The inaction in and around Redding took place as the specter of unprecedented fires grew ever more ominous, with climate change worsening droughts and heating the California landscape into a vast tinderbox.

The story of the Carr Fire — how it happened and what might have been done to limit the scope of its damage — is, of course, just one chapter in a larger narrative of peril for California. It was the third of four immense and deadly fires that ignited over a 13-month period that started in October 2017. Altogether they killed 118 people, destroyed nearly 27,000 properties and torched 700,000 acres. The Camp Fire, the last of those horrific fires, was the deadliest in California history. It roared through the Sierra foothill town of Paradise, killing 86 people.

More than a century ago, cities confronted the risk of huge fires by reimaging how they would be built: substituting brick, concrete and steel for wood. Conditions are more complicated today, to say the least. But it does seem that the latest spasm of spectacular fires has prompted some direct steps for protecting the state into the future.

In September, California lawmakers added $200 million annually to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, budget over the next five years for fire prevention, up from $84.5 million in the current fiscal year. It’s enough to finance bush clearing and lighting deliberate fires — so-called “fuels reduction” and “prescribed fire” — on 500,000 acres of open space, wildlands and forest.

The U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior also are putting more emphasis and money into prevention. This year, federal and state agencies set prescribed fires to 85,000 acres of open lands, an increase of 35,000 acres over previous years and likely a record, said Barnie Gyant, the Forest Service’s deputy regional forester in California.

In Redding, city officials have agreed to rethink how they will manage the several thousand acres of open land within the city limits.

But if these sorts of solutions are well understood, they have yet to attain widespread acceptance. An examination of the Carr Fire, including interviews with climate scientists, firefighters, policymakers and residents, makes clear that the task of adequately combating the real and present danger of fires in California is immense. And it’s a task made only more urgent by a novel feature of the Carr Fire: its explosion into a rampaging tornado of heat and flames. The blaze is further evidence that the decisions made at every level of government to address the fire threat are not only not working, but they have turned wildfires into an ongoing statewide emergency.

Success will require government agencies at every level to better coordinate their resources and efforts, and to reconcile often competing missions. It will require both a strategic and budgetary shift to invest adequately in fire prevention methods, even as the cost of fighting fires that are all but inevitable in the coming years continues to soar. And it will require residents to temper their desires for their dream homes with their responsibility to the safety of their neighbors and communities.

“We repeatedly have this discussion,” said Stephen Pyne, a fire historian at Arizona State University and the author of well-regarded books on wildfires in the West. “It has more relevance now. California has wildfire fighting capability unlike any place in the world. The fact they can’t control the fires suggests that continuing that model will not produce different results. It’s not working. It hasn’t worked for a long time.”

A Thin Strip of Land, but a Matchstick for Mayhem

State Route 299, where the Carr Fire began outside Redding, is owned and managed by the California Department of Transportation, or Caltrans. For two decades, it has been working to straighten and widen the mountain highway where it slips past 1,000-foot ridges and curves by the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area.

In 2016, Caltrans spent a week on Route 299 pruning trees and clearing vegetation along the narrow state right of way. And as they typically do with highways that cross national forest and parkland, Caltrans vegetation managers let the Whiskeytown leadership know they would like to do the same thing on federal land outside the right of way. The idea was to prevent fires by removing trees that could fall onto the highway, stabilizing hillsides and building new drainage capacity to slow erosion.

“The preferred practices are a clear fire strip from the edge of the pavement to 4 feet,” said Lance Brown, a senior Caltrans engineer in Redding who oversees emergency operations, “and an aggressive brush and tree pruning, cutting and clearing from 4 feet to 30 feet.”

But the transportation agency’s proposal to clear fire fuel from a strip of federal land along the highway ran into some of the numerous environmental hurdles that complicate fire prevention in California and other states.

Whiskeytown’s mission is to protect natural resources and “scenic values,” including the natural corridor along Route 299. Clearing the roadside would have been classified as a “major federal action” subject to a lengthy review under the National Environmental Policy Act. Whiskeytown would have been obligated to conduct a thorough environmental assessment of risks, benefits and alternatives.

Public hearings also are mandated by law, and such a proposal almost certainly would have prompted opposition from residents devoted to protecting trees and natural beauty. And so the basic fire prevention strategy of clearing brush and trees along a state highway never got traction with Whiskeytown’s supervisors.

Brown said the risks of leaving the trees and brush were clear. But he said Caltrans had no way to force the park to do anything.

Whiskeytown officials are “very restrictive,” Brown said. “They don’t want us to cut anything. They like that brush. They like that beauty. Our right of way is basically in their right of way.”

Tom Garcia, the recreation area’s fire manager, disputed the view that Whiskeytown opposed any kind of brush and tree clearing. “We most likely would not agree with a clear-cut type of fuel treatment,” he said, “but most certainly would have very likely supported a thin-from-below type of treatment activity that reduced the shrub and brush undergrowth and thinned some of trees as opposed to mowing everything down to the ground level.”

The threat posed by issues such as brush along the highway had drawn the worry of a local conservation group, as well.

The Western Shasta Resource Conservation District, devoted since the 1950s to safeguarding the region’s land and water, prepared a report in 2016 that called for more than 150 urgent fire prevention projects around Redding. They included clearing roadsides of trees and flammable grass and brush, constructing wide clearings in the forest, and scrubbing brush from public and private lands.

Just two of the projects were funded, neither of them in the Carr Fire’s path.

Rich in Fire Fuel; Starved for Money

The fire fed greedily on the dry roadside fuel left along Route 299 that day in late July. In minutes, it jumped from the state right of way into the federal park’s thick stands of brush and small trees, and then up the steep ridge of chaparral, pine and oak.

It was the sort of scenario Garcia had been worrying about for years. A 28-year firefighting veteran, Garcia was known in California for being an aggressive member of the school of fire prevention. He advocated brush and tree clearing and lighting deliberate fires to keep small burns from turning into uncontrollable wildfires.

What he lacked was money. Garcia’s budget for clearing, set by senior federal officials, provided just $500,000 a year for clearing brush and small trees, enough for about 600 acres annually. It was far, far less than needed. Garcia estimated that he should be clearing 5,000 acres a year. Given the budget constraints, he decided to focus on what he viewed as the highest risk area: the park’s eastern boundary closest to Redding’s expanding subdivisions and outlying communities. Garcia took a chance; he left Whiskeytown’s northern region, the forest farthest from Redding, largely untouched.

The risk was significant. A decade earlier, a fire had burned 9,000 acres in much the same area. By July 2018, the land had recovered and supported a new fire feast: Manzanita, oak, small conifers and decaying timber, a dry mass of fuel ready to burn.

Garcia was deeply frustrated. Clearing fuels works, he said. The 600 acres of Whiskeytown that Garcia had treated on a rotating schedule easily survived the Carr Fire. Clearly visible lines ran up the ridges, like a photograph divided into black-and-white and full-color panels. On one side stood tree skeletons charred by the blaze. On the other, healthy groves of green trees.

But despite such proven effectiveness, fuels reduction has never attained mainstream acceptance or funding in Sacramento, the state capital, or in Washington, D.C. Half of Garcia’s annual $1 million fire management budget pays for a crew of firefighters and a garage full of equipment to respond to and put out fires. The other half is devoted to clearing brush and small trees.

Garcia said it would cost about $3.5 million to treat 5,000 to 6,000 acres annually. A seven-year rotation would treat the entire park, he said. The risk of fires bounding out of Whiskeytown would be substantially reduced, Garcia said, because they would be much easier to control.

In Garcia’s mind, the price paid for starving his budget was enormous: The Carr Fire incurred $120 million in federal disaster relief, $788 million in property insurance claims, $130 million in cleanup costs, $50 million in timber industry damage, $31 million in highway repair and erosion control costs, $2 million annually in lost property tax revenue and millions more in lost business revenue.

“For $3.5 million a year, you could buy a lot more opportunity to prevent a lot of heartache and a lot of destruction,” Garcia said. “You’d make inroads, that’s for sure. Prevention is absolutely where our program needs to go. It’s where California needs to go.”

Stoked by the land Garcia had been unable to clear, the Carr Fire raged, despite the grueling work of almost 1,400 firefighters, supported by 100 fire engines, 10 helicopters, 22 bulldozers and six air tankers. The firefighters were trying to set a perimeter around the angry fire, which was heading north. In two days it burned over 6,000 acres and incinerated homes in French Gulch, a Gold Rush mining town set between two steep ridges.

Late on July 25, the fire changed course. The hot Central Valley began sucking cold air from the Pacific Coast. By evening, strong gusts were pushing the fire east toward Redding at astonishing speed. By midnight, the Carr Fire, now 60 hours old, had charged across 10 miles and 20,000 acres of largely unsettled ground.

The fire raced across southwest Shasta County. By early evening on July 26, it burned through 20,000 more acres of brush and trees and reached the Sacramento River, which flows through Redding. From a rise at the edge of his Land Park subdivision, Charley Fitch saw flames 30 feet tall. A diabolical rain of red embers was pelting the brush below him, sparking new fires. He jumped into his vehicle, drove back to the house and alerted his wife, Susan, it was time to leave.

“Do You Like the Brush or Do You Want Your Home to Burn?”

On the outskirts of Redding, the Carr Fire encountered even more prodigious quantities of fuel: the homes and plastic furniture, fences, shrub and trees of exurban Shasta County.

Two hours past midnight on July 26, Jeff Coon was startled awake by his dogs. Through the curtain he saw the flashing blue lights of a passing county sheriff cruiser. He heard evacuation orders sternly issued over bullhorns. Coon, a retired investment adviser, smelled smoke. The sky east of his home on Walker Terrace, in the brush and woodlands 5 miles west of Redding, was red with wildfire.

Almost every other wildfire Coon experienced in Redding started far from the city and headed away from town. The Carr Fire was behaving in surprising ways. It was bearing down on Walker Terrace, which is where the ring of thickly settled development in the brush and woods outside Redding begins. Coon’s Spanish tile ranch home at the end of the street would be the first to encounter the flames.

“I jumped into my truck and caught up with the sheriff down the road,” Coon recalled. He said: ‘Evacuate immediately! Like now!’ My wife and I didn’t pack much. She grabbed the dogs and some food. I grabbed some shirts.”

In the terrible and deadly attack over the next 20 hours, the Carr Fire killed six people — four residents and two firefighters — and turned nearly 1,100 houses into smoking rubble, including all but two of the more than 100 homes in Keswick, a 19th-century mining-era town outside Redding. Two more first responders died after the fire burned through Redding.

The horrific consequences were entirely anticipated by city and county authorities. Both local governments prepared comprehensive emergency planning reports that identified wildfire as the highest public safety threat in their jurisdictions. Redding sits at the eastern edge of thousands of acres of brushy woodlands, known as the wildland urban interface, now thick with homes built over the past two decades and classified by the state and county as a “very high fire hazard severity zone.” Nearly 40 percent of the city is a very high hazard severity zone.

To reduce the threat, the county plan calls for a “commitment of resources” to initiate “an aggressive hazardous fuels management program,” and “property standards that provide defensible space.” In effect, keeping residents safe demands that residents and authorities starve fires.

The Redding emergency plan noted that from 1999 to 2015, nine big fires had burned in the forests surrounding Redding and 150 small vegetation fires ignited annually in the city. The city plan called for measures nearly identical to the county’s to reduce fuel loads. And it predicted what would happen if those measures weren’t taken. “The City of Redding recently ran a fire scenario on the west side, which was derived from an actual fire occurrence in the area,” wrote the report’s authors. “As a result of the fire-scenario information, it was discovered that 17 percent of all structures in the city could be affected by this fire.”

The planning reports were mostly greeted by a big civic yawn. City and county building departments are enforcing state regulations that require contractors to “harden” homes in new subdivisions with fireproof roofs, fire-resistant siding, sprinkler systems and fire-resistant windows and eaves. But the other safety recommendations achieved scant attention. The reason is not bureaucratic mismanagement. It’s civic indifference to fire risk. In interview after interview, Redding residents expressed an astonishing tolerance to the threat of wildfires.

Despite numerous fires that regularly ignite outside the city, including one that touched Redding’s boundary in 1999, residents never expected a catastrophe like the Carr Fire. In public opinion polls and election results, county and city residents expressed a clear consensus that other issues — crime, rising housing prices, homelessness and vagrancy — were much higher priorities.

Given such attitudes, fire authorities in and outside the city treated the fire prevention rules for private homeowners as voluntary. State regulations require homeowners in the fire hazard zones to establish “defensible spaces.” The rules call for homeowners to reduce fuels within 100 feet of their houses or face fines of up to $500. Cal Fire managers say they conduct 5,000 defensible space inspections annually in Shasta County and neighboring Trinity County. Craig Wittner, Redding’s fire marshal, said he and his team also conduct regular inspections.

State records show not a single citation for violators was issued in Shasta County in 2017 or this year.

Wittner explained how public indifference works in his city. Each year his budget for brush clearing amounts to about $15,000. Yet even with his small program, residents complain when crews cut small trees and brush. “They like living close to nature,” he said. “They like the privacy. I put it to them this way: Do you like the brush or do you want your home to burn down?”

Redding owns and manages more than 2,000 acres of public open space, about a quarter of the heavily vegetated land within city boundaries. The city’s program to clear brush from public lands averages 50 acres annually. Brush and clearing on private land is virtually nonexistent. Whether or not that changes could hinge on a lawsuit filed in mid-September and a new property tax program being prepared by city officials.

Jaxon Baker, the developer of Land Park and Stanford Hills, two major residential complexes, filed the suit. In it he argued that the city anticipated the deadly consequences of a big fire in west Redding, but did not adequately follow its own directives to clear brush from city-owned open spaces. Redding’s Open Space Master Plan, completed in August, sets out goals for future land and recreational investments. It does not mention fire as a potential threat. Baker’s suit called for rescinding that plan and writing a new one that identifies fire as a higher priority in municipal open space management. “It makes sense,” Baker said. “We have a lot of city-owned land that burns. We just learned that.”

On Nov. 6, the Redding City Council acknowledged that Baker was right and rescinded the Open Space Master Plan, thereby resolving the lawsuit. Preparations for writing a new one have not yet been addressed by the council. Barry Tippin, Redding’s city manager, said that city officials are preparing a proposal to establish a citywide defensible space district and a new property tax to sharply increase public spending for fuels reduction on public and private land. “This is a city that is leery of new taxes,” Tippin said. “But after what happened here in the summer, people may be ready for this kind of program.”

Coon, who had evacuated his neighborhood as fire engulfed it, returned to find his home standing. He wasn’t surprised. Prevention, he said, works, and he invested in it, even without any local requirements that he do so.

Though his home was built in 1973 and remodeled in 1993, it met almost all of the requirements of Shasta County’s latest fire safe building codes. The mansard roof was fire resistant, as were the brick walls. Coon paid attention, too, to the eaves, which he kept protected from blowing leaves. And he didn’t have a wooden fence.

Prompted by his son, a firefighter with Cal Fire, and his own understanding of fire risk, Coon had also established a big perimeter of light vegetation around his house, a safe zone of defensible space. He worked with the Bureau of Land Management to gain a permit to clear a 100-foot zone of thick brush and small trees from the federal land that surrounded his house. He trimmed his shrubs, kept the yard clear of leaves and branches, cleaned out the gutters and discarded plastic items that could serve as fuel. On days designated for burning, he incinerated debris piles.

The project took two summers to complete. When he was finished, his home stood amid a big open space of closely cut grass, rock and small shrubs. In effect, Coon had set his home in a savanna, a fire-safe setting that looked much different from the shaded, grassy, shrub and leafy yards of neighbors who clearly liked mimicking the federal woodlands that surrounded them.

When Coon returned to Walker Terrace days after the fire passed through Redding, his yard was covered in ash and charred tree limbs. But his house remained. So did the garage where he kept his prized 1968 Camaro.

“How Do You Want Your Smoke?”

A warming planet, conflicting government aims, human indifference or indolence — all are serious impediments to controlling the threat of wildfires in California. But they are not the only ones.

Add worries about air pollution and carbon emissions.

The California air quality law, enforced by county districts, requires fire managers interested in conducting controlled burns as a way of managing fire risk to submit their plans for review in order to gain the required permits. County air quality boards also set out specific temperature, moisture, wind, land, barometric, personnel and emergency response conditions for lighting prescribed fires.

The limits are so specific that Tom Garcia in the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area said only about six to 10 days a year are suitable for managed burns in Shasta County.

John Waldrop, the manager of the Shasta County Air Quality District, said he’s sympathetic to Garcia’s frustration but determined to meet his obligations to protect the public’s health. Waldrop said that federal and state agencies and private timber operators lit prescribed burns on an average of 3,600 acres annually in Shasta County over the last decade. Most burns are less than 100 acres, which fits his agency’s goal of keeping the air clean and fine particulate levels below 35 micrograms per cubic meter, the limit that safeguards public health.

Waldrop said it would take 50,000 acres of prescribed fire annually to clear sufficient amounts of brush from the county’s timberlands to reduce the threat of big wildfires. That means approving burns that span thousands of acres and pour thousands of tons of smoke into the air.

“From an air quality standpoint, that is a harder pill for us to swallow,” Waldrop said.

Balancing the threat of wildfires against the risk of more smoke is a choice that Shasta residents may be more prepared to make. During and after the Carr Fire, Redding residents breathed air for almost a month with particulate concentrations over 150 micrograms per cubic meter. That is comparable to the air in Beijing.

“We’re at a point where society has to decide,” Waldrop said, “how do you want your smoke? Do you want it at 150 micrograms per cubic meter from big fires all summer long, or a little bit every now and again from prescribed burning?”

Another air pollution challenge Californians face is the troubling connection between wildfires and carbon emissions. Two years ago, California passed legislation to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to 258.6 million metric tons annually by 2030. That is a 40 percent reduction from levels today of about 429 million metric tons a year.

Reaching that goal, a stretch already, will be far more difficult because of runaway wildfires. Last year, wildfires poured 37 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into California’s atmosphere, according to a state report made public this year. Even higher totals are anticipated for 2018.

Efforts to quell the fires with more prescribed burns will add, at least for a number of years, more carbon dioxide. Prescribed fires produce an average of 6 tons of carbon per acre, according to scientific studies. Burning half a million acres annually would produce 3 million more metric tons of greenhouse gases.

A Matter of Priorities and Focus

For now, California can seem locked in a vicious and unwinnable cycle: Surprised anew every year by the number and severity of its wildfires, the state winds up pouring escalating amounts of money into fighting them. It’s all for a good, if exhausting, cause: saving lives and property.

But such effort and expenditure drains the state’s ability to do what almost everyone agrees is required for its long-term survival: investing way more money in prevention policies and tactics.

“It’s the law of diminishing returns,” Garcia said. “The more money we put into suppression is not buying a lot more safety. We are putting our money in the wrong place. There has to be a better investment strategy.”

Just as drying Southwest conditions forced Las Vegas homeowners to switch from green lawns to desert landscaping to conserve water, fire specialists insist that Californians must quickly embrace a different landscaping aesthetic to respond to the state’s fire emergency. Defensible spaces need to become the norm for the millions of residents who live in the 40 percent of California classified as a high fire-threat zone.

Residents need to reacquaint themselves with how wicked a wildfire can be. Counties need to much more vigorously enforce defensive space regulations. Sierra foothill towns need to establish belts of heavily thinned woodland and forest 1,000 feet wide or more, where big fires can be knocked down and extinguished. Property values that now are predicated on proximity to sylvan settings need to be reset by how safe they are from wildfire as they are in San Diego and a select group of other cities.

“We solved this problem in the urban environment,” said Timothy Ingalsbee, executive director of Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics, and Ecology, a national wildfire research and policy group in Oregon. “Towns were all once made of wood. The Great Chicago Fire. The San Francisco fire. We figured out they can’t make cities out of flammable materials. They hardened them with brick and mortar and building codes and ordinances for maintaining properties.

“This is a really solvable problem with the technology we have today. Making homes and communities that don’t burn up is very solvable. It’s a matter of priorities and focus.”

In a select group of towns in and outside California, residents have gotten that message. Boulder, Colorado, invested in an expansive ring of open space that surrounds the city. It doubles as a popular recreation area and as a fuel break for runaway fires that head to the city.

San Diego is another example. After big and deadly fires burned in San Diego in 2003 and 2007, residents, local authorities and San Diego Electric and Gas sharply raised their fire prevention efforts. Thirty-eight volunteer community fire prevention councils were formed and now educate residents, provide yard-clearing services and hold regular drives to clear brush and trees. SDE&G has spent $1 billion over the last decade to bury 10,000 miles of transmission lines, replace wooden poles with steel poles, clear brush along its transmission corridors and establish a systemwide digital network of 177 weather stations and 15 cameras.

The system pinpoints weather and moisture conditions that lead to fire outbreaks. Firefighting agencies have been considerably quicker to respond to ignitions than a decade ago. SDE&G also operates an Erickson air tanker helicopter to assist fire agencies in quickly extinguishing blazes.

The area’s experience with wildfire improved significantly.

“We haven’t gone through anything like what we had here in 2003 and 2007,” said Sheryl Landrum, the vice president of the Fire Safe Council of San Diego County, a nonprofit fire prevention and public education group. “We’ve had to work hard here to educate people and to convince people to be proactive and clear defensible spaces. People are aware of what they need to do. Our firefighting capabilities are much more coordinated and much stronger.”

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

Code Red is an “Outdated System” (according to this NY Times article)

“The decision to issue alerts and evacuation orders rests with local authorities, and as the Camp Fire began on Nov. 8, the Butte County Sheriff’s Department decided to use what experts say is an outdated system — called Code Red — to notify residents of danger with a phone call.

“But only residents who sign up for the service receive alerts — and only a fraction of them had. The decision not to issue an Amber Alert-style message, a federal government system that could reach all cellular phones in the area, was partly out of fear of causing panic and traffic jams on the one main roadway out of Paradise, according to Kory L. Honea, the Butte County sheriff.”

Read the full article here:

A Frantic Call, a Neighbor’s Knock, but Few Official Alerts as Wildfire Closed In

“In the frenzied first hours of the Camp Fire as it bore down on Paradise, Calif., only a fraction of residents received emergency alerts or evacuation orders from local authorities.”

Brian Gibb: EVACUATION PLANNING: WHERE TO GO? (Facebook Discussion)

Editor’s Note: Nevada County resident, Brian Gibb, posted the following statement to the Facebook discussion group “Happening Now.” He kindly gave me permission to reprint it here.


I posted on this page a few days ago about the urgent need for a mass community evacuation plan so that we do not suffer the fate of Paradise. There is an incredible amount of useful information online about how to make your own home fire-safer and what to have packed ready to go in case you do need to leave your house.

What is missing is a detailed plan on how our community could best organize in order to provide either fire-safe gathering areas in Grass Valley and Nevada City (and elsewhere in the county) and how to handle the chaotic situation that thousands of cars leaving simultaneously would cause on our local narrow roads.

Nevada County’s Office of Emergency Services is the department responsible for preparing emergency plans and coordinating the multiple agencies and first responders that would be needed in a major fire. You can see their website here:

Although the website has a document called Mass Evacuation, it is mainly an outline of the organization and responsibilities of the primary agencies. It is not a guide to the community about how to behave and where to go if fire threatens our towns.

It’s obvious to us all that our local major roads could be easily blocked as they are all 2 lane roads. Having 4 lanes on Highway 49 (southbound) and Highway 20 (westbound) would double the traffic that could escape quickly. However, that will take time, a lot of money and state help to bring about.

But in this post I want to focus on what each of our towns and county could do very quickly NOW to save thousands of lives without much expenditure or time needed. We need to designate large community gathering areas in each town which could be more easily defended from fire and which would be easy to access. We might not have enough fire fighters or time to defend every street but we could focus on a few defensible areas where thousands could come together quickly, without much driving.

Some of the main criteria for choosing these places would be absence of nearby trees; large paved areas for parking, large buildings for taking shelter in and having access to food and water; central locations along or close to the Golden Chain Highway (Hwy 49); close to hospital and/or fire stations.

A few examples. 1. In Nevada City, SPD on Zion St and the surrounding business district on Argall Way and Searles Avenue. 2. The county offices, jail and public library on Maidu Avenue, off 49.

In Grass Valley. 1. Brunswick basin by Safeway and CVS and other large chain stores. 2. Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital grounds. 3. Veterans Hall downtown 4. Pine Creek Shopping Center (from Raleys up to Kmart).

In Paradise, many of those declared dead and many of the 1,200 missing are elderly, infirm or lacked transport. Many of these local gathering points could become places where people in these categories could be easily transported, or walk to, especially if our towns or neighborhoods set up “buddy” arrangements so that people can partner with neighbors to offer or get rides if there is a need to evacuate.

If firefighting resources can be centered on these large community gathering places, many lives would be saved and it would also alleviate the inevitable congestion that would occur if everyone simply tries to get out of town fast.

Last word for now.

Sign up for CODE RED alerts on the website


Comments from Brian’s readers included these thoughts:

” … Bear River high school might be another good location for the south part of Nevada County.”

” … During the Oroville Dam Flood evacuation last year it took us 5 hours to get from western Yuba City to the town of Sutter (5 miles)!!!”

” … Existing neighborhood associations could also meet and identify residents who might need help evacuating, routes for driving, for walking or on bicycle or horseback, and phone trees for local communication.”

” …  First thing that needs to get going is harden the electrical grid so it doesn’t start a fire, lots more vegetation management, and better secured power lines to withstand wind and any objects hitting them.”

Heidi Hall: “There will be a County community meeting in early December to discuss what the County is doing and look at what else we can do. Stay tuned.”

See Also:
Dr. Jo Ann Fites-Kaufman: What we and Nevada County can do now to make fire evacuations safer and quicker

Idaho-Maryland Mine, Again

By Ralph Silberstein

The Idaho-Maryland Mine was recently acquired from Emgold Mining by RISE Gold Corp, a junior mining company from Canada. The prior Canadian owner, Emgold Mining, spent years trying to get the mine opened and failed. Due to immense environmental impacts, financial obstacles and public opposition, Emgold eventually abandoned the project.

Repeating the pattern of Emgold, RISE, the new owner, has recently completed some exploratory drilling and has been publishing enticing reports. In a Jan 3, 2018 press release, RISE CEO Ben Mossman stated “The presence of high-grade gold values in the walls of the quartz veins was not expected…” and “The possibility that there could be very substantial gold mineralization in the developed upper levels of the mine is astonishing…”

Except this isn’t astonishing news at all. RISE is excitedly reporting gold deposits in concentrations previously reported in multiple glowing reports by Emgold [e.g Emgold Publication March 2008].

It all sounds so promising, so easy, such a lucrative deal. Multiple alluring reports have been produced yet again. Following the pattern of Emgold, RISE has turned to funding methods that are not approved by the SEC, collecting more than $2 million via “private placements”.

Why didn’t Emgold open the mine? What is going on?

The reality is that the mine is flooded and deposits lie thousands of feet under polluted water.

The mine shut down in 1956 due to LOW PRODUCTION. In order to get to what gold is left, miles of tunnels have to be dewatered and continuously treated to meet the strict California standards. So a water purification system to handle large volume has to be designed and built. It will have to run forever.

Also, discharging this water means putting South Fork Wolf Creek at flood stage. This creek is a pristine little stream that runs down into the beautiful meadows along Bennett Street. The land is owned by Empire Mine State Park and has been undergoing habitat restoration. Extensive environmental studies will be required to assess the impacts on this habitat before anything can go forward.

There also will have to be studies and guarantees to protect local well owners. Costly water mains and service lines will have to be installed in advance throughout the area to provide a solution for the possibility that the mine would impact these wells.

Even without considering the dewatering issues, it is questionable whether it would be financially feasible to mine the ore that remains at such depths. In California, the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act (SMARA) requires that all mines have a reclamation plan in place before starting. Gone are the days in which a mining company could extract massive amounts of waste rock, leave tailings all over the place, pollute the area with mercury or cyanide or arsenic, and then leave it all when the gold runs out. In order for the mine to get SMARA approval, the area will need a reclamation plan and a huge guarantee bond.

This problem is even larger because the mine property already has vast areas of tailings left over from earlier days which are in need of testing and potential remediation. In a recent EPA study of California abandoned mines to determine their potentials of hazardous exposure, Idaho Maryland Mine is listed as number one! [“Prioritization of California Abandoned Mines Exposure-Based Algorithm” May 9, 2017, Hillenbrand]. RISE Gold now owns this legacy clean up problem.

And there will be other environmental impacts. The mine is situated at the City of Grass Valley. There will be noise impacts, air pollution impacts, traffic impacts, and energy consumption limitations due to California’s strict new climate change laws. The project will need to have an Environmental Impact Report which must be approved by multiple agencies. It is well known that the local environmental community will not stand for anything other than full and careful scrutiny.

The executives at RISE undoubtably know all this, but make little mention of these huge obstacles. CEO Ben Mossman recently spoke at a mining conference as if the permitting would be easy, with “only county approval needed”, failing to mention a reality that paints an entirely different picture. But, in one sense, Mossman is right. Idaho-Maryland Mine is still a very productive gold mine. Only instead of mining for gold, it is again being used to mine unwary investors: in the last year alone RISE has collected over $2 million in investment cash.

Ralph Silberstein is a member of Community Environmental Advocates


Can New California Water Storage Projects Win State Funding?

An initial review by the California Water Commission slashed the ‘public benefits’ claimed by project applicants, prompting outrage in some quarters. Others say the process is working exactly as voters intended.

Bear River CA

The Bear River in Northern California’s Sierra Nevada foothills, shown here, is the site for the Centennial Dam project proposed by the Nevada Irrigation District. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Written by Matt Weiser

If California taxpayers are going to spend $2.7 billion on new water storage projects, the projects had better come with many more environmental benefits.

That was the message sent by the California Water Commission, which on February 2 released its first analysis of 11 projects vying for a share of the riches. The money will come from Proposition 1, a ballot measure approved by voters in 2014, which empowered the state to issue nearly $2.7 billion in bonds for water storage, whether new reservoirs, groundwater recharge or some form of hybrid.

But according to Prop. 1, the money can only pay for “public benefits” associated with the projects, not just the cost of storing water. This includes environmental enhancements like improving streamflow for fish, the capacity to capture or convey floodwaters, recreational amenities and emergency response capabilities.

The State Water Commission is charged with vetting the public benefit claims. This is a weighty undertaking, because such a thing has never been done before.

In its initial review of the projects, the commission found that none would deliver all the public benefits claimed in their applications. Some were very far off the mark, the commission found, especially concerning environmental benefits. In a few cases, the commission actually zeroed-out the claimed benefits.

This triggered a swift backlash from the water industry and some conservative politicians in the state, who criticized the commission for setting the bar too high.

A cosponsor of the original Prop. 1 legislation, state senator Scott Wilk, R-Antelope Valley, urged the commission in a letter to revamp its application process, claiming “dereliction of the duties bestowed upon the Water Commission and its staff.”

The Association of California Water Agencies called the low rankings “deeply concerning.” State senator Jim Nielsen, R-Tehama, told the Sacramento Bee he felt “visceral anger” at the news and suggested the commission was thwarting the will of the voters.

But others said the commission is doing exactly what the voters wanted: Holding water storage projects to a higher standard, and rigorously vetting the claims they make.

“In quite a number of cases they said, ‘Well, these numbers just look too high.’ I thought it was pretty brave of them,” said Jay Lund, director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at the University of California, Davis, and a professor of engineering. “This is public money. It’s going to be coming out of the state budget for decades to come. So I’m glad to see them doing a reasonable job of it.”

The projects that took the biggest hit in the Water Commission evaluations include Pure Water San Diego, which involves recycling and storing wastewater; Centennial Dam, proposed on the Bear River by the Nevada Irrigation District; and the Willow Springs groundwater banking project proposed in the San Joaquin Valley. The water commission found all of these had no public benefits to offer, or that the claimed benefits could not be verified.

Two others were reduced to near zero, including Temperance Flat Reservoir, a new dam proposed on the San Joaquin River, which has been heavily criticized by environmental groups; and a Tulare Lake groundwater storage project in the San Joaquin Valley, which is opposed by some neighboring water users.

The best-performing projects are a proposal by the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District to use recycled wastewater for farm irrigation, helping to recharge groundwater; and a proposal by the Inland Empire UCtilities Agency to recycle water for groundwater recharge, easing pressure on Feather River diversions. The commission reduced their public benefits by less than one-third.

Others fall somewhere in between these extremes. One is the Sites Reservoir project in Colusa County, which proposes to divert Sacramento River water into a new 1.8 million acre-foot off-stream reservoir. The commission rated its ecosystem benefits at only 13 percent of what the backers claimed, and its overall public benefit at 40 percent.

The biggest setback for the Sites project involved the claim that its stored water could be used at critical times to improve flows for salmon migration, and that this would ease pressure on other reservoirs to provide fishery flows, thereby stretching regional water supplies. These benefits either didn’t measure up as claimed, or could not be fully verified.

Yet Jim Watson, general manager of the Sites Joint Powers Authority, said he wasn’t entirely surprised by the scrutiny.

“We figured that with the size of the project, and some of the bold concepts that we put into our proposal, that we would have to clarify some of them,” Watson said. “We were very disappointed we were not able to be scored on environmental benefits in terms of water for salmon.”

This isn’t the end for these projects. The water commission is urging the applicants to amend their proposals, and it has set up an appeal process, with revised applications due by February 23. After that, it will conduct another review, with preliminary funding decisions expected in July.

“The commission has every confidence the information received in the coming weeks will help us fund eligible projects and the public benefits they provide,” Armando Quintero, the commission’s chair, said in a statement.

In a few cases, the shortcomings found by the commission appear to be more technical than substantive. One example is the proposal to expand the existing Los Vaqueros Reservoir, located south of Antioch and operated by Contra Costa Water District.

The project has become something of a favorite among environmental groups, because some of the additional water it proposes to store would be dedicated to wildlife refuge areas in the San Joaquin Valley. This would help hundreds of migratory bird species, as well as many other kinds of wildlife, that have been shortchanged on water deliveries for decades.

Los Vaqueros had its public benefits slashed by the commission partly because its backers used a modified computer model that was not familiar to the reviewers.

I’m confident it can overcome the analytical problems with its application,” Rachel Zwillinger, a water policy adviser at Defenders of Wildlife, said of the Los Vaqueros project. “It’s heartening to see the commission is taking their review seriously and are trying to make sure we select projects that provide real environmental benefits. I expect to see a lot of new analysis come in as a result of this appeal process.”

Some projects will probably have to make major changes to continue through the application process. This could include revising operations to produce more public benefits, or requesting less money to bring the project into alignment with the benefits it offers.

The Sites Reservoir proposal, for example, already has enough funding commitments from interested water agencies. Yet Watson says he is committed to the process.

“I know the commissioners will make investment decisions in projects,” said Watson. “The fact that our biggest selling point (water for salmon) wasn’t recognized is the part that we’re working on.”

Some proponents may decide to pull their projects from the process and proceed without state funding.

This article originally appeared on Water Deeply. You can find the original here. For important news about water issues and the American West, you can sign up to the Water email list.

They’re BACK !!! Canadian Mining Company to Re-Open Idaho-Maryland Mine

by Don Pelton

They’re back? Really?

We heard this siren song before, when Emgold sang it to lure investors and in the process bewitched enough people in the local community to make it look plausible for a few years. In the end, Emgold failed to overcome determined local opposition.

But now another Canadian mining company, Rise Gold, is going to try it again.

“Rise Gold expects to start an exploration diamond drilling campaign at the Idaho-Maryland project in the September quarter and is currently preparing the drill sites.”

From The Mining Journal (8/25/17): “Rise Gold launches placement

Check out Rise Gold’s investor presentation.

Stay tuned.


See also on Yubanet: “Rise Preparing to Commence Exploration Campaign at Idaho Maryland Gold Project

Show Up at NID Today at 1 pm & Oppose CA Taxpayer Dollars for Centennial Dam

From South Yuba River Citizen’s League:

Show  Up at NID Today & Oppose CA Taxpayer Dollars for Centennial Dam


Who: Dam Watchdogs
What: Show up for NID’s Special Board Meeting; Tell them to vote “NO” on Resolution No. 2017-24
When: Today, Wednesday, August 9, beginning at 1pm
Where: 1036 W Main St, Grass Valley
Why: NID Board will be voting on a resolution to apply for CA taxpayer money to fund Centennial Dam

Today, the NID Board will hold a special meeting and vote on a resolution to approve an application that would put NID in line for California state taxpayer money to build Centennial Dam. Help fill the room tomorrow and encourage the Board to vote “NO” on Resolution No. 2017-24.

A successful application to the California Water Commission (CWC) burdens NID with numerous requirements including supplying water outside the County of Origin in direct contradiction to the project’s statement of purpose to benefit NID customers. The Centennial Dam project, which began as a $160 million project is now estimated to cost over a billion dollars.

It is alarming that NID appears to be changing the direction for the Centennial Dam project without providing any information or time for the public to consider it – especially since the application is due to the CWC in two business days.

This is another unfortunate example of NID taking actions important to the community without adequate public notice and participation.

The deadline for this application was known six months ago. Given this project is controversial, financially risky, and will provide an uncertain benefit, the NID Board and staff should be operating with full transparency and inviting public participation. Rather, staff is attempting to pass this item through on the consent agenda, two days before it’s due, with no copy of the application nor supporting materials, at a “special” board meeting scheduled at the very last minute.

Come to the meeting so that we can question NID about this application:

  • What are the implications for NID if this funding application is successful? The public has a right to know.
  • What will NID ratepayers, taxpayers, and customers be obligated to do if this application goes through?
  • How much money does the application request from the California Water Commission (CWC) and what is the money for?
  • How much water is NID committing to send out of the district?
  • Does NID have a qualified consultant working on the application, and if so, who are they and when were they hired? How much has and will the application cost to submit and follow up on?
  • Why is the funding application action being revealed to the Board and public two business days before the due date, when the deadline has been known for six months?

Peter Van Zant: Be Skeptical of NID Scare Tactics

NEVADA CITY, Calif. July 24, 2017 – Nevada Irrigation District (NID) still hasn’t dropped its ill-conceived plan to build Centennial Dam on the Bear River. They have yet to demonstrate the need for the project or explained how they plan to pay for the dam’s construction. And there is no assurance that the ratepayers won’t get stuck with the $1 billion tab either.

In the face of mounting public opposition, NID resorts to using scare tactics. The latest is NID’s claim that someone is going to take our water if we don’t ‘use’ it. However, California water rights laws guarantee that NID will always have priority over any other water agency for the rights to the water needed in the NID service area.

NID ratepayers need to ask the following questions:

Will hydropower sales pay for the dam? NID no longer plans to install hydropower at Centennial. But premium hydro-power revenues will eventually dissipate due to the ongoing construction of alternative electric power storage like PG&E’s recently commissioned Browns Valley battery installation and many others coming on line. Why do you think PG&E wants to sell its local hydro operations to NID?

How much more water do we need? According to NID’s own reports and local general plans there is very little additional water needed locally (including Placer County). And there’s really no new local water need if NID would just lead us to take the modest steps toward wiser water use being implemented elsewhere throughout the State. The number of new rate payers will not be enough to service a new $1 billion debt for the dam.

How will the dam be paid for? Most likely NID will need to finance the $1 billion dam project. So what will NID do? Sell water. That’s right, the huge debt needed to build Centennial will require NID to sell our water out of the area to water the lush lawns of Los Angeles and other Southern California desert towns.

Without the dam debt our water will be safe. The real threat is if NID finances Centennial Dam with out of district water sales. A water sale contract automatically removes county of origin protections for the water sold. When it’s gone, it is gone.

Our complex California water rights laws give NID first rights to this water. No one will ever ‘take’ our water. NID has a variety of water rights, many of which are pre-1927 that cannot be affected by any other filings now or in the future. Also, if a true local need for more water emerges in the future, NID gets first take because of laws passed after 1927 to protect watershed areas like NID’s from out of area water grabs.

Don’t be scared. Be skeptical.

Peter Van Zant- Peter is a former Nevada County Supervisor, a former President of the SYRCL board of directors, and a SYRCL Dam Watchdog. He lives in Nevada City with his wife Mary and three goofy pets.

Steve Frisch on Trump, Our National Embarrassment: “This Too Will Pass”

By Steve Frisch

The following impromptu “essay” was written by Steve Frisch in the form of a comment to his Facebook friends, and reprinted here with his permission, in honor of July 4th, 2017.

“I think the first step in celebrating America this weekend is recognizing that as much of a national embarrassment as Trump is … this too will pass.

“Yeah, I am embarrassed by having a President, apparently selected by my peers, who brags about grabbing pussy, bullies his opponents and staff, has been implicated by numerous women including his ex-wife in sexual assault, bought a beauty pageant so he could walk in on young women half naked, has been sued by the Department of Justice for racial discrimination, hob nobs with the New York mafia, has been fined for breaking casino gambling rules, has been sued for intimidating tenants in his buildings, was fined $750,000 for breaking anti-trust rules, has bankrupted 4 businesses while saying America needs to be run like one of his businesses, hired undocumented workers while saying we should build a wall, has stiffed literally hundreds of contractors on millions of dollars worth of goods and services delivered to him, and uses the money to buy his own books so he can say they are bestsellers and print fake covers of Time magazine to say how great he is. Oh and did I miss that he has a gold plated shitter?

“It says a lot that that paragraph is so long yet contains a mere fraction of his gauche behavior.

“But lets get real, he is 71 years old, and a friend of mine says we are just a funeral away from perfection.

“I know, I know, I spend a lot of time expressing how disgusted I am with Trump. But I spend a hell of a lot more time working hard to try to counter the idiocy that seems to have descended on our nation and eventually WE will win.

“To all my friends doing all those good things out there to make America a better place for everyone I salute you and love you today.

“Trump and his mind set do not represent this nation. You represent this nation.

“We are a nation that values freedom and individualism, expression and speech, privacy and free will, hard work and the benefits it brings.

“It may take time, and be a fight, and be too slow coming for ‘the other,’ but we value equality, ensconced it in our founding documents, rededicated in blood in the 14th amendment, fought for at Seneca Falls, the lunch counter, in farm fields, at Stonewall, and in court every goddamn day.

“More important, we are a nation and a people who look forward. We are less concerned with our European, or Asian, or African past and their social conventions and traditions than we are the future and making the future count. There is a fundamental American belief in progress and a better future.

“We are bold, brash, assertive, direct, rough hewn, and at times self indulgent and chauvinistic, but at the end of the day we value goodness, honesty, sacrifice and achievement. We still weep and revel in the accomplishment of others. We root for the little guy, followed the Cubs through a 106 year drought, and when every other option is exhausted as Churchill said, we end up doing the right thing. In the end by and large, we are good.

“So celebrate the 4th of July because we are here…and no one or any authoritarian blow hard can take that away.

“Once civic responsibility was a bedrock American value, and compared to many societies it still is…but if we have one challenge in the next few years it will be re-engaging to advance goodness. Our actions to advance democratic governance matter…it is the societies where people give up, hide, protect themselves putting their peers at risk, that democracy dies. We have a responsibility to defend all of those values articulated above every single day. Whether through involvement in an organization, on policy, through charity, in church, or at the indivisible meeting, we uphold democratic values every day and fight for our freedom.

“This too will pass and the next America will be defined by what you do today.”


Steve Frisch is President of Sierra Business Council and one of its founding members. Over the last 20 years Sierra Business Council has leveraged more than $100 million of investment in the Sierra Nevada and its communities through community and public-private partnerships.  Sierra Business Council also manages the Sierra Small Business Development Center focusing on advancing sustainable business practices and linking new and expanding businesses to climate mitigation and adaptation funding. Steve manages SBC’s staff and programmatic development.

Prior to joining the Sierra Business Council, Steve owned and operated a small business in Truckee. Steve serves on the board of the California Stewardship Network, the Large Landscape Practitioners Network, the National Geographic Geo-tourism Council, Capital Public Radio, and Leadership For Jobs and a New Economy.  Steve is also a former Fulbright Exchange Program Fellow, sharing information and knowledge gained in the Sierra Nevada in China and Mongolia.  Steve is a graduate of San Francisco State University with a B.A. in Political Science.


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