Off Beat: Slow down, Yuba-Sutter. You're going too fast
Let's not move too fast on this one, Yuba-Sutter. You don't want to get out over your skis.
And so, with great deliberation, Yuba and Sutter counties, and three of the cities, slog ahead to prepare a regional habitat conservation plan.
One has to wonder why they even bother. This process, begun in 2001, seems no closer to ending.
It's been going on so long this column discussed it — in 2009.
Back in May 2001, county officials were concerned that the US Fish and Wildlife Service would halt improvements to Highways 99 and 70.
The federal agency agreed to let the highway work proceed as long as the counties promised to prepare the plan. In January 2004, they again said they'd do the plan, called a joint Natural Community Conservation Plan and Habitat Conservation Plan.
"I guess I'm still not getting a warm and fuzzy feeling about this," said then-Sutter County Supervisor Dennis Nelson (anybody remember him?) who cast the lone dissenting vote among the 10 elected officials.
The counties, he said, will be "throwing thousands and thousands of dollars at something that's stupid to get a project moved ahead," Nelson warned.
Well, the supervisors had another workshop on this plan in 2005. And then they didn't have another one — for eight years.
No rush, apparently.
Back in 2010 and 2011, a citizens advisory committee was "re-established" to "provide input" on the document, according to the memo. Maybe they had lost interest.
Now, it's called the Yuba-Sutter Regional Habitat Conservation Plan.
How much will it cost?
"Plan cost estimates are complex financial models based upon numerous assumptions," a recent memo to the local government noted.
The plan "will replace the existing environmental permitting process that is unpredictable, inconsistent, time consuming, costly and results in ineffective conservation," the memo said.
In other words, it perfectly describes the last 12 years of inaction.
How this mess has been allowed to go on this long is quite puzzling.
The feds usually take a dim view of other entities that make promises and don't fulfill them.
Apparently, when it comes to anything in Yuba-Sutter, the feds have little interest in an ineffective area.
This has been going on so long that documents associated with the plan still refer to the California Department of Fish and Game, which has since been renamed the Department of Fish and Wildlife.