The El Dorado Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a new committee to better coordinate information and actions between themselves and agencies of the federal government.
Called the El Dorado County Federal Coordination Advisory Committee (EDCCC), the purpose of the advisory group will be to examine proposed and existing actions, plans and policies of the federal government that impact the plans and policies of the county including economic, land use, recreational, environmental or cultural plans and historic customs.
Supervisor Ray Nutting said the idea for EDCCC came from a group he has been working with for about a year called the Citizen’s Coordination Committee.
The group was concerned about the loss of local control to federal and state plans and policies that are inconsistent with local plans and policies.
In a memo to the board, Nutting noted that “Route designations (now called Travel Management) resulted in approximately 40 percent of roads that were available for use to close thus affecting safety … our economy … and our culture. A lawsuit filed in 2009 recently resulted in the interim (and possible permanent closure of 42 roads in the Eldorado National Forest; it is more like 80-plus). All of this was done with no consideration to the cultural impact, the economic impact or impact to safety. And, according (to) the record of decision, our county had no input.
“And, now we are faced with a Categorical Exclusion, which, if allowed could result in complete destruction of these roads without county or public input or any environmental impact statement … It is imperative for us to be at the negotiating table and the Coordination Committee is a means to get us there.”
The memo went on to list other upcoming issues including forest management, changes to mandatory minimum penalties related to air quality, and technical changes to provisions of the Water Code.
Nutting and other board members stressed that the group is strictly advisory and is not empowered to negotiate on behalf of the county.
The EDCCC will consist of 14 members representing those in watershed management, wildlife biology, the timber industry, the hunting and fishing industry, the farming industry, the mineral industry, the grazing industry, off-highway vehicle interests, equestrian interests, forestry, county law enforcement, the skiing industry, the rafting industry and people who live close to public lands.
Appointment to the committee will be made by the board. The details of selecting those to serve must still be worked out. Members will serve four-year terms without compensation. The meetings will be governed by the Brown Act.
The resolution to set up the committee included direction to County Counsel and county staff to work with Tim Roffe, who is a representative from the Citizen’s Coordination Committee. Roffe had agreed to take the lead on various issues related to the committee including its formation and bylaws. He said there are similar coordination committees in other counties.
“Coordination is sweeping across the country. It’s being used by local government. It is an existing law but not widely used. But counties decide what they want to do with the law.”
Roffe said such committees are primarily involved in public, not private, land use issues as well as other federal policies that affect the local area.
“It allows local government to have a seat at the table when different policies are being discussed,” he said. “And it helps federal agencies know how a policy will affect a particular area. An example of this are the 42 roads closed in El Dorado. We never had a chance to have input into the process. Just having a seat at the table would be terribly important.”
While some supervisors expressed some reservations about the new committee, they voted for it anyway. Supervisor Ron Briggs initially said he wasn’t sure another committee was needed and Supervisor Jack Sweeney wanted to make it clear that the committee was advisory only. However Chairman John Knight thought the EDCCC could make “relationships stronger with federal agencies.”
Nutting also discussed how the state of Utah is taking the lead in questioning how land management is being handled by the federal government and is looking at forming a coalition of Western states to contest federal policies.
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.