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Butte County moves toward addressing log piles left over from Camp Fire

OROVILLE — Squabbling Butte County leaders turned frustration toward each other as the county yet again is cleaning up more of PG&E’s mess. This time in regards to unkept log piles and temporary log decks left over from the Camp Fire.
Of the many log piles still remaining in the county after the Camp Fire, including those near Durham-Pentz Road and Clark Road in Butte Valley, many steps will now be taken in order to safely, quickly and effectively remove them.
The official direction to staff from the board was to amend Chapter 53 of the Butte County code to include an administrative permit process with standards to address log decks, operations, safety, financial assurance, reclamation/closure, soil testing and environmental protection for these temporary operations.
The project is in conjunction with the PG&E tree removal effort following the Camp Fire. It was contentious at moments during the meeting amid discussions over how log yards and post-Camp Fire tree removal would be handled. Most frustrations were targeted toward PG&E for not handling their contractors more efficiently when it came to managing these piles along with the tree removal process.
PG&E spokesman Dan Blair was present and told the board these sites “should” have been coordinated better with their contractors and there “should” have been more followup with them regarding the clean-up.
“These log deck sites are operated by our contractors. It’s the expectation that PG&E maintain all local, state and federal regulations within our utility exemption,” Blair said. “That being said, I’d like to work with staff to get a comprehensive list of our staging areas with all our contractors and make this right.”
Supervisors were not on the same page as many expressed this could become “another disaster” for the county if not handled properly.
District 1 Supervisor Bill Connelly said during these “extraordinary” times, the county needs to be flexible, but feared the worst if they failed to permit the sites or wait longer to take action.
“I don’t know how we get over the impact to the community as far as traffic; it’s just gotta happen, folks. The worst thing that could happen is we end up with abandoned log decks,” Connelly said. “I think we can be reasonable as a governing board and allow this emergency ordinance but again … we do not want to end up with rotting logs that have no use at all and be stuck with them.”
District 5 Supervisor Doug Teeter agreed that the process needs to happen now.
“We need to move fast and get them out of the way for our community,” Teeter said, reiterating his faith that staff could get the job done. “The Fire Marshall needs to go out there and call the shots. Just do it safely and get it done.”
District 3 Supervisor Tami Ritter was concerned about another element of the temporary log decks: land usage on agricultural land
“I would say that based on how strongly this board has emphasized that we are not going to use agricultural lands for anything outside of agriculture, it would be hypocritical for us to say we’re going to allow that these other uses of agricultural lands, considering we wont allow trailers to live on agricultural lands,” Ritter said.
Teeter accused Ritter of “politicizing” the issue.
“When your on a board, things are agendized,” Teeter said after the meeting. “She (Ritter) kept going back to housing, when we were clearly talking about temporary log decks. It was just her frustrations on how this board has voted on housing in the past…she was trying to play politics.”
Ritter said after the meeting that it had nothing to do with politicizing, and everything to do with being consistent with our constituency.
“The reason I was bringing that up was because we were suggesting that we are going to use designated agriculture land for reasons other than agriculture,” Ritter said. “When we put these emergency provisions into place, there were big push backs by Supervisors Teeter and Connelly, and that was the reason they gave why people can not be housed on designated agricultural land.”
If we’re unwilling to use our agricultural lands for something that everyone believes is our highest priority (housing), why would be we be willing to use agricultural land for something like this that could have negative effects? So if we have such a commitment to that, then we need to be consistent.” Related Articles





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“To me this feels like a safety issue,” said District 2 Supervisor Debra Lucero. “These (log sites) are spread out in 10 different places throughout the county and they’re unregulated and unpermitted and unknown … I’m really quite saddened that’s it PG&E again, doing this. That’s upsetting to me. I realize we have this to deal with, but we both know its more difficult to do something after the fact, rather than before hand … It’s untenable that this would happen to us by PG&E.”
For a full list of the actions and results from Tuesdays Board of Supervisors meeting visit buttecounty.net/boardofsupervisors/ .
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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