Kennedy Meadows & government reform time

Kennedy Meadows

The Tuolumne County RCD, the county, MotherLode Land Trust, and the USFS made their presentations to the Stewardship Council yesterday. The Stewardship Council is the multi-interest stakeholder group tasked with giving away some of PG&E’s land (and funds) under the terms of a bankruptcy settlement agreement administered by the California Public Utilities Commission. Summaries of the proposals can be found on the Stewardship Council’s website at http://www.stewardshipcouncil.org/.

The TCRCD, county, and MotherLode Land Trust collaborated on a proposal that puts forward 3 different ownership/management configurations for local ownership and management of Kennedy Meadows. Despite diligent effort on the part of those organizations and the USFS to collaborate in a way agreeable to all, ultimately the USFS is not legally able to share ownership or management decisions and put forward its own proposal. The local organizations do not feel it is within the best interests of Kennedy Meadows to have the USFS as owner or manager of the parcel and although they were invited and considered it, did not participate in the USFS’ proposal.

The Stewardship Council will meet in committee over the next few months to evaluate the proposals. Their planning committee will announce a recommendation to the entire Stewardship Council at their next public meeting in Redding on April 30th.

Government reform time

And finally, to kick off our new video section, here’s an interesting clip from California Forward, a bipartisan effort to “transform our state government through citizen-driven solutions to provide better representation, smarter budgeting and fiscal management, and high quality public services so all Californians have the opportunity to be safe, healthy and prosperous in the global economy,” (http://www.caforward.org/).

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKXpvSms6V4

What do you think? Please click on “Comments” below and tell us!

7 thoughts on “Kennedy Meadows & government reform time

  1. Thanks for the posts on the Stewardship Council and California Forward. Both seem to be well managed efforts to resolve important issues in the state. I am bookmarking their websites.

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    • Hey Joe! I was by your meadow with the county snowplow guy today – lots of snow up there and more on its way! I thought the California Forward video was good too. Teri

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  2. TCRCD, county, and MotherLode Land Trust aren't these just special interest groups looking out for their own agenda?

    Wouldn't Kennedy Meadow's be better served if there was some sort of government oversight to make sure the area was kept up in a beneficial way for the public to enjoy?

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    • Thanks for writing! I can tell you are concerned about Kennedy Meadows’ future, as are all the folks who have signed up to be considered as possible donees.

      By state law, both the Tuolumne County Resource Conservation District (RCD) and Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors (BOS) are publically accountable government agencies. You elect a representative to the BOS and at present, the BOS appoints RCD directors. Because of concern that there isn’t enough distance between the RCD and the county, we’ve been discussing a change so that the public directly elects directors to the RCD Board. Since the original ballot measure to establish the RCD specified BOS appointments of RCD directors, changing that may take another public vote. We think that may be the way to go so that the public is comfortable that their RCD directors represent them, not the BOS, and distance is maintained between both agencies.

      The Mother Lode Land Trust is very concerned with protecting lands for the public (open space, working landscapes that support agriculture, etc.) and in that respect I would agree that they do have an interest – a special interest. However, part of the land donation deal is that there will be an easement placed on Kennedy Meadows. The easement will specify in great detail the condition Kennedy Meadows must maintain and achieve AND the ongoing management actions that must be taken there forever (perpetuity). The nature of easements is that they are solid, legally enforceable agreements or contracts. So the really critical piece to protecting Kennedy Meadows is the negotiation of the easement contract that will protect it and all it means to everyonefor future generations.

      The Stewardship Council isn’t making the final decision, but will recommend a donee and the terms of the conservation easement to PG&E which will take a final recommendation to the California Public Utilities Commission for approval. The Stewardship Council is comprised of representatives of every imaginable interest including environment, PG&E ratepayers, California resource agencies, the USFS and other federal resource agencies, the legislature, recreation, PG&E, California Farm Bureau, etc. They make every decision by consensus. That means if even one person/interest in the room doesn’t feel comfortable with the donee decision and the easement to hold that donee accountable to their interests, it doesn’t go forward until the disagreement is worked out and agreeable to all.

      If the USFS becomes the donee of Kennedy Meadows, we will need to be very involved in giving input on management decisions, but will not have a great deal of influence in the outcome. The Stanislaus National Forest is subject to decision-making processes and special interests outside the county more-so than local. Oftentimes, decisions are made in the nation’s capitol, in the Bay Area through the regional office, and in the courts. These decisions obligate all USFS supervisors in the nation and state. If USFS owns Kennedy Meadows, we will be asked to help fund its maintenance and participate in public comment meetings, but will have absolutely no decision-making responsibility, ability, or authority. The only recourse to decisions that negatively impact local interests will be legal action. That’s not a good way to serve or protect Kennedy Meadows. I stand by my conviction that the local donee option best protects and serves the interests of Kennedy Meadows as an individual parcel and also best serves and protects the interests of those who use and enjoy Kennedy Meadows as the local, regional, state, national, and global treasure it is.

      We don’t have to agree and I do appreciate your opinion – thanks for writing. I believe that all the parties who have applied to become donees of Kennedy Meadows are motivated by good faith intent and what they believe are its best interests. We’ll see what the Stewardship Council proposes, what PG&E agrees to, and what the California Public Utilities Commission decides. Stay tuned!

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  3. Mr. Gheno, when was the last time you went to either Kennedy Meadows or a government properties? Roads are not maintained, river banks have no erosion control, dead and dying trees which are a safety and fire hazard, forest trails are not maintained. The government does not have the money or personnel to do this now, what would they do with more? The campgrounds are consessioned out to private companies and complaining does no good ( that is another division if you call your local USFS office). Matt Bloom keeps Kennedys maintained and clean at his own expense. He has his own employees doing the work or pays to have dead/diseased trees removed and buys trees to replace those that are removed. Ask private cabin owners along 108 what they think of government oversight.

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    • Dear Stanasic

      I've been to Kennedy meadows twice last season and wasn't impressed with cattle or horse impact on the area.

      I agree that the USFS is not able to do most things right. However, Matt Bloom and his gang are operating in a publicly owned Forest, they running a private business and they are motivated first and foremost by making a profit.

      I think the everyday citizen who simply desires to enjoy the natural aspects of their publicly owned Forest and Parks, are only asking that nature be preserved. It would be to the public's benefit to have someone looking out for that interest.

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      • Thanks for clarifying, Tony. Kennedy Meadows is such a valuable part of our heritage and means so much to so many different people. The Stewardship Council is set to recommend a potential donee in late April at their public Council meeting in Redding. Stay tuned!

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