Two county supervisors say there are errors in the travel management plan that need
to be clarified
The public may get a chance to look a little more closely at the Smith River Restoration and Travel Management Plan if the Board of Supervisors decides at its meeting today to request more time to review the plan.
Supervisors are poised to approve sending a letter to the Six Rivers National Forest Supervisor's Office that requests a 30-day extension to comment on and review the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the travel management plan. According to County Planner Randy Hooper's recommendation to the Board, members of the public have expressed interest in the plan and the Planning Department feels more time to review it would be appropriate.
The plan is in response to a federal directive to update the National Forest Transportation System and will ultimately address hundreds of miles of unofficial mining and logging roads in the Smith River National Recreation Area, decommissioning some forest roads, restoring some mining roads to nature and adding some others to the forest's motorized travel network.
Also, beyond requiring more time for review due to the 600-page impact statement's "complex nature" - as it's described in Hooper's recommendation - the Board also would like a chance to look over some inconsistencies in the plan, according to District 1 Supervisor Roger Gitlin.
Gitlin said that the impact statement contains various errors, like certain roads planned for closing not being on the maps, legends and colors changing throughout the plan, and the Forest Service not providing justification for certain actions.
"We caught a number of errors, and it's a case that needs to be clarified by the Forest Service," Gitlin said.
Gerry Hemmingsen, District 4 supervisor, said that the errors, which mostly concern maps not accurately depicting roads that are mentioned in the document's text, are confusing and demand a lot of time to comb through. He said that between the map inaccuracies, the request for additional public input, and the need for an adequate review of the plan by county staff, an extension is necessary.
"I don't think that asking for 30 days is too much to ask," Hemmingsen said. "There are a lot of roads and there are a lot of issues with some of the roads. We just need to make sure we have all our ducks in a row."
As it stands now the impact statement, which was made available to the public on April 11 for a 60-day comment period, will be open for comment until June 10. The board's request would extend that availability until July 10.
Also on the supervisors' agenda are several budget transfer authorizations, including a $77,700 transfer from within the Sheriff's Office budget that will pay for various equipment upgrades and purchases.
Among these purchases are 43 new Axon Body cameras - one for each officer on the force - that will cost $13,821 and replace the six older cameras that officers are currently sharing. The cameras, which are manufactured by Taser Inc., clip onto officers' uniforms and will go a long way toward providing accountability to the public as well as minimizing department liability, Sheriff Dean Wilson said.
Before, officers would use a camera whenever one was available. Now, Wilson said, department protocol will be changed to require officers turn their camera on when engaging with any type of contact or call that requires an officer take action in his or her capacity as a deputy.
"What we've found is that having these cameras out there, whether it's in the jail or out in public, that these cameras tell the story and there's no question about what occurred," Wilson said.
Along with the cameras, the department plans to purchase two new docking stations as well as a membership with Evidence.com, a new division of Taser that allows law enforcement agencies to store their digital recordings to "cloud-based" remote servers as opposed to storing the data on local servers.
Wilson said that besides using up a lot of space on local servers, the old process for downloading recordings from cameras was time-consuming and unorganized. With the new docking stations, which cost $3,200 total, the video will upload to the remote servers automatically and allow officers to identify what the footage is with tags and memos.
Additionally, now the department can provide the District Attorney and other agencies with a link to required evidence instead of having to download it to a disc. Wilson said that a membership with Evidence.com costs $2,003 initially and $1,000 for each year after that.
Other equipment purchases that an approved budget transfer would provide for include 24 Tasers, 22 iPhones, and a $6,000 cable upgrade for the jail that will convert the facility's old analogue signal to an updated digital one. Inmates will have access to fewer channels then they did before, Wilson said.
Supervisors meet at 10 a.m. today at the Flynn Administrative Center, 981 H St., Crescent City. Agendas and staff reports can be found at www.countyofdelnorte.us.
Aaron West can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.