Don’t Trash the Planet. Don’t Trash the Signs.

Let’s reduce our environmental impact by ensuring our resources are used in smart and productive ways.  

I care about the natural beauty of our environment. I believe that we should properly steward our natural resources.

In celebration of International Day of Forests (March 20th), World Water Day (March 21st), and Earth Hour Day (March 24th) I am calling on all of our supporters and everyone in our community to help us reduce waste.

Political signs are a tradition that support the freedom of speech in our community and in our country. Additionally, political signs are a tradition that use natural resources.

Our campaign is dedicated to the reuse and recycling of all of our campaign materials. After election day on June 5th, we will store all of our reusable materials and we will recycle the rest.

Please don’t trash political signs from any campaign. When folks dispose of campaign signs, it can be costly to a campaign but it is equally costly to mother earth.  

If you are no longer wanting a campaign sign, or if you think a sign has improperly placed, please contact the campaign so that they may reuse it or move it.

If you would like a “Hilary Hodge for Supervisor” campaign sign for your yard or business please email:

Wild and Scenic: Yale Climate Review

We were honored to be featured in the Yale Climate Review article focusing on our local Wild and Scenic Film Festival hosted by the South Yuba River Citizens League:

“The festival is always supposed to inspire activism, but there’s been more of a focus in the past on personal responsibility,” said Hilary Hodge, a writer, festival veteran, and local nonprofit executive campaigning to become a county supervisor. “This year, I felt like in every session there was an element where it was very clear that part of our environmental crisis is about policy and how laws are made.”

Centennial Dam

Among our community concerns is the issue of water storage, environmental impacts, and the possibility of a new dam on the Bear River. I wanted to share this piece by former Nevada County Supervisor Peter Van Zant regarding the Centennial Dam project.

In 2009 the Brown administration proposed the Twin Tunnel ‘Water Fix’ project to ship water from Northern California watersheds to Southern California water districts at a price tag of some $17 billion dollars. It included a financing plan: the project would be paid for by water districts and their customers getting the water. Water districts are now deciding whether to commit and many are not.

In 2014 the Nevada Irrigation District (NID) floated the Centennial Dam project. It would be between Rollins and Combie reservoirs, on the last publicly accessible free running section of the Bear River. They published the basic project statistics: 110,000 acre-feet capacity behind a 275 foot high dam and a new 1000 foot long bridge over the reservoir in the Dog Bar Road area. But it did not include a financing plan.

The cost of Centennial has been a moving target starting at $160 million and rising steadily, with the latest cost pegged at $372 million in NID’s recent application for Proposition 1 funds from the California Water Commission. NID has not provided a comprehensive line item list of all project components, costs, and financing approaches.

In frustration, the American River Watershed Institute (ARWI) published the only comprehensive cost analysis of Centennial in 2016. Construction, permitting, and mitigation costs including the replacement bridge, and the initially proposed hydro power plant are below.

Dam construction $259,203,000

Spillway $26,750,203

Hydroelectric $54,500,000

Dog Bar Bridge $56,000,000

Permits & Reports $11,000,000

Mitigations $85,000,000

Contingency $1,000,000

2016 Sub-total $493,453,000

Add in a standard 3.5% annual cost escalator and the total project cost in 2020 comes to$605,350,473. The ARWI cost analysis report showed that at 4.5% financing the total cost would be $1,104,199,891 and with the more likely 5.5% financing it would be over $1.2 billion.

Let’s look at the funding mechanisms NID has proposed so far.

State funding from Proposition 1: NID is applying for $12 million for recreation and ecosystem benefits. NID’s application is admittedly incomplete and is likely to be denied. Even if issued, $12 million is less than 2.5% of the needed funds.

State revolving loan funds: Centennial does not qualify.

Recreation income: NID currently losses money on their recreation operations.

Federal Infrastructure Funding: Congressman LaMalfa recently told a constituent that no Federal Funds will be made available and NID needs to figure this out on their own.

Hydro revenue: NID has dropped hydro from the project, although Centennial could be subsidized by existing hydro operations. However, electric power markets are undergoing dramatic change that can’t be predicted.

Public Financing: At a recent public forum the NID board president said they could issue Revenue Bonds. These are bonds sold to investors who are first in line for revenues produced by the project.

Water Sales: Since new hydro revenue is not part of this project and recreation doesn’t pay, the only other revenue source is water sales. NID’s customer base can’t buy enough water to service that debt even considering future growth. The only way to sell enough water to service the debt is to sell out of the area with the downside risk that water contracts, once executed, supersede use in the District.

Rate Payers: So that leaves you and me. NID has stated that rate payers are the financial ‘backstop’ for borrowed funds. Financial investors wait for no one. At $1.2 billion, if it all falls on rate payers, the bill is $43,514 over 30 years per customer. As a special district, NID’s taxing authority is limited and rate payers are the backstop for paying off bonds and other debt.

NID has yet to provide the public with a comprehensive estimate of the cost of, or a financing plan for, their proposed Centennial Dam. NID has also not provided the operational and hydrologic evaluation needed to show how often Centennial might fill and how its operation would address long drought periods like our recent one. In addition, Centennial would be located lower in elevation from the vast majority of current customers. And with all this, NID is grabbing water rights from our farming neighbors in the valley supplied by the South Sutter Water District. Where is the fairness in you and me paying for a dam that brings us no additional water, robs farmers of water, and requires selling our water elsewhere to service debt to private investors?

Peter Van Zant – SYRCL Centennial Dam Work Group volunteer. Peter is a former Nevada County Supervisor and a former President of the SYRCL board of directors. He lives in Nevada City with his wife Mary and three goofy pets.

We should all go hiking!

We should all go hiking!

Land preserved by Bear Yuba Land Trust

What if the children in our lives had access to Nevada County’s most beautiful lands for their children and their children’s children? Bear Yuba Land Trust is fulfilling that mission.

Bear Yuba Land Trust is a private, non-profit, membership-supported organization that works to promote voluntary conservation of the region’s natural, historical and agricultural legacy. With your support, the Land Trust provides a lasting community heritage by protecting and enhancing meadows, watersheds, forests, farms and ranches, trails and parks.

Hilary Hodge talking with folks at the BYLT rundraiser

Their annual fundraiser was dedicated to “Open Spaces and Wild Places” and was attended by all kinds of people from all walks of life—men, women, young, old, rural farmers, city transplants, and everyone in between!

No one likes garbage.

No one likes garbage.

Volunteers Bag Trash at the annual Yuba River Clean Up

SYRCL’s annual Yuba River Clean-up is one of my favorite events each year.  It’s inspiring to spend the day with so many people from all different walks of life who are willing to invest a Saturday to help clean the Yuba River Watershed.

Hilary Hodge bagging trash along Wolf Creek

This year, my wife Angelica and I helped pick up trash along Wolf Creek.  We cleaned up the area next to the North Star Mining Museum in Grass Valley.  We helped bag nearly 500 pounds of trash and cleaned up several major garbage sites.  I picked up more than 50 cigarette butts! Our team really made an impact! A huge thanks to the South Yuba Citizen’s League for everything that they do for our community.  We are looking forward to the Wild and Scenic Film Festival in January!