Tell Caltrans and Hat Creek We Don’t Want Their Asphalt Plant on the River!

We visited the proposed site of the asphalt plant on Sunday May 14th and took these photos. We observed an impacted area closer to the railroad and rich, healthy habitat in the area along the river, including frogs, nesting birds, and pollinating insects. The text screenshots below were lifted directly from the environmental document for the planned asphalt plant in Delleker. As you can see, professionals make a (rather good) living lying to the public about impacts. We refuse to be gaslit with misleading information when our own eyes clearly show the opposite. No asphalt plant on the river! Write to and tell her we will not allow this and why. Get all your friends to do the same.

The photos below were taken by Feather River Action! on Sunday May 14th.

The Middle Fork Feather River at the planned asphalt plant site. The env. document states, “the proposed location of the asphalt plant is situated well over three meters from the Middle Fork Feather River…” Well that’s a relief — nearly ten feet!

Note “slow moving reliefs” to the right of this photo. We observed frogs in one of these ponds during our visit…

Note plentiful “nectar bearing vegetation”–  nature is well on its way to reclaiming this land.

Note that Plumas County is within the highest hazard/ 2nd to highest hazard area for earthquakes, contrary to what the environmental document states above.
Though the land has been damaged and dumped on, it is healing. This area should become a buffer between the river and the industrial area, and allowed to recover, not be polluted and degraded further, particularly considering the proximity to the sensitive river habitat, drinking water reservoirs, and downstream swimming, boating and recreation.

Note FEMA 100 year flood zones indicate the entire site will likely be inundated during heavy storms, carrying downriver whatever asphalt waste was leaked or dumped on the ground.

Note that FEMA flood maps are outdated and do not consider additional risks resulting from the climate crisis.

Water is life, and the Feather River needs you to stand up and protect her. Please contact us to volunteer today!

Hat Creek at it Again, Plans Delleker Asphalt Plant Directly Next to Feather River

According to a public notice published May 10th, 2023, Hat Creek Construction Company, contractor for Caltrans, is planning to construct a “temporary” asphalt plant directly adjacent to the Feather River in Delleker, 2000 feet south (and upwind) of the Delleker residential area, and only 500 feet from homes in the Iron Horse community across the river. The operation would run from April to November, from 6am to 6pm, up to 24 hours/ day for 3 years (but probably longer) mainly to supply Caltrans with asphalt for its Highway 70 repaving project.

The project would generate at least 150 round trip truck trips per day, all crossing the railroad at an uncontrolled crossing, risking accidents and derailments, including possible oil spills directly into to the river. Even in the best case scenario, the plant would pollute the land and the river, which provides drinking water to more than 27 million Californians. If Plumas County is serious about protecting the river and the watershed, as is stated on the Feather River Tourism Association website, this plant cannot be permitted to proceed.

The Humbug Valley (including Portola) is already in federal non-attainment status for the air pollutant PM 2.5, which is increasingly being linked to asthma, respiratory diseases, even cancer and brain damage including cardiovascular damage, stroke, and dementia. With dense smoke from wood burning in the winter, and wildfire smoke in the summer and fall months already burdening the health of the population, an asphalt plant would only add to the health and environmental challenges the area faces. Portola residents report that odors from the sewage treatment plant are routinely carried into town by prevailing westerly winds. Asphalt fumes would likely travel directly into Iron Horse, Delleker and Portola for much of the year, making it impossible for residents to cool their homes by opening windows at night. Only those who can afford air conditioning would be able to keep cool during heatwaves. The noise of the operations would reverberate around the entire valley. In addition to being irritating, noise pollution is associated with heart disease, and other serious diseases. Sadly this is another case of environmental classism, forcing lower income people to bear the brunt of pollution.

The impacts of asphalt plants are well known, and Caltrans and Hat Creek should not be so irresponsible or out of touch to locate one near a residential community and directly next to the Feather River.

The site was historically Feather River floodplain land, and will one day likely revert to being a part of the river again. Given forecast higher river flows in the future, that day may come sooner that we think. All the asphalt byproducts would wash into the river, down to Lake Oroville where they would pollute agricultural water and drinking water.

Several years ago, Hat Creek purchased a 713 acre plot of land in North Portola and planned to construct a sand mine and asphalt plant but were stopped by strong community opposition including from Feather River Action! (FRA!) in 2021, and the land was purchased by local resident Linda Judge and Plumas Sierra Partners to preserve the open space and prevent the mine.

Now Hat Creek is back with an equally ill conceived plan that would harm the entire Portola area. In order to stop this plan, the public needs to get involved now to learn more about the plan and take action. See below.

What you can do:

1. Read the environmental documents and learn more about the project and its impact on the community. Go to this website, and click on “download all attachments” at the bottom of the page to download the environmental documents. Hat Creek and Caltrans are trying to get away with a “mitigated negative declaration” but this project, given its location to the protected Feather River, should be required to do a full environmental impact report (EIR) or be withdrawn.

2. Submit a comment opposing the plant to the Plumas County Planning Department, deadline June 10th, 2023. Send to or mail to Tracey Ferguson 555 Main Street, Quincy, CA 95971

3. Volunteer to help FRA! alert and mobilize the public in the area. We could use donations, volunteers, etc. as soon as possible Contact us for more info.

Asphalt plants are one of the most toxic industries known, and should not certainly not be located next to a protected river and residential communities.

City of Portola Cuts Remote Comments in Further Blow to Open Government

The official video recording from the City of Portola (purposely?) leaves out public comment on the issue of removing the ability to comment remotely at meetings. Luckily a local activist recorded the entire meeting, posted above. You can hear the convoluted explanations from the council on why eliminating remote public comment is “necessary.” Funny if it were not so tragic. Below is our letter to the editor regarding this issue. An open and transparent government is a prerequisite for an informed public, healthy community and a protected watershed.


At the April 26th Portola City Council meeting, the council decided unanimously to prohibit remote participation that has allowed people to engage with meetings from home (or work) for years. Why would the council choose to limit public participation rather than encouraging different options for people to comment? This move is possibly contrary to state law and will not prevent critics of the council from speaking out, as it is clearly intended to do.

What it will do is prevent public participation by those who are older, people with disabilities, people with children or no childcare options, those working night shifts, those who can’t drive (or can’t drive in the dark), those with serious chemical or electrical injuries and sensitivities, those concerned about respiratory diseases as well as caregivers of ill residents (who may not be able to physically appear at the council). Basically, normal, everyday people.

Portola City Council is moving in the wrong direction under the new city manager. Remote participation has become a standard option for local government meetings in the past several years.  At last night’s meeting, roughly 45 minutes were spent discussing this distraction. How many more minutes and hours were spent behind closed doors, over email, during closed session, etc., on this non-issue? Why is the council spending so much time and energy on limiting participation (which is already minimal at best), when there are far more important issues affecting Portola’s residents, visitors, and environment?

The excuses the council gave for this action were pathetic. Meetings running to midnight? When has that ever happened? Perhaps members of the council (which has seen very little change in ten plus years) are burnt out after years of service. We need other residents of Portola to get involved, speak out, and run for office— those who genuinely want to hear from the people, even when it is difficult. It seems that from the council’s perspective, the public’s role is voting them into office, and then getting out of the way and deferring to the council to make all decisions without broad input.

Yet, the Portola council clearly needs input from the public as it neglects critical public safety issues right on its doorstep:

– This morning, two, 2 foot wide pipes (directly adjacent to a major entrance and walkway) near the bridge in the city park stood open and filled with water that a child could fall into and drown. The large openings could injure any person or animal walking into this hazard (reported by my wife to city staff). An incident could bankrupt the city, not to mention being an unspeakable tragedy.

– A non-standard, hazardous sewer grate on Gulling right in front of city hall that could easily trap a bicycle tire and cause a deadly head-over-handlebars crash, including at the upcoming Lost and Found race (grate is yards from the start line). We have informed the council about this danger for years without any action.

– At least hundreds of gallons of untreated sewage was reported to have leaked into the Feather River from city sewers in recent months

– A profusely leaking water tap in the park not getting addressed for at least two years (has it been fixed?). City sprinklers running in the middle of the day, flooding into the street, during past severe drought years.

– As far as we know, the council is neglecting to prevent the threat of large amounts of micro-plastics washing into the Feather River from the new fake (plastic) tree cell tower near EPHC, as these cell towers have done near Lake Tahoe.

Meanwhile, we wonder what it cost tax payers to install CCTV cameras inside the park and outside of the City of Portola offices. Has there been a direct threat to the building or to members of the council to warrant this expense? This should not be a higher priority than keeping our public park and roadways free of direct hazards. The public, who funds the city, needs to ask the council: What are the priorities of this council and how are they set? How, and in what priority, are *our* tax dollars being spent?

It’s not unreasonable to suggest that the council should focus their time and efforts on resolving critical safety and health issues for the community (including on its doorstep!) rather than on restricting and attempting to silence public input. Believe it or not, members of the community may even have important safety information to share!

And, in a comment that also applies to the county government in Quincy, if you are an elected official or staff and feel “uncomfortable” with critical feedback from the community, the appropriate response is to look honestly at the criticism and maturely respond to concerns, not try to tamp down comment, silence the public, and start false rumors about individuals who respectfully voice criticism. Quite often, the public process is uncomfortable and messy, but it is essential to community health and mutual trust that we all listen to each other. My feeling is that both city and county governments are currently failing to do their jobs, risking public safety, declining to pay employees a living wage, and embarking on distractions designed to silence dissent rather than deal with it honestly and openly when it is raised.

It is not the council or city manager’s role to determine which comments are acceptable and which are not. It is their job to listen to the public. Do any of us who have been watching the shift of the council to a darker and more authoritarian character over recent months believe that if they could get away with eliminating public comment entirely that they would not do so? Luckily we have state laws that protect the public’s right to speak, and we need to use those rights.

A privileged, out of touch council who look down their noses at the people of Portola, and a city manager who writes outlandish, poorly researched and false assertions in the newspaper (insisting that non-profits should follow the Brown Act—which the city manager himself loudly complains about following!), and who consistently lies to make himself appear more reasonable, is not what Portola deserves. The public deserves better.

People can get more involved by signing up to receive city council agendas by submitting a request to, as well as joining Feather River Action! (to help look after our beautiful mountain environment and hold elected officials accountable) by e-mailing .

We have consistently stood up for public access to public meetings when it has been threatened over the past few years in Plumas County. In 2021, when COVID prevented many people from attending the county board meetings (including to speak against the Portola Sand Mine and Asphalt Plant) and Plumas was one of only a few counties in the state to prohibit remote comments, our public pressure for access is what turned the tide. Sup. Engel was the only one voting against remote public access but the other supes voted for it and Plumas County continues to offer remote access to this day, unlike the City of Portola (COP). Too many times elected officials forget their number one responsibility is to the public. It’s not about them, it’s about us.

Thanks for reading my long letter. Though the local political situation is sad, if all those of us who care about this place band together, I have faith we can turn it around.

Josh Hart