About Us


“Preserving air quality and protecting the public health and public welfare in Nevada, Plumas and Sierra counties.”

The Northern Sierra Air Management District was formed in 1986 by the merging of the Air Pollution Control Districts of Nevada, Plumas and Sierra Counties. The District is required by state law to achieve and maintain the federal and state Ambient Air Quality Standards, which are air quality standards set at levels that will protect the public health. The District is composed of three primary entities, each with a specific purpose: District staff, Governing Board of Directors, and Hearing Board.

District Staff

The District staff conducts the everyday business of air pollution control. The Air Pollution Control Officer (APCO) is appointed by the Board of Directors and serves as the Executive Director. The APCO is responsible for hiring staff and directing activities, managing financial matters, and implementing Board policy.

District activities include:
  • Develop and implement air quality plans to identify how much pollution is in our air, where it comes from, and ways to control it.
  • Develop and enforce rules and regulations that reduce air pollution and protect public health.
  • Help individuals and businesses understand and comply with federal, state, and local air pollution laws.
  • Operate air monitoring equipment to measure and record air pollution levels.
  • Evaluate plans for new projects that involve installing, altering, or operating equipment that either causes air pollution or is used to control it; issue permits; conduct compliance inspections; and issue violation notices.
  • Implement transportation control measures to reduce the number of cars on the road and promote the use of cleaner fuels and vehicles.
  • Investigate public complaints and respond to inquiries regarding air pollution.
  • Provide public information regarding current air quality conditions and health implications.
  • Educate the public on their role in cleaning up the air.
Current District Staff (as of November, 2019)
Main Office: Gretchen Bennitt, Air Pollution Control Officer
Joe Fish, Deputy Air Pollution Control Officer
Samuel Longmire, Air Pollution Control Specialist III
Dawn Lundsford, Business Manager Clerk of the Board
David Nicholas, Air Pollution Control Specialist I
 Northern Office: Julie Ruiz, Air Pollution Control Specialist II
Melissa Klundby, Air Pollution Control Specialist I

Governing Board of Directors

The six member Air Quality Governing Board of Directors is composed of two County Supervisors each from Nevada, Plumas and Sierra Counties. The Board’s primary functions are to appoint the APCO, adopt the District budget, adopt rules and regulations that govern air quality in the District, adopt policies, and provide direction to the APCO. The monthly Board of Directors meetings are open to the public.

Current Board Members (as of November, 2019)
Plumas County: Sherri Thrall, Lori Simpson
Sierra County: Peter Huebner, Paul Roen
Nevada County: Richard Anderson, Ed Scofield – Chairperson

Hearing Board

The Hearing Board is composed of five members: a lawyer, a doctor, an engineer, and two public members. The Hearing Board serves various functions: It has sole authority to grant a variance, allowing a company to continue operating in violation of a District rule while the problem is being corrected; it can hear requests for appeal of decisions rendered by the APCO, either from industry or a private citizen; it can issue abatement orders; and revoke a source’s permit.

Air Quality Standards

Air pollution is regulated by two types of standards: emission standards and ambient air quality standards. Emission standards are the levels of air pollutants a source is allowed to release into the air. Ambient air quality standards are levels of air pollutants that if exceeded are considered unhealthy to breathe. If there have been no violations of an ambient air quality standard, an area is said to be in attainment. If there have been violations of a standard, the state or federal government designates the area nonattainment for that pollutant. When an area is designated non-attainment, many expensive and onerous requirements are placed on industry, businesses, the public, and the District to achieve attainment within a specified time. Non-attainment is something to avoid for both health reasons and economic reasons.

Air Pollution Monitoring

The District maintains a variety of air pollution monitoring equipment to monitor air pollution levels.

Sources of Pollutants

The District is required by the state to maintain an emissions inventory of criteria and air toxic pollutants. This inventory is used to determine how much of each pollutant is coming from each source type. Most of the air pollution generated within the District comes from motor vehicles. Such knowledge is used in formulating emission control strategies for pollutants of concern and to determine if monitored pollution levels are due to transport of pollutants from upwind areas, or due to local emissions.

Our climate, topography, and the growing number of people, industries, businesses, and cars collectively contribute to the formation of smog. The pollutants of greatest concern are ozone, particulate matter, and air toxins.