Protecting Sierra Rivers, Lakes and Streams

The Sierra Nevada supplies over 60% of California’s water and much of Northwestern Nevada’s. In addition, our rivers, lakes and streams provide prime wildlife habitat and premier recreation. The Alliance leverages resources and policies for protection and supports collaborative efforts for restoration. Accomplishments include:


  • Gained Statewide Attention to Troubled Waters of the Sierra: In 1994 the Sierra Nevada Alliance released a 68 page report to the media and public on the health of the Sierra’s 24 major river systems. Troubled Waters of the Sierra, written by Kerri Timmer, chronicled how Sierra waters are critical to California and Nevada, how they are significantly polluted and impaired, and how population growth and climate change threaten Sierra water. The report concluded with recommendations for state and local planning efforts to protect this critical resource. The report was released in news conferences in five major California and Nevada cities, was covered on the National and Western Wire Associated Press service and also received widespread coverage in major California newspapers, TV stations and news radio.

  • Inspired and Supported New Water Stewardship Groups to Form: Local community stewardship is the key to providing sustainable watershed assessment, protection and restoration. The Sierra Nevada Alliance helped numerous watershed groups form by facilitating their first meetings, helping them raise funding, administering their first grants, and developing their first goals, projects and plans. For example the Alliance helped the Cherokee Watershed Group form and raised funding for their first staff person. The Alliance also helped the Alpine Watershed Group conduct their first assessment, raise their first half-a million dollars, and hire their first staff person.

  • Recruited State Investment in Sierra Watersheds

  • Leveraged millions of state and federal dollars for Sierra water protection and restoration efforts through participation in statewide watershed meetings, councils, and networks

  • Convinced the State Water Resources Control Board to adopt the Alliance’s and the Regional Council of Rural Counties’ principles of watershed protection in their entirety and to support community-based watershed councils as a key to restoration

  • Started new Water Monitoring Programs: Provided equipment, training and support for seven watershed groups to start volunteer water monitoring programs. This program trained over one hundred new water monitors in one year

  • Produced and distributed the very popular Watershed Toolkit, a guide for establishing a collaborative, multi-stakeholder watershed council
  • The Alliance has provided over fifteen workshops on how to assess, protect and restore watersheds, build capacity of watershed groups, and navigate local, state and national agency processes.


Protecting Open Space, Wildlife Habitat, Working Landscapes & Scenic Views

The Alliance works to protect our Sierra Lands for wildlife, recreation, and the health of our rural communities. Accomplishments include:


  • The Sierra Nevada Alliance helped establish the Sierra Conservancy through legislation in 2004. This new non-regulatory agency protects, conserves, and restores the region’s physical, cultural and historical resources; provides increased opportunities for tourism and recreation; improves public understanding of the resources of the region; protects water quality from degradation; and assists the local economy, including providing increased economic opportunities. The Alliance worked with a coalition of regional Sierra groups and mobilized our extensive conservation network to educate legislators, the media and the public on the needs for state conservation investment and a Sierra Conservancy.

  • Ensured public participation in the Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project and helped persuade Congress to continue this vital research for the region. Worked to ensure SNEP data and other analytical tools were integrated into resource management efforts and decision-making processes.

  • Researched County General Plans in 20 Sierra counties to track smart growth policies.


Strengthening the Work of Place-Based Conservation Groups Throughout the Sierra Nevada

The Alliance understands that long-term environmental improvements and protection in the Sierra depend on the creation of an environmental ethic in each community. The Alliance strengthens the work of Sierra groups. Accomplishments include:


  • Founded and administered the Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership (SNAP). The Alliance has recruited, trained and placed over 27 AmeriCorps members a year since 2005 with over 20 conservation organizations and agencies. Members have restored thousands of acres, educated tens of thousands of individuals about Sierra conservation issues, monitored hundreds of miles of rivers, and recruited and managed thousands of volunteers for conservation projects.

  • Awarded mini-grants supporting the work of over 22 groups throughout the Sierra. Grants funded educational outreach, strategic planning, pilot restoration projects and much much more.

  • Organized 20 annual conferences and more than 10 regional meetings providing training, cutting-edge information, inspiration and networking.

  • Promoted community-based, collaborative approaches as a problem-solving tool for Sierra organizations and communities. Trained numerous Sierra groups in the collaborative process.

  • Provided updates on grant opportunities, resources, new reports, expert sources, and other Sierra conservation news to our member groups through Sierra News and the electronic Sierra Nevada Alliance Weekly.