On Wednesday April 19, the Sierra Nevada Alliance, The Sierra Fund, Sierra Business Council, and the League to Save Lake Tahoe hosted Sierra Day at the Capitol. The event was designed to train members of the conservation community and the interested public to advocate for resource investments and specific budget asks to support collective conservation and restoration goals benefiting the Sierra Nevada and the state’s water supply, air quality, carbon-storing forests, and premier recreation.
The Sierra Nevada is quite relevant to the state of California, both resource-wise and recreationally. It provides the state with 60% of its water supply, 50% of its forest carbon, 60% of its animal species, 50% of its plant species, all while hosting over 50 million recreational visitors annually.
Despite its significance, the Sierra Nevada is historically under-represented in legislative and agency decisions about allocating state and federal funding for natural resource protection and management, including climate adaptation and mitigation, and associated emergency management issues. This year, the Governor proposed budget cuts to programs that have traditionally funded important forest and watershed restoration work – such as significantly cutting the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and Tahoe Conservancy budgets.
Fifty conservation community members convened to advocate for conservation priorities in the Sierra Nevada. They participated in over 20 legislative meetings to advocate for initiatives and funding to benefit the region. Additionally, the event was coordinated with and a part of the larger “Protect California” Power In Nature Coalition lobby day to codify 30×30 implementation. Combined, the two efforts had approximately 100 attendees and 50 legislative meetings throughout the day.
Overall, the offices we met with support our conservation and restoration efforts despite the across-the-board budget cuts. Talks for tapping into the state’s reserves and future strategizing for a climate bond may be in the works, and the meetings held last week helped make the case to prioritize the Sierra. Thanks to this ambitious group of advocates, meetings and communications will continue resulting in what we hope to be positive outcomes.
We are very grateful to our speakers CNRA Deputy Secretary for Wildland and Forest Resilience Jessica Morse, Department of Conservation Director David Shabazian, Sierra Nevada Conservancy Executive Officer Angela Avery, and California Tahoe Conservancy Jason Vasques for their insight into the Sierra Nevada’s important role in the state’s water supply, air quality, carbon-storing forests, and premier recreation. We also thank Assembly Speaker Rendon’s Policy Advisor Marie Liu for providing their perspective on the proposed budget and how to elevate the Sierra Nevada’s significance to legislature members.
Learn more about Sierra Day at the Capitol here. Additional progress summaries are coming soon.