This week, the Sierra Nevada Alliance, The Sierra Fund, Sierra Business Council, and Sierra Water Workgroup hosted a “Sierra Day in the Capitol.” Approximately 55 volunteers and members of the conservation community spent the day learning about important conservation opportunities in this legislative cycle and meeting with 45 Assembly and Senate representatives.
“This was the first time, in over ten years, that a coordinated advocacy day, with such a broad breadth of partners, on behalf of the Sierra, has occurred! The Alliance is truly fulfilling its mission by being a convener and facilitator of this type of collaboration!”-shared, Executive Director, Jenny Hatch.
The purpose of the event was to educate legislators about the importance of the Sierra Nevada region and the resources it provides to the rest of the state. The hope is that the Sierra will be more equitably considered for funding allocations in future conservation bonds and state budgets. In the past, funding for the Sierra has been low in relation to other areas of the state. This has been due to the regions low population numbers, and the lack of consideration for the large amount of natural resources it provides.
The morning agenda included a series of dynamic speakers (thanks to The Sierra Fund) who shared information about current political and natural resource priorities and how to effectively communicate the needs and importance of the Sierra Nevada.
-California Secretary of Natural Resources, Wade Crowfoot,
-Director of State’s Forest Management Task Force, Jennifer Montgomery,
-Director of Governor’s Water Portfolio Program, Nancy Vogel,
-President of California Forestry Association, Rich Gordon,
-The Nature Conservancy’s, Lucas Fredrichs,
-Republican Assemblywoman, Megan Dahle,
-Pacific Forest Trust’s Paul Mason,
-Sierra Nevada Conservancy’s Executive Officer, Angela Avery,
-Sierra Business Council’s Vice President of Climate and Energy, Kerri Timmer,
-CEO of the Sierra Fund, Izzy Martin, and
-Alliance Executive Director, Jenny Hatch.
In the afternoon, participants divided into 15 groups and met with 45 lawmakers and their staff to raise awareness about the Sierra Nevada and ask for recognition for the region in upcoming funding opportunities. Meetings were scheduled with Assembly Members and Senators who sit on environmental committees and contribute to environmental policy and bonds.
Participants were encouraged to ask for the following:
-Directing 40% of total bond funds to wildfire prevention and community resilience from climate impacts.
-Allocating bond funds toward fixing existing aging source water infrastructure to improve water supply and water quality.
-Recognizing that the regional nature of climate impacts by utilizing regional approaches through collaboratives, conservancies, and existing programs to develop and implement resilience strategies.
-Expanding funding for rural broadband programs.
-Maintaining rural set-asides in the Strategic Growth Council’s Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities program.
-Applauding the Water Resilience Portfolio for the report’s emphasis on climate vulnerabilities. Suggesting that to strengthen the Water Resilience Portfolio’s impact, we would highly encourage California Natural Resources Agency, CalEPA, and California Department of Agriculture to recognize the impact that increased wildfire size and severity will have on the state’s water availability. We also ask that more emphasis be placed on the restoration of upper watersheds and the role that green infrastructure (ecologically resilient forests and restored mountain meadows) can play in helping meet the state’s water resilience goals.
Following afternoon meetings, the day concluded with a celebratory happy hour where participants shared their experiences with each other. Participants echoed a feeling of accomplishment, feeling that legislators they spoke with were receptive to the ideas that were shared. The Alliance looks forward to continued advocacy collaboration to push the needle on priorities this year and in hopefully making this event an annual tradition.