Sierra Nevada Alliance Conservation Conference
Innovation & Opportunity in the Face of Climate Change & Explosive Wildfire
Save the Date
September 15 - 16, 2022
Grizzly Creek Ranch
The 2022 Sierra Nevada Alliance Conservation Conference is a venue to deepen environmental conversations for the Sierra and move the needle on important initiatives. Presenters include naturalists, artists, outdoor enthusiasts, conservationists, agencies, nonprofits, tribal leaders, policy directors, communications professionals, environmental justice leaders, scientists and friends of the Sierra. We invite you to join us and explore the conference tracks below.
Climate change is creating long-term drought and explosive wildfires in the Sierra Nevada. Talks within this track will examine fire recovery, studying pyrodiversity with community science, forest resilience, and fire management.
Learn about on-the-ground watershed & landscapes conservation efforts that advance biodiversity, build climate resilience, and strengthen partnerships with tribes and communities in the Sierra Nevada.
We will weave discussions about Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion into all topics to truly increase representation and engagement. In this track, presentations demonstrate successful community participation and teach us how to be more inclusive and elevate the voices of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.
Learn about new plans and strategies to diversify local economies and develop sustainable industries that create high-quality, broadly accessible jobs for all. Hear from a diversity of funders to best understand their priority investments and outlook for the next couple of years.
Learn more about tools developed to elevate the Sierra Nevada’s resilience in the face of climate change.
About the Conference
Welcome to the Sierra Nevada Alliance’s Conference scheduled to take place at Sierra Nevada Journeys’ Grizzly Creek Ranch on September 15 – 16.
Our theme is Stronger Together: Innovation & Opportunity in the Face of Climate Change & Explosive Wildfire.
The Sierra Nevada Alliance has been hosting conservation conferences since 1994. We are pleased to provide this venue to deepen conservation conversations for the Sierra Nevada region to help move the needle on important initiatives. We look forward to seeing you in September.
About the Sierra Nevada and the Alliance
The Sierra Nevada is a mountain range that lies primarily in the state of California with the Carson Range spur expanding into Nevada. The Sierra runs 400 miles north to south, and 50 to 80 miles east to west. The Sierra houses General Sherman, the world’s largest tree by volume; Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lake in North America; and Mount Whitney, the highest point in the lower 48 United States.
The Sierra is rich in natural resources. It produces 60% of California’s water supply and supplies the state with 50% of its hydroelectric energy. Wildlife is abundant with 3500 plant, 572 animal, and 321 aquatic species. This is a big weight to bear, all while hosting 788,000 residents and 50 million annual visitors.
This region is at risk, and the Alliance is leading the way to build resiliency in the face of climate change and explosive wildfire.
Our Mission: We are a hub for stewardship of the Sierra Nevada, which we achieve by empowering and collaborating with our partners.
Our Vision: Every Sierra ecosystem and community is healthy, resilient, and collectively cared for through thriving partnerships, as a legacy for future generations.
Thank you for your support to join in and protect this precious area.
Registration is now closed. Please contact Jennifer Marshall at (530) 416-0959 if you would like to attend.
The Sierra Nevada Alliance is pleased to invite you to Portola, CA for our conservation conference – Stronger Together: Innovation & Opportunity in the Face of Climate Change & Explosive Wildfire.
Conference registration includes materials, admission to all plenaries and sessions, meals, on-site activities, and more.
Thursday: Conference admission, breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Friday: Conference admission, breakfast, and lunch
Conference package (refer to About the Ranch section below):
Thursday: Conference admission, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and lodging at the Grizzly Creek Ranch
Friday: Conference admission, breakfast, and lunch
Member group discount is available to Alliance member groups renewed by February 28, 2022. Eligible groups are Sugarpine Foundation, Sierra Nevada Journeys, Sierra Club Tahoe Group, American River Conservancy, Butte County RCD, Sequoia Riverlands Trust, Alpine Watershed Group, and Truckee Donner Land Trust
We are dedicated to increasing representation, engaging and elevating the voices of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and we are pleased to offer a limited number of scholarships to these groups. If you are interested in a scholarship and a member of the BIPOC community, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your request. Include your name, organization, why you would like to attend, and if you would like a conference pass or package.
IMPORTANT: Once payment is received, you will receive an email link to the Sierra Nevada Journeys waiver. This waiver is required for all conference attendees and will track your lodging choice, dietary restrictions, and other information. Sierra Nevada Journeys serves as a youth camp, and some waiver questions are intended for youth. All questions marked with an asterisk are required. We appreciate your patience and understanding.
Have you registered and still need to complete the waiver?
General tickets 8/18 – 9/15:
- Conference pass (five meals included): $200
- Conference package – pass + lodging (refer to About the Ranch section below): $300
Member Group tickets:
- Member group discount conference pass (only available to groups renewed by 2/28/2022) – $100
- Member group discount conference package (only available to group renewed by 2/28/2022) – $200
- Member Groups eligible for discount: Sugarpine Foundation, Sierra Nevada Journeys, Sierra Club Tahoe Group, American River Conservancy, Butte County RCD, Sequoia Riverlands Trust, Alpine Watershed Group, and Truckee Donner Land Trust
About the Ranch
Grizzly Creek Ranch is surrounded by magnificent vistas, valleys, and meadows located in the Plumas National Forest. From a high ropes challenge course to the forest and river ecosystems, Grizzly Creek Ranch is breathtaking and the ideal location for exploring nature.
The camp is fully ADA accessible and located in Portola, CA, just 45 minutes from Reno, NV and two hours from Sacramento, CA.
Staying at the Ranch: Grizzly Creek Ranch has four modern cabin villages, four yurts and two large stand-along dormitories. Each clean and comfortable cabin has its own restroom. All accomodations are shared bunk-style cabins or dormitories. Modern shower facilities are located in next-door activity centers. Guests of the Ranch must bring their own bedding (sleeping bag, pillow, twin sheets, blankets). When filling out the waiver, you will be asked who you are most comfortable rooming with and we will do our best to accommodate your request.
Take a virtual tour, and see for yourself!
Other Lodging Options:
Located in Blairsden-Graeagle, CA
10 minute drive to Conference
Located in Portola, CA
12 minute drive to Conference
Located in Portola, CA
11 minute drive to Conference
Located in Graeagle, CA
15 minute drive to Conference
|Thursday September 15|
|7:30 am - 8:45 am||
Registration (Main Entrance)
|8:00 am - 8:45 am||
Breakfast (North Lodge)
|8:45 am - 9:45 am||
Opening Plenary & Welcome
Keynote Speaker: Ron W. Goode, North Fork Mono Tribe Chairman
|10:00 am - 11:00 am||
Engaging Communities: Outdoor Recreationists Shape Conservation in the Sierra Nevada
Forest Health: Resilient Forests
|11:15 am - 12:15 pm||
Engaging Communities: Traditional Ecological Knowledge Through Storytelling|
Explore the Trails of Grizzly Creek Ranch
|12:30 pm - 1:45 pm||
General Plenary Open to All
Lunch, Member Group Annual Meeting & Presentations
Sierra Nevada Alliance Update
Sierra Nevada 30 x 30 Update
|2:00 pm - 3:00 pm||
Conservation: What is possible with 30x30?
|3:15 pm - 4:15 pm||
Climate Resiliency: Climate Assessment Tools
|4:30 pm - 5:30 pm||
Green Economy: Funding Priorities for the Sierra Nevada Region
|5:30 pm - 6:30 pm||
Happy Hour Open to All
SNAP Member Graduation & Poster Session
|6:30 pm - 7:30 pm||
|7:30 pm - 9:00 pm||
(Location Dependent on Smoke)
|Friday September 16|
|7:30 am - 8:45 am||
Registration (Lodge Foyer)
|8:00 am - 8:45 am||Breakfast (North Lodge)|
|9:00 am - 10:00 am||
Opening Plenary & Welcome
Two States Protect the Sierra:
Jessica Morse, California Natural Resources Agency
Jim Lawrence, Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
|10:15 am - 11:15 am||
Engaging Communities: People Power: Inspiring Communities to Protect the Jewel of the Sierra
Conservation: Wildlife Research & Restoration
|11:30 am - 12:30 pm||
Forest Health: Fire Recovery
Green Economy: CERF Panel
|12:45 pm - 1:45 pm||
Lunch & Closing Plenary
Keynote Speaker: Obi Kaufmann, Artist-Adventurer & Best-Selling Author
The conference will be composed of panels, presentations and talks that focus on a particular theme or topic (a track). Our conference is a venue to deepen environmental conversations for the Sierra and move the needle on important initiatives across five tracks: conservation, forest health, engaging communities, climate resiliency, and green economy. Each session is led by a session facilitator. For an overview of all sessions with a title, description, and presenter, view the table here.
Call For Abstracts
2022 Call for Abstracts is CLOSED. If you have missed the deadline and would like to submit an abstract, please contact Jen Marshall at email@example.com for more information.
Artist, Author, Conservationist
Growing up in the East Bay as the son of an astrophysicist and a psychologist, Obi Kaufmann spent most of high school practicing calculus and breaking away on weekends to scramble around Mount Diablo and map its creeks, oak forests, and sage mazes. Into adulthood, he would regularly journey into the mountains, spending more summer nights without a roof than with one. This artist-adventurer has dedicated his life to studying California’s natural world and sharing his passion for its generous landscapes through the stroke of paintbrush and pen. He is the author of the genre-breaking, San Francisco Chronicle #1 best-selling book, The California Field Atlas (2017), The State of Water: Understanding California’s Most Precious Natural Resource (2019), and The Forests of California (2020), all published by Heyday. When he is not backpacking, you can find the painter-poet at home in the East Bay, posting trail paintings at his handle @coyotethunder on Instagram. His website is coyoteandthunder.com.
Ron W. Goode
Chairman – North Fork Mono Tribe
The Honorable Ron W. Goode is the Tribal Chairman of the North Fork Mono Tribe since 1983. He is a Veteran of the United States Army; a Life Member of the Sierra Mono Museum and of the United States Judo Federation. Ron holds a 6th degree Black Belt in Judo and still enjoys teaching. He is also a retired Community College Professor in Ethnic Studies. Receiving his Life Credential from the State of California and National University of Fresno. Ron was inducted in the Clovis Hall of Fame for his work in Education and Community Service in 2002. In 2006 he was selected as CA Indian Education Teacher of the Year and in 2006 and 2007. Mr. Goode was nominated for the Who’s Who of America’s Teachers. In 2013 Ron was recognized by Gov. Brown for his work with the Dept. of Water Resources and co-founder of the Tribal Water Summit. In 2022 Ron was honored by the Society of California Archaeology for the Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in Cultural Preservation.
Mr. Goode is a published author, an ethnobotany book on native plants and resources: Cultural Traditions Endangered, 1992. In 2017-2018 Ron was the Coordinating Lead Author for the Tribal Indigenous Communities Climate Change Assessment as a new report of the California 4th Climate Change Assessment. Ron is also the Co-Founder of the CA State Tribal Water Summit and has chaired all three of the events and is heading up the 4th Water Summit in 2023.
Ron and his tribal archaeological team have been conducting archaeology for five decades. There are now mapping their traditional homeland trails and watersheds, including adding ancient village and landscape names from the Nium language. Ron and the Tribe and tribal team partner with numerous colleges and Universities to conduct and train other Native American Monitors as well as agency archaeologists and cultural resource managers in new and advanced archaeological techniques.
Mr. Goode and his tribal and ecological team, have been conducting Cultural Burns with Sequoia Park, Bass Lake Ranger District – Sierra National Forest, Cold Springs Rancheria, Private and Tribal Lands in Mariposa with the Mariposa Miwok Tribe. Ron then takes their practical work and presents it at Universities, Colleges, Seminars, Webinars, via Zoom and other Internet venues. Ron’s Journal writings and Webinar presentations have garnered worldwide attention.
Conserve Nevada Program Manager – Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Brandon Bishop serves as the Conserve Nevada Program Manager for the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. In this role Bishop works with non-profits and community partners on a wide range of projects that support the conservation and enhancement of Nevada’s natural, cultural, and recreational resources. Bishop’s prior experience included roles advancing institutional sustainability, climate resiliency, energy conservation, and economic development. In his free time, he can typically be found hiking, skiing, or exploring the Sierras.
Director of the Land Resource Protection Division – California Department of Conservation
Kealiʻi Bright is the director of the Division for Land Resource Protection at the California Department of Conservation. In this role, Kealiʻi leads multiple programs to build regional capacity to lead protection and stewardship of the state’s most valuable agricultural and watershed resources through changing land-use and climate. Prior to this role, Keali’i served as the Deputy Secretary for Climate and Energy, and previously as the Deputy Secretary for Legislative affairs at the Natural Resources Agency for Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. These positions were preceded a decade of work for the Legislature on natural resources, environmental protection, energy, transportation and other programs for the California State Assembly Budget Committee.
Project Manager – Tahoe Prosperity Center
Shelby Cook was born and raised in Reno, Nevada and moved back to the area after receiving a B.S. in Community Development from Portland State University. She is the Project Manager for the Tahoe Prosperity Center, focusing on community and economic indicators data, broadband expansion, and fundraising. She has a background in community-based research, nonprofit work, grant writing, and civic engagement and uses these passions to contribute to her work at the Tahoe Prosperity Center.
Board Member – Clean Up the Lake
Jeff Cowen currently serves as Public Information Officer for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA), where he has worked on the external affairs team for over 10 years. Jeff also worked as a Tahoe sportfishing captain and it was by marveling at the crystal‐clear waters and gaining an understanding of the fragility of Tahoe’s ecosystem that he decided to dedicate himself to protecting it. When the chance to work with Colin West and the team at Clean up the Lake emerged, Jeff saw a natural confluence of his skills and knowledge with a mission that was close to his heart. He came onboard with CUTL as an assistant to the fundraising team and has since been transitioned to the non‐profit’s board of directors. Jeff understands complex policy, large‐ and small‐scale budgets, public and private finance, and collaborative frameworks; and has proven experience in project management, organizational leadership, conflict resolution, public speaking, and strategic communications.Board
Dr. Darla DeRuiter
Executive Director – Friends of Plumas Wilderness
Darla DeRuiter is an expeditionologist of high ranges, rugged coasts and free rivers. She is also the Executive Director of Friends of Plumas Wilderness. Upon reflection, Darla realizes that a nearly quarter-century teaching career, three score years with her perfect love, and a lifetime in the West convince her that she’s satisfied with the life she’s livin’. These days, her energies fit in a five-fingered glove: adventure, creativity, service, health, and human connection.
Executive Director – Feather River Land Trust
Shelton serving as Executive Director, Leads FRLT as it fulfills it’s land saving mission. Shelton works with the Board of Directors, staff and partners to move projects forward while ensuring the health of the organization and it’s key parts, the staff. Due to his 25 plus years managing fee-title and conservation easement transactions, Shelton also leads the Land Protection Program, working with landowners to permanently protect conservation values critical to the region and the nation. Shelton also has 27 years of experience with fire management, working as both a paid and volunteer fire fighter and fire officer with the US Forest Service, National Park Service, CALFIRE and Riverside County.
Community Science Coordinator – California Native Plant Society
Born in Guadalajara, Jalisco and raised in the Central Coast of California, Jose graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a BA in Geography/Environmental Studies in 2019. Has had an interest in conservation work with a strong intersection in science, community outreach, and environmental justice. Jose is the current Community Science Coordinator at CNPS, leading the CA Fire Followers Project. As a way to connect with his environment, he loves to spend time outdoors, hiking, playing soccer and exploring creative outlets through drawing.
Policy Analyst & California Regional Director – Access Fund
Katie is part of the Access Fund’s national policy and advocacy program and serves as California Regional Director. Katie works with public land managers to address access issues and develop and implement management plans as it relates to climbing. She also supports the stewardship program and local climbing communities by providing assessment tools to protect and conserve the climbing environment.
California Program Manager – Outdoor Alliance California
Katie Hawkins is the California Program Manager for Outdoor Alliance, where she spearheads the advocacy and policy efforts from the heart of the Sierra Nevada. With over 20 years of outdoor industry experience, Hawkins has led international sales teams and growth initiatives for key outdoor brands such as Marmot, Black Diamond Equipment, and Gregory Mountain Products.
In 2020, Katie was appointed by California Governor Newsom to the Outdoor Recreation Commission on Boating and Waterways, where she advocates to protect, promote, and enhance outdoor recreation opportunities in the state.
She lives in Truckee, California with her husband, adventurous son, and mischievous dog.
Outreach Director – Tahoe Institute for Natural Science
Sarah Hockensmith leads a very active lifestyle, but will always find time to slow down and watch the birds sing. After working for the US Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and various governmental agencies in the natural sciences, Sarah decided to settle down her migration and is a full time naturalist and Outreach Director for the Tahoe Institute for Natural Science. With a smile on her face and her binoculars in hand, she researches birds in the Tahoe region as well as leads wildflower, geology, and bird tours throughout the Sierra Nevada.
Dr. Logan Robertson Huecker
Executive Director – Sequoia Riverlands Trust
Dr. Logan Robertson Huecker joined SRT in 2020 and was appointed Executive Director in October, 2021. Logan has worked for more than two decades in the nonprofit and education sectors in California, Guatemala, and Honduras. Her work at SRT leverages her professional experience and expands upon her deep commitment to the natural and agricultural legacy of the Sierra foothills and Central Valley. She has experience leading non-profit organizations and publicly funded programs; managing staff teams, spearheading collaborative initiatives, and implementing federal, state and local policies.
Field Operations Manager – Sierra Nevada Conservancy
Luke leads the field team of Area Representatives at the Sierra Nevada Conservancy. These are the SNC Staff who live in communities across the Sierra, where they work to discover and help develop great projects and policy recommendations. The on-the-ground knowledge and effective leadership of the Area Representatives are keys SNC’s success. Luke grew up by Dorrington, near Calaveras Big Trees. Before SNC, he was the Director of Headwaters Conservation at American Rivers for 10 years. Luke has a Ph.D. in ecology and biomechanics from Stanford. Past research took him diving in Antarctica and banding raptors all over the west. Luke lives in Nevada City with his wife Heather and three enthusiastic boys.
Acting Director – Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Jim Lawrence is the Acting Director of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (NDCNR), and has over 30 years of experience spanning all aspects of natural resource protection and land use planning in Nevada. He actively engages with Nevada’s broad range of stakeholders putting science into action to address the many contemporary and emerging challenges and opportunities across the state, including advancing environmental improvement and sustainable outdoor recreation initiatives, overseeing the development and implementation of Nevada’s cutting-edge sagebrush ecosystem conservation credit program, and leading efforts to preserve Nevada’s unique biodiversity and natural heritage. Additionally, he served as Executive Officer for the Nevada State Land Use Planning Agency, and currently represents NDCNR on the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Governing Board.
Director of Planning and Policy – Sequoia Riverlands Trust
Adam Livingston is Director of Planning and Policy at SRT and Coordinator of the Southern Sierra Partnership. Widely recognized as a leading voice on land use and conservation in the Sierra Nevada and San Joaquin Valley, Adam has built cross-sector coalitions to support compact growth in city- and county-level general plan updates, regional transportation plans and other contexts. He has authored or co-authored multiple reports on land use and transportation policy, including Sustainable Communities Strategies and Conservation: Results from the First Round and Policy Recommendations for Future Rounds. Adam also coordinated SRT’s successful applications for LTA accreditation and accreditation renewal.
Theresa L. Lorejo-Simsiman
California Stewardship Director – American Whitewater
Theresa brings over a decade of river advocacy experience to the position of California Stewardship Director. Since she first started whitewater kayaking in 1999 she has made it a point to get involved at the community level to advocate for river sheds and lands in in her back-yard. She cut her teeth in the world of hydropower by actively informing and encouraging advocacy from local paddling groups for the relicensing of the FERC Upper American River Project (UARP) owned and operated by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD).
Having gained practical knowledge working with utilities, federal, state & local agencies as well as local partner organizations, Theresa was eventually brought on to the American Whitewater staff as the California Stewardship Assistant in 2013. In this position she protected recreational flows on the Mokelumne River during the drought, advocated for State Wild and Scenic River status for the Mokelumne, helped remove an illegal fence blocking access to the Cosumnes River, and helped implement the first license required recreational flow releases on the South Fork American River below Slab Creek Dam and on South Silver Creek below Ice House
Forest Futures Program Director – Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation
Nicole is the Forest Futures Program Director at the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation. The Forest Futures initiative ensures healthy forests today, tomorrow, and forever— and unlocks the innovation and resources that hold the potential to solve our communities’ underlying forest health issues by setting in motion a series of projects and funding mechanisms. Nicole has a background in forestry and conservation planning, workforce development, and community organizing with government, non-profits and the private sector. Prior to joining TTCF, Nicole developed the workforce development initiative, Sierra Corps Forestry Fellowship Program, with the Sierra Nevada Alliance. She has served on the North Tahoe Regional Advisory Council to Placer County since 2015. Nicole lives in Tahoe City and enjoys adventuring with her dogs and husband across the Sierra and attending bluegrass concerts.
Partnerships Lead, Founder, and President – Farallon Strategies, LLC
Michael McCormick is the Partnerships Lead, Founder, and President of Farallon Strategies, LLC, an advisory, policy, and management consulting firm based in California. He founded Farallon Strategies to support the creation of transformative solutions to reduce society’s contributions to climate change and the needed resilience in communities to address the impacts of climate change. He has worked at the local, regional, state, federal levels, and in non-profit, business, and government. These perspectives allow him to see the interconnectedness of work across governance and organizations, and to help create the vision and strategy to affect change. Michael works on governance solutions for climate change initiatives at the local and regional scale and is passionate about national service as an important tool in helping to address the climate crisis. Michael leads a number of Farallon Strategies’ initiatives, including work with the CSU Chancellor’s Office on Climate Informed Design Day Guidelines, leadership as part of the program team for the California Resilience Partnership, as a partner with CivicWell on expansion of the CivicSpark AmeriCorps program, and as a partner with a number of firms doing critical work at the local, regional, state, and national scale on climate change, resilience, and national service.
Michael actively supports the evolution of the community of practice and is currently serving as an Advisor to Resilient Cities Catalyst, Mentor at 3rd Derivative, Advisor to BrightAction, Board Member for Community Climate Solutions, Board Member at the Cool Davis Foundation, Senior Fellow of the American Leadership Forum: Mountain Valley Chapter, and a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. Michael is an instructor and visiting lecturer at various universities and institutes and teaches classes on climate change, land use, and resilience at UC Davis Continuing and Professional Organizations.
President – Concerned Off Road Bicyclists Association & Board Member – California Mountain Biking Coalition
After more than 25 years riding trails, Steve Messer saw the trail conditions in his local National Forest deteriorating through lack of maintenance. He began doing volunteer work with CORBA’s trail crew in the early 2000s, and before long was leading crews himself. He began working on trail master plans and other public planning efforts as a volunteer with CORBA in the mid-2000s. He joined the CORBA board in 2009, and soon took the VP position. In 2014 he became CORBA’s board president.
Steve led major trail reconstruction efforts in the wake of the Station Fire, the Lake Fire, Sand Fire, Woolsey fire and now the Bobcat Fire. CORBA continues to do regular trail maintenance, teaches free public monthly mountain biking skills and etiquette training. CORBA also runs a program providing at-risk youth guided, interpretive mountain bike rides.
In 2019 he co-founded the California Mountain Biking Coalition, and continues to serve on the board of this new organization. He serves on both the Legislative and Government Affairs committee, and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. In 2020 he joined the Outdoor Alliance California Coalition, where he represents California mountain bikers in conservation efforts.
Deputy Secretary for Forest and Wildland Resilience – California Natural Resources Agency
Jessica Morse joined the California Natural Resources Agency in April 2019. As the Deputy Secretary for Forest and Wildland Resilience, she is working to increase the pace and scale of science-based forest management to restore healthy forests, improve watershed health, protect California’s unique ecosystems and make Californians wildfire resilient. Before joining Governor Newsom’s administration, Jessica spent nearly ten years in National Security working for the Defense Department, State Department, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Her assignments included a year and a half in Iraq and tours in India, Myanmar, and US Pacific Command. In 2018, Morse ran for U.S. Congress in California’s 4th Congressional District in the Sierra Nevada region. Jessica is a fifth generation Northern Californian. She and her family still own and manage their original homestead forestland in the Sierra foothills. An avid backpacker, Jessica has hiked over 500 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. Jessica holds a Masters of Public Affairs from Princeton University and a Bachelor of Arts in economics from Principia College.
Malcolm North, Ph.D.
Research Ecologist – Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station
Malcolm North is a Research Forest Ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station, and an Affiliate Professor of Forest Ecology, Department of Plant Sciences at the University of California, Davis. He received his Master of Forest Science at Yale University and his PhD in Forest Ecology from the University of Washington. His research includes work on examining forest restoration and ecosystem response, wildlife, wildfire and forest carbon dynamics published in more than 190 articles. His lab (students and postdocs) primarily focus on forest and fire ecology of Sierra Nevada mixed-conifer forests.
Advocacy Director – Winter Wildlands Alliance
As Advocacy Director for Winter Wildlands Alliance, David has worked closely with environmental partners, grassroots winter recreation groups and forest service staff on numerous land management and winter travel plans in California and beyond, as well as on other issues that impact backcountry skiers and human powered winter adventurers. He also serves as Policy Director for Outdoor Alliance California (OACA), working with climbers, paddlers, skiers, mountain bikers and others to improve land protections, climate resilience, and equitable access to quality recreation on public lands in California.
David is also a national award-winning journalist and a finalist for a 2015 National Magazine Award. He has written for the Los Angeles Times Magazine, Men’s Journal, Adventure Journal, The New York Times, Esquire, Outside, Powder, Ski and many other publications. He lives in Mammoth Lakes and spends as much time as he can on the Inyo National Forest.
Planning Technician, Climate & Energy – Sierra Business Council
Kaeleigh is a staff analyst for the Climate & Energy and Economic Empowerment teams, and manages the Sierra Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Partnership (Sierra CAMP) at Sierra Business Council. At SBC, she focuses on climate adaptation and energy efficiency in rural communities, co-authored the Sierra Nevada Climate Vulnerability Assessment, and is gearing up for the launch of the CERF program. Kaeleigh has a BS in Physics from Cal Poly, SLO and a background in research and writing. When off the clock, she loves to trail run and ski on water and snow all around Truckee and the Tahoe Basin with good friends and good dogs.
Executive Director – El Dorado Community Foundation
Bill has been with the El Dorado Community Foundation since 2007 where he started as the Foundation’s Program Officer. Within a year Bill was named as the Interim Director when the previous Director stepped away from the Foundation to focus on other critical work. Before long he was asked to take over the position in full and in his 15 years with the Foundation, Bill has focused on building sustainability within the organization and has been integral to the exceptional growth the El Dorado Community Foundation has experienced in that time. Bill has a BS in Business Administration from the State University of New York, and completed a Public Health Residency Program at Princeton University Hospital. Bill has worked for the Benetton Sports Group and John Hancock Agriculture Investment Group as a senior financial analyst. Bill spent 7 years working for a nonprofit organization in the East Bay before moving to El Dorado County where he spent time visiting family in his youth. Bill now lives in Shingle Springs with his husband Jim and his dogs, Lily, Dolly, and Shelbi.
Communications Manager – Sierra Business Council
As Sierra Business Council’s communications manager, Jill is a media and messaging catch-all, taking point on the organization’s network development, marketing efforts, fundraising campaigns, branding, and storytelling. She works closely with SBC’s government affairs, energy and community planning, workforce housing, and economic empowerment teams, supporting program goals and bringing a strategic lens to day-to-day implementation tasks. Jill is a third-generation Sierra Nevada resident, having grown up in Placerville and now based in Truckee. She is an advocate for the Sierra Nevada’s small towns, granite slopes, rugged forests, and open spaces. Prior to joining SBC, Jill worked as a nationally published reporter for the outdoor industry and digital communications consultant. She holds a BA from the University of Puget Sound (Tacoma, WA). When she is away from the computer, Jill is either outside, with her dog June and a fly rod in hand, or inside, throwing clay or tinkering around the art studio.
CEO – Valley Vision
Evan Schmidt joined Valley Vision in 2014 and became CEO on July 1, 2020. Evan has a long record of success developing community inspired solutions across Valley Vision’s many initiatives – including leading Valley Vision’s research, such as regional polling and future of work; supporting Valley Vision’s impact areas advancing prosperity, equity, and sustainability; and leading strategy and evaluation efforts across the organization.
Evan came to Valley Vision with 15 years of experience as a community development professional. She has worked as an evaluator and a private consultant prior to joining Valley Vision. She led evaluation projects for organizations across the U.S., helping them become more effective and impactful. Additionally, she has advanced major regional community initiatives and conducted research at UC Davis in community development and environmental planning before coming to Valley Vision. Evan’s experience in community development spans years and content areas – including economic development, community engagement, land use planning, public health, and more. Her commitment to community is foundational to her professional and civic leadership – always working to create access, opportunities, prosperity, and well-being for all.
Director – California Department of Conservation
The Governor appointed David Shabazian as the Director of the Department of Conservation in October 2019. David grew up on a family farm in California’s Central Valley and spends much of his free time recreating outdoors. This background coupled with David’s education and experience in planning and economics underpins his lifelong passion for natural resource stewardship. His career is built on bringing diverse stakeholders together with innovative methods to protect both the ecological and economic value of our natural and working lands. David has spent 25 years building both urban and rural strategies that balance resource conservation and smart urban growth to advance sustainable environmental and economic outcomes. David is extending his successful approach to land conservation and management by building connections across the Department’s programs to provide more integrated outcomes for carbon management, watershed management, hazards management, and sustainable economic development.
Wayne Spencer, Ph.D.
Chief Scientist – Conservation Biology Institute
Wayne Spencer is a wildlife conservation biologist specializing in the practical application of science to biological conservation in western North America. Dr. Spencer guides various science-based efforts to conserve ecological connectivity, sustain resilient ecosystems, and recover endangered species. He currently leads teams working to recover the endangered Stephens’ kangaroo rat in southern California and the endangered Pacific fisher population in the southern Sierra Nevada. He also leads a multidisciplinary science team that is working to produce science-based decision-support tools for resilient forest habitat management in the Sierra Nevada.
Chad L. Thomas
Board Member – California Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers
Although born and raised in the inner city, Chad spent much of his childhood and early adulthood in the local national forest and BLM properties of southern California. Shortly after college he shifted careers from education to wildlife management, culminating in the completion of an MSc in Environmental Policy and Management with and emphasis in Fish and Wildlife Management. His career has focused on predator (native and non-native) research and management, invasive species prevention, and game management. In 2021 Chad joined the board of the CA chapter of BHA where he works to ensure equitable access to responsible outdoor recreation.
Sierra Nevada Alliance and Sierra Nevada Journeys (SNJ) care about your well-being and take the health and safety of our conference attendees and employees very seriously. With the spread of the Corona Virus or “COVID-19”, we are committed to mitigating the spread in our community. One of the reasons the Alliance chose SNJ’s Grizzly Creek Ranch is because of all of the wonderful outdoor spaces made available to us!
To that end, we have developed a COVID-19 Exposure Control and Response Plan to ensure all staff, participants and external community organizations using our facility follow effective health and safety practices while attending Sierra Nevada Journeys, Grizzly Creek Ranch. The Executive Director and other leadership staff have assumed the responsibility to ensure this COVID-19 Exposure Control and Response Plan is implemented, reviewed, and updated, as new information becomes available. Members of our Leadership Team continue to monitor relevant local Health Department and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidance.
- Vaccination: All Sierra Nevada Journeys staff are vaccinated for COVID-19 as a condition of employment. We recommend, but do not require, that adult and youth participants receive COVIR-19 vaccinations before attending the conference.
- Testing: All (vaccinated or unvaccinated): Conference attendees staying overnight at Grizzly Creek Ranch must either:
1) Upon arrival provide proof of a negative test (Rapid or PCR) taken no more than 3 days (72 hours) before arriving at camp. Please bring a photo or printout of your results to the conference registration booth.
2) If you cannot test before arriving to the conference, SNJ has free on-site testing available upon arrival.
- Everyone getting tested on-site must register before arriving to camp, click this Registration Link to register.
- A Rapid Antigen Test will be performed once arriving to the site.
- Test Results:
- Rapid test results will be available within 15 minutes of testing.
- Negative test results will be admitted to the conference
- Positive test results will be sent home and encouraged to seek medical assistance
- Masks: Participants and SNJ Staff will not be required to wear a mask unless it is requested by a partner
- Enhanced Sanitation and Hygiene: Our team looks forward to hosting you for a safe and fun experience. We will regularly work to attend to enhanced hygiene throughout the property.
If you have any other questions, please feel free to give Adam Yarnes, Camp Executive Director a call at (775) 560-1813.
Thank you to our generous sponsors dedicated to protecting and preserving the Sierra Nevada now and for future generations. To become a sponsor, contact Jennifer@sierranevadaalliance.org.