Could Sierra Conservancy be headquartered in town?
With a new state budget that allocates more than $3.6 million and 13 staff positions to the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, the scramble over which Sierra town will headquarter the fledgling agency is beginning to heat up.And Truckee, according to local officials, is in the running. The conservancy legislation, signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in September on the banks of the Bear River outside of Colfax, will channel funding into a mountainous region that stretches from the Oregon border to just north of Bakersfield. The town that lands the agency’s headquarters will secure a windfall of employment, eventually up to 50 or 60 jobs, and attract visitation from throughout the region, local officials say.”If headquartered in Truckee, the Sierra Nevada Conservancy would not only bring year-round economic benefits to our community, it would also serve to highlight Truckee as an increasingly important location for organizations, such as the Sierra Business Council, that are involved in protecting the Sierra region,” said Councilman Richard Anderson in an e-mail interview.Ted Owens, who is on the selection committee for the representative from the region that includes Nevada, Placer, El Dorado and Yuba counties, said that the economic benefit alone of housing the conservancy seat has heightened interest within the region.The state is working on coming up with criteria that will determine the suitable characteristics of a conservancy headquarters, said Owens. An organized lobbying effort by the town before that time would be premature, he added.Still, the city of Auburn has adopted a resolution asking that the town be seriously considered as a site for the headquarters, and Placer County has lobbied for the seat of the conservancy within its county borders. Nevada City, meanwhile, has its own grassroots lobbying effort in full force. But Truckee, the largest incorporated town within the conservancy’s borders, has largely held its silence.But now that the agency is taking shape, the topic of Truckee’s chances of becoming the central location of the conservancy is being batted around, and soon the town may be considering a resolution to highlight Truckee’s virtues.”If the council is interested in having the conservancy’s headquarters in Truckee, then I’m certain we’ll bring it up at a regular council meeting,” said Anderson. “At the very least, we need to consider passing a resolution that we can send to the state that emphasizes our interest in having the conservancy here.”The town’s qualifications, said Anderson, are excellent. While Auburn, Colfax of Placerville are not often snowbound and are close to Sacramento, Truckee holds a more central location in terms of the conservancy’s boundaries, said Anderson. “If you consider that the border of the conservancy’s region actually stretches all the way to the Oregon border, then Truckee is pretty centrally located. More critically, access to Truckee is extremely good,” Anderson said. “We have an airport, we’re on an interstate rail route and freeway, we’re on Highway 89, which connects directly to the Mt. Lassen area, and we’re only a short drive from Reno and Highway 395.” This latter is an especially important point, he said, because Highway 395 is the primary transportation arterial along the eastern Sierra.As different Sierra towns push for their selection as the agency’s seat, the actual process that will determine the headquarters marches on.Owens, chair of the Nevada County Board of Supervisors, will begin working with supervisors from the three counties in Nevada County’s subregion to determine who will sit on the agency board as the local governmental representative from the central Sierra region – one of six regions in the agency. The selection of this representative will have an effect on which town lands the headquarters, as the 13-member board will choose the location.Owens said that he will look for a candidate with “reasonableness, balance, integrity and an understanding of our environment and its relationship to our economies.” The region’s representative must be selected by March 1.