Saving the Sierra with license plates |

Saving the Sierra with license plates

Jonah Kessel/Sun News ServiceCaples Lake and other beautiful Sierra landscapes could benefit from the money raise from specialty license plates.

Specialty license plates may create a steady stream of revenue for conservation efforts in the Sierra Nevada.

The Nevada City-based Sierra Fund is leading the effort to create the license plates for the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, a new state agency charged with helping to protect and restore natural and cultural resources throughout the Sierra.

The new license plates could increase funding for grants the conservancy awards local conservation groups, like the Truckee Donner Land Trust or the Truckee River Watershed Council.

Those interested would pay $50 on their first year registration, said Elizabeth Martin, chief executive officer of the Sierra Fund, $10 of which goes to making the plate, while $40 goes to the conservancy.

“That can be used for grant money, this way they’ll always have a sustainable income stream,” Martin said.

But to get started they have to have a commitment from 7,500 people interested in buying the license plates, Martin said, and the conservancy has to get all those people within a year.

So far the conservancy has about a third of that number interested, she said.

“I’m holding out hope the first check we collect is from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in front of camera crews,” Martin said.

And if the conservancy gets that check ” and the 7,500th within a year ” the new stream of revenue could find its way into local projects, she said.

“The conservancy has given significant money in your area,” Martin said.

Perry Norris, executive director of the Truckee Donner Land Trust, said the Sierra Nevada Conservancy plays a key role in local conservation efforts.

“The conservancy has been fantastically supportive of the land trust, the Truckee River Watershed Council and the Sierra Business Council,” Norris said.

Through the state, Norris said the conservancy contributed $8.5 million towards the recent preservation of Waddle Ranch in the Martis Valley.

The conservancy’s coverage extends over the entire Sierra Nevada, with the exception of Lake Tahoe, which is covered by the California Tahoe Conservancy, Martin said.

The California Tahoe Conservancy has a similar license plate program that has been successful.

“The Tahoe Conservancy has sold about 50,000 plates,” Martin said. “This is serious revenue.”

To learn more or to pre-register for a Sierra Nevada license plate, go to

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