Sierra Conservancy chief to speak in Nevada City
NEVADA CITY – New Sierra Nevada Conservancy leader Jim Branham has been to Nevada City many times, and there are hopes he will bring the new agency’s headquarters here.Branham wasn’t prepared Wednesday to say how good a chance Nevada City has to land the political plum, initially slated to have 13 employees and a $2.5 million annual budget.But the new conservancy executive officer will be at the South Yuba River Citizens League’s Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival for a panel discussion about the Sierra and the conservancy at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the Nevada Theatre.Serving on the panel with Branham will be former supervisor and new Sierra Fund leader Elizabeth “Izzy” Martin and Steve Frisch of the Sierra Business Council, located in Truckee.Branham said eight to 12 proposals to land the conservancy’s main office have come into the state’s Department of General Services. Those proposals will first be checked to see if they meet specifications for consideration. The towns that make that cut will then be visited in the next few weeks so that a decision can be announced at the conservancy board’s Feb. 23 meeting in Nevada City.”A number of communities have expressed a great deal of interest,” Branham said. “Unfortunately, we can only pick one.”The towns that announced interest before the formal process included Nevada City, Truckee, Colfax, Auburn, Ione, Jackson, Amador City and Placerville.Branham said the agency will probably set up satellite offices in the coming years because of the expanse of the conservancy’s area, which extends from the Oregon border to Kern County. The Sierra’s topography also figured in to the satellite idea “because sometimes its hard to get from here to there, especially at this time of year.”Branham said a myriad of ideas have come in for the conservancy during a recent spate of public meetings throughout the mountain range. However, he said the focus of the conservancy is clear.”There are a lot of people embracing environmental and economic vitality,” Branham said. “The environment and the economy are inextricably linked (in the Sierra).” The conservancy would like to see tourism and recreation increased and to preserve economic land uses already set up, Branham said. At the same time, he said, the conservancy will recognize that the Sierra’s landscape beauty and ecosystem is what creates its possibilities.