Sierra Nevada group to receive $17.5M

Sierra Countis
Sierra Sun

The Sierra Nevada Conservancy is poised to receive $17.5 million in state funding earmarked for the Sierra Nevada.

Upon passage of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed state budget for 2007-2008, the Sierra Nevada Conservancy will receive conservation funding for the protection and conservation of natural resources in the mountain range.

The funding comes from Proposition 84 ” The Clean Water, Parks, and Coastal Protection Bond Act ” a $5.4 billion bond measure passed in the November 2006 election.

“The Sierra Nevada Conservancy is the only avenue for state funds to be solely dedicated to the conservation of the Sierra Nevada,” said Perry Norris, executive director of the Truckee Donner Land Trust.

Heading into its second year, the Sierra Nevada Conservancy’s goal is to highlight the area’s conservation needs, said Elizabeth Martin, CEO of the Sierra Fund. The money will provide for the acquisition of land and the protection of water quality in the Sierra Nevada, funding which had been previously lacking for the region, she said. The Sierra Fund is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to conservation of the Sierra Nevada and based in Nevada City. The group lobbied for the creation of the conservancy.

As a result of Prop 84, the California Tahoe Conservancy will receive $36 million, in total, to be used in the protection of water quality and open space, according to the Department of Water Resources. The Sierra Nevada Conservancy will get $54 million, in total. The $17.5 million now allocated in the governor’s proposed budget is an incremental portion of the total amount to be disbursed.

The $17.5 million funding is not a controversial budget item, Martin said, and will likely pass through the legislature and receive approval from the Governor. There are also plans to raise funds for the Sierra Conservancy through a special license plate, similar to the Lake Tahoe plates that fund the California Tahoe Conservancy. The Sierra Nevada plates will likely be introduced this summer.

As the Sierra Nevada Conservancy continues to gain support the group will then be able to serve the people of the Sierra Nevada, Martin said.

If the state legislature adopts the proposed budget, the $17.5 million will be available by July.

“I’m sure we’ll all be knocking on the Sierra Conservancy’s door,” Norris said.

Prop 84 will contribute funding toward projects related to drinking water, water quality and supply, flood control, water pollution and contamination control, and an emergency water supply. Prop 84 will also support improvements to state and local parks and the protection of natural waterways.

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