Truckee, Nevada City battle over Sierra Conservancy
Sun News Service
Eight towns would love to land the new Sierra Nevada Conservancy headquarters, projected to eventually have 70 employees and a $10 million budget.
But only two showed up at the historic first meeting of the conservancy board Thursday in Sacramento, and both were from Nevada County.
Nevada City used a laid-back approach in its pitch, but Truckee came on like a runaway snowboarder. Auburn, Colfax, Placerville, Amador City, Ione and Jackson were no-shows.
“Give us your serious consideration,” said Truckee Mayor Craig Threshie in a lengthy speech that trumpeted the town’s location, history and commitment to the range. “We have good intentions.”
But in a speech steeped in brevity, Nevada City Mayor Conley Weaver issued his own invitation.
“We want to invite you to Nevada City anytime. Remember, Nevada City was the first city to endorse the Sierra Conservancy.”
In attendance with Weaver were Nevada City City Manager Mark Miller and Chip Carman and John Paul, who recently produced a slick booklet to land the headquarters in Nevada City. Also at the meeting were former Nevada County Supervisors Peter Van Zant and Izzy Martin, who was there with her colleague from the Nevada City-based Sierra Fund, Shawn Garvey.
The headquarters location will probably not be decided until later this summer, according to California Secretary of Resources Mike Chrisman, who chaired the Sacramento meeting and gave no hints.
The board will also select the conservancy’s executive director soon, with a two-person subcommittee doing the initial screening. One of those two will be Inyo County Supervisor Linda Arcularius, who represents her county as well as Mono and Alpine counties on the board.
The other is Gov. Schwarzenegger appointee Bob Kirkwood, a former government-environmental affairs man for Hewlitt-Packard. He hails from Palo Alto but has a place in Alpine County.
While there is competition for the headquarters and the top job, speaker after speaker said the conservancy needs to keep the tone of cooperation used to create it.
Republican state Assemblyman Tim Leslie, who crafted the conservancy with Democrat Assemblyman John Laird, said, “There’s still people across the Sierra who hold serious reservations about this conservancy.” The conservancy should “create a collaborative effort,” he said.
Conservancy staffers said the first year’s budget will be $3.5 million for about 20 positions. The money is expected to come from special Sierra vehicle license plates similar to the ones that finance the Lake Tahoe Conservancy.
Staffers said the agency will look to enhance watersheds, wetlands, wildlife habitat and thin forests to protect the ecology and boost the economy in the conservancy’s 22 counties spread out more than 25 million acres.
Partnerships with nonprofit agencies will be explored to help get grants and loans for the projects.
Chrisman said the conservancy needs to act quickly to save the Sierra because it is under serious stress from population and pollution.