Sierra Nevada Advocacy

Program Goal

Organize and mobilize the conservation community to 1) adopt plans, polices and legislation that protect and restore Sierra Nevada ecosystems and improve the health and vibrancy of Sierra Nevada communities and 2) confront and defeat threats to Sierra Nevada ecosystems and communities.

The Problem

The Sierra Nevada range supplies 65 percent of California’s water, almost 50 percent of its timber, and supports some of the most biologically rich landscapes in the United States, but it receives only paltry amounts – historically as little as 1 percent – of state funding for conservation. Currently no single organization works to coordinate and mobilize large portions of the Sierra conservation community to advance environmentally-oriented plans, policies and legislation and secure funding. And while existing organizations including the Sierra Business Council, Sierra Fund, Sierra Forest Legacy and Sierra Nevada Conservancy often work on policy issues, they rarely work as a coordinated and unified advocacy force.
 

Background

Campaigns channel group power by focusing on a concrete goal. The Alliance’s mission and structure are well positioned to build strong and successful grassroots campaigns for plans, policies and legislation that benefit Sierra ecosystems and communities, and to quickly mobilize in the event of plans, proposals or projects that are clearly misaligned with the Alliance’s mission (e.g. the creation of a dam, sharp cuts in funding for the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, passage of forest plans based on poor science). The Alliance was active and successful in this role as grassroots mobilizers during efforts to create the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, but has since organized its network around only a few region-wide actions. Our newly (2017) rejuvenated Sierra Nevada Advocacy program renews this focus by developing strong grassroots campaigns to develop and advocate for plans, policies and legislation that address challenges, and provide opportunities, to restore and protect Sierra lands and waterways, and support Sierra communities. Campaign strategies deployed focus on unifying and mobilizing member groups, partner organizations and concerned individuals throughout the Sierra Nevada and California to raise awareness of, and generate support for, Sierra specific environmental issues among regional, state and national representatives – including county supervisors, state senators and assembly members, and national house and senate representatives.
 
Campaigns undertaken by the Sierra Nevada Advocacy program may include efforts to advance plans, policies and legislation related to improving forest health, protecting headwaters, restoring high Sierra meadows, protecting climate refugia, improving regional transportation and securing funding for a wide variety of environmental restoration and community development projects. The Alliance is prepared to launch defensive grassroots campaigns in the event plans, policies or legislation are proposed that are in clear conflict with the Alliance’s vision and mission.
 

Our Vision for the Future

Through the Alliance’s Sierra Nevada Advocacy program new opportunities for important ecosystem restoration and conservation work have emerged, and Sierra communities are able to advance planning and implementation of programs and projects to increase their vibrancy and resilience. The Sierra Nevada Alliance and partners are able to definitively point to a relative increase in state and or federal resources to the Sierra for water, wildlife and land protection and restoration. Sound science that is supported by member groups and the conservation community is used to inform forest planning and watershed protection efforts. In addition, local, state and federal representatives from Sierra communities identify the Alliance as a practical partner able to support their efforts to increase the economic resilience and sustainability of Sierra communities in ways that preserve and highlight the region’s landscapes, water sources, recreation potential and wildlife.

18155862_1323345397721250_6697455558017652098_oPhoto from our People’s Climate March in South Lake Tahoe on April 29, 2017.