17 December 2012 – Our board and five staff, with the support of an army of volunteer expert advisors, partner organizations, private foundation partners, government agencies, and individual donors, have made 2012 a very successful year for The Sierra Fund. We thought we would take this moment to share our accomplishments in pursuit of our mission.
As you know, The Sierra Fund’s mission is to increase and organize investment in the natural resources and communities of the Sierra Nevada region. We pursue our mission through:
- Philanthropic Services to worthy projects and organizations,
- Advocacy at the state and federal level for funding and programs needed here, and
- Strategic Campaigns including our initiative to address mining’s enormous impacts on this region.
New Resources for the Sierra Nevada: We were thrilled to learn that we have been awarded $1.3 million from the River Parkways Program at the California Natural Resources Agency for two new projects in and around Nevada City.
The first will extend the existing Tribute Trail project, which TSF has sponsored and coordinated since 2009. This new funding will allow us to build additional trail sections and a bridge to honor the Original People of the area, the Foothill Nisenan of the Nevada City Rancheria. We will work with the Tribe to design the bridge and the educational signage that are part of this project.
The second grant is for acquisition of a small parcel on the border of the City that will allow further development of the Trail and create a small park with access to Deer Creek.
A third grant, awarded to the Bear Yuba Land Trust, will provide the final funds to acquire nearly 700 acres of land along and around the Middle Yuba River—matching funds The Sierra Fund raised for this project more than five years ago. This project will be the culmination of many years of collective work by The Sierra Fund, Trust for Public Land, Bear Yuba Land Trust and others to secure this property for both recreational access and for watershed protection.
Art on the Trail: We are pleased to be serving as the fiscal sponsor for the new National Endowment for the Arts-funded environmental art project, ART OnSite, a collaboration between Nevada County Arts and other partners that built the Tribute Trail on Deer Creek. By next September there will be original art installed on our new Trail!
Meadows Restoration: Starting this year and continuing in 2013, The Sierra Fund will be the fiscal sponsors of a joint project with American Rivers that has just received funding from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, “Economies Of Scale: Design & Permitting Meadow Restoration: West Slope project.” This Project will advance six high-priority projects in the Hope Valley as well as in the American, Carson, Walker, and Truckee Watersheds through the design and permitting stages so that they are shovel-ready and can be included in proposals geared toward on-the-ground restoration, to build capacity in the region to more efficiently move meadow restoration project forward, and to assess and prioritize meadows for restoration in six watersheds.
Reforming Mining in California: As we have made progress in identifying methods for remediating California’s 47,000 abandoned mines we have also begun working to reform how mining is done in the state today.
- We led the effort to secure a more permanent moratorium on suction dredge mining – and hope to finish that work in 2013.
- We worked with leaders in the Capitol to begin reform of the state’s mining law and are looking forward to doing more in 2013.
- We developed “Green Solution Profiles” of six different mining operations, and began working on a larger document to be published next year that provides specific ideas on how to promote responsible “green mining” in our state.
Reclaiming the Sierra: Green $olutions to Abandoned Mines: We convened our second major mining conference in May, bringing together an unlikely combination of experts from doctors to lawyers to Tribal representatives and scientists.
More than 200 people participated in the three day event that included technical workshops, tours of abandoned and remediated mines, and a roll-out of The Sierra Fund’s new framework for action, our “Green $olutions to Abandoned Mines” strategy.
At the conference, we honored three significant partners in our work as “Sierra Crest Leaders” including: retired water board scientist Rick Humphreys for his work in our Mining Working Group; Leaf Hillman and the Karuk Tribe for their long effort to reform suction dredge mining; and Sierra District Superintendent Marilyn Linkem and State Parks for their partnership in our Humbug Creek Assessment Project. And, we awarded prizes to three CSU Chico students for the best posters of the 15 submitted to our Science Poster Competition.
Making Progress at Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park: The Sierra Fund staff, with partners from State Parks, CSU Chico, CA Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), EPA Region 9 and other agencies, began taking samples and analyzing data as part of our Humbug Creek Watershed Assessment Project. This Project, funded by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, Bella Vista Foundation and the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment, aims to create a management plan that will address the water quality challenges posed by this huge abandoned hydraulic mine. We led tours of our project for the Directors of State Parks and DTSC, the EPA Region 9 Administrator, and leaders from a variety of government and non-profit organizations. In 2013 we will work with nearly a dozen CSU Chico students and other partners to finalize our assessment and begin developing a management strategy for the Park.