Advocacy to Increase State Investment and Policy to Improve Forest Health

California and National Programs and Investments in Forest Health are Inadequate

The supermajority of state and national budgets, agencies, and programs approach forest and watershed health from within silos. They lack a vision and adequate commitment to doing integrated forest health work that will restore resiliency to our forests and communities while addressing climate change and extreme fire. In the past, state budgets and bonds greatly underfunded the Sierra region – despite Sierra Forests providing 50% of the state’s forest carbon storage, 60% of the state’s water, and half the state’s wildlife. In addition, government agencies often fund one aspect of forest health work at a time– such as thinning a forest but not at the same time improving wildlife habitat or water quality. This is like treating one symptom at a time on a patient – but not addressing the underlying cause of the illness. State policy also often underfunds and under-supports the Sierra – even though 17% of the state’s population stewards the region that is the majority of the headwaters of the state water supply, the leading cause of smoke-choked air quality days, and is a much loved and visited recreation dreamland. Finally – when state funds are tight, conservation programs are the first to be cut – eliminating the work and capacity to address the wildfire and climate crisis we are facing.

The Sierra Fund Advocates for Smart, Sustained, Forest and Watershed Health Investments

We advocate in California and within Federal agencies for a definition of forest health that reflects a comprehensive approach that includes watershed resiliency, meadow restoration, wildfire protection, mine remediation, carbon sequestration, wildlife habitat, nature-based solutions, and species recovery. We advocate to secure wise public investment in Sierra natural resources and communities that benefit the entire state.

The Sierra must have sustained advocacy to achieve our vision. Each year we evaluate state legislation, state budgets, and bond proposals while bringing our expertise, network, and influencers to shape better policy.

How do we do our Advocacy?

The Sierra Fund co-leads a collaboration with Sierra Forest Legacy, Sierra Institute for Communities and the Environment, and American River Conservancy to lead state campaigns. Our collaboration has hired an advocacy team in Sacramento to advance our work each year. We also coordinate with other conservation groups throughout the Sierra to move state policy. Our advocacy includes direct meetings with legislators, comment letters, and field tours to educate legislators and their staff on these critical issues, policy needs, and the importance of investing in the Sierra Nevada. We also co-host an annual Sierra Day at the Capitol with the Sierra Business Council, League to Save Lake Tahoe, and Sierra Nevada Alliance that brings over sixty people together to meet with priority legislators each year.

Thanks to the collaborative leadership, we help bring to the capitol over 100 years of experience in forest management, prescribed burning, forest restoration, hydraulic mine restoration, watershed restoration, and workforce development. This expertise, combined with the advocacy experience of our hired team, and the mass mobilization of our collaborative network has had a significant impact in increasing investments in Sierra conservation and advancing improved forest health management approaches.

Our advocacy helps restore hundreds of millions to the state budget to fund numerous grant programs that Sierra land trusts, conservation groups, and local communities depend on to do conservation and restoration."

Joan Clayburgh
Executive Director, The Sierra Fund