Efforts to protect and restore the Sierra Nevada took a giant step forward on Monday as two bills proposing to create a Sierra Nevada Conservancy passed out of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee.

Assembly Bills 2600 (Laird) and 1788 (Leslie) were heard together as a special order of business. Both bills seek to create a new state agency capable of organizing public investments in the region's land, air and water resources. A productive dialogue between the two legislators caused both bills to undergo significant amendments late last week, underscoring significant progress in the conversation surrounding what will be the state's largest Conservancy.

Read amended AB 2600 here.

Read amended AB 1788 here.

Early Monday morning, more than 60 “citizen lobbyists” — supporters of the Conservancy from throughout Sierra –convened for breakfast in Sacramento before heading to the Capitol to meet with key legislators and their staff to discuss the need for a Sierra Conservancy. The Sierra Lobby Day — the largest Sierran presence in the Capitol in many years — was co-sponsored by the Mono Lake Committee, the Sierra Nevada Alliance, Planning and Conservation League, California-Nevada Conference of Operating Engineers and Coldwell Banker/Grassroots Realty.

Both bills now proceed to the Assembly Appropriations Committee where they need to be heard and voted on by May 21, 2004.