Governor announces public-private partnership for the Northern Sierra

October 8, 2008
from the Governor’s office, Sacramento

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today joined with environmentalists, business leaders and government officials to announce the launch of a public-private partnership between the State of California and the Northern Sierra Partnership to fund environmental preservation while supporting economic growth. The Northern Sierra Partnership, which consists of two local land trusts, a regional business council and two large conservation organizations, was created to complement the goals of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, established when the Governor signed legislation in 2004 identifying needed actions across 25 million acres of land from the Oregon border to Kern County. To aid in these efforts, the Governor announced today that $25 million in private funds have been raised to date, including $10 million commitments each from the Morgan Family Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

“When we created the historic Sierra Nevada Conservancy, we laid out a vision to preserve not only the environmental splendor but also the economic vitality of this 25 million acre California treasure whose rivers provide more than 60 percent of our water and whose forests provide nearly half our state’s timber,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “The Conservancy has already done great work, but I knew we had to get the public and private sectors working hand-in-hand to take our commitment to a new level. This public-private partnership will benefit millions of Californians by allowing us to preserve more open space, create new recreational opportunities, protect rivers and streams, address the effects of climate change, reduce the risk of wildfire and preserve the working ranches and farms of the Sierra Nevada.”

“The northern Sierra has always been special to our family and, after years of supporting a number of individual organizations working in this region, Jim and I recognized that they could do so much more if we coordinated those efforts through the Northern Sierra Partnership,” said Becky Morgan, president of the Morgan Family Foundation. “We are so grateful for the support of Governor Schwarzenegger and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and we applaud the Governor’s efforts to bring this innovative joint venture to a place that will enhance the health and well-being of millions of Californians.”

“The Sierra Nevada Conservancy has been hard at work delivering on its promise to the taxpayers by distributing almost $17 million in grant funds last year and identifying top priority projects for funding this year to continue carrying out our mission of conserving the Sierra’s habitat and fostering economic prosperity in the region,” said Conservancy Board member and Vice Chair Robert Weygandt. “The Governor’s actions today benefit more than just the Sierra. By coordinating the state’s efforts among agencies and the private sector, we can work together to better achieve conservation goals, protect crucial water supplies and do our part to meet the challenges posed by climate change.”

As part of this public-private partnership, the Governor announced a new task force comprised of state agencies and departments that will work with public and private entities, such as the privately-funded Northern Sierra Partnership, to optimize conservation actions and investments in the Sierra Nevada region. The task force will also consider coordinated grant and evaluation criteria for bond funding and develop joint strategies for supporting water supply and protecting water quality.

Additionally, the task force will address the effects of climate change and implement the Sierra Nevada Climate Change Initiative, which the Governor’s administration announced in August. Under the initiative, the Conservancy is developing a draft Climate Change Action Plan for the region within one year. All combined, these efforts provide a unique opportunity to protect this important region and the numerous assets it provides to Californians.

The following state agencies will be involved in the task force: Natural Resources Agency, Sierra Nevada Conservancy, Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, Cal/EPA, CAL FIRE, California Tahoe Conservancy, Department of Conservation, Department of Finance, Department of Fish and Game, Department of Water Resources, Department of Parks and Recreation, Caltrans, State Water Resources Control Board and the Wildlife Conservation Board.