LONG-SOUGHT SIERRA NEVADA CONSERVANCY A “BIPARTISAN SUCCESS STORY”
Sacramento, CA – The Sierra Fund, the organization that spearheaded this year’s successful campaign to pass historic legislation creating a Sierra Nevada Conservancy, presented awards on Thursday evening to Governor Schwarzenegger and Assembly members John Laird and Tim Leslie for their successful bipartisan effort to create a Sierra Nevada Conservancy in this year’s legislative session.
The organization credited the Governor’s early endorsement of a Sierra Nevada Conservancy during his campaign in 2003 as a key factor in achieving bi-partisan support for the idea in the Legislature, and predicted the Governor’s commitment to protect the Sierra will be a lasting legacy of his environmental leadership.
Secretary of Resources Michael Chrisman accepted the Award – a 10-pound polished and engraved sculpture made of Sierra Nevada granite and engraved with the Governor’s name. The piece was commissioned by The Sierra Fund and created by Sierran artist John Mowen for presentation to the Governor.
“This is an ‘Arnold-sized’ Award to celebrate an ‘Arnold-sized’ Sierra Conservancy,” said Shawn Garvey, Chief Executive Officer of The Sierra Fund. “At 25 million acres, the Sierra Nevada Conservancy is the largest state conservation effort in the nation.”
“When our grandchildren look upon the restored rivers and forests of the Sierra Nevada, they will recall the efforts of visionaries like John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt. Now they also will add the name of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
to the list of visionary champions. The Governor provided critical leadership at the right moment to bring this historic conservation effort together.”
The Sierra Fund presented awards before a crowd of nearly 200 business leaders, elected officials and conservationists gathered at the Senator Hotel in downtown Sacramento, looking out on the State Capitol.
Awards were presented to those organizations that showed foresight and leadership in the successful campaign to create a Sierra Nevada Conservancy. Among those organizations lauded were Sierra Business Council, Planning and Conservation League, Trust for Public Land, Mono Lake Committee and the Sierra Nevada Alliance and the Sierra Cascade Land Trust Council.
“These organizations are uniquely responsible for helping to create a bi-partisan, 25 million acre Conservancy,” said Elizabeth Martin of The Sierra Fund. Martin told the audience that the organizations created an historic groundswell of support that included hundreds of “citizen lobbyists” who traveled to the capitol, more than 100 organizational endorsements supporting the legislation, and unprecedented support from water users and recreationists in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
The Sierra Nevada region supplies 65 percent of the California’s water supply. The Sierra Conservancy extends from Bakersfield the Oregon border and includes 22 of the state’s 58 counties.
According to The Sierra Fund, the Sierra Nevada mountain range has been overlooked as a conservation priority until now, partly because it lacked a single agency responsible for its health and well being, and due to deep political divisions within the region. As a result, the Sierra received only one percent of over a billion dollars in bond funding for water quality in 2002.
The Sierra Nevada Conservancy will be governed by a 13-member board of state and local representatives, and have as its mission to promote positive growth and sensible planning, conserve land through innovative conservation easements, and coordinate investment of federal and state funds, a task currently spread out over more than a dozen bureaucracies.