Sacramento – On Tuesday July 5, Governor Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders announced a budget deal that included an historic $3.5 million in start-up funds for the new Sierra Nevada Conservancy. The funds will allow the hiring of an Executive Director, the siting of an office within the Sierra Nevada, and up to 13.5 staff positions to develop conservation funding and planning efforts for the 25 million acre Sierra Nevada region. Also included in the budget was an appropriation of $1.5 million in acquisition funds available from the Proposition 50 Sierra Nevada Cascade Grant Program. Originally, the Governor's budget had earmarked $11.5 million in these funds for land and water conservation projects in the Sierra Nevada. The amount was reduced by the legislature pending the announcement of guidelines for these and similar funds that were appropriated in 2004 but not yet made available for grants for conservation projects in the region.