California's leading conservation organizations announced that they are backing legislation to create a State Conservancy to organize resource investment in the 20 million acres of the Sierra Nevada region.
The legislation — Assembly Bill 2600, authored by Assemblyman John Laird — coordinates state investment and proposes to allocate $30 million from the Water Security, Clean Drinking Water, and Coastal and Beach Protection Act of 2002 (Proposition 50) for the protection of the region's water supplies. The Sierra provides approximately two-thirds of the state's drinking water.
“A Sierra Nevada Conservancy will afford many benefits to the Sierra Nevada's diverse ecosystem” said Mary Wells, Executive Director of the California Wilderness Coalition, “including much needed protection to California's principal source of developed water.”
“We believe that the Sierra Nevada Conservancy will attract new financial and technical resources for local government and no-profit agencies in the region, and will be a benefit to the economy of the Sierra Cascade region” said Susannah Churchill, Preservation Advocate for Environment California.
The California Wilderness Coalition and Environment California are joined by the state's leading conservation and environmental justice organizations, including the Planning & Conservation League, Friends of the River, Mountain Lion Foundation, Natural Heritage Institute, California Trout and the California Oak Foundation. The Sierra Conservancy coalition now includes more than 30 local, state and national organizations.
AB 2600 is expected to be heard in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee by April 19, 2004.