The Sierra Fund’s Year in Review

Whew – 2007, what a year!
The Sierra Fund’s Year in Review

Over the last year The Sierra Fund has been called in to help on the frontlines of conservation activities all over the Sierra Nevada. From
Mt. Whitney to Mt. Lassen, from the blue oak woodlands to the peaks of the Sierra Buttes, we have made a vital difference in saving our Sierra. Our mission, to increase public and private investment in “saving the sierra”, is implemented through our strategic campaigns, advocacy activities and philanthropic services. Through these activities, we leverage our donors’ contributions into millions of new dollars for conservation activities in the Sierra. We are proud of our record over the last year, and look forward to building on these accomplishments in 2008.

Happy holidays to you and yours from The Sierra Fund!

Here is our year in review:

organizing new resources for the Sierra

Sierra Nevada Conservancy: After taking a lead role in establishing the new Sierra Nevada Conservancy, and after three years of preparation, we are now poised to manage a campaign to establish a Sierra License Plate program that will provide ongoing, sustainable funding for the Conservancy. We have begun working with Velocity 7, the Nevada City public relations firm that managed the Sierra Nevada Conservancy’s “logo design competition”, to develop a marketing plan for the License Plate. Before implementation, this plan will be presented to the Sierra Nevada Conservancy Board at a public meeting this winter.

Funding for our three years of work has come from the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company with help from Mad Will’s Food Company, Sorensen’s Resort, SYRCL River Teachers and our major donors, along with some in-kind support from volunteers and area businesses for printing and publicity. Your ideas or contacts for foundations, businesses or individuals that may want to participate in this campaign are welcome.

The Sierra Nevada Mining Toxics Initiative: We will soon release a report that is the first-ever comprehensive look at the long term health and environmental impacts of California’s Gold Rush. Our goal in this effort is to bring to light this long-neglected environmental problem in order to attract the resources it will take to address problems from gold mining in the Sierra Nevada. Hearings on this topic are planned by the California legislature in early 2008.

a voice for the Sierra in the state capitol

Our annual Sierra Day in the Capitol in June, cosponsored by the Sierra Nevada Alliance, brought advocates from all over the state to talk with their legislators about programs that protect the natural resources of the Sierra Nevada. We provided advocacy training and ensured that citizen advocates met directly with legislators or their staff and administration officials. As part of this effort, citizen lobbyists delivered to each legislator copies of our “Sierra Nevada Sample Conservation Project Profiles” (June 2007) documenting 30 ready-to-go projects from throughout the Sierra, demonstrating the need for conservation funding.

We advocated for investment in Sierra priorities throughout the legislative session, and were successful at helping to secure significant funding for Sierra Nevada Conservancy programs. We are working with authors of the now-stalled proposed water bond to ensure that Sierra watersheds are included. We want to guarantee that any natural resource bonds include significant funding for the Sierra.

philanthropic services for donors who want to invest in the Sierra

Our donor-advised and restricted grant funds have awarded more than $275,000 this year in grants and loans to cutting edge work:

$ We provided a litigation loan to the Friends of Spenceville who are suing Yuba County to stop a development that would build a four-lane highway through the Spenceville Wildlife Refuge.

$ In 2006 we funded a lawsuit to stop development on Mt. Whitney’s slopes which received an initial favorable ruling last month.

$ We provided a bridge loan to the High Sierra Rural Alliance so they could close escrow on properties in the Sierra Buttes.

$ We are serving as a fiscal sponsor for more than $7 million in proposed grant funding for public acquisition of 7.5 miles along the Middle Yuba River to protect it from development, and to develop a trail system and recreation opportunities.

Special Note on Charitable Giving from Your IRA Before December 31, 2007: Recent changes in the Pension Protection Act of 2006 governing individual retirement accounts (IRAs) have made it easier to give a gift from an IRA to a charitable organization without incurring undesirable tax effects. To be eligible for the special tax treatment the donor much be at least 70 ½ years old. To learn more about this opportunity to give The Sierra Fund a gift from your IRA, call or email us at our office, or contact your tax advisor.