The Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC) www.sierranevadaconservancy.ca.gov is proposing the Sustainable Sierra Nevada Initiative, a coordinated effort among federal, state and local agencies, in partnership with a wide array of non-governmental entities, to improve the long-term environmental, economic and social well-being of the Sierra Nevada Region. The Initiative will serve to identify opportunities for investment of public and private resources and necessary policies to achieve outcomes consistent with the following linked objectives:
Creating ecologically healthy forests and watersheds, thereby protecting and enhancing habitat and water quality while reducing the risk of catastrophic fire; and
Creating sustainable local economic activity in the Region through increasing the sustainable production of renewable biomass energy and a variety of wood products.
Successfully achieving these objectives will result in a number of key outcomes for the Region and state:
Protecting water that flows from the Sierra – which constitutes 65 percent of the state’s developed water supply;
Creating jobs on a sustainable basis for Sierra communities;
Reducing Air Pollutants and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from catastrophic fire;
Providing for protection of key habitats for a variety of threatened and endangered species; and
Maximizing the Sequestration of Carbon in Sierra Forests.
In order to protect existing resources, address potential threats and take advantage of the additional contributions the Sierra makes to the State’s energy production and emission reduction goals, a coordinated initiative is needed to focus attention on this Region, increase investment, guide policy and measure success. The Sustainable Sierra Initiative provides the basis for a successful effort.
In order to initiate this effort, the SNC has prepared a resolution, which will allow organizations to express their support and agree to work collaboratively to achieve the desired outcomes. The purpose of the resolution is to provide a framework in which a key set of principles can be adopted to allow for broad support for action to be taken, as opposed to proposing any specific actions.
The SNC is currently accepting public comments on the proposed resolution, with the formal public comment period closing on May 1, 2010. Please provide any comments to SNC by emailing them to email@example.com . Comments received will be posted to our Web site during the comment period. An opportunity for a discussion forum on comments posted will follow.
Following the 30-day comment period, a final draft will be posted as part of the June Board meeting materials (to be posted on May 19). The SNC Governing Board discussed this resolution at its March Board meeting and will be considering adoption at the June 3, 2010 Board meeting.
Today, many Sierra Nevada communities face a number of important challenges, including ecologically unhealthy forests, the threat of catastrophic fire and the need for sustainable local economies. Understanding the relationship between these issues, and acting to address them, holds the potential for an important and perhaps unprecedented opportunity. The following resolution represents a commitment on the part of signatories to work together to identify, initiate and support actions necessary to achieve the long-term environmental, economic and social well-being of the Sierra Nevada Region. The Initiative will primarily focus on issues relating to public lands in the Region, while recognizing the importance of private lands in achieving the overall objectives.
The Sustainable Sierra Nevada Resolution
Whereas, the Sierra Nevada Region is California’s principal watershed and the origin of 65 percent of the state’s developed water supply; serves as one of the state’s premiere recreation and tourism destinations for more than 50 million visitor days each year; provides between one-third and one-half of the state’s annual timber harvest; produces nearly three-quarters of the state’s hydroelectric power; is home to two-thirds of the state’s bird and mammal species, half of the state’s plant species, and more than 600,000 humans;
Whereas, much of the Sierra Nevada forestlands are in an ecologically unhealthy condition, including lands managed by the federal government;
Whereas, large damaging fires in the Sierra Nevada result in a wide variety of negative impacts including loss of life and property, reduced recreational and tourism opportunities and other significant economic impacts;
Whereas, large damaging fires result in degraded water and air quality, adverse human health impacts, and the loss of wildlife habitat;
Whereas, declining biodiversity with fewer pockets of old growth remaining, fewer snags and downed logs and declining number of hardwoods is also a symptom of declining forest health;
Whereas, large damaging fires result in the loss of carbon stored in the forests and cause significant emissions of greenhouse gases, therefore adversely affecting efforts to reduce the impacts of climate change;
Whereas, projected increases in temperatures due to a changing climate combined with the unhealthy condition of a significant portion of the forest will result in larger, more frequent and more damaging fires in the future, further exacerbating these impacts;
Whereas, economic conditions in the Sierra continue to show negative trends, even beyond the current national economic conditions, with unemployment rates in many Sierra counties that are significantly higher than the national and state average;
Whereas, traditional economic activity related to wood products and ranching are expected to continue to decline, underscoring the need to diversify local economies while protecting recreation and tourism and other existing activities;
Whereas, the State of California has established aggressive goals to increase the amount of energy supplied from renewable sources, including biomass energy;
Whereas sustainable forest management can result in improved ecological health of forests, including improved habitat conditions and improved water quality;
Whereas sustainable forest management can result in a reliable supply of biomass that could be converted to renewable energy, as well as a variety of wood products, including “value added” products, creating an opportunity for locally based sustainable economic activity:
Therefore, we declare that it is our intent to work collaboratively, constructively and in a transparent manner, with a wide range of governmental and non-governmental entities, to improve the environmental, economic and social well-being of the Sierra Nevada Region by:
Identifying, supporting and implementing actions that will reduce the risk of large damaging fires in our forests and wildlands and in our communities;
Identifying, supporting and implementing actions that will result in ecologically healthy forests and watersheds, protecting habitat and species, water supply and water and air quality, and the long-term sequestration of carbon;
Identifying, supporting and implementing actions that will create ecologically and economically sustainable local jobs and economic activity resulting directly and indirectly from sustainable forest management activities, including but not limited to, biomass energy, biofuels, “value added” wood products, dimensional wood products and the activities necessary to produce these products;
Identifying, supporting and implementing actions that will result in restoration of plant and wildlife habitat stemming from increased resiliency, diversity and species composition post treatment;
Identifying, supporting and implementing policies, investment and technical support that will assist in achieving these objectives.
The Sierra Nevada Conservancy will coordinate this initiative through the use of a collaborative, inclusive process. Progress will be measured and reported on an ongoing basis.
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