Big News: Prop 68 Passed!

As a result, we will now have $142 million directed to our region to reduce fire risk, improve forest and watershed health, provide habitat and recreational opportunities, and ensure clean and abundant water for those of us who live here and for the natural and human communities downstream that rely on Sierra water for their well-being.

We have much to be grateful for in the Sierra and across the state, thanks to last night’s passage of Proposition 68, the $4 billion bond measure placed on yesterday’s ballot by the state Legislature to safeguard our water, parks, and natural resources. Voters across the state reinforced the importance of protecting our future and working together for a more inclusive, equitable, and forward-looking conservation movement when they pulled the metaphorical lever in favor of Prop. 68. 

Prop68 FutureProp. 68 was one of five ballot measures Californians voted on yesterday, and it passed with 56% of the statewide vote. Three Sierra counties voted for Prop 68 as well, with Mono County supporting it 60% to 40%, Alpine at 64% to 36%, and Nevada County 50.4% to 49.6%, according to the Secretary of State’s website.

As a member of a new coalition, called the Clean Water, Natural Resources and Parks (CWNRP) Committee, SBC is proud and encouraged about today’s landmark win and the foundation it lays for our work ahead. The CWNRP coalition has more than 100 members organized into regional task forces, all of whom worked closely with their local communities to let people know about this measure. Together the coalition gathered more than 500 endorsements, connected with more than 100,000 voters through phone and text banking, and even “trended” on Twitter with more than 25 million impressions.

SBC has been actively supporting Prop. 68 since it began life as Senate Bill 5 (which merged with Assembly Bill 18) in the Legislature last year, where it passed with bipartisan support and was placed on the June ballot for a vote of the people. Why did SBC devote its limited non-profit advocacy resources to this measure? We did it because Prop 68 directs three times more funding for projects in the Sierra-Cascade region than the last water bond, it recognizes and invests in protection of the many important benefits the region delivers to the rest of the state, and it provided a vehicle – bridging urban and rural, north and south, mountains and coast – to work together and have a voice in our future

Our heartfelt thanks to our legislative leaders Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (author of Assembly Bill 18), Senator Kevin deLeon (author of SB 5), and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, the honorary co-chairs of the overall Yes on 68 campaign, for recognizing the importance of and ensuring participation from often under-represented parts of the state in the development of Prop. 68’s content. Similarly, we would never have been successful without the support and leadership of key partners who formed and guided the CWNRP coalition, including Trust for Public Land, Sempervirens Fund, Placer Land Trust, the L.A. Neighborhood Land Trust, East Bay Regional Park District, and so many others. The coalition was also supported by professional advocates in Sacramento, including principals Reed Addis at Environmental & Energy Consulting (EEC) and Doug Houston at Houston Magnani and Associates and their amazing staff, to whom we owe a huge debt for their unflagging efforts with the coalition and Sacramento decision-makers.

In addition to the statewide support, we are especially gratified by the “all-in” engagement from the Sierra. Our thanks to the Sierra cities and counties who saw the benefit of Prop. 68 and endorsed the measure, including the towns of Bishop, Truckee, and Mammoth Lakes, and the counties of Plumas, Inyo, and Mono. And special thanks to the local organizations, jurisdictions, and businesses such as Placer Land Trust, Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public Access (MLTPA), Tahoe Mountain Sports, and others, who hosted events, communicated with their members and stakeholders, secured endorsements, made individual donations, solicited contributions from others, and otherwise pitched in to build support for #Yeson68 in the Sierra region. Most of these groups – and others like them around the state – typically would not be included in development of bill content or passage of a statewide bond measure.

This is what has made the CWNRP and #Yeson68 efforts different: diverse interests and stakeholders working together from the beginning to create the best possible policy results and organizing efforts, which ultimately led to Prop. 68 and its passage. As a result, the Sierra and other often-overlooked regions have a pipeline of funding to improve and protect important resources that benefit the whole state. And, equally importantly, we have a coalition, with new and diverse leadership from across the state, to continue addressing the long-term challenges facing all California communities.