Sierra Nevada forests and watersheds provide over 60% of California’s water supply, serving 25 million Californians. The region is home to over 788,000 residents, 572 distinct animal species, and the backbone of the state’s expanding $92 billion outdoor recreation economy. The increasing rate of catastrophic wildfires, combined with the paralleled threats of drought, extreme heat, and flooding threatens the Sierra’s ability to sequester carbon in its forests, protect and improve the state’s water supply and quality, provide wildlife habitat, and draw millions of tourists annually for the region’s unparalleled recreational opportunities and beauty. The Sierra’s unique landscape offers vital components to California’s overall climate resilience, including topographically complex terrain that creates varied microclimates, deep snowdrifts that allow for stable rates of runoff and recharge, valleys that harbor cold air pools and temperature inversions, cold groundwater inputs, and forests and forest canopy, provide integral components to California’s climate resilience.
To protect our communities, our people, and our natural resources, and to ensure this protection is sustained in perpetuity, voluntary and permanent protection of private land and public lands is absolutely critical. Investing in restoration, recreation, and management projects occurring on protected lands means the state and federal investments will yield benefits not just in the short-term, but for future generations.
Sierra Business Council’s work in land conservation involves the following:
- Protecting wildlands and farm and ranchlands from conversion
- Supporting landscape-scale restoration through our partnerships with land trusts
- Promoting the benefits of the outdoor recreation and tourism economy
- Increasing access to the public health benefits of open spaces
- Directing funding to vulnerable or low-income communities (determined by median household income) and tribal communities to address historic land tenure inequities.
Sierra Business Council supports the work of local land trusts. These important regional entities implement land acquisition and adaptive management projects that provide direct benefits to the resilience of our local communities.
Key among these benefits are:
(1) continually supporting and enhancing our local and statewide economies through:
- the protection, management, and restoration of habitat, biodiversity, working lands, food security, water quality, and equitable access to outdoor recreation
- reducing the risk of wildfire and floods by steering residential development away from high risk/hazardous and into areas within/near existing communities
(2) permanently reducing the threat of catastrophic wildfire and extreme climate events by working with private landowners to permanently protect and manage landscapes in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI ) and along our waterways and managing floodplains, forests/woodlands and fuel loads – not just as a one-time or multi-year treatment, but as part of a long-term adaptive management plan that accompanies perpetual conservation easements.