Proposition 1: Everyone Loves a Winner

And SBC is no different. After many months spent advocating for funding in the water bond to protect the Sierra – as the source of 65% of the state’s developed water – SBC is pleased that California voters last night passed Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion water bond, by the predicted 2:1 margin.

COMM KT Blog2 WaterConference 2014 04 04As we pointed out in a previous blog there is a lot to celebrate in this water bond. From highlighting the statewide importance of areas like the Sierra and Cascade as water sources for the entire state to emphasizing the economic benefits of healthy watersheds, the language in this bond clearly makes the case for investing in the state’s headwaters. However, we need to be vigilant to make sure that bond funds actually get spent in the source areas where the state’s water comes from. Unfortunately, Proposition 1 does not directly allocate much funding to the Sierra or Cascade regions nor to agencies, like the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, that represent the Sierra. As a result, SBC’s work – and that of our partners – is not done. We will be monitoring and weighing in on the guidelines that dictate how this money gets spent, and we will be tracking the fund distribution process to ensure that funding decisions are made openly and transparently.

To accomplish this and other important goals, SBC launched the Sierra Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Partnership (Sierra CAMP) at our 20th Anniversary Conference, Peak Innovation, last month. Sierra CAMP is a public-private collaborative designed to catalyze understanding and public policy action among rural and urban leaders from businesses, community groups, government, and academia. In addition, we sent a design team to the Institute for Sustainable Communities’ Leadership Academy in Washington DC to learn more about how similar collaborative groups function elsewhere in the country, including four such groups that are currently active in San Diego, Los Angeles, the Bay Area and Sacramento.

Going forward Sierra CAMP will be focusing its outreach and policy efforts in four primary areas: forests and watersheds, public health and extreme events, land use/transportation/housing, and energy efficiency and renewables. SBC has been engaging on similar work with urban and rural partners regarding the Greenhouse Gas Fund program that guides how money get allocated from the state’s greenhouse gas cap-and-trade auction program. To see copies of our comment letters, click here, here, and here.

We look forward to working with both our regional partners and leaders in urban areas that depend on resources from the Sierra to ensure that projects in the resource-rich but funding-poor rural areas can compete successfully for Proposition 1 and other funds. We will be launching a Sierra CAMP website in the near future and will be hosting informational webinars in December and January on Sierra CAMP and ongoing funding issues – please keep an eye out for more information coming soon! If you have any questions about the water bond, please contact me. And for questions or more information on Sierra CAMP, please contact Diana Madson, the Sierra CAMP Project Manager.