This past January, I got a text from my trail family asking if I was interested in going on a backpacking trip for 12 days in the Southern Sierra in August. Without hesitation, I said yes. Little did I know how this trip would impact my life, let alone bring perspective to the Sierra Nevada Climate Vulnerability Assessment project I had just joined.
Today’s legislative wrap up will focus largely on the budget, since so many of our region’s policy priorities got swept into – and in many cases, benefited – from this year’s historic budget surplus.
The 2021 fire season has already begun, and with record-breaking scope and damage. As a protective measure to minimize wildfire risk, utility companies that power the Sierra Nevada will be periodically shutting off power to regions and communities experiencing high wind, lightning storms, and other severe weather. NV Energy just announced its first planned outage for the season, starting at 4am on Sunday. Are you ready?
It’s one thing to follow the news reports and social media videos of wildfire damage from afar, mentally preparing yourself for what it might be like to try and identify the skeletal remains of a structure as your own family’s cabin or home. Or see the tornados of fire set ablaze against a hillside you’ve traversed hundreds of times by car or by foot. Or watch a community you know and love evacuate by the thousands, their whole lives crammed into one carload.
It’s another thing entirely when it happens for real.
As we contemplated go-bag contents and watched the relentless advance of the Beckwourth, River, Tamarack, and especially the Dixie fire over the last few weeks, one of our dearest Small Business Development Center counselors, Clint Koble was smack in the middle of the devastation. Clint lives at and manages a resort in Chester along Lake Almanor. Over the course of several days, Clint holed up at the resort, guarded by the command of fire fighters he so graciously hosted. The firefighters instructed him to park his car on the boat ramp and to take refuge in the car should the flames approach – they would protect him.
The ripple effect of COVID-19 is still being felt in the Sierra and beyond. As the following guest blog (written by SBDC Business Advisor, Danielle Marshall) highlights, one area in particular where we’re still reeling from the pandemic is its disproportionate impact on women (especially women of color). We’re excited to announce an upcoming course taught by Danielle later this year that will hopefully help lessen the obstacles women face in reentering the workforce by helping entrepreneurs start in-home childcare businesses.
Photo of working mom by Charles Deluvio via Unsplash
SBC’s follow-up to our 2019 white paper report on forest biomass is a three-part video series, ‘Balance & Biomass: A Solution to Emissions, Catastrophic Fire, & Communities in Crisis’, that identifies the opportunities of forest biomass utilization at both the local and statewide levels and begs the question, why isn’t the state doing more to support appropriately scaled forest biomass utilization in the Sierra’s communities?
In the spring of this year, California’s leaders took bold action in passing $536 million in an emergency action wildfire funding package, allowing wildfire resilience projects including fuel breaks, prescribed fire, watershed restoration, and ecological thinning to get underway ahead of the standard budget cycle. Amidst record-breaking heat waves, a historic drought, and the weight of unparalleled wildfire risk, it is imperative that California’s leaders continue and expand upon this bold action through the final 2021-22 Budget.
As part of our commitment to advancing climate action and energy resilience in the Sierra, Sierra Business Council provides greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventories to local jurisdictions in the region. We recently completed a GHG inventory update for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) that accounted for emissions in the Tahoe Basin.
As a student at UC Berkeley who suddenly found myself learning through my laptop, I know first hand how essential broadband access has become to our daily lives. Unfortunately, many of my peers struggled to access stable internet—costing them time, money, and their education. Although this problem isn’t unique, it is highly disruptive to many people’s lives. In sparsely populated communities throughout the Sierra, internet service providers (ISPs) often find it too costly to bring their service to the “last mile.”
we’d be poor advocates of the region if we failed to acknowledge the history and current role of the original stewards of the Sierra Nevada. From the Maidu to the Miwok, the Niesenan to the Shoshone, the Paiute to the Washoe, and all the other diverse cultures throughout the region, the Indigenous peoples of Sierra Nevada were the original caretakers of this landscape, and they are critical partners that should be respected and involved in this region’s future.
Since the start of the pandemic, Sierra Business Council’s impact has included:
-Providing over 1,400 small businesses with one-on-one counseling.
-Infusing $18.5 million in economic capital in communities across the Sierra.
Supporting over 4,000 jobs in the region.
Helped secure $536 million in early action wildfire funding for California.
-Deploying $1.2 million to bring reliable broadband infrastructure to rural neighborhoods.
-Begining a 22-county Vulnerability Assessment to better prepare the region for climate impacts.