Action Alert – Senate & Assembly Budget Committees to consider Sierra Nevada Conservancy budget


Assembly and Senate Budget subcommittee hearings over the next two weeks will consider the Governor's proposed budget for funding the Sierra Nevada Conservancy. This budget contains $21.6 million for the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, including $17.5 million (from Proposition 84) to create a grant program for the protection and restoration of rivers, lakes and streams, their watersheds and associated land, water, and other natural resources in the Conservancy service region. The budget also includes $4.1 million for staff and operation of the Conservancy.

The Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Resources is scheduled to hear most of the Resources Agency budget on Wednesday, March 7 at 9:00 a.m. The Senate Budget Subcommittee on Resources will meet on Monday, March 12, at 10:00 a.m.

Letters to members of these committees should be addressed individually to each member on your letterhead and then faxed or mailed to the State Capitol office (they do NOT accept emailed letters). Contact information for committee members, plus a sample letter, follow this summary. As a courtesy, you should also fax a copy to Secretary for Resources Mike Chrisman.

While there is little argument that the $17.5 million dollar proposed grant program provides much needed funding for long-delayed investment in the Sierra Nevada's natural resources, some questions were raised last week by the Legislative Analyst Office (LAO) in its report about the Sierra Nevada Conservancy (the report is available at: http://www.lao.ca.gov/analysis_2007/resources/resource_anl07.pdf)

The LAO's report recommended that the Legislature withhold action on the proposed Sierra Nevada Conservancy budget. The report noted that, as grant guidelines have not yet been adopted for the Conservancy's program, “the Legislature is unable to assess the extent to which the conservancy's local assistance program is in keeping with statutory objectives for the conservancy…” The report recommended that action be withheld until “details about the guidelines as adopted by the board that set program priorities and criteria for awarding grants” are available for evaluation by the legislature.

The Sierra Nevada Conservancy is currently holding public workshops throughout the Sierra and beyond to allow input on their proposed grant guidelines, including newly issued draft guidelines for their Proposition 84 grant program. These guidelines, along with workshop dates and locations and an interactive “workbook” to participate online, are available on the Conservancy's website (www.sierranevadaconservancy.ca.gov). The Conservancy board is expected to adopt these guidelines at its May Board meeting.

Letters stating your support for the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and asking that the $17.5 million grant program be approved in full must be submitted as soon as possible. After you have sent your letter to the Legislature, please fax a copy to us as well at (530) 265-8176.

For more information, contact: Elizabeth “Izzy” Martin at The Sierra Fund, izzy.martin@sierrafund.org or (530) 265-8454 x11.

Assembly and Senators Mailing Address:
State Capitol
Sacramento California 95814

Assembly Resources Budget Subcommittee members & fax #:
Chair, Ira Ruskin (916) 319 -2121
Vice Chair, Sam Blakeslee (916) 319-2133
Dave Jones (916) 319-2109
Julia Brownley (916) 319-2141
Noreen Evans (916) 319-2107
Jim Silva (916) 319-2167

Senate Resources Budget Subcommittee members & fax #:
Chair, Alan Lowenthal (916) 327-9113
Darrel Steinberg (916) 323-2263
Mark Wyland (916) 446-7382

Secretary for Resources Mike Chrisman Fax#: (916) 653-8102

Sample Letter

Assemblymember/Senator (by name)
Resources Budget Subcommittee
Via Fax Transmission

Re: Support Sierra Nevada Conservancy Proposed Budget

Dear Assemblymember/Senator,

The ____________ urges your support of the proposed budget for the Sierra Nevada Conservancy when it comes before your committee later this month. This budget includes $21.6 million for the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, including $17.5 million (from Proposition 84) to create a grant program for the protection and restoration of rivers, lakes and streams, their watersheds and associated land, water, and other natural resources in the Conservancy service region. The budget also includes $4.1 million for staff and operation of the Conservancy.

As you know, the Sierra Nevada is California’s last great reservoir for clean water, blue oak woodlands, working ranches, wilderness and recreation. Our organization, __________________, works to protect the natural resources of this region through our programs which include____________________________. We feel that the Conservancy's grant program and operations are important to the success of our work.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about our work.

Sincerely,

Your name and contact information

Cc: Secretary for Resources Mike Chrisman

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