The California Assembly and Senate approved a measure that directs the California Resources Agency to create a Sierra Nevada – Cascade Conservation Grant Program and included $9.15 million to the region for grants to local agencies and non profits in the coming year. Elements of AB2121 — a “Budget Trailer” bill — had been the subject of significant negotiations between the legislature and Governor Schwarzenegger. Concerns were raised by many business and conservation organizations throughout the state that the grant program could be an effort to divert the passage of legislation establishing a Sierra Nevada Conservancy. AB2121 specifically recognized the intent of the legislature to provide a transition from the Sierra Nevada Cascade Grant Program to the newly formed Sierra Nevada Conservancy upon its formation and implementation. The $9.15 million in grants represent an historic investment of state bond dollars in the water and land resources of the Sierra Nevada. Grants will be made available for conservation and acquisition of land and water necessary to maintain water quality in the Sierra Nevada. The Sierra is the source of 65 percent of the state's water supply. Earlier this year, AB2600 (Laird), which will establish a critically needed Sierra Nevada Conservancy, passed out of the Assembly with bi-partisan support and is expected to be heard in Senate Appropriations Committee by Tuesday, August 9, 2004. The bill needs to pass the Senate Floor by August 31 and must be signed by the Governor by September 30. “Read the rest” to see the elements of AB2121 pertinent to the Sierra Nevada.

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