Prepare for the Bear! License Plate Campaign to Begin Soon

AUBURN, CA  March 11, 2009 —  After nearly four years of preparation, the Sierra Nevada Conservancy License Plate Campaign is getting ready to roll!  Prepare for the Bear – the Bear on the Sierra Nevada License Plate, that is.

SNC License Plate Icon

The Sierra Nevada Conservancy met earlier this month in Chico at the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company (a long-time supporter of the License Plate effort) and gave support to a new strategic approach to the Campaign. The new approach relies heavily on the key campaign partners to do the work, including The Sierra Fund, Sierra Nevada Alliance, Sierra Cascade Land Trust Council, and Sierra Business Council. Each partner will deliver a significant portion of plates or work—from fundraising to administration—and all partners will take responsibility for the success of the program. The Conservancy staff will help facilitate coordination and oversight between the Campaign and the Conservancy Board.

The newly formed “License Plate Action Team” will be meeting regularly to put together final details on the effort, which is tentatively planned to launch in September. Look for details soon!

Why a Plate for the Sierra?
When successful, funds raised by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy Specialty License Plate will help to ensure ongoing, sustainable funding for the Sierra Nevada Conservancy. The Tahoe Conservancy and the California Coastal Conservancy both receive important revenue from sale of specialty license plates. These plates include a beautiful design (a whale tail for the Coast, the lake for Tahoe), and cost the plate owner an extra $40 per year for their car registration, which is then allocated directly to the designated Conservancy. The Coastal plate is on approximately 90,000 vehicles generating well over $3 million per year, and the Tahoe plate is on 30,000 vehicles generating about $1 million per year.

The license plate program has several key requirements, including:

  • 7,500 reservations for the license plate have to be collected before the license plate will be issued;
  • We have one year to collect the 7,500 reservations, with the clock beginning to tick as soon as the first check is cashed; and
  • The Sierra Nevada Conservancy is not permitted to spend any state funds in collecting the first 7,500 reservations. After that, they can spend a small percentage of the income on “selling” the plates to more Californians.

History of the Bear
The State’s new Specialty License Plate Program became law 1/1/07. At the February 2007 Board meeting of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, directors unanimously reaffirmed their support for developing and implementing a marketing campaign for a Sierra Nevada Conservancy license plate. Later that year the Board signed a Memorandum of Agreement with The Sierra Fund, who serves as the financial and administrative sponsor of this effort.

In early 2008 the Conservancy Board approved a plate design and last fall the DMV approved the official registration brochure language and format. Also last fall The Sierra Fund, working with Velocity7, finalized campaign letterhead, official registration forms and other marketing materials.

The Sierra Fund, working with our partners at Sierra Nevada Alliance, Sierra Business Council and the Sierra Cascade Land Trust Council, began the groundwork on the campaign three years ago in a marketing effort that netted nearly 3,000 reservations for plates. The campaign has been directed to date by an all-volunteer marketing committee which designed a full-color brochure and website to attract pre-registrations for the license plate.

The effort to pass the License Plate legislation, secure pre-registrations, design the workplan materials needed for the campaign, and advocate for this project, has been funded largely by contributions from the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, with support as well from Sorensen’s Resort, Mad Will’s BBQ Sauce, the Armrod Charitable Foundation, Resources Legacy Fund and PG&E.

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