Current Projects

The Sierra Nevada Foundation distributes funding to increase the scope of vital work within the Sierra Nevada Conservancy. This area encompasses some of the most pristine environment and treasured national parks in the world. As donor funding increases the goal is to have a competitive grant cycle available each year for nonprofits serving the Sierra Nevada Conservancy.

Sierra Nevada Foundation Funding

The Sierra Nevada Foundation funds projects from both Foundation recommendations, and from the 4-7 voting individuals who are members of the Sierra Nevada Foundation Advisory Committee: individuals currently affiliated with American River Conservancy, Sierra Forest Legacy, Sierra Institute for Community and Environment, and The Sierra Fund doing advocacy to secure critical California natural resource funding support benefiting the Sierra Nevada. Over one hundred land trusts, watershed groups, conservation nonprofits, and state agencies rely on state grants and state funds to do the necessary work of protecting and restoring the Sierra Nevada. The Sierra Nevada is over half of the state’s forests, supplies over 60% of California’s natural water supply, and is home to half the state’s biodiversity. Funding projects that reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire and restore forest health and resiliency is critical – to protect human life, wildlife, water supplies, and ensure future generations benefit from this unparalleled region.
In 2023, the California Governor’s budget proposed cutting multi-millions of dollars in funding: cuts to most conservation grant program budgets.  Thanks to the Sierra Nevada Foundation, the collaborative hired an expert advocacy firm, met and educated over two dozen legislative leaders and their staff, testified against budget cuts, and advocated for continued state investment and support for the Sierra. This advocacy helped restore hundreds of millions of dollars in the 2023 state budget to benefit the Sierra and the state. For example, $187 million was retained at the Wildlife Conservation Board for “Protecting Fish and Wildlife from Changing Climate.”  $16 million was restored for the Cascades and High Sierra Upper Watersheds Program and $16 million for the Land Acquisition and Habitat Enhancement Program for purposes of water resiliency.  The fire funding for the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and other state conservancies in the final budget adopted remained intact. $20 million was fully restored to the General Fund to CA Department of Fish and Wildlife for fine-scale vegetation mapping helpful to support scientifically sound wildfire fuel load reduction efforts, ecological restoration, and other needed conservation projects. Currently the Sierra Nevada is not included in state fine-scale vegetation mapping. These are just a few of the funds the collaborative helped advocate and secure to ensure The Sierra Nevada region is protected and restored.

Sierra Nevada Foundation Impact

On October 18-19th, 2023, California State Senators John Laird and Brian Dahle co-hosted a great two-day tour of the Sierra that showcased ways the state legislature can support building more resilient forests and help communities recover from wildfire. This Sierra Nevada Foundation supported event was organized by The Sierra Fund, Sierra Institute for Community and Environment, Sierra Forest Legacy, and American River Conservancy, with informational support on tour from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy. Over twenty legislative staff who guide natural resource policy and budgeting participated.
The tour featured the Feather River watershed and Dixie Fire area. Topics covered:
  • The importance of Sierra watersheds and forests to California;
  • The severity, and massive scale, of recent fires along with approaches that decrease fire severity to better protect communities;
  • The importance of integrated projects that address fuel load and support cultural or prescribed burning, creating markets for small diameter fuels waste, hydraulic mine restoration, meadow restoration, and/or other nature-based watershed restoration;
  • The power of tribal led workforces and forest guardianship efforts.
The tour highlighted specific California state budget, policy, or future resource bond opportunities to advance Sierra Nevada forest health and community needs. The power of this tour was legislative participants experiencing the vibrant and inspirational Sierra– and contrasting this beauty with devastation from massive high-severity fire-scarred landscapes and communities. Sierra conservation champions look forward to building on the education from this tour to advance improved forest stewardship for the Sierra.