Sierra Nevada Conservancy approves $22.5 million to build resilience, boost recreation, conserve land

On Thursday, June 1, the Sierra Nevada Conservancy’s Governing Board approved roughly $22.5 million in new grants for 24 different projects that will help with wildfire recovery and forest resilience, expand recreation opportunities, and conserve strategic land throughout California’s Sierra-Cascade region.

“I’m proud of how the Sierra Nevada Conservancy is partnering with California tribes and local entities, like irrigation and resource conservation districts, land trusts, and conservation organizations, to find nature-based solutions to some of our region’s most pressing concerns,” said Sierra Nevada Conservancy’s Executive Officer Angela Avery. “Together we are advancing shared goals, such as wildfire and climate resilience, conserving special places, and returning ancestral homelands to tribal stewardship, all while expanding outdoor access for all in the Sierra-Cascade.”

The allocation of funds by the SNC Board means local and regional partners will work on projects that advance shared environmental and economic goals in the following counties, listed north to south: Siskiyou, Trinity, Shasta, Lassen, Plumas, Butte, Sierra, Yuba, Nevada, Placer, El Dorado, Mono, Mariposa, Inyo and Tulare.

A full list of land conservation, recreation, and wildfire restoration and forest resilience grants awarded is available in SNC’s June Board meeting packet.

Lassen County project
Mountain Meadows Conservancy, $142,359
Through the Mountain Meadows Trail Planning project, the Mountain Meadows Conservancy will complete pre-construction planning for a new 7.3-mile non- motorized, shared-use trail and two trailheads at Mountain Meadows Reservoir in the headwaters of the Feather River watershed. The project is located on lands owned by Pacific Gas and Electric, Collins Pine Company and the Feather River Land Trust adjacent to and south of the community of Westwood in Lassen County. The project will provide new outdoor recreation opportunities and contribute to economic vitality.

The project will complete all pre-construction planning and prepare CEQA compliance documents, including biological and cultural surveys, right-of-way agreements, land surveys and trailhead designs, pre-construction engineering and cost estimates, licensing and permitting, and public engagement activities. The project has been identified in the 2020 Lassen/Lake Almanor Basin Regional Trials System Concept Plan, which envisioned a network of trails foundational to economic sustainability for the Lake Almanor Basin and Lassen County.

The project is also identified in the 2023 Final Lassen County Active Transportation Plan. Project partners include the three landowners (PG&E, Collins Pine Company, and the FRLT) and the Maidu Summit Consortium, and is supported by the County of Lassen Board of Supervisors, Westwood Community Services District, Westwood Area Chamber of Commerce, Volcanic Legacy Community Partnership, Almanor Recreation and Park District, and Lassen Land and Trails Trust.

Wildfire protection, trails, and return of tribal land in northern Sierra-Cascade
In the northern part of California’s Sierra-Cascade, 12 different projects were awarded grants by SNC’s Board. Recreation awards included three trails projects, two planning efforts in Plumas and Lassen counties, and a third grant to Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship to construct 15 miles of trail in Sierra and Nevada counties.

Six wildfire recovery and forest resilience projects received funding with the largest grant going to the Nevada Irrigation District to reduce fuels and improve forest health near Jackson Meadows Reservoir. The Butte County Fire Safe Council received nearly $1 million to enhance and protect forests and water resources near the town of Magalia that were spared by the 2019 Camp Fire.

Two significant land conservation efforts received funding, including a grant supporting the Greenville Indian Rancheria’s purchase of 54 acres for tribal educational purposes and a $1.4 million grant to the Pacific Forest Trust, Incorporated, to acquire and conserve more than 10,500 acres of forestland in Trinity County.

Fuel reduction, wildfire recovery, and land conservation in central Sierra Nevada
Four projects to help improve forest health and resilience to major disturbances, such as wildfire, were awarded in the central Sierra Nevada region. One of those, a grant to the Camptonville Community Partnership to help build a small-scale biomass plant, will bring jobs to rural Yuba County, while turning excessive dead and dying material into energy. Another grant to American Rivers, will help protect a vital watershed by reducing fuels and implementing prescribed fire across 570 acres in the South Yuba River canyon.

One planning grant for recreation was awarded, along with four conservation grants, including a grant to the 40 Acre Conservation League to conserve 650 acres above the North Fork of the American River and create a culturally relevant, accommodating, and safe, recreational space that is welcoming to people of color.

Southern and Eastern Sierra see boost to recreation, return of tribal land
In the eastern and southern Sierra Nevada region, SNC’s Board awarded three projects that will help conserve and protect land and boost recreation. The Mono Lake Kutzadika’a Indian Community Cultural Preservation Association received a grant for just over $2 million, and will partner with the Eastern Sierra Land Trust to purchase Tubbe Nobe, a 160-acre private parcel near Lee Vining. This purchase will restore ownership to the tribe and protect cultural and natural resources.