The Sierra Nevada Conservancy initiates, encourages, and supports efforts that improve the environmental, economic, and social well-being of the Sierra Nevada Region, its communities, and the citizens of California, said Harkness.

The Siskiyou Outdoor Recreation Alliance has been working toward a state legislative initiative to modify the region boundaries of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy to include a portion of Siskiyou County.

While the precise language defining the region boundary modification will be specified in the text of the legislation, it is expected that the portion of Siskiyou County to be included are areas within the Upper Sacramento, McCloud, and Pit River watersheds, said SORA Board President Laurel Harkness. The other areas of Siskiyou County are coastal watersheds, and already included in the State Coastal Conservancy region, a separate state agency, she explained.

The Sierra Nevada Conservancy initiates, encourages, and supports efforts that improve the environmental, economic, and social well-being of the Sierra Nevada Region, its communities, and the citizens of California, said Harkness.

The Sierra Nevada Conservancy is a state agency of California that was created by bi-partisan legislation signed into law in 2004. Projects within the Sierra Nevada Conservancy region are eligible to receive assistance from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy in the form of grants and technical assistance – grant funds may be authorized for public agencies, qualifying nonprofit organizations, and eligible tribal organizations.

“In 2004, Siskiyou County leadership passed on the opportunity to be included in the Sierra Nevada Conservancy,” said Harkness. “And the region, as it is currently, appears to have a missing piece where the region boundary takes a jag along the Siskiyou/Modoc County and Siskiyou/Shasta County lines. This legislation would adjust the region boundary and fill in the missing piece that lies within Siskiyou County. We are grateful that Senator Dahle is open to carrying a bill in 2020.”

Dahle was a member of the Board of Supervisors in Lassen County when the Sierra Nevada Conservancy was formed, Harkness explained.

“As a past member of the conservancy’s board, the Senator especially supports how the agency’s direction is steered by local elected officials from throughout the region who understand their communities’ unique needs,” said Harkness. “The conservancy has been a great partner especially in raising broader attention to the effects of the mega-fires on Sierra Nevada forests, watersheds and communities – and that what happens in the mountains has statewide impact.”

Within the Sierra Nevada Conservancy Strategic Plan 2019-2024 the stated “Regional Goals and Strategies” include: Healthy Watersheds and Forests, Resilient Sierra Nevada Communities, Vibrant Recreation and Tourism, Strategic Lands Conserved, Impactful Regional Identity, Harkness explained.

“SORA’s mission is to create opportunities for people to connect with the outdoors through trails, activities, and facilities that promote year-round adventure, education, and wellness – sustaining vibrant small towns and a community that values stewardship in Siskiyou County,” said Harkness. “While the strategic goals of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy are well aligned with the work of SORA around outdoor recreation, the benefits that the Sierra Nevada Conservancy can bring to Siskiyou County and the City of Mount Shasta, Dunsmuir, and McCloud extend far beyond the scope of our organization.”

A resolution supporting this legislative initiative was passed unanimously by Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors. Additional supporting resolutions have been passed by the city council in Mount Shasta and Shasta County Board of Supervisors.

The California legislative session reconvenes Jan. 6 and at that point, bills may be introduced. The last day for bills to be introduced is Feb. 21, said Harkness.

“When the bill is introduced, SORA will work closely with the bill sponsors and community partners to see it through to the Governor’s desk,” Harkness added.