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Auburn lands HQ for now

Nevada City lost out to Auburn on Thursday for the interim headquarters site of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy.

However, conservancy board members said a permanent site has yet to be established, and a number of sites and towns within 30 minutes or so of Auburn will also be considered.

Nevada City has actively sought the headquarters site in recent months and is within the 30-minute reach of Auburn, as are the towns of Colfax and El Dorado Hills that also applied. Truckee and Martell are now apparently out of the running for the permanent site, as both are well outside the 30-minute drive criteria.



“They haven’t cut us out yet,” said Mark Miller, Nevada City’s city manager, who attended the conservancy’s board meeting in Sacramento with Mayor Conley Weaver.

“I’m disappointed, of course,” Weaver said. “We were the first to pass a resolution endorsing the conservancy, so we’ll continue to be a strong supporter and hope for their success.”




Executive Officer Jim Branham said the conservancy will also be looking for satellite offices during the search for a permanent home, but locations have not been established.

The conservancy was set up in 2004 as a state agency to attract funds and buy land in the Sierra to promote economic and ecologic interests. The conservancy covers 22 eastern California counties from the Oregon border to Kern County.

According to Auburn City Councilman Kevin Hanley, “We’re very happy about the news.” The councilman who led the battle to land the headquarters there also said, “I’ve been arguing with the city council and others that it can give an economic boost in our small town.”

Hanley said the conservancy’s projected 20 employees and $3.9 million average annual budget would bring immediate fiscal impact to Auburn. If the town should land the permanent headquarters, “there is hope other firms that would contract with the conservancy for work would also locate here.”

Hanley said the “friendly competition” to land the permanent site is not over and it will take even more work to figure out if the conservancy wants an existing building, or maybe even a bare lot.

Nevada City Councilman David McKay was disappointed by the announcement, but hopeful.

“Nevada City, as well as Nevada County, for years supported the Sierra Nevada Conservancy in theory when no one else was,” said McKay. “We wouldn’t have the Sierra Nevada Conservancy if it hadn’t been pushed from here, but it sounds like the door is still open.”

Lassen County Supervisor and conservancy board member Brian Dahle said the provision for the headquarters to be within a 30-minute drive of Auburn could be stretched a bit and is not set in stone.

“There’s a lot of good sites within that time frame and other communities we’d like to look at for the permanent (site,)” Dahle said. Dahle was on a headquarters search committee with Inyo County Supervisor and conservancy board member Linda Arcularius.

“It was a difficult decision,” Arcularius said, “but this is an interim proposal.”

Nevada City Councilwoman Sally Harris said she considers her town to still be in the running, “and we have a beautiful, prospective site for them.” Harris said she was not at liberty to say where the site was.

In other news:

• The conservancy board announced its conservation grant program at the meeting. Board members expect $27 million to soon be available for Sierra public agencies, water districts and nonprofit organizations who want conservation project funds.

State agencies can not apply for the grants. Branham said guidelines for them are still being written.

• Board members said a logo contest for the conservancy will be held. Sierra high school seniors and juniors will be asked to enter after the contest plan is submitted in May.

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To contact senior staff writer Dave Moller, e-mail davem@theunion.com or call 477-4237.


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