Nevada City hopes for conservancy HQ |

Nevada City hopes for conservancy HQ

The Sierra Nevada Conservancy bill is one signature shy of becoming reality, but cities are already vying to headquarter the group that is meant to protect the Sierra, stretching from the southern end of Kern County to the northern tip of Modoc County.

The city that wins the bid could potentially gain dozens of jobs – and Nevada City has decided to express an early interest.

The Nevada City City Council voted unanimously Monday to support having the headquarters within the city limits, and now the local officials await Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s signature on the bill.

One requirement of the bill is the headquarters must be located within the boundaries the conservancy covers. This gives many other cities a chance at the headquarters, as well.

Auburn is vying to be the conservancy’s home base, but the resolution for support has yet to reach the City Council, said Auburn City Administrator Bob Richardson. Auburn is still one step ahead of other mountain towns such as Tuolomne County’s city of Sonora – known as the “Queen of the Southern Mines.”

Sonora Administrative Aide Toni Arola said she puts together the agendas for the City Council and, so far, there has been no indication of local interest in lobbying for the headquarters.

Former Nevada County supervisor and Sierra Fund representative Elizabeth “Izzy” Martin is pushing to have the headquarters in Nevada City. The Sierra Fund was deeply involved in getting the bill passed in Sacramento recently, and Martin was a key player.

“It makes a lot of sense to have Nevada City as the headquarters,” Martin said. One reason she cited is because this is the home of the largest hydraulic mine site in the Sierra. This is one example of the wealth and destruction that led to some of the issues facing conservationists today, Martin said.

Another reason is that Nevada City was a pioneer in supporting the conservancy bill.

“Nevada City was the first city to endorse the Sierra Conservancy,” Martin said. Nevada City’s endorsement was followed by that of San Francisco.

Martin said she has hopes that not only the headquarters will be in Nevada City, but that Gov. Schwarzenegger will make an appearance in the County when he signs the bill.

The California Coastal Conservancy is a similar entity to the anticipated Sierra Nevada Conservancy and was formed in 1976 to protect and preserve California’s coastal lands. The headquarters for this group is in downtown Oakland and boasts what they call a “small staff” of 50.

The new Sierra Nevada Conservancy would not only be managed by a staff, but also be overseen by 13 board members – six appointed by counties, five by the governor, and two from the state Legislature. The six members from counties would be county supervisors who represent three to four counties and will rotate out on a two-year term.

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