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Sierra Conservancy pact close

Compromise language is being drafted for the creation of a Sierra Conservancy, and legislators will deal with it next week.

The compromise is between plans from Assemblyman and former area Senator Tim Leslie (R-Roseville) and Assemblyman John Laird (D-Santa Cruz). The bill leans towards Leslie’s firm stance for Sierra representation and Laird’s boundaries for the non-profit that would shepherd economic and environmental support for the range, according to Jed Medifind, Leslie’s chief of staff.

The deal has been urged by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and enjoys bipartisan support.



“There would be a 13 member board, with six of them elected supervisors from the Sierra,” Medifind said Wednesday. The boundaries would be to the watersheds that go south, which is the Sacramento and Susan River in northeastern California.

Leslie had called for a 20-member board in his version of the bill, with 10 members from the Sierra and six picked by the governor, three of whom had to hail from the mountains. Laird’s bill called for a seven-member board selected by various state elected officials with no mention of Sierra representation.




The revised bill will hit appropriations next Tuesday or Wednesday, Medifind said. If it survives, “the Senate floor will be the biggest debate,” for the conservancy.

“I expect there will be amendment language available by Friday,” said Laird staffer Clyde MacDonald.

The Sierra Fund in Nevada County has been backing Laird’s version of the bill, which vaguely extended the boundaries to the Cascade Range. Former South Yuba River League Executive Director Shawn Garvey is president of the fund and former county supervisor Izzy Martin is the Director of Integrated Sierra Investment Strategies there, according to its Web site. Garvey did not return phone calls today and Martin was gone this week.

The Sierra has never had a central conservancy to obtain grants and expertise for the entire range. However, the state does have other conservancies, including ones for the coast, Lake Tahoe, and two in the L.A. basin.

“A Sierra Conservancy will give people in the Sierra a seat at the table,” Laird said earlier this year. “The Sierra is something that cries out for conservancy.”

Leslie faced some opposition to the idea early on with fears for property rights. But with Schwarzenegger’s backing, the idea took a bipartisan bent.


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