Diana Madson
Diana Madson
Government Affairs Director

Policy Recommendations to Benefit the Sierra Part One: Integrated Watershed Management

 

Drumroll, please…

Sierra CAMP is proud to unveil a report we have been working on for the last year and a half. Our team, comprised of numerous Sierra Business Council staffers, two AmeriCorps CivicSpark Fellows, and four graduate students from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, has been hard at work studying the climate change impacts in our region and analyzing the opportunities for climate mitigation and adaptation.

COMM Capitol 2016 07We are ready to share our work in the newly released Sierra CAMP’s Policy Recommendations for the 2017 Update of Safeguarding California: Reducing Climate Risk. This Sierra CAMP policy white paper synthesizes biophysical research and policy expertise of the Sierra Nevada region to make recommendations for the state's 2017 update of its climate adaptation plan, Safeguarding California: Reducing Climate Risk.

Because the report encompasses so much, we’ll be breaking it down via a series of five blogs, each of which will focus on the following topic areas: Integrated Watershed Management, Forest Restoration, Regional Economic Development, Preparedness and Public Health, and Structural Recommendations. We will start each blog with a status update on the current policy landscape for the topic and then provide a series of recommendations for improvements.

Part 1 of 5: Integrated Watershed Management

Current Status: Drought has been on everyone’s minds over the last half a decade and climate change continues to threaten California’s water supply. With the state depending on Sierra Nevada snowpack for more than 60% of its developed water supply, California must focus its efforts statewide on integrated approaches that equally address the needs of forests and meadows in upper watersheds along with the needs of downstream urban areas and coastal areas. Recent efforts to consolidate management through Integrated Regional Watershed Management Plans (IRWM) and to address priority groundwater basin management through the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) increase the resilience of California’s water supply. No single effort can achieve the necessary results, however. In order to meet the growing strain on California’s water supplies, upstream restoration and green infrastructure projects must be met with downstream efficiency measures and projects such as water recycling or groundwater recharge.

Our recommendations: Due to the array of ecosystem services the Sierra region provides to the state, including water supply and carbon storage, a healthy Sierra Nevada facilitates resilience for communities across California. This report highlights the important biophysical and economic relationships between the Sierra Nevada and downstream communities, calling attention to regulatory measures and opportunities for cooperation that leverage the state's existing efforts to adapt to climate change. The suggestions made in this report are aimed at guiding the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) and other relevant state agencies in the development and implementation of climate adaptation planning across the state, starting with the 2017 update of Safeguarding California: Reducing Climate Risk.COMM DM Blog Image 2015 01

Sierra CAMP recommends the following suggestions to address the concerns facing our water supply:

1. Invest in natural infrastructure across the state’s distributed water network starting with forest and meadow restoration at the top of the watershed and spanning multiple Integrated Regional Water Management regions

2. Create and maintain existing inter-regional and multi-party funding mechanisms to magnify impact and secure watershed services, and fund large landscape-scale demonstration projects Pages 6 through 8 in the report address further action that can be taken in the Sierra, the Foothills, the Central Valley and in urban and coastal areas, as well as throughout the state. These recommendations regarding Integrated Watershed Management provide policy actions that can be taken to adapt to and mitigate climate change in the Sierra. It is imperative that the 2017 update of Safeguarding California: Reducing Climate Risk considers the importance of this region as a resource for the entire state.

Don’t forget, we still have Sierra-specific recommendations for Forest Restoration, Regional Economic Development, Preparedness and Public Health, and Structural Recommendations. SBC will be publishing recommendations from Sierra CAMP’s Policy Recommendations for the 2017 Update of Safeguarding California: Reducing for Climate Risk each week through the month of August. Tune in to keep yourself apprised of how State climate policy can best serve our Sierra Nevada communities, then let your state legislators know you support Sierra consideration in the 2017 update of Safeguarding California: Reducing Climate Risk.