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Sierra ranchers, farmers get $5.2M for conservation

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From page B1 | March 13, 2013 |

SACRAMENTO — The Sierra Nevada Conservancy governing board March 7 approved $5.2 million in Proposition 84 grant awards to assist Sierra ranchers and farmers in 18 counties with conservation measures designed to protect California’s most important watersheds. The action was taken at the board’s quarterly meeting, held in Sacramento.

Three projects were funded in El Dorado County: $72,000 to the Eldorado National Forest for the Cody Meadows restoration project; $75,000 to the El Dorado Resource Conservation District for “Fish Friendly Farming Phase II”; and $266,500 to the El Dorado County Agricultural Department  to eradicate noxious weeds in El Dorado and Alpine counties.

With the completion of this grant round, the SNC has awarded $52 million to nearly 300 projects in the Sierra in the past five years. A wide variety of projects have been funded, including those to reduce the risk of catastrophic fire, protect important landscapes and improve watershed health.

“These working landscapes have a rich and important place in our region, so preserving that heritage is critical to our future,” said SNC Executive Officer Jim Branham. “These lands provide not only economic benefits, but substantial natural resource benefits as well. These projects will help conserve or restore land and water resources valuable to those living downstream.”

Projects will result in reduced erosion, meadow and stream restoration, conservation easements, ranch infrastructure development, invasive species removal and pre-project environmental work.

Funding was made available following a competitive grant round in which 62 qualified applications were received, totaling $11 million in requests. Eligible applicants include public agencies, qualifying nonprofit organizations whose charitable purposes are consistent with the purposes of the SNC, and eligible tribal organizations. Where the funds are used by applicants on private land, there must be a demonstrated benefit to the public.

Created in 2004, the Sierra Nevada Conservancy is a state agency whose mission is to improve the environmental, economic, and social well-being of the Sierra Nevada region. The SNC, which receives no general fund tax dollars, has awarded approximately $52 million in grants for projects including fuels reduction, conservation easements and acquisitions, and watershed and habitat restoration. Funding for these projects comes from Proposition 84 passed by voters in 2006.

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