Sierra CAMP is a public-private, cross-sector partnership working to promote climate adaptation and mitigation strategies across the Sierra Nevada region.
California’s historic six-year drought caught the attention of the world with its staggering consequences and implications for the state to adopt climate action policy. While in the Central Valley new wells have been drilled to excavate for groundwater, the 22 counties which comprise the Sierra Nevada mountains have been dealing with a host of different concerns regarding the integrity of California’s natural resources.
The arid climate has turned evergreen pines crisp brown, the snowpack continues to diminish and drier climates aid the infestation of bark beetles, increasing the tree mortality count. Throughout the summer and fall of 2017, a series of wildfires have broken out due to arid, irregular wind conditions and sending California into a state of emergency, causing not only concern for the future of our forests but also for the public health and safety of our people. The synergistic qualities which tie arid conditions, overstocked forests, decreased snowpacks and runaway wildfires amount to an incredible cost to California’s water quality and quantity as well as the state’s ability to adapt to future climatic events.
In the last year alone, extreme weather has impacted Sierra Nevada as a serious threat to ecological and economic health. It is expected that these catastrophic climate events are to increase in intensity and frequency as the global climate undergoes a shift from atmospheric loading and loss of the reliable climate patterns that support the Sierra Nevada’s ecoregions.
In 2014, several leaders from across the state came together to form a regional collaborative to plan and prepare for climate change threats and generate greater interest in restoring forest and watershed health in the Sierra Nevada: the Sierra Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Partnership (Sierra CAMP).
A program of the Sierra Business Council (SBC), Sierra CAMP is a public-private, cross-sector partnership aimed at convening local and regional agencies, businesses, nonprofits, and others from the 22-county region to promote greater resilience in the region and create partnerships with downstream urban areas. Sierra CAMP funds its activities through a combination of support from Sierra Business Council, foundations and grant programs, and PG&E public service surcharge funds.
The collaborative works to ensure that the region’s needs are recognized and prioritized in state policies and agency efforts, as the health of the Sierra affects the wellbeing of many adjacent urban communities as well. As the first rural-focused collaborative in California, Sierra CAMP catalyzes climate action in the region through webinars, events, policy research and reports, education, and building urban-rural connections.
One of the most productive ways that Sierra CAMP has facilitated these downstream partnerships is through involvement with the Alliance of Regional Collaboratives for Climate Adaptation (ARCCA). ARCCA is a state-wide regional collaborative of regional climate partnerships including those in Los Angele, San Diego, Sacramento and the Bay Area. Striving to build a resilient California, ARCCA works to enhance public health, protect natural resources and to build diverse economies. ARCCA gives Sierra CAMP and other member collaboratives the opportunity for regular interaction with each other, to discuss successes and challenges, and identify shared funding opportunities. ARCCA also helps to amplify the efforts of each of the individual collaboratives with the state through the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR), which is represented as an ex officio member of ARCCA. This partnership has helped to substantially increase the voice of rural communities on adaptation issues and has facilitated brainstorming on how urban regions, particularly within the Sacramento region, can partner even more closely with Sierra CAMP going forward.
In its breadth of work, Sierra CAMP has prioritized a number of issues to date, such as promoting restoration and investment in natural lands to protect the ecosystem services they provide like water supply, carbon sequestration, green infrastructure, recreation opportunities, etc. This emphasis on natural features and spaces facilitates both ecosystem health and clean air and water for all of California. Sierra CAMP understands the co-benefits that both urban regions and rural regions can plan for through economic development of rural regions, especially as it supports restoration of the Sierra Nevada headwaters and works with counties and towns to bolster their access and funding to economic and environmental opportunities. An important lesson of climate action work in rural regions is that often the co-benefits of climate mitigation and adaptation are more persuasive than the climate benefits - for instance, cost savings, access to state funding, and partnership regarding natural resource management are all extremely successful Sierra CAMP messages. Sierra CAMP has published a number of policy and research reports varying from green infrastructure to California's cap-and-trade program, all of which discuss impacts on the Sierra Region. Each of these reports, along with Sierra CAMP events, past webinar recordings, resources, information on Sierra specific climate effects, and more is available online at sbcsierracamp.org.
Although Sierra CAMP has been fiscally sponsored by a number of organizations since inception in 2014, securing funding is an ongoing task. Since Sierra CAMP does not charge membership dues in consideration of the strapped resources of many of its rural members, innovative funding mechanisms have been and will continue to be explored.
Looking ahead, Sierra CAMP in partnership with Valley Vision and Sierra Business Council's Small Business Development Center is developing an on-the-ground demonstration project to help businesses in fire-prone communities adapt and prepare for the effects of climate change, especially wildfire risk. Other initiatives include ongoing research and projects addressing disadvantaged communities in the Sierra, the urban-rural connection, and state funding allocation; however, additional and innovative partnerships across the Sierra and the State are continually welcome. With a constantly increasing member base and more landmark policies developing on climate impacts and adaption in California, Sierra CAMP is growing its capacity to aid and facilitate a more resilient future for the state’s headwaters and primer natural resources.
Madson, D. (2017). Sierra Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Partnership (Sierra CAMP). Retrieved from CAKE: www.cakex.org/case-studies/sierra-climate-adaptation-and-mitigation-par… (Last updated December 2017)