This year marked CSNC’s 30th year of public lands and wildlife protection programs. During these three decades, we have been the loyal opposition and public policy wonks, and now we have added restoration specialists to our CV.
It’s been a long, bumpy, but rewarding ride! Imagine what a different place El Dorado County might be today if that little band of conservation-minded activists hadn’t chosen in 1986 to challenge those who believe satisfying a caprice for resource consumption outweighs the long-term benefits of healthy watersheds and productive wildlife habitat.
CSNC fought for responsible motorized recreation on the Eldorado National Forest, and our legal challenge to unmanaged vehicle use resulted in national changes over the past decade. All National Forests are now required to limit vehicle use to designated routes. The accomplishment of which we are proudest, however, is the protection to fragile alpine meadows– a direct result of our refusal to accept so-called historic routes that were damaging these most fragile and important of ecosystems.
After years of seemingly endless conflict, the past three years have been a welcome change, as we have partnered with the Eldorado National Forest to restore past damage. This year we evaluated 144 damaged sites and restored 110 of those, including sensitive lava cap, riparian zones, and the Traverse Creek Botanical Area. Much of this work was accomplished during twelve volunteer events, and with the help of our outstanding volunteers. Many thanks to everyone who came out and contributed to our mission of protecting and restoring the Eldorado National Forest. If you too are interested in joining our corps of volunteer Watershed Warriors, email Jessy@SierraNevadaConservation.org.
Our ongoing advocacy for the protection of Oak woodlands continues to prevent runaway development in western El Dorado, an effort that began with the General Plan twenty years ago. Development pressure never eases, and your letters to the County, in response to our alert regarding General Plan revisions this year, has stalled efforts to roll back oak woodland protection.
In September, we said goodbye to our 2016 AmeriCorps members, Jacob Potter and Kayla Youngblood. Jacob is currently working at Big Bend National Park as a restoration specialist, and Kayla is the Program Director for the Great Basin Outdoor School. We are very proud of them. Taking up where Jacob and Kayla left off, we welcome Jessy Linzy, our new Stewardship Assistant and Caleb Van Rossum, our Restoration Technician. Matt Brush, our staff Restoration Crew Leader, continues to do outstanding work.
Our booths at the Placerville Earth Day celebration and the Georgetown Arts in Nature festival were two of our most enjoyable activities. At these events our AmeriCorps members shared our meadow habitat model, complete with running stream and live tadpoles, with children of all ages. Seeing the delight on their faces as the little ones played with tiny toy deer, bears and raccoons brought smiles to their parents as well.
Recent changes in Washington, DC now pose profound challenges to meeting critical environmental goals. Industry is very likely, given new Cabinet nominations, to be once more in a position to undermine efforts to combat climate change and wildlife protection. CSNC will not shrink from the challenges ahead. We are happy now to support and defend our Forest Service partners from budget cuts and staff reductions. We are also likely to be required to resume a strong defense of the past administration’s environmental policies. It is more important than ever for our members to support CSNC and our work.
While much of our restoration work is made possible through grants, we still depend on our members for our daily operating expenses. It is now possible to make secure, monthly donations, using the enclosed coupon or CSNC’s website: SierraNevadaConservation.org. Monthly donations help us budget for those mundane but necessary expenses like office rent, utilities and internet access. Of course, your annual donations are also very much appreciated. So please give generously!
On behalf of CSNC’s Board of Directors and our young, enthusiastic staff, I wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2017.