Sierra CAMP (Climate Adaptation & Mitigation Partnership)

Sierra County, CA


The Sierra Nevada and southern Cascade range is a resource-rich region, covering all or part of 22 counties, and supplies many benefits to its own communities and urban residents downstream. The region serves as California’s principal watershed, supplying up to two-thirds of the state’s developed water supply for urban areas including San Francisco, the San Joaquin Valley, the central coast, southern California, and one-third of California’s rich agricultural land. The Sierra Nevada region sustains 60 percent of California’s animal species and almost half of its plant species. In addition, the Sierra supplies up to half of California’s annual timber yield and 15 percent of the state’s power needs, with even more opportunity to provide green energy. The region’s forests and agricultural lands are also uniquely suited to help reduce the warming impact of a changing climate by sequestering carbon. Sierra forests, alone, store enough carbon to offset the annual CO2 emissions of 108 coal-fired power plants. The Sierra also sees more than 50 million recreational visits per year, generating billions in revenues, and is home to more than 600,000 residents in more than 200 local communities – communities that depend on natural resources for economic sustainability, job creation, recreation, and preservation of the history and community character that are unique to the region.

The Sierra faces enormous challenges on many fronts: one in five Sierrans live below the poverty line and one in nine are unemployed, which is consistently higher than the rest of California. The region is also in one of the driest years on record, which caused the Governor of California to declare a state of drought emergency in January 2014 and has led to the fallowing of 500,000 acres of agricultural land throughout the state, which has the 9th largest agricultural economy in the world. With most of California (and all of the Sierra) in either “extreme” or “exceptional” drought conditions, the region experienced the largest fire ever in the region’s history last year, contributing to air quality woes that already plague many of the region’s towns. And with decreased snowpack, continued drought, and higher temperatures predicted as the new normal, the collaborative is looking to do everything they can to connect urban and rural areas and build resiliency.


The purpose of this collaborative is to reduce the burden of climate change on communities and ecosystems throughout the Sierra Nevada, especially for those most vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. The collaborative will catalyze leaders from government, public health, business, academia, and community groups to come together – within and across market and jurisdictional boundaries – to share information and best practices, leverage efforts and resources, avoid duplication, identify critical needs and agreed-upon strategies and actions, and develop funding sources to meet those needs. The collaborative has secured seed funding, submitted additional grant proposals for implementation funds, and begun general outreach to critical partners.

The collaborative’s primary goals include:

  • Developing an inventory of Sierra Nevada climate mitigation and adaptation efforts and studies.
  • Building on existing efforts, such as the Sierra Nevada Conservancy’s 2009 Sierra Nevada Climate Action Plan and others, to develop and implement a comprehensive regional framework for climate action.
  • Creating cross-jurisdictional and public-private partnerships, including building on the urban-rural connection by coordinating with the four existing urban collaboratives in California (Resilient Sacramento, Bay Area Climate & Energy Resilience Project, Los Angeles Regional Collaborative and San Diego Climate Collaborative) and the statewide Alliance of Regional Collaboratives for Climate Adaptation (ARCCA).
  • Conducting climate risk communication, education, and outreach efforts to increase public understanding of the causes and consequences of climate change in the Sierra Nevada and its relevance to the State of California.
  • Improving the Sierra region’s access to existing funding.


Although the collaborative itself has just come together, members of Sierra CAMP have been working individually and collectively on a number of promising innovative projects.

  • Sierra Business Council manages a region-wide energy efficiency partnership across 14 counties that has saved 6 million kilowatt hours per year, or 4,137 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually and has led efforts with 29 local governments throughout the region to develop 32 GHG inventories and climate action plans. The council has also partnered with a coalition of business, conservation, public health, faith-based, environmental justice, and other groups to support changing development patterns in three counties, leading to fewer acres consumed by growth, greater diversity of housing choices, and more new growth slated as infill in existing communities.
  • Placer County is developing a community-scale combined heat and power biomass facility that will take woody biomass from forest thinning and fuel reduction activities and use state-of-the-art gasification technology to convert it into energy. The Cabin Creek facility will generate electricity 24/7 for distribution in eastern Placer County and will use the resulting heat for the facility and to melt snow on the roof, road and sidewalks of the site. By reducing fuel buildup in high-fire-risk areas, diverting open pile burns to more emission-efficient combustion, and diversifying energy sources, this project would improve public health and help local communities achieve a number of health, economy and energy-related sustainability goals.
  • Sierra Institute for Community and Environment is working to establish rural telehealth networks to provide additional health-related services to disadvantaged rural areas and is leading a collaborative resource-management effort to advance ecological, economic and social sustainability (the “triple bottom line”) among USDA Forest Service Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration projects in California. In addition, Sierra Institute connects people to the landscape through education, including educational tours focused on the relationships between natural resources and the communities that use them.
  • Sierra Nevada Conservancy has launched the Sierra Nevada Forest and Community Initiative (SNFCI), bringing together a multi-stakeholder, multi-jurisdictional coordinating group to collaborate on policy, investment, science, and research issues that can help restore forests to ecological health and improve local communities’ social and economic well-being. The coordinating council is focusing on both public lands (increasing the pace and scale of landscape-level forest treatments on federal and state-managed forests) and on local collaborative efforts including the Placer County Cabin Creek biomass facility.
  • The Mountain Pact is working at the federal policy level to help create climate change resilience in key mountain resort communities across the American West. Key policy initiatives include addressing wildfire and disaster relief funding to ensure that firefighting has its own budget and does not deplete funding from other sources, as well as legislation to protect water rights in these high mountain areas. By leveraging high-profile resort communities to broaden the public’s knowledge and understanding of climate change and what can be done to adapt and mitigate impacts, Mountain Pact connects treasured rural resources and communities with the urban constituencies that enjoy them.


The Sierra Nevada collaborative exists in a rural region whose resources largely serve urban populations outside the region. The collaborative seeks to connect climate planning and implementation efforts with those of the downstream metropolitan areas:

  • Forming an effective regional collaborative inclusive of environmental, social, and economic participants and concerns, when efforts to-date have focused almost exclusively on environmental/ecosystem concerns and when the region is so large and diverse.
  • Achieve agreement on key controversial issues in a region with diverse needs.
  • Effective communications, both within and beyond the regional collaborative, to advance the collaborative’s goals and foster synergy, especially regarding the need to connect and coordinate efforts between the rural resource areas.