Programs - Regional Climate Change Program
Regional Climate Change Program
PROJECTS | EVENTS & TRAININGS |
PUBLICATIONS | PROGRAM STAFF | LINKS | Sign up for our E-Newsletters!
The Sierra Nevada Alliance Regional Climate Change Program engages and supports efforts to adopt exemplary, sustainable regional plans across the Sierra. Exemplary sustainable regional plans work to protect and restore Sierra waters, lands, wildlife and rural communities and incorporate climate change adaptation principles, while meeting or exceeding the most aggressive statewide or national greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction legislation. Our program was developed using a solution-strategy approach, as shown in the flowchart below, to ensure the protection and resilience of the Sierra Region.
Regional Climate Change Program Flowchart:
Population Growth and Climate Change are among the most significant threats facing the Sierra Nevada, one of the fastest growing regions in California. Sprawling development is increasing vehicle miles and greenhouse gas emissions, destroying rare habitat and agricultural lands, and straining natural resources upon which our communities depend. Climate change compounds these problems and contributes a new host of concerns for snowpack levels, water management and recreation, wildlife, and the frequency and severity of fires.
|Projections made from Theobald's Landscape Sprawl Metric, |
to read more on the study click here .
Threatening Land in the Sierra Foothills By 2020, there is an expected population growth of 50-100 percent in the counties along the Sierra Nevada's western foothills.1
Placer County located in the Sierra was the third fastest growing county in California from 2009-2010, with a growth rate of approximately 33%.2
Less than 1% of biologically-diverse Sierra foothills are protected from development, and much of the area lies near growing cities.3
Increasing Vehicle Miles Traveled and GHG Emissions In the core Sierra Nevada Counties, from 1990 to 2003 there were approximately 35% more registered vehicles, and 348 new miles of city and county roads.4
Leading to Sprawling Development on Sierra Nevada "Open Space" By 2040, almost 20 percent of the Sierra’s current private forests and rangelands could be affected by projected development.1
At least 33% of the region is privately owned and therefore more vulnerable to development.5
Destroying Rare Wildlife Habitat Almost two-thirds of riparian habitat - almost 600,000 acres - is privately owned in Sierra Nevada.3
|Top: Dana Glacier - August, 1883 (left); September, 2004 (right) |
Middle: Lyell Glacier - August 7, 1903 (left); August 14, 2003 (right)
Bottom: Darwin Glacier - August 14, 1908 (left); August 14, 2004 (right)
Photos taken by: G.K. Gilbert, H. Basagic, and I.C. Russell
Increasing Fire Risk Between 1990 and 2000, 97% of the Sierra's growth occurred in areas designated as extreme or very high fire threat.3
Nearly 70 percent of the Sierra Region’s forests and rangelands are ecologically at risk from wildfire.6
Impacting Wildlife Migration and Habitat More than half of Sierra species have shifted their ranges upward by as much as 1,600 feet in elevation over the past 90 years due to climate change.3
Two-thirds of more than 5,500 native plan species in CAlifornia are expected to reduce their range as much as 80% by the end of the century.7
Pika, adapted to cold climates, historically they lived at about 5,700 feet above sea level but now averages higher than 8,000 feet. The extinction of several subpopulations is highly correlated to climate change and their inability to adapt to warmer temperatures.8
Melting Snow and Ice By mid-century, spring snowpack in the Sierra Nevada is projected to decline about 25-40%. Toward the end of the century, losses could reach up to 90%.9
Emission Reduction and Adaptation are solutions which ensure the resilience of Sierra communities, watersheds and wildlife by addressing the current climate crisis and the sprawling development threatening the region. Emission reduction, or mitigation, is a way to reduce the long-term risk and hazards of climate change and adaptation helps Sierra communities adjust to increasing climate variability and extremes.
By 2013, working with our member groups and local partners throughout the Sierra Nevada, we will help develop and implement local and regional resource plans to serve as models for a resilient and thriving Sierra region that successfully faces economic, environmental and societal challenges, including climate change.
To decide which kind of regional planning efforts to target, the Regional Climate Change Program staff reviewed 37 different types of resource plans in the Sierra and consulted with the Regional Planning Working Group. The Regional Planning Working Group was a gathering of twenty regional, state, and Sierra leaders which provided input on the resource plans that would help to protect, conserve, restore, and enhance the environmental and human-based resources of the Sierra Nevada for environmentally-sustainable and prudent use by current and future generations. County and regional land-use plans, climate action plans, forest plans and integrated regional water management plans are the regional planning efforts which our Program prioritized.
The Regional Climate Change Program uses three main actions to achieve our Program strategy:
+ Be a Voice for Sierra Region
Our Program advocates for sound statewide investment to support smart growth, sustainable resource management, climate change mitigation and adaptation policies and economic growth in the Sierra.
+ Develop Model Projects with Local Groups
Our Program provides in-depth assistance and leadership on targeted planning processes including County General Plans, Integrated Regional Water Management Plans and Climate Action Plans.
+ Facilitate Networking and Best Management Practices
Our Program offers expert consultation, useful publications and informative events to help grassroots organizations win local campaigns.
"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.
Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine
flows into trees." - John Muir
1) Summary of the Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project Report, University of California, Davis, Centers for Water and Wildland Resources, 1996, p.15. 2) US Census Report 2010, US Census Bureau, 2010, http://2010.census.gov/2010census/
3) Planning for the Future: Sierra Land Use Index, Sierra Nevada Alliance, 2005, p. ii.
4) Planning for the Future: Sierra Land Use Index, Sierra Nevada Alliance, 2005, p. 5.
5) Fire and Resource Assessment, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, 2010, p. 89.
6) Fire and Resource Assessment, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, 2010, Chapter 3, p.12.
7) Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States, U.S. Global Change Research Program, 2009, available from: http://downloads.globalchange.gov/usimpacts/pdfs/climate-impacts-report.pdf
8) A Brief History of Great Basin Pikas, Donald Grayson, Journal of Biogeography, 2005,vol. 32,p. 12: 2103-2111.
9) Measured Black Carbon Deposition on the Sierra Nevada Snow Pack and Implication for Snow Pack Retreat, O.Hadley et al., Atmos. Chem. Phys., 2010, vol. 10:7505-7513, available from: http://www.atmos-chem-phys.org/10/7505/2010/acp-10-7505-2010.pdf