Sustaining the Sierra Nevada bioregion's integrity under growing human population pressure: Policy issues brief
<p>The Sierra Nevada figures boldly in the earliest American articulations of environmental conservation and protection and civil organizing around this concern. The founder of Sierra Club, naturalist John Muir, focused attention on these mountains and since then they have been kept on or near center stage by environmentalists. It is from the early 1990s however, that Californians more generally began to be aware of the threat of growth and development to the Sierra Nevada bioregion and the relationship of conditions in these mountains to their own well-being. The national debate over the extinction of a small bird, the Spotted Owl, and a Pulitzer Prize winning series in the Sacramento Bee by Tom Knudson, "Sierra In Peril," heralded an increased level of awareness and concern over the future of this unique place. In 1993 the US Congress sponsored the $6.5 million Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project (SNEP) to report on the state of the bioregion. Completed in June, 1996, this study is one of the most comprehensive ecosystemic assessment of a region in the world.</p> SNEP brought together extant information on the Sierra Nevada, undertook assessments, summarized them in a set of critical findings, and then formulated a number of likely future sub-set conditions and related strategies. It does not offer a single plan or overarching strategy, preferred alternatives, nor range of options for implementation. It does however, clearly support and restate that a considerable threat to the integrity of the Sierra Nevada's ecosystem and resources exists, and downstream, to the quality of life of a large number of the state's inhabitants. It should remove doubt that a serious and complex need exists to considerably improve protection of public and private lands while managing the impacts of increasing population growth, principally through ecosystemic management of the bioregion.