Sierra Climate Change Toolkit - 3rd Edition

The Sierra Climate Change toolkit addresses climate change across the Sierra Nevada region of California, with localized strategies for emissions reductions and adaptation. The report describes climate change impacts in the Sierra, as well as recent regulations, policy directions, and incentives to reduce emissions and adapt. Adaptation strategies are outlined for water and watershed management, wildlife and habitats, forestry, wildfire, and City and County land-use planning. This 3rd edition from the Sierra Nevada Alliance expands its focus from previous versions with more strategic detail, case studies and further support for the development of an adaptation framework that works within existing planning processes throughout the Sierra.

This toolkit reviews the science of climate change and impacts on the global, national, state, and regional levels - and the work being done to address these impacts at the local level. Regarding impacts at the California, Nevada, and Sierra Nevada levels, the report describes: Rising Temperatures, Increasingly Severe Weather, Melting Snow and Ice, and Moving and Disappearing Wildlife.   

Chapter 4: Adaptation: Preparing for Future Climate Change in Existing Sierra Planning Processes introduces the Sierra Nevada Alliance’s basic Climate Change Adaptation Principles for planning; and presents resources, case studies, and existing incentives and funding opportunities for climate adaptation. This section also describes mechanisms for addressing climate impacts through NEPA and CEQA. 

Chapter 5 provides comprehensive Adaptation Strategies for Water and Watershed Management, Wildlife and Habitat, Forestry Management, Wildfire Management, and City and County Land-Use Planning. Each sector described has strategies to:

  • Identify possible future changes through modeling
  • Monitor and track changes in weather, hydrology, and ecosystems
  • Use adaptive management strategies to maintain flexibility
  • Integrate and coordinate local efforts

Water and Watershed Management: addresses the vulnerability of natural and built water systems, opportunities for flood management, “water wise” projects, dam relicensing, watershed and fisheries management. 

Wildlife and Habitat Protection: describes several planning processes and other mechanisms that can be utilized to support Sierra wildlife and habitat including Habitat Conservation Plans, Conservation easements, Federal and state protected areas, Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, and the *California Land Conservation Act of 1965.

* “Better known as the Williamson Act, is a state law that enables local governments in California to enter into contracts with private landowners to preserve private land as agricultural land or other related open space. In return for limiting development on their land, landowners receive lower property tax assessments. Contracts must be no shorter than ten years, and they are estimated to save landowners from 20% to 75% in property taxes each year.”

Forestry Management: provides numerous federal and state policies, regulations, and plans which affect the conservation and use of the Sierra forests. This section also describes planning and management forums that offer opportunities to address climate change including the California Forest Practices Act, National Forest Land and Resource Management Plans (Forest Plans), Timber Harvest Plans (THPs), and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). 

Wildfire Management: The focus of this section is to address the compounding influences of fire suppression and climate change, and suggest actions for communities and individual homeowners to reduce the risk of wildfires damaging existing private property within the wildland-urban interface.

City and County Land-Use Planning: describes strategies to manage community-wide land use impacts, site-specific land use impacts, City and County General Plans, and CEQA.


Publication Date: 2014

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Resource Types:

  • Legal Analysis
  • Tool (general)

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