Assm Garcia Hosts Listening Session for Sierra Nevada Stakeholders to Discuss AB 1567 Climate Bond
Introduced earlier this year, AB 1567, officially the Safe Drinking Water, Wildfire Prevention, Drought Preparation, Flood Protection, Extreme Heat Mitigation, Clean Energy, and Workforce Development Bond Act of 2024, would in its current form authorize the issuance of bonds totaling $15.9 billion to finance projects for safe drinking water, wildfire prevention, drought preparation, flood protection, extreme heat mitigation, clean energy, and workforce development projects. More specifically, the bond calls out the following investments:
Direct Benefit to the Recreation/Trails/Cycling Community
- $75 Million Regional Park entities to reduce fire/promote public access
- $40 Million Recreational Trails and Greenways Program – grants for wildfire fuel breaks, risk reduction buffers, or recreational corridors through investments in natural surface, multiuse trails, and trail systems pursuant to grants
- $25 Million for a new Office of Outdoor Recreation – ORECs can help unify and leverage each state’s unique outdoor recreation economy. Offices can support economic development initiatives, stakeholder outreach, workforce programs, business recruitment, conservation and stewardship projects, youth engagement, equitable access, and more.
- $900 Million Statewide Park Program – This competitive grant program creates new parks and new recreation opportunities in underserved communities across California.
- $275 Million Urban Greening Program – investments that support the creation of trails and trail corridors linking unique sites and destinations to state recreation areas and larger active transportation alignments, networks, and corridors.
- $175 Million for investments in green blighted, former industrial sites for repurposing to parks, trails, and green spaces.
Mixed Benefit: Direct/Indirect Benefits to the Recreation/Trails/Cycling Community
- Conservancy Funding
- $375 Million Dep. of Parks and Recreation Block Grants ($300k/$150k minimums counties/cities)
- $250 Million San Francisco Bay Area Program administered by the State Coastal Conservancy
- $400 Million State Coastal Conservancy (SCC) (Discretionary)
- $140 Million Sierra Nevada Conservancy
- $135 Million Rivers and Mountains Conservancy
- $25 Million for a new California Trails Conservancy
- $25 Million Southern Diablo Conservation Program
- $75 for water system improvements for fire suppression purposes
- $150 Million Urban Forestry Program
- $150 Million for Community Resilience Centers
2023-24 State Budget Cuts
One factor fueling the immediate need for this bond was the projected $31+ Billion deficit per the release of the Governor’s proposed state budget in January 2023. Governor Newsom, while working with the Legislature, crafted a final budget document that, among other things, aggressively protects $52 Billion of the $54 Billion in proposed climate/resources-related expenditures through the year 2025. While this is something to be celebrated, and our hats should be off to Governor Newsom, Secretary Crowfoot, and lawmakers, there were some notable casualties:
- $25 Million reduction for the Trails and Greenways Program
- $175 Million reduction for the Urban Greening Program
- $182 Million reduction for the Statewide Park Program
- $160 Million reduction for Community Resilience Centers
- $100 Million reduction for conservancy-based Nature Based Solution funding
The Governor’s Administration and others anticipate that the cuts in the budget expenditures referenced above will be temporary. In order to assuage stakeholders in the resources space, the Governor announced that his Administration would explore working with the Legislature on the framing of a bond that, among other items, would backfill some of the spending commitments in the climate and resource arenas.
Garcia Hits the Road: Assemblymember Embarks on Bond-Focused Listening Tour Across California
The bill’s primary author, Assemblymember Garcia embarked on a road trip this summer to take this issue straight to delegations and stakeholders. In addition to this week’s Sierra Foothills meeting, Garcia and his staff has/will be meeting with stakeholders in Orange and Los Angeles Counties, the Bay Area, and the Fresno region to help inform the final language of the proposed legislation.
The Sierra Foothills Gathering
CAMTB Board Member Matthew Blain, and Executive Director, Michael Anzalone, attended the Sierra Foothills gathering, which was hosted by the Sierra Business Council. Anzalone and six other leaders/stakeholders from the Sierra Nevada Region provided comments to Garcia for consideration. Session guest speakers included:
- Irvin Jim, Intertribal Council of California and Alpine County
- Caroline Godkin, Climate and Wildfire Institute
- Christine Pieper, Placer Land Trust Board
- Karin Winters, California Council of Land Trusts
- Joan Clayburgh, The Sierra Fund
- Michael Anzalone, California Mountain Biking Coalition
- Darcie Goodman Collins, League to Save Lake Tahoe/CA Tahoe Alliance
Other represented organizations included:
- Auburn Recreation District
- Placer County
- Nevada County
- City of Auburn
- Placer Resource Conservation District
- Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition
- Mother Lode Land Trust
- CA Council of Land Trusts
- Pacific Forest Trust
- Tahoe City Public Utility District
- South Tahoe Public Utility District
- Sierra Business Council
- Sierra Nevada Alliance
- Sierra Club
- Tahoe Regional Planning Agency
- Sierra Streams Institute
- Yosemite Stanislaus Solutions
- American River Conservancy
In advance of the session, attendees were encouraged to submit responses to a series of themed prompts which were shared during the session. Not surprisingly Wildfire, along with Water & Drought, and Extreme Weather Events were noted as top risks in the region, while top funding priorities, ranked highest to lowest, included Investing in Community Resilience, Wildfire and Forest Resilience, Watershed Restoration, Land Conservation, and Sustainable Recreation.
Two AB 1567 Listening Session Takeaways for Outdoor Recreation
Outdoor Recreation, including the MTB Community, Are Champions for the Environment Too. While there’s been a history of tension between some environmental and recreational camps, wildfire, drought, and catastrophic weather events, as well as the related recovery efforts, are making environmental champions out of the outdoor recreation community. See the likes of Outdoor Alliance, Winter Wildlands Alliance, and Amercian Whitewater, on the national stage that are activating their bases and taking climate change head on.
When public lands are closed as a result of severe storms, or wildfire events, or the recovery efforts thereafter, usage in the region declines, and with it the social and economic benefits of those activities. The Outdoor Industry Association recently shared that in 2022 the outdoor recreation economy in California accounted for $54.7 billion in spending or 1.6 % of the state’s GDP, and that it employs over half of a million people. What’s more, it generates over $689 Million in State and Local Revenues. Hiking, running, biking, and camping, all trail-centric activities, are the top 5 recreation uses in California. Trails and trail access play an important role in the economic and environmental well-being of the state, as well as the mental and physical well-being of its citizens. The modern environmental movement is shifting, and now also includes folks who pedal, climb, and paddle. With AB 1567, we’ll all have a better platform to advance this work and activate our respective communities.
Many Voices Needed at the Table, Including Outdoor Recreation. As “newer” champions for the environment, we also appreciate that Garcia and his fellow authors are taking input on funding priorities from a broad set of stakeholders – both geographically and by type. We are particularly appreciative that outdoor recreation is being acknowledged as one of those relevant voices. AB 1567, by way of its stated direct investments in trails, public lands, and recreation, recognizes that the outdoor community has already lost more than access and that it has more to give than stoke for the trail.