Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks and towering Mount Whitney are only a few of the natural wonders in the Sierra Nevada. Extending 400 miles north-to-south, including 12 million acres of federal public land, the Sierra Nevada mountain range’s size is matched only by its diversity, marked by regal granite spires, sapphire lakes and venerable forests.
Threats to the Sierra Nevada: Development, mining, logging, illegal roads and outdated land management threaten these stunning wildlands, as well as the recreation opportunities and economic benefits they provide to the region.
Work we are doing
The Sierra Nevada. Credit: Isolino Ferreira, flickr.
Assuring the Sierra Nevada’s future legacy
Sierra Nevada is known for Yosemite, Sequoia and other popular destinations. But many of its wild lands still need permanent protection. The Wilderness Society works towards preservation that would secure this American national treasure and outdoor legacy for generations.
Expanding public land holdings
We are working on federal funding to expand the Sierra’s public land holdings. These land purchases would help this region avoid development and would conserve the most critical wild lands.
Wise land planning and habitat restoration
Cloudripper East Ridge. Credit: flickr, Justin Johnsen.
To keep the Sierra Nevada forests wild, The Wilderness Society supports management plans that increase and restore habitat, protect potential wilderness and consider climate change.
Both wise future management and on-the-ground restoration projects ensure that the Sierra Nevada stays wild. The Wilderness Society’s California team is focused on both of these goals and is working with the Forest Service and local partners to accomplish this.
The Wilderness Society is working with the US Forest Service to improve their national forest management plans. Our initial focus will be on the Sierra, Inyo and Sequoia national forests. Our goals are to:
- Augment wildlife habitats.
- Protect potential wilderness.
- Diminish severe wildfire threats.
- Factor in climate change.
Sierra National Forest. Credit: The Greater Southwestern Exploration Company, flickr.
Restoring the land
A project to restore 37,000 acres in the Dinkey area of the Sierra National Forest will restore watersheds, improve habitat and help local communities with jobs. The Wilderness Society is working with the US Forest Service to improve their national forest management plans.
Desolation Wilderness. Credit: Steve Dunleavy, flickr.
The Wilderness Society improves the ecological health of Sierra Nevada forests when we identify illegal, eroding roads and trails – and convert them back to the wild.
Many illegal, user-created dirt roads and trails snake through these forests. As they disintegrate, they cause erosion and pollute rivers, which provide more than half of California’s water. We work to restore the health of these forests by identifying roads for future reclamation.
A network of eroding roads
More than 9,000 miles of unauthorized roads have been created by off-road drivers in California’s national forests. Many of these dirt routes and trails leave behind gouged-out meadows and eroded scars in the forest.
In the Sierra Nevada, these illegal or eroding roads pollute essential streams and rivers. This area is a critical watershed that gives California 60 percent of its water.
Sierra National Forest. Credit: Nate Koechley, flickr.
Restoring the forests' ecological health
To restore the health of Sierra Nevada’s forests, these disintegrating and illegal roads must first be identified. Eventually these roads can be turned back to nature, rebalancing the Sierra’s critical forest habitat.
Eliminating unnecessary roads can also recover the forest’s natural sounds, enjoyed by both wildlife and people.
The Wilderness Society’s California office is working with coalition partners in the Sierra Nevada to win new wilderness protection, assist with forest planning and restoration and improve forest health by identifying illegal or eroding roads that can be reclaimed. We are making important gains:
- To preserve additional public wild lands.
- Improve forest management plans.
- Begin restoration projects.
- Improve the ecological health of forests by identifying roads that should be reclaimed by nature.
The Sierra Nevada is a breathtaking mountain range that spans 400 miles of California north-to-south spine, including 12 million acres of federal public lands. Visitors enjoy an incredible array of experiences, from hiking near Lake Tahoe to climbing 14,494-foot Mount Whitney.
Half Dome. Credit: Scott Gustin, flickr.
Whether northern or southern, rural or urban, Californians of many different backgrounds say wild lands give them beautiful scenery, clean water and a chance to recharge their souls. After moving to California in the 1960s, Don and Barbara become outdoor recreationists and then conservation activists working to protect to the Sierra Nevada and other areas that they love.
Wilderness is a precious resource with many human, natural and economic benefits that we need to protect.
Hear artists, activists and adventurers share what the ownership and legacy of these American wildlands means to them.
- Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Senator Cantwell, the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has scheduled a hearing in Seattle on August 27 to examine wildfire issues. Senator John Barrasso, who chairs that committee’s Public Lands, Forests and Mining subcommittee, is also scheduled to participate in the hearing.
- Tuesday, August 25, 2015
When President Obama visits Alaska at the end of August, climate change will be a key focus of his trip. The Wilderness Society developed the following memo to provide a brief primer on key Alaska public lands where the effects of climate change can already be seen. This information is intended to ease your research and inform your reporting during the president’s visit. It focuses on four areas where the president’s administration has made major, important decisions:
- Monday, August 24, 2015
“We are heartened to see that President Obama is focusing on clean energy as part of building an enduring environmental legacy in the last 18 months of his presidency, and the Clean Power Plan is a good start,” said Jamie Williams, president of the Wilderness Society, one of the oldest conservation groups in the United States. "This administration has shifted the role our public lands play in powering the nation. We have solar projects on public lands for the first time ever.