California’s remarkable biodiversity depends on the healthy functioning and good stewardship of its forest ecosystems. Healthy and naturally functioning forest ecosystems support diverse fish, wildlife and plant species, many of which are threatened or endangered. California's forests are a critical link in our water supply. Healthy forests help attenuate flooding, recharge groundwater and provide water to downstream communities year-round. Over 60 percent of California’s water, including drinking water for 23 million people, originates in the Sierra Nevada mountains as precipitation. In addition, resilient and well-functioning forests provide protection against catastrophic wildfire, and sequester carbon to offset the impact of emissions.
Unfortunately, much of California’s forest land has been degraded or fragmented, and remaining areas are threatened by accelerating cycles of severe wildfire, drought and extreme weather. Recent wildfires in California have destroyed lives and property, degraded water quality, put water supply at risk, damaged wildlife habitat and cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) partners with NFWF to support community-based stewardship and restoration of vital forest landscapes through PG&E’s Nature Restoration Grants. PG&E provides funding for projects that deliver job training and long-term career opportunities for veterans and on-the-ground conservation within their service areas in northern and central California. The Nature Restoration Grants promote a place-based commitment to conserving local natural resources.
Funding priorities for this program include:
- Engagement with organizations that provide hands-on forest conservation training and jobs for military veterans;
- Habitat restoration and enhancement projects that can be evaluated using clearly defined success criteria and that demonstrate a commitment to long-term stewardship and/or monitoring;
- Reduction of hazardous fuels to create naturally functioning forest landscapes that are more resilient to climate change and reduce the risk to public and private infrastructure from severe wildfire; and
- Benefits for sensitive species (e.g., state or federal candidate or listed species or species of special concern).
Since 1999, PG&E’s Nature Restoration Grants program has provided over $2.3 million to support 78 projects from Redding to Bakersfield. Grantees have raised an additional $8.5 million in matching contributions for a total investment of over $10.7 million for restoration and stewardship of local natural resources. Many species have benefitted, including the California clapper rail, salt marsh harvest mouse, San Francisco garter snake, red-legged frog, coho salmon and steelhead trout, native Olympia oysters, Western pond turtle, Mission blue butterfly and Bay checkerspot butterfly, kit fox and a variety of native plants on coastal dunes, woodland stream banks and wetland areas.