Our Directors
Our Advisors
Our Funders
Our Project Team

Saving The Sierra: Voices of Conservation in Action explores the geographic, political and philosophical boundaries of the new Sierra Nevada Conservancy. Through public media and citizen storytelling, the project documents community efforts to conserve the environment, culture, and economy of the Sierra Nevada.

Saving The Sierra focuses on the challenges and successes of conservation in the rural and remote communities of the range that is home to more than two million Californians. The Sierra is also home to majestic Yosemite National Park, sparkling Lake Tahoe, and towering giant sequoias, as well as burgeoning resort developments and suburban style residential and commercial sprawl that threaten the sustainability of rural life and the environmental integrity of the region.

You’ll hear from retired schoolteachers and fifth generation ranchers, rural youth and middle-aged Sierra Club members, lawyers, loggers, native tribes, environmental historians and conservation visionaries as they grapple with critical questions facing Californians:

  • How do people build bridges across cultural and political divides?
  • How do you balance increasing human use of the Sierra with the health of its ecosystem?
  • How do you involve those who live in the Sierra, outsiders who love the place, and those who want its resources in addressing bioregional issues?
  • What can communities, organizations and individuals learn as they reflect upon the history and future of conservation in California?

STS tackles these questions through a series of public radio broadcasts and community story sharing activities including a mobile storybooth, audio workshops, listening sessions, and an interactive website. Bridging public media with story-based community development creates numerous opportunities for broad public interaction, reflection, and dialogue on saving the Sierra.

Saving The Sierra aims to:

  • Build an engaged, informed constituency that cares about conservation of the Sierra Nevada and has the tools to develop, understand and implement creative solutions that meet a wide range of community needs.
  • Increase understanding of Sierra conservation issues and expand opportunities for diverse stakeholders to hear each other’s perspectives, struggles, and concerns around these issues.
  • Create forums for residents of California and the U.S. to discover how community members come together to find local solutions to regional conservation issues.
  • Generate public radio programming, multimedia Web content, and traveling exhibitions that honor the history, traditions and views of Sierra residents frequently ignored or stereotyped in the media.
  • Strengthen a sense of connection to the Sierra Nevada among project participants and radio listeners, helping them to understand that the issues facing the range affect the health of the entire state of California and that everyone, rural and urban alike, has a reason to care about conservation of the Sierra.

Project Co-director Catherine Stifter is a Peabody award-winning freelance editor and independent training/production consultant for community media projects and public radio stations around the US. She's worked in a wide variety of station-based, network and independent jobs in public radio for more than 25 years. Recent editing projects include Crossing East: First Asians in America, the first public radio series on Asian American history, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, airing on more than 160 PRI stations during May Asian American History Month, 2006; Dude, Where’s My River?, an award-winning student film on California water politics and dam removal; and The DNA Files, two award-winning series on genetics, ethics and politics produced by SoundVision and distributed by NPR.

Project Co-director jesikah maria ross is an educator, media maker and community development practitioner. She has been involved in the documentary arts field for the past fifteen years, working in radio and video production, training and curriculum development, and digital storytelling. She works with schools, community-based organizations, and social action groups to create participatory projects that generate media literacy, public engagement, and community story-sharing. She’s worked with: Appalshop, Kentucky; California Communities Program, UC Davis; Listen Up Youth Media Network, New York; Radio Netherlands, Holland; MediaWorks, South Africa; Community Media Network, Ireland. She is the sound recordist and Community Development Coordinator for the ITVS and Sundance Documentary funded film MAQUILAPOLIS [city of factories], which premieres on PBS’ POV in September, 2006.


David Beesley Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Department of History, Sierra College

Joan Clayburgh, Executive Director, Sierra Nevada Alliance

Dee Davis, President, Center for Rural Strategies

Timothy P. Duane Ph.D., Associate Professor, Energy and Resource, City and Regional Planning, Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, UC Berkeley

Elizabeth Martin, Executive Director, The Sierra Fund

Carolyn Merchant Ph.D., Chair, Division of Society and Environment, UC Berkeley

Lucy Parker, Chair, California Indian Basket Weavers Association

Patricia A. Stowkowski, Ph.D., Associate Professor,
Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources,
University of Vermont


The Sierra Fund

The Sierra Fund is a community foundation dedicated to the environmental protection of the Sierra Nevada, and is serving as the project’s fiscal sponsor and fundraising coordinator. The Sierra Fund was a leader in the creation of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy in 2004 – a state agency modeled after the Coastal and Tahoe Conservancies that helps direct public resources to protect the Sierra’s land and water resources.

Sierra Nevada Alliance

Sierra Nevada Alliance is a membership organization made up of 69 conservation groups working throughout the range to protect Sierra lands, water, wildlife and communities. The Alliance will link project outreach efforts to its extensive membership, and will provide forums to share and discuss the project’s work.

Center for Sierra Nevada Studies at Sierra College

The Center for Sierra Nevada Studies at Sierra College utilizes the resources of Sierra Community College to examine and celebrate the unique character of the Sierra Nevada region. The Center will develop and host the Saving The Sierra website, building on experience from its Sierra Nevada Virtual Museum.

Sierra Business Council

Sierra Business Council has been walking the talk since 1994. We are the Sierra Nevada’s sustainability organization and continue to demonstrate that vibrant communities, fair and prosperous economies, and healthy thriving ecosystems are not competing interests. When all three thrive, everyone wins. Our mission is to pioneer and demonstrate innovative approaches and solutions to foster community vitality, environmental quality, economic prosperity, and social fairness in the Sierra Nevada.


This project is made possible, in part, by a grant from the California Council for the Humanities as part of the Council's statewide California Stories Initiative.

calstories logo

Additional funders include:

Morgan Family Foundation logo
...supporting efforts to protect wilderness areas and natural resources, preserve cultural heritage, and prevent irreversible environmental and economic damage.

Sorensen's Fund of The Sierra Fund

Sierra College Friends of the Library

Associated Students of Sierra College


Special thanks to the dedicated team of college professors, design professionals and a talented design student who created Saving The Sierra's logo and website.

Gary Noy, Director of the Center for Sierra Nevada Studies at Sierra College coordinated the effort. Pam Hunter Johnson, Applied Art and Design Department Chair, supervised the design work, which was done, in large part, by the fearless and talented Clare Rickman. Joe Medeiros, Professor of Biology and Interdisciplinary Studies, contributed many of the landscape photographs showcased throughout the site. (Additional landscape photos and portraits were taken by Project Co-directors jesikah maria ross and Catherine Stifter.)

Mary Helen Fein of Parallax Design Group built the site, and Gale Petersen maintains it. Jeremy Isett built the content management system using Drupal. Matt Tourtillott of Marketrends Productions donates webhosting services. Robin Wise of SoundImagery provides audio engineering consultation.

Our three fabulous Storybooth interns are Chris Kerston, Michele Baslock and Michie Montgomery.

Patti Murphy, our volunteer transcriber extraordinaire, loves the Sierra and types fast. Lucky for us, she was looking for a good cause and volunteered to create print versions of 70 of our web stories while studying writing full-time at Sierra Community College. Our deepest thanks!

The storybooth production team also includes: Anna Stifter who edited images and Joan Buffington and Carolyn Crane who edited interviews.