Update on Sunset of the Stewardship Council
Juy 2023 –
The Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council (Stewardship Council) is a private, nonprofit foundation that was established in 2004 as part of a Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) settlement with the California Public Utilities Commission. We have two overarching goals: to ensure that over 140,000 acres of California's pristine watershed lands are conserved for the public good through our Land Conservation Program, and to invest in outdoor programs that serve California's young people through our Youth Investment Program.
An expected outcome of our success conserving PG&E Watershed Lands is that the Stewardship Council will accomplish its mission and the organization will dissolve. The Stewardship Council board has initiated the formal dissolution process. All donated land transactions have closed escrow, and during 2023, the remaining PG&E retained land transactions with conservation easements will close escrow. The dissolution process may take until early 2024 to complete.
Changes to Enhancement Grant Program. Planning for the Stewardship Council’s wind down has led us to an expanded partnership with the Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC), and SNC began to administer elements of the Stewardship Council’s enhancement grant program in 2022. SNC will ensure continued oversight and administration of our impactful enhancement grant program after the Stewardship Council formally dissolves. All eligible grantees have been identified for projects with existing available funds. Stewardship Council staff is here to support a successful transition.
Finalizing Youth Investments. Our work has included the investment of $30 million in youth outdoor leadership and opportunities for underserved youth to experience the outdoors. More information on our Youth Investment Program can be found here: Stewardship Council Youth Investment Program
Partner Support. While the Stewardship Council is winding down operations, staff will continue to be available to answer questions and support the remaining effort. Information about our work is posted on our website and you can reach us at email@example.com or by phone at 916-297-6660.
Messages to our partners
Based on input and suggestions we received from many of our partners during meetings held in late 2021 and early 2022, the below details are intended to keep our partners informed and updated:
Your organization is responsible for ensuring the protection of the beneficial public values for the people of California and has received a monitoring and stewardship endowment and legal defense contribution. We trust that our careful selection of qualified conservation easement holders will ensure continued completion of the work and reporting required in the endowment funding agreements. We have contacted each conservation easement holder and provided information regarding assigning the Sierra Nevada Conservancy as responsible for accepting final reports. Final report due dates have been changed to the end of 2025. If your organization is working on transactions that have not yet closed, the Stewardship Council will continue to fund transaction efforts and coordinate the escrow closing process.
As an Enhancement Program grantee, we will continue to manage your grant and make payments as described in the grant agreement with the Stewardship Council. We will transfer administration of all active grants to the SNC, who will accept your reports and invoices and make payments to help you complete your projects. We will provide you with notice and discuss the details of the transfer with you prior to enacting these changes.
Potential Enhancement Grant Recipients –
The Stewardship Council board of directors has adopted a prioritized list of anticipated additional enhancement grant awards. This list will be provided to the SNC. When funding is available, the Stewardship Council will authorize SNC to provide funding to organizations that we have been coordinating with regarding proposals submitted in 2020. SNC will manage these remaining grants and coordinate with the project proponents.
The Stewardship Council has finalized all land donations and we continue to oversee the escrow closing process for several additional conservation easement conveyances in 2023.
Counties who have outstanding tax neutrality funds -
The Stewardship Council has provided property tax neutrality payments to counties where fee title has been conveyed to those entities that generally are exempt from property taxes.