The Natural Resources Agency is charged with protecting the state’s natural, historical and cultural resources. An official announcement of the state’s head environmental official is expected as early as Monday when Brown takes office. Brown’s office has been tight-lipped about its appointments.
Laird’s appointment is a boon for the Sierra and its foothills, because the 60-year-old has longstanding ties to the region. Among them: He is on the board of the Sierra Fund in Nevada City. (Laird will need to resign from the Sierra Fund to become Secretary). Laird also is a Sierra homeowner, making him a regional “stakeholder.”
During his legislative tenure, Laird authored 82 bills signed into law, including ones to establish the landmark Sierra Nevada Conservancy and significantly expand water conservation. He also became a leading voice for sustainable building.
The Sierra Nevada Conservancy region, made up of all or part of 22 counties and more than 25 million acres, is one of the world’s most significant natural and biologically diverse regions.
(An insider’s footnote: Artwork from Photographer Elizabeth Carmel of Truckee, featured at the top of this blog, is displayed in the Conservancy’s office in Auburn; Nevada City once vied for that office).
Laird was elected to the 27th Assembly District in 2002 and was re-elected in 2004 and 2006, with more than 70 percent of the vote.
The defeat last August (44 percent to 48 percent) kept the seat in GOP hands — a victory for the party in a Democratic state.
Laird also served on the Santa Cruz City Council and on the Cabrillo College Board of Trustees. Laird was raised in Vallejo and educated in Vallejo public schools. He graduated from UC Santa Cruz’s Adlai Stevenson College.
Laird has been active with the lesbian and gay community. In the Assembly, he served as chair of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus.
Laird lives in Santa Cruz. He is a life-long Chicago Cubs fan.
Laird replaces Lester Snow, who was appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Feb. 1.
“Fishing groups, Indian Tribes and environmentalists have criticized Snow, as Schwarzenegger’s head environmental official, for his support of the peripheral canal and new dams, the controversial Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative and the annual dewatering of the Scott and Shasta rivers, key Klamath River tributaries, by irrigators,” as the Bay Area Independent Media Center reported.