Stretching along the eastern edge of the state, the Sierra Nevada region incorporates more than 25 percent of California’s land area and forms one of the world’s most diverse watersheds.
It features granite cliffs, lush forests and alpine meadows on the westside, and stark desert landscapes at the base of the eastside. Wildlife includes bighorn sheep, mule deer, black bear and mountain lions, hawks, eagles, and trout.
The majority of total annual precipitation – in the form of rain and snow – falls in the Sierra Nevada. Snowmelt from the Sierra provides water for irrigation for farms that produce half of the nation’s fruit, nuts and vegetables, and also is a vital source for dairies, which have made California the largest milk producer in the country.
In addition, Sierra snowmelt provides drinking water to Sierra Nevada residents and a portion of drinking water to 23 million people living in cities stretching from the Bay Area to Southern California.