Sarah Heard

Director, Conservation Economics & Finance
[email protected]

Sarah leads The Nature Conservancy’s economics and finance work within the California Chapter. She supports the Land, Land Networks, Water and Oceans teams in developing innovative market-based approaches to the chapter’s conservation objectives. Sarah currently leads a team that creates new markets, utilizes economic incentives and leverages private capital that have triple bottom line outcomes for people and nature. She has 15 years of experience in the fields of environmental economics, policy and strategy.

Before joining the Conservancy in 2015, Sarah was a consultant at Blu Skye, where she advised clients on corporate sustainability, and at AECOM, where she helped launch their environmental economics practice. Sarah has Masters degrees in Public Policy and Environmental Planning from the University of California, Berkeley and a B.A. in Political Science from Amherst College.

What Sarah is working on now:

1. A groundwater market pilot in Ventura County to provide sustainable groundwater use for nature and agriculture. 2. An initiative to leverage investment capital for freshwater in the Central Valley in a manner that provides environmental and financial returns.

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2019 | Freshwater | Economics | Publications & Reports

SGMA's First Groundwater Market: An Early Case Study from Fox Canyon

Sarah Heard, E.J. Remson, Matthew Fienup, Siobhan King

In 2014, California passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) which regulates groundwater at scale for the first time, requiring the state’s largest source of stored water to be managed for long-term resilience. SGMA delegates the responsibility of achieving sustainable groundwater management by 2040 to…

2018 | Freshwater | Economics | Publications & Reports

California’s First Farmer-Led Groundwater Market

Sarah Heard, E.J. Remson, Siobhan King, Sandi Matsumoto

The Conservancy has a vested interest in preserving farms in Ventura County because they buffer important river and wetland habitat from nearby urban lands. In western Ventura County, over 70% of groundwater use is agricultural. Due to requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), this use will…

2017 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Economics | Publications & Reports

Market-Based Mechanisms For Securing Environmental Water In California

Sarah Heard, Siobhan King, Eric Hallstein

California’s water supply is becoming increasingly unreliable. During dry times, consumptive use often outstrips supplies. As a result, people and nature suffer. This imbalance of supply and demand will likely grow worse if future demand for agricultural and urban water increases alongside a warming climate.…

2017 | Freshwater | Planning | Publications & Reports

Water for nature: What we can do today to help California’s rivers, streams and wetlands

Burns, C.E., A. Hoss, N. Smith, K. Klausmeyer, K. Fesenmeyer, A. Campbell, J. Carah, E. Forsburg, S. Heard, J.K. Howard, L. Hulette, S. Liu, P. Spraycar, B. Stranko, G. Werner, D. Wordham

This report identifies a set of strategies that will have the greatest impact on environmental flows, and to provide a resource for conservation organizations, resource agencies, and other stakeholders in California that may help create the conditions that allow freshwater species to thrive well into…