Sierra Avalanche Center functions as a private-public partnership between the US Forest Service and a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization known as Sierra Avalanche Center. These entities have partnered through a formal agreement to provide a quality product for the public and affected agencies.
The Truckee Ranger District on the Tahoe National Forest houses and runs the avalanche forecasting operations of the avalanche center. It houses three full-time, seasonal avalanche forecasters and provides infrastructure including office space, computers, internet access, phones, vehicles, fuel, safety equipment, and supervision. The forecasters gather avalanche, snowpack, and weather observations then use this data to create and issue avalanche advisories and avalanche warnings.
The 501(c)(3) not for profit organization known as Sierra Avalanche Center is focused on educational and safety programs to support winter recreation and fundraising to support the financial needs of the program. It consists of a volunteer Board of Directors, a volunteer Advisory Panel to the Board of Directors, and a paid Executive Director to run programs and operations. Through its fundraising efforts this group provides two thirds of the funding necessary to cover budget expenses and operations. Other expenses paid for by the not for profit include the costs of continuing education and some of the cost of the equipment necessary for the forecasters to operate safely in the field. The not for profit also funds sub contracted field observers to collect additional information for avalanche, snowpack, and weather data. Fundraising for these expenses is accomplished through the organization of the SAC Ski Day fundraisers, by securing sponsorships and grants, as well as by gathering private donations and conducting a membership drive for user support. Additionally, the Board of Directors works jointly with the Tahoe National Forest to make decisions regarding the future direction of the avalanche center that are acceptable to both parties.
Sierra Avalanche Center's mission is to inform and educate the public about backcountry avalanche conditions in the greater Lake Tahoe area.