On Earth Day 2011, over 200 people attended a dedication event hosted by Placer Land Trust, The Trust for Public Land and the Harvego family at Bruin Ranch. At this event, Placer Land Trust dedicated 1,773 acres of the ranch as “Harvego Bear River Preserve” – permanently protected for future generations.
In 2010, Placer Land Trust and The Trust for Public Land teamed up with Placer County, the State of California, our willing landowner (the Harvego family), and the local community to acquire and permanently protect a huge portion of Bruin Ranch, 1,773 acres of oak woodlands located outside of Auburn.
The 1,773 acres are part of the 2,300-acre Bruin Ranch, which is located in the Auburn Valley-Big Hill area. The ranch is west of Highway 49 and just south of the Bear River, the boundary between Placer and Nevada counties.
Placer County invested $5 million to acquire a conservation easement on the 1,773-acre Bruin Ranch site and a conservation easement on Placer Land Trust’s 427-acre Doty Ravine Preserve property in rural Lincoln. The conservation easements were provided to Placer County by Placer Land Trust in support of the pending Placer County Conservation Plan (PCCP), a county-wide proposal to streamline development and mitigation in western Placer County. The PCCP would seek to balance growth and the conservation of sensitive species habitat, open space and agricultural lands over the next 50 years. The County funding included $1 million from its Tree Mitigation Trust Fund and $4 million from the Placer County Open Space Fund. Both funds are reserved for one-time land conservation expenditures, rather than on-going costs.
Supervisor Robert M. Weygandt called the Board vote historic, saying, “I think 100 years from now, when people look back, they’re going to be very pleased with some of the decisions we made.”
In the coming years, Placer County will work with the Placer Land Trust to develop a public trail system on the 1,773-acre site that will provide for recreation activities such as hiking, bicycling and fishing, among others.
Supervisor Kirk Uhler said that public access was a critical component of this project, to provide additional recreation opportunities to the citizens of Placer County. Uhler voted for the project “because the opportunity is a tremendous one for us and we would be remiss in passing it up.”
Placer County Supervisors emphasized that now is a good time to acquire open-space land because property values have dropped significantly over the last few years.
The State of California contributed $4.5 million on the recommendation of the California Department of Fish and Game, through the California Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB). The WCB grant came from voter-approved proposition bond funds for land and habitat conservation. Placer Land Trust secured additional funding for management of the property through a local fund-raising campaign, and closed escrow on the 1,773-acre property, formerly owned by the Harvego family, on December 29, 2010.
“I truly believe it is a win-win that provides the county and its residents with great benefits at an exceptional value,” explained Jeff Darlington, Executive Director of Placer Land Trust. “Through this transaction, the County and State met critical conservation goals, and Placer Land Trust protected an incredible property for current and future generations.”
Placer Land Trust and The Trust for Public Land are currently raising funds to protect as much of the remaining 526 acres of Bruin Ranch as possible by the end of 2012. The remaining 526 acres are at the most risk by development, and would be the final “puzzle piece” in connecting all the protected lands in the area. Any and all contributions are most welcome!
The site is the largest intact oak woodland ranch in the Bear-Yuba foothills and features rolling blue oak woodlands, rangelands, annual grasslands and more than 20 acres of seasonal wetlands, ponds and riparian corridors. Several miles of the Bear River run alongside the northern boundary of the ranch.
Bruin Ranch also includes several miles of ranch roads that could easily be turned into public trails. It is viewed as an important link in a trail system that ultimately could run from Placer County’s 1,197-acre Hidden Falls Regional Park to the Bear River. The regional park is southwest of Bruin Ranch between Auburn and Lincoln. Until a recreation plan is completed to make it safe to allow public access to Bruin Ranch, Placer Land Trust will offer free monthly tours open to the public by RSVP. A dedication ceremony is planned for Earth Day (April 22) and monthly docent-led tours also begin at that time (see our Calendar for dates/times).
The Bruin Ranch acquisition is the largest completed by Placer Land Trust to date. Placer Land Trust and The Trust for Public Land – members of the Bear-Yuba Partnership – view the ranch as a key link to creating a trail system and wildlife corridor that would connect more than 6,500 acres in the Bear River and Coon Creek watersheds.
With this acquisition, and entering into its 20th anniversary year in 2011, Placer Land Trust has preserved 7,171 acres for current and future generations. To learn more about Bruin Ranch and Placer Land Trust, give us a call! (530) 887-9222.