Placer Land Trust Preserves Land Along Bear River
Shutamul Bear River Preserve is the first project of PLT’s
Bear River Watershed Protection Program
By Jessica Pierce
On December 6, Placer Land Trust acquired 23 acres of spectacular riverfront property on the Bear River, protecting the property from threatened development and contributing to the preservation of the Bear River watershed.
PLT purchased the land from the Wheeler family as part of PLT’s Bear River Watershed Protection Program. Most of the funding for the purchase and long-term land stewardship was provided to PLT by two private philanthropic foundations.
“This property is one of the most beautiful properties we’ve ever preserved,” said PLT Executive Director Jeff Darlington. “It boasts healthy blue oak woodlands with pines, buckeyes and other trees, and a lush riverfront environment. The Bear River meanders to a sharp turn along the property line, then drops into deep rock gorges with fabulous pools and amazing rock formations.”
The property is called the Shutamul Bear River Preserve, named in part after the historic location of a nearby Native American village (located downstream of the property site).
“Our Nisenan ancestors hunted, fished, and lived along the Bear River, and this stretch of the river has great importance to our culture and our history,” said Jessica Tavares, Tribal Chair for the United Auburn Indian Community. “The Nisenan village known as ‘Shutamul’ was located near this site, and we’re honored to have this name bestowed on the property.”
This stretch of the Bear River is also relatively free of roads and development, making it one of the last remaining “wilderness” areas in the heavily populated Sierra Nevada foothills of Placer County.
This is the first completed project of PLT’s Bear River Watershed Protection Program, a watershed-based effort to preserve critical natural areas, ranch lands, and scenic open space along the Bear River from Highway 49 downstream to Camp Far West Reservoir. Program goals are also to protect water quality and look for ways to preserve existing public recreational access to the Bear River. Program partners include PLT, Placer County’s “Placer Legacy” program, Sierra Business Council, Trust for Public Land, and others.
“The way Placer County is growing, this property could have been subdivided and developed in no time,” added Darlington. “We’re grateful we had the funding and a willing landowner to permanently protect this property in its natural state.”
PLT hopes to expand the Shutamul Bear River Preserve through the addition of at least 17 more acres in coming months. For more details about the Program or this particular property, please give us a call!
From the Board Room
Holiday Cheer for Willing Landowners
Earlier this month, the U.S. Senate passed a tax bill that will include significant expansion of the tax deductions available to landowners who donate a conservation easement to a land trust.
Following efforts by the Joint Committee on Taxation to slash or eliminate tax benefits for conservation easements, this new tax bill is wonderful news for the land trust community.
We’re also pleased to report that this Sentate bill includes some much-needed appraisal reforms, but does not contain unreasonable restrictions on conservation easements.
Notable changes to the current tax deductions include: extending the carry-for-ward period for deductions from 5 years to 15 years, raising the cap on tax deductions for conservation easement donations from 30 percent of a landowner donor’s income to 50 percent, and raising the cap to 100 percent for farmers and ranchers.
This is really great news for land trusts and landowners alike!
What it boils down to is that landowners will be eligible for significantly greater tax benefits when they donate conservation easements to a qualified land trust such as Placer Land Trust.
This bill must still pass through the U.S. House of Representatives next month to become law, but PLT is hopeful that the land conservation community (led by advocates such as the Land Trust Alliance and the Trust for Public Land) can build on the same momentum already created in the Senate.
For more information on the Senate Tax Bill visit www.lta.org.
What is “Planned Giving”?
By Jessica Pierce
When you make plans to contribute to nonprofit organizations through bequests, living trusts, and other deferred distributions, it’s called “Planned Giving”.
This is a wonderful way to support PLT’s efforts to preserve our natural areas and working farms and ranches.
Planned Giving can often be one of the most significant forms of contribution to a land trust. By making the commitment to leave a legacy with PLT, you are investing in the future of land conservation in Placer County and ensuring that all of the progress that PLT has made thus far will continue for years to come.
Planned Giving can come in many different forms. You can set up a will or a trust to bequeath cash, real estate, securities, or other assets to Placer Land Trust. You can name PLT as a beneficiary of your life insurance or contribute through a retirement account. You can give to PLT in many different ways, through the Planned Giving method that makes the most sense for your situation.
In the next issue of Land Lines, we will provide more details about the various Planned Giving options. For more information about how Planned Giving can benefit PLT, please give us a call at (530) 887-9222.
To find out more about Planned Giving now, or to find an option that’s right for you, contact an estate attorney such as Therese Adams of Adams & Hayes Law in Lincoln: (916) 434-2550. If you choose to work with Therese, mention that you are a PLT supporter, and she will donate a portion of her fee to PLT!
Has your annual membership expired?
If so, please renew today!
Your Placer Land Trust membership expiration date is printed on your address label. If your membership has expired, please take a moment today to send us your annual contribution using the enclosed response card. Placer Land Trust relies on our membership support to provide critical operational funding to implement our mission. With your help, Placer Land Trust can continue to work with willing landowners and conservation partners to preserve natural lands and family farms and ranches in Placer County for future generations.
Fred Yeager Joins Placer Land Trust Board
Longtime Planning Director and PLT’s 2005 Placer Conservator
By Bob Cooley-Gilliom
Placer Land Trust is very pleased to announce the newest member of our Board of Directors, Fred Yeager.
Fred was elected to the PLT Board of Directors in November. In August, Fred was named the 2005 Placer Conservator by PLT, acknowledging Fred’s contributions to the quality of life in Placer County through resource conservation.
Fred is the recently retired Planning Director of Placer County. He worked in the Placer County Planning Department for 33 years, finishing off as the Director with 16 years of service.
During his tenure as Planning Director, Fred had many major accomplishments, including the establishment of the Code Enforcement Division, a GIS system, an automated permit tracking system, and countless other improvements to the planning process. Most importantly, he was responsible for the implementation of the Placer Legacy Open Space & Agricultural Conservation Program which has permanently protected over 4,000 acres of open space and agricultural lands since its inception in 1998. In 2002, the Placer Legacy program was awarded the Governor’s Award for Environmental and Economic Leadership.
“Fred has served Placer County extremely well as Planning Director throughout our booming population growth,” said PLT Executive Director Jeff Darlington. “He has done a very admirable job keeping development consistent with the County’s General Plan, and has demonstrated a keen understanding and belief that Placer County’s growth is best when balanced with the protection of the very resources that attract people to Placer County.”
Placer Land Trust had the opportunity to work in partnership with Fred as part of our ongoing partnership with Placer Legacy. In 2004, Fred assisted PLT and Placer Legacy in successfully preserving the 16-acre Cisco Grove Gould Park along the South Yuba River.
Fred originally moved to Placer County in 1978 after graduating from the University of California, Riverside, and accepting a job at the Placer County Planning Department. Fred recalls choosing Placer County as his future residence because of the diverse geography and quality of life.
“There is a little something for everyone in Placer County, from the Sierra Nevadas to the scenic rivers, blue oak woodlands and agricultural lands,” said Fred.
Fred and his wife Denise feel fortunate to have raised their family of four children — now grown, and with eight grandchildren! — all of whom still reside in Northern California.
“I’m very interested in working with Placer Land Trust because it is a very locally driven organization that has a direct impact on our heritage and our future here in Placer County,” he said.
Fred is hoping that over the next few years PLT can become the recognized leader in land conservation in Placer County, committed to working in greater collaboration with government agencies and conservation partners to achieve a comprehensive land conservation strategy.
PLT’s Letter to Santa Claus (aka, our Wish List)
Placer Land Trust preserved over 1,000 acres of land in Placer County in 2005, bringing good cheer to our members and the community. We hosted several community events, including free events such as our new annual spring wildflower walk. We leveraged the contributions of our members through grants and other donations to protect and steward important lands. And Santa, without our efforts you would have had to drop down many, many more chimneys this year!
In short, we have been very good this year. If you’d like to put something in the PLT stocking this year (or have one of our members do it), here’s our “wish list”.
To help PLT with assessing conservation values of potential properties, and for stewardship of existing properties, PLT would like:
— Map Table
— ATV (all-terrain vehicle or “quad-runner”)
— Hand-held GPS unit
— Rechargable AAA batteries (NiMH with minimum of 2300mAh) and a Battery recharger
— Staples gift cards
Santa, please remind our members that – just like cash donations – non-cash donations to PLT are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.
Thank you … and Happy Holidays from Placer Land Trust!
PLT’s 4th Annual Placer Harvest Celebration a Hit
2005 event brings together policy-makers, business community, farmers, PLT members
By Jessica Pierce
Picture for a moment the warm and comforting aroma of slowly simmering local PlacerGROWN foods filling a room. Then add the smooth sound of gypsy jazz, and finally the light chatter of a few hundred PLT members and area residents visiting and enjoying the locally produced wines from Placer County … and you would have found yourself at the 4th Annual Placer Harvest Celebration!
This year’s event was held on Oct. 15, and co-hosted by the Slow Food Placer Gold Convivium, PlacerGROWN, High Sierra Beef, Placer County Wine & Grape Association, and Food To Dine For.
Event coordinator and PLT Board Member Kit Veerkamp reported, “this year’s harvest festival truly reflected the collaboration of many area farmers and PLT friends coming together to celebrate the successes of PLT as stewards of the land where farmers and growers are able to thrive.”
The delicious meal was prepared in the slow food tradition by head chef (and assistant event coordinator) Nancyjo Riekse of Food to Dine For, with help from Jonathan Ashmore of Les Vignobles and several volunteer chef’s assistants.
“The event was a great success,” said PLT Executive Director Jeff Darlington. “Everyone enjoyed a fabulous dinner and a great time among friends, supporting our efforts to preserve important lands in Placer County.”
“Our thanks go out to the event sponsors, donors, volunteers, attendees, and all who helped make this event so successful, said Kit. “We couldn’t have been more pleased with the turnout and support at this year’s event.”
Held at the Sunset Center in Rocklin, the event started off with a wine tasting featuring Vina Castellano, the Green Family Winery, Ophir Wines, Mt. Vernon Winery and Fawnridge Winery.
The Djunkyard Gypsies provided live gypsy jazz music, and the silent auction featured over 50 items donated by local artists, businesses, and purveyors of foods and services. Then the evening was topped off by a gourmet meal prepared slow food style and served by area Future Farmers of America (FFA) students from Lincoln and Del Oro High Schools.
“PLT is proud to be a recognizable friend of the agricultural community,” said Kit, “and we were pleased to have this opportunity to celebrate this year’s bountiful local harvest with them. We want the entire community to know how much we truly appreciated their support this year, including our sponsors, members, and volunteers at this great event. We look forward to many more Harvest Celebrations to come.”
Family Farming & Ranching
Placer County is “Mandarin Country”
By Joanne Neft
“There’s a very select group of readers out there who know how to get their hands on what surely must be the best citrus fruit in the world: mountain-grown mandarin oranges from Placer County.”
This quote is an excerpt from “Mandarin Country”, an article by Dale McDonald in John Deere’s The FURROW magazine in November 2005. (The FURROW is published in 12 languages and distributed in 21 countries.)
At the turn of the twentieth century, the Sierra foothills proved to be an ideal microcosm for growing all sorts of fruit – especially pears, plums and persimmons. During the 1920s and 1930s farmers’ wagons lined up for miles at the Newcastle railroad depot where their fruit was loaded into iced Union Pacific rail cars and shipped as far as the East Coast.
Today mandarins rule with small family orchards growing orange in the rolling foothills during November, December, and January. Placer County is home to over 50 mandarin orchards, and many mandarin growers welcome customers to their orchards. Within the PlacerGROWN boundaries of Lincoln, Auburn, Ophir, Newcastle, Penryn, Loomis and Rocklin, there are over 18 family-owned orchards selling their mandarins during the winter holidays.
A wonderful family jaunt is to tour the participating orchards anytime between mid-November and the end of January. Pick up a Mountain Mandarin Tour map by calling the Placer County Agriculture Marketing Program at (916) 663-9126, or visit www.mountainmandarins.com for orchard locations.
Satsuma mandarins are available during November and December; Clementines are ready in January. Call orchards directly for mandarin availability or visit your local farmers’ market.
Note: This is part of an ongoing series highlighting the value of local agricultural lands and the landowners who work those lands.
Botanical Biography: Toyon
By Mehrey Vaghti
As we celebrate the winter holidays, Toyon (Hetermoles arbutifolia; Rosaceae) is ready for the season with its shiny green leaves and bright red berries.
The Toyon’s showy clusters of berries persist throughout the winter providing an important food source for many birds.
Common throughout the non-desert regions of the state at elevations below 4,000 feet, Toyon has dark, glossy leaves with serrated margins, and flat-topped clusters of small white flowers. This shrub or small tree can grow to 15 feet high and is a good addition to most horticultural settings in mid- to western Placer County. Seeds will readily germinate when fresh and can be grown in a container for the first year then planted out the second autumn. Supplemental summer water is recommended for the subsequent two years.
Toyon flowers are a source of honey, the bark can produce tannin, and the cooked berries were used by Native Americans and early settlers for food, drink, and herbal remedies. The Toyon is sometimes referred to as the California Christmas Berry or the California Holly.
Several of the properties preserved by Placer Land Trust support Toyon, which is often found with other native plants and trees (such as oaks and buckeyes).
Note: This is part of an ongoing series highlighting some of the many native plants found in Placer County.
Placer’s Future – This Land is Your Land
By Jeff Darlington
In November, PLT staff and Board attended a public forum entitled “Placer’s Future – This Land is Your Land” held at Sierra College.
This forum addressed the question of how to preserve Placer County’s open space, biodiversity, environmental health, housing, and a thriving yet sustainable economy.
The forum included many presentations and group discussions (over a PlacerGROWN lunch served by Joanne Neft) about Placer County’s natural history, human history, land use, growth, land conversion, land conservation, agriculture, and planning for the future. About 100 individuals attended.
2005 Placer Conservator Award winner and newly elected PLT Board member Fred Yeager was one of the presenters. Fred spoke about cooperative planning efforts, including partnership activities between government and private nonprofits such as PLT.
The forum also featured presentations from Agricultural Commissioner Christine Turner, Supervisor Robert Weygandt, and Tosh Kuratomi of Otow Orchard in Granite Bay.
Long-time Agricultural Commision member and local fruit grower Howard Nakae of Twin Peaks Orchard in Newcastle concluded the forum with an appeal to support collaborative planning and conservation efforts designed to protect the rural landscape of Placer County.
All of the individuals mentioned in this article are PLT members, not surprising given that PLT’s mission fits in so well with the message of the forum: its up to all of us to protect the valuable natural areas and working farms and ranches that make Placer County such such a special place.
Auburn School Park Preserve Construction Update
By Jessica Pierce
If you live in Auburn or drive by the Placer County Courthouse occasionally, then you may have noticed that construction is underway at the Auburn School Park Preserve.
The City of Auburn granted a conservation easement to PLT in December 2004, to permanently protect this 4.3 acre park. The primary purpose of the conservation easement is to protect three acres of oak woodlands as well as the other natural and scenic qualities of the park. The conservation easement permanently protects the property from development, ensuring that it will remain a community park for future generations.
PLT has been an active participant throughout the initial construction phase (aptly termed “Phase 1”). PLT staff and volunteers – with the help of onsite arborist Ken Menzer of ABACUS – have been monitoring the construction activities daily, including monitoring the removal of old concrete and asphalt slabs. PLT has also been attending weekly construction meetings with contractors, the City of Auburn, and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.
“Working with PLT has been an enriching experience,” said Jack Warren, Special Projects Director for the City of Auburn. “Having an arborist onsite has also been a tremendous help.”
Phase 1 is nearly complete: old slabs and remnants of earlier construction projects have been removed, new utility pipelines have been installed underground, and the oaks and other trees have received careful trimming by the arborist. PLT is happy to report that Phase 1 went very smoothly with limited disturbance in the oak easement areas.
PLT thanks Emigrant Trails Greenway Trust for providing the funding for the onsite arborist, and for funding PLT’s monitoring costs. The professional consultation and services from ABACUS throughout the course of construction, together with PLT’s ongoing monitoring, will ensure the lasting protection of the oak woodlands and the rest of the Auburn School Park Preserve.
Member Survey & More
A “member survey” has been included in this issue of Land Lines for PLT members who have contributed in the past two years. We’re hoping you can provide us with some information about how we’re doing, and what’s important to you. Please take the time to complete it and return it to PLT in the enclosed response envelope – we value your input! If you did not receive a member survey but would like to fill one out, please contact Jessica Pierce at firstname.lastname@example.org …
Land Lines is available via email for PLT members that request it, and is posted on our website as well …
Come help PLT restore Canyon Creek at our Stagecoach Preserve in Auburn from 9am to 2pm on Sat., Jan. 21 …
Thanks to Courtney Johnson and Mark Rohweder of Bitterroot Restoration Inc. of Lincoln, for their donation of 22 Western redbud trees for our Stagecoach Preserve.
Executive Director’s Report
Holidays and Anniversaries
Holiday time is a busy time for Placer Land Trust. The end of the calendar year represents a big tax deadline for many individuals and organizations, and as a result, PLT is often hard at work trying to complete projects by the end of December. But its all good. If there’s a wish we have for every holiday season, it’s to be busy preserving land!
In addition to the recently completed Shutamul Bear River Preserve, PLT is working on a 500-acre conservation easement this holiday season, and we hope to conclude it by the end of the year.
After the winter holiday season is over, PLT will be looking forward to a big anniversary. In 2006, Placer Land Trust will be 15 years old! We’ll be celebrating by expanding our events and communications next year, so stay tuned for more details. We hope to move into our new office by February, and once we do, we’ll host an open house for our members to kick off our anniversary celebration.
Also coming up in the new year are several opportunities to connect to the land …
First, Sierra College is offering a spring course starting Jan. 19 entitled The Sierra Nevada: John Muir’s Range of Light. This is a hugely popular class, bringing in guest lecturers and specialists for a study of the Sierra Nevadas, including modern environmental, economic and management issues. For more details, contact Joe Medeiros at (916) 789-2725, or visit www.sierracollege.edu.
Second, PLT is hosting a “Work Day” on Saturday, Jan. 21, from 9am to 2pm, at our Stagecoach Preserve in Auburn. Come help us restore Canyon Creek! Hot beverages and snacks will be provided. For details, call PLT.
Third, the Placer Nature Center is hosting a lecture by acclaimed author Joseph Cornell on Friday, Jan. 27, at 7:30pm in Auburn. Mr. Cornell will talk about how to share a love of the land with your children. For details, call (530) 878-6053.
Finally, PlacerGROWN is hosting their 11th annual Farm Conference on Saturday, Feb. 4, from 8am to 4pm at the Lincoln High School Farm. For details, contact PlacerGROWN at (530) 889-7398.
In closing, I hope that you and yours have a very happy holiday season.
Your support this year has been heartwarming, and I look forward to the New Year!