PLT to Lead New Land Conservation Program
By Jeff Darlington
Placer Land Trust has agreed to lead a new multi-million dollar land conservation program resulting from the “West Roseville Specific Plan” settlement agreement.
PLT was chosen to lead the “West Placer” land conservation program as part of an agreement among the Sierra Club, Sierra Foothills Audubon Society, City of Roseville, Town of Loomis, Westpark Associates, and Signature Properties.
The agreement ends a five-month settlement process among the parties and allows the City of Roseville to annex 3,162 acres to be developed into a new community of 8,400 homes.
The agreement provides land conservation funding over a 20-year period, beginning with $8 million over the next three years. The funding will be managed by PLT to acquire and protect open space lands in western Placer County, with a specific emphasis on grasslands and vernal pools.
The land conservation funding will be provided by revenues from conveyance fees associated with home sales in the West Roseville Specific Plan, for 20 years after the last new home is sold.
“This agreement is a huge contribution to grasslands and vernal pools conservation efforts in Placer County,” said PLT President Bob Cooley-Gilliom. “Land in this part of the County is very expensive, and it has been difficult to make progress on land conservation through donations and our typical funding sources.”
Vernal pools are depressions in the ground that fill up with water each spring and provide critical habitat for migratory and resident birds, who prey on the pools’ shrimp and diverse vegetation. Western Placer County is home to thousands of vernal pools, but the quantity and continuity of vernal pools are severely impacted by the County’s rapid development.
The settlement funds will also be used to protect grasslands and other associated habitat in western Placer County, in keeping with Phase One of the Placer County Conservation Plan.
The settlement funds are dedicated to land protection projects, and may not be used for PLT’s general operating purposes.
PLT will be working with Placer Legacy and other conservation partners to leverage the land conservation funds.
Auburn School Park Preserve Easement
Approved by City
On August 23, the Auburn City Council unanimously approved the conservation easement for the Auburn School Park Preserve.
The conservation easement will be held by Placer Land Trust, and provides permanent protection for the site, including specific restrictions on use and management of three acres of oak woodlands.
The School Park Preserve will be a 4.3-acre public park in the heart of Auburn, featuring an interpretive center, nature trails, and a “daylighted” Lincoln Creek amidst beautiful oak woodlands.
The three acres of oak woodlands include Blue oaks, California Black oaks, Interior Live oaks, and Valley oaks, along with other native trees such as Toyon. The oak woodlands have significant historical and cultural importance to the community, and several of the oaks are “heritage” oaks over 150 years old with trunks over 30 inches in diameter.
Ground breaking work on the Preserve is expected to begin next year.
Placer Land Trust’s role will be to hold, monitor and enforce the conservation easement in perpetuity, to guarantee that this public park remains protected as a community benefit for future generations.
PLT Preserves 135 Acres on American River
By Jeff Darlington
Placer Land Trust has teamed up with another land trust and a willing seller to preserve 135 acres of wild and scenic land along the North Fork American River near Gold Run.
The property is being acquired as part of the Giant Gap Project, a multi-organizational effort led by PLT and our neighbor land trust, the American River Conservancy (ARC). The goal of the Giant Gap Project is to protect land within the Wild & Scenic River corridor of the North Fork American River.
PLT worked with ARC, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and landowner Jim Nichols. Funding for the purchase of Nichols’ property was granted by Preserve Wild California, a program of the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation.
Nichols’ 135 acres will be transferred to BLM and added to the North Fork American River Wild & Scenic Area. BLM manages the Wild & Scenic Area to ensure quality habitat, open space protection, and public recreation. Wild & Scenic restrictions prevent further subdivision and development of property, and provide others layers of protection for open space, scenery, and habitat through ecosystem management.
“The primary purpose of the Giant Gap project is to work with willing sellers to close the final gaps in the public ownership of lands within the Wild & Scenic corridor,” said Marc Landgraf, ARC Land Protection Specialist. “This will result in the protection of the American River Canyon’s scenic beauty and wildlife habitat, and will provide exceptional public recreational access to the river canyon.”
Nichols’ property is a spectacularly steep, rugged, and beautiful stretch of the river canyon, rivaling Yosemite for dramatic canyon scenery.
Preservation of privately held lands such as the Nichols property will result in more cohesive and effective ecosystem management by BLM.
In addition, the Giant Gap Project will protect water quality, preserve public recreation along three trails, and support the preservation of local Native American and Gold Rush history and culture.
For more details about the property, see www.placerlandtrust.org/nichols.htm or call us at (530) 887-9222.
From the Board Room
Placer Harvest Celebration Comes to Lincoln
Placer Land Trust is pleased to host the 3rd annual Placer Harvest Celebration on Saturday, November 13, 2004, in Lincoln.
Friends old and new can look forward to a slightly different kind of event this year … we’re going “upscale”. The event features a seated dinner and silent auction at Beermann’s Restaurant in historic downtown Lincoln. Hosted wine and beer starts at 6:30 pm.
Tickets for the event are $75 per person, and include beer and wine this year (yep, all you can drink). And it’s the good stuff too: the beer is microbrew from Beermann’s Beerwerks in Roseville, and the wine is premium chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon from Rancho Roble Vineyards in Lincoln. Add that to a gourmet meal featuring PlacerGROWN foods and the opportunity to get some wonderful gifts in time for the holiday season, and I hope you’ll agree the price is right.
I appreciate that the higher ticket price may mean that some of our members will choose not to attend this year. The reason we raised the price is that we’re counting on this event for a good portion of our undesignated revenue … critical funding that keeps us solvent and successful.
If you can’t attend the Harvest Celebration this November, please know that we’re also planning events for our members that won’t impact your checkbook. An art event is on tap for early spring, and possibly a picnic and hike later in the spring. (All at no cost to our members.) We’ll also be hosting another informal “Meet Your Board” event next summer. We’re holding the Placer Harvest Celebration in Lincoln this year primarily because the surrounding farmlands are so representative of what PLT cherishes about Placer County. For example, a portion of the event proceeds will benefit the project to preserve the Lincoln High School Farm.
I sincerely hope you can join us on Nov. 13. We expect to sell out again this year so please RSVP early. Also, please check our website soon for the menu and a list of auction items. Thanks for your support!
Sierra Nevada Conservancy Signed by
PLT on hand for ceremony at the Bear River in Colfax
By Jeff Darlington
On September 23, Placer Land Trust was at the Bear River in Colfax to witness Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger affix his signature to the newly created Sierra Nevada Conservancy.
The historic bipartisan Sierra Nevada Conservancy, termed “common sense legislation” by the Governor, was sponsored by Assemblymen Tim Leslie (R-Tahoe City) and John Laird (D-Santa Cruz).
The Conservancy will:
— Steer tens (or hundreds) of millions of dollars in new investment to natural, historic, and cultural resource improvement and conservation.
— Provide the Sierra with assistance on important local projects, like watershed and rangeland improvement.
— Give Sierrans a major voice in how State investments are made in our region.
PLT has endorsed this legislation from the beginning, because it creates the mechanism for the State to invest in the protection of this resource-rich region. The Conservancy itself cannot purchase land, but nonprofits such as PLT are eligible to apply for funding for land and conservation easement acquisition. The Conservancy will cover a portion of the Cascades, and all of the Sierra Nevadas except the Lake Tahoe Basin (which already has a conservancy).
“The 25 million acres in the Conservancy is a gift to the people that keeps on giving,” said Gov. Schwarzenegger at the signing ceremony. “Today we protect this California treasure for the future.”
For more details, see www.sierraconservancy. org or www.governor.ca.gov.
Volunteers Welcome Again
Also on the legislative front, Placer Land Trust reported on the State prevailing-wage law in the last issue of Land Lines.
This law would have hampered the ability of nonprofits such as PLT to allow unpaid volunteers to work on “public” projects (including projects funded in part by public funds).
Fortunately, volunteers can again work without pay on public works projects in California, under legislation recently signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger.
The law, sponsored by State Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, exempts from the state’s prevailing-wage requirement any work performed by a nonprofit volunteer, a volunteer coordinator or a member of a certified California/Community Conservation Corps.
PLT occasionally relies on volunteers to help with events and special programs, potentially including projects defined by the State as “public” projects.
To inquire about volunteer possibilities with PLT, contact Executive Director Jeff Darlington at (530) 887-9222.
Thank You PLT Volunteers!
Placer Land Trust would like to thank the following volunteers for their generous help in recent months.
Lorri provided emergency technical support following a crash of the PLT computer. She saved all of our data, reconfigured and updated our computer system, and provided enhanced security measures to protect us from viruses, spam, and pop-ups.
Dennis’ firm, Andregg Inc., provided us with free surveying work in support of the Auburn School Park Preserve project.
Nate Jones & Amy Pippione
Nate and Amy volunteered their time this summer and fall in the PLT office, helping on a variety of tasks.
Special thanks go to out to these volunteers and others who donate their time or services to Placer Land Trust to help us fulfill our mission. We appreciate it!
Quantifying the Need for Land Protection, Part 2
By Mehrey Vaghti
This is the second in a three-part series describing the process of developing land conservation priorities. The first part discussed the ecological and cultural attributes of Placer County; the final part will address efforts by Placer Land Trust and others to fill conservation gaps.
Land Conservation can be divided into two main categories: the permanent protection of land through direct acquisition of title or easement; and the protection of land attributes through management actions.
There are many agencies and organizations that have been or are currently dedicated to land conservation at the national, state and local levels. A thorough listing and evaluation of Placer County conservation is beyond the scope of this article; the following overview is limited by available data and time.
Public lands account for approximately 568 square miles (37%) of Placer County’s 1,506 square mile area.
The Federal Government is the significant public landowner in the county: the National Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation combined own 514 square miles, or 34% of the county’s area. While these public lands are protected from many forms of development, they are available for extraction, such as logging, or could become flooded by dam construction. Nonetheless, these lands offer the most widespread, contiguous wildlife habitat and recreation resources in the county.
A higher degree of environmental protection is provided by several other agencies and private organizations at the statewide or local level. The California Department of Parks & Recreation holds 2,500 acres and the State Lands Commission owns over 400 acres. Additionally, Placer Land Trust, Placer Legacy, and Wildlands Inc. own title or conservation easements on several thousand acres, primarily in western Placer County, including agricultural lands, recreation lands, riparian areas, seasonal wetlands, and vernal pool habitats.
As illustrated by the map below, the majority of protected lands occur in the Sierra Nevada Mountains with moderate occurrence in the foothills. The western portion of the county has little federal or state land holdings.
Approximately 20,000 acres are zoned for agriculture; however, zoning is whimsical protection at best. According to the 1997 Census of Agriculture (USDA) nearly 140,000 acres were in agriculture, most of which occurs in western Placer County.
The spatial inconsistency of land protection is reflected by the amount of vegetation occurring on private versus public lands. Sierran vegetation types such as coniferous, red fir, ponderosa pine and white fir forests have equal or more acreage on public lands than private. Some foothill types such as black oak and canyon live oak forests are also well represented on public lands. Additionally, over 40,000 acres of lake (lacustrine) habitats occur on public lands. Other foothill and lowland vegetation such as foothill pine woodlands, oak woodlands and grasslands largely occur on private lands. The lowlands of western Placer County further support uncommon but ecologically important habitats such as vernal pools and riparian areas much of which is completely unprotected.
There are at least nine additional entities or programs operating in Placer County that aim to protect or improve the environmental conditions of the regions they cover.
One is the Central Valley Habitat Joint Venture which focuses on waterfowl habitat in the Central Valley. The other eight are management improvement projects on the following watersheds: American River (North & Middle Forks); American River/Yuba River/Traverse Creek; Auburn Ravine Creek; Dry Creek; Griff Creek; Rice Creek; Snow Creek; and the Truckee River.
Many of these include restoration of riparian and/or in-stream habitats.
The data analysis and technological maps confirm what many can see with their eyes: the major conservation gaps are located in western Placer County.
The next and final part of this series will explore current efforts by Placer Land Trust and other organizations to protect the agricultural and open space characteristics of this rapidly developing region.
Doug Houston and Kit Veerkamp Join
PLT Board of Directors
By Bob Cooley-Gilliom
Placer Land Trust is pleased to announce the addition of two members to our Board of Directors: Doug Houston and Marie ‘Kit’ Veerkamp.
Doug Houston is the Vice President of The Houston Group, a government relations and counseling firm headquartered in Sacramento. He is also President of Parklands Group, an Auburn-based grant writing and park and open-space resource consulting firm.
Doug holds a B.A. from U.C. Davis in Political Science. He is a former member of the Auburn Planning Commission and the Auburn Economic Development Commission, and a former Placer County Parks Commissioner. He is currently an advisor to the Auburn Boys & Girls Club as well.
His interest in open space lands dates back to his childhood.
“I’ve been blessed to have resided in areas where open spaces have been plentiful and part of my being,” said Doug. “Hiking, tree climbing, exploring, bug and reptile collecting – as well as cardboard sliding and fishing were daily activities. In Placer County I grew up healthy: physically, mentally and socially. I graduated from Colfax High School with a strong personal belief and commitment to protect the resources that were so important to me growing up.”
In his capacity as a lobbyist, Doug was one of the principal legislative advocates that helped place Propositions 12 and 40 (park bonds) before the state voters, and he represents a number of local park and open-space related entities before the State Legislature.
Among his accomplishments in the area of park and recreation services include securing nearly $900 million for local agencies through the adoption of Proposition 12, exempting park volunteers from the costs associated with fingerprinting, and expanding the application of “drug free zones” to include park properties.
“I can’t imagine a childhood without the availability of quality park and open space opportunities, and I hope my involvement with PLT will help to preserve some of these valuable lands for future generations.”
Kit Veerkamp is a Senior Landscape Architect with Foothill Associates, an environmental planning/landscape architecture firm located in Rocklin. With over 20 years of experience in both the public and private sectors, she manages projects with an emphasis in parks and open space planning, ecological restoration, and sustainable development, including the design of green communities.
“I developed a passion for the environment leading nature tours for school kids,” said Kit. “I’ve been working and living in Auburn for nearly 25 years now and I’m thankful every day to live in such a wonderful place. But at the rate that development is occurring in this region, without a strong, focused conservation effort, there won’t be many of the natural resources or agricultural lands left that makes this place so special.”
Kit started her career following graduation from UC Davis in 1981, working for Yamasaki Landscape Architecture. After years of working on a variety of residential and commercial projects, she moved to the public sector as a park planner. She planned neighborhood, community and regional parks for El Dorado County and the City of Folsom for over nine years before heading back to the private sector to work in ecological restoration.
“We can’t stop development, nor should we, if we want our own children to stay in the area,” said Kit.
“But in other areas of the country, developers are winning prestigious planning awards for developing with trees and for preserving 50-60% of the land within subdivisions as open space. What’s really amazing is that it’s less costly for the developer. This type of development planning can be done here in Placer County too!”
Kit is now enjoying taking up horseback riding and is gearing up for designing and installing an eco-friendly landscape for her newly renovated home in Cool.
“I’m excited about the work that PLT is doing,” said Kit. “The organization is playing a critical role in land conservation within Placer County and I’m honored to be a part of it.”
Placer Land Trust
cordially invites you to the 3rd Annual
Placer Harvest Celebration
Dinner and Silent Auction for the benefit of Placer Land Trust
Saturday, November 13, 2004, 6:30-9:30pm
Beermann’s Beerwerks Restaurant
645 5th Street in historic downtown Lincoln, California
$75.00 per person
Gourmet meal with hosted wine and beer included
Come help us celebrate the heritage and harvest of Placer County agriculture!
Proceeds benefit Placer Land Trust’s efforts to permanently preserve family farms, ranches, and natural areas, specifically the Lincoln High School Farm.
Please RSVP by November 5, 2004. This event has sold out in past years, so reply early for guaranteed seating. Tickets will be held for you at the door. For more information or to donate items for the silent auction, call (530) 887-9222.
The Placer Harvest Celebration is sponsored in part by Del Webb California Corp., Foxglove Environmental, Sierra Business Council, Adams & Hayes Law, Foothill Associates, The Parklands Group, Aronowitz & Skidmore Attorneys at Law, Placer County Farm Bureau, Placer County Farm Supply, Placer County Water Agency, Side Hill Citrus Farm, and the Lincoln High School Farm Foundation.
Executive Director’s Report
Funding for the Future
Along the banks of the Bear River in Colfax, PLT Board member Doug Houston and I recently witnessed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sign the Sierra Nevada Conservancy into law.
“With this bill,” the Governor said, “we issue our declaration that our children and grandchildren will see and enjoy the same Sierra Nevada that we value so much today. This is common sense legislation to preserve and protect our environment and allow everyone to enjoy our Sierra Nevada Mountains for years to come.”
As I told Arnold after the signing … “Well said – and WELL DONE!”
The Sierra Nevada Conservancy has the potential to greatly assist Placer Land Trust in preserving natural open spaces and agricultural lands. As the Conservancy gets funded over the next few years, it has the potential to leave a lasting legacy of resource protection.
Also, I wanted to briefly discuss the impact of PLT’s new land conservation funding for west Placer County.
My dad’s response to this news was: “Great, do you still need my annual membership donation?”
told him, and I’m telling you all, that your membership support is now more important than ever!
PLT would not have been chosen to lead this multimillion dollar program if not for the demonstrated support of the community. Initially, the funding was slated to be managed through the creation of a new land trust. But because PLT has the longstanding support of the community, and the support of various conservation partners, PLT was ultimately chosen to lead this important new effort.
Furthermore, this funding is only available for specific land and easement acquisitions; it doesn’t cover operational expenses. The settlement parties are relying on PLT to generate its own support for operational expenses over the long term.
So your continued membership support is critical to ensuring that PLT has the ongoing capacity to use these funds effectively.
With your support, PLT can leverage existing and potential new funds to work with willing landowners to preserve important lands throughout Placer County.