PLT Promotes Public-Private Partnerships
Welcome reception for new County Supervisor generates support
By Jeff Darlington
Placer Land Trust was pleased to host a reception on February 3rd to welcome newly sworn-in Placer County Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery.
Montgomery now represents Placer County District 5, which encompasses the largest land area of any district, stretching from north Auburn to the Nevada state line.
PLT Board member Doug Houston, whose father ran against Montgomery in the election primary, spoke about her commitment to the people and quality of life in Placer County.
“She really gets it,” said Houston. “She listens, learns, and then acts in the best interest of our county.”
Montgomery spoke about the need to protect our open spaces while Placer County continues to grow. She praised PLT for our work with willing landowners and for our ability to forge effective public-private partnerships.
The reception was sponsored by the Armrod Charitable Foundation, Windermere Placer County Properties, Emigrant Trails Greenway Trust, Placer Vineyards, and several other local businesses.
Sponsorships and generous individual donations at the event raised over $5,000 for PLT’s work to protect Placer County’s valuable natural, agricultural and recreational lands.
PLT Working with North Fork Associates
By Jessica Pierce
Placer Land Trust is excited to be partnering with North Fork Associates, an Auburn-based environmental consulting firm formed in 1999. North Fork specializes in environmental impact analysis, CEQA/NEPA compliance, biological resources, wetland assessments, land use planning and regulatory consulting services.
Since 2003 North Fork Associates has sponsored numerous PLT events and helped underwrite many important projects. Co-founders Cathy Spence-Wells and Jeff Glazner are also longtime supporters of PLT.
“North Fork Associates and their employees model the philosophy of ‘pride of workmanship’,” said Jeff Darlington, Executive Director. “They have tremendous expertise, and they’ve matched that with generosity to support the landscape where they live and work. PLT is very grateful for their support and partnership.”
In addition to continued charitable giving, North Fork is now providing PLT with considerable pro bono planning expertise. Greg Wells, Resource and Trail Specialist, is working with PLT to design and implement a loop trail on PLT’s Canyon View Preserve.
North Fork is also working with PLT staff to envision the future connection of that loop trail with the Auburn State Recreation Area and the North Fork American River.
“Future generations of Placer County residents will certainly appreciate the work that PLT is doing today to preserve open space and agricultural lands,” said Glazner. “PLT is a key player in the effort to preserve the county’s high quality of life – an effort that benefits local businesses, residents, and the environment. We are pleased to be a part of that work.”
From the Board Room
Governor’s Climate Change Conference
By Patricia Callan-McKinney
In November, I was privileged to be invited to the Governors’ Global Climate Summit hosted by Governor Schwarzenegger.
Representatives from many states and countries participated: U.S. state governors, Brazilian state governors, governmental agencies from U.S.A., Mexico, Canada, China, Indonesia, India and Europe. International organizations included the United Nations, World Wildlife, the Nature Conservancy and the World Bank. Also represented were several large energy companies and businesses that trade in commodities worldwide.
The point is, all of these folks acknowledged global warming and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Everyone came to the summit to collaborate, to share successes, and to ask for help in solving the enormous problems caused by global warming – now and in the future.
I was an observer, not a participant. I was overwhelmed by the scope of the problems, but I’m also very encouraged. I’m reassured because so many from all over the world are taking action. There was a sense of urgency at the Summit, but the tone was positive.
Then President-elect Obama surprised us with a short speech promising his involvement in the new Kyoto Accords and a U.S. energy policy. I am also very pleased and proud that Governor Schwarzenegger and California are leading the way, having established one of the world’s most comprehensive programs to achieve real, quantifiable, cost-effective greenhouse gas emissions.
By supporting Placer Land Trust, you and I, and all members of PLT, are participating in the global effort to solve the problems caused by greenhouse gases. We are operating on a small scale in comparison to the overall effort, but our work is not small in importance. Preserving land is basic.
If we don’t protect the land, trees disappear, wildlife has no place and our most precious resource – water – is threatened. PLT has preserved woodlands, forests and streamside properties in the Yuba, Bear and the American River watersheds. The trees we protect are absorbing CO2 and emitting oxygen! This is a simple process that we need to be reminded of.
Protecting our productive agricultural land is also vital to the future. As population grows, we must be able to sustain ourselves.
Thank you for helping PLT be part of the global effort to protect our land, air and water resources and to reduce greenhouse gasses.
Auburn School Park Preserve Officially
Open to Public
By Karrie Thomas
The Auburn School Park Preserve officially opened to the public on October 31st with a ceremony attended by the community and the many partners involved in its making.
The park opening comes as a result of more than ten years of visioning, fundraising and major restoration work including the daylighting of North Rich Ravine and the restoration of the historic Cooper Amphitheater.
Today, the park creates open space available to the public between Old Town and downtown Auburn and features three acres of oak woodlands containing four species of oaks, several of which are over 150 years old.
“The property provides a unique urban setting for the public to learn about the value of oak woodlands and how conservation easements can permanently protect them,” said PLT Executive Director Jeff Darlington.
The City of Auburn’s donation of the easement to PLT in 2004 represented one of the first examples of a private entity holding an easement on public land. Today PLT holds several other easements in public-private partnership, thanks in part to this pioneering project.
PLT Welcomes New Staff and Interns
Meet Jeff Ward, Justin Wages, Carmen Guerrero,
Kristin Haider and Kelsey Stavseth
By Fred Yeager
In today’s economic climate, financial resources – actual dollars – are getting extremely hard to come by.
However, PLT has long since realized that dollars aren’t the only resources we can bring to bear to preserve land. For many years now, PLT has sought and obtained labor resources – actual people – to help us with our work.
Through various innnovative partnerships, funding agreements, and through the generosity of many individuals, we’re proud to say that PLT is weathering the economic storm as best we can by relying on “people power.”
PLT recently added some people power to our office; please help us welcome our new additions!
After a year as a volunteer through the Americorps program, Jeff Ward was hired as our Stewardship Coordinator in November to replace Joselin Matkins who moved back to Idaho.
Americorps is a national program matching interns with employers to support public service programs across the country. Starting in 2006, PLT has participated in the Sierra Nevada Americorps Partnership (SNAP), which provides PLT with an Americorps intern to help with our stewardship program.
“With Jeff’s past experience at PLT during his internship, we feel really lucky to hire him on to lead our stewardswhip program,” said PLT Executive Director Jeff Darlington.
Also stepping up is former Sierra College intern Justin Wages, who joins PLT as our Land Management Technician. Justin provides critical hands-on management of PLT’s vernal pool grassland preserves, as well as assisting with other stewardship duties.
“PLT’s recent acquisitions and the growth of PLT’s stewardship program provide a great opportunity for both Justin and myself,” said Jeff Ward. “I’m excited to be part of the projects that we’ve begun implementing over the past year, and to be a part of new projects as they come along.”
Carmen Guerrero recently joined PLT as our new Office Assistant, through the Placer County Office of Economic Development’s Work Experience (WEX) program.
A lifelong Placer County resident, Carmen grew up in Colfax and currently resides in Foresthill. Carmen comes to PLT with over 10 years of office management experience.
Through a partnership with the California Dept. of Social Services’ Cal-WORKS Program, the Placer County Office of Economic Development offers the WEX program for qualified non-profit and public agencies.
The WEX program places eligible individuals in non-paid employment to gain current work experience and skills, while providing employers with needed labor.
“The best part of this job is that I can work close to home, and I get to work for an organization that will help keep Placer County looking the way it did when I was growing up,” said Carmen.
“Carmen’s ideas to help improve PLT’s efficiency have already been a tremendous help,” added Jessica Pierce, PLT’s Operations Manager.
This year, PLT is also benefitting from the SNAP program once more, as new AmeriCorps interns Kristin Haider and Kelsey Stavseth joined PLT earlier this month.
Kristin is a recent graduate from the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire in Biology and Environmental Science, and she comes to PLT with field experience through her coursework and an internship with the Student Conservation Association in Connecticut.
“I feel extremely fortunate to be able to begin work in a field I’m very passionate about, so soon after graduation,” said Kristin.
Kelsey Stavseth joins PLT after graduating from St. Michael’s College in Vermont. He has experience with outreach and education through his work with the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps and the Outdoor School of Austin, Texas.
“I’m excited that I was given the opportunity to work for PLT and hope to learn as much as I can from those who share my passion for the environment,” said Kelsey.
“The SNAP program has been a huge asset for PLT over the past two years, and with the addition of the WEX program, we’re already seeing huge improvements in our capacity and efficiency,” said Jessica.
PLT would like to thank staff at the Sierra Nevada Alliance and Placer County for their help in bringing these wonderful people to PLT to help us provide public benefit through land conservation.
PLT would also like to thank and acknowledge intern Nathan Cullen for his work supporting our stewardship program. For the past year, Nathan has developed and improved PLT’s mapping technology and capacity while getting his third Associates degree at Sierra College. Nathan’s work has enabled PLT to better analyze and communicate the diverse resource value of Placer County’s lands. Nathan is currently studying at Sacramento State University while helping to train Kristin and the PLT staff in GIS and GPS operations.
At the Computer…
Strategic Land Conservation Planning
As part of the ongoing implementation of our Strategic Plan, PLT is currently working on updating our “strategic land conservation plan.” The conservation plan will help PLT assess, prioritize and protect the most important lands in Placer County.
Community input into this process is essential, and PLT will be gathering input in a variety of ways, including online surveys. If we have your correct email address, please be on the lookout for an online survey from PLT – it should take just a few minutes to fill out, and it will help us immensely!
New Website Pending
Please excuse the online dust as PLT is in the middle of redesigning our website and Internet presence. PLT members will be the first to experience our new interactive website, and we will be asking for your feedback.
Land Lines Delivery
In an effort to cut costs, PLT will be delivering Land Lines via email to as many of our members as possible this year. You can help us stretch our dollars by sending us your email address (to firstname.lastname@example.org). Hard copies of Land Lines will still be available, but we hope you’ll help us save a few trees.
PLT Advisor Loren Clark captured the image below of winter snow at the Cisco Grove Gould Park. PLT purchased the property in 2004 and then donated it to Placer County, who completed the park construction in 2006. To visit, take the Cisco Grove exit off I-80, and the park is on the north side of the freeway along the South Fork Yuba River.
Restored Vision of Stagecoach Preserve
By Jeff Ward
Placer Land Trust plans to complete restoration and trail design on the Stagecoach Preserve in 2009. We will undertake the work in four phases as we raise the needed funds.
Phase I will bring the late Susan Cooley-Gilliom’s vision for Canyon Creek to life. Susan wanted people to enjoy the creek and the general aesthetic showcase of native plants collected in the riparian corridor and to utilize this area as an educational tool for the community.
Completion of Phase I involves vegetation monitoring to ensure that existing plantings are healthy, and the instalation of educational signs, benches, a bridge and boulders so pedestrians can comfortably learn and reflect in the Canyon Creek area.
“PLT’s restoration of Canyon Creek, with the recent expansion upstream to Russell Road, is returning one of the only perennial streams in the Auburn area to its historic condition,” said PLT Past President Bob Gilliom. “The restoration project will eventually include a trail to enhance public access, and will improve riparian habitat water quality in the American River watershed.”
Phase II is a two-year effort to weed and mow the upland slope of Stagecoach Preserve to manage yellow starthistle in the spring, and plant native grasses. Establishing native grasses will provide competition for the yellow starthistle and other invasive plants, and will promote a more diverse natural habitat. Native grasslands are also better adapted to tolerate fire because they burn cooler and fire spreads more slowly than in many invasive weeds and non-native grasses.
During 2009, PLT plans to complete Phase I and the first half of Phase II.
In Phase III, PLT plans to design and build a trail extending from Foresthill Ave northeast to Russell Road through the new addition to Stagecoach Preserve, acquired from the Wilson family in 2007. PLT will establish a trail management plan and monitoring program to ensure that the trail remains in good condition for public use.
During phase IV, PLT will remove Himalayan blackberry from the riparian corridor on the Wilson addition. PLT will hire contractors to mechanically remove blackberry while PLT staff and volunteers will monitor and manage blackberry regrowth. PLT will install native riparian plants in the areas currently infested with blackberry.
The overall goal of the project is to provide a more diverse natural habitat and open up areas of the creek for the community to enjoy.
Community volunteers interested in participating in this project should contact Jessica Pierce at PLT at 530-887-9222.
State Financial Crisis Stops PLT Project
As everyone knows, the bursting of the real estate bubble, the mortgage crisis, market instability, unemployment and a national recession have hit Californians hard, resulting in a huge financial crisis.
One result of this is that, with less than a day’s warning, the State froze all payments from voter-approved bond funds in December. The bond freeze hit the nonprofit sector hard, shutting down public benefit projects, closing doors, and resulting in layoffs. The State stopped reimbursement payments on PLT’s $300,000 restoration and public access project at Canyon View Preserve, leaving PLT with $35,000 of un-reimbursed expenses and unfulfilled contracts.
State legislators’ inability to pass a budget has taken our financial situation from bad to worse. As Land Lines goes to press, the State is considering a 2,000-page multi-bill document that is a mix of spending cuts, new taxes and revenues, and state borrowing. But despite the urgent need for a budget, the legislature is still split along party lines, meaning the 2/3 majority vote hasn’t yet been achieved.
Our State legislators can’t solve this crisis for us, but PLT urges its members to let the folks in Sacramento know how important it is that they take what steps they can by passing a State budget. And as ever, any support you can provide Placer Land Trust is most appreciated!
Executive Director’s Report
Planned gift of rural property benefits Placer Land Trust
Through the generosity of the late Abraham V. Schenck, PLT recently accepted the gift of 20 acres of rural land northwest of Auburn.
As a genealogy and history buff, I was interested to learn that Abraham “Abe” Schenck’s family moved from Canada to Placer County shortly after his birth in 1915. As a young boy, Abe lived in the old Summit Hotel on Donner Summit where his father worked on highway maintenance.
The Schenck family moved to Auburn in 1927, where they planted a fruit orchard.
During his 60 years as a fruit grower, Mr. Schenck produced cherries, persimmons, peaches and plums which were enjoyed locally and shipped back east through local fruit packing houses.
Mr. Schenck passed away in 2005, bequeathing 20 acres of rural property to PLT. PLT took title to the property on February 5, 2009.
I never got the chance to meet Mr. Schenck because he was in failing health for over a year before his death, but his unexpected and meaningful gift has made a big impact on me, and will greatly benefit Placer Land Trust.
I would have liked to say “thank you” to Mr. Schenck while he was still with us, but my gratitude will have to be posthumous. This issue of Land Lines is dedicated to his memory.
Planned giving and bequeathing assets to PLT – including cash, stock, and real estate – is a very meaningful way to support our mission to protect the natural and agricultural lands in Placer County for future generations.
If you are planning a deferred gift to PLT, whether during your lifetime or through your estate, I thank you in advance for your generosity and spirit. Please feel free to let us know the intent of your gift so PLT can work with you to ensure that we put it to good use.
Meanwhile, make every day count by enjoying the wonder and beauty of Placer County…