PLT preserves land along Miners Ravine
By Jessica Pierce
Placer Land Trust is pleased to announce that it has permanently preserved 26 acres on Miner’s Ravine at Sierra College Road in Roseville, providing multiple public benefits for current and future generations.
PLT accepted a conservation and flood control easement from the Placer County Flood Control & Water Conservation District. The easement guarantees that the site will always be used for flood control, wetland habitat, and public recreation.
“This has been a project long in coming, and we’re glad to do our part to make sure this property provides flood control, open space and other public benefits for years to come,” said PLT Executive Director Jeff Darlington.
An off-channel retention basin takes the pressure off Miner’s Ravine during periods of high flooding. Roseville and other downstream communities will benefit from increased flood protection.
The flood control project was deemed necessary due to the continued development in western Placer County. More development means more concrete and pavement, faster-moving waterways, and less natural systems and permeable soil to disperse flood waters. Consequently, development mitigation fees funded most of the Miner’s Ravine project, with agency grants supplementing the project.
Flood control isn’t the only benefit of the Miner’s Ravine project.
When the basin isn’t flooded, it will function as a natural wetlands and scenic open space. PLT’s easement also protects the property as a place for public recreation. The property contains a small parking lot with a paved bicycle trail hooking up with the 27-mile Roseville Bikeway. Interpretive signs on the property give visitors an understanding of how flood control and land conservation can work together.
PLT recieves grant from Sierra Nevada Conservancy
By Jessica Pierce
PLT was recently awarded grant funding from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy for the Canyon View Watershed & Habitat Restoration Project.
PLT acquired the 50-acre Canyon View Preserve in 2003 as a donation from the American Land Conservancy. The Canyon View Preserve is directly adjacent to Lincoln Way at the Bowman exit of Interstate 80, and directly adjacent to the Auburn State Recreation Area (ASRA).
Three seasonal drainages systems run from Canyon View Preserve into the North Fork of the American River.
This is a three-year grant project funded through the Conservancy’s Proposition 84 Grants Program. The first phase of the project will restore five acres of stream by constructing a series of step-pool and rifflepool features to accommodate and dissipate high water flows in the three creeks. Also in the first phase, PLT will remove Himalayan blackberry, starthistle, and other invasive plants from one linear mile of the stream corridor and 15 acres of open grasslands, using a combination of mechanical mastication and goat and sheep grazing.
The second phase of the project will focus on re-establishment of native plant communities to stabilize eroding stream banks and hillsides, and will decrease sediment load in the creek.
The third and final phase of the project will reduce the understory fuel load in 35 acres of mixed oak and pine woodlands by removing woody debris and undergrowth and by managing scotch broom. This fuel load reduction will significantly reduce the risk of wildfire, creating a buffer for north Auburn.
The grant project is meant to demonstrate how multiple objectives can be accomplished through collaborative and adaptive management.
We will keep you updated with information and photos in Land Lines and on our website, showing the restoration of the habitat over time. We’ll also have volunteer opportunities throughout the year. For more information, please contact Jeff Ward at (530) 887-9222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Community Foundation Supports PLT
The Placer Community Foundation has awarded Placer Land Trust a $5,000 grant from its Technical Assistance Program (TAP), to help PLT work with a consultant to enhance our fund development program. This is PLT’s second TAP grant from PCF; in 2006, PLT utlized a TAP grant to update our financial systems and procedures in preparation for a comprehensive audit.
At right, Janice Forbes, Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Placer Community Foundation, presents Fred Yeager, PLT Board President, with the 2008 TAP grant check.
Thanks to the Community Foundation!
From the Board Room
PLT Seeks Highest Level of Accreditation
The Land Trust Alliance (LTA) is known as the ‘mother’ of all land trusts, and as long as I have been involved with Placer Land Trust, we have been a member. Land trusts throughout the country look to LTA for guidance in all land trust matters.
LTA’s mission is to “promote voluntary land conservation and strengthen the land trust movement by providing the leadership, information, skills and resources land trusts need to conserve land for the benefit of communities and natural systems.”
LTA’s Land Trust Standards & Practices, which we have adopted and which have guided us these last few years through our incredible growth, have given us confidence that our operations are correct.
This year Placer Land Trust applied for the new LTA Accreditation process, and we have completed the first phase of this process.
In order to be accredited, LTA will examine all aspects of our activities. Placer Land Trust staff sent three enormous binders full of materials requested by LTA for accreditation approval – including Board minutes, policies and procedures, project transaction files, financial reports and management plans which represented many hours of commitment and work by Jessica Pierce and other staff. Board members and staff have already been interviewed by the LTA Accreditation Team concerning specific questions. In the process, Placer Land Trust has reviewed and updated many of its operating procedures – a good thing.
It’s my prediction that at the end of this process, Placer Land Trust will be a model example for other land trusts.
What does this mean for Placer Land Trust? Accreditation by this respected organization means that we measure up to LTA’s high standards. It means that the Board has resolved to uphold high standards of ethics in implementing its mission and in its governance and operations and will continue to implement its practices according to Land Trust Standards and Practices.
It means that the community and our members, grantors and sponsors can be confident that Placer Land Trust is protecting its integrity and can be assured that their trust is not violated.
Disappearing Landscapes Art Show
Thank You to our Supporters!
By Mehrey Vaghti
On behalf of Placer Land Trust staff and Board of Directors, I want to extend our sincere gratitude to all who made the 2nd Disappearing Landscapes Art Show opening and PLT members’ reception a great success.
Pete & Pat Enoch of Latitudes Restaurant went above and beyond as hosts and sponsors, donating their space, time, staff and provisions as well as assisting with planning and logistics.
Rosie Stillwell masterfully displayed the art and provided vital communication and coordination.
Baumbach Wines, Dono dal Cielo Vineyard, Green Family Winery and Ophir Wines Gold Blossom Vineyard donated samples of many fine wines.
Many, many thanks to the thirty participating artists for contributing their amazing talents and taking the time to visit and depict PLT’s preserved properties.
Finally, deep appreciation for PLT members whose attendance and enthusiasm made for a vibrant event.
Funds raised through the sale of the artwork will support PLT’s efforts to work with willing landowners and conservation partners to permanently preserve natural and agricultural land in Placer County for future generations.
For more information, please contact Placer Land Trust at (530) 887-9222, or visit www.placerlandtrust.org.
We hope to see you at the next Disappearing Landscapes art event!
Would you pay a dollar to have PLT build you a trail?
In cooperation with Latitudes Restaurant in Auburn, Placer Land Trust piloted its first “Dollar for Trails” campaign in April and May. The Dollar for Trails program is based on efforts that other land trusts have implemented, such as Truckee Donner Land Trust’s “Buck for Open Space” program in the Truckee area.
The Dollar for Trails program is a partnership with local retailers, such as restaurants like Latitudes. Customers receive a card with their bill or when they’re paying for their purchase, giving them an option to add a dollar to their bill. All funds PLT raises through the program go toward preserving lands suitable for public recreation, and building and managing public trails and other public access infrastructure on PLT properties.
“Placer Land Trust thanks Latitudes for piloting the Dollar for Trails program for us, and we hope to implement this program at other Placer County locations as well,” said PLT Executive Director Jeff Darlington. “If PLT members know of any great locations for this program, please give us a call, because we’re excited to create more public recreation opportunities here in Placer County!”
Burrowing Owl Sighted on PLT’s
Swainson’s Grassland Preserve
By Justin Wages
Placer Land Trust’s Swainsons Grassland Preserve covers 469 acres of grassland habitat outside Lincoln’s northern border. It is home to a large vernal pool complex, and provides protected habitat for a variety of birds species including Swainson’s Hawk. And now PLT has found rare burrowing owls on the property!
The burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia) was once very common throughout California but has been in decline for the last 60 years. Due to habitat degradation, development, ground squirrel poisoning, and the conversion of grasslands to intensive agriculture, the burrowing owl’s decline has been greatly accelerated.
Today they are listed as a “California Species of Special Concern” and are awaiting California Endangered Species classification.
With the help of biologist Brian Williams, we were able to locate at least one burrowing owl nest site at Swainson’s Grassland Preserve and positively identify the pair that occupies the site. This nest site will be added to the Department of Fish and Game’s “California Natural Diversity Database” (a program that inventories the status and locations of rare plants and animals in California). Subsequent visits to Swainsons Grassland Preserve to observe the owls has provided us with a unique glimpse into the life of this small groundnesting predator of insects.
The owls seem to prefer nest holes originally dug by ground squirrels (Spermophilus beecheyi), low cropped grass near the nest site, and earthen mounds which provide a good vantage point to watch for predators or prey. Human infrastructure, particularly fencing and corrals, located within natural habitat attracts both ground squirrels and burrowing owls; this seems to be the case at Swainsons as well.
Swainsons Grassland Preserve is a working land that has been very well managed as a cattle ranch by Greg & Karen Lawley of Lincoln. PLT is fortunate to work with such wonderful land stewards who “give a hoot” about the land. The Lawley’s partnership with PLT benefits the vernal pool complexes, grassland species diversity, as well as maintaining our ranching heritage.
Keep your eyes out for more critters that benefit from PLT’s land conservation work!
PLT Protecting our State Insect
The Dogface Butterfly
By Justin Wages
Armed with cameras, GPS, and 4WD pickups, an intrepid group composed of Placer Land Trust staff, naturalist Deren Ross, and Sierra College professor Joe Medeiros set out to track down the elusive California dogface butterfly (Zerene eurydice), the California state insect, at PLT’s Shutamul Bear River Preserve.
Despite technical difficulties involving locked gates and extreme terrain requiring 4WD drive vehicles, the investigative team was successful in locating a large population of false indigo (Amorpha californica) shrubs, the sole food source of the larval stage of the California dogface butterfly.
The team’s initial joy at finding so much of the uncommon shrub turned to child-like delight as one team member, further up the trail, started shouting and pointing down the hill into a small patch of sunlit vegetation where a small yellow-winged creature zipped about with amazing speed and with no apparent directional path whatsoever!
Could it be a California dogface butterfly? Could it be the Lepidoptera species that UC Davis professor of evolution and ecology Art Shapiro is quoted saying; “I’d say only one of every 10,000 Californians has ever seen the butterfly in the wild”?
Indeed it was.
A male butterfly with bright yellow wings and a conspicuous dark “dogface” pattern on the edges of its forewings fluttered about in the dense vegetation as any normal butterfly – only at 5 times the speed! Once it landed, the team started down the slope, crashing the bushes to attempt closeup photographs of the male dogface. We didn’t make it more than a dozen yards before the male took to wing and disappeared into the canopy overhead, as is common with this high-flying species.
But the story doesn’t end there. Within minutes of regaining the trail, a female dogface appeared and landed a mere foot away from team member Jeff Ward, who had chosen to observe from the trail so as not to brave the poison oak.
Soon thereafter, other yellow-green dogface butterflies were spotted. After scrambling their way through a poison oak-infested hillside, the team was rewarded for their bravery and perseverance with great photographs for positive identification of the California dogface butterfly.
This is yet another great example of why preservation of our local landscapes is important – PLT is preserving habitat for humans and for a wide variety of plant and animal species, including many species that by and large go unnoticed. PLT’s work will help ensure that our state insect has a little bit of protected habitat, forever.
A big thank you goes out to Deren Ross and Joe Medeiros for their expertise in identification and to my roommate Brian for lending me the use of his truck … because a Prius is definitely NOT meant to go off-road!
Botanical Biography: California false indigo
(Amorpha californica; Fabaceae)
By Mehrey Vaghti
California false indigo is a deciduous shrub in the pea family infrequently found on wooded, shrubby or open slopes below 7500 feet throughout portions of the coastal and Sierran foothills, extending into Arizona and northern Baja California.
It grows to 8 feet, has pinnately compound leaves (two rows of leaflets on opposites sides of the axis), and spikes of small purple flowers which bloom from May to July.
This plant is the sole host to larvae of the California dogface butterfly (Zerene eurydice), which happens to be the state insect. PLT has identified both the California false indigo and the California dogface butterfly at it’s Shutamul Bear River Preserve, and we are working with naturalists and entomologists to determine the best management protections for both the plant and the butterfly.
Good Luck Joselin!
After nearly 18 months as Placer Land Trusts first-ever Stewardship Coordinator, Joselin Matkins has moved back to her native Idaho.
Joselin hasn’t changed gears that much, however. She has accepted a position as Executive Director for the Sagebrush Steppe Regional Land Trust in Idaho.
We thank Joselin for her contributions to Placer Land Trust; in her short time here, she streamlined our stewardship procedures, kick-started several projects, and developed a robust volunteer program.
We wish her luck in Idaho!
Jeff Ward, our AmeriCorps intern, will continue to serve as our Stewardship Assistant through December, working with PLT staff and volunteers to ensure that our stewardship needs are met until we hire a replacement for Joselin.
Stewardship Journal: Treasured Landscapes Discovered
By Jeff Ward
In mid April, Placer Land Trust kicked off its new Treasured Landscapes tour series.
The Treasured Landscapes Series was organized to provide PLT volunteers, members, supporters, and local naturalists with an opportunity to explore and celebrate the landscapes that PLT treasures and has protected. The events were arranged over a two-month period in April and May and showcased wildflowers along the American River, vernal pools, and oak woodlands.
The first tour, on April 12th, featured a wildflower walk led by naturalists Jon Krogsrud and Ernie Riley at PLT’s Codfish Falls Trail Preserve along the North Fork American River southeast of Applegate. Guests took a refreshing hike along the trail while looking at beautiful wildflowers. At the end of the trail, the group enjoyed lunch while sitting by Codfish Falls.
On April 26th, PLT hosted its 2nd annual Vernal Pool Preserves Tour. Local naturalist Ed Pandolfino led a bird walk for the early birders at PLT’s Doty Ravine Preserve in Lincoln. While the final guests arrived, Joselin Matkins explained the grassland restoration project that is taking place at Doty Ravine Preserve to the crowd. Guests then packed their brunches and headed over to Swainson’s Grassland Preserve, where vernal pool specialist Carol Witham guided a vernal pool tour. Carol gave a talk about the ecology of these unique ecosystems and the group was fortunate to catch the final vernal pool wildflower show for the season.
PLT wrapped up its last Treasured Landscape tour on May 10th, with a celebration of oak woodlands at its Big Hill oak woodland preserves northwest of Auburn. Biologist Brian Williams led two walks, an early morning bird walk along Coon Creek and an afternoon hike through the oak woodlands at Taylor Ranch Preserve. Placer County staff Andy Fisher and Loren Clark gave a talk about land conservation and the potential connection of nearby Hidden Falls Regional Park with PLT’s Big Hill preserves via a public trail. Joselin and Andy then guided a group up to Big Hill on PLT’s Kotomyan Preserve, where PLT Executive Director Jeff Darlington showed guests where they could look directly across the creek to Hidden Falls Regional Park.
The Treasured Landscapes tour series was a success, and we look forward to continuing the series this fall and/or next year. PLT would like to thank all who participated, especially the volunteers and guest speakers for taking the time to share their knowledge of Placer County’s treasured landscapes with the rest of us!
And a special thanks to Persimmon Deli in Lincoln who sponsored the delicious PlacerGROWN food!
Executive Director’s Report
Easement Donors Catch a (Tax) Break
Generous landowners who donate voluntary conservation easements to land trusts like Placer Land Trust are inspired by many things: they love their area, they feel connected to their land, and they wish to leave a legacy for future generations.
This inspiration is at the heart of PLT’s work to permanently protect valuable natural and agricultural lands in Placer County. But for anyone, donating a conservation easement is a major financial decision, and the federal income tax deduction that comes with a donation helps make easements possible for landowners in our community.
At the end of 2007, landowner Leslie Warren took advantage of expanded federal tax benefits by donating to PLT a conservation easement on her land in Auburn.
Now, there’s more good news! Congress recently passed a law extending for two years the tax benefits of protecting private land for many landowners (which had expired at the end of 2007).
The legislation improves the tax incentive for conservation easements by allowing conservation easement donors to:
a) Deduct up to 50% of their adjusted gross income in any year (up from 30%);
b) Deduct up to 100% of their adjusted gross income if the majority of that income came from farming, ranching or forestry; and
c) Continue to take deductions for as long as 16 years (up from 6 years).
Each day we here at PLT are touched by the generous and inspired landowners who work with us. This new law will make it easier for others in our community to build on their love of the land and work with us to permanently protect Placer County’s priceless landscapes for future generations.