PLT Preserves 500 acres of Grasslands
Toad Hill Ranch conservation easement is the latest successful project of PLT’s West Placer Habitat Protection Program
By Bob Cooley-Gilliom
On March 14, Placer Land Trust recorded a conservation easement on 500 acres of grasslands that are a part of the “Toad Hill Ranch” north of Roseville.
This is the fourth completed project of PLT’s West Placer Habitat Protection Program, which is designed to protect vernal pool habitat, grasslands, and grazing land in western Placer County.
Signature Properties granted the easement to PLT to permanently protect the property, formerly owned by the Griswold family. Bert Lefty of B&B Livestock leases the grazing rights to the property, and will work with Signature and PLT to create a range management plan designed to permanently protect the property’s habitat values and agricultural production.
“We are extremely pleased to protect this property for many reasons,” said PLT Executive Director Jeff Darlington.
“Not only does this project support our mission of protecting natural and agricultural lands, but it also connects to other preserved land, making a larger block of protected open space.”
Toad Hill Ranch is adjacent to the City of Roseville’s 1,700-acre “Reason Farms Environmental Preserve”. The portion of Toad Hill Ranch preserved by PLT is directly adjacent to the 227 acres of Reason Farms that PLT preserved last year (also by conservation easement).
PLT hopes to work with Signature Properties and Westpark Associates to preserve the entirety of Toad Hill Ranch, 1,664 acres in all. If successful, Toad Hill Ranch would become the key link to create a block of preserved open space in excess of 2,500 acres.
PLT will fund the easement and long-term land stewardship through it’s West Placer Habitat Protection Program.
Shutamul Bear River Preserve Enlarged
On January 6, Placer Land Trust added 17 acres to our Shutamul Bear River Preserve, increasing the size of this spectacular riverfront property on the Bear River to 40 acres.
PLT purchased the land from the Wheeler family as part of PLT’s Bear River Watershed Protection Program.
This stretch of the Bear River is 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. The objectives of PLT’s Bear River Watershed Protection Program include the protection of water quality, wildlife habitat, recreation lands, and scenic open space.
The Shutamul Bear River Preserve is named in part after the historic location of a nearby Nisenan village (located downstream of the property site).
Funding for the purchase and long-term land stewardship was provided to PLT by private donors and philanthropic foundations.
Kathie Grey is PLT’s 2005 Volunteer of the Year
PLT is pleased to name Kathie Grey as our Volunteer of the Year for 2005. Kathie is a long-time member of PLT, joining at its inception in the early 1990s and serving on the Board of Directors of Placer Land Trust & Nature Center for five years.
In her capacity as a Certified Public Accountant, Kathie has served as PLT’s financial advisor for more than 20 years.
“Kathie is an absolutely invaluable advisor on financial matters,” said PLT Board Treasurer Patricia Callan-McKinney. “We thank her immensely for her support!”
Kathie and her husband moved to Placer County in 1990 and raised their two children in Auburn. She enjoys the outdoors — particularly hiking and adventure travel.
“I support PLT because I want to ensure that we can continue to enjoy these types of outdoor opportunities for years to come,” Kathie said.
From the Board Room
A Timely Collaboration
Despite what one may think about the rate of growth or the commensurate rate of loss of Placer County’s natural resources, forests, farms, fields and wetlands, it is because of this rapid growth that many opportunities for conservation now exist.
In Placer County many believe that the loss of these resources should be offset by the long-term and permanent protection of other resources. These same people believe that the quality of life of current and future residents will be enhanced by protecting habitat for birds, animals and plants and preserving enough agricultural land to ensure that the County has a significant segment of its economy based on agricultural pursuits.
For a very long time people have believed that the protection of these natural amenities is important enough that a number of state and federal agencies have been empowered to look after these resources. The creation of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy last year is yet another example of the extensive backing that exists for the protection of this area’s natural resources. Local government (the County and the incorporated cities) are also engaged in resource protection, although to differing degrees: the County is thus far leading the local effort.
Recognizing that government alone will not do enough because of politics and lack of adequate funding, a number of volunteer and nonprofit groups such as Placer Land Trust have appropriately stepped forward to fill the gaps and maximize opportunities that are being presented.
Government itself can and should only
do so much. Local citizens should and are stepping forward with many private efforts that take on many different forms. In Placer County today, efforts to protect natural resources are underway by such groups as the American River Conservancy, the Truckee-Donner Land Trust, the Trust for Public Land, the Dry Creek Conservancy, and of course Placer Land Trust.
These land conservation efforts and the funding that supports them are being derived from many different sources. Some of the funding is from public sources which have historically been the greatest single source, while increasingly money is being generated from the private sector, often tied to new development that is directly affecting the resources … as it should be.
With so much happening, with so much at stake, and with the opportunities that exist, now is the perfect time for all people interested in conservation to come together and to coordinate their efforts.
This means all of the public agencies as well as the private ones. There are things that the public agencies must do and will continue to do best and there are things that private groups can and should be doing.
A little collaboration will go a long way towards maximizing the utilization of the limited resources that are being focused on the conservation of the County’s important natural resources as the County struggles to also accommodate its share of the region’s growth.
Fortunately there has been a significant effort at coordination underway for several years that has included increased communication and coordination between state, federal, local government, and private interests.
This coordination has resulted in a number of important partnerships that have permanently protected thousands of acres of resource lands.
Let’s keep up this good work. Let’s maximize the benefits derived from the funds being used for conservation efforts whether they are public or private monies, and let’s recognize who does what best and let them do it. Where collaboration can cause things to happen that wouldn’t otherwise, let’s encourage those efforts. Where a private organization can best utilize its unique talents, let’s let them and applaud those efforts. Where it is a government agency that can best protect resources, let’s support them.
And last but not least … where politics gets in the way of any of this, let’s speak out and make ourselves heard by enough people so that ill-advised politicians are reminded of the core values of their constituencies.
Family Farming & Ranching
Natural Grass-fed Beef Produced by Many Placer County Ranching Families
By Joanne Neft
We are what we eat.
The good news is that consumers throughout Northern California now have access to high quality grass-fed meat under the banner of High Sierra Beef, a six-county initiative involving ranchers from El Dorado, Placer, Nevada, Yuba, Sierra and Plumas Counties.
High Sierra Beef, produced on the slopes and in the valleys of the Sierra Nevada mountains, provides distinctive, high-quality, and safe grass-fed beef and finished product at premium prices. The cattle never receive grain or growth hormones, nor are they fed antibiotics.
“A lot of people used to think you had to sacrifice taste for what’s good for you,” says cattle rancher Rick Leonhardt, “but that’s just not the case anymore.”
Grass-fed beef not only has substantially less fat than grain-fed meat, but the type of fats found in grass-fed beef are healthier. The meat has more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and fewer omega-6 fatty acids. In addition, grass-fed meat contains more beta-carotene, vitamin E, and CLA (another “good” fat).
Each animal entering the High Sierra Beef program must undergo ultrasound screening and beef imaging. A chute-like scan determines which animals are likely to do well on grass, measuring rib-eye shape, stress tolerance, intramuscular fat, and back fat. The cattle are re-evaluated just prior to harvest to ensure quality and consistency.
Treat yourself and your family to locally-raised, healthy, nutritious grass-fed meat. Not only is grass-fed beef good for you, it’s good for the environment.
High Sierra Beef from a variety of local ranches is available at farmers markets, online at www.highsierrabeef.com, or by calling (916) 449-3019. Bon appetit!
Note: This is part of an ongoing series highlighting the value of local agricultural lands and the landowners who work those lands.
Botanical Biography: California bay laurel
By Mehrey Vaghti
If you looked closely at local laurel trees during the late winter months you noticed clusters of modest yellowish green flowers blooming.
The California bay laurel (Umbellaria californica; Lauraceae) is a very beautiful tree that can be found throughout most of Placer County below the snow line.
Also known as pepperwood, spice-tree, and “myrtlewood” (which is all the rage at funky gift shops along the Oregon coast), the California bay laurel is found throughout the state at elevations below 5,200 feet. The laurel prefers sites with serpentine soils, exposed ridges, and fertile valley bottoms.
Mature plants are typically 30-80 feet tall with simple evergreen leaves and brown exfoliating bark. The leaves emit a strong, spicy, peppery aroma when crushed and can be used sparingly in cooking.
California bay laurel nuts are edible when roasted and have long been consumed on a regular basis by California tribal groups as a condiment, digestive aid and stimulant. The nuts are harvested in the autumn when they fall from the tree.
The hard, strong wood was used for ship building, interior finish and furniture during pioneer times.
Note: This is part of an ongoing series highlighting some of the many native plants found in Placer County.
Join PLT to Celebrate 15 Years of Land Conservation
In celebration of our 15th Anniversary, Placer Land Trust will be hosting several free events for PLT members this year. We hope you will join us!
On Sunday, April 2, PLT will host our annual Codfish Falls Wildflower Walk along the North Fork American River starting at Ponderosa Bridge, south of Weimar. (Call PLT for details about the time and carpooling.)
On Saturday, April 29, from 10am to 2pm, PLT members are invited to join in our ongoing restoration of Canyon Creek at Stagecoach Preserve in Auburn.
In May, PLT will host our first ever “Member’s Picnic” at our new Hofman Ranch property in Lincoln. In July, PLT will host an Open House at our new office location on Blocker Drive in Auburn.
Also, don’t miss the Disappearing Landscapes Art Event & Sale, running from Aug. 10 through Oct. 4, 2006, at The ARTS Building in Auburn. 18 of Placer County’s best artists will be participating in this show. A private reception will be held for PLT members.
Finally, PLT will host a series of anniversary receptions around the County over the course of the year. Please attend, and please bring a friend!
All of these events are free for PLT members.
Placer Land Trust’s 15th Anniversary
2006 Calendar of Events
April 2: Codfish Falls Wildflower Walk, Ponderosa Bridge, Weimar
April 15: Placer Conservator Event, Beard Ranch, Auburn ($45/person)
April 29: Canyon Creek Work Day, Stagecoach Preserve, Auburn
May TBA: Member’s Picnic, Hofman Ranch, Lincoln
June TBA: PLT Anniversary Reception, location TBD
July TBA: Open House, new PLT office, Auburn
August 10: Disapearing Landscapes Art Event & Sale opens at The ARTS Building, Auburn (show runs through October 4)
August 13: Disapearing Landscapes Reception for PLT members, Auburn
September TBA: PLT Anniversary Reception, location TBD
November 4: Placer Harvest Celebration, Blue Goose Fruit Shed, Loomis (ticket price TBD)
Look for more details about these events in future issues of Land Lines, and on our website at www.placerlandtrust.org. Or call for an update! Events are free for PLT members unless otherwise noted.
Executive Director’s Report
PLT Members Speak Up
To learn more about what is important to our members, Placer Land Trust recently sent out a survey, requesting feedback on the activities of PLT and our members. The results of the survey are in …
Most PLT members think PLT is a recognizable organization in Placer County, and becoming more so over time. However, most members – myself included – agree that PLT needs to continue to work hard to become a more recognizable organization with its own entity, especially in southern and western Placer County. And there is a strong opinion that PLT needs to maintain an independent non-aligned identity even as we seek strategic partnerships to become more effective in preserving land.
The issues that are the most important to our members are, in order of importance: urban sprawl, loss of natural open spaces, population growth, and loss of habitat (among many others).
The types of lands that our members think are important to preserve are, in order of importance: animal/plant habitat lands, wetlands, forest lands, oak woodlands, and river/lake front lands (among many others).
And finally, to give you a snapshot of what PLT members like to do in their spare time, here are the top activities listed in the survey, in order of popularity: hiking, enjoying scenery, bird-watching, walking, photography, fishing, hunting, backpacking, enjoying family outdoor time, mountain biking, nature study, and running (among many others).
Thank you to everyone who participated in this survey!