PLT Preserves 500 acres of Grasslands
Expanded Toad Hill Ranch provides habitat, multiple benefits
By Bob Cooley-Gilliom
On October 17, PLT acquired a 500-acre conservation easement on the historic Toad Hill Ranch north of Roseville, doubling the protected acreage at the ranch.
The 1,000 acres protected by PLT is adjacent to the City of Roseville’s 1,700-acre Reason Farms Environmental Preserve (of which PLT permanently preserved 228 acres by conservation easement last year), and over 200 acres of land permanently preserved by Wildlands Inc. This creates a contiguous block of open space and habitat in excess of 2,900 acres.
PLT worked with landowner Westpark Associates and PL Roseville LLC to complete the project.
“Over the last few years we have appreciated having a close working relationship with PLT,” said Bill Falik, managing member of Westpark Associates. “We believe in the critical importance of preserving open space while providing and sustaining the needs of our region for carefully planned and environmentally sensitive masterplanned communities.”
Accompanying PLT’s Toad Hill Ranch easements are comprehensive land and habitat management plans, with funding provided by the landowners and PLT through cooperative agreements. One of the key components of the management plans is to use the property as grazing land for cattle or similar livestock.
B&B Livestock, based in Lincoln, currently leases the cattle grazing rights to the property, and will work with the landowner and PLT to protect the property’s habitat values. A moderate level of cattle grazing is beneficial for the health of vernal pool ecosystems and — just as importantly — keeps the land in agricultural production.
“Farm and ranch lands here in Placer County help feed an exploding global population,” said local grower and PLT Board member Rich Ferreira. “So its important both locally and worldwide to protect any and all local ag land we can.”
This easement is the fifth 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. PLT’s first 500-acre Toad Hill Ranch easement was completed with Signature Properties earlier this year. The City of Roseville and the Sierra Foothills Audubon Society are partners in this effort, as part of the West Roseville Specific Plan settlement agreements.
“Over 90% of Placer County’s vernal pools have been destroyed, and what little is left is critically important,” said PLT Executive Director Jeff Darlington.
“In addition to the vernal pool complexes on the ranch, the grasslands and seasonal wetlands support an array of wildlife species such as Red-tailed hawk, Morning dove, Great blue herons and various reptile species,” said Kellie Berry, Land & Entitlements Manager for Pulte Homes. Pulte, Lennar and Centex Homes are all members of PL Roseville LLC.
PLT also hopes to work with the landowners and Wildlands Inc. to permanently preserve the remaining 664 acres of Toad Hill Ranch in the future. Westpark Associates and Signature Properties purchased the property years ago from the Griswold family with the understanding that the property would be protected from development.
Expanded Tax Benefits for Donations to Land Trusts
There has never been a better time to donate a conservation easement to PLT to protect your land.
The federal government recently passed the Pension Protection Act, which includes increased incentives for family farmers, ranchers, and other moderate-income landowners donating conservation easements to qualified nonprofits such as PLT.
Why is this significant?
1. The Act raises the deduction a landowner can take for donating a conservation easement to 50% of their income in any year (up from 30%); for qualifying farmers and ranchers, the allowable amount has been raised to 100% of their income.
2. The Act extends the carry-forward period for a donor to take tax deductions for a voluntary conservation easement to 15 years (up from 5 years).
This is an important but temporary opportunity … these incentives are only available for donations in 2006 and 2007!
Call PLT for more information about the Act, or donating a conservation easement.
From the Board Room
Loyal Founding Members
While going through some old files, I came across a copy of a letter with Placer Land Trust’s original Board of Directors and a partial membership list dated October 1991, the very year in which Placer Land Trust was incorporated.
Among those founding members, I recognized some very familiar names …founding members who are still active PLT members today:
Bruce & Celia Broadwell
Graeme & Debra Plant
Dean Prigmore & Patrice Taylor
I called some of our loyal founding members and asked if there was an event or a vulnerable piece of land that brought everyone together to form the Trust in 1991.
What I found was that, rather than one particular event or property, each person had personal and differing reasons to be involved in the formation of the Trust. The result has been that they created an organization in which their legacy will be a permanent gift of land preservation for the benefit of future generations forever.
Celia Broadwell told me there seemed to be a growing concern for the environment and forming a land trust appealed to her deep respect for the land.
Dean Prigmore was a land use planner whose principal intention was to preserve some of Placer County’s open spaces, so the land trust concept greatly appealed to him.
Patrice Taylor was on the original steering committee for Placer Land Trust & Nature Center, and is still very involved with Placer Nature Center today.
I’m sure there are other founding members who are still active; I only have a partial list. If there are others, we’d like to know who you are.
We salute your commitment to the land and thank you for your continuing loyalty to Placer Land Trust.
— Patricia Callan-McKinney
Has your annual membership expired?
Your PLT membership expiration date is printed on your address label. If your 2005-2006 membership has expired, please take a moment today to send us your annual contribution using the enclosed response card. With your help, Placer Land Trust has worked with willing landowners and conservation partners to preserve over 2,500 acres of natural and agricultural land in Placer County for future generations. (If, however, you no longer wish to renew your Placer Land Trust membership, please let us know and we’ll stop sending you Land Lines and renewal requests.)
Here’s hoping you’ll stay part of the team … thank you!
Skip Outman Joins Placer Land Trust Board of Directors
Retired Teacher, Local Realtor, Horseman, Endurance Runner,
and Rancher “on board”
Placer Land Trust is very pleased to announce the newest member of our Board of Directors, Skip Outman.
Skip was elected to the Placer Land Trust Board of Directors in September. Skip is an award-winning realtor with over 15 years of local experience with Lyon Real Estate in Auburn. He has been Lyon’s top agent in Auburn for the past three years. Skip and his son specialize in ranches and large open space parcels in Placer and Nevada counties.
“Skip is intimately familiar with the types of open space landscapes that PLT values so much,” said PLT Executive Director Jeff Darlington. “His experience as a realtor, teacher and rancher make him a real asset to our organization.”
Skip came to Auburn in 1968 and has seen many changes to Placer County’s landscape.
“Our area is under increasing pressure from urban sprawl,” he said. “I have been, and continue to be, very concerned about the quality of life in Placer County.”
Skip and his wife live on a small ranch in north Auburn where they raise Quarter Horses and Longhorn cattle. He is a member of the California Farm Bureau, Texas Longhorn Breeders Association, National Cutting Horse Association, American Quarter Horse Association, and Nancy’s Running Club.
“All of us living in Placer County should be very grateful for our surroundings,” he said. “The opportunities are endless for outdoor recreation, and there are few places in the world that match the beauty of our environment. Our county has a rich history of agricultural excellence ranging from rice to beef production.”
Skip also taught school for 15 years in Placer County, first in Weimar and later at Sierra College in Rocklin. He also teaches other realtors, and has been an expert witness in arbitration hearings on land purchases and value.
He is active in the local endurance community, and runs several marathons each year … plus the odd triathalon every now and again. He recently ran a marathon for cancer research, securing over $3,000 in pledges.
“Placer Land Trust is doing a wonderful job for our county and it’s citizens,” Skip said. “I’d like to do all I can to help preserve what we have for future generations, and I feel honored to be a part of the Trust.”
Placer Land Trust Staff Additions
By Jeff Darlington
Placer Land Trust is also pleased to announce the addition of a new staff member and other staff changes that will increase our land conservation capacity.
First and foremost, Joselin Matkins joined PLT as our Stewardship Coordinator on October 2.
Joselin recently completed her Master of Science Degree from Oregon State University’s Dept. of Forest Science, focusing on forest ecology in riparian zones. She has a B.A. from the University of Colorado in Biology.
Joselin has worked for a land trust before, as an intern and then a GIS Coordinator for Wood River Land Trust in her native state of Idaho. She brings additional conservation easement monitoring experience to PLT, as well as experience in mapping, restoration, archiving, and working with volunteers and children.
She’s already hard at work monitoring the construction at the Auburn School Park Preserve, grant writing, and photo-documenting some of the many properties preserved by PLT. Welcome Joselin!
In September, after a year of exemplary service, Jessica Pierce was promoted to Operations Manager. Jessica’s skills and performance has far outpaced our expectations in her first year, and she’ll be taking on more responsibilities with this promotion. Congratulations Jessica!
And finally, thanks to Jessica’s hard work, PLT has been awarded an AmeriCorps intern for three years starting in February 2007.
AmeriCorps is a network of local, state, and national service programs that connects volunteers to nonprofits in education, public safety, health, and the environment. For 2007, 2008, and 2009, PLT will have a different intern each year to assist with land stewardship, volunteer coordination, and other essential functions. Other than a minimal annual stipend, the AmeriCorps internships are free for PLT.
PLT’s 5th Annual Placer Harvest Celebration
set for Nov. 4
Dinner and charity auction in Loomis with “livestock” on the auction block!
By Jessica Pierce
Placer Land Trust is proud to announce the 5th annual Harvest Celebration Dinner on Saturday, November 4, 2006 from 6:30 – 9:30 pm at the historic Blue Goose Fruit Packing Shed in Loomis.
The Placer Harvest Celebration highlights PLT’s support of Placer County’s agricultural heritage. Proceeds benefit PLT’s work to permanently preserve agricultural and natural lands in Placer County.
“This annual event is a great success,” said PLT Executive Director Jeff Darlington. “Each year our attendees enjoy fabulous dinner and a great time among friends, supporting our land conservation efforts.”
This year, PLT is excited to pair this event with an historic agricultural venue to highlight the importance of farming in Placer County. The historic Blue Goose Fruit Packing Shed will be the stage for a wholesome harvest dinner featuring locally grown farm and ranch products.
The South Placer Heritage Foundation and many Loomis area residents and business are renovating the historic fruit shed, which will be a fitting venue for the Placer Harvest Celebration.
In addition to gourmet dining, guests will be entertained by the wonderfully eclectic musical group – the Djunkyard Gypsies.
A live and silent auction will offer guests a chance to bid on such interesting donated items as Delta seaplane rides, local produce, fishing trips, spa treatments, live theater tickets, artwork, wine, gym memberships, and much more.
There may even be personal servants (“live stock”) on the auction block!
Admission is $50 per person; the dress is casual and there will be a no-host bar.
To get on the guest list, PLT must receive your RSVP by October 25 (tickets are not available at the door).
PLT members are of course encouraged to attend – we’d love to see you all there!
Family Farming & Ranching
Coffee Pot Ranch
By Nancyjo Riekse
Like a fast growing number of American carnivores, many families are opting out of the mega-feedlot meat system. They’re buying directly from local ranchers or farmers who raise meat animals the old fashioned way, on grassy pastureland.
There are just a few of these farmers and ranchers, and they are experiencing a surge in demand from consumers eager to find good meat, raised by people whose ranches they can visit and practices they can see.
These meats are found at Farmers’ Markets, local produce markets or through purchasing a share from the local ranchers. A “share” is a portion of the ranchers steer, pig or lamb, that can be purchased by the quarter at a time, or frozen and neatly wrapped as roasts, steaks and burgers, plus other cuts never seen in an American supermarket, (ones they’ve learned to give a long braise or a fast sizzle). A quirk of federal law makes it much easier for ranchers and farmers to sell shares of whole animals directly to consumers than other methods.
Coffee Pot Ranch is one of these ranches. They have built a loyal clientele for the hormone, steroid and antibiotic-free lamb, beef and pork raised on their 20-acre ranch in Sheridan.
Shirley Field and Bob Sorensen both come from a long family tradition of ranching, and they own/lease 35 acres in Sheridan where today they raise 15 cow & calf pairs, 20 sows and 30 ewes, along with Australian Shepherds.
They use no hormones, antibiotics or steroids on any of the animals raised for meat, and their closed herd guarantees that it is free of BSE (mad cow disease).
Bob and Shirley are proud of the high quality and great taste of their meat, and their growing production and sales attest to its popularity. They fill many special orders for weddings, religious and other celebrations, and you can enjoy their meat at Winchester Country Club in Meadow Vista, The Ridge in Auburn, and Ristorante Buonarroti in Lincoln.
Coffee Pot Ranch pork is available year-round, and lamb is available from April-Nov. Beef will be available again in Nov-Dec, but you’d better get your orders in now, as wise shoppers know to order ahead. Bob and Shirley are also happy to share their favorite recipes! (See photo above for contact info.)
Note: This is part of an ongoing series highlighting the value of local agricultural lands and the landowners who work those lands. Nancyjo Riekse is the Agricultural Marketing Director for Placer County, owner of Food to Dine For, and a member of numerous sustainable agricultural associations, along with being on the Boards of PlacerGROWN and the Slow Food Placer Gold Convivium. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Botanical Biography: Vinegarweed
By Mehrey Vaghti
When the annual grasslands of western Placer County are golden brown and cooked to a crisp come August, it is an intriguing sight to see vinegarweed emerging green and odiferous.
In fall, striking purple flowers with strongly exerted style and stamens add color to the fields.
Vinegarweed (Trichostema lanceolatum) is an annual in the Mint family (Lamiaceae) distributed throughout California in non-desert regions below 1,000 feet of elevation, as well as in Oregon and Baja California.
Research has shown that leaf vapors and extracted oil inhibit the germination of soft chess (Bromus hordeaceus), a common nonnative annual grass in California.
Ethnobotanical uses of vinegarweed include infusion of leaves used as a wash for typhoid fever, ground leaves rubbed on the skin for pain relief, decoction of plant used for infected sores and stomachaches, and plants used in bedding to repel fleas.
Vinegarweed can be viewed flowering from late August through October in grasslands such as Swainson’s Grassland Preserve (permanently preserved by Placer Land Trust), or along roadsides.
Note: This is part of an ongoing series highlighting some of the many native plants found in Placer County.
PLT Receives Acquisition Funding from
State Resources Agency
By Joselin Matkins
PLT is one of 15 recipients of the Sierra Nevada Cascade Conservation Grant Program, netting $1.4 million in State funding to protect 641 acres of oak woodlands in the Coon Creek and Bear River watersheds.
The “Sierra Cascade” funding is from Prop 50, and together with other public and private grants should allow PLT to work with the landowners to preserve the land by July 2007.
Matching funds for the 641-acre project have been pledged to PLT by the California Wildlife Foundation, the Wildlife Conservation Board, the Environmental Enhancement & Mitigation Program, the Trust for Public Land, and Emigrant Trails Greenway Trust.
PLT hosted the “Sierra Cascade” awards announcement on September 29, which was made by California Resources Agency Secretary Mike Chrisman on the banks of Coon Creek north of Auburn.
Disappearing Landscapes Art Sale draws Support
By Jessica Pierce
The first annual Disappearing Landscapes Art Event & Sale drew great support from artists and art patrons alike. The show opened on August 10 with a private members-only reception in conjunction with the Auburn Art Walk, and ran through Oct. 4.
“The members-only reception was a great way for PLT to say ‘thank you’ to our members for their lasting support,” said PLT Executive Director Jeff Darlington.
PLT encouraged local artists to enter artwork that reflected PLT’s preserved lands as well as other Placer County Landscapes. The gallery and the artists received most of the proceeds, but PLT received over $3,000 for our continued land conservation efforts.
“Special thanks go to the Arts Council of Placer County, the Arts Building Gallery, Sandy Wythawai Starbird, and all the contributing artists,” said Mehrey Vaghti, event organizer. “Most importantly we’d like to thank those individuals and business that supported the show through the purchase of local art.”
Phase 2 of Construction Begins at
Auburn School Park Preserve
If you have been visiting the old town Auburn area, you may have noticed that construction at the Auburn School Park Preserve has recently resumed!
The City of Auburn and US. Army Corps of Engineers are now in the second phase of construction for this community park. Phase 2 of construction is scheduled to last for the next 7-8 months.
The main objective of Phase 2 is the “daylighting” of the historic Lincoln Creek, which is currently piped underground on the property.
Fortunately most of the work during Phase 2 will not effect PLT’s conservation easement. The entire easement boundary is and will be fenced for the duration of the work. PLT staff and volunteers in coordination with professional arborists are monitoring construction activities daily to ensure the safety of each tree within the easement boundary.
If you have any questions or concerns please contact Joselin Matkins, PLT’s new Stewardship Coordinator.
Executive Director’s Report
A Small Town with a Wide Open Future
We must all hang together or assuredly we shall all hang separately.
— Benjamin Franklin
Big Ben knew what he was talking about when he signed the Declaration of Independence: you gotta work together to get ahead. Along the same lines, PLT knows that cooperation and partnerships are the keys to successful land conservation.
In addition to working with other nonprofits, PLT works with local government in the implementation of cooperative open space protection efforts. For example, PLT has been working with Placer County for five years to meet the mutual goals of PLT and the Placer Legacy Open Space & Agricultural Conservation Program.
Recently, another local government entity has affirmed its commitment to protect the rural quality of life in Placer County.
The Town of Loomis has set up an Open Space Committee to advise the Town on open space conservation issues within the Town limits. Earlier this year, the Town approached PLT with the idea of creating a public-private partnership to jump-start land conservation efforts in the Town of Loomis and the surrounding areas (collectively, the “Loomis Basin”).
As I told the Town Council last month, it is very rare for a local city or town to make such a commitment, and PLT is happy to partner with the Town of Loomis on open space and public park projects in the Loomis Basin.
PLT recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Town of Loomis to work together to protect the area’s beautiful foothill landscapes, including the unique granite outcroppings, local streams, and diverse oak woodlands
If you live in the Loomis area, or support the idea of protecting the rural landscape in and around Loomis, please give PLT a call to find out how you can help. Remember … if we care about future generations and the legacy of land we leave them, we need to hang together.