PLT Recieves Accreditation from
National Land Trust Accreditation Commission
By Jessica Pierce
The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, announced last week that Placer Land Trust has been awarded accredited status, making us the first land trust in the Sierra to receive this distinct honor.
“Placer Land Trust’s accredited status demonstrates our commitment to best management practices and permanent land conservation,” said Jeff Darlington, Executive Director. “We are a stronger organization today having gone through the rigorous accreditation program.”
Placer Land Trust was one of only three land trusts awarded accreditation in California, and 39 across the nation, putting us in the top 1% of land trusts in the nation.
Only accredited land trusts can display the official seal indicating that they meet national standards for excellence, uphold the public trust, and ensure that conservation efforts are permanent. The seal is a mark of distinction in land conservation.
The Land Trust Accreditation Commission awards the accreditation seal to community institutions that meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever. The Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance established in 2006, is governed by a volunteer board of diverse land conservation and nonprofit management experts from around the country. More information is available on the Commission’s website, www.landtrustaccreditation.org.
California Wildlife Foundation Receives
By Jeff Darlington
On the banks of Coon Creek in September, PLT presented the prestigious Placer Conservator Award to the California Wildlife Foundation for enriching the quality of life in Placer County through resource conservation.
The California Wildlife Foundation (CWF), based in Oakland, is a nonprofit foundation that works to protect the state’s rich diversity of wildlife species. CWF works with the State of California and with partner organizations like PLT to acquire, restore, and manage wildlife habitats that sustain healthy wildlife populations over time.
“My hat’s off to the California Wildlife Foundation” said PLT Executive Director Jeff Darlington. “They promote public-private partnerships that enrich and sustain communities across the state, including here in Placer County. The Foundation has been a big part of our recent successes in protecting 2,000 acres of the iconic oak woodland landscapes associated with our region.”
PLT presented the Placer Conservator Award at the Placer Harvest Celebration, held this year at the Taylor Ranch Preserve, a 321-acre working landscape and oak woodlands preserve north of Auburn. CWF provided the vision and a portion of the funding for PLT to permanently protect Taylor Ranch Preserve in 2007. Other partners included Placer County, the Trust for Public Land, and the State of California.
CWF has partnered with PLT and Placer County to protect other important lands in Placer County – 2,000 acres in all. This acreage provides critical habitat for an incredibly rich diversity of wildlife, and provides other public benefits such as water quality protection, sustainable agriculture, and public recreation access.
CWF Board members Ellen Maldonado and Hal Browder and Executive Officer Janet Cobb accepted the award – a framed photograph of the Taylor Ranch oak woodlands by local artist Larry Brenden.
The United Auburn Indian Community (UAIC) and Thunder Valley Casino sponsored this event along with other local businesses and organizations that appreciate the importance of land conservation to our local quality of life.
At the event, Shelley McGinnis from the UAIC, Kevin Hunting from the California Dept. of Fish & Game, and Placer County Supervisor Jim Holmes also shared words of praise for the leadership of CWF and PLT in land conservation in Placer County.
Past recipients of the Placer Conservator award, Janice Forbes of the Placer Community Foundation, Joanne Neft of PlacerGROWN, and PLT President Fred Yeager, former director of the Placer County Planning Department also attended.
Placer Land Trust Staff at Rally
By Karrie Thomas
Thanks to the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation and the Sierra Cascade Land Trust Council, PLT sent its entire staff to Rally, the Land Trust Alliance (LTA) national conference in Pittsburgh, PA, in September. With over 1,700 participants, Rally attracts people involved in land conservation from all over the nation. PLT staff gleaned important lessons from presenters and other conferees alike through the four-day conference.
Leaving the daily grind behind in California, the staff took a step back to focus on the bigger picture. Having spent four days together considering current work and future direction, all returned inspired for the coming year.
PLT’s newly accreditated status earned the organization status as a guest of honor. 2008 is LTA’s first year offering accreditation.
From the Board Room
PLT Welcomes Jim Haagen-Smit to the Board
By Bob Gilliom
PLT is very pleased to welcome the newest member of it’s Board of Directors, Jim Haagen-Smit.
Jim recently retired from a 25-year career as a software engineer for Hewlett Packard in Roseville.
“Enjoying and protecting the outdoors is a major part of my life,” said Jim.
“Placer County is a special place – I’ve hiked and ridden bicycles all over Placer County and realized that many might not be around for future generations to enjoy without the help of Placer Land Trust and programs such as Placer Legacy. I’m honored to be able to help in this protection and increase public access to trails by serving on the board of Placer Land Trust.”
Through his involvement with various public agencies and private organizations Jim has improved the quality of life in Placer County. In addition to being a long-time member of Placer Land Trust, he has worked with the Placer County Parks & Trails Forum, Dry Creek Conservancy, the Auburn State Recreation Area, and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, among other groups.
Jim and his wife Cathy are avid cyclists and trail advocates who have put in countless hours of trail maintenance across the County. The Haagen-Smits live in Newcastle where they tend to a testy fruit orchard and enjoy the pastoral setting among local farms and ranches.
PLT’s 7th Annual Placer Harvest Celebration
By Jeff Darlington
On Saturday, September 27, PLT held the 7th annual Placer Harvest Celebration at the Taylor Ranch Preserve in Auburn.
Though capped at 100 due to parking concerns, event attendance hit triple digits while narrowly missing that in temperature!
Live music and the rushing of Coon Creek provided the background sounds, while Placer Nevada Cattlewomen prepared a scrumptious harvest dinner served with PlacerGROWN wine from Vina Castellano in Auburn, and beer from Beermann’s Beerwerks in Roseville.
Local naturalist and former Sierra College professor Joe Medeiros led a walking tour of Coon Creek and the oak woodlands at Taylor Ranch, with assistance from PLT’s Jeff Ward and Justin Wages.
After dinner, PLT staff led a program honoring some of the volunteers who make PLT successful.
PLT’s Operations Manager, Jessica Pierce, also announced PLT’s recent accreditation by the national Land Trust Accreditation Commission.
The Placer Harvest Celebration raises funds for Placer Land Trust to work with willing landowners to permanently protect family farms and ranches, wildlife habitat and open space in Placer County.
Thanks to the United Auburn Indian Community and Thunder Valley Casino for their sponsorship of this event, and thanks to all of the event sponsors who made this year’s Placer Harvest Celebration possible.
To all the volunteers who made the event a success, and to everyone who came out to enjoy one of the last best days of summer: we are extremely grateful. Hosting the event outside at one of our preserves made this years Harvest Celebration particularly memorable!
Volunteer & Land Steward of the Year
By Jessica Pierce
At the Placer Harvest Celebration on September 27th, PLT announced our 2008 Volunteer and Land Steward of the Year awards.
Our Volunteer of the Year, Lea Bartels, came from Germany for the summer to stay with her boyfriend’s grandparents, long-time PLT members and local Auburn residents Al & Alienne Thym.
Not wanting to sit around for a month, Lea sought out volunteer opportunities. Alienne suggested that she contact PLT, and she was a perfect fit!
An Environmental Studies student in Hamburg, Lea focused her energy on habitat management. Lea spent more than four weeks here assisting us with everything from invasive species removal and restoration at Stagecoach Preserve to filing and data entry in the office. She was uber efficient and great to have around the office.
Lea has since returned to Germany but remains the best volunteer summer intern PLT has ever had. We wish her lots of luck and hope she returns next summer!
Our Land Steward of the Year is 18-year Newcastle resident and retired Sacramento State Geology Professor, Karl Mertz. After an early retirement, Karl became interested in land conservation and in the land trust movement.
For the past year Karl has worked tirelessly with our staff on nearly every aspect of stewardship including annual monitoring of our preserves, baseline documentation reporting, and habitat restoration to name just a few. He even assisted with beaver dam removal on Doty Preserve. Karl brings both his excellent professional experience to PLT as well as a strong commitment to this community and land conservation.
PLT Welcomes Karrie Thomas, Fund Development Coordinator
By Jessica Pierce
Placer Land Trust is very pleased to welcome Karrie Thomas to its staff.
Hired in October 2008, Karrie is Placer Land Trust’s first Fund Development Coordinator. This position raises funds for Placer Land Trust to support the Trust’s land conservation efforts and long-term sustainability.
Before joining Placer Land Trust, Karrie worked with the Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) from 2001-2008.
As Program Director of CAFF’s Community Food Systems program she helped define and expand Farm-to-School in California, now a nation-wide movement to bring healthy food and farm education to schools.
She and her team also developed Buy Fresh Buy Local, a social marketing campaign promoting local food from local farms and created the Growers’ Collaborative, a regional distributor of locally grown foods.
After a two-year stint as a fundraising consultant, she returned to CAFF as Program Administration and Development Coordinator, fundraising for the Biological Agriculture program.
“Karrie stood out as a candidate for the position because she not only has excellent fundraising and marketing skills, but she also has passion and experience in the agricultural land acquisition movement,” said PLT Executive Director Jeff Darlington. “We wholeheartedly welcome Karrie to the staff!”
In addition to her nonprofit work, Karrie spent many years managing diversified organic farms in Massachusetts, Washington, and California, and cooking in fine kitchens around the west.
She is a graduate of Colorado College with a degree in Anthropology.
“When I was farming outside of Seattle, we watched the sprawl spill over the hill, threatening to cover our valley with houses in place of fields,” said Karrie, “the urgency of open space and agricultural land protection really hit home. Now that I live and play in the Sierra foothills, I am thrilled to be part of the team at Placer Land Trust helping preserve the places I love close to home.”
PLT Open House
By Fred Yeager
Come January, PLT staff will have grown to four staff, two Americorp volunteers, three contractors, and a volunteer.
Our old office – designed for three people – was simply too small, so PLT moved to a new office in the Creekside office complex in Auburn on October 1.
Please join PLT’s Board of Directors and staff for an Open House:
Thursday, Nov. 13, 5:30-7pm
The event will be held at our new office location:
11661 Blocker Drive, Suite 110
Auburn, CA 95603
Drop by for PlacerGROWN hors d’ouvres and refreshments to warm up our new space and celebrate our growing success.
I hope you can join us!
Local Students Support Homeless Birds
By Justin Wages
On an unusually cold and windy Sunday morning a group of 5th graders from Auburn Elementary School and students from Sierra College huddled for warmth at Placer Land Trust’s Doty Ravine Preserve.
Located in Lincoln, this working rangeland hosts endangered riparian/wetland habitat and vernal pool complexes.
The students – mostly girls – pulled up their multi-colored socks and zipped up their hoodies in an effort to ward off the cold as they concentrated on a very serious task… creating homes for birds without the luxury of safe nesting sites.
Many native bird species are in decline or struggling to reach their population levels prior to large scale development and habitat alteration.
Armed with cordless drills, 8-foot steel T-Posts and an assortment of species-specific nesting boxes (some nearly as large as the child carrying them), the students stiffened their resolve and, their backs against the cold wind, headed off into the grassland to install the nesting boxes, which were generously donated by the Sierra Foothills Audubon Society.
As the day progressed and the finishing touches were put on each nesting box our energetic teams learned about vernal pools and their importance to migrating birds.
On the walk back to the cars, young scholars instructed their fellow students on vernal pool ecology, something to the effect of “vernal pools are like McDonalds to traveling birds and fairy shrimp are like chicken McNuggets. How would you like to travel thousands of miles with no chicken McNuggets to eat or nesting boxes to rest in? DUH!”
They may be short in stature, but young people loom tall in current and future restoration work and should not be ignored.
Thanks to Gary Wells and all the kids who came out to support the birds!
By Jeff Ward
As stewards of the land, Placer Land Trust has an obligation to ensure that the conservation values of our easements – such as open space, oak woodland habitat, and land supporting the health of local watersheds – are protected in perpetuity.
Beyond basic preservation of open space, we have the opportunity to enhance, restore, and better manage the properties that we own and the habitats on these properties.
To this end, PLT is expanding our habitat management and restoration program. In addition to preserving these properties and providing public benefit, we also provide suitable wildlife habitat and properly managed ecosystems.
For example, since obtaining the rights to graze Doty Ravine Preserve last year, PLT has restored grassland, vernal pool habitat, and riparian areas on this 427-acre property in rural Lincoln. Our grazing contractors implement an intensive targeted grazing regime to manage medusahead and other invasive species. These practices reduce thatch accumulation allowing native grasses to re-establish, reduce fire hazard, and to provide better forage for raptors like the threatened Swainson’s hawk. Reducing thatch also restores the natural hydrology of vernal pool ecosystems on the preserve.
During the 2008 grazing season, our grazing contractors have removed approximately 260,000 pounds of forage from Doty Ravine Preserve.
PLT has partnered with biologists to study the vernal pool habitat on this preserve and evaluate the condition of these ecosystems. With Westervelt Ecological Services PLT is restoring 20 acres of riparian habitat along Doty Ravine, including the removal of non-native invasive species like Himalayan blackberry.
Doty Ravine Preserve also benefitted from a recent field day where PLT staff and volunteers installed bird boxes for Western bluebirds, wood ducks, American kestrels, and ash-throated flycatchers providing nesting opportunities for these species.
On a separate project, this spring PLT received grant funding from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy to support a model habitat restoration project at the 50-acre Canyon View Preserve in Auburn. The project has begun restoring five acres of riparian and stream habitat along Sierra Canyon Creek, which flows directly into the North Fork of the American River.
Thus far, staff have removed Himalayan blackberry from a one-mile stretch of the riparian corridor. Next, hydrologists will begin stream bed enhancement and stabilization of Sierra Canyon Creek to improve water quality and reduce erosion and sediment flow into the North Fork.
Next spring, the California Conservation Corps will construct a fire break and remove woody debris reducing fuel loads in the oak woodlands. Additionally, with the goal of restoring 15 acres of open grassland by removing and managing invasive species, sheep grazing will begin reducing the yellow starthistle on the Preserve.
PLT is currently seeking additional funding to expand habitat restoration and construct an interpretive trail on Canyon View Preserve.
In addition to our existing land stewardship program, PLT is also developing partnerships with agencies like the Placer County Resource Conservation District to prioritize and implement future habitat management and restoration projects on our properties.
If you are interested in getting involved or volunteering at future work days please contact Jeff Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-887-9222.
Rich Ferreira Named New Stewardship Chair
By Jeff Darlington
PLT is pleased to announce that PLT Board member Rich Ferreira will take over as Chair of PLT’s Stewardship Committee.
A long-time PLT Board member, Rich owns and operates Side Hill Citrus Farm, an organic mandarin orchard, and Circle Welding, both in rural Lincoln. He is a graduate of American River College and a Board member of the Lincoln High School Farm Foundation. Rich is a lifelong resident of Placer County.
The stewardship committee will benefit from Rich’s veteran experience and knowledge of land management in Placer County.
Rich replaces Mehrey Vaghti who has stepped down from the PLT Board of Directors this past August in order to spend more time with family. Mehrey served on the PLT Board and as the Stewardship Chair for five years. We thank Mehrey for her many contributions, wish her much luck on her future endeavors, and hope to continue to see her around!
If you are interested in serving as a volunteer on the Stewardship Committee, please contact Jeff Ward at email@example.com or 530-887-9222.
Executive Director’s Report
Help Develop PLT’s Strategic Direction
With PLT recently attaining accreditation status, and with the economy and real estate market in distress, now is an ideal time to revisit our land conservation focus.
In the 17 years since our inception, PLT has protected 4,654 acres in Placer County. With each decision to preserve a piece of land, we must consider how it will impact the community and improve this place for future generations. What types of land should we preserve, and where?
As reported from our stewardship desk, with this land often comes the responsibility of managing wildlife, habitat, open space, and public access. This expanding aspect of our work demands thoughtful plans to ensure that the most benefit comes from each preserved property. What about Placer County is most important to you?
On a daily basis we work to preserve valuable lands and sustain their function as wilderness, working lands, or open space. We also have an opportunity to share many of the places we preserve and help the community appreciate their value. How can we make preserved lands and the concept of conservation more accessible to a broader group of residents?
How can we best serve Placer County? As an organization sustained by the community and serving the community, we need your input.
In the coming months we will begin gathering information from our members and partners to help inform a more formalized strategic planning process. If you have thoughts that you would like to share, please send them to us at our new address, send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or give us a call at 530-887-9222. We’d love to hear from you!