Popular Rafting and Kayaking Destination Protected Forever
Photo: Ian Buckley
WEIMAR, CA – Placer Land Trust has teamed with the Emigrant Trails Greenway Trust to acquire another 160 acres of land on the North Fork American River at Gillis Hill,guaranteeing a five-mile stretch of the river stays forever wild and scenic.
“This is the only private parcel on the river for miles in either direction,” said Placer Land Trust’s Executive Director Jeff Darlington. “Protecting this property from development ensures that a five-mile stretch – from above the Colfax Iowa Hill Bridge downstream past Indian Creek and Shirttail Creek all the way to Yankee Jim’s Bridge – will remain wild and scenic, forever.”
The “Mergen North Fork Preserve” borders existing public land within the Auburn State Recreation Area along stretch of the North Fork American River containing Staircase Rapids, well known by rafters, kayakers, and other river enthusiasts. Emigrant Trails Greenway Trust (ETGT), a private philanthropic foundation, partnered with Placer Land Trust to protect this property from residential development within the canyon.
“Protecting this critical portion of the watershed strengthens national wild and scenic values upstream, and water quality downstream,” said Patty Schifferle, ETGT Trustee. “This purchase connects substantial investments along the North Fork American River where habitat corridors and scenic corridors are critical to our community.”
ETGT funding was augmented by funds from Placer Land Trust’s wetlands mitigation account (funded by Placer County Water Agency) as well as support from over 700 land trust members. Placer Land Trust purchased the property from Paul & Joy Mergen for $175,000.
The North Fork American River has long been an area of special interest and continues to be a priority for Placer Land Trust, due in large part to its popularity as a recreation destination.
“Placer Land Trust, by making this purchase, has ensured that this land and river frontage will be protected for future generations,” said Deric Rothe, owner of Sierra Whitewater Inc, a rafting company based in Auburn. “The North Fork of the American River is critical to the whitewater rafting industry and is a valuable asset to the community as a whole.”
Additionally, the American River provides substantial domestic water for Placer County and the surrounding region, and Placer Land Trust has an interest in keeping that water clean and free from runoff, erosion, and sedimentation. The Trust does that by working with willing landowners like the Mergen family to prevent development and other harmful land uses in the canyons from polluting local waterways.
Find out more about Mergen North Fork Preserve