Bailey family history honored through conservation
Placer Land Trust is very pleased to announce that in early April it acquired 40 acres of gorgeous land along the North Fork American River at the bottom of the Green Valley Trail, south of Interstate 80 at Alta.
The land was donated by the family and heirs of Matt & Betty Bailey, and will be permanently protected as natural and recreational land. The property is named ‘Bailey North Fork Preserve’ not only in honor of the land donation, but also in recognition of the Bailey family’s multi-generational work to protect the American River.
“Our connections to the North Fork American River span a long period time and run deep,” said Heidi Youmans, one of the Bailey heirs who donated the land to PLT. “Our family places importance on the value of natural landscapes and the multitude of ways such places contribute to quality of life for current and future generations. Donating this land to Placer Land Trust is simply the right thing to do.”
Matt and Betty Bailey were leaders of a decades-long effort in the 60s and 70s to protect the North Fork American River, culminating in 1978 when a 38-mile stretch of the river was awarded with the National Wild & Scenic River designation.
“This area of California has a rich history, from Native American stewardship through the Gold Rush to its function today as a beautiful and sacred spot to many who visit the American River canyon,” said PLT Executive Director Jeff Darlington. “We are indebted to those who came before us, including the Bailey family, for their work to protect our natural wonders and pass them down for future generations.”
Bailey North Fork Preserve can be visited by the public anytime, as it is surrounded by public land and situated near the end of the Green Valley Trail in Alta. Views of Lover’s Leap and the river gorge make the public trail to the property a popular one.
The Green Valley Trail was protected for the public by the Towle family of Alta, who worked with Placer Legacy to protect over 200 acres of adjacent land. The Towles donated a trail easement over the Green Valley Trail to Placer County in 2003, as well as a conservation easement to permanently protect the adjacent land. Bailey North Fork Preserve is also bordered by federal land managed by BLM and the US Forest Service.
“This is another step in a broad effort to protect the wild and scenic North Fork American River near Giant Gap,” said Darlington. “This has been a priority of PLT since 2003, and we’re thrilled that the Bailey family was able to donate this land.”
PLT will manage the land as ‘forever wild’ open space open and accessible to the public. As its first act upon taking title to the property, PLT staff and a volunteer crew from the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) hiked down to the property to pack out 280 pounds of trash from the river, trail, and adjacent public lands. The following week, PLT hosted a dedication hike with river friends and Bailey family members, who together dedicated the preserve to the public in honor of Matt & Betty Bailey.
Funding for the ongoing stewardship of the property was obtained primarily through a grant from the Emigrant Trails Greenway Trust, along with pooled contributions from PLT members.
“The protection of this property was due solely to individual generosity,” said Darlington. “First: the generosity of the Bailey family for caring for the land and the river and ultimately donating the land to PLT. Second: the generosity of PLT members, whose individual donations were tapped to fund the costs associated with the transaction (membership dues paid for the appraisal due diligence, legal review, escrow fees, etc.). And third: the generosity of the directors at Emigrant Trails Greenway Trust for donating funding so we have the ongoing resources to care for the property in perpetuity.”
PLT continues to work with other private landowners up and down the American River to ensure this special place is protected, forever.