Placer Land Trust turns 20
By Karrie Thomas
20 years ago Placer Land Trust began to incrementally protect the corners of Placer County that provide the nourishment and inspiration that make Placer County the best place on earth.
In 1991 Placer Land Trust & Nature Center (PLT/PNC) formed from a small group of people with a sincere concern about Placer County’s rapid growth. Without careful consideration, development could compromise the rural quality of life we still enjoy here today. These people decided to stand up and help shape the future of our community.
We started small: in 1991 the complete list of “all persons interested in PLT/PNC” included just 44 people.
During the 90s, the organization’s focus was on the Placer Nature Center, which became the successful environmental education center it is today. However, during that time, the land conservation effort languished. Ten years after our founding, PLT/PNC had only protected 78 acres, and we were down to 11 individual contributors supporting land conservation.
With generous support from Emigrant Trails Greenway Trust, the Resources Legacy Fund and other funders, in 2001 and 2002 PLT/PNC underwent intense organizational assessment and redevelopment, including soliciting input from the community on how to better serve the public.
As a result, in 2002, Placer Land Trust and the Placer Nature Center split into two separate nonprofit organizations to better focus on two complimentary missions: 1) to protect the valued natural and agricultural lands of Placer County, and 2) ensure that its residents understand the benefits of our natural environment.
The split of the two organizations proved to be incredibly successful for both organizations, and a catalyst for Placer Land Trust. During the past ten years, PLT went from an all-volunteer effort to a staffed and professional organization, and the pace of land conservation increased dramatically.
Fast forward to today … in 2011, we’ve protected 7,171 acres of Placer County’s natural wonders forever
Natural Wonders Forever
For the upcoming 20 years, Placer Land Trust is introducing a new brand: Natural Wonders Forever.
We’ve included this brand as a tagline with our logo, and retitled our print newsletter accordingly. But wait … what the heck is a natural wonder, you ask? Here’s a definition according to Placer Land Trust:
nat•u•ral won•der (noun)
a consumable item or state of mind produced in Placer County by clean water, clean air, wide open spaces and responsible land stewardship. <i.e., “this here mandarin orange is a bona fide natural wonder!>
We’re dedicated to ensuring that the many natural wonders of Placer County are protected for you, for your kids … forever.
From the Board Room
Natural Wonders Forever Endowment
By Larry Welch
On the first day of spring, Placer Land Trust renewed its commitment to permanently protect our natural and agricultural lands for future generations.
Placer Land Trust has established the Natural Wonders Forever Endowment Fund at the Placer Community Foundation to provide a secure and sustainable source of annual earnings needed to manage and steward protected land … forever.
“This endowment fund will grow over time with investments from the trust and from community members,” said Jeff Darlington, PLT Executive Director. “When you contribute through the Natural Wonders Forever endowment fund, you become part of a community effort to protect our rural heritage and quality of life.”
Placer Land Trust made an initial gift of $100,000 to start the fund.
Establishing the fund at the Placer Community Foundation furthered a partnership that has grown between the two organizations over the years. Members of the respective boards of directors have worked together on philanthropic projects such as the Auburn School Park Preserve, and Placer Land Trust’s fundraising campaign to acquire the 1,773-acre Bruin Ranch on the Bear River.
“It made sense to open the Natural Wonders Forever fund at the Placer Community Foundation because they are a trusted, local resource for donors and they offer the financial stewardship necessary to manage endowment funds such as ours,” said Fred Yeager, President of the PLT Board.
Endowment funds work by investing the principal of a charitable gift—using only the interest to make grants in the community. For the Natural Wonders Forever fund, the result is a pool of gifts that continue to grow and support the work of Placer Land Trust for generations to come.
“Our board believes in the work of Placer Land Trust,” said Jeff Birkholz, Chairman of the Board for Placer Community Foundation. “We are very pleased to be the charitable conduit for people to support their work. Through this fund Placer Land Trust can continue to preserve the natural landscapes we all enjoy in Placer County.”
To donate to the Natural Wonders Forever Fund visit www.placercf.org or call the Placer Community Foundation at (530) 885-4920.
New SNAP Intern Profiles
From Iowa and Virginia to little ol’ PLT
Welcome Becki Hoehn and Erin Tarr!
By Jessica Pierce
Sierra Nevada Americorps Partnership (SNAP) volunteers Erin Tarr and Becki Hoehn started working at Placer Land Trust in January and have hit the ground running with managing restoration projects and leading this year’s spring tour series.
New PLT Stewardship Assistant Erin Tarr grew up camping and hiking in the outdoors of Cedar Falls, Iowa. Shortly after high school she moved to Alma, Colorado, and worked in Breckenridge amid shredding Copper Mountain and other Colorado resorts. Soon after she moved West to discover the Sierra Nevada Mountains and complete her education in Environmental Studies where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Sacramento State University.
“I discovered Placer Land Trust and was very excited to work for a local conservation organization that is doing so much great work,” said Erin. “I was also eager to find an internship which combined my two favorite professional interests: plants and Geographical Information Systems (GIS).” Erin intends to pursue both of these interests after her internship with Placer Land Trust concludes in November. Erin lives with her family in Folsom, including her husband Kacy of 12 years, 8-year old daughter Savannah and 5-year son Kaden.
New PLT Outreach Assistant Becki Hoehn comes to us from Reston, Virginia. She received her BA in biotechnology from James Madison University nestled in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley where she developed her love of the outdoors. Becki recently returned stateside after completing her Masters in Environmental Resource Management at the University of Malta.
When asked what brought Becki to Placer Land Trust from Malta, Becki commented, “I completed my thesis comparing textile agricultural assessments and was intrigued by the research being conducted in California. Also, my love for the ocean helped make Placer County a great location and excuse to be closer to the coast.”
No stranger to coastal towns, Becki completed a cycling trip last year from New Orleans, Louisiana, to St. Augustine, Florida.
Becki is also an avid tri-athelete which makes Auburn – the Endurance Capital of the World – a perfect location for her internship.
We couldn’t be more thrilled to have these two amazing Americorps interns eager to work with Placer Land Trust this year, and we continue to be so very grateful for the SNAP program bringing Americorps internships to the nonprofit sector in the Sierra Nevada region.
I encourage all of you to get to know Erin and Becki and their interesting backgrounds during our Treasured Landscapes Tour Series this spring, or a volunteer appreciation event this fall, or by attending various outreach and stewardship events throughout the year – with they’re help, Placer Land Trust will certainly be “out and about” in Placer County and beyond, and I hope you get a chance to meet them.
Erin and Becki will be with us until November.
Thanks girls, and welcome!!!
Scout Teams with PLT to Improve Ranch Management
Happy Cows Get a Place (out from) Under the Sun
By Erin Tarr
A very exciting project is being undertaken on Placer Land Trust’s Swainson’s Grassland Preserve this year.
Neil Brickerhoff, a Boy Scout from Rocklin, has teamed with Placer Land Trust to earn his Eagle Scout badge while enhancing the habitat and function of the 469-acre Swainsons Grassland Preserve in Lincoln.
We will be working on the largest and western-most parcel of the property; this parcel is 387 acres and is currently used as cattle grazing land under contract to Greg Lawley (see article on page 6). Medium density vernal pool complexes also cover this property.
This volunteer project consists of planting around 30 trees in the corral area to offer shade for the cattle and to increase bird habitat. Neil has been working hard planting blue and valley oak acorns for transplant, recruiting volunteers, securing donations and drawing up plans for the project.
In addition to acorns we will also be using donated trees such as box elder, coffee berry and sycamore.
The trees will be protected from the cattle by construction of new electric fencing that will tie into the existing fence. Irrigation will also be installed to ensure the survival of the young trees.
This project is sure to be a success for Neil, Placer Land Trust, our grazing contractor … and the cattle too!
Monthly Bruin Ranch Tours
Scheduled for May-September
As Placer Land Trust solicits funding for Bruin Ranch “Phase 2” and recreation infrastructure, we are moving ahead planning public access at this magnificent property.
During 2011, it is our pleasure to offer a series of monthly docent-led tours on Bruin Ranch. RSVPs or written permission is required for any access to Bruin Ranch until public recreation amenities are installed and public access is safe and sustainable.
The docent-led tours will take place the first Saturday of every month starting May 7th until September 3rd, with the possibility of extending into the fall depending on the weather.
Trained volunteer docents knowledgeable about the unique natural, agricultural and cultural traits of this Bear River property will lead each tour. Placer Land Trust looks forward to providing a variety of different experiences at Bruin Ranch throughout the summer.
If you are interested in becoming a docent, please contact Becki Hoehn at (530) 887-9222 or firstname.lastname@example.org; trainings will take place on April 22nd and May 7th.
Grasslands of California’s Central Valley
Interview with PLT grazing contractor Greg Lawley
By Mehrey Vaghti
This is the final of a four-part series on grassland ecology and management.
I met recently with Greg Lawley, Placer Land Trust’s grazing contractor at Swainsons Grassland Preserve in rural Lincoln, to ask him about his work on and off PLT property.
PLT: Do you have an occupation in addition to raising cattle?
Greg: I am currently Chief of the Bureau of Livestock Identification, California Department of Food and Agriculture which runs the State’s brand registration and inspection program. I’ve held this position since 2002. I have worked for the California Department of Food & Agriculture for about 23 years.
PLT: Being Chief of Livestock Identification must give you a good read on the cattle industry.
Greg: Right now the industry is experiencing about a 70-year low in inventory – and a corresponding record high price for product. The primary force driving the inventory reduction is the weather – the quantity of grass depends on rainfall. Some areas have reduced herds while others have not been able to support any animals.
PLT: What is your history on the Swainsons Grassland Preserve property?
Greg: My wife Karen and I moved to Placer County in 1978 from Madera County and started an Angus cattle business partnership. I also started grazing on this property in 1978. The Gates family, the original owner of the property lived for a time in the house across the highway – the one that was recently taken down near the barn.
PLT: Swainsons Grassland Preserve has high quality vernal pools and few problems with non-native invasive species such as yellow star thistle; that is a testament to your grazing management!
Greg: When the property went into conservation management I met with the environmental consultant who told me ‘whatever you’re doing, don’t stop.’ I think there are two key points. First, avoid overgrazing: (1) to prevent soil disturbance and thus the establishment of invasive weeds; and (2) to ensure an adequate supply of dry feed (grass cover) which provides seed for the next season. Second, provide an alternate water supply as the vernal pools dry down to prevent the animals from trampling the pools.
PLT: What is your perspective on conservation grazing and working with Placer Land Trust?
Greg: It has been a pleasure to work with Placer Land Trust. We have been working cooperatively to make improvements. It turns out my grazing management over the years has been supporting the conservation values on the property. Working with Placer Land Trust has provided the opportunity to learn the concepts behind conservation grazing and why certain practices give particular results.
[Part 1 of this series focused on past processes and composition of valley grasslands; Part 2 discussed present conditions and management. Part 3 featured an interview with another PLT grazing partner, Dan Macon.]
Earth Day Out and About
Every spring, Placer Land Trust staff and volunteers are busy with projects that get us out of the office. As usual in 2011, we’re crazy busy and we love it!
In addition to numerous restoration and enhancement projects (two of which are highlighted within), we will be at various locations in celebration of Earth Day.
On April 14, Janet Voris and Becki Hoehn coordinated volunteer tabling at the Sierra College Earth Day celebration in Rocklin.
On April 16, Becki and volunteers tabled at the Celebrate the Earth Festival at Mahany Park in Roseville.
On Earth Day, Friday, April 22, we’ll be at Bruin Ranch. With The Trust for Public Land, we’re extremely proud to have protected 1,773 acres of Bruin Ranch. We have a packed house for this event; due to space concerns we had to cap the number of attendees who are able to join us to enjoy the landscape and help us thank the funders who made the preservation of this spectacular property possible.
At this event, we will honor our community, including our key funders, for their support of the 1,773-acre acquisition. After the dedication ceremony we’ll also be hosting a number of tours on the property.
Just enjoying springtime in Placer County is worth the cost of admission to these events … that is, priceless!
I hope we see you out and about this spring. If the mood strikes you, send us a note – or a check – in appreciation of Placer Land Trust’s 20th Earth Day (1991-2011 and counting…). We always enjoy hearing from our members!