PLT Saves 16-acre Cisco Grove Gould Park
By Jeff Darlington
On December 29, 2004, Placer Land Trust acquired and preserved 16 acres of Sierra Nevada forest along the South Fork Yuba River in Cisco Grove.
The preservation of this property, the “Cisco Grove Gould Park”, represents two important firsts for PLT. It is our first project in the Yuba River watershed, and our first project in direct collaboration with the Placer Legacy Open Space & Agricultural Conservation Program (“Placer Legacy”).
The Gould property has a rich history. The southern route of the overland emigrant trail to Sutter’s Fort is located nearby, and to this day the property remains a popular spot for recreation and exploration along historic emigrant routes.
The property was originally owned by the “Big Four” of California (Leland Stanford, Mark Hopkins, Charles Crocker, and Collis Huntington), famous for their influence on the shaping of the State of California. Near the end of the Gold Rush, the Big Four sold for the property to pioneer James Lewis Gould. Gould had recently created the Gold Run Ditch & Mining Company, and he wanted the property’s water rights to assist with his mining operations.
A historical monument on the property memorializes Gould, who in the 1860s named the local town “Cisco Grove” after the magnificent grove of cottonwood trees along the river. The cottonwood grove still stands on the site today.
During the 1930s, the mining operation was discontinued, and Auburn mason Les Hammond was commissioned to build two cabins on the property, which at that time was used for a gas station and market. Hammond used stone from Dutch Flat and petrified wood the Gold Run Diggings to build the cabins, which also remain on the site today.
The property was held by the Gould family until last year, when the family sold it to Placer Land Trust to ensure the permanent protection of the property’s historic, recreational, scenic, and natural values.
In addition to it’s historic significance, the property also contains excellent natural values as critical wildlife habitat.
Lying along the beautiful South Fork Yuba River between Hampshire Rocks Road and Interstate 80, the Gould property consists of mature Sierra montane riparian habitat, including some freshwater emergent wetlands, within in a coniferous forest of yellow pines, ponderosa pines, and cottonwoods. Many species of wildlife use the property for foraging and breeding.
The preservation of the property, initiated by the Goulds, was completed through an exceptional partnership between PLT and Placer Legacy, with funding support from the Emigrant Trails Greenway Trust, Placer County, and the State of California.
PLT transferred the property to Placer County to create the Cisco Grove Gould Park. The County has State grant funds lined up to construct a one-acre public park, picnic facilities, and trails. The balance of the property will be protected as a nature preserve.
To learn more about the Cisco Grove Gould Park, contact the Placer County Facility Services Dept. at (530) 886-4900.
PLT Permanently Protects
Auburn School Park Preserve
On December 17, 2004, Placer Land Trust and the City of Auburn recorded a conservation easement on the 4.3-acre Auburn School Park Preserve.
Conservation easements are legal documents (entered into voluntarily) that protect the conservation values of real property in perpetuity, and they are binding on all future landowners.
The Auburn School Park Preserve conservation easement held by PLT guarantees that this community park can never be developed or subdivided, and permanently protects the natural and scenic qualities of the park. The easement further outlines permitted and prohibited activities designed to protect the park’s three acres of oak woodlands. PLT now has the ongoing obligation to monitor the property annually to ensure the terms of the easement are enforced.
If you’re interested in helping PLT with annual monitoring, please give us a call at (530) 887-9222.
Giant Gap Project Receives Grant, Suffers Loss
By Bob Cooley-Gilliom
At the 2004 Placer Harvest Celebration in Lincoln, the United Auburn Indian Community (UAIC) awarded Placer Land Trust $50,000 to preserve wild and scenic land along the North Fork American River.
“The UAIC is very impressed with Placer Land Trust’s efforts to work with a variety of partners to preserve natural open spaces and access to the North Fork American River, and with the Trust’s continuing commitment to our environment,” said UAIC Community Giving Program Director Kristen Martin-Middleton.
The grant was made in support of PLT’s Giant Gap Project, an effort to preserve land within the North Fork American River Wild & Scenic Area near Alta.
The UAIC joins the Preserving Wild California Program and the Tides Foundation California Wildlands Grassroots Fund in providing funding support for the Giant Gap Project, a joint project of PLT and the American River Conservancy (ARC).
In other news related to the Giant Gap Project, PLT was greatly saddened at the passing of Jim Nichols in December. Jim worked diligently with PLT and ARC to preserve 135 acres of his land within the Wild & Scenic Area earlier last year.
love of the land will be sorely missed,” said PLT Executive Director Jeff Darlington. “He was very supportive of the Giant Gap Project, and the most fi tting tribute we can provide is to continue to protect land in this area. With the generous support of funders like the United Auburn Indian Community, we will carry on in Jim’s memory.”
From the Board Room
Central Valley Regional Land Trust Council
PLT is a member of several organizations that support the work of land conservation.
At the national level, we belong to the Land Trust Alliance. At the State level, we are founding members of the California Council of Land Trusts. At the regional level, PLT is a founding member of the Sierra Cascade Land Trust Council (SCLTC), representing 17 land trusts in the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountains. These organizations provide training, coordination, advocacy, and other support for local land trusts like PLT.
I’ve volunteered to sit on the steering committee for a new Central Valley Regional Land Trust Council. This is a regional effort led by the Great Valley Center to support land trusts in the Central Valley.
The goals of the Central Valley council are similar to those of the SCLTC: to build the capacity of local land trusts.
A major component of this capacity building is advocacy for funding and legislation supporting land conservation.
Individually, land trusts like PLT have little power in Sacramento and Washington, but united by regional, statewide, and national land trust “umbrella” groups, PLT can have input on decisions that affect our ability to conserve land.
Through funding advocacy and economies of scale, these umbrella groups benefit the bottom line of PLT and other local land trusts.
The new Central Valley council would also assist with training, networking, outreach and education, and collective legal support. The council would also make it easy for mature land trusts to share resources and core strengths with smaller land trusts.
Your membership support of PLT is leveraged in many ways, and I wanted to let you know that PLT has benefited greatly from our involvement in these umbrella groups over the years.
I look forward to the ongoing collaboration of land conservation efforts in the Central Valley, where our important working landscapes are most at risk.
Placer Harvest Celebration Draws a Crowd
180 Celebrate Local Agriculture and PLT’s Conservation Efforts
By Mark Perry
Placer Land Trust’s 3rd annual Placer Harvest Celebration was held Nov. 13 at Beermann’s Restaurant in Lincoln, benefiting PLT’s efforts to permanently preserve natural lands and working agricultural landscapes in Placer County.
Thank you to the 180 attendees, our generous auction item donors, volunteers, and to all who made this event such a great party! The event raised needed funds to protect important land in Placer County, including the Lincoln High School Farm.
For more event details, see our website: www.placerlandtrust.org/harvest.htm
Special thanks go out to Beermann’s Restaurant, Del Webb California, Placer County Board of Supervisors, Lincoln High School Farm Foundation, Janice Forbes, Adams & Hayes Law, Foxglove Environmental, Foothill Associates, Side Hill Citrus Farm, PlacerGROWN, Placer County Farm Bureau, Placer County Farm Supply, Doug Houston Parklands Group, Aronowitz & Skidmore Inc., Placer County Water Agency, Rancho Roble Vineyards, Jan Shipstead, Amy Pipione, Steve Smith, Glenda Freeman, Roberta McKinney, Paulina Geltman, Deborah Couvillion, Christine Turner, and Patty Schifferle.
PLT Board member Kit Veerkamp will be organizing the 2005 Placer Harvest Celebration. If you have suggestions for this year’s event, or if you’d like to help out, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at the office: (530) 887-9222.
2004 Volunteer of the Year: Lorri Peltz-Lewis
Placer Land Trust gratefully recognizes Lorri Peltz-Lewis of Auburn as our 2004 Volunteer of the Year.
Lorri provided ongoing and emergency technical support for PLT. She saved us twice from computer crashes in 2004, securing all of our data, reconfiguring and updating our computer system, and providing enhanced security measures to protect us from viruses and spyware.
Lorri also assists PLT in acquiring, formatting, interpreting, and utilizing Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data. GIS information is a valuable tool that PLT uses to assist in our land conservation planning.
“We had several excellent volunteers during 2004, including Nate Jones and Amy Pipione,” said Executive Director Jeff Darlington. “But Lorri’s expert assistance was particularly timely and helpful in improving our technology and capacity. Her support during 2004 was extremely valuable and much appreciated.”
When she’s not volunteering for PLT, Lorri works for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in Sacramento as a GIS and mapping expert. She and her husband Ralph Lewis have been PLT members since 1998.
Patty Ruud of Auburn was PLT’s Volunteer of the Year for 2003.
Sierras to be “Licensed”?
State Assemblymen Tim Leslie (R-Tahoe City) and John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) are teaming up once again to benefit the Sierra Nevada region.
The two lawmakers have introduced AB84, bipartisan legislation that would create a Sierra Nevada License Plate. California motorists could purchase the special plates, depicting the Sierra Nevadas, for $50. Funds from the special license plates would benefit the Sierra Nevada Conservancy (championed by Leslie and Laird, and signed into law by the Governor last September at the Bear River in Colfax).
Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, and the Coast already have special plates that provide millions of dollars to State Conservancies in those areas. To reserve your own Sierra Nevada License Plate, or for more details, visit: www.sierranevadaconservancy.org.
Quantifying the Need for Land Protection, Part 3
By Mehrey Vaghti
This is the final part of a three-part series describing the process of developing land conservation priorities. The first part discussed the ecological and cultural attributes of Placer County, and the second part discussed existing methods by which these attributes may be preserved.
As discussed in the first two segments of this series, Placer County has a wealth of ecological and cultural features, and has a wonderful environment for outdoor recreational activities.
Over 30% of the County is public lands. However, the majority of these lands occur in the eastern portion of the county (the Sierras) leaving significant conservation gaps. Foothill pine woodlands, oak woodlands, grasslands, vernal pool complexes, wetlands, lowland riparian areas, and agricultural lands are largely unprotected and being impacted by development in western Placer County.
The historical mechanisms which allowed federal and state agencies to acquire significant acreages are long extinct and current budget conditions make it difficult to execute proper management — much less acquire additional public lands. Thus, numerous nonprofits and local agencies have been established to help protect wildlife habitat, cultural resources, open space, agricultural land, and recreational opportunities. The participation of willing private landowners is a vital component of modern land conservation; PLT and most other land conservation organizations work only with willing landowner partners.
Filling the conservation gaps in the lowlands and foothills is a challenging task these days. A major obstacle to acquisition is inflated property values. Gone are the days of big land grabs; property in western Placer County and the foothills has escalated enormously over the past 10-15 years. Furthermore, available land is often fragmented; large parcels with conservation value may be impacted by current or planned development.
There are two land trusts based in Placer County: Truckee Donner Land Trust (TDLT) and PLT. TDLT was established in 1990 and has preserved 3,300 acres in the Truckee Donner area. It is also the steward and administrator of the 23-mile Donner Lake Rim Trail. Placer Land Trust was established in 1991 and has preserved 357 acres in the American River, Auburn Ravine, and Yuba River watersheds.
The American River Conservancy (ARC) has also assisted with land conservation in Placer County. Based in El Dorado County, ARC was established in 1989 with a focus on the American River. Last year, ARC partnered with PLT on the Giant Gap Project; together, the two land trusts preserved 135 acres along the North Fork American River near Gold Run as part of this project.
The final local land conservation effort is the Placer Legacy Program, established by the Placer County Board of Supervisors in 2000 to protect natural resources, agricultural viability, open space, endangered species, and recreational opportunities. Legacy has completed several projects and has designated western Placer County as its highest priority. PLT and Legacy work together in many ways. Last year, Legacy and PLT worked together to permanently preserve the Cisco Grove Gould Park.
Regional and national land conservation organizations can also assist in protecting land in Placer County. For example, the Trust For Public Land (TPL), a national land conservation non-profit based in San Francisco, has assisted both TDLT, PLT, and Legacy with land conservation. For example, TPL recently assisted Legacy in acquiring Spears Ranch, 961 acres of oak woodlands and grazed grasslands along Coon Creek.
All of the organizations discussed are working to raise funds through memberships, donations, special events, and/or grants to purchase or acquire easements on properties with high conservation value. Once protected, each organization has a permanent obligation to land stewardship which can range from annual monitoring to active land management or restoration.
There has been much accomplished in the realm of contemporary land conservation yet there remain many challenges in the face of rapid land conversion and outrageous property values. PLT remains committed to our mission, and we rely heavily on your membership support. We are very grateful for all you do to support this important work … thank you!
Only for Placer Land Trust Members…
Once spring arrives, Placer Land Trust will be hosting two free events for our members. Please give us a call at (530) 887-9222 if you’re interested!
Codfish Falls Trail – Spring Wildflower Walk
March (TBA): Join PLT on a naturalist-led hike along the Codfish Falls Trail, located downstream of the Ponderosa Bridge on the North Fork American River. The Trail offers spectacular views of land preserved by Placer Land Trust and Protect American River Canyons, and boasts some of the prettiest wildflowers in the Sierras. Bottled water will be provided. We recommend you bring sun protection, sturdy boots … and a camera! This easy hike will be scheduled when the wildflowers are at their peak so stay tuned.
Stagecoach Preserve – Canyon Creek Restoration
Saturday, April 16: Join PLT Board members in the effort to restore this wonderful neighborhood stream in Auburn, located on PLT’s Stagecoach Preserve. Activities are at your own pace and include tree planting, watering, and invasive plant removal. Bottled water and tools will be provided. We recommend you bring sun protection, sturdy boots, and gloves.
Executive Director’s Report
Land Conservation Speed Bumps
As usual in our line of work, there are many uncertainties ahead, and we take nothing for granted.
For example, in the last issue of Land Lines, we reported that PLT was selected to receive land conservation funding arising from the West Roseville Specific Plan litigation settlement. However, a new lawsuit has placed this funding on hold. PLT is hopeful the new lawsuit will be resolved so that the land conservation funding will be retained, but we can’t take it for granted.
Several members have inquired about the progress of the Lincoln High School Farm preservation project. PLT reported that at the end of 2003, the Western Placer Unified School District (WPUSD) approved a resolution to preserve the historic 280-acre Lincoln High School Farm. The plan is to transfer the Farm to the Lincoln High School Farm Foundation, who would then work with PLT to put an agricultural conservation easement on the property. However, the WPUSD has not yet transferred to property the Farm Foundation because of a delay in working out transfer details. So again … we’re hopeful that the project will continue, but nothing is certain.
At the State level, continuing budget problems have curtailed land conservation funding and opportunities. One of PLT’s grant applications to the Wildlife Conservation Board for oak woodland protection was removed from the WCB meeting agenda this month. Another State grant was delayed by over a year, causing PLT to miss out on a conservation opportunity.
Meanwhile in Washington DC, a series of articles in the Washington Post questioned the practices of The Nature Conservancy, and the Joint Committee on Taxation is recommending that Congress severely limit the amount of tax deductions landowners can take for conservation easement donations.
What’s the good news, you ask?
PLT preserved 155 acres last year!
Your support was critical to that accomplishment, and your ongoing support is why we expect to overcome all the speed bumps on the road to land conservation.
And it’s not just your financial support that matters, it’s also your willingness to step forward. Some of you have asked if you could help us out by writing letters in support of our projects. You bet you can!
Here’s a short list of three PLT issues that could use your support. Details about each of these issues are on our website at www.placerlandtrust.org, including sample letters if you choose to support us by writing to the decision-makers.
1) If you live in the Lincoln area, you can write the WPUSD to let them know that you support the preservation of the Lincoln High School Farm.
2) You can let the Wildlife Conservation Board know that PLT’s efforts to preserve oak woodlands are important to you.
3) You can write your representatives in Washington and let them know you support the existing tax laws that encourage conservation easement donations.
As always, please know that we greatly appreciate your support!