Oest Ranch–Cold Springs Preserve
By Karrie Thomas
Placer Land Trust is very pleased to announce the permanent protection of a second portion of the Oest Ranch in Placer County!
Just days ago, as part of our new Small Farm Program, PLT recorded an agricultural conservation easement on the 160-acre “Oest Ranch – Cold Springs Preserve” located near the North Fork American River in Clipper Gap. This easement guarantees the permanent protection of the property for sustainable agricultural use, as well as the protection of its natural, scenic and historic attributes.
In 2009, PLT worked with the Oest family to protect 350 acres of the historic Oest Ranch near Lake Clementine. The Cold Springs Preserve is less than a mile from the Lake Clementine Preserve, upstream on Clipper Creek. PLT and the Oests now have protected 510 acres of the Oest Ranch for continued agricultural productivity.
“Protecting our agricultural heritage is extremely important, not only to Placer Land Trust, but to all of us who enjoy the benefits of local agriculture,” said PLT Executive Director Jeff Darlington. “With approximately 109 acres of farmland being developed or taken out of agriculture every single day in California, it’s critical that our community protects the local farms and ranches – and local food security – we need for future generations.”
The Oests are a pioneering Placer family that has been farming and ranching in the Auburn area since the Gold Rush, with no plans to stop anytime soon. Last year, PLT staff joined the Oest family at the California State Fair where the Oests were recognized by the California Agricutural Heritage Club for over 150 years of agricultural operations in Placer County.
“My family has had livestock grazing on our ranch for several generations now,” said landowner Daryl Oest. “Times being tough, we were looking for options to help us preserve the land, and the people, because we want to see the land stay in our family. We’re pleased to continue our work with Placer Land Trust to make sure our land is protected for agricultural use for generations to come.”
The preserve is named after the fresh, clear, and very cold springs on the property. Clipper Creek flows through the middle of the property, and is a tributary to the American River, which in turn provides a lot of the domestic water for Placer County. PLT has an interest in keeping our water clean and free from runoff, erosion, and sedimentation, and we do that by working with willing landowners to prevent development and other harmful land uses from polluting our waterways.
Primary project funding was provided by the Emigrant Trails Greenway Trust. A portion of the funding came from Placer Land Trust’s Wetlands Mitigation account, funded by Placer County Water Agency. Ongoing stewardship funding support came from the California Wildlife Foundation, as well as a generous donation to PLT from the Oests themselves. PLT’s Small Farm Program paid for the assessment and administrative fees necessary to make the project happen.
PLT is very thankful for our funders, and for the Oest family for making a commitment to the future. By working with landowners like the Oests, PLT continues to permanently protect the natural areas and family farms and ranches that make Placer County such a wonderful place to live, work and play.
“This project protects a real personal and physical connection to the land,” added Darlington. “The Oests have been excellent caretakers of this land for generations, and this easement will help them continue that legacy for generations to come.”
In addition to its agricultural values, the preserve contains Maidu milling sites (including grinding holes and pestles), prime oak woodland and riparian habitat for a number of important wildlife species, and sweeping views of the Sierra Nevada crest and the American River Canyon.
The easement restricts development to one homesite (currently occupied by a caretaker) and prohibits harmful land uses now and in the future. The land will remain open space suitable for sustainable agricultural use. Cold Springs Preserve is a part of Oest Ranch’s beef production, and also provides a home for bees producing PlacerGROWN honey.
The property continues to be privately owned and managed by the Oest family. Although the property is not open to the public, PLT does plan to lead docent-led tours on the preserve in the future. PLT hopes to work with the Oest family to protect the remaining 440 acres of Oest Ranch over the next several years, including lands along Hwy 49 north of Auburn that could eventually connect to other protected lands such as the 1,773-acre Harvego Bear River Preserve.
To hear more about PLT’s work to protect local farms and ranches, see https://www.placerlandtrust.org/videolibrary.aspx for a link to the PLT video, “Saving Farms and Ranches” featuring Daryl Oest and the Oest Ranch.
From the Board Room
Outman Big Hill Preserve Dedicated
By Fred Yeager
In early September, Placer Land Trust dedicated 80 acres of oak woodlands in memory of past Board member, Skip Outman.
Placer Land Trust was joined by 50 guests to dedicate the property “Outman Big Hill Preserve” in Skip’s memory. Placer Land Trust was honored to have Skip’s wife Jan Outman and members of her family on hand to participate in the dedication ceremony.
The property’s rugged oak woodlands and fantastic scenic views are some of the characteristics that Skip valued as an endurance runner, a realtor, and a member of Placer Land Trust’s Board of Directors. The Big Hill area in particular held a special place in Skip’s heart – a shared enthusiasm that was evident in all who attended the dedication ceremony, including many of Skip’s friends and co-workers.
Supervisor Jim Holmes attended to represent Placer County and remind folks of the public benefits this project provided, and the reasons why the County participated in the acquisition. The previous landowners, Bill & Vera Johnston and John & Lugene Boyd, were also on hand to share their love of the land and their satisfaction at seeing it permanently protected. Thanks to all who shared this special time and place with us.
As Placer Land Trust continues to work on public access and enhancements in this area, including working with neighboring landowners on conservation and trail building, we look forward to sharing Outman Big Hill Preserve with more people in the near future. To learn more about Placer Land Trust’s Trail Campaign or to contribute to our efforts in the Big Hill region, please contact Placer Land Trust.
AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps
By Jeff Ward
Last spring, Placer Land Trust began a partnership with the AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) to build trails, remove invasive plants and enhance the wildlife habitat by planting native species on Placer Land Trust’s Preserves.
AmeriCorps NCCC is a full-time, team-based residential program for men and women age 18–24. AmeriCorps NCCC strengthens communities and develops leaders through direct, team-based national and community service. Service projects, which typically last from six to eight weeks, address critical needs related to natural and other disasters, infrastructure improvement, environmental stewardship and conservation, energy conservation, and urban and rural development. Members construct and rehabilitate low-income housing, respond to natural disasters, clean up streams, help communities develop emergency plans, and address countless other local needs.
Placer Land Trust hosted a team of nine NCCC members during May and June this year. The team started by building a half-mile of trail on Canyon View Preserve. This will be part of the mile and a half long interpretive loop trail that will open to the public next spring. The team also cleared an acre of Himalayan blackberry and other brush to build a smaller trail through our Stagecoach Preserve.
A new team of eight members started in November clearing invasive species at Doty Ravine Preserve, including a large area with Himalayan blackberry. They also terraced a hillside and replanted the area with native species just prior to the heavy rain. In December, they moved to the Canyon View Preserve to remove French broom and plant native species in a restoration area.
“I’ve been really impressed with the team-member’s attitudes; they’ve worked in some uncomfortable situations that many people wouldn’t enjoy,” said Land Management Technician Troy Outman. “They’ve done a great job battling blackberry thorns, poison oak, wet soil, and a lot of rain.”
Great Sierra River Cleanup
By Janet Voris
On September 15, 2012 more than 3,400 volunteers and dozens of organizations joined together to remove over 63,000 pounds of trash and recyclables from rivers throughout the Sierra Nevada as part of the Fourth Annual Great Sierra River Cleanup. Nearly 230 miles of rivers and streams within the Sierra Nevada were cleaned to improve the health of the local watersheds.
Placer Land Trust participated for the 4th year in a row cleaning up five miles along the Miner’s Ravine trail in Roseville. Nearly 70 volunteers removed an estimated 500 pounds of trash and recyclable items along the trail, from the trailhead on Sierra College Blvd all the way past the trailhead at the United Artist theatre.
All that hard work was followed by a Placer grown lunch, and everyone received a door prize. Volunteers ranged in age from four years to 65 years old and included high school students, college students, scouts, parents with their children, and hikers.
“I thought the event was very well planned and we really enjoyed ourselves”, said National Charities League (NCL) volunteer Kim Gode. Kim and her daughters were part of a group of mothers and daughters from NCL who came to participate in the cleanup event. In addition to improving watershed health by removing trash, volunteers learn about the importance of watershed quality.
The Great Sierra River Cleanup is coordinated by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and is the premier volunteer event focused on removing trash and restoring the health of waterways throughout the Sierra Nevada Region. Every year it is held in conjunction with California Coastal Cleanup Day. The next cleanup will be held on Saturday, September 21, 2013.
Sonja Hamilton remembers Skip Outman
By Karrie Thomas
As 2012 comes to a close, we have an opportunity to remember a dear friend – Skip Outman – who passed away after a battle with cancer last spring. Skip served as a Placer Land Trust Board member for six years, and was instrumental in protecting thousands of acres during his tenure. He was a sincere believer in the value of open space, he knew nearly every acre of rural Placer County, and he had a keen appreciation for the beauty of the place we live.
Skip was a student of watercolor artist Sonja Hamilton, who remembers him with great respect.
Sonja has displayed a group of her paintings that hung in Skip’s office in the Placer Land Trust office. These Beautiful paintings are for sale, and Sonja will donate the proceeds to Placer Land Trust in memory of Skip’s contributions to Placer County.
The paintings capture the magic of Placer County’s natural wonders. Please visit us and enjoy the paintings.
Office hours: Monday – Friday 8-5. 11661 Blocker Drive, Suite 110, Auburn, CA 95630 in the Creekside Office Park.
Placer Land Trust Reduces Potential Fire Hazard at Harvego Bear River Preserve
By Jeff Ward
In November, Placer Land Trust began restoration on the 1,773-acre Harvego Bear River Preserve. This property, which was protected in December, 2010, harbors a large section of dense underbrush. These thickets create a number of problems preventing the forest from maturing to its greatest potential.
First, invasive blackberry and other unwelcome interlopers compete with the trees and inhibit their growth. We have studied Harvego for its capacity for carbon dioxide uptake, and tree growth is a big factor in increasing this important job.
A thick understory also provides fuel for fires. We have a great responsibility to protect Harvego from wildfires: our neighbors count on us to ensure their properties are safe; Fires can cause erosion as a result of vegetation loss so we must protect the Bear River from this potential impact; and fires of course release rather than consume carbon!
Harvego Bear River Preserve is located north of Auburn along the Bear River, just north of Auburn Valley Golf Club. The fuel load reduction project will reduce wildfire risk by thinning strategic areas of overgrown vegetation within the blue oak woodlands.
Placer Land Trust contracted with Ryan Bellanca and Bella Wildfire and Forestry Services who have spent the fall reducing fuel loads – clearing brush and burning the piles. This treatment improves forest and health, and reduces the likelihood of dangerous wildfire.
Placer Land Trust received grant funding for the restoration project from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy’s Healthy Forest Program, which is funded by Proposition 84. This program promotes safe drinking water, ensures long-term water quality and supply, manages flood control, and provides other public benefits.
Placer Land Trust’s objectives at Harvego Bear River Preserve include increasing oak woodland health and carbon dioxide uptake from tree growth, while reducing fire severity and increasing the landscape’s overall resilience to wildfire.
We expect to complete the initial implementation of the project by spring 2013.
Future work at Harvego Bear River Preserve will include developing plans for an improved trail system and increased public access. If you would like to see what we have been working on, or would just like to get out and around on our preserves, please join us for one of our monthly hikes. For more information and to sign up see www.placerlandtrust.org.
New Land Management Technician
Troy Outman recently joined Placer Land Trust as Land Management Technician. Troy joins the stewardship team in managing Placer Land Trust Preserves, working with volunteers, and implementing restoration projects.
Troy grew up on a horse ranch in Auburn, “I formed a love connection to the local landscapes at a young age. I have many memories of running and riding horses over the hills, through the fields, and along the rivers,” said Outman.
He worked for a landscaper while in high school and continued to build a full scale landscape company in the Auburn/Rocklin area. Most recently, he spent a few years doing landscape design and consulting in the Pacific Northwest.
At about the time Placer Land Trust advertised this position, Troy and his wife Sarah had decided it was time to move home. “It has saddened me to watch the growth over the years. I realized I needed to put my efforts into being a good steward of the land that I fell in love with,” Troy explained.
Troy holds an Associates Degree in Ornamental Horticulture from Sierra College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Landscape Architecture from Colorado State University, with an emphasis on trails, open space and restoration. Outside the “office” Troy enjoys competing in on and off-road Triathlons, martial arts, and is an avid photographer of natural landscapes and athletic events.
Troy’s professional background in Landscape Architecture and his love for the natural beauty of Placer County will be a huge asset to Placer Land Trust. We welcome Troy to the team.