1,400 Acres in Northern Sierra Protected (CA)

February 2, 2009

Three properties totaling almost 2,000 acres are being permanently protected in the northern Sierra Nevada and in Yuba County, The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and Truckee Donner Land Trust (TDLT) announced today.

The properties were purchased from Siller Brothers, Inc, a Marysville-based family company on Dec. 30. Money to finance the purchases came from a variety of state funds and private partners, TPL and TLDT announced. Two of the properties are near the proposed Castle Peak Wilderness Area north of Donner Summit, and the third is next to the Daugherty Hills Wildlife Area in the Collins Lake Recreation Area of Yuba County. The two mountain properties are also high priorities for the Northern Sierra Partnership, formed in 2007 by TPL, TDLT, the Feather River Land Trust, Sierra Business Council and The Nature Conservancy to insure the environmental and economic sustainability of the northern Sierra.

David Sutton, director of TPL's Northern California program, said, "we are very pleased to have the funding support of California public agencies and the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation to protect these wonderful places. The protection of these properties from possible second-home development is a big step toward protecting the integrity of the proposed Castle Peak Wilderness Area. It's also a major accomplishment for the Northern Sierra Partnership."

"The properties are off the charts in terms of their natural resources and truly iconic landscapes of the Northern Sierra. Any lover of the Sierra should be very pleased that they are now and forever protected," said Perry Norris, Executive Director of TDLT.

Perazzo Meadows, the largest property at 982 acres, is located northwest of Truckee and includes more than 2.5 miles of the Little Truckee River, a primary tributary in the Truckee River watershed and an important source of drinking water for the residents of Nevada. For the time being, the property will be owned by TDLT while trails and a parking area are constructed and restoration work is completed along the Little Truckee River. TDLT then plans to transfer ownership to the Tahoe National Forest.

TPL and TDLT also acquired a 400-acre property northwest of Castle Peak at the edge of Paradise Valley. The Pacific Crest Trail runs over a corner of the property, which was donated to the Tahoe National Forest, which owns land surrounding the parcel.

"We are very excited with the addition of these lands to the Tahoe National Forest. They are rich in wildlife and watershed values. Perazzo is an incredible high elevation meadow ecosystem and we hope to start a stream channel restoration project there this summer, which will encompass the new property in future years. Paradise Valley property is important from a wildlife connectivity standpoint involving a variety of species," stated Tom Quinn, Tahoe National Forest Supervisor.

The third property, near Collins Lake in Yuba County, will be retained by TPL until it can be conveyed to the California Department of Fish and Game later this year. The 529-acre parcel is next to the Daughterty Hills Wildlife Area, the University of California Sierra Foothills Research Center, and the Collins Lake Recreation area. It offers the opportunity to create a chain of protected lands within the lower Yuba River watershed and provide an unfragmented habitat area within this blue oak woodland landscape. The property had the potential for up to thirteen 40-acre home sites, but is now protected for public recreation and wildlife benefits.

Money to buy the properties came from a variety of sources, including the California Wildlife Conservation Board; the River Parkway Grant Program; the State Water Quality Resources Control Board in conjunction with the Truckee River Watershed Council; the California Department of Transportation's Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program; and the Sierra Nevada Conservancy. Funding from the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation's Preserving Wild California program provided for the donation of the Paradise Valley property to the Tahoe National Forest.

California Secretary for Natural Resources Agency Mike Chrisman said, "It was only in October that Governor Schwarzenegger announced the public-private partnership between the state of California and the Northern Sierra Partnership. Less than three months later, we are thrilled to announce that this innovative partnership has just protected three critically important properties at Perazzo Meadows, Castle Valley and Collins Lake."

For more than 15 years, TPL and TDLT, and more recently the Northern Sierra Partnership, have been working to solve the problem of fragmented private and public land ownership patterns in the northern Sierra. This checkerboard land use challenge dates back to the 1860s, when the U.S. government granted alternating square miles of land to railroad companies as an incentive to complete the transcontinental and other railroad lines. The region contains rich biological habitat, scenic and recreational values. But dispersed, second-home residential growth on privately-owned lands is a immediate threat to the public resources and the successful management of the lands for prevention of catastrophic fire, protection of water resources and needed wildlife habitat and corridors, and sequestration of carbon in a changing climate regime.

The objectives of the Northern Sierra Partnership include protecting the area's high-quality water supply and mitigating the impacts of climate change. The Northern Sierra Partnership is chaired by Jim and Becky Morgan of the Morgan Family Foundation. "We formed the NSP because we were facing a critical window of opportunity in the northern Sierra, and we needed to approach this era with an integrated strategy," says Becky Morgan. The permanent protection of Perazzo Meadows and Castle Peak properties are flagship projects of the Northern Sierra Partnership. As a result of this success and ongoing collaboration, "we are now better positioned to develop created responses to large, complex issues such as adapting to climate change and mitigating its impacts," she says.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization dedicated to conserving land for people. TPL has protected more land in the Sierra Nevada than any other nonprofit organization; to date, TPL has helped protect more than 60,000 acres, with a fair market value in excess of $80 million. Nationwide, TPL has protected more than 2 million acres.

The Truckee Donner Land Trust is a nonprofit organization that works to preserve and protect important historic, recreational and scenic open spaces in the greater Truckee region. TDLT was founded in 1990 when the picturesque and historical Coldstream Valley next to Donner Lake was about to be lost to logging. A small group of passionate hikers joined together, raised $150,000, and purchased 160 acres in the Valley. Since then, TDLT has protected over 11,000 acres. For more information, please visit www.tdlandtrust.org.