3,405 Acres on North Fork American Protected (CA)

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, 4/15/02—The Trust for Public Land (TPL), Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI), and the U.S.D.A. Forest Service today announced the purchase and protection of 3,405 acres along the North Fork of the American River, one of the Sierra Nevada’s most pristine and scenic river canyons. TPL purchased the property from SPI and then conveyed it to the Tahoe National Forest for permanent public protection.

The purchase marks the first land transaction under the widely publicized historic agreement announced last year between Sierra Pacific Industries and the Trust for Public Land to protect more than 35,000 acres in the Sierra Nevada. Funding for the $1.69 million public purchase came from congressionally appropriated Land and Water Conservation Fund monies.

“I am pleased to have been able to work with Sierra Pacific Industries and the Trust for Public Land to facilitate the public protection of this wonderful resource for all Californians. This project is a win for both the environment, because magnificent stands of trees will be protected forever, and for the economy, because it will help maintain local investment and employment,” said U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-California.

“I support this project because it is a great example of a willing seller and a willing buyer coming together to preserve a beautiful stretch of the river,” said U.S. Congressional Representative John Doolittle, R- 4.

A congressionally designated Wild and Scenic River, the North Fork American cuts through one of the deepest, most spectacular canyons in the Sierra Nevada. Visitors can enjoy stunning views from several vista points, fish deep pools for native trout, hike scenic trails to historic cabins and displays of native American rock art, and camp amidst old-growth at the river’s edge.

“This stretch of the North Fork of the American River offers a rare and highly unique opportunity for people to connect with a historic California setting that looks much like the area did when the ’49ers first arrived,” said Jack Blackwell, U.S.D.A. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Regional Forester. “Because the canyon is so rugged and remote, its ecosystems and vegetation are in almost untouched condition. These acquisitions are a tremendous benefit to the public and the environment,” said Blackwell.

“As a third generation steward of some of California’s forests, we recognize the importance of having forestlands that meet a variety of needs and uses,” said A.A. “Red” Emmerson president of SPI. “We’re committed to ensuring that the balance is maintained wherever possible.

” TPL, the Forest Service, and Sierra Pacific Industries are working to consolidate public ownership in the river canyon ensuring that a 20-mile stretch of the river will remain unspoiled, publicly accessible, and forever wild. The land acquisitions are square-mile parcels that checkerboard the Sierra Nevada river canyons—a legacy of 19th century railroad land grants.

“This wonderful, wild river is being protected today because of the decades-long efforts of local conservationists from the Sierra Club’s Mother Lode chapter together with those of Forest Service District Ranger Rich Johnson, and also thanks to the patience and goodwill of Sierra Pacific Industries. We thank them all for this tremendously important conservation success,” said David Sutton, TPL Sierra Nevada Program Director.

“The partnership between the Trust for Public Land and Sierra Pacific Industries is bringing special lands into public ownership. We look forward to additional funding from Congress to continue this important effort in the years to come,” said Jay Watson, California/Nevada Regional Director for The Wilderness Society.

The canyon is home to many large mammals, including black bears and mountain lions, and to 150 species of birds, including peregrine falcons, golden eagles, and goshawks. The pure waters of the North Fork of the American River are valuable for many downstream uses such as fishing, swimming, white water rafting, boating in downstream lakes, and agricultural and domestic water supplies.

Founded in 1972, the Trust for Public Land is a nonprofit land conservation organization, specializing in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and real estate law to protect land for public use and enjoyment. Dedicated to conserving land for people as parks, greenways, wilderness areas and natural, historic, and cultural resources for future generations, TPL has protected more than 1.2 million acres nationwide and more than 230,000 acres in California, including more than 45,000 acres in the Sierra Nevada mountains.