Agreement to Protect South Yuba River Land (CA)

NEVADA CITY, CA, 6/20/02-Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI), the Trust for Public Land (TPL), and the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) announced today a deal to protect more than 700 acres of forestland along the state-designated Wild and Scenic River corridor of the South Yuba River, a popular recreation area attracting many thousands of visitors each year. The deal ends two years of negotiations over SPI’s controversial state-approved timber harvest plan for the property.

TPL plans to purchase the land valued at an estimated $3.4 million from SPI and convey it to California State Parks to expand South Yuba River State Park. Further downstream at Devil’s Slide, TPL, the Sierra Fund, and the Nevada County Land Trust have struck a deal with landowners of an additional 453 acres. Together the proposed purchases will expand the State Park by 1,184 acres.

“SPI was responsive to the community, held off on logging, and worked with TPL and our partners so it could find suitable timberland elsewhere and protect the Wild and Scenic South Yuba River. Together with our other project at Devil’s Slide, more than 1,100 acres of these cherished lands will remain wild and scenic forever,” said David Sutton, TPL’s director of the Sierra Nevada Program.

“This agreement with the Trust for Public Land reflects our commitment to creating a balance between wild land preservation, economic investment, and responsible forest management,” said A.A. “Red” Emmerson, president of SPI. “This is something important to both of us and results in long-term benefits for all Californians.”

The State’s approval of SPI’s timber harvest plan three years ago triggered public debate regarding the future of the property. In response to the community, SPI signed an agreement with TPL, SYRCL, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, California State Parks, and Nevada County to hold off on logging and pursue a potential land exchange with the Forest Service or the BLM. The agreement expired in December 2000 without securing suitable exchange lands.

SPI voluntarily held off on logging the property until May of this year when SPI would have needed to develop logging roads for a summer harvest before the timber harvest plan expires in August. SPI’s decision to hold off on logging gave TPL, SPI, and SYRCL the time needed to negotiate an agreement whereby TPL will buy the property from SPI and transfer it to State Parks for long term stewardship and public use. As a result of this agreement, SPI will buy productive timberland elsewhere.

“We worked very hard with SPI and TPL to buy this incredible property for public use. We are pleased that SPI has been so responsive and willing to work with the community and the Trust for Public Land to protect this stretch of the river which is loved and enjoyed by so many people,” said Michael Killigrew of SYRCL.

“Collaboration works when you have people of good will who make a commitment to work not only in their own interest but in the interest of the greater good”, said Barbara Green, Chair of the Nevada County Board of Supervisors. “This acquisition reflects the determination of everyone involved to find a way to reach a mutually beneficial solution to a difficult issue. It is a tremendous accomplishment!”

The purchase agreement is part of a major deal announced last summer between SPI and TPL to protect up to 30,000 acres in the Sierra Nevada for public recreation, wildlife habitat, and watershed protection. Sierra Pacific Industries and TPL have been working together since 1989 to exchange or transfer land owned by the forest products company to public ownership. The land acquisitions are parcels that checkerboard the Sierra Nevada river canyons-a legacy of 19th century railroad land grants

TPL is a national land conservation organization dedicated to conserving land for people as parks, greenways, wilderness areas and natural, historic, and cultural resources for future generations. Founded in 1972, TPL has protected more than 1.4 million acres nationwide. TPL’s Sierra Nevada Program has helped protect more than 50,000 acres of critical watershed, recreation, and forestlands in the Sierra Nevada, most recently along the North Fork of the American River. TPL recently researched and published The State of California Rivers, the first-ever report assessing the health of all 80 major rivers in California. For more information find TPL on-line at or SPI at