Face of Sierra Buttes Protected

The craggy face of the iconic Sierra Buttes north of Truckee will be protected for the public as a result of a major purchase finalized this week, The Trust for Public Land and the Sierra County Land Trust announced today.

The purchase of 835 acres for $4 million will protect the mountain face that forms a dramatic background to the northern Sierra Nevada’s “Lakes Basin” region in Sierra County. The last portion of the face of the Buttes still in private ownership was acquired. The purchase also includes two high alpine lakes, Young America Lake and Volcano Lake, as well as a segment of the Pacific Crest Trail, the popular Sierra Buttes Lookout Trail, and lakeside frontage on Upper Sardine and Lower Sardine Lakes.

“Many of the people who visit this area think the land is already protected, but there has long been a patchwork of private ownership among public land. Now, we’re consolidating into public ownership,” said Carl Somers, TPL’s Associate Director for the Sierra Nevada. Somers managed the project and negotiated the transaction for TPL.

Laurie Oberholtzer, executive director of the Sierra County Land Trust, said, “Californians can be proud that this current generation had the foresight to protect once and for all the Sierra Buttes, Volcano Lake, Young America Lake and the Lakes Basin. Protection of this spectacular promontory and all that it offers to the public on a year round basis was made possible with funding from Proposition 50 bonds, the Sierra Nevada – Cascade Conservation Grant Program. We are indebted to the voters of California. We sincerely thank the California Resources Agency for funding this highly significant acquisition and the Harris family for their solid support and cooperation.”

The Sierra County Land Trust will own the land.

The Sierra Buttes/ Lakes Basin area is rich in natural and cultural history. The high elevation basin is home to pristine lakes, ponds, and streams which drain to the North Fork of the Yuba River and on to the Central Valley, making it key to state watershed and wildlife protection programs.

Old mines and remnants of mining structures dot the rugged high country; during the Gold Rush, the Basin bustled with thousands of miners working hard rock sites like the Mountain Mine and the Young America Mine.

The Lakes Basin, which is otherwise largely undeveloped, is home to a number of small, pre-WW II rustic lodges and campgrounds, lending it an “Old Tahoe” quality. The Basin has been the destination for generations of fishermen, hikers, skiers and snowmobile users, who regularly return to their favorite lodge or campground.

Recently, the Basin has become a top mountain biking destination, hosting the Downieville Downhill race. The starting line is located on what is now Sierra County Land Trust land.

TPL and SCLT have been working for several years to consolidate into public ownership the lands in the Sierra Buttes region. The latest purchase brings to 1,525 the total of acreage protected thus far, almost half of the private lands which need to be protected.

The Trust for Public Land protects land for people to enjoy as parks, playgrounds and wilderness. Since it was founded in 1972, TPL has protected more than 4 million acres in 47 states. TPL depends on the support of individuals, foundations, and corporations.