Trust for Public Land and U.S. Forest Service Permanently Protect Huysink Lake in California’s Sierra Nevada with 760 Acres to Be Added to Tahoe National Forest 

As Part of the Sierra Checkerboard Initiative, the Huysink Lake Project Marks the Protection by TPL, U.S. Forest Service and Local Partners of over 120,000 acres to Date in Consolidating Public Lands in the Sierra Nevada 

San Francisco, CA – Trust for Public Land [TPL] in partnership with the United States Forest Service [USFS] announced today the permanent protection of Huysink Lake and the surrounding 760 acres in Placer County south of Cisco Grove, that will be purchased by the U.S. Forest Service and become a part of the Tahoe National Forest in a deal facilitated by TPL.

The protection of the Huysink Lake property will allow for improvements to the Salmon Lake trailhead and enhance trail access to one of the Tahoe National Forest’s most popular backcountry camping and trail networks in the Salmon Lake and Loch Leven Lakes area. 

 “This addition to the Tahoe National Forest will expand recreational opportunities while protecting important natural resources in the Sierra Nevada,” said Tahoe National Forest Supervisor Eli Ilano. “It has been an exciting endeavor to work with partners to protect and improve the ecological resilience of Sierra watersheds.”

“To be able to take one-time private property and not only protect it permanently but to turn it over for the full enjoyment of the public, is one of the great joys in delivering on TPL’s mission of connecting everyone to the outdoors,” said Guillermo Rodriguez, California State Director for The Trust for Public Land. “For nearly 50 years, TPL has worked in the Sierra acquiring private land to not only to connect critical linkages and increase public access but to inspire people to explore the great outdoors while providing critical watershed habitat in a changing climate.”

The Huysink Lake property is a keystone parcel that will greatly improve trail connectivity. The now publicly owned Huysink Lake property contains the Salmon Lake trailhead and a portion of the Salmon Lake system trail that offers a less challenging and less crowded alternative for users to access the popular Loch Leven and Salmon Lakes Basin.  

“The West and much of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains are literally diced up into alternating square-mile sections of federally managed land, public and private ground, but through the Sierra Checkerboard Initiative, TPL and partners have now protected over 120,000 acres in the Sierra,” continued Guillermo Rodriguez. “Huysink Lake is one more critical piece to unlocking the lands puzzle that has been presented by history and past industry” 

When work began on the Transcontinental Railroad in 1863, the Federal government granted railroad companies ownership of every other square mile of land, keeping the squares in between. The grant allowed railroads to pay for construction by selling their sections. In the mountains, railroads companies held on to their private sections, while many public sections became part of the national forests. Timber companies eventually acquired close to 75 percent of the private land, creating a checkerboard pattern of alternating private and public land across the central Sierra region. The Sierra Checkerboard Initiative is a multi-year plan to consolidate and protect the remnant checkerboard lands such as Huysink Lake. 

The Huysink Lake project will protect 760 acres within the Sierra Checkerboard, an area of focused conservation investment by TPL and partners that has led to the protection of over 120,000 acres to date. 

In addition to enhanced recreational access and better connectivity of public lands, the conservation efforts at Huysink Lake protect critical wildlife habitat and increase climate resiliency in the region by maintaining healthy wetlands and meadows. Protecting Huysink Lake and surrounding property ensures that an estimated 57 acres of wetlands, including the lake, two mountain meadows, and two miles of perennial streams will forever be safeguarded. The property straddles the divide between the North Fork American River and the South Yuba River watersheds and contains the majority of the headwaters of one of the major tributaries of the North Fork American Wild and Scenic River.

“Forested watersheds in the Sierra Nevada, like Huysink Lake and surrounding meadows, provide critical habitat as well as groundwater recharge areas that feed the rivers and communities of Northern California. Maintaining these meadows and wetlands in a healthy, connected state and increasing the resiliency of these watersheds will ensure these ecosystems continue to play a crucial role in maintaining climate resilience,” said Heidi Krolick, Conservation Director for the Sierra Nevada and Central Valley. 

During summer months, wetlands and mountain meadows are considered the most important habitat in the Sierra Nevada for birds, as almost every bird species that breeds in or migrates through the region uses wetlands and meadows at some point in their life cycle. Protection of the Huysink Lake property will enhance these and other nearby efforts to protect critical habitat for wildlife in the Tahoe-Donner region. 

The $1.7 million purchase and transfer of Huysink Lake was made possible by Forest Service appropriated funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Created by Congress in 1964, LWCF is a bipartisan commitment to safeguard natural areas, water resources, and our shared cultural heritage. California’s Congressional delegation was instrumental in the recent passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, which permanently funded the LWCF. This public funding was complemented by generous private support to TPL from the Bella Vista Foundation and Sierra Nevada Brewing Company.