Land Trust purchases 240 acres on Donner Summit | SierraSun.com
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Land Trust purchases 240 acres on Donner Summit

David Bunker
Stan Wingate, associate director of the Truckee Donner Land Trust, studies a huge Jeffrey Pine tree estimated to be about 200 years old. The old-growth groves in Billy Mack Canyon are rare and important habitat for species like pine martens and northern goshawks.
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The Truckee Donner Land Trust is adding 240 more acres of open space, including prime rock climbing sites, in the Donner Summit area.The land trust purchased 189 acres in a canyon west of Donner Lake and is negotiating an easement on 51 adjacent acres in the area. The property, known as Billy Mack Canyon, is between Old Highway 40 and Interstate 80 and features Frog Creek, which is the main feed into Donner Lake. The canyon is rich in wildlife habitat and has excellent potential for recreational rock climbing and hiking, said Sara Taddo, land conservation director for the Truckee Donner Land Trust .”This whole property is incredible for wildlife,” Taddo said, while walking through the property in early December.She said she has seen weasels, fox and bears on the property since working on the conservation purchase. There is also a three-acre lake on the parcel.

“Taking action to acquire Billy Mack Canyon was simply being responsive to our mission,” said Scott Ryan, Truckee Donner Land Trust’s board president.The acquisitions cost $1.3 million and was made possible by grants from Emigrant Trails Greenway Trust, an anonymous donor and the Access Fund, a national organization representing rock climbers, according to Perry Norris, the executive director of the land trust.The property’s western edge borders United States Forest Service land and the Pacific Crest Trail. The land trust and Forest Service eventually hope to create a trailhead off of Old Highway 40 that would link to the PCT, Norris said. The trail would offer access to new rock climbing areas as well Flora and Azalea Lakes. The property will eventually be conveyed to the Forest Service for management, Norris said. “We are very appreciative of Truckee Donner Land Trust’s leadership in preserving lands in the Donner Pass area,” said Fran Herbst, Tahoe National Forest’s acquisition director. “Funds for federal acquisition of land are currently severely limited. Having the land trust as a partner who finds creative ways to finance these purchases and get the land into public ownership is an asset…”

The acquisitions are part of a larger multi-million dollar campaign for open space and trails in the Truckee area that the land trust is pursuing, Norris said. The Billy Mack lands are also in the immediate vicinity of other land trust projects including Blackwall and Negro Canyon. Altogether, the land trust has now protected more than 8,000 acres in the Truckee Donner region. Land Trust in actionSeptember 2005 – Land trust finalizes conservation easement on 33 acres of McIver Hill, which will eventually hold a Sierra College campus.

June 2005 – The non-profit completes a long-term goal of protecting 1,400 acres of land around Gray Creek, which flows into the Truckee River Canyon. They get agreements with property owners to buy 2,600 acres more near Independence Lake and Snow Mountain in the North Fork of the American River watershed. The land trust works with the Trust for Public Land on these purchases.April 2004 – The conservation group signs an option to protect 280 acres in Negro Canyon, north of Donner Lake. Trail building efforts to extend the Donner Rim Trail through the canyon, and eventually encircle Donner Lake, continue.June 2003 – Land Trust acquires 140 acres near the Pine Forest subdivision in Truckee.April 2003 – Nearly 2,000 acres along Schallenberger Ridge and in Coldstream Canyon that the land trust and the Trust for Public Land helped protect, become part of Donner Memorial State Park.


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