Local restaurants, hotel pitch in for trails, open space | SierraSun.com

Local restaurants, hotel pitch in for trails, open space

David Bunker

It’s the holiday deal few have heard about. Customers at several Truckee restaurants and a local hotel can get something for a dollar. No, not dinner or a room for the night.Instead the dollar being added to dining tabs and room rates around town is going toward something much dearer to many Truckee residents’ hearts – forests, meadows and trails.Cottonwood Restaurant, Pacific Crest, Pianeta Ristorante, The Dragonfly and Truckee’s Best Western Hotel are all tacking on $1 to their customers’ bills – with the consent of patrons – that will be used by the Truckee Donner Land Trust and the Truckee Trails Foundation to secure open space and make undeveloped land accessible to the public. “The response has been almost exclusively awesome,” said Mike Blide, owner of Cottonwood Restaurant and Truckee Trails Foundation board member. Cottonwood menu notifies the customers of the added dollar, and the charge is promptly removed if requested, he said. But aside from the overwhelmingly positive response, some customers have added a larger donation, like the man who recently asked the restaurant to tack on $50 for trails and open space, Blide said.Some patrons have liked the idea so much that they have asked if they can take it with them to their hometown, said Blide.”I’ve had probably 10 different customers come up to me and … ask if they can steal (the idea),” said Blide. “So clearly people are looking at it and saying, ‘What a neat idea to raise money.'”Perry Norris, executive director of the Truckee Donner Land Trust, estimated that his organization and the trails foundation will each see about $40,000 to $50,000 after the first year of the program, which started in the fall. Norris said the program will continue indefinitely, but if the Town of Truckee votes to implement a sales tax that would fund open space and trail projects, he said it would probably end.Similar programs are in place in Crested Butte, Colo., and Jackson Hole, Wyo., Those towns use a 1 percent sales tax on dining and lodging to fund their open space efforts. It’s from those efforts that Norris got the idea for Truckee. “Like all great ideas, I stole it,” he said. “It’s also a good way to introduce the work of both organizations to the public.”Lauran Ryan, manager at the Best Western Hotel in Truckee, said guests have reacted favorably to the small charge. Even though her customers are often just visiting the area, she said they value the open space and trails in the area just the same.”That’s why they come up here,” said Ryan.- Jamie Bate contributed to this report.