Perazzo Preserved: Truckee land trust conserves one of Sierra’s largest intact meadows |

Perazzo Preserved: Truckee land trust conserves one of Sierra’s largest intact meadows

Seth Lightcap/Sierra SunTruckee Donner Land Trust executive director Perry Norris gazes at the 990 acres of Perazzo meadows the Land Trust recently acquired.

Standing on a bluff overlooking Perazzo Meadows Tuesday, Perry Norris surveyed his group’s most recent conservation win.

“This is a prime area of ecological importance for the Sierra Nevada,” said Norris, executive director of the Truckee Donner Land Trust.

With the help of $1.1 million in California Proposition 84 River Parkway grant funding, the conservation group working with in partnership with the Trust for Public Land secured the 990-acre meadow system crossed by the Little Truckee River.

“We’re pretty lucky ” those grants are super competitive to get,” Norris said.

The $1.1 million, along with $1.5 million from the State Water Board and $350,000 from Caltrans give the land trust a healthy start to reaching the $4 million purchase price from Siller Brothers, Inc., Norris said.

The property also includes about 2.5 miles of the Little Truckee River, Norris said.

“A sub-alpine meadow like this is relatively rare in the Sierra,” he said.

The acquisition was also timely, Norris said, as developers have had their eye on the scenic plot of land.

Norris said an unnamed developer had even offered to partner in acquiring the land, in exchange for building a few homes and a golf course in the meadow.

“This is of real strategic importance as Truckee approaches buildout,” Norris said.

He explained that just as when development became restricted in the Tahoe Basin it spilled into Truckee, as Truckee reaches capacity it could then spill out into unincorporated Nevada County ” into areas like Perazzo Meadows.

“You start getting rural sprawl and the fences go up and nonnative species are introduced,” Norris said.

But the work isn’t done now that the land has been preserved, Norris said, as the land trust plans to build a parking area and trail to create better access to the Little Truckee River starting this summer.

Restoration of the land originally used in the 1800s for cattle grazing will likely take a little longer, said Lisa Wallace, executive director for the Truckee River Watershed Council.

“The creeks were moved to dry out part of the meadow earlier in the year, and then to keep other parts wetter later in the year,” Wallace said. “We are going to put them back on their original course.”

But first Wallace said the watershed council has to finish surveying the land and create a design plan, which she said she hopes to complete by the end of this year.

In 2009-10 the group plans to realign the stream, restore habitat and stabilize the stream’s banks, she said.

“When the meadow is restored it will hold water longer than now functioning as a natural reservoir,” Wallace said. “We would also expect to start seeing an increasing number of trout there, and more birds as habitat is restored over the next few years to a decade.”

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