Pile burning at Waddle Ranch | SierraSun.com

Pile burning at Waddle Ranch

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunPrescribed burns are scheduled for the Waddle Ranch property in Martis Valley.

MARTIS VALLEY ” Smoke may be rising from Waddle Ranch in the next week, but it’s all part of the plan for the Martis Valley open space.

The Truckee Donner Land Trust will be burning brush piles in the 1,462-acre former cattle ranch north of Highway 267. The land trust lead the charge to purchase the property, preventing development of homes and a golf course, closing the $23.5 million deal last year.

“When we acquired Waddle, we thinned about 300 acres that was the most serious risk for catastrophic wildfire,” said Perry Norris, executive director of the land trust. “It’s part of a long-term restoration project.”

The thinning started a year ago, and while most of the wood was chipped, some brush was left to burn, Norris said.

Burning should last three to five days, he said.

And with that, Norris said, the land trust will shortly pass the property off to the Truckee Tahoe Airport District for management, holding a conservation easement for public access and recreation.

The airport was one of the major financial contributors to the purchase of Waddle Ranch, both for open space preservation and prevention of development near the airfield.

“We are ready and willing to accept it,” said Dave Gotschall, general manager for the airport.

With the help of the Sierra Business Council, Gotschall said the airport district has put together a forest management plan to maintain Waddle Ranch.

“Our priority is to manage a healthy forest,” Gotschall said.

The district would likely hire forestry professionals for the work, rather than performing it in-house, he said.

The airport board has yet to decide on whether the district will manage the forest for carbon sequestration ” a environmental service that monazites carbon taken in by the forest to offset pollution ” or if it will sell carbon credits, Gotschall said.

The forest’s carbon inventory; how many tons of carbon the property holds and can take in, is currently being verified, he said.

The board will consider taking the next step in carbon credits at a January meeting, Gotschall said.