Preserved lands near Truckee put in public hands |

Preserved lands near Truckee put in public hands

Provided by the Truckee Donner Land TrustA picture of land donated by the Truckee Donner Land Trust and the Trust for Public Land above Independence Lake to the U.S. Forest Service.

INDEPENDENCE LAKE ” Conservation groups that had preserved almost 2,000 acres of open space north of Truckee have donated the land to the U.S. Forest Service.

Purchased by the Truckee Donner Land Trust and the Trust for Public Land in 2006 from Croman Timber, the 1,825-acre donation is valued at more than $3 million, according to the Forest Service. The parcels are situated on ridges overlooking Independence Lake, about 10 miles northwest of Truckee.

“These are very spectacular areas,” said Fran Herbst, lands officer with the Tahoe National Forest in a release. “In fact, these are some of the most scenic areas that we have acquired in the recent past, and I am very excited that these could be part of the National Forest System.”

Perry Norris, executive director of the Truckee Donner Land Trust, said these pieces, along with other land trust acquisitions like Perazzo Meadows, are important for preserving the Little Truckee River watershed.

“When you look in the context of the Little Truckee River this adds up to a substantial accomplishment,” Norris said. “We’d like to see the whole watershed preserved.”

Herbst said in the release that the watershed’s resources support Lahontan cutthroat trout ” a threatened species ” and other wildlife.

Some of the lands fall within the Sagehen Basin, shared between the Forest Service and UC Berkeley at the Sagehen Creek Field Station, adding to the available area for research, according to the press release.

“There is an enormous opportunity in the Little Truckee Watershed to protect very important land,” Norris said. “As development pressure spills from Tahoe to Martis Valley and Truckee towards Jackson Meadows, keeping development at a reasonable level will be critical.”

The Truckee Donner Land Trust will also be passing the 1,462-acre Waddle Ranch in the Martis Valley in fee and title to the Truckee Tahoe Airport District within the next 30 to 60 days, said Perry Norris of the land trust.

“Waddle Ranch is going to be a very loved piece of land, and is going to be the shining star for open space restoration in the Truckee area,” Norris said.

But while the land trust is able to preserve some properties and pass them on to public agencies, other, smaller parcels are left in their care.

“Because there is no public entity like in the Bay Area with their Open Space District, a lot of property is too small for the Forest Service, the county doesn’t want them, and they wouldn’t be appropriate for state parks,” Norris said.

The land trust receives transfer fees from East West Partners to help fund stewardship, but fewer dollars are trickling in as real estate sales slow significantly, Norris said.

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