Schallenberger Ridge could be first in series of land transfers | SierraSun.com

Schallenberger Ridge could be first in series of land transfers

Erich Sommer

In what may be the first in a series of land transfers from private to public hands, state officials will decide this Friday whether or not to add 750 acres of the prominent Schallenberger Ridge to the Donner Memorial State Park.

The State Public Works Board in Sacramento will consider the purchase from the current owners, the Trust for Public Land, at a public hearing on April 12.

If approved, the land would be incorporated into the park and begin what TPL hopes is only the first phase of the eventual transfer of 2,500 acres of their land to the park.

Since 2000, TPL has been acquiring the land in Coldstream Canyon, just south of the park, from Croman Timber Company of Oregon.

That acreage includes Schallenberger Ridge, the highly visible backdrop of Donner Lake.

The state’s acquisition of the land would make Donner Memorial State Park one of the largest state parks in the entire Sierra Nevada and extend public lands from Truckee to Donner Summit.

Coupled with the Truckee Donner Land Trust’s easements on Stefanie Olivieri’s Jackass Ridge property, which runs west from Highway 89 to Coldstream Canyon, Truckee Donner Land Trust Executive Director Perry Norris said TPL’s conveyance to the state would preserve and protect a large swath of prominent land forever.

In order to purchase the land from TPL, the state will use money provided Prop 117’s Habitat Conservation Fund, which passed in 1991.

However, those funds would have already dried up had Proposition 12 not passed in 2000.

Also known as the Safe Neighborhood Parks, Clean Water, Clean Air, and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2000, it provides more than $2 billion in funds to protect land, improve water and air quality, ensure clean drinking water, and preserve open space and farmland threatened by development.

It appropriates money from state General Fund to pay off bonds over the next 25 years.

“Californians have spoken very loudly about their concern for open space and an expanded park system,” Norris said of Prop 12’s passage in 2000.

Still, the conveyance is not without critics, most notably a small group of private landowners in Coldstream Valley.

Some of those landowners have been working with the California Association of Business, Property and Resource Owners, a property rights advocacy group, to protect their interests in neighboring Coldstream Canyon.

State parks, they say, opposes development in Coldstream Canyon, citing the parks comments to Placer County opposing the subdivision of a 56-acre parcel owned by Larry Hahn and a commercial water facility in Coldstream owned by Walter Harvey.

In 1982, Harvey, who owns 26 acres in Coldstream, proposed a ski resort in Coldstream Canyon that would have been the largest in North America – three times bigger than Squaw Valley Ski Resort was at the time.

Harvey was president of the company that was proposing to build the Sunstream Ski Area.