Schallenberger Ridge to become part of Donner Park | SierraSun.com

Schallenberger Ridge to become part of Donner Park

Erich Sommer, Sierra Sun

And just like that, the Donner Memorial State Park will soon be nearly twice as big.

The park will add 750 acres thanks to a decision last Friday by the State Public Works Board, which unanimously approved the first of two proposed acquisitions by the State Department of Parks and Recreation from one of the nation’s most active land trusts, the Trust for Public Land.

Once incorporated into the park, Donner Memorial State Park will be one of the largest in the whole Sierra Nevada.

It also begins what the TPL trust hopes is only the first phase of the eventual transfer of over 2,000 acres of their land to the park.

Since 2000, the trust, in conjunction with the Truckee Donner Land Trust, has been acquiring the land in Coldstream Canyon and on Schallenberger Ridge, both of which are just south of the park. The land was previously owned by Croman Timber Company of Oregon, and was acquired by the Trust for Public Land in order to preserve it from future development.

The land includes Schallenberger Ridge, the highly visible backdrop of Donner Lake.

The state’s acquisition of it will extend public lands from Truckee to Donner Summit.

But before the Department of Parks and Recreation could purchase the land, the acquisition had to be approved by the State Public Works Board.

Shortly after Friday’s meeting, Truckee Donner Land Trust Executive Director Perry Norris said he was “elated and relieved. This has been a 10-year project for the land trust. (Friday) was a great day for Truckee and a great day for conservation.”

The very formation of the Truckee Donner Land Trust 10 years ago was in response to logging that damaged parts of the Emigrant Trail that runs through Coldstream Canyon, Norris said.

“It has been a decade long passion to preserve Coldstream Canyon, Lakeview Canyon Emigrant Canyon and Schallenberger Ridge,” Norris said. “This is about preserving and, in a town exploding with development, protecting one of the town’s landmarks. If we had not acquired the land, Croman told us that they were going to sell the property off and subdivide it into 12 160-acre parcels. If that would have happened, you would have seen development on Schallenberger Ridge.”

Once finalized, 750 acres will be sold by the trust to State Parks for $1 million.

The actual land transfer will occur by the end of the month, when escrow is expected to closed, Norris said.

A second transfer proposes the addition of 1173 acres purchased from Croman by the trust to Donner Memorial State Park.

Norris said he hopes that transfer will occur before the end of the year, but added that he expects there will be a quarter to half million-dollar funding shortfall on behalf of the state.

Norris said private donations to the land trust will have to make up the difference.

“(State) funding for phase two is a moving target,” Norris said.

Norris added that he hopes three other properties that the Truckee Donner Land Trust owns in Coldstream, totaling 175 acres, will eventually be incorporated into the park.

“These are properties that should definitely be part of the state park,” Norris said.