Taking one step closer to establishing rim trail, preserving ridge | SierraSun.com
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Taking one step closer to establishing rim trail, preserving ridge

JOHN A. BAYLESS, Sierra Sun

The Truckee-Donner Land Trust recently acquired 64 acres of land on Schallenberger Ridge, bringing the organization closer to its goals of preserving the entire ridge, and establishing the Donner Lake Rim Trail.

Schallenberger Ridge lies to the south of Donner Lake, and the Union Pacific trains chug along its side as they climb toward Donner Summit.

To the land trust, it represents an important scenic resource for our area, as well as hundreds of acres of possible recreational space.

The land trust bought the 64-acre tract in August, purchasing the land from Menasha Corp., which sold it for $32,000.

Executive Director Dan Wendin said there are many factors behind the land trust’s drive to purchase Schallenberger Ridge.

“It is the backdrop of Donner Lake,” Wendin said. “The land connects the existing Donner Memorial State Park with the U.S. Forest Service property on the Sierra Crest. It is also the route of the Donner Lake Rim Trail and part of the route of the Emigrant Trail.”

The former Menasha property lies just above the railroad tracks and to the west of the Donner Memorial State Park holdings.

The land trust is also pursuing the purchase of the extensive holdings of the Croman Corp. on the ridge and in Emigrant Canyon. Wendin said the organization is negotiating for the initial purchase of 134 acres of Croman land, but no agreement has been reached at this time.

With the purchase of that parcel, the eastern two miles of the ridge would all be publicly owned. Wendin said that will require a fund-raising drive.

The first donation of the campaign for Schallenberger has already arrived, in the form of $5,000 from employees of Washoe Medical Center in Reno.

“We buy it to take the long view and have a measure of control over the harvesting of timber,” Wendin said.

He said owning the land allows the land trust to focus on preserving trails and scenic vistas first.

The Truckee-Donner Land Trust was created in 1990, and Wendin said its origins were different from those of most land trusts, which are normally formed to purchase a specific site.

“We did it differently,” he said. “In the late ’80s a number of citizens’ committees were established by Nevada County in the east and west county.

“One of those committees was involved in open space and viewsheds.”

He said the committee considered creation of a taxing agency, such as an open space district, but decided it was not really practical for the area.

“A land trust was noted as a possible vehicle,” he said.

The Truckee-Donner Land Trust uses donations to purchase land, which it then sells to the state when state agencies have funds available.

Wendin said a typical transaction by the trust was its cooperation with the state in the purchase of 131 acres in Coldstream Canyon.

“At the time, the state did not have the money to buy the whole thing,” Wendin said. “We bought the portion which the state could not, then the state later bought it back from us. We initially spent $80,000, and eventually contributed $24,000 after the state reimbursed the trust.”

The land trust owns 176 acres of property and has 155 acres under option, Wendin said.

From its creation until 1997, the land trust remained an all-volunteer organization.

That year the land trust hired Roz Lorenzato to serve as executive director and Perry Norris as development director.

Both of the staff members opted to pursue other interests this year.

Wendin then moved into the position of part-time executive director, assisted by Kris Norris as head of communications and membership, and office manager/event coordinator Carol Meagher.

Wendin has extensive experience with land preservation issues and open space management, having helped form the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District in the Bay Area during the 1970s.

He was the first first president of the district and served on the board for 15 years.

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