http://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/california/press/truckee062107.htmlNature Conservancy protects land north of Lake Tahoe
Partners Protect 3,344 Acres of Truckee River Canyon
Deal will protect wildlife habitat and scenic beauty at "gateway to California"
Truckee, Calif. — June 21, 2007 — Seven miles of one of the most ecologically rich and scenic stretches of the Truckee River in the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains are now permanently preserved thanks to an alliance of public and private partners in California and Nevada.
The Nature Conservancy brokered the acquisition of a 3,344-acre property near Truckee, California, from Sierra Pacific Power Company (SPPC) for $2 million. The California Resources Agency provided $1.5 million for the purchase through the 2002 River Parkways Grant Program, with the Conservancy providing private funds to complete the deal.
"The concept of protecting contiguous pieces of property is essential for wildlife corridors and habitat conservation," said Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman. "Thanks to our great partnerships, projects like these are creating a legacy of conservation for our generation and the generations to follow."
The California Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved the acquisition of the 3,252 acre upland portion of the property, to be held by the State of California. The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) will manage all but 92 acres of the property – the riparian corridor – that will be owned by the Truckee Meadows Water Authority, per the stipulations of a pre-existing agreement with SPPC. The Truckee Donner Land Trust (TDLT), which played a role in securing funding, will hold a public access and conservation easement on these riverside acres and intends to open them to the general public for passive recreation. In cooperation with the partners, DFG will develop a Land Management Plan to guide management activities on the upland property, including wildlife related recreational opportunities.
"This acquisition is an outstanding example of a diverse partnership with a shared conservation vision achieving on-the-ground results - the protection of a spectacular and ecologically important canyon," explains Mike Conner, project director with The Nature Conservancy. "This gateway to California will now remain forever wild."
Situated adjacent to the Nevada border along Interstate 80, the property provides a scenic welcome to passengers of more than 34,000 cars per day to California. More importantly, scientists from The Nature Conservancy and DFG identified the canyon property as a top priority for preservation due to its high quality wildlife habitat.
"It's so rewarding for the Wildlife Conservation Board to partner with other public agencies, the conservation community, and private enterprise in order to preserve this significant stretch of riparian and upland property for future generations," said WCB Executive Director John Donnelly. "This transaction is a great example of what can be achieved through a joint cooperative effort."
This property encompasses seven miles of riverfront and many miles of tributary streams with large stands of cottonwood-riparian forest and a willow-riparian corridor. These habitats support birds such as the yellow warbler and warbling vireo. The property’s uplands connect hundreds of thousands of acres of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest to the Tahoe National Forest and therefore provide important movement corridors for wildlife, including mule deer from the Verdi subunit of the Loyalton-Truckee Deer Herd.
Sandwiched between Truckee and Reno, both of which are expanding at dramatic rates, the primary threat to the Truckee River Canyon is low-density residential development.
"We’re pleased to be a part of preserving portions of the Truckee River Canyon," said Sierra Pacific Power Company President, Jeff Ceccarelli. "We are proud of our partnership with The Nature Conservancy and Truckee Meadows Water Authority, whose cooperation and vision helped make this project possible."
The 92 acres that will be owned by TMWA encompass the riparian corridor, with TDLT holding a conservation easement to monitor and ensure the protection of the natural communities on the land.
"The most amazing part of this conservation effort is its sheer size," says Perry Norris, executive director of the Truckee Donner Land Trust. "It is rare today to protect such a large swath of contiguous lands in a single watershed."
The easement will allow for passive recreation on the parcels, including rafting, fishing and birdwatching. The agreement will permit TMWA to maintain and construct facilities related only to its hydropower operation on the property.
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