Sierra Nevada Checkerboard
The “Sierra Nevada Checkerboard” is a mosaic spanning several thousand acres of land in public and private ownership, which resembles a checkerboard. This ownership pattern dates back to the construction of the transcontinental railroad in the 1860s. As an incentive to build this dangerous and expensive railroad, the federal government offered railroad companies every other square mile of land along the route, reserving the rest to become National Forest. If left unprotected, these private parcels of forestland will be converted to rural sprawl over the next 10 to 20 years, increasing congestion, decimating wildlife, and complicating fire management. “Closing” this Checkerboard is a Land Trust priority.
In 2006, the Land Trust and its steadfast partner, The Trust for Public Land, closed on 2,000 acres surrounding Independence Lake and 640 acres in the North Fork of the American River drainage that includes parts of Snow Mountain. This was the final phase of a project totaling nearly 4,000 acres. Other previously acquired properties include 1,400 acres in the Truckee River Watershed.
This iconic river and meadow system is 983 acres of some of the finest examples of montaine riparian and wet meadow habitat in the Sierra Nevada. Surrounded by upland forests and snow-capped mountains, the area sustains a number of rare species and plays a vital role in the Truckee River watershed. A day use picnic area is available to enjoy.
Photo: Elizabeth Carmel
Carpenter Ridge & Independence Lake
In partnership with The Nature Conservancy, the Land Trust completed a $15 million acquisition to protect the remaining 2,400 acres surrounding the stunning and pristine Independence Lake, north of Truckee. Independence Lake is home to one of two wild, self-sustaining populations of Lahontan cutthroat trout in the world and a prime source of clean drinking water for Western Nevada. The purchase of this property has been a 30-year priority for conservationists. With its partners, the Land Trust is implementing projects to restore the forests around the lake, will build a new campground, trails, trailheads and other recreational amenities to enhance public enjoyment.
This 160-acre property, north of Eagle Lakes/Cisco Grove and west of Donner Summit, contains historic Pierce Meadows, popular for camping and horse packing. The parcel is a part of the Sierra Nevada Checkerboard and is an example of a 160-acre parcel now subdivided into 40-acre parcels. The meadows system is a significant contributor to the southern forks of the south Yuba River. These valuable meadow systems are an important source for water storage and water quality resources. An old network of passable roads and trails lead to a large granite cliff band. This astounding formation resembles a miniature El Capitan looming above the meadows.
Cold Stream Meadow
In partnership with The Trust for Public Land, the Land Trust closed escrow on 1,320 acres directly south of Perazzo Meadows. Within these two sections are over two miles of Cold Stream, supporting a healthy population of brook trout and a major tributary to the Little Truckee River. This acquisition also includes the 400-acre Cold Stream Meadow and over two miles of the popular Mt. Lola Trail. The property will remain a superior wildlife habitat with scenic views and public access for generations.
Photo: Janet Zipser Zipkin
These parcels contain substantial tributaries to the North Fork of the American River, encompassing both the Palisade Creek and the Long Valley watersheds south and west of Donner Summit that drain into the American River. There is a network of trails including the Palisade Creek Trail adjacent to Devil’s Peak. Sec. 5 includes the eastern half slopes of Devil’s Peak. The entire Roberts in-holding is surrounded by federal public- USFS lands.
Independence Lake is home to one of only two wild, self-sustaining populations of Lahontan cutthroat trout in the world - a fish that has been lost from 99% of its historic range. The surrounding pine forest is home to black bear, mountain lion, and mule deer. Bald eagles and osprey can be spotted from the shorelines, hunting fish. The region is also home to rare species like the willow flycatcher, mountain yellow-legged frog, and Sierra Nevada mountain beaver. Click here to plan your visit!
Sunset magazine named The Truckee Donner Land Trust as one of their winners of Sunset's 2012 Environmental Awards, which are featured in the March, 2012 issue of Sunset. Independence Lake won in the category of best lake or lakeshore preservation. As an award winner, we join the ranks of the most creative and effective environmental organizations in the West. See more here.
In partnership with The Trust for Public Land, an historic agreement was reached with Sierra Pacific Industries to purchase conservation easements on 7,000 acres of lands along the northern Sierra Crest north of Truckee. This easement provides public access, recreation and trail development while allowing SPI to continue to own and sustainably manage the forested properties. Encompassing more than 11 square miles of private land, the deal creates a permanent, unbroken habitat, viewshed and recreational corridor along the length of Jackson Meadows Road closely paralleling historic Henness Pass Road.
Webber Lake & Lacey Meadows
The Truckee Donner Land Trust and The Trust for Public Land, working together as part of the Northern Sierra Partnership have permanently protected Webber Lake and Lacey Meadows, an extraordinary 3,000-acre property at the headwaters of the Little Truckee River. The property will be opened to the public for the first time in over a century.
The property has it all: 1,900 acres of pristine sub-alpine meadow, California history with Henness Pass Road and Webber Lake Hotel —one of the oldest standing structures in the region — and critical habitat for a number of threatened or endangered species.
The Wildlife Conservation Board, Sierra Nevada Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy, and Northern Sierra Partnership all provided significant funding for the acquisition, as did numerous private individuals.
Webber Lake/Lacey Meadows will be open for trail access on June 15th. The private fishing campground will be closed to the public until 2017. For more information on the fishing campground, call Webber Lake Management at 530-412-0865.
Photo courtesy of www.TheCarmelGallery.com, ©Elizabeth Carmel