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Another View: Placer Land Trust is a vital resource for our county

By: Randi Swisley
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The beauty of our American River canyon never ceases to astound me, even after living within a couple of miles from it most of my life.  From the wetlands of the Roseville/Lincoln area to the splendor of Lake Tahoe, our county is rich in nature.  Preserving and appreciating natural resources is something all of us who live here have in common.  Loss of wildlife, plants, water and other natural phenomenon is a loss that is likely permanent. Careful planning of growth and protection of these precious resources is our responsibility.  Organizations and people dedicated to this purpose are key to our success of maintaining the environment we are so lucky to live in.

Today 8,100 acres of land in Placer County is harbored by Placer Land Trust.  Founded in 1991, Placer Land Trust works with willing landowners and conservation partners to permanently protect Placer County’s natural and agricultural lands for future generations.  They strive to avoid acquiring patches of land and instead aim to create and protect corridors of protected land.  Property owners seeking to protect their land can sell outright to Placer Land Trust or they can retain ownership of the land and sell the development rights, to deter purchase by developers.  Prices paid are at fair market value as determined by an assessor and upon ownership, Placer Land Trust takes responsibility for maintaining and sometimes enhancing the land.  Fuel load reduction, removal of invasive species, and trail building are examples of routine maintenance of wetlands, rivers, watersheds, natural habitat, public recreation, and working farms and ranches in their purview.

As a 502c.3 non-profit organization, Placer Land Trust is qualified to hold land and easements for public benefit.  Their Board of Directors is not compensated and is selected privately by members of their organization.  In spite of their name, they are not affiliated with county government in any way, even though sometimes they will hold land until county or state parks are ready to take it over. 

Purchasing and taking care of land forever is expensive.  Placer Land Trust enjoys the support of 700 members who contributed over $530,000 last year and 200 volunteers who donated over 26,000 hours of their time.  A little over half of the money raised by Placer Land Trust is from grants, a quarter of it is from donations and the rest comes from grazing leases and special programs.  Most of their budget (90%) goes directly towards protection programs and land purchase, with the remaining 10 percent split between administration and fund raising. 

Placer Land Trust property includes Canyon View Preserve, Auburn School park, Stagecoach Preserve, Cisco Grove Gould Park, Codfish Falls Trail Preserve and Miners Ravine Preserve, among many other areas.  Placer Land Trust partners with Eagle Scouts, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts as well as AmeriCorps to assist in improving watershed health and preserving habitat.

Our community is lucky to have such strong support from donors who support this important organization for the preservation of an environment we all enjoy.

Randi Swisley of Auburn is president of the Placer County League of Women Voters.