Bruin Ranch: Awesome recreation potential

By: J.D. Richey Journal Outdoors Columnist
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So, do you think you’d enjoy having 2,300 acres of oak woodland as your playground for hunting, fishing, biking, hiking, birding and riding… all just north of downtown Auburn? Sounds like a pipe dream, right? Well, not so fast… Preserving it for the public Bruin Ranch, a privately held piece of land near Auburn Valley Country Club, is coming up for sale and the landowner has given Placer Land Trust ( first shot at purchasing it. As always, PLT’s goal is to preserve the land and make it public. I was lucky enough to get a tour of the place a week back with Jeff Darlington, the Executive Director of PLT, and it was one of the most incredible pieces of property on which I’ve ever set foot. The place is amazing — it features rolling oak hills filled with turkey, deer, quail, dove, waterfowl and wild pigs; sweeping vistas of the Bear River canyon and the Sacramento Valley beyond and seven ponds — at least two of which are teeming with bass and panfish (that little stat comes from a little personal “recon work”). Additionally, there’s more than three miles of remote Bear River frontage on Bruin Ranch that has been seen (and fished) by very few people. Thanks to a little more empirical data, I’m happy to report that smallmouth bass abound in the river! And there are plenty of other ways to enjoy a place like Bruin Ranch. In addition to the obvious hunting and fishing opportunities, there will be lots of other cool stuff to do there — the bird and wildlife watching was excellent when I visited and I assume the wildflower viewing may be nice in the spring. There also looked to be some pretty interesting whitewater kayaking potential on the river. Hiking, of course, will be a big part of the attraction and mountain bikers and equestrian enthusiasts would likely have plenty of miles of trail to explore as well. Time to Act! All this can be ours, but we have to act fast. Placer Land Trust has until the end of 2010 to come up with $12.7 million (plus an additional $2 million to cover management costs) to purchase the property. If Darlington’s outfit can make some magic happen, the 2,300 acres of Bruin Ranch will be added to an adjoining 1,700 acres that PLT has already acquired, giving the public 4,000 contiguous acres of outdoor wonderland to enjoy — making it truly one of the area’s marquee spots for public recreation. At the end of next year, however, the landowner will place the property back on the development market if PLT can’t come up with the cash. “This property can hold up to 900 homes,” says Darlington. “Instead of only having a limited number of families enjoying this property, Placer Land Trust would rather see that everybody gets to benefit from it... forever.” What you can do If interested in supporting the public acquisition of Bruin Ranch, the best thing you can do, of course, is bust out the ol’ checkbook and give PLT some dough. Darlington is quick to point out, though, there are plenty of non-financial ways you can contribute to the project. Simply give him a call at (530) 887-9222 and see what you can do to help. “If you do feel like donating to the cause, know that your gift is going to an organization that is nationally accredited and that your donation will be used to protect this special piece of land to be enjoyed by future generations,” says Darlington. After spending the day on the ranch, I can see why Darlington has so much passion for preserving the land. It would be devastating to see Bruin Ranch turn into a gated community instead of a public playground… J.D. Richey is a 1986 Placer High graduate whose outdoors pieces have been published nationally. Find him on the Web at