Placer supes back Royal Gorge purchase plan with $300,000

Truckee Donner Land Trust moves to buy cross-country ski resort by Dec. 20
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Placer County is pledging $300,000 to a Truckee Donner Land Trust purchase of the 2,891-acre Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Resort property near Soda Springs. But it wants to ensure public access in the form of a 50-foot-wide trail easement along a portion of the historically significant Overland Emigrant Trail route that cuts through part of the property. The Board of Supervisors approved the funding Tuesday, with money coming from Serene Lakes Recreation Area parks developer fees. The Trust for Public Lands and the Truckee Donner Land Trust reached agreement earlier this year to purchase property that had been proposed for subdivision development seven years ago. Bill Oudegeest, of Serene Lakes, told supervisors that the property is “an extraordinary piece of land.” The sale for a total of $10.5 million could close escrow Dec. 20. Oudegeest said the property welcomed the first overland wagons to California and the first transcontinental railroad. “It’s really important and the history sets it apart,” Oudegeest said. The Board of Supervisors motion calls for contributing $300,000 but also having staff and land trust employees negotiate a funding agreement that details the future transfer of a 50-foot-wide easement for an interpretive trail and an area for recreational staging. Mark Rideout, deputy director of facility services, said the county will be involved in planning for the area to ensure it would be available to the public. Rideout said the property contains three miles of the historic overland trail. “It’s an area the public hasn’t been able to access for about 50 years,” he said. “The parks department is excited about the potential for a public trail.” The Royal Gorge land contains headwaters of both the American and Yuba rivers, and the wildland area includes one of the few stands of old growth forest that exists outside of a national park, he said. The Tahoe Donner Land Trust is currently fundraising for the acquisition cost, plus an additional $4.3 million for property improvements, ongoing maintenance and the purchase of additional property in Negro Canyon and around Lake Van Norden. Royal Gorge is located just north of Interstate 80 and to the west of Truckee.