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Scenic wildland on American River saved

By: Gus Thomson Journal Staff Writer
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A Yuba City logging company willing to sell and a United Auburn Indian Community able to step up with funding are key players in the purchase of 94 acres of scenic wildland straddling the North Fork American River. As well as helping to save and maintain the wild and scenic character of the river, the purchase also protects watershed, a scenic corridor and public recreation opportunities, said U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Ann Westling. Siller Brother Inc. offered the two scenic parcels to the U.S. Forest Service and the Coloma-based American River Conservancy was able to put together a sale that transferred the land to the Tahoe National Forest. The property straddles both sides of the American River in Green Valley, near Dutch Flat. Running along the river in an area protected by federal Wild & Scenic Rivers status, the stretch lies on the western boundary of the Tahoe National Forest. The United Auburn Indian Community, owners of the Thunder Valley Casino, was able to provide $50,000 in a matching grant. The rest of the money came from another private donor who chose to remain anonymous. Alan Ehrgott, executive director of the American River Conservancy, said Monday that while the acreage wasn’t threatened with development, it could have been logged. Both parcels were heavily mined during the California Gold Rush and the period afterward, when hydraulic mining shifted much of the terrain. The land is also in a valley adjacent to the scenic Giant Gap rock formation, which towers over the river on both sides. Overall, the non-profit conservancy has preserved more than 10,000 acres throughout the region. Ehrgott said there are still six privately held properties along the undammed Wild & Scenic River corridor that his group would like to see under public ownership. Tom Quinn, Tahoe National Forest supervisor, said partnerships forged in the purchase of the land were crucial. The Forest Service also announced its acquisition of 548 acres of wildland along Middle Yuba River, near Sierra City, that is seen as an important wildlife habitat area. The Trust for Public Land and Sierra Pacific Industries were able to make an agreement, with the purchase price for the Yuba River land covered by federal funds from oil and gas leases. The cost of the property was $825,000. The purchases were announced last week. “Once again, we are grateful for our many partners that have provided funds and assistance to add these important lands to the Tahoe National Forest,” Quinn said. “With so much private land within the boundary of the forest, these acquisitions are important to maintaining the health of the watershed and wildlife habitat of the forest.” The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com.