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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

3700 Acre Yuba River land Purchase May be Funded by Feds this Year

May 29, 2008

From the Trust for Public Land

This year, the Forest Service has an opportunity to acquire 3,700 acres of forestland in the Sierra Nevada. An appropriation of $5 million is needed through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 Interior Appropriations bill to protect these lands.


In the 19th century, in order to spur construction of the transcontinental railroads through the barrier of the Sierra Nevada to the Pacific, the federal government granted lands to railroad companies in alternating square miles along the route. The subsequent Sierra “checkerboard” of alternating federal and private ownership presents numerous challenges including mixtures of pristine and degraded wildlife habitats, areas opened and closed to recreation, forests interspersed with housing, and complications in forest fire management. Projected population increases in the counties around Lake Tahoe over the next 20 to 40 years dramatically heighten the threats to this landscape, promising further habitat fragmentation, invasion of nonnative species, deterioration of water quality, and increasing difficulties in managing wildfire. The Forest Service has identified the Tahoe National Forest as one of three national forests in the West projected to be most affected by increased housing development in the next two decades.

To meet these challenges, the Forest Service has sought to consolidate these checkerboard lands. Available for acquisition in FY 2009 are nineteen parcels of land, covering 3,700 acres in the vicinity of the Middle and North Yuba rivers in Sierra and Nevada counties. The Forest Service has recognized that north-south habitat connectivity is crucial to wildlife migration in the Sierra Nevada, and the adaptive challenges now being brought to the fore by climate change reinforce the need to consolidate these checkerboard lands. These parcels also provide riparian corridor habitat for numerous species, not only along the Middle Yuba, but also along key tributaries of the North Yuba River. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) lies near some of the parcels in areas popular with PCT hikers. In addition, the North Yuba River flows alongside the Yuba-Donner Scenic Byway, from which some of these lands are visible. Land along this highway is very popular for a variety of recreational pursuits, including cross-country skiing, hiking, fishing, biking, whitewater rafting and camping.

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