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Friday, April 10, 2009

Acquisition of two land parcels in southern Sierra Nevada will protect two ecologically rich areas in Tulare County

The Wilderness Land Trust just took a major step forward in creating a wilderness legacy in the Southern Sierra Nevada Mountains with the acquisition of two ecologically rich parcels of land.

“We are grateful for the vision and effort that the Wilderness Land Trust has put into the acquisition of these two significant properties”, said Tim Smith, BLM Bakersfield Field Manager. “The initiative that the Wilderness Land Trust has taken to work with willing sellers to conserve these lands will greatly benefit the public in the preservation of wilderness and resource values into the future.”

The land trust acquired two properties; a 200-acre inholding in the Domeland Wilderness and a 2,435-acre property adjacent to the Sacatar Trail Wilderness. An inholding is privately owned land inside the boundary of a national park, national forest, state park, or similar publicly owned, protected area.

Both parcels are in Tulare County east of the Sierra crest and will be passed on to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which will manage the areas as wilderness. Both parcels support rich archeological resources, numerous springs, and opportunities for hiking into the rugged backcountry. The Domeland Wilderness inholding is situated along a major tributary to the South Fork Kern River. The parcel is within a quarter-mile from the Pacific Crest Trail and supports lush riparian habitat and Pinyon-Juniper Woodlands that are surrounded by rugged granitic peaks.

The 2,435-acre property adjacent to the Sacatar Trail Wilderness includes expansive wet meadows straddled by Pinyon-Juniper Woodlands and an isolated stand of Joshua Trees that occur at an elevation just over 7,000 feet.

"We are delighted that the Wilderness Land Trust could step in and work with willing sellers to protect these important wilderness properties," said Trust President Reid Haughey from the organization’s home office in Carbondale, Colo. "We have the opportunity to decommission several miles of roads and remove fences and other wilderness intrusions that will restore the lands to their natural state."

The Domeland Wilderness inholding will automatically be incorporated into the surrounding wilderness area. The 2,435-acre ranch adjacent to the Sacatar Trail Wilderness will expand the adjoining wilderness area as per the 1964 Wilderness Act, which says lands adjacent to congressionally designated wilderness areas can be annexed to those wilderness areas through administrative means if the lands are donated to the federal government.

Founded in 1993, the Wilderness Land Trust is a non-profit, publicly supported charity that works to purchase private lands (inholdings) within wilderness. All of the lands acquired by the trust are transferred to public ownership through voluntary mechanisms that respect landowner property rights and values. The trust has protected nearly 30,000 acres in more than 60 different wilderness areas across California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Montana and Colorado. To learn more about the work of the Wilderness Land Trust, visit their Website at

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