Of course all this good news didn’t happen on its own. Several agencies and organizations worked extremely hard to make it happen. The Royal Gorge purchase was the culmination of a five-month long fundraising campaign, plus lots of challenging negotiations.
“It took 1,000 donors, and numerous public and private agencies to get this done,” said Svahn, adding that the final price tag was $11.25 million. “We owe a huge thanks especially to our partners at The Trust for Public Land the Northern Sierra Partnership.”
Those same two organizations were credited with aiding in what’s being called the Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI) land acquisition, named after the timber company that previously owned the land.
“We were all very pleased to see this finally go through,” said the Forest Service’s Westling. “Some of our folks started working on this project 15 years ago. But we feel like it was worth the effort. The Donner Summit area is such a popular area from a recreation standpoint. These lands are in beautiful country with high elevation lakes, granite outcroppings, expansive meadows, and now folks will have more opportunities to explore it.”
Like Royal Gorge, the SPI purchase was facilitated in part by The Trust For Public Land, a national non-profit organization whose main aim is to conserve land for people to enjoy.
“We are really proud and excited,” said Carl Somers, associate director at the Northern California branch of The Trust for Public Land. “In the last 10 years, we’ve really focused on what we call the Sierra checkerboard, alternating between squares of public and private ownership in the area on either side of the Sierra Crest north of Truckee going all the way to the Sierra Buttes.”
Somers said the recent 1,370-acre purchase from Sierra Pacific Industries came about in part due to a lag in the timber industry.
“Initially they didn’t want to sell this particular property,” said Somers about the largest private land owner in the state and one of the largest in the country. “But a dive in the timber markets created an opening to get land that was not on table before, and we made most of that opportunity. Now we can look at closing the gap on the Hole in the Ground trail. But even better is the fact that the best terrain on the ride will be in that new segment that we just acquired. It includes a really large granite escarpment that will allow for a really technical slickrock crossing, maybe a mile of it. Plus there are amazing views to the south over the Donner Summit area in Truckee.”
Needless to say the locals are excited. Paco Lindsay is the owner of Paco’s Truckee Bike and Ski and is a board member and is on the board for the Truckee Trails Foundation. “The biggest thing is to get the land so that it will never be developed,” said Lindsay. “It’s open space forever which is important for our kids and grandkids and the generations to come. And we get more mountain bike trails, which is always exciting. We’re going to be looking back on these events five years from now and saying, Wow this was huge.”