TRUCKEE, Calif. — It appears a year's worth of fundraising is about to pay off in a big way.The Truckee Donner Land Trust recently received $5 million from the Wildlife Conservation Board to acquire approximately 2,995 acres of land in the Northern Sierra, said Perry Norris, executive director of the Land Trust.Through 2011, the Land Trust and its acquisition partner, the Trust for Public Land, has been fundraising in earnest to raise $8 million to purchase Webber Lake and Lacey Meadows north of Truckee in Nevada and Sierra counties, Norris said.“This $5 million grant allows us to further close the gap in the funds needed to reach our $8 million goal,” he said. “We are pleased that we only need $500,000 more to complete the purchase, giving our members and the public at large great hope that we will be able to conserve these critical landscapes and the headwaters of the Little Truckee River.”The acquisition will allow for protection of significant alpine and wet-meadow habitat, as well as the upper Little Truckee River watershed, Norris said, and will allow for continued conservation-based management and public use of the property.
From a biological, historical and recreational perspective, this may be the most important acquisition the Land Trust has pursued. Lacey Meadows comprises 1,900 acres and is one of the best examples of a highly functioning meadow system in the Northern Sierra Nevada eco region. The landscape has been targeted by The Nature Conservancy as a “Portfolio Site,” Norris said, because of the critical habitat it provides for biodiversity in the Northern Sierra Nevada.Webber Lake has been a private recreation destination for more than 100 years and is said to be the birthplace of sport fishing in the Sierra. The site is also of immense historical significance. Webber Lake Hotel, built in 1860, still stands on the property, which is traversed by the historic Henness Pass Road, a crucial emigrant and early California commerce route.“This is arguably one of the most important conservation efforts in the Sierra Nevada,” said the Land Trust's president, Tom Van Berkem. “We are encouraged to be closing our fundraising gap.”
The Wildlife Conservation Board had earmarked $22.3 million to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California, funding 19 projects to benefit fish and wildlife species, including some endangered species and increase public access.According to various reports, the funds for these projects come from recent bond initiatives approved by the voters to help preserve and protect California's natural resources.The Land Trust, working in partnership with the Trust for Public Land, hopes to close on the properties in the fall of 2012, said Dave Sutton, Northern California and Nevada director for the Trust for Public Land.“The natural resources, historic value and scenic beauty of the Webber Lake property are unsurpassed in the northern Sierra, and the property's protection will be a wonderful benefit to the California public,” Sutton said. “The Trust for Public Land and Truckee Donner Land Trust are greatly appreciative of our ongoing partnership with the California Department of Fish and Game and the California Wildlife Conservation Board, and for their critical investment in the conservation of Webber Lake and Lacey Meadows.”