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July 11, 2013
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Sierra conservation groups dedicate Royal Gorge purchase

TRUCKEE, Calif. — In recognition of a community that rallied together to save a precious and iconic resource, officials and supporters gathered last week to celebrate the formal dedication of Royal Gorge, the world-renowned cross-country ski area and mountain paradise on Donner Summit.

Hundreds of supporters, including prominent community members, conservation leaders, elected officials and public agency representatives were present at the July 2 ceremony. The event marked the culmination of an extraordinary grassroots effort to save the historic site from development.

The Trust for Public Land and the Truckee Donner Land Trust, working as part of the Northern Sierra Partnership, raised $11.25 million to buy the property last December from court-appointed receiver Douglas P. Wilson, who took over the property after a failed development plan to build a 950-unit resort. More than 1,000 people donated to the fundraising campaign.

“At The Trust for Public Land, we conserve land for people, and that is exactly what we have done together here at Donner Summit: save a truly special place for this and future generations.” said Sam Hodder, California State Director. “The miles of trails through the forests and meadows of Royal Gorge will bring joy to California families for years to come.”

In June, the California Wildlife Conservation Board approved a $3 million grant to the Truckee Donner Land Trust to support the acquisition. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation provided support with bridge funding for the campaign. Overall, the groups raised $15.5 million to acquire the property and provide for future stewardship and improvements.

“This was truly an unprecedented, grassroots fundraising campaign, with nearly 1,400 folks making donations between $5 and $1,000,000; a rare event for a community to rally behind saving a piece of land and to raise such a significant amount,” said Perry Norris, executive director of the Truckee Donner Land Trust. “The signs that had peppered Donner Summit for the last several years went from ‘Let’s buy it’ to ‘We did it!’”

The Truckee Donner Land Trust, which preserves and protects historic recreational lands will now own the land and lease it during winter to the nearby Sugar Bowl Ski Resort. The Land Trust is currently soliciting public input for summer recreation opportunities on the property. To learn more, visit www.royalgorgeoutreach.org.

The Palisades, Mountain Area Preservation, Sierra Business Council, North Fork American River Alliance, Sierra Club and Sierra Watch joined to advocate for the conservation of Royal Gorge. Local residents at Serene Lakes and Sugar Bowl, both on Donner Summit, provided much of the private money. The Nature Conservancy and Sierra Watch also helped raise funds for the campaign.

“We couldn’t have succeeded today without the astounding generosity of hundreds of people who dug deep into their pockets to make this conservation victory possible,” said Lucy Blake, President of the Northern Sierra Partnership. “This successful campaign is a testament to the power of collaboration.”

The Truckee Donner Land Trust preserves and protects scenic, historic and recreational lands with high natural resource values in the greater Truckee Donner region. Learn more at www.tdlandtrust.org.

Operating from more than 40 offices nationwide, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than three million acres from the inner city to the wilderness and helped generate more than $34 billion in public funds for conservation. Learn more at www.tpl.org.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Jul 11, 2013 05:55PM Published Jul 17, 2013 09:27AM Copyright 2013 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.