Sunset Ranch open for visitors
Life is quiet these days at the former Sunset Ranch.
In fact, the only life on the 189-acre South Shore land now is wild – save the occasional human passersby.
For more than a year the land, now managed by the California Tahoe Conservancy, hasn’t been home to the horses it was long known for.
“We’ve been inventorying the many miles of roads and trails on the property to determine what initial restoration efforts we can do,” said Bruce Eisner, Conservancy acquisitions manager. “We haven’t started any kind of formal planning process where we would look at the entire property comprehensively.
“Just because we took title to the property last year doesn’t mean we were ready with a staff to begin restoration work as soon as we got it,” Eisner added.
“We are hoping things will fall into place and we can achieve some restoration. But now that it’s public land, protection and healing are happening just because the continued uses aren’t there on a regular basis.”
With the help of $500,000 from the American Land Conservancy, the California agency purchased the ranch in January 1999 for $3 million. It is one of the Conservancy’s largest South Shore purchases.
The land borders on Forest Service and Lake Tahoe Airport properties and holds about 1 1/2 miles of the Upper Truckee River. The property – 76 percent of which is classified as stream zone – has miles of roads and trails that cut into sensitive meadows as well as disturbed soil river banks.
The property is a key wildlife habitat, used by bald eagles, black bears, deer and other animals, according to the Conservancy. There also are numerous coyotes in the area.
For decades the ranch was used for equestrian and snowmobile use as well as cattle grazing.
When the Conservancy is able to start considering long-term management strategies, public input will be encouraged, Eisner said.
In the meantime, despite fences circling the perimeter, the land is open to the public.
“People are allowed in. The no-trespassing signs were taken down. The fencing, at this point, is to protect the resources – keep people from driving into inappropriate areas,” Eisner said. “People are certainly welcome to go in there.”
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