Bear Yuba Land Trust secures another High Country Conservation Easement | TheUnion.com

Back to: News

Bear Yuba Land Trust secures another High Country Conservation Easement

Pacific Gas and Electric recently donated 1,459 acres to the University of California. Located on three parcels at elevations ranging from 5,000 to 6,200 feet surrounding Bowman Lake Road, the property is about a half hour east of Nevada City.

As part of its land conservation commitment, Pacific Gas and Electric recently donated 1,459 acres to the University of California. The transfer was immediately followed by the conveyance of a conservation easement to Bear Yuba Land Trust, permanently protecting high-country forest land and wildlife habitat.

Located on three parcels at elevations ranging from 5,000 to 6,200 feet surrounding Bowman Lake Road, the property is about a half hour east of Nevada City. This is PG&E's second donation to UC and the fifth time it has worked with BYLT on a conservation easement.

The land subject to this "Grouse Ridge Forest Conservation Easement" will be the focus of forest research.

"This is a spectacular landscape, not only to protect forever, but also to study how it changes with time," said trust Executive Director Marty Coleman Hunt. "… The old growth forest has been a habitat for wildlife like mountain lion, deer and coyote and will remain so for as long as the forest can support them. As the forest changes over time, the University of California will study how nature adapts, and how the impact of humans can harm or benefit the natural processes."

Forests, Watersheds and Wildlife

Statewide, the University of California, Berkeley, owns and maintains numerous natural habitats located on ecologically unique lands. In addition to an extensive network of reserves where vegetation management is not allowed, the university now has four research forests, managed by the Center for Forestry.

"We conduct a mix of preserve and management strategies to learn how the forests that provide the wood to build our homes and protect our watersheds can also continue to provide a mix of other forest benefits such as wildlife habitats, watershed protection and carbon," said Forestry Specialist and Center for Forestry Co-Director Bill Stewart.

The center continues to work to improve scientific understanding of the interconnected role of California's forests and state watersheds, renewable wood products, fish and wildlife habitat, scenic and recreational opportunities and climate benefits.

The purpose of the Grouse Ridge Forest is practicing sustainable forestry, protect habitats for native plants and wildlife, conduct research and teaching, and public environmental education.

"The large wildfires that we have seen in watersheds north and south of the Bear and Yuba watersheds are constant reminders that big changes may be coming and that we need to know how forest systems can be resilient," said Stewart.

Historic logging, recent wildfires, and forest regeneration give the property unique structures that can be studied to better understand where California forests may be headed.

Around 1912, PG&E purchased the parcels from The Central Mill Company. The property is locally known as "Camp 19" for the old construction camp that housed workers who built the nearby Bowman-Spaulding Canal. The camp was removed by PG&E prior to the transfer to the University of California. For decades, logging operations and natural and planted regeneration of forests has occurred in the region. A big fire swept through the western portion in 2008.

Natural, scenic, agricultural, historical, forested and open space characteristics are found on the newly conserved land. The preservation of this property falls in line with the trust's mission to "retain the rural character" of Nevada County and fills in a key piece of protected lands within the "checkerboard" of public and private ownership within the boundaries of the Tahoe National Forest.

The property also has historical and Native American cultural significance.

The trust is a community-supported, non-profit organization with a 26-year history of protecting forests, meadows, oak woodlands and ranches in the watersheds of the Bear and Yuba Rivers. To date, the trust has conserved nearly 12,000 acres with elevations ranging from 200 to 8,000 feet in the counties of Nevada, Yuba and Sierra.

For more information go to http://www.bylt.org.