3,300 acres of Truckee Canyon preserved | TheUnion.com

3,300 acres of Truckee Canyon preserved

Much of the rugged Truckee River Canyon ” including prime deer habitat and tributaries to the Truckee River ” will be preserved for future generations, thanks to a deal announced this week by local, state and national conservation groups.

The Truckee Donner Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy recently completed the purchase of 3,344 acres of land along the Truckee River between Floriston and the Nevada state line. The $2.1 million deal ensures that the “gateway to California will remain wild forever,” said Michael Conner of The Nature Conservancy.

The property, about 10 parcels that include seven miles abutting the Truckee River, was owned by Sierra Pacific Power for nearly a century. The power company, which is in the process of selling its water operations to the Truckee Meadows Water Authority, left untouched the slopes above the river, only using a strip of land along the river to produce hydroelectric power.

The property has value to conservationists as a migration corridor for the Loyalton-Truckee deer herd and as habitat for mountain lions and bears.

But it was the water quality that had Sierra Pacific Power and conservation groups truly thrilled with the purchase.

“It’s not every day in the conservation business that you get to protect nearly an entire watershed,” said Executive Director Perry Norris of the Truckee Donner Land Trust.

The land trust will hold a conservation easement on the 92 acres along the Truckee River, which will remain under the ownership of the Truckee Meadows Water Authority. The California Department of Fish and Game will manage the properties higher in the river canyon.

The acquired properties include Cottonwood-choked canyons, soaring volcanic buttes and rambling, sage-blanketed hills. Most of the land is on the northern side of Interstate 80 ” a chunk of undeveloped property that connects Verdi, Nev., to the hills around Boca, Stampede and Prosser reservoirs.

Executive Director John Donnelly of the Wildlife Conservation Board, noted how diverse efforts to preserve land along the eastern Sierra is beginning to make a big difference.

Noting the proximity of land preserved in the Sierra Valley, in the Martis Valley and in Hope Valley, Donnelly said, “these links are starting to come together on this side of the mountain range, and it’s great to see.”

The Truckee River Canyon connects the nation’s most populous state, California, with the nation’s fastest growing state, Nevada, The Nature Conservancy noted.

Funding for the deal came from two sources ” $1.5 million from the California Department of Resources and $600,000 from an anonymous Nevada County donor.

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