‘To protect & preserve’: Truckee Donner Land Trust, Squaw Valley Public Service District purchase of 30 acres seeks to retain legacy of Olympic Valley meadow
Special to The Union
FOR YOUR INFORMATION
Truckee Donner Land Trust
The Truckee Donner Land Trust preserves and protects scenic, historic and recreational lands with high natural resource values in the greater Truckee Donner region and manages recreational activities on these lands in a sustainable manner.
Learn more at www.tdlandtrust.org
Squaw Valley Public Service District
The Squaw Valley Public Service District serves full-time and part-time residents, businesses, employees and visitors with high-quality and financially sound community services within Squaw Valley. These include, but are not limited to water, fire protection and emergency medical services as well as sewer and garbage collection.
Learn more at www.svpsd.org
A chunk of land in Olympic Valley could be protected from future development with the proposed acquisition of the property by the Truckee Donner Land Trust.
The land trust, along with the Squaw Valley Public Service District, is looking to acquire the 30 acres by the end of this year through private donations and a potential bond measure.
“Squaw Valley is one of the most beautiful and iconic valleys in the entire world,” said Bill Hudson, a Squaw Valley Public Service District board member.
The property was once owned by the Wayne and Sandy Poulsen, who Hudson says helped to stop the a large section of the meadow from getting paved during the 1960 Winter Olympics.
“We want to protect that legacy moving forward,” said Hudson. “We want to make sure that the purchase of this property goes through and we’re able to protect and preserve the meadow for public use in perpetuity.”
Bond measure in works
The land trust is currently under contract to buy the property but a set price has not been agreed upon.
To fund the purchase Mike Geary, general manager of the Squaw Valley Public Service District, said they anticipate 50 percent of the funds will come from a bond measure that Squaw Valley residents will have to vote on in November.
The other 50 percent is anticipated to come from private donations as well as funding through Prop 68, a parks, environment and water bond that was passed last year.
“The more we can do, the lower that parcel tax is going to be,” said Geary.
To get the measure on the November ballot Geary said they need to submit the ballot language to the county by the end of June. In order for the measure to pass two-thirds of the 600 registered voters in Squaw Valley must vote in favor of it.
“Hopefully we’ll close escrow in November or December,“ he said.
Geary said they are also pursuing $1 million in grants through Placer County Transient Occupancy Tax funds.
“They only have a little more than $3 million to distribute this year,” he said. “We’re hoping we can snag a good chunk of that.”
Additionally, the organizations are currently working on a budget for the property to get a better idea of what it will cost to maintain it.
“We’re very careful not to acquire something that we’re not going to be able to pay for and provide it at a level of service that we’re used to,” said Geary.
If they are successful in securing a bond measure they are looking to develop trails and open it to the public next year.
“We’re at a pivotal point in the process right now,” Geary said as they just received an appraisal on the property.
“This is a different project for the land trust,” said Perry Norris, executive director of the Truckee Donner Land Trust. The trust usually acquires larger “more wilderness-oriented properties” around 2,000 and 3,000 acres, he said. “On a per-acre basis it’s undoubtedly the most expensive acquisition that we’ve ever pursued,” said Norris.
The property is zoned in two parts, conservation preserve and high-density development, which would allow the development of 290 bedroom units.
“It’s slated for significant development in a community that is already undergoing significant development,” said Norris. “The land trust’s interest is really in the conservation piece.”
If they acquire the property, the Friends of Squaw Creek will be able to start restoration efforts, for which Norris said they have $1.6 million in grant funding.
“They just don’t have a willing land owner and we will be that land owner,” he said.
The Land Trust has been working since 1990 to preserve land in the Truckee Tahoe area, protecting over 35,000 acres.
In 2007, the trust acquired the Waddle Ranch property, followed by the Hopkins Ranch property in 2013 to prevent the development in the Martis Valley along Highway 267. In 2017, the land trust acquired Lower Carpenter Valley, a 1,320 acre meadow just north of Truckee that is home to various species of wildflowers.
Once properties are acquired the trust looks to develop trails and open them up to the community.
Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun, a sister publication of The Union She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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