640 acres added to Tahoe forest | TheUnion.com

640 acres added to Tahoe forest

TRUCKEE – The Tahoe National Forest just got a little bigger.

The Truckee Ranger District added two separate chunks of land from California timber giant Sierra Pacific Industries that equal an expansion of more than 1,000 acres.

The 640 acres of land the national forest bought near the American River, five miles south of Interstate 80’s Big Bend exit, complete the forest’s goal of amassing all of the private land along the rugged North Fork of the American River that has been designated as a wild and scenic.

The deal assures that the property will be protected from development, said Truckee Ranger Joanne Robique.

“It is always something you have to consider when you look at parcels,” Robique said. “We are seeing more and more development in the Sierra and the backcountry.”

The forest service paid Sierra Pacific Industries $700,000 for the tract of land. The Trust for Public Land, a national land conservation organization, was also involved in brokering the land deal.

During the life of the program, the Tahoe National Forest has bought almost 10,000 acres along the river.

The new purchase “will be managed to protect the character of the wild river,” said Ann Westling, Tahoe National Forest spokeswoman.

That means only nonmotorized recreation will be allowed in the area.

The other purchase, 455 acres near Barker Pass, is a section of land directly south of Granite Chief Wilderness. It is the second of three purchases that the national forest hopes to complete on the western slope of Barker Pass.

“That is a very popular location for hiking and camping,” Westling said.

The Powderhorn Trail, a popular way for backpackers to hike in to Granite Chief Wilderness during the summer, crosses the land, as does Powderhorn Creek.

“What (this purchase) does for us is it protects that trailhead and the trail and assures public access,” Robique said.

The land near Barker Pass was purchased for $765,000.

Sierra Pacific Industries is California’s largest private landowner, with more than 1.5 million acres in the state. The Truckee Ranger District encompasses roughly 250,000 acres, almost half of which is national forest. Its boundaries stretch from north of Stampede Reservoir to south of Homewood.

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