Land trust trailblazer to be honored today |

Land trust trailblazer to be honored today

Lifelong conservationist Bill Nickerl, 72, will be recognized today for his leadership during National Trails Day festivities.

Born in Los Angeles, Nickerl escaped the city when he was two weeks old. He spent his youth in Yosemite National Forest, where his father worked as a forester.

“I have a special feeling for the woods. I know my way around,” Nickerl said.

In his honor, the first William Nickerl Award for Conservation Leadership will be presented to the award’s namesake at 1 p.m. during the Hirschman’s Trail Dedication.

Nickerl and fellow hikers plan to walk the three miles from his home along NID ditches to the ceremony.

In the early 1980s, Nickerl was the first member of the land trust, after the founders, and helped set aside the first conservation easement, a 160 acre parcel of land outside of Nevada City called the Round Mountain Wildlife Preserve.

Before that, Nickerl helped save habitat for the California Condor while working for the Bureau of Land Management.

He also sat on the board for the Rails to Trails Conservancy and helped establish a 23-mile trail along an unused rail corridor from Susanville to Westwood.

Several years ago, Nickerl’s health took a bad turn and he was forced to undergo open heart surgery. After healing, he started the Treks for Health program with the land trust, and this year began a series of outings for people with limited mobility.

“I wanted to introduce people to the many trails we have around here. There’s lots of them,” Nickerl said.

He estimates he hikes on 100 trails each year.

To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail or call 477-4231.

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