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Land trust wins bulk of preservation bequest

This dilapidated house, designed by famous architect Julia Morgan, sits on North Star mine property.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

A land preservation group was the big winner Tuesday when Nevada County supervisors pondered how to divvy up almost $900,000.

Earlier this year, Nevada County was given $887,000 from the estate of a deceased Auburn man, Dryden Wilson. The money was to be used for land preservation.

Supervisors voted Tuesday to give the biggest chunk of the money, $508,000, to the Nevada County Land Trust, a private, nonprofit conservation organization.



Cheryl Belcher, the land trust’s executive director, said the group sent a letter to the supervisors last week asking for money from the Wilson bequest for preservation. She said she was stunned by Tuesday’s decision.

“I’m pleased and amazed,” said Belcher. “I had no idea.”




In their motion, approved unanimously, supervisors asked the land trust to look at the North Star property as the highest priority for preservation, followed by the Loma Rica Ranch. The board wants the land trust to purchase property accessible to the public.

The vote followed hours of discussion and suggestions by park districts and the public on how supervisors should use the bequest. A county planner had compiled a $29 million “wish list” of possible projects.

Some people argued for spending it on softball fields, including Supervisor-elect Drew Bedwell. He said ballparks were needed, and should get some of the money.

Laurie Oberholtzer, a Nevada City planning commissioner, said a large amount should be kept together in one pot so it isn’t frittered away on little maintenance projects, and instead used on something “we can touch and see and feel.”

Supervisors agreed 4-1 to give $130,000 to the Truckee-Donner Land Trust, and lesser amounts to various parks organizations pending agreements with specific projects to be funded with Wilson bequest money.

The North Star mine property covers 760 acres and contains a dilapidated house designed by famed architect Julia Morgan.

Morgan, who designed the San Simeon mansion for newspaper baron William Randolph Hurst, also designed the house at the North Star mine, two miles south of Grass Valley.

The home was built in 1905 and occupied by mine superintendent A.D. Foote.

The North Star mine also featured a Pelton wheel 32 feet in diameter, which is now part of the North Star Powerhouse Museum.

The North Star vein was discovered in 1851. Over the years, the mine produced more than $35 million in gold.

BREAKDOWN OF

DRYDEN WILSON

BEQUEST

Here1s how Nevada County supervisors voted to split up the Dryden Wilson bequest.

? $508,000 to the Nevada County Land Trust

? $130,000 to the Truckee-Donner Land Trust

? $50,000 to the Bear River Recreation and Park District

? $50,000 to the Western Gateway Recreation and Park District

? $50,000 to the North San Juan Ridge Activities and Improvement Center

? $25,000 to the City of Grass Valley Recreation Division

? $25,000 to the City of Nevada City Recreation Department

? $50,000 to the Truckee-Donner Recreation and Park District


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