Izzy Martin: 32 acres: a decade of work by a committed community
On behalf of The Sierra Fund, we are truly excited to see our community media demonstrate their support for the California Heritage Indigenous Research Project’s (CHIRP) recent acquisition of 32 acres along Deer Creek.
CHIRP is a tribally guided nonprofit organization with the mission to preserve, protect, and perpetuate Nisenan culture. In 2018, after years of strategic work by numerous organizations and members of the community, The Sierra Fund was able to facilitate CHIRP’s land acquisition, which was made possible by a grant from the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) with The Sierra Fund serving as the grantee. In supporting CHIRP with organizational and fiscal capacity, The Sierra Fund is able to fulfill our mission to restore ecosystem and community resiliency to the Sierra Nevada.
We would like to take this opportunity to both clarify the process that took place and to recognize those who made this effort possible. This land acquisition is exemplary both because it is a recognition of the First People of our community and because it was a long and complicated transaction involving the support and goodwill of many partners along the way.
The land that CHIRP recently acquired has been part of a larger vision to increase the walkability of Nevada City through access to recreational trails. This vision was first conceptualized over a decade ago and has come into reality with the leadership of The Sierra Fund as our beloved Deer Creek Tribute Trail system. The Tribute Trail has consisted of a multi-phase effort involving numerous local partners, the construction of two state-of-the-art bridges (first the Chinese Tribute Bridge and more recently the Nisenan Tribute “Angelo Seo Bridge”) and the continued support of the CNRA River Parkways Program which invested nearly $1.5 million in the form of two grants, with the most recent trail building phase culminating in 2014 when the second grant of $560,000 wrapped up.
The Tribute Trail has since become a destination for locals and tourists alike. This land transaction would not have been possible without the continued commitment of the previous landowner, the Gallelli Family, who also gave the Trail an easement across their property at no cost.
For those familiar with the trail, it is well-known that the trail segment between the two bridges currently follows Champion Mine Road. The 32 acres acquired by CHIRP will remedy this. This acquisition included extensive land assessment and due diligence and was funded by yet another CNRA grant of over $750,000. It includes a trail easement (held by the Bear Yuba Land Trust) so that the entire Tribute Trail system can be routed off of the road. Public access to the property will be restricted to the trail itself and CHIRP, as the landowner, now has the discretion to manage the land as it sees appropriate.
The 32 acres is the site of the historic Champion Mine and The Sierra Fund and partners, including the U.S. EPA, have done extensive testing for legacy contamination at the site. Because of our broad knowledge of the site, The Sierra Fund has a written agreement with CHIRP that outlines our commitment to support their emerging plans for land management. This includes seeking funding to complete the Tribute Trail and to clean up areas impacted by mining on the property that, while not publicly accessible, should be addressed so that CHIRP and the Nisenan can enjoy the full use value of their property.
On May 30, Hospitality House and The Sierra Fund will be hosting an inaugural work day at the property to help CHIRP remove trash and debris associated with homeless encampments that has accumulated over the years.
We encourage interested members of the community to contact CHIRP at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on this exciting first step on their land.
Elizabeth “Izzy” Martin is the CEO of The Sierra Fund.
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