The expanded Laursen Bear River Preserve, along with other adjacent preserves, creates a block of over 8,000 contiguous acres of protected lands in the Bear River and Raccoon Creek watersheds. These expansive oak woodlands support healthy and diverse populations of plants and wildlife. The preserve provides critical habitat for animals such as mule deer, mountain lion, grey fox, hawks, and many others.
“This property was on the market and certainly would have been developed had the original landowners, Andy and Shana Laursen, not agreed to sell it to Placer Land Trust instead,” says Placer Land Trust Executive Director Jeff Darlington. “We are so grateful to Andy and Shana for working with Placer Land Trust to protect their lands along the Bear River.”
Andy and Shana were key funders of Placer Land Trust in the early 2000’s to help the nonprofit remain sustainable. In 2005 the couple provided funds for Placer Land Trust to purchase the Shutamul Bear River Preserve, adjacent to their land. Placer Land Trust recognized Andy and Shana for their conservation work with the 2010 Placer Conservator Award.
The funding needed to acquire the extension of the Laursen Bear River Preserve came earlier this year through two Prop 68 grants: one from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC), and one from the Wildlife Conservation Board. Emigrant Trails Greenway Trust provided the funds needed for stewardship of the property for generations to come.
In addition to the diverse wildlife, the property also has a rich human history. Andy feels the land is special because, “people have lived on this land for probably thousands of years. There’s been Native Americans, there’s been Basque sheepherders, there’s been gold miners. And we bought all this land to keep it the way it is, to keep it natural.”
Placer Land Trust plans to share this land with the public through docent-led activities starting in 2021. The property is served only by private roads, so it is not suitable for open public access and recreation at this time. However a trail easement donated by Andy and Shana will allow future visitors to travel from the Laursen Bear River Preserve to adjacent Shutamul and Harvego Bear River Preserves.
In the meantime, the Laursen Bear River Preserve expansion can be “visited” during Placer Land Trust’s annual Placer Conservator, which will be taking place virtually this year and is free to attend. Click here more information on the event, including links to RSVP.
CLICK HERE to see the original press release from Placer Land Trust.