The land, currently owned by the Placer Land Trust, will be donated to California State Parks, which operates the neighboring Auburn State Recreation Area. Along with the donation will come $95,000 to cover management of the 417 acres, said Placer Land Trust executive director Jeff Darlington.
“What’s kind of unique is that we’re not just donating the land to the government with no funding,” he said.
In May 2014, Placer Land Trust teamed up with federal nonprofit Trust for Public Land to acquire the “Big Bend North Fork Preserve” property for $1.4 million. Stretching along 10 miles of the North Fork of the American River, the property was previously owned by Foresthill Land Co., a developer with unrealized plans for housing there. Darlington said at the time that the plan was to turn it over to state parks. But the state wasn’t ready to take it at the time.
In the interim, Placer Land Trust opened the property for public access. The strip of land includes the area around Ponderosa Way Bridge, which is a popular spot for outdoor recreation. After the transfer, both the recreation area and preserve property will benefit from the same owner and management. The transfer also makes permanent a prohibition on any residential development on the property, Darlington said.
Placer Land Trust first began talking with Foresthill Land Company about the property in 2009. At that time, as many housing projects went on the shelf, land preservation groups like Placer Land Trust moved in, he said.
“The ones that did arise had terrific value for the money for the public,” he said. “In the last year or two, the prices have come back up.”
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