The Placer Land Trust was created in 1991 and since that time they have had the opportunity to protect more than 8,191 acres including recreation areas, riverfront and grasslands.The land trust works with willing land owners and conservation partners to permanently protect natural and agricultural lands in Placer County. That is what makes the Placer Land Trust important, the work they do in securing conservation easements protects the land forever.
A conservation easement is a legal agreement that prevents development on a land, and is attached to the deed with the land forever. “It is important because we make sure this land is always protected,” said Executive Director Jeff Darlington.
Darlington was the first employee the land trust officially hired back in 2002, and he has had his hand in securing thousands of acres of Placer County.
The land trust works with willing land owners to secure easements over properties that have public benefit, wildlife benefit, agricultural benefit or scenery. Some of the land they secure is public, while other portions remain private, with the legal agreement that the land will never be developed. Half of the land trust properties are owned and managed by the land trust while the other half they own as conservation easements. One of those conservation easement lands is the Auburn School Park Preserve near City Hall; the City of Auburn owns and manages the property.
The beautiful park includes benches, a historical stage and has been protected for public use and the Oak Woodlands habitat. The Placer Land Trust gets their funding through donations, fundraising, investments, membership and public and private sources. “If we don’t have the financial ability to protect a land, we won’t do it,” said Darlington.
Land owners also have the opportunity to sell or donate an easement to the Placer Land Trust. “They get the chance to leave a legacy, their land will be protected long after they are gone,” said Darlington.
Placer County was listed as the second fastest growing county in California,which is good for the economy, but Darlington wants to ensure his children have open spaces to visit. “If we don’t take care of our own neighborhood, our own communities, nobody will,” he said. “This is my backyard, I grew up here.”
There are a lot of areas protected from development by the Placer Land Trust including the Big Bend North Fork Preserve, Canyon View Preserve and Doty Ravine Preserve.
“It’s a balance,” said Conservation Director Lynette Batt. “It’s nice to have parks and spaces to get outside.”
The land trust also works to restore land that is of public interest or create trails.
They were the top fundraiser in the Sacramento area for the “Big Day of Giving” raising $141,000 from 209 donors.
“The secret is out, we have become an important part of the community,” said Darlington.
They are normally able to conclude three to four projects a year while working on over a dozen at a time.
They also host docent- lead hikes on the second Saturday of the month, and various events throughout the year including a Great Sierra River Cleanup on Sept. 16.
“I would encourage people to look at our free hikes, get on the property and see what we do,” said Darlington.
With a handful of projects in the works and over 30 places in Placer County that will never see development, the work that the Placer Land Trust does leaves a gift for future generations to enjoy.
“We are set up to guarantee permanence,” said Darlington. “It is forever protected.”
--By: Aurora Sain, Reporter
CLICK HERE to see complete article and photos in the Auburn Journal Newspaper.