Dear Friend of the Land Trust,
The Land Trust team kept its nose to the grindstone in 2018, and the year seems to be flying by, lickety-split. I wanted to pause and reflect a moment about 2018 before rolling up my sleeves for next year.
The highlight for 2018 was truly, at long last, getting Frog Lake, Red Mountain and Carpenter Ridge under contract. The Land Trust has been meeting with the landowners for more than ten years, so to finally kick-off this $15 million campaign (daunting in its own right) is cause for celebration. And that’s in the context of a track record of very big deals – Carpenter Valley, Webber Lake and Royal Gorge, to name a few.
Frog Lake, Photo by Olof Carmel
We will close on Frog Lake and 2,200 acres to the east and north in 2020. Plans are already underway to open the heretofore closed east side of the Sierra crest near Castle Peak for your wilderness enjoyment. We’re reconning new trails, the lynchpin being a trail off the Warren Lake Trail from Frog Lake to Independence Lake. Perhaps even more exciting is establishing year-round backcountry huts at Frog Lake and other “secret spots” the Land Trust has protected. It’s exciting to imagine skiing into a welcoming and warm backcountry hut with family and friends for a night or two. We promise to have a fire started for you when you arrive!
More than a thousand folks joined our free, docent-led hikes last summer and fall. It’s heartwarming to introduce so many people to our “secret garden” (Carpenter Valley) and other landscapes now protected. A high five to our volunteer docents for a job well done.
The horrible and tragic fires that befell California in 2018, along with an ominous and rapidly changing climate, serve as a wake-up call to all of us. As the landowner of significant wildlands, some with property lines a stone’s throw from family homes, the Land Trust is accelerating the pace of forest management. It’s an enormous, complex and expensive problem, but there is simply no other choice. We’ll be investing millions of dollars, as we have done in the past, to thin our forests, making them more able to endure wildfire while improving habitat and biodiversity.
The Board and I are damn proud of our staff and caretakers, Ken and Joan Bretthauer, at Webber Lake these past two years. We set a goal to offer one of the finest family camping experiences in the Northern Sierra and I believe we’ve succeeded. The feedback from campers is gratifying and helpful. Reservations are now open for next year!
We moved many other noteworthy projects into the done file. Two new trails in the Martis Valley. A new sustainable and creek-, people- and dog-friendly bridge in Donner Summit Summit Canyon. A new approach trail to Black Wall for climbers and hikers. The restoration and rebirth of a meadow (with our friends at the Truckee River Watershed Council) at the south end of Johnson Canyon. Our lands were living classrooms for area students, offering hands-on experience to the next generation that will love and protect these lands.
I hope you share our pride in the Land Trust’s many conservation victories. The tens of thousands of acres preserved and open to the public simply wouldn’t have happened without the concern and support of folks like you. A high five to our supporters, the Land Trust’s volunteer Board and its hardworking staff. Working with all of you is the highlight of my career.
Never one to rest on our laurels, we have even more ambitious plans for 2019 – stay tuned!
Warm regards and with gratitude,