Set in a beautiful meadow with Squaw Creek meandering through and the peaks of Squaw Valley towering above – roughly 30 acres of property owned by one of the valley’s founding families will be preserved by a unique joint effort between the Truckee Donner Land Trust and Squaw Valley Public Service District.
A one-of-a-kind parcel in an otherwise developed ski destination, the Olympic Meadow property has been owned by the Poulsen family since 1942 – when Wayne and Sandy Poulsen camped there as newlyweds.
“I grew up in a quieter Squaw Valley and have seen many changes over the decades, but the meadow has been one constant over time,” said Bill Hudson, a Squaw Valley Public Service District Board Member. “This acquisition will help guarantee that a large portion will be opened to the public and best serve the entire community.”
The District is working with with the Truckee Donner Land Trust to acquire the property within a very short time frame.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the public to protect what is arguably one of the most valuable pieces of land in the valley,” said Mike Geary, General Manager of the Squaw Valley Public Service District. “The Truckee Donner Land Trust is responsible for creating this opportunity on behalf of the public, and the District is enormously grateful.”
While the Land Trust has protected more than 36,000 acres throughout the region, this will be its first project in Olympic Valley.
“At long last residents and visitors alike will be able to walk along Squaw Creek and picnic in the meadow in a valley otherwise dominated by private recreational opportunities,” said Perry Norris, Executive Director of the Land Trust.
With a contract signed to move forward, the Land Trust and District will work with the Poulsen family to set a final price.
“This is historic! There is no other way to put into words how significant this is for the community, for the region, for all those that love to recreate,” said Dale Cox, District Board President. “That’s what public service is all about.”
Once the necessary funds are raised through private donations and a potential property tax, parcel tax or bond issue, and the acquisition is successfully completed, a rigorous public outreach process will be used to determine the best uses for the portions of the property not earmarked for conservation. Those portions zoned for open space will be a priority for trails and public access.
“The one thing that will not happen on the property is another subdivision or massive development project,” Norris said.
“This is an unprecedented opportunity, and a chance to develop a new culture of collaboration within the Valley,” said Dr. Fred Ilfeld, Chair of the Squaw Valley Public Service District Parks and Rec Committee.
The meadow blooms with wildflowers each year, and a popular bike path running through the valley parallels the property, where many passersby enjoy the view.
“This is the most significant and exciting opportunity I’ve heard in my 50 years of living in Squaw Valley,” said Carl Gustafson, District Board Member. “I’ve spent many hours on the Poulsen property ranging from celebrating weddings to quietly observing wildlife – it’s such a beautiful place with all kinds of possibilities.”
Beyond its natural beauty, the property includes a recreational fishery and is in an important position for future watershed restoration that could improve water quality downstream in the Truckee River. The Friends of Squaw Creek recently received $1.6 million grant for restoration, and planning is underway for projects to improve creek and meadow health.
“This acquisition opens up a great opportunity to restore 15 acres of montane meadow and creek,” said Dr. Ed Heneveld with Friends of Squaw Creek.
If you are interested in hearing more about this project and being involved in the public process, please join us at one of the next District meetings, all held in the community room at 305 Squaw Valley Road in Olympic Valley. If you are interested in being on the distribution mailing list for upcoming meetings, please contact Jessica Asher,
· Board Meeting: January 29, 2019 at 8:30 AM
· Parks and Recreation Committee Meeting: Time and date TBD, check Squaw Valley Public Service District's website for updates.
· Board Meeting: February 26, 2019 at 8:30 AM
photo by Peter Tye