Lower Carpenter Valley in Sierra Nevada Publicly Accessible for First Time in a Century

Pristine meadow conserved for wildlife, scientific study and quiet enjoyment

Evening Sun, High Sierra. Photo courtesy Elizabeth Carmel

Truckee, Calif. July 14, 2017 – One of the most spectacular and pristine mountain meadows in the Sierra Nevada will continue to serve as a sanctuary for a rich diversity of wildlife and plants, conservationists announced today. It will also be made available to the public for the first time in a century, initially with docent-led hikes.

Tucked into the folds of the Sierra, less than two miles north of rapidly-growing Truckee, CA, Lower Carpenter Valley is now permanently protected for future generations thanks to the successful completion of a two-year, $10.3 million campaign led by the Truckee Donner Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy, working together as part of the Northern Sierra Partnership.

“Lower Carpenter Valley is truly one of the most stunning places in the Sierra and an extraordinary scenic and recreational asset for the Truckee community. We’re so grateful to the Wildlife Conservation Board, the California Natural Resources Agency, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Paul H. Johanson Trust, The Nature Conservancy, the Northern Sierra Partnership and the more than 230 individuals who dug deep into their pockets to conserve this property. It was truly a team effort,” said Perry Norris, executive director of the Truckee Donner Land Trust.

First identified as a priority for conservation in The Nature Conservancy’s Sierra Nevada Ecoregional Assessment (1999), Carpenter Valley is well known among wildlife biologists as a hot spot of natural diversity. The valley’s wet meadows and extensive mosaic of willows provide excellent nesting habitat for the threatened willow flycatcher. The landscape also supports a wealth of other rare species and habitats, from northern goshawk and bald eagle to fragile, groundwater-fed plant communities called fens that sustain 21 species of plants dependent on their peat-accumulating soils. “The ecological richness of Carpenter Valley is truly astounding,” said David Edelson, Sierra Nevada project director for The Nature Conservancy. “The more time our scientific team spends in Carpenter Valley, the more we discover and learn. We’re delighted to have been part of this partnership to conserve this incredible property and protect both its critical habitat and its natural beauty for future generations to enjoy.”

The North Fork of Prosser Creek, which meanders through Carpenter Valley, is an important tributary of the Truckee River, the primary source of drinking water for the rapidly growing population of northern Nevada. California wildlife officials have identified the North Fork of Prosser Creek as a potential recovery site for native Lahontan cutthroat trout. These threatened and federally protected fish have been documented in the creek as recently as the late eighties and may still be present.

The conservation of 1,317 acres in and adjacent to Lower Carpenter Valley is part of the Northern Sierra Partnership campaign to conserve and connect the large landscapes of the northern Sierra for people and for wildlife. Since 2007, the five groups that make up the Partnership – the Truckee Donner Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land, the Feather River Land Trust, and the Sierra Business Council – have worked with private landowners, public agencies and each other to conserve close to 70,000 acres across the northern Sierra Nevada. “It is important to remember that the wild landscapes of the northern Sierra are critical to our future. They sustain California and Northern Nevada with over half of the fresh water we use annually, support a remarkable diversity of wildlife, and are a public gateway to the recreational and scenic delights of the Sierra Nevada,” said Lucy Blake, president of the Partnership.

The conservation of Lower Carpenter Valley is occurring in three stages:

  1. The partners purchased 637 acres immediately south of Carpenter Valley in April 2016 and protected the land with a conservation easement before transferring ownership to the Tahoe Donner Association for public recreation and enjoyment.
  2. The partners completed the purchase of 600 acres in Lower Carpenter Valley today that will be owned by the Truckee Donner Land Trust and managed in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy. Because of its sensitive habitat, the valley will be open initially for guided visits only. Once the Land Trust has built a parking area, trails and interpretative signs, the property will be open to the public for day use on a year-round basis.
  3. Lastly, the partners are under contract to acquire a final 80-acre parcel in Lower Carpenter Valley in the future from the current owner.

“We’re excited about being able to share this remarkable property with the public,” said Perry Norris, from the Land Trust. To schedule your visit into Lower Carpenter Valley, please go to: www.tdlandtrust.org/2017-summer-hiking-series.

The Truckee Donner Land Trust works to protect important historic, recreational and scenic open spaces in the greater Truckee region. For more information, see www.tdlandtrust.org.

The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working around the world to protect the lands and waters on which all life depends. For more information, see http://www.conserveca.org.

The Northern Sierra Partnership is a collaborative initiative to conserve, restore, and enhance the magnificent natural landscape of the northern Sierra Nevada, and build the foundation for sustainable rural prosperity. For more information, see www.northernsierrapartnership.org