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AUBURN, CA, July 8, 2020 — Placer Land Trust has permanently protected the 192-acre Spring Garden Preserve on Foresthill Divide near the community of Foresthill. 

Spanning the canyons and watersheds of the North Fork and Middle Fork of the American River, the property was initially marketed for development, given its easy access, gentle topography, views of the rivers, and proximity to other residential developments. Instead, the landowners, Foresthill Land Company LLC, worked with Placer Land Trust to ensure that this forested land will continue to be open space forever. The preservation of forests, clean water sources, cultural history, and wildlife habitat will benefit the public for generations to come.

“The landowner and his realtor were absolutely key to our success,” says Placer Land Trust Executive Director Jeff Darlington. “They took the land off the market while we secured funding and waited through the state review process. The landowner made a very generous and critical donation that will allow us to protect and manage the land in perpetuity. Landowners like this make conservation of land in Placer County possible, and we are deeply grateful.”

The purchase of Spring Garden Preserve creates a large contiguous block of protected land, as it connects with the 416-acre Big Bend North Fork Preserve, Auburn State Recreation Area (ASRA), and federal BLM land. Placer Land Trust and The Trust for Public Land purchased the Big Bend property from the same landowner in 2014 and transferred it to the California Department of Parks and Recreation to become a part of the ASRA. Placer Land Trust looks to protect large blocks of land that are connected with other protected pieces to maximize the benefits for wildlife. This strategy is especially important to the black bear, bobcat, coyote, black-tailed deer, raptors, and mountain lion in the area.
Spring Garden Preserve’s forest is unusually diverse, with large stands of mature madrone trees alongside huge blue and black oaks, Douglas fir, and Ponderosa pine. Purchase of the property was funded by the CAL FIRE Forest Legacy Program. In line with program goals, the preserve will be managed to support ecologically-healthy and fire-resistant forests, reducing risk to adjacent residential properties and neighborhoods, and providing a “wildlife corridor” across Foresthill Road. 

“CAL FIRE is pleased to help conserve the Spring Garden Preserve Forest Legacy Project as it protects forestland from residential development in the Wildland Urban Interface,” said CAL FIRE Director Thom Porter. “Conservation of this property will help protect important forest resources in the Sierra Foothills while also securing open space, carbon sequestration, clean air and water for future generations.”

Spring Garden Ravine runs through the property and ultimately into the Middle Fork American River. Folsom Lake is fed by the American River, and as the largest source of water in the Sacramento region, protection of the American River and its tributaries is a significant benefit to us all.

Old topographic maps and documents show that the historic Spring Garden School was located on the property. Spring Garden Ranch and Mine was situated nearby and served as a central hub for the Foresthill mining community. A homestead was located on the property, and Native American grinding rocks found on site indicate that this land was a food gathering and preparation site for local Indigenous peoples.

Several miles of trails on the property are currently used by neighboring landowners. Placer Land Trust plans improve these trails and open them up for public recreation in the future. They do not connect to the Foresthill Divide Loop, but may eventually be connected to the Auburn State Recreation Area trail system.

The Spring Garden Preserve Property Fee Title Acquisition received funding through the California Department of Forestry and Fire (CAL FIRE) Forest Legacy Program, part of California Climate Investments (CCI). CCI is a statewide program that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing GHG emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment—particularly in disadvantaged communities. The cap-and-trade program also creates a financial incentive for industries to invest in clean technologies and develop innovative ways to reduce pollution. California Climate Investment projects include affordable housing, renewable energy, public transportation, zero-emission vehicles, environmental restoration, more sustainable agriculture, recycling and much more. At least 35 percent of these investments are located within and benefiting residents of disadvantaged communities, low-income communities, and low-income households across California. For more information, visit the California Climate Investments website at www.caclimateinvestments.ca.gov.

Placer Land Trust is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public benefit organization incorporated in 1991 that works with willing landowners and conservation partners to permanently protect natural and agricultural lands in Placer County for current and future generations. To date, the Trust has protected over 11,700 acres in more than 45 locations across Placer County – including farms and ranches, riverfront lands, wildlife preserves, scenic open spaces, public parks and recreation areas, and lands with significant cultural and historical significance. Learn more at www.placerlandtrust.org.