AUBURN, Calif. – A year-long fundraising and negotiating effort to help the American River Conservancy purchase a strategically vital 10,000-acre parcel for public use has been completed, the Western States Trail Foundation and the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run Foundation announced on Tuesday. Escrow for the $11 million purchase of old-growth forest and mountain meadows near Granite Chief Wilderness and the Western States Trail closed late last week.
“Both of our boards are extremely pleased that this acquisition has been finalized,” Western States Trail Foundation president Tony Benedetti and Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run Foundation president John Trent said in a joint statement. “Opening the entire 100 miles of the Western States Trail to hikers, runners and equestrians has been one of the overriding goals of this effort. Now that this 10,000-acre area has been acquired by the ARC and is no longer a private holding, the public is the clear winner. Both the Tevis Cup 100-Mile Ride and the Western States 100-Mile Run will now have perpetual guaranteed access to the last privately-held section of the Western States Trail, ensuring no disruption for the future of either event. In addition, the acquisition now enables the United States Forest Service to complete its National Trail designation for the Western States Trail.”
The ARC, of Coloma, Calif., having partnered with Northern Sierra Partnership of Palo Alto, Calif., and the Nature Conservancy earlier this year, was able to reach its fundraising goal of $11 million in late July. Through fundraising and matching efforts of their own, the Western States Trail Foundation ($250,000) and the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run Foundation ($100,000) contributed to the ARC’s total.
“We are so appreciative for the generosity the Ride and Run communities have shown over the past year,” Benedetti and Trent said jointly. “Our stakeholders have recognized the importance of this project. They’ve stepped up to the plate with donations, and with their overwhelming support in making sure we were able to cross the finish line for this project. It’s been quite an effort over the past year to organize, to raise money, and to make sure that the interests of our stakeholders were well-represented throughout the entire process.”
The 10,000 acres, located immediately west of Lake Tahoe and Squaw Valley, Calif., had been previously owned by a timber investment firm. It includes 1,200 acres of mountain meadow and is considered a vital part of the State and Federal water delivery system to 23 million Californians. The area includes four “blue-ribbon” trout streams and three popular trails, including the hiking/running and equestrian trail used by the Tevis Cup and Western States 100 events, as well as the Picayune Valley Trail.