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The Placer County Board of Supervisors on Oct 2 took action to finalize a funding contribution to help purchase the Waddle Ranch, a 1,481 acre parcel in the Martis Valley between Lake Tahoe and Truckee.

Today board members approved an initial contribution of $5.6 million toward the total county contribution of $10 million. The rest of the funding will be distributed as the county receives additional open space fees from development in the Martis Valley.

The County has been working with the Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the Truckee Donner Land Trust (TDLT), who have been the lead agencies in the purchase and have been negotiating the purchase for the last several years. The Waddle Ranch property is located east of Highway 267 in an undeveloped area separated from existing infrastructure and large enough to have value as open space and wildlife habitat. The property is a valuable acquisition. It has been identified as a high priority for open space acquisition and is consistent with the open space priorities in the Martis Valley Community Plan. The sale is expected to be finalized near the end of October.

“I’m pleased with the purchase of this land. I think everyone won and I want to thank all those who worked on this issue,” said Supervisor Bruce Kranz, whose district encompasses part of the land. “We’ll have public land with public access and anyone can go there and enjoy the environment. I also pleased that this land purchase includes a component that will help reduce the danger of wildfire.”

The funding comes from open space fees and money set aside in the county’s open space fund. Had Waddle Ranch not been preserved as open space, approximately 1,000 dwelling units would be permitted there under the general plan. Open space fees to be contributed by development in the Martis Valley have been set at $5,000 per residential unit.

The cost of the property is $23.5 million. In addition to the Placer County contribution, other partners include:

California Wildlife Conservation Board $6.5 million
Truckee Donner land Trust $1.15 million
The California Resources Agency $2.025 million
Truckee Tahoe Airport District $3 million
Capital Campaign/Fund Raising $2 million

In addition, the Lucile Packard Foundation is providing a loan to TPL for approximately $3.2 million for the balance of the cost.

“This will be a profound, lasting and historic action by the County on behalf of the public, the natural and cultural heritage of the county, the High Sierra landscape and the mountain communities of Truckee and Kings Beach,” said Dave Sutton of the Trust for Public Land at Tuesday’s Supervisors’ meeting.

Over the past year, Placer County staff has worked with the land trusts to develop a conservation easement and the associated documents. The Truckee Tahoe Airport District will ultimately hold fee title to the property, with a conservation easement held by TDLT. The conservation easement provides public access to the property, which will include a range of passive recreational activities including hiking, mountain biking, fishing, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, wildlife viewing, and picnicking. The protection of Waddle Ranch as permanent open space would link Martis Creek Lake National Recreation Area with the Tahoe National Forest and, potentially, other open space properties that may be acquired in the future.