This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
On the Fourth of July, you’ll fi nd Morgan Goodwin—mayor of Trucke e, California—camped out with his friends and a heap of cooking gear somewhere in the Cold Lakes Basin. “We all pitch in and feed the thru- hikers on the Pacifi c Crest Trail,” he explains, grinning. “We want to blow their minds: not just with great food and a friendly welcome, but also with how amazing our landscape is.” Even without the surprise meal, this stretch of trail is hardly a tough sell to visitors. One can only assume the Sierra Nevada has been dropping jaws since the fi rst time anyone set eyes on it—cer- tainly long before John Muir’s ecstatic odes fi rst dubbed it “the range of light.” Here the mountains beckon in all sea- sons, peaks promising a playground of snow-fi lled couloirs in winter and alpine lakes that mirror the boundless sum- mer sky. From lazy afternoons to all-day epics, there is something for everyone in the Sierra.


Their appeal is so broad, in fact, that the region’s popularity as an outdoor recreation destination seems only natural, an inevitability written in the granite. But locals and the conservation groups that serve them know their community’s success is no accident— and the future is not set in stone.


To “close the checkerboard,” The


GAMING THE CHECKERBOARD


In the 19th century, the federal govern- ment surveyed and divided much of the public domain into parcels, each a square mile. To support the still- young nation’s westward expansion, it then granted railway companies a right-of-way, plus outright ownership of alternating parcels within a certain distance of the tracks. The legacy of this approach in the Tahoe region—and much of the mountain west—is a check- erboard pattern of public and private ownership: national forest interspersed with logging tracts, vacation homes, and other development.


The checkerboard presents an array of challenges for land stewards. It’s costly and ineffi cient to plan one square mile at a time, whether the goal is to harvest a forest or restore it. From mountain biking to deer hunting, most outdoor recreation—and the jobs and revenue that come with it—requires unbroken expanses of public land. And then there’s wildlife, wildfi re, and water: interdependent natural systems whose impacts are felt well beyond the Tahoe region.


Trust for Public Land has worked for decades to conserve the most vulner- able parcels, transferring them to the national forests or local land trusts or protecting them with conservation ease- ments. Since 2007, the organization has pursued this work as part of the North- ern Sierra Partnership, a diverse alliance that also includes the Feather River Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, the Sierra Business Council, and Truckee Donner Land Trust.


“The Northern Sierra Partnership has acquired and helped to restore thou- sands of acres throughout the region,” says Fran Herbst, with the Tahoe National Forest. “The Trust for Public Land is the entity we’ve worked with the longest to mitigate the impact of the checkerboard. In recent years the partnership has been huge in terms of coordinating all the conservation eff orts in the region. The focus they’ve brought to this area is really remarkable.”


TPL.ORG · 35


photos, page 35: rich reid.


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68