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In addition to its savvy deal makers,


For the past decade, the partnership has protected more than 100,000 acres for the public. Its success is due in part to the complementary strengths of its member organizations: from trail building and landscape restoration to fundraising and tricky negotiations, a forte of The Trust for Public Land since its founding by a group of conservation- minded lawyers and real estate profes- sionals back in 1972. “By working together, the partnership is able to move quickly when govern- ment agencies can’t,” says Trust for Public Land project manager Markley Bavinger. She points to Royal Gorge— a popular cross-country ski area pro- tected with Truckee Donner Land Trust and others in the partnership—as an example. “At one point the seller was asking more than $75 million, but ultimately market forces and bankruptcy negotia- tion brought the price to about a fi fth of that value,” Bavinger says. “It was a tiny window of opportunity, but we were able to make it happen. Our national forests really need nonprofi t partners to take advantage of opportunities like that: we’re more nimble and able to take risks.”

The Trust for Public Land off ers special expertise in Geographic Information Systems, or GIS. Detailed mapping— incorporating “layers” of data about everything from wildlife populations to timber yields—helps the partnership direct its resources where they’ll have the greatest impact.

“Land conservation is a very oppor- tunistic game,” says Perry Norris of Truckee Donner Land Trust. “In recent years, a number of key parcels came for sale at the same time, and because we were prepared we were able to protect them.”

Part of that groundwork is bringing everyone to the table—ranchers, timber companies, small-business owners, and more—to triage sometimes competing land-use needs. “Ranching and timber production are an important part of the culture and economy,” Bavinger says. So is recreation: that’s worth more than $85 billion a year statewide. It’s impor- tant to strike the right balance.” Steve Frisch, executive director of the Sierra Business Council, agrees. “Our natural resources aren’t just critical for the recreation economy, but for the entire region,” he says. “People come here for the natural beauty, they move here, they start businesses here— so it’s not just recreation, but also real estate, retail, professional services, you name it.”

Jameson Staff ord, a recent transplant to the ski town of Incline Village, counts himself among such people. “Back in Los Angeles, people love to say you can go to the beach and the mountains in the same day. But I’ve never known anyone who ever did—it’s basically impossible,” says Staff ord. “Here, you can totally do that. I can go skiing in the morning and relax by the lake in the afternoon. You can’t beat that.” While Staff ord moved in search of a less urban lifestyle, Rachel McCullough and her husband, Garrett, relocated to Truckee after years of living and work- ing in Yosemite National Park. “We were sort of heartbroken to have to leave Yosemite,” she says. “But we liked that Truckee was big enough to give us professional opportunities without losing access to amazing wilderness. When I show up to work in my hiking clothes, no one bats an eye,” McCullough says. “It’s totally normal. I defi nitely wouldn’t do that in downtown San Francisco.”


photos, page 36, clockwise: rich reid, emily scannell, rich reid.

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