3,347 acres added to Granite Chief Wilderness

Courtesy American River Conservancy

The American River Conservancy has donated 3,347 acres to the Tahoe National Forest and the simultaneous addition of those acres to the Granite Chief Wilderness immediately west of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada Crest. The transfer was completed on Aug. 8, 2017.

This project has preserved an iconic part of the Sierra Nevada including prime habitat for black bear, American marten, goshawk, song birds, native trout and spectacular mountain meadows filled with Sierra Lily, Columbine, Giant Mountain Larkspur and legions of butterflies.

The Wilderness Campaign raised $10,168,000 to acquire 10,115 acres of land and another $800,000 to decommission 26 miles of old logging road, restore 20 miles of native trout streams and four mountain meadow systems during the summer of 2016, according to a press release from ARC. Click here for a look at the restoration work.

This restoration work allowed the Tahoe National Forest to declare this landscape wilderness-eligible, accept title and append these 3,347 acres to the Granite Chief Wilderness, all within two years of ARC’s acquisition.

Courtesy American River Conservancy

The panoramic photo above shows the elevational span of these 3,347 acres from Lyons Ridge, far left, at 8,200 feet elevation down the Middle Fork American River canyon through mountain meadows to the reproductive trout streams immediately above French Meadows Reservoir at 5,500 feet elevation (background, center right).

ARC still retains 6,800 acres of forested land to restore. This acreage has been subject to severe logging practices over the past 80 years. Some of this forest is extremely dense with more than 700 trees per acre and is susceptible to wild land fire. Miraculously, these 6,800 acres of forest were left unscathed by the Kings Fire, the Red-Star Fire and the American Fire.

ARC is now engaged in a three-year restoration project to gently thin this forest from below; to remove small trees and other ladder fuels to increase fire resiliency, the retention of old growth trees, and to protect native trout streams, mountain meadows and wildlife species diversity.

To date, ARC has raised about $3.2 million, or about 80 percent of the budget needed. This fall, ARC must raise an additional $800,000 to complete the restoration of these 6,800 acres and protect this forest from the ravages of global climate change and the risks of increased wild land fire.

For more information or to make a donation, visit arconservancy.org.