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2010 Public Notices


Proposed Recommended Conservation Easement Holders and Fee Title Donees Considered at December 2, 2010 Stewardship Council Board Meeting

Conservation Easement Holder Recommendations

The Watershed Planning Committee of the Stewardship Council forwarded to the Board of Directors the following recommendations regarding the selection of conservation easement holders over select PG&E watershed lands.

The Planning Committee is endorsing the selection of the Ducks Unlimited to hold the conservation easement over all watershed lands located in the following planning units upon which a conservation easement will be placed:

The mission of Ducks Unlimited is to conserve, restore and manage wetlands and associated habitats for North America's waterfowl. These habitats also benefit other wildlife and people. Ducks Unlimited became a nonprofit corporation in 1937, operates in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, and has conserved over 4 million acres in the United States alone. They hold 406 conservation easements over more than 320,000 acres of wetlands, grasslands, forests, and farms, with ten of these easements in California encompassing over 5,000 acres. Ducks Unlimited has partnered with local land trusts, and state and federal agencies to facilitate additional conservation easement projects in California. Its California base of operations is in Sacramento (Rancho Cordova) where it has a staff of 30 people.

Although Ducks Unlimited’s original focus was protecting migratory waterfowl habitat, they have diversified their programs as they have grown in size. Ducks Unlimited promotes hunting and other forms of recreation where appropriate, holds many conservation easements over grazing lands, and has staff expertise in archeological resources and in forest management. Ducks Unlimited actively engages Native American tribes in its restoration work. Ducks Unlimited also has experience with FERC licensing projects. For more information about Ducks Unlimited, please consult their website .

Additionally, the Planning Committee is endorsing the selection of the Mother Lode Land Trust to hold the conservation easement over:

  • The watershed lands in the Lower Bear Area planning unit that will be retained by PG&E.
  • The watershed lands in the Blue Lakes planning unit that will be retained by PG&E.

The Mother Lode Land Trust, formerly the Amador Land Trust, was established in 1991 by a coalition of ranchers, conservationists and other concerned citizens to preserve the foothill landscape of the Central Sierra Nevadas. As a nonprofit organization, Mother Lode Land Trust accepts conservation easements, provides technical assistance to landowners on preservation techniques, and promotes public awareness of the importance of preserving our lands.

Mother Lode Land Trust holds 17 conservation easements over 2,800 acres in Amador, Calaveras, Alpine and El Dorado Counties. Mother Lode Land Trust is guided by a 7-member board of directors with expertise in botany, education, farming, ranching, forestry and water rights. Mother Lode Land Trust also has a 4-member advisory board with expertise in forestry, agriculture, wildlife biology and public policy. Mother Lode Land Trust is staffed by an executive director who has a background in rangeland resource science, and a fundraising consultant with a background in community development. For more information about the Mother Lode Land Trust, please consult their website .

Fee Title Donee Recommendations

Additionally, the Watershed Planning Committee of the Stewardship Council has forwarded to the Board of Directors recommendations regarding the selection of fee title donees for select PG&E watershed lands at five planning units as summarized below.

Fall River Valley Planning Unit

  • Fall River Resource Conservation District is recommended to receive fee title to approximately 129 acres of the 191 acres available for donation within one parcel (Parcel 181) with the remaining 61 acres being retained by PG&E.

Lake Britton Planning Unit

  • California State Parks is recommended to receive fee title to approximately 119 acres available for donation within four parcels (Parcels 244, 245, 249, and 269).
  • Shasta County is recommended to receive fee title to approximately five acres available for donation within one parcel (Parcel 211).

Fee title donee recommendations for the remainder of the lands in the Lake Britton planning unit that are available for donation will be made at a later date.

North Fork Mokelumne River Planning Unit

  • Bureau of Land Management is recommended to receive fee title to approximately 837 acres available for donation within 13 parcels (Parcels 983, 963, 964, 965, 966, 967, 968, 972, 995, 1009, 1005, 1007 and 1008).
  • California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) is recommended to receive fee title to approximately 1,072 acres available for donation within nine parcels (Parcels 974, 975, 976, 977, 978, 979, 980, 981, and 982).
  • US Forest Service (El Dorado National Forest) is recommended to receive fee title to approximately 358 acres available for donation within three parcels (Parcels 959, 960, and 961).

Blue Lakes Planning Unit

  • US Forest Service (Eldorado National Forest) is recommended to receive fee title to 1,032 acres available for donation within 10 parcels (Parcels 938, 937, 939, 941, 942, 943, 944, 945, 946, and 947).

Lower Bear Area Planning Unit

  • US Forest Service (Eldorado National Forest) is recommended to receive fee title to four parcels encompassing 907 acres available for donation (Parcels 950, 948, 949, and 951).

These are preliminary recommendations, and the final transactions will be subject to the board’s approval as part of the Land Conservation and Conveyance Plan.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the board meeting and address the board on these matters. Inquiries regarding these recommendations can also be addressed to: comments3@stewardshipcouncil.org

Proposed Recommendation of Conservation Easement Holders Considered at October 20, 2010 Stewardship Council Board Meeting

The Watershed Planning Committee of the Stewardship Council forwarded to the Board of Directors a recommendation from the staff of the Stewardship Council regarding the selection of conservation easement holders over certain lands to be retained by PG&E.

The Planning Committee is endorsing the selection of the Sierra Foothill Conservancy (Conservancy) to hold the conservation easement over:

  • All of the lands in the Merced River planning unit, which will be retained by PG&E.
  • All of the lands in the Auberry Service Center planning unit which will be retained by PG&E.

The mission of the Sierra Foothills Conservancy, a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization incorporated in 1996, is to protect the grasslands, foothills, and forests between Yosemite and Kings Canyon National Parks which provide land for farms and ranches, a home for wildlife, and a source of clean water. The Conservancy currently owns four preserves totaling 5,500 acres and holds 22 conservation easements. With offices in Prather and Mariposa, California, the Conservancy has eight staff member and 10 board members. For more information about the Conservancy, please consult their website.

Additionally, the Planning Committee is endorsing the selection of the Feather River Land Trust to hold the conservation easement over:

  • All of the lands in the Mountain Meadows Reservoir planning unit, which will be retained by PG&E.
  • All of the lands in the Butt Valley planning unit, which will be retained by PG&E.

The mission of the Feather River Land Trust, a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization incorporated February 18, 2000, is to conserve, restore and manage land in the Feather River region in cooperation with willing landowners for the benefit of current and future generations. The land trust currently owns two preserves totaling 1,455 acres, four conservation easements totaling over 3,000 acres, and played a major role in eight other conservation easement transactions in partnership with The Nature Conservancy. With offices in Quincy, California, Feather River Land Trust has seven staff members (5.75 FTE), and 10 board members. For more information about the Feather River Land Trust, please consult their website.

The Watershed Planning Committee is also forwarding to the Board of Directors a recommendation from the staff of the Stewardship Council regarding the Doyle Springs planning unit.

The Planning Committee is endorsing:

  • Sequoia Riverlands Trust to hold the conservation easement over 40 acres of the Doyle Springs planning unit.
  • PG&E to retain the entire 43 acres of the Doyle Springs planning unit, including a 3-acre parcel which is part of an existing transmission corridor. This 3-acre parcel will not be included in the conservation easement to be held by the Sequoia Riverlands Trust.

The mission of the Sequoia Riverlands Trust, a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization incorporated in 1993, is to protect working landscapes, wildlife habitat, and scenic open space while ensuring that the economic growth in their communities remains vibrant and sustainable. The land trust’s geographic focus is Fresno, King, Tulare, and Kern Counties. The land trust currently owns six preserves totaling over 4,000 acres and holds 20 conservation easements. With offices in Visalia, California, Sequoia Riverlands Trust has 9 full time staff, 5 part-time staff, and twelve board members. For more information about the Sequoia Riverlands Trust, please consult their website.

These are preliminary recommendations, and the final transactions will be subject to the board’s approval as part of the Land Conservation Conveyance Plan (LCCP).

Inquiries regarding these recommendations can also be addressed to: comments3@stewardshipcouncil.org

Carrizo Plain Land Exchange - Proposed Board Recommendation

At its September 16, 2010 meeting, the Board of Directors of the Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council (Stewardship Council) will consider adopting the following findings and recommendations:

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has solicited the Stewardship Council’s views on a proposed land exchange involving approximately 655 acres of land in San Luis Obispo County, currently owned by PG&E and subject to the Land Conservation Commitment (the PG&E Carrizo Plain Property). Under the proposal, the PG&E Carrizo Plain Property would be acquired by First Solar, Inc. (First Solar) in exchange for two other privately-owned parcels totaling approximately 1,200 acres and located within the boundaries of the Carrizo Plain National Monument (the Exchange Properties). It is anticipated that the Exchange Properties would be donated to the federal Bureau of Land Management and be permanently protected as part of the Carrizo Plain National Monument.

The Stewardship Council has made the following findings and recommendations:

1. As the Stewardship Council cannot find that the PG&E Carrizo Plain Property has no significant public interest value as that phrase is used in the Settlement Agreement, it cannot recommend unconditional transfer of the PG&E Carrizo Plain Property to First Solar.

2. The Stewardship Council nevertheless finds that the proposed land exchange offers a greater benefit to the people of California than continuing to maintain the PG&E Carrizo Plain Property within the Land Conservation Commitment, in that the public stands to receive the benefits of renewable energy as well as greater opportunities to preserve and enhance the beneficial public values of wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation on the Exchange Properties.

3. Therefore, the Stewardship Council supports PG&E seeking the approval of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the federal bankruptcy court to amend the Settlement Agreement to take the PG&E Carrizo Plain Property out of the Land Conservation Commitment, thereby allowing PG&E to transfer fee ownership of the PG&E Carrizo Plain Property to First Solar unencumbered by a conservation easement.

4. The Stewardship Council recommends that the CPUC and the bankruptcy court state as express conditions to the amendment of the Settlement Agreement that:

a. First Solar shall effectuate the fee transfer of the Exchange Properties to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for inclusion in the Carrizo Plain National Monument;

b. Reasonable transaction costs associated with completing the land transfers shall be borne by First Solar; and

c. The permanent protection of the Exchange Properties will be further effectuated by the execution of a conservation easement or equivalent agreement between BLM and an entity qualified to hold and manage conservation easements in the State of California.

5. The Stewardship Council further recommends that PG&E engage with First Solar on the development of additional enhancements to the Exchange Properties for the benefit of the public.


Recommendation Concerning Select Watershed Lands – Proposed Board Action

In furtherance of our objective to advance implementation the Land Conservation Plan, the Stewardship Council recently completed an evaluation of the watershed lands to determine whether certain land ownership recommendations should be made without the need to complete a formal request for proposal (RFP) process.

As a result of this evaluation, the Stewardship Council Board of Directors will consider a proposal at its September 16, 2010 meeting that, if approved, will result in:

  1. The United States Forest Service (USFS) being recommended to receive the donation of fee title to seven parcels of land encompassing approximately 867 acres as shown below.

    Table 1

    County Planning Unit

    # of Parcels

    Acres
    Butte and Plumas North Fork Feather River 2 97
    Fresno Kings River 1 100
    Fresno Wishon Reservoir 1 167
    Kern Kern River 1 279
    Madera Bass Lake 1 73
    Tehama Deer Creek 1 151
  2. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) being recommended to receive the donation of fee title to one parcel of land encompassing approximately 42 acres in the Oroville planning unit in Butte County. (Please click here to view maps)
  3. PG&E's retention of 25 parcels of approximately 715 acres that had been formerly designated as preliminarily available for donation as shown below.
    County Planning Unit # of Parcels Acres
    Butte Philbrook Reservoir 1 95
    El Dorado Chili Bar 5 9
    Fresno Auberry Service Center 1 1
    Merced and Mariposa Merced River 1 1
    Plumas Butt Valley Reservoir 12 299
    Shasta Iron Canyon Reservoir 1 10
    Shasta Kilarc 2 16
    Shasta Lake McCloud 1 184
    Tuolumne Middle Fork Stanislaus River 1 100

    (Please click here to view maps.)

Lands recommended for donation to the USFS and BLM

Table 1 and the lands recommended for donation to BLM include those properties where watershed lands available for donation are bordered on two sides or more by lands currently owned and managed by the USFS or BLM, and where introduction of a new landowner would potentially complicate land management with the potential for little or no assurance of increased preservation or enhancement of the beneficial public values of the donated lands.

Lands recommended to be retained by PG&E:

Table 2 includes those properties that meet one or more of the following criteria: a relatively small amount of acreage was formerly designated as available for donation; transfer of the land would likely result in significant costs for surveys and subdivision with no assurance that the beneficial public values of the lands would be better protected by a land transfer; or lands where the introduction of a new landowner would potentially complicate land management with little or no assurance of increased preservation and enhancement of the beneficial public values of the donated lands.

Public Comment on Proposed Action for September 16, 2010 Meeting of the Board of Directors

The above action will be considered for approval by the Stewardship Council Board of Directors at its September 16, 2010 board meeting in Oakland. Please submit any comments in advance of the meeting via e-mail to: comments1@stewardshipcouncil.org or via US mail to:

Stewardship Council
15 N. Ellsworth Avenue, Suite 100
Mail Code LD2010
San Mateo, CA 94401

Staff will summarize and present all comments to the Board of Directors at the September board meeting. Public comment will also be accepted at the board meeting.

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