The Campaign to Conserve Frog Lake, Red Mountain & Carpenter Ridge
We are thrilled to announce the successful conclusion of our two-year, $14 million Campaign to Conserve Frog Lake, Red Mountain & Carpenter Ridge, completing the protection of one of the most spectacular landscapes in the Sierra Nevada!
Thanks to critical financial support from the Wildlife Conservation Board, California Natural Resources Agency, U.S. Forest Service, and 370 very generous private donors, the Truckee Donner Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, and The Trust for Public Land–working together as part of the Northern Sierra Partnership–were able to reach their campaign goal. In total, our partners protected 2,914 acres, which includes Frog Lake, Red Mountain, and three parcels above Lower Carpenter Valley. 480 acres at Frog Lake as well as another 640 acres along Carpenter Ridge have been transferred to the U.S. Forest Service for public recreation and enjoyment. The remaining 200 acres surrounding Frog Lake and 1,594 acres above Lower Carpenter Valley will be owned by the Truckee Donner Land Trust and managed in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy.
Connecting our Wild Landscapes
For the past decade, the partner organizations of the Northern Sierra Partnership have been working to protect and connect the wild landscapes of the northern Sierra Nevada. Nowhere has this effort been more successful than at the headwaters of the Little Truckee River and Prosser Creek, where the partners have conserved Independence Lake, Webber Lake, Perazzo Meadows, and Lower Carpenter Valley, among many other properties.
Conserving Frog Lake, Red Mountain & Carpenter Ridge was a critical next step. Our campaign has linked the majestic high country of Castle Peak to the wildlands surrounding Carpenter Valley and Independence Lake, protecting the ecologically rich headwaters of Prosser Creek and the Little Truckee River. Protecting these properties has ensured that large mammals can roam freely across the landscape, and created new opportunities for the public to explore and enjoy the stunning backcountry of the northern Sierra.
This is a historic moment for the Northern Sierra Partnership, and for the Sierra Nevada. We are so grateful to all of the private donors and public agencies that have joined together to protect these spectacular places for future generations. With your help, we have transformed the map of our region and protected, intact and forever, one of the great landscapes of California.
Wildlands Rich in Biodiversity
The acquisition of Frog Lake, Red Mountain & Carpenter Ridge conserved 2,914 acres of important habitat in the Prosser Creek and Little Truckee River watersheds, recently ranked by The Nature Conservancy as among the highest biodiversity watersheds in the Sierra Nevada. The properties feature a spectacular subalpine lake, mixed conifer forest, aspen groves, and extensive creeks, as well as open slopes with windswept thickets of mountain mahogany, wax currant, and wild gooseberry. In addition, springs and seeps on the lands being acquired flow into sensitive fens in Carpenter Valley, home to unique botanical species including carnivorous plants like the Long leaved sundew and Lesser bladderwort.
The acquisitions have significantly enhanced habitat connectivity between the Castle Peak Roadless Area, Sagehen Basin, Independence Lake, and Henness Pass, providing unimpaired passage to wildlife with large home ranges like black bear, American badger, wolverine, American marten, and the recently documented gray wolf. The Loyalton-Truckee deer herd also forages and fawns on the forested slopes above Euer Valley and Carpenter Valley. Protecting areas of contiguous habitat allows species to migrate with the seasons and in response to climate change.
Forested watersheds in the Sierra Nevada are vital resources for communities across California and western Nevada, providing more than half of the water needed for human uses. How those watersheds are managed directly impacts downstream communities.
In 2015, The Nature Conservancy reviewed strategies to improve water quality in the Truckee River. In the Middle Truckee watershed, the Conservancy identified land conservation and dirt road restoration as the two most cost-effective strategies. Land conservation protects land from development and disturbance, reducing erosion and sediment impacts on streams. Repairing or removing poorly designed dirt roads has similar beneficial effects, including reducing water treatment costs for downstream utilities.
The Conservancy’s research indicates that approximately half of the land acquired was a high conservation priority for reasons of water quality alone. Development or commercial logging of these steep slopes would likely degrade water quality, in addition to posing an immediate threat to the ecologically sensitive fens in Carpenter Valley.
A Backcountry Paraside
In addition to protecting critical ecological values, the acquisition of Frog Lake, Red Mountain & Carpenter Ridge presented a remarkable opportunity to enhance outdoor recreation in the northern Sierra. The partners plan to build a magnificent new trail, branching from the existing Warren Lake Trail, to connect Castle Peak, Frog Lake, Red Mountain, Lower Carpenter Valley, and Independence Lake. Open for non-motorized uses, the trail will enable visitors to experience the jaw-dropping beauty of this landscape as a physically intact and unified whole.
As part of the partners’ vision for year-round recreation, the Truckee Donner Land Trust is creating a small network of mountain huts so visitors can enjoy the backcountry of the northern Sierra in all seasons. Perched in a glaciated bowl east of Castle Peak, the historic stone cabin and outbuildings at Frog Lake will serve as the hub of that hut network.
This exciting recreational vision is becoming a reality because the NSP partners have protected so much of the surrounding landscape over the past decade. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the many individuals, foundations, and public agencies whose commitment to the Sierra has made this astounding conservation progress possible. We could never have done it without you!