Placer Legacy Background
The Placer Legacy Open Space and Agricultural Conservation Program has been developed by the County of Placer to protect and conserve open space, natural resources and agricultural lands throughout the county. It provides a comprehensive framework for preservation of historic, cultural, and scenic lands and structures.
Placer County has been blessed with extensive and diverse natural resources. Between the Central Valley and the spectacular shores of Lake Tahoe lies a great diversity of natural communities. Included are some of California’s signature landscapes, including foothill oak woodlands, and the forests, streams and meadows of the Sierra Nevada. This geologic and climatic diversity makes Placer County home to a rich variety of plant and animal species and contributes to the county’s reputation as one of the scenic treasures of California.
As in many California communities, rapid growth and development has become a challenge to County leaders, planners and residents.
In recent years, Placer County has ranked amongst the fastest growing counties in California. Residents and businesses continue to be attracted by the opportunity to live, work, and play in a place of remarkable beauty. However, this growth has converted large portions of grasslands, woodlands, and riparian areas to urban, rural, suburban, and commercial uses.
Growth patterns and population projections confirm that Placer County’s urbanized landscape will substantially increase in size and scope. The population of, and number of housing units in, Placer County is projected to double over the next twenty years. As the population grows, Placer County risks losing the natural and scenic qualities that distinguish it from other developing regions of the state.
Along with associated benefits of development, come the visible effects of growth: Suburban sprawl, traffic congestion, environmental degradation, and loss of open space and community character. The scale of change is significant. According to the American Farmland Trust, up to 256,000 acres in the Sacramento region are expected to be urbanized in the next 20 years.
During the past decade, increased attention on compact development, affordable housing, farmland preservation, protection of biodiversity and related issues has underscored the need for bold efforts in order to effectively manage growth and change.
Preservation of open space and protecting rivers, creeks, streams, and farmland is a priority issue for local residents. The County identified a need to develop a comprehensive and adequately-funded approach coupled with technological solutions for the obstacles of sharing and utilization of data between federal, state and local agencies. Without these solutions, the County stands to lose the natural and scenic qualities which distinguish it.