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Bear River Land Acquisition to Expand Recreational Opportunities

March 13, 2014

A deal for land adjacent to Placer County’s popular Bear River Campground was approved Tuesday by the Placer County Board of Supervisors. The Campground, which sits on 192 acres next to the Bear River, is leased by the county from the state. The 10-acre acquisition is land that the county has leased since the early 1970s from Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E).

As part of a larger settlement agreement, PG&E agreed to donate 721 acres of its watershed lands in the Bear River area. The county proposed to receive title to the property that it has historically leased from PG&E, and the Placer Land Trust (Land Trust) separately proposed to receive the associated conservation easement. The county's proposal lists future improvements that could support the Bear River Campground, which offers campsites, day-use areas, multi-use trails, and river access for fishing, rafting, swimming and gold panning.

Under county ownership, County Parks Department staff may solicit grants and use County Park Dedication Fees for improvements. These may include restoring portions of the property to a more natural condition, and enhancing public access and recreational opportunities such as picnic areas, trail rest areas, an interpretive kiosk and directional signage. The proposal also considers connecting the newly-acquired property to an existing five-mile trail network. To finalize the acquisition, the county needed to enter into a three-party agreement with PG&E and the Land Trust.

The Pacific Forest and Watersheds Lands Stewardship Council (Council) was established to develop and implement a plan to protect the PG&E Watershed Lands. This effort directs the land donations to eligible entities, while ensuring the properties are protected by conservation easements. This arrangement ensures perpetual protection of such things as natural habitat, scenic character and recreational use.

Of the surveying, escrow, title, legal and project management costs associated the acquisition, the Council will pay $35,600, while the county will pay $54,000.

The transaction will still need to go through several levels of review and approvals and reviews. Once these actions have occurred, the escrow process will begin and is expected to close by June 2015.

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