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Placer Legacy

Placer Legacy is a Countywide, open space and habitat protection program. Placer Legacy will result in a comprehensive open space plan for Placer County that preserves the diversity of plant and animal communities in the County and addresses a variety of other open space needs, from agriculture and recreation to urban edges and public safety. Placer Legacy will help maintain the County's high quality of life and promote economic vitality.

How does Placer Legacy work?

  • It is totally voluntary - only willing buyers and willing sellers participate.
  • It is based on the existing County General Plan and community plans, so it doesn't require land-use or zoning changes.
  • It is non-regulatory - no new regulations are adopted to meet the objectives of the program.

Summary Report

Placer Legacy has been developed to implement the goals, policies and programs of the 1994 Placer County General Plan by meeting a number of objectives:

  • Maintain a viable agricultural segment of the economy;
  • Conserve natural features necessary for access to a variety of outdoor recreation opportunities;
  • Retain important scenic and historic areas;
  • Preserve the diversity of plant and animal communities;
  • Protect endangered and other special status plant and animal species; and,
  • Separate urban areas into distinct communities, and ensure public safety.

Placer Legacy comprises four primary areas of program work including program startup, natural resource activities, program implementation (acquisition, monitoring, development and maintenance) and public outreach. Identified in the Program Summary is the latest information on Program Funding, County Acquisitions, County Contributions to Other Agency Acquisitions in Placer County, Property Descriptions, Accomplishments to Date, and Current Activities for the Placer Legacy Program.

Placer Legacy Program

How You Can Help

Open space - public land, private forests, parks, ranches, farms, and other undeveloped lands - provide a multitude of public benefits, habitat value, and functions we all need and enjoy such as water, economic prosperity, wildlife, recreation, and wildfire protection.

Placer County respects private property rights and local jurisdictions and will only work with willing landowners, communities, and partners to promote voluntary open space conservation.

If you or someone you know owns land, there may be an opportunity to contribute to the ongoing effort to preserve open space in Placer County. Let us tell you about the advantages of helping the County achieve its vision-- now and for generations to come.

To qualify for consideration for the open space program, lands must satisfy the Placer Legacy program objectives:

  • Maintain a viable agricultural segment of the economy
  • Conserve natural features necessary for access to a variety of outdoor recreation opportunities
  • Retain important scenic and historic areas
  • Preserve the diversity of plant and animal communities
  • Protect endangered and other special status plant and animal species
  • Separate urban areas into distinct communities
  • Ensure public safety

Placer Legacy Donations

  • Make a tax-deductible financial contribution to Placer Legacy, or help by being an advocate in the community.
  • If you own property and wish to continue ownership, consider a conservation easement which may result in reduced property taxes.
  • If you own property and wish to transfer the deed, consider an outright donation or bargain sale.
  • You can improve the natural quality of your own property by restoring natural habitat and planting native plants and trees.

For questions regarding the Placer Legacy Program, contact:

Christopher Schmidt, Senior Planner
Phone: 530-745-3076
Fax: 530-745-3080


Adopted in June 2000, the Placer Legacy Agricultural and Open Space Conservation Program serves as the blueprint for the County's land conservation efforts. Along with conservation partners, Placer Legacy has protected over 9,000 acres. Properties protected through Placer Legacy have added to the quality of life, protected landscapes and habitats, conserved open space and agricultural lands, preserved important historic resources, and provided recreational opportunities.


  • Agricultural easement purchased on the 49-acre Side Hill Citrus orchard in Rural Lincoln


  • 80-acre Outman Preserve acquired in cooperation with Placer Land Trust


  • Conservation easement obtained on Doty Ravine Preserve
  • 1773 Acre Bruin Ranch acquired
  • Agricultural conservation easement finalized on the Natural Trading Co. Farm near Newcastle


  • Hidden Falls Regional Park overlook dedicated


  • Wetlands restoration project completed on Sundance Farms property


  • Cooperative effort completed to purchase 1,482- acre Waddle Ranch in Martis Valley
  • Oak conservation easement placed on Kirk Ranch, 281-acre property near Camp Far West
  • Working with Placer Land Trust, preserved the Taylor Ranch and Liberty Ranch properties
  • $1.49 million CA River Parkways grant awarded for Hidden Falls improvements


  • Cisco Grove-Gould Park dedicated
  • Hidden Falls Regional Park, Phase One, dedicated
  • Flood easement secured on 137-acre Sundance/Lakeview Farms property


  • 220-acre Didion Ranch, site of Hidden Falls Regional Park, purchased
  • Open space easement on 500-acre Blue Oak Ranch property gifted to Placer County


  • Spears Ranch, a 960-acre property on Coon Creek, purchased
  • Agricultural easement secured on 17.6-acre Lyndell Grey farm near Lincoln
  • Trail and conservation easement purchased on 234-acre Towle property


  • Placer Legacy receives Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership award


  • Agricultural Easement secured on 320-acre Aitken Ranch property
  • Placer Legacy program adopted by Board of Supervisors


  • Placer Legacy Citizens Advisory Committee formed


  • Board of Supervisors votes to prepare an Open Space Implementation Plan

Awards and Recognition

In 1996, the California Chapter American Planning Association presented Placer County and Wildlands Mitigation Bank an “Award of Merit” for Planning Implementation, in a large jurisdiction. The award honored the establishment of this public/private partnership to move the mitigation-banking concept forward in the county.

In 2000, the Sierra Business Council awarded the Placer County Board of Supervisors a Vision 2020 Award for the dedication, commitment, and political will demonstrated by the entire board throughout the development of Placer Legacy.

Placer Legacy received an honorable mention for the California State Association of Counties 2001 Challenge Awards. The comprehensive nature of the program was also noted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which called Placer Legacy an "outstanding" approach to the conservation of resources.

In 2002, Placer Legacy won the Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award. This is the State of California’s highest and most prestigious environmental honor. The program recognizes individuals, organizations, and businesses that have demonstrated exceptional leadership and made notable contributions in conserving California’s precious resources, protecting and enhancing our environment, and building public-private partnerships.

The Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute’s book, Nature-Friendly Communities, published in 2005, named Placer County as one of the 20 most nature-friendly communities in the nation. Placer County was the only community in California to be highlighted in the book.

Oak Woodland Preservation

Placer Legacy identifies conservation of Placer County oak woodland as high priority. Recent land acquisitions in which Legacy has been a partner such as Taylor Ranch and Spears Ranch are primarily oak woodland. Residents of the county may question why public and private funds are being used to acquire oak woodland, which would appear to be so common. The rationale for acquiring or otherwise protecting oak woodland is complex but to ensure continued public support, it must be understood.

There are over twenty-three thousand acres of oak woodland in Placer County. It is not all the same however, and different areas are dominated by different species of oak. Most of us are familiar with the elegant, large oaks in the valley and lower foothills. Areas with this type of oak woodland are relatively rare in the county. From the perspective of conservation, protecting the remaining areas of large "valley" oaks is the highest priority because of their rarity. Replacement of such areas is simply not possible, at least within a human lifetime.

Most of the county has oak woodland that is denser, in many cases comprised of smaller trees that regenerated after fire or agricultural clearing. This kind of woodland may occupy hundreds or even thousands of acres. They are not rare, but their conservation is important for other reasons. Large, intact areas of oak woodland provide habitat for the common and uncommon wildlife that live in the county. For wildlife to persist, they require the physical habitat and food found in the oak woodland.

There are two general threats to the expanses of oak woodland found in the county. First, there is the threat that they will be developed. Second, there is the threat of wild fire. Either event can result in the total loss of woodland. In the case of development however, there are effects short of total loss that can result in significant impacts on wildlife habitat. These include the effects of human occupation within oak woodland that create changes in vegetation, introduce exotic plants and animals (pets) and generally make the woodland less hospitable for wildlife. There are also effects at the landscape scale, termed "fragmentation" in which a large area of woodland is broken up into smaller areas. These smaller areas and the boundaries between them (typically roads, utility corridors and fence lines) may not be suitable for wildlife that require large territories to meet their life needs.

Conservation objectives for the extensive areas of oak woodland generally focus on maintaining large, contiguous areas free from development. There is also an emphasis on management to reduce fire hazard in preserved areas. There are few areas in the county that still retain large woodland and consequently, that is where conservation initiatives will be proposed.

For people in Placer County today, there are rules and regulations for protecting oaks and oak woodland. In the long run however, the conservation of oaks and the ecological and cultural values they provide will depend on public support for permanent protection. Building that support through enhancing the understanding of county residents about why oak woodland should be protected is a critical task for Placer Legacy.

Conservation Tools for Property Owners

It does not have to be Earth Day to think about how you can make a difference. Here are a few tips:

  • Reduce home energy consumption by turning down the heat at least 2 degrees in the winter (68 or lower), turn up the air conditioner at least 2 degrees in the summer (78 or higher).
  • Walk, bike, carpool or take public transit whenever possible and combine your errands to reduce driving.
  • For your next vehicle purchase, choose a fuel efficient, low-emission car or a hybrid.
  • To keep the house cooler in the summer, keep blinds and curtains closed.
  • Take advantage of our sunny summers and line dry your clothes outside. Your clothes smell fresh and you save energy.
  • Build a greener home.
  • Save energy by switching to CFL or LED light bulbs.
  • Go solar. Installing a solar panel will allow you to reduce your reliance on coal-generated electricity
  • Unplug appliances that aren't being used. They use energy in standby mode.
  • Turn off lights and electronics when you leave the room.
  • Reduce consumption first, then reuse, donate or repair items, and finally recycle whenever possible.
  • Take reusable bags to the grocery store them handy in the trunk. Given a choice between plastic and paper, opt for paper.
  • Buy products with recycled content and with less packaging whenever possible.
  • Take your batteries to a recycling center.
  • Buy permanent items instead of disposables.
  • When you receive unwanted catalogs, newsletters, magazines, or junk mail, ask to be removed from the mailing list. Then recycle the item.
  • Buy locally grown food and choose organic. Food is fresher, healthier and energy is saved on transportation.
  • Start a compost pile.  Yard trimmings and food residuals together constitute 24 percent of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream.
  • Save water by turning off the faucet when brushing your teeth.
  • To help conserve water, do outdoor watering before 11:00 am and after 7:00 pm on hot days.
  • Buy eco-friendly cleaning and laundry products to help preserve water quality.
  • Wash things only when necessary and make sure dishwashers and washing machines are full before running them.
  • Save water by rinsing vegetables in a bowl of water instead of under a running faucet.
  • Conserve water by using a broom, not a hose, to clean driveways, sidewalks and patios.
  • Deep soak your lawn and only water when it needs it. Letting grass grow taller in the summer will help the soil hold the moisture and require less water. Consider xeriscaping and planting native and drought tolerant plants.
  • Consider planting shade trees on your property. Trees shade roofs from the hot summer sun. Shrubs and vines can be planted to keep walls cool. Shading your air conditioner can reduce energy costs by as much as 50 percent.
  • Drink tap water instead of buying bottled water to help keep plastic out of landfills.
  • Turn your water heater down to save energy.
  • Use low-flow faucets, showerheads, and toilets.
  • Discover your local watershed and learn how to protect it.

Conservation Tools for Placer County Property Owners