Coming Soon: Nothing! About The TDLT
If you have driven down West River Street recently and looked towards the Truckee River you may have noticed a sign that says: "Coming Soon... Nothing!" This sign was put up by the Truckee Donner Land Trust and if you don't know who they are and what they do, you should! We recently had a chance to interview Fraser Query and Jesse Cassidy, who work for them, to get an in-depth look as to what they do and some of their plans for the future of Truckee! This is an amazing group that has been working hard for thirty years to protect and conserve our beautiful outdoors. Here is what they had to say:
Sign that you can see when driving along West River Street
1.) What is the goal of the Truckee Donner Land Trust?
Truckee Donner Land Trust's mission is "to preserve and protect scenic, historic and recreational lands with high natural resource values in the Truckee Donner region and manage recreational activities on these lands in a sustainable manner." We're celebrating our 30th anniversary, over which time we've protected and opened to the public roughly 40,000 acres of open space. We manage and maintain some 45 miles of trail, Webber Lake Campground, and are working on ski huts at Frog Lake, which we just conserved this summer. Looking forward, our goal is to continue to protect open space and make it available for responsible recreation through trails and other amenities.
2.) What is your role at the Truckee Donner Land Trust?
Our role at the Land Trust covers a broad spectrum of tasks, from organizing and hosting volunteer trail days to managing/maintaining the 40,000+ acres of land that the Land Trust has conserved. The majority of our time is spent on the trail at our different properties. We use a mixture of 4x4 trucks, hiking, and E-Bikes to access our more remote trails and use these vehicles to cover ground much faster. If the trail requires a lot of attention, one person will carry a Mcleod (a trail building tool that helps dig new tread and move dirt), and loppers (to cut back brush), while the other person carries a soft rake and a chain saw or hand saw. Together we walk through the trail cleaning and fixing it up as we go. Since our trails are open to all types of recreational users such as hikers, bikers and equestrian riders (no OHV use), we have to build our trails with very unique specifications. Never too steep for hikers, tall and wide enough for equestrian riders and insloped corners so bikers can turn properly. Finding that balance can be difficult, but watching all sorts of users enjoy the trails we've helped build is what makes this job feel so rewarding. We take pride in making sure all of our trails are as well maintained and user friendly as possible.
3.) What have you guys been up to this summer?
Our summer at the Land Trust is broken up into a few sections. The first part of the season involves getting our public trails cleaned up and ready for use as soon as the snow melts. We hit our lower elevation, southern facing and driest trails first, logging out fallen/dangerous trees, cleaning out drains, and assessing the overall attention the trail needs. After we open and clear all of our trails, we can focus our energy on creating new trails (like the 22 mile Donner Lake Rim Trail), rerouting and fixing old trails and other tasks, such as maintaining the Webber Lake campground, opening Frog Lake huts, and the boat launch at Independence lake. Big picture, Truckee Donner Land Trust has a few main projects. First, we're fundraising to acquire Truckee Springs - a 26-acre property on the south side of the Truckee River across from downtown. It will open that whole side of the river to the public, allow the Truckee River Legacy Trail to continue west toward Donner Lake, create trail connections to Sawtooth, Big Chief, Jackass, and others, and of course create river access right in downtown. Second, as I mentioned, the Land Trust recently acquired Frog Lake, Red Mountain & Carpenter Ridge to the east of Castle Peak. We're working on trails to access those properties as well as backcountry huts for year-round overnight adventures. Elsewhere, we're hard at work planning the south side of Donner Lake Rim Trail, which will go over Schallenberger Ridge on the way to Donner Summit.
Picture from the newly completed section of the Donner Lake Rim Trail created by the TDLT
4.) Rumor has it that the sign on the south side of the river along West River Street that says coming soon... nothing! is from you guys? Could you explain what that is all about?
Yep, that's us! That's the Truckee Springs project mentioned in the last question. We put that sign up as a fun way to advertise our plans to keep the property open space and open it to recreation, as opposed to seeing it developed and fenced off from the public. It's a really exciting opportunity to create a trail hub right in downtown - but we need the community's help to raise the money. Learn more here: https://www.
5.) We've heard you guys have been doing a lot of trail maintenance. Any trails in particular? Any new trails in the works? Are these mountain bike, hiking, or both?
Our existing trail system in Royal Gorge has been receiving a lot of attention this year. Because of the harsh weather on Donner Summit, there tends to be excessive trail damage and fallen trees every spring. If Royal Gorge is a trail system you haven't explored, the dozens of miles of interconnected ridgeline trails at RG makes for some spectacular views of the Sierra Crest as well as the American River Gorge. Additionally, the Donner Lake Rim Trail is an ongoing project that has been in the works for ~20 years. The goal is to create a 22-mile long rim trail wrapping around Donner Lake, past Sugar Bowl and Castle Valley, and through Tahoe Donner. Last year we finished 4 new miles of trail from the top of Tahoe Donner, snaking down to the Bremgarten Trailhead (another spectacular trail to check out). Every year the DLRT is growing! We look forward to when we can safely restart our volunteer trail days, a program that routinely sees more than 300 volunteers lend a hand to building and maintaining Land Trust trails - stay tuned for updates.
Volunteers head out to work on our trails!
6.) Anything else you would like the public to know about the TDLT?
Thirty years of protecting open space and building trails would not be possible without the support of our community. We're a small nonprofit and the passion of our supporters is what has made all our work possible. Stay tuned on our webpage or social media to find out about new trails and new projects!
We here at Granite Chief are grateful to have such an amazing nonprofit! Thanks for everything you guys have done and continue to do for our community!