APPLEGATE, CA, May 29, 2024 – Placer Land Trust (PLT) and Trust for Public Land (TPL) proudly announce the protection of over 1,500 acres of significant river canyon along Lake Clementine and the North Fork American River in the Sierra Nevada foothills northeast of Sacramento.

Applegate Preserve

The property, located between Applegate and Foresthill, includes Lake Clementine access and shoreline as well as 2.5 miles along the North Fork American River. The two land conservation organizations purchased the property from private developers and have now conveyed it to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to ensure the land is held in the public trust.

“This property was originally slated for 97 estate homes,” said Jeff Darlington, Placer Land Trust’s Executive Director, “but we’ve worked with these landowners before, and they were willing to give Placer Land Trust the time we needed to make an offer for conservation. We’re so excited to announce that this property is now protected for all of us, forever.”

This project is the latest in a long collaboration among TPL, PLT and public resource agencies to protect the natural beauty and ecological integrity of Placer County’s rivers, streams and key watershed lands. Since 2007, the two organizations have invested nearly $20 million in four joint venture projects to permanently protect over 4,000 acres along the American River, Bear River, and Raccoon Creek, including new access points for public recreation. In total, PLT has protected over 20,000 acres in Placer County.

TPL’s project lead, Heidi Krolick, lives in Rocklin, not far from Darlington’s home in Loomis. Krolick said: “Lake Clementine has been a long-time favorite recreation destination for me and my family. I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to work alongside Placer Land Trust and BLM to place these special lands in public ownership allowing for enhanced access and recreational experiences within such a critically important watershed for Placer County and beyond.”

Green Heron
Green heron

The federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) provided PLT and TPL a Congressionally approved grant for the acquisition and transfer of the land to BLM. LWCF funds help safeguard natural areas, water resources and cultural heritage across the country, and provide recreation opportunities to all Americans. Additional project support funding was provided by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, a State agency headquartered in Auburn, and by the local community and the landowners themselves.

The property was sold by the Tsakopoulos, Cummings, and Brodovsky families, who worked with PLT and TPL for three years to complete the sale and transfer to BLM. The Tsakopoulos family company is one of the largest landowners in Northern California – conducting agricultural, conservation, renewable energy, and land development activities.

“Our families have a long connection to this land, the American River and Lake Clementine,” said Angelo Tsakopoulos, “and we’re very happy with this conservation outcome.”

The view from the new preserve overlooking Lake Clementine
The view from the new preserve overlooking Lake Clementine

The 1,566-acre property is adjacent to four other properties protected by Placer Land Trust in past years, which – along with other existing public and protected lands – creates a protected block of land in excess of 38,000 acres, which is similar in size to San Francisco.

Under BLM management, the property will eventually provide new recreational access from Interstate 80 to the river and Lake Clementine within the popular Auburn State Recreation Area (ASRA).

“Creating new and inclusive access to the great outdoors is part of our work with TPL and others to provide more equity in recreation,” added Darlington. “Everyone should be able to visit and enjoy nature, and Placer County is such a wonderful place to get outdoors!”

The project provides multiple conservation benefits, including the protection of scenic views of the American River canyon; protection of the health of the American River watershed that provides critical water supply for the Sacramento Region including drinking water for hundreds of thousands of Californians; protection of important wildlife habitat and a wildlife migration corridor; and carbon sequestration and air quality benefits through avoided residential development. Furthermore, BLM’s future public planning process will consider measures to help reduce the risk and impact of catastrophic wildfire including fuel load management. Although the property will eventually provide public trail access, visitation is not encouraged until BLM officially declares it open.

Protecting this area is another step towards achieving the state and federal goals to protect, restore, and connect 30% of land and water across the country by 2030. This effort seeks to conserve natural habitat and diverse plants and animals, build climate resilience, and increase access to nature for communities that lack it.

The joint effort of TPL and PLT is a testament to the commitment to the conservation of California's natural heritage, ensuring that these lands remain a source of inspiration, recreation, and environmental health for generations to come. 

About Placer Land Trust

Placer Land Trust (PLT) is a local nonprofit that works with willing landowners and conservation partners to permanently protect and care for natural, agricultural and recreational lands in Placer County for current and future generations. Protecting these landscapes is essential to successfully build and sustain connections among people, their community, and the natural environment. To learn more, visit placerlandtrust.org.

About Trust for Public Land

Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit that works to connect everyone to the benefits and joys of the outdoors. As a leader in equitable access to the outdoors, TPL works with communities to create parks and protect public land where they are needed most. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 4 million acres of public land, created more than 5,364 parks, trails, schoolyards, and iconic outdoor places, raised $93 billion in public funding for parks and public lands, and connected nearly 9.4 million people to the outdoors. To learn more, visit tpl.org.

About the U.S. Bureau of Land Management

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages public land for the federal government, with a mission to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. BLM owns and manages the newly protected property. To learn more about property access and management, contact BLM’s Mother Lode Field Office at (916) 941-3101 or BLM_CA_Web_ML@blm.gov.