The Trust for Public Land and the Pacific Crest Trail Association last week announced the conservation of more than 10,300 acres along Northern California’s Trinity Divide in the Klamath and Shasta-Trinity national forests, protecting 17 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail and securing one of the largest privately-owned segments along the trail.

This major land protection effort is the result of a partnership among the nonprofits, the Michigan-California Timber Company, the U.S. Forest Service, private donors and the surrounding local communities. Many individuals and entities worked together for nearly five years to find common ground — with the ultimate goal of protecting this biologically rich area that is popular with recreationists for its 360-degree views and picturesque lakes, streams and rivers.

The acquisition will create new public access for hikers, horseback riders, campers, hunters and anglers. The public now has new legal access to 10 lakes and many streams, and will be able to take hikes on new loops using the Pacific Crest and other area trails. Four vital rivers, including the Trinity and the Sacramento, flow near the property, enhancing local fisheries and providing clean drinking water for surrounding communities.

The project began with the Northern California-based Michigan-California Timber Company, which realized that the landscape and the Pacific Crest Trail were important ecological and recreational resources that should be in the public domain. The company, with a record of sustainable forestry practices and concern for the environment, initiated a discussion with the Pacific Crest Trail Association, The Trust For Public Land and the U.S. Forest Service about transferring ownership to the public.

“Michigan-California Timber Company has owned and managed the Trinity Divide lands for nearly 25 years, and we are proud of our stewardship,” said Chris Chase, timberland manager for MCTC. “Though these lands contain valuable timber resources, it is evident that the highest and best use of the property is recreation, aesthetics, water production and wildlife habitat.”

Outdoor recreation is also big business for Siskiyou and Trinity counties and towns, with millions of visitors coming annually to the region because of the beautiful natural resources. This area is within a half-day drive of the San Francisco Bay area, and people come from all over the world to enjoy the splendor of this area.

“The Pacific Crest Trail is so important for the communities in Siskiyou County,” said County Sup. Ed Valenzuela. “Not only is it a draw for tourists who help drive our small-town economies, it’s an asset for locals who escape to it for the health of their minds and their bodies.”

The Trust for Public Land and the Pacific Crest Trail Association have been working together for decades to protect the trail and its surroundings, more often than not, securing smaller parcels that contribute to the overall goal of closing trail gaps and in-holdings within national forests boundaries.

The Trust for Public Land has completed 35 projects along the trail, protecting 36,649 acres. The Pacific Crest Trail Association has advocated and helped secure federal funding for many of those properties in partnership with The Trust for Public Land and numerous other nonprofit and agency partners.

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