Photo Credit: Rich Reiner, The Nature Conservancy
Photo of now protected Spencer Meadow property in the Lassen Volcanic Wilderness
Apr. 11, 2011
Wilderness Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy partner with National Park Service to add 80-acre rare high altitude fen to the Lassen Volcanic National Park and Lassen Volcanic Wilderness
CARBONDALE, CO … Imagine hiking into the Lassen Volcanic Wilderness through tall timber, and rocky volcanic terrain. Your steps bring you out into a rare, wide-open, blooming, green meadow fed by high alpine streams, and then you see cars parked in front of structures and tents and RV’s camped on the other edge. Dust rises in the distance from another vehicle arriving along the road accessing the camp from the other side of the meadow. And, then you hear a chainsaw and the crack of a tree falling. We are now proud to announce that the view of Spencer Meadow, a rare high-altitude fen, will remain natural and quiet forever, with no vehicles, structures, dust or chainsaws within sight or hearing.
The Wilderness Land Trust in partnership with The Nature Conservancy recently transferred the 80-acre private inholding to the National Park Service-Lassen Volcanic National Park for permanent protection as a part of the Lassen Volcanic Wilderness area. The Lassen Volcanic Wilderness is located in California, northeast of Chico and Sacramento, including the iconic Lassen Peak.
Permanent protection as wilderness and the addition to Lassen Volcanic National Park of one of the few remaining private inholding properties in the area prevents future incompatible private uses along tributaries to Mill Creek in a pristine alpine environment. Mill Creek is a part of the Sacramento River watershed and is one of the few undammed tributaries that still provide spring run Chinook salmon and winter run steelhead spawning sites. Mill Creek has been found to possess the highest levels of biotic integrity out of the 100 major watersheds in the Sierra Nevada due to lack of dams, extensive roadless areas and presence of native species. The Sacramento River feeds its Delta and eventually flows to San Francisco Bay, providing water for people and farms throughout California, as well as important habitat for fish and other species.
Wildlife common to the Lassen area include eagles, picas, sagebrush lizards and over 700 other species. Lassen Volcanic National Park also supports tall Ponderosa, Jeffrey and Sugar pines, and white and red firs, along with a wide variety of wildflowers and volcanic terrain with special soils and plant types. Lassen Peak soars to almost 10,500 feet in elevation and erupted less than 100 years ago, very recently in geologic terms. The craters and volcanic landscape present a unique experience to visitors.
“The owner was listing the property for sale and our competing buyer was a campground operator. Both a residence and timber operations were allowed on the property, which had motorized access,” said Aimee Rutledge, California Program Manager. “We are proud to work with the National Park Service and The Nature Conservancy to permanently protect this property and its precious resources as part of the surrounding Lassen Volcanic Wilderness.”
The National Park Service manages the Lassen Volcanic National Park and related wilderness area containing the Spencer Meadow property.
“Spencer Meadow is a spectacularly scenic addition to the Park, and an extraordinarily generous gift to the American public on the part of The Wilderness Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy. We’re grateful to both organizations for recognizing early on that the unique natural resources present at Spencer Meadow should be preserved as wilderness within the national park,” said Darlene Koontz, Superintendent of Lassen Volcanic National Park.
The Nature Conservancy holds a conservation easement on the Spencer Meadow property and partnered with the Trust and the Park Service to help permanently protect the property as wilderness.
“Merging Spencer Meadow into Lassen Volcanic National Park’s Wilderness area will protect important wildlife habitat and provide a resource for park visitors to enjoy,” said Jake Jacobson, The Nature Conservancy’s Lassen Foothills Project Director.
Lassen Volcanic Wilderness—Within Lassen Volcanic National Park
The Lassen Volcanic Wilderness was designated by Congress in 1972, encompasses about 4/5th of Lassen Volcanic National Park and now contains 79,062 acres. Although Lassen is primarily known for its volcanic geology, the area boasts a rich diversity of plant and animal life. Over 700 flowering plant species grace the park, providing shelter and food for 250 vertebrates as well as a host of invertebrates including insects. Things you might see in Lassen include mountain picas, sagebrush lizards, bald eagles, peregrine falcons and the California Tortoise Shell Butterfly and a wide-diversity of wildflowers. This great diversity of life forms is due to two factors: the geographic location of the park and the abundance of habitats that occur there. Situated at the southern end of the Cascade Range geologic province, Lassen Volcanic National Park lies at the crossroads of three great biological provinces: the Cascades range to the north, the Sierra Nevada mountains to the south and the Great Basin desert to the east. The myriad habitats of Lassen Volcanic National Park are produced by variations in environmental conditions such as elevation (5,000 to 10,457 feet), moisture (precipitation is greater on the western than the eastern side of the park), substrate (rock type and soil depth), temperature, insolation (amount of sun) and prior disturbance (both natural and human-caused).
Lassen Volcanic National Park, California
The Wilderness Land Trust
PO Box 1420, Carbondale, CO 81623, phone: 970.963.1725 fax: 970.963.6067