Feather River Land Trust (FRLT) announced today, Dec. 10, the permanent protection by conservation easement of the Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) reservoir, Bucks Lake. Working with PG&E and the Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council, this land protection project was over six years in the making. The conservation easement was officially recorded on Nov. 23, at the Plumas County Recorder’s Office. Bucks Lake is the third PG&E reservoir in the region that FRLT holds a conservation easement on—ensuring valuable public access, wildlife habitat, and scenic open space for current and future generations.
The conservation easement at Bucks Lake permanently protects 2,164 acres of publicly important lands and waters, including the lake itself, and approximately 300 acres of forest, meadow, wetland, and creekside habitats. This conservation easement will prevent subdivision and detrimental land use changes within the protected property. This easement also protects current land uses of the reservoir and surrounding lands including recreation. PG&E will continue to own and operate Bucks Lake and manage recreation facilities and leases.
A conservation easement is a legal agreement that permanently protects the conservation values of private land and limits development, subdivision, and changes to land use. As the conservation easement holder, FRLT will meet with PG&E annually about management plans and potential impacts to special resources and publicly important values. FRLT will visit and inspect the Bucks Lake property on an annual basis to ensure that the terms of the easement are being upheld.
Bucks Lake is a Plumas County treasure, visited and loved by many in Northern California and beyond. Since 2000, FRLT has worked to protect strategic private lands, like Bucks Lake, for the public good in the Sierra Nevada’s largest watershed, the Feather River—a source of drinking water for 27 million people. The lands and waters of Bucks Lake, and the other reservoirs FRLT has protected (Butt Valley and Mountain Meadows) are headwaters to the California State Water Project and are a tremendous asset to the regional tourism economy and local communities. While these reservoirs offer valuable public recreation opportunities, they are private lands and subject to landowner control. With the FRLT-held conservation easements on PG&E properties, protections have been put in place to ensure public access is permanently allowed along with protections for natural resources.
Bucks Lake and the habitats around the reservoir support critical habitat to over 30 special status species including Willow Flycatcher, Sierra Marten, Mountain Yellow-legged Frog, and Quincy Lupine. The easement prohibits lakeshore subdivision and large building developments that could impact native plants, animals, and historical/cultural sites. The conservation easement at Bucks Lake adds to a larger landscape of protected lands, with adjacent Plumas National Forest and the Bucks Lake Wilderness creating connectivity for wildlife and plant communities.
Project Background and Context
Following the 2003 bankruptcy of Pacific Gas and Electric, PG&E entered into a settlement agreement known as the Land Conservation Commitment (LCC). The settlement agreement requires the permanent conservation of 140,000 acres of forests, meadows, streams, and wetlands across the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges, to be protected for their conservation values and for the people of California. Approximately 44,000 acres of these watershed lands are within the upper North Fork Feather River Watershed. FRLT has been working to permanently conserve these Feather River Watershed lands, including Bucks Lake, Mountain Meadows Reservoir, Tásmam Koyóm (Humbug Valley), Butt Valley, Lake Almanor and others, with conservation easements. For more information about the LCC, please visit www.StewardshipCouncil.org.
To learn more about Feather River Land Trust’s conservation work in the Feather River Watershed, and specifically on PG&E lands, please visit our website, https://www.frlt.org/our-work/.
To learn more about the Bucks Lake Conservation Project, including frequently asked questions, please visit: https://www.frlt.org/blog/bucks-lake-conservation-story/