A stunning landscape called Castle Valley, near Lake Tahoe, is the heart of one of the most heavily-used backcountry recreation areas in the northern Sierra Nevada region of California. The 400-plus acre valley is also a primary access point to the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail that winds its way through the Sierra’s, providing picturesque vistas and some solitude.
Because of its key location, many felt Castle Valley was a perfect fit to be added to the Tahoe National Forest, an area known for world class skiing, outdoor recreation and natural beauty that attracts millions of visitors a year. So last month the U.S. Forest Service acquired the land with funding for the acquisition provided by The Land and Water Conservation Fund.
And not too soon for many.
With frontage on a major interstate highway, Castle Valley had been targeted for development, which could have cut off public access to areas of the Tahoe National Forest and the Pacific Crest Trail, and complicated wildfire protection efforts.
The acquisition also provides protection for the Van Norden Meadow, the northern Sierra’s largest sub-alpine meadow and one of the world’s 34 global biodiversity hotspots, located just downstream. Most important to visitors, the purchase assures that the public has continued year-round access to thousands of acres of the newest addition to the National Forest System.
Local partners played a big role in bringing Castle Valley into the National Forest system, including the Truckee Donner Land Trust, Northern Sierra Partnership and The Trust for Public Land. Truckee Donner Land Trust has a long history of working with the Forest Service to protect the iconic landscape in this part of the Sierras.