by Kathleen Hitt, SLT Conservation Director

Siskiyou Land Trust is in the midst of ushering Thamar Wherrit’s forest conservation easement project over the finish line!  These complex real estate transactions typically take 3 to 5 years from start to finish – or longer depending on funding availability.  

Thamar Wherrit, accompanied by her dogs, takes the long view on her Rainbow Ridge property where she’s working with SLT to provide habitat and water for wildlife.

Thamar envisioned this project in many shapes and forms before working with Siskiyou Land Trust.  Once it became clear that she needed to sell the real estate interest rather than donate it, the Land Trust went to work to tell the story of her forest and Rainbow Ridge.  It took a couple of years for that story to take shape enough for funders to take note.  

John Brennan reminded me of a trip we took seven years ago to Sacramento for a meeting with Wildlife Conservation Board staff to share our proposed project in hopes of being received with great enthusiasm and encouragement….. the opposite happened.  John got a parking ticket and the State agency we hoped to work with told us that the project was not big enough or a high enough priority to support it.  We took that response as homework to do rather than rejection, and we’re glad we did.  That experience helped us understand what funding partners need to see and know in order to grasp the importance of the projects we bring forward.  

We expect the project to close by the end of the year thanks to the dedication of Thamar, our conservation partners, the SLT Board, and project funding from USDA Forest Legacy Program and California’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.  Special thanks to Jeff Calvert, now retired from Cal-Fire, who was critical in seeing the vulnerability of this forest and bringing this project forward.