General Description – The Wherrit Easement Rainbow Ridge project will support long term private forest conservation of a mixed conifer and oak forest in the Upper Sacramento River/Mount Shasta Headwaters region by acquiring a conservation easement for approximately 600 acres of working forest.
Located on Rainbow Ridge (an area that totals 5,000 acres), the project is located within 2 miles of the major north-south freeway in the California, Interstate 5 and the popular recreational and retirement destination city of Mt. Shasta in Northern California. As Rainbow Ridge is easily seen from the highway, adjacent to development and with fairly gentle terrain it was identified by multiple agencies, conservation organizations, landowners and the community as a highly strategic area in need of immediate conservation.
The Wherrit Tract has been managed as both a working forest and a haven for wildlife for generations. A conservation easement over this tract will permanently protect this highly developable and scenic property currently managed under an approved Non-Industrial Timber Harvest Plan (NTMP). The 80-year old owner is providing a stewardship model for permanent forest conservation for both non-industrial landowners along Rainbow Ridge and for others along the I-5 corridor.
Opportunities – The project area would be managed as a non-industrial private forest, yielding sawlogs (and economic benefits) for processing at local wood processing facilities. Habitats for wildlife would be enhanced and protected as part of the overall scheme. Water flowing from the project area provides instream benefits and downstream water for agricultural and domestic uses. Hazardous fuels would be reduced to reduce unwanted wildfire effects in the project area and neighboring ownerships. There are also limited non-motorized recreational opportunities for a public trail following the top of Rainbow Ridge.
Resources At Risk – With the establishment of an easement, aesthetic views of Rainbow Ridge from Mt. Shasta and I5 would be maintained as a forested viewshed. Residential development and industrial timber harvest would be precluded. Wildlife habitat would be maintained and enhanced. This is especially important since this project is adjacent to National Forest lands managed as Late Successional Reserve for northern spotted owls and other old-growth dependent species.
Current Status – The Land Trust has entered into various upfront agreements with Themar Wherrit, to guide the conservation easement process. The Land Trust is also applying for grants and other sources of funding to pay for the easement and establish a stewardship fund for future land conservation. The goal is to have the easement in place by 2015.
Please visit The Shasta Resource Conservation District’s Shasta RCD Rainbow Ridge Project and Partnership to learn more about the work to educate and help small woodland owners mange their forested lands.