by Melissa Blosser, Assistant Editor
It has been a quarter of a century since Lassen Land and Trails Trust was founded to conserve significant natural areas, agricultural landscapes and to promote and enhance a public trail system throughout Lassen County.
Tonight, October 5th, Lassen Land and Trails Trust will celebrate 25 years of achievements at its Benefit Gala where the organization has invited members of the community to celebrate past accomplishments and future goals.
“There are a wealth of volunteers who have made Lassen Land and Trails Trust what it is today,” said Louise Jensen, Executive Director of LL&TT. “The community has shown us so much support and helped us with so many different accomplishments over the years.”
The history of LLTT begins in 1978 to 1986, when the Rails to Trails conversion of Susanville to Westwood segment of the Fernley Lassen Branch Line was undertaken by the Bureau of Land Management and the Lassen National Forest.
The rail line conversion created the Bizz Johnson Trail along a 27-mile stretch that has become world famous for a variety of recreational uses including hiking, biking and an annual Boston qualifier marathon.
In 1987, Southern Pacific proposed that the Susanville Fire Department burn the depot as a training exercise for their fire fighters. Local citizens Jim Saake and Lon Fitton appealed to the City Council to stop the burn. Lassen Land and Trails Trust was formed to protect and raise funds to purchase the historic structure.
In 1989, a fire of unknown origin damaged the 1927 Depot and destroyed the 1913 freight shed. The members of LLTT made it their goal to restore the Susanville Depot to its original integrity with additional features to accommodate for a museum and visitor center.
Today, the Depot is home to Lassen Land and Trails Trust and the Historic Susanville Railroad Depot museum and visitor center.
The building continues to provide community services as an educational venue for school groups and community members. The depot is also host to the Susanville Farmers Market, the Rails to Trails Festival, and is available to rent on special occasions.
In addition to preserving the railroad, LLTT promotes a trail system throughout Lassen County by working with the City of Susanville, Lassen County, Bureau of Land Management, and the Forest Service.
LLTT has provided staff, volunteers, and support to help purchase, build, and manage trails for the benefit of the public. Trails such as the Susanville Ranch Park, the Bizz Johnson, and the Modoc Line are all trails maintained by LLTT.
The organization also focuses on Conservation Areas and Easements. Lassen Creek Conservation Area 385 acres – LLTT purchased this property to protect prime mule deer winter habitat for the sub-herd of the Doyle Deer Herd. It is located 3 miles from Susanville on Richmond Road.
In June 2007, a fire burned about 200 acres of the property they continued to work on restoring the bitterbrush habitat.
The Rosenberg Conservation Easement is 640 acres and was donated to LLTT in 1991. It is located near Caribou Wilderness Area and contains a portion of Upper Stephens Meadow.
The meadow is surrounded by a basalt rock jumble supporting scrub aspen and forest stands dominated by lodgepole pine. It also includes a portion of the headwaters of Pine Creek which is the principal watercourse draining into Eagle Lake. It is believed to be the historical spawning and rearing habitat for Eagle Lake Trout.
The Wemple Conservation Easement is 39 acres – A developer purchased this conservation easement for a mitigation project, transferred the easement to LLTT and provided a stewardship endowment to monitor the easement. It is located on the northern tip of ‘The Island’ of Honey Lake.
It is protected for Carson Wandering Skipper habitat, a federally listed endangered butterfly species. This property is alkaline scrub habitat dominated by salt grass and greasewood
Each year LLTT hosts a Nature Camp giving students the opportunity to explore Lassen County and learn about the intricate details that make up the wondrous habitat. The camp is directed by staff educators and local experts. The week includes activities such as botany and wildlife hikes, aquatic insect investigations, and outdoor survival skills.
“We want to continue to see our youth experience the outdoors and educate them,” said Jensen. “Our hope is it will open the door to career opportunities and they can peruse and use when they come back home.”
The Gala will be an evening of dinner, dancing, a silent and live auction, and retrospective accompanied by members of the Susanville Symphony. All proceeds benefit the continuing conservation, recreation and education work of Lassen Land and Trails Trust.
“In the next 25 years we would like to see our regional trails plan completed and have a stronger network with our partners, land owners to preserve our land and agricultural heritage,” said Jensen.