The Truckee Donner Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy and the Trust for Public Land teamed up under the Northern Sierra Partnership to preserve Frog Lake north of Truckee, photo courtesy Truckee Donner Land Trust

Conservation Groups to Preserve Frog Lake

A stone lodge on Frog Lake’s eastern shore could become the cornerstone of a winter backcountry hut system envisioned by the Truckee Donner Land Trust and Northern Sierra Partnership, photo by Terry Hundemer, courtesy Truckee Donner Land Trust

 

Framed by glacier-carved granite cliffs on one side and a historic stone lodge on the other, Frog Lake has a rugged alpine feel unlike anything in the Northern Sierra.

The lake, located between Castle Peak and Euer Valley north of Truckee’s Tahoe Donner neighborhood, has been privately owned and closed to the public since the 1930s. That could change as soon as 2020, however, as the Truckee Donner Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy and the Trust for Public Land teamed up under the Northern Sierra Partnership to preserve the lake and adjoining land.

“There is no other opportunity like Frog Lake in the American West for conservation,” says Perry Norris, executive director of the Land Trust. “The chance to preserve this stunning lake is once in a lifetime.”

Frog Lake is located between Castle Peak and Euer Valley at 7,600 feet in elevation, photo courtesy Truckee Donner Land Trust

 

The acquisition, which includes 2,914 acres, will significantly reduce the fragmentation of wildlife habitat north of Truckee and create new opportunities for hiking and backcountry skiing through this stunning landscape. The conservation groups need to raise $15 million to close the deal.

“This property is the last big piece in the conservation puzzle east of the Sierra Crest and north of Truckee,” says Markley Bavinger, Sierra program manager for the Trust for Public Land.

Frog Lake and the other included parcels will build on previous acquisitions in the area, including Perazzo Meadows, Webber Falls, Independence Lake, Webber Lake, Lacey Meadows and Carpenter Valley.

The terrain flanking Frog Lake is ideal for backcountry skiing and riding, photo courtesy Bill Stevenson

 

The property includes the spectacular subalpine lake (elevation 7,600 feet), mixed conifer forests, aspen groves and freshwater creeks that provide vital habitat for wildlife with large home ranges such as the black bear, wolverine, marten, mountain lion and northern goshawk.

“Habitat fragmentation is a critical threat to the Sierra’s iconic wildlife species,” says David Edelson, Sierra Nevada program director for The Nature Conservancy. “This acquisition will help to knit together a fragmented landscape, protecting our upper watersheds and making them more resilient to climate change.”

Felix Smith purchased the property from the Southern Pacific Railroad in the 1930s, and it has remained a summer retreat for the family since. The family was careful to ensure that the property went to conservation.

“It is good to have Frog Lake going to such a dedicated conservation group as Truckee Donner Land Trust,” says Nathan Smith, one of the property owners.

The clear waters of Frog Lake from above, courtesy photo

 

The conservation groups intend to raise the $15 million by February 2020. Once they close on the property, it will open to the public.

“By creating new trails and linking existing routes, we can open up new landscapes and opportunities for hiking, biking, equestrians and backcountry skiing,” Norris says.

The partners plan to create new trails linking Castle Peak and Truckee to Independence Lake, expanding visitor access to this spectacular but little-known part of the Northern Sierra. Access to Frog Lake will be non-motorized only.

 

And the stone lodge on Frog Lake’s eastern shore could become the cornerstone of a winter backcountry hut system envisioned by the Truckee Donner Land Trust and Northern Sierra Partnership.

“Our partnership’s success is fueled by the vision and generosity of our supporters,” says Lucy Blake, president of the Northern Sierra Partnership. “This is our best chance to permanently protect and connect the spectacular landscapes of the Northern Sierra Nevada—for water, for wildlife and for all of us.”

Frog Lake, photo by Chrissy Earnhardt, courtesy Truckee Donner Land Trust

 

1Comment
  • Jae Abel
    Posted at 11:11h, 09 July Reply

    I was invited there as a guest, many times in the 1960s and 1970s. Felix Smith was a coworker of my best friends father: the invitation was extended and always seemed to garner a great group of folks to enjoy the wonders of the place. The leaky wooden boat in the boat house was the best for trolling for brook trout (Introduced species in the lake and very prolific in that water body.) There is/was a smaller lake up-slope, I recall was named Skipper Lake. If a big snow year had preceded, we’d glissade down the snow field stopping just short of the icy plunge to that ‘pond’. The last picture looks like what we used to call “Mary’s Rock”.
    Glad to see this outcome. Mega-Thanks to the Smith Family and the conservation groups. Redoubles my confidence in my support of TPL.

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