Placer County Conservation Plan

Like many of you, I was born and raised in this county and have seen major changes over the years. I remember piling into the car with my family for a trip downtown to drive through the first stoplight installed in Auburn. Cow pastures surrounding Rocklin and Roseville have transposed into a hub for high technology. And gone are the days of walking into a restaurant and recognizing at least half of the people there.

Attraction to Placer County has many facets. We enjoy a unique plethora of geography including the central valley, Donner Summit, an alpine lake (half of Lake Tahoe), and desert terrain with altitudes varying from 100 to 9.000 feet.
For 25 years, Placer has been one of California’s fastest growing counties expanding from 172,796 to 355,328 residents, outpacing the Bay area and greater Sacramento region.

The city of Lincoln, which was home to 6,000 or 7,000 just a few years ago, has already grown to nearly 40,000 today. Future population across the county is projected to double to 748,000 by 2060. One-fifth of the land west of Auburn will be developed over the next 35 years with over 90% of the growth in Roseville and Rocklin.

Within the county boundaries there are a mere handful of incorporated cities, leaving county government as the largest provider of municipal services and the main player in plans for growth.

Through the newly developing Placer County Conservation Plan, Placer County is anticipating a more urban landscape dominated by single family residences. The Placer County Conservation Plan covers approximately 200,000 acres of western Placer County with goals to protect land and lower the costs, including a more efficient permitting process. The Conservation Plan includes several key development projects and procedures to protect the environment.

Placer Vineyards is one of the largest projects in California with plans for 14,000 dwellings. Another 2,000 homes are planned for Bickford Ranch and Placer Ranch projects 5,327 residences. The University of Warwick purchased 600 acres anticipating the education of 6,000 students by 2031. There will also be a new Sac State annex for 30,000 students.

About 6% of the land west of Auburn is wetlands, putting market forces for aggressive growth at odds with preservation requirements. Land around the casino and the city of Lincoln is the densest protected land in the county. There are 4 birds, 2 reptiles, 2 amphibians, 2 fish and 4 invertebrates in our county which are endangered, and are protected and regulated by 3 levels of government. Disturbances to the protected land, including such magical things as vernal pools, require approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Californian Fish and Wildlife, and Placer County.

Clean, cold, well-oxygenated water flowing from the mountains in the American River is fundamental to maintaining the Delta. Much of the water used for the new development will be pulled from the Sacramento River by PCWA to allow the higher quality water to continue to flow into the Delta.

Twenty million dollars of the $1 billion budgeted for county development in the next 50 years, will be spent on conservation. Fees collected from those who impact the protected resources as a result of their development projects will pay for the program. State and federal contributions will also help fund projects.

Approval of the plan will be requested from the Board of Supervisors and City of Lincoln in September 2016. The public will then have a chance to review plans in January 2017 with permits to be obtained late in 2018. Most of the effort between now and September 2016 will be spent obtaining approval from the Federal government to protect the vernal pools.

The transition in store for us demands careful planning and deserves our close attention. I hope you stay informed as planning evolves and let your elected officials know your opinions.

More detail on the Placer County Conservation Plan and contact information for your representatives is at www.lwvplacercounty.org. You can also contact the Community Development Agency within the Placer County Planning Department.

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