Latest PCTA Acquisition Prevents PCT Move to Dirt Road

To be on the PCT at any point in its 2,650-mile stretch is incredible, but for those of us near mile marker 601 in Southern California’s Kern County, the walk is now a little bit sweeter. Two individual private contributions to PCTA’s Land Protection Fund made the acquisition of the Piute Mountains Property from the original landowner possible. Working with the USDA Forest Service, PCTA transferred 10 acres into Sequoia National Forest at its southern boundary last month. The acquisition permanently protects this area’s scenic resources and ensures that the trail will remain in its optimal location.

The PCT can now remain here—thanks to the PCTA’s acquisition and protection of the property.

Prior to the protection of the Piute Mountains Property, as it’s known, the previous owner planned to develop a homesite.  This would have forced the PCT to relocate onto a dirt road, its actual legal location. Such a move would have certainly decreased the scenic nature of the trail, disturbed the habitat in the rerouting process, and detracted resources away from maintaining the trail in its current place. But with the acquisition, the PCT can legally remain where it is—as a more scenic singletrack trail.

Before the acquisition of the property, the PCT’s legally-required location was this dirt road.

Being part of Sequoia National Forest benefits more than humans: what you’ll see today and in the future are diverse habitats of approximately 20 plant communities found in the region. Pronghorn antelope, Tule elk, mountain lion, and black-tailed deer share this space with migratory and resident birds, including California quail, mountain quail, and mourning dove.

Click the image above to view the property location in the PCTA Interactive Map.

PCTA’s Land Protection Fund made the acquisition of the Piute Mountains Property from the original landowner possible.  The fund allows PCTA to respond quickly to opportunities to purchase lands along the trail corridor, and covers land protection and stewardship expenses such as purchase options, appraisals, surveys, closing costs, property taxes, and restoration—some of which can’t be recouped from grants or the subsequent transfer of a property to a local land trust or public partner.

In fact, the fund results in even more land protection by leveraging federal funding and stimulating additional giving. PCTA holds properties temporarily–so when land trusts and public agencies are able to acquire those lands from PCTA, they become permanently protected, and the monies return to the fund, where they will be used again to protect other threatened parcels of land.

Learn more about PCTA’s land protection work and the Land Protection fund here.

Author: Virginia Esperanza Lorne

Virginia Esperanza Lorne is PCTA’s Conservation Project Manager. A San Francisco native, Virginia studied conservation at U.C. Berkeley and Yale School of the Environment and has worked for the State of California and non-profits, starting at the CA Conservation Corps and coming most recently from Trust for Public Land and Laguna Ocean Foundation. She dreams of being out of a job when all the land along the PCT is permanently protected.