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PUC and Land Trust of Napa County Working Together to Protect Angwin Forestland

Staff Writer, September 9, 2016
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Pacific Union College and the Land Trust of Napa County have announced a joint effort to permanently protect, preserve, and manage 856 acres of forestland in Angwin, adjacent to the college’s campus. This forest is part of a larger ownership of land in the Angwin area held by PUC for over 100 years as an asset for its educational mission and is one of the most significant forests in Napa County.

The Land Trust is working to raise the estimated $9 million needed to purchase a conservation easement under the Forest Legacy Program administered by California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), which would preserve and protect 40 percent of the college’s land in Angwin and the majority of the college’s forest land, ensuring ongoing sustainable management of the forest into the future. The partnership is pleased to announce over $6.3 million has already been raised, in large part due to a $2.85 million grant from the State of California’s new Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.

PUC President Dr. Heather J. Knight said, “Our ultimate objective is that the PUC forest will be protected and preserved permanently and operated for the benefit of the college, its students, and the surrounding Napa Valley community for teaching, research, conservation, recreation, and public education, while at the same time raising critical funds for our college. We are thrilled with the progress that we have made so far and look forward to working with our partners and community members to achieve our ambitious goals.”

Since the PUC forest is adjacent to the 800 acre Las Posadas State Forest, its protection would create over 1,600 acres of contiguous protected forest. The two adjacent protected forests would offer important opportunities for partnership and coordinated management between PUC and Cal Fire. The PUC forest supports significant wildlife habitats and rare plants, provides a major wildlife corridor between other conserved areas in Napa County, and protects the watershed of Moore Creek, a key source of water for Lake Hennessey, the main water supply for the City of Napa. Notably, the most interior (farthest from the coast) redwoods in the entire range of the species are in Napa County and the PUC forest includes some of these important stands. The adaptation of this population of redwoods to Napa’s hotter and drier conditions could prove invaluable for the perpetuation of the species as climate change renders the coastal areas hotter and drier. The forest is also extensively used for recreation and events by PUC students, faculty, and staff, as well as community members.

Developed through a partnership between PUC, the Land Trust of Napa County, and Cal Fire, the conservation plan seeks to raise the bulk of the easement purchase price through state and federal conservation funding programs. However, a significant portion of the funding will need to come in the form of non-governmental contributions as match. “Private gifts are essential and will greatly enhance the chances of raising the additional public funds that are needed,” said John Collins, vice president for asset management at the college. The partnership will soon begin a joint fundraising campaign to complete the project.

A key part of the project will be the creation of a Forest Endowment Fund which would be invested to produce annual earnings to ensure ongoing management of the forest in a sustainable manner. While the value of the easement is estimated to be $8 million, the goal is to raise an additional $1 million dollars to initiate the fund. The fund will ensure sustainable management, coordination with forest management at Las Posadas State Forest, and protection of the redwoods, rare plants, and watershed, as well as meeting fire safety needs for Angwin and public access to the land.

Currently, a Forest Stewardship Plan is in development for the forest under a state program with Cal Fire. The forest will be set up as a Demonstration and Experimental Forest, and the plan will outline how the area will be managed in the next 10 years, including continued opportunities for public recreation. Public input and ideas regarding the plan are welcome; contact Walter Collins at wcollins@puc.edu or (707) 965-7500 for more information.