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Land Trust Public Land Near Lake Tahoe
Properties, Environment, Trails
by Hannah Hughes
on October 19, 2023

The Land Trust’s first conservation easement at Sorensen’s was filed in 1984. This easement, unlike most of the Land Trust’s easements, is a public access easement. Located in Hope Valley, the easement’s home is in a broad mountain valley with beautiful water features and breathtaking views just south of Lake Tahoe.

What is a Conservation Easement?

A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and an eligible organization that permanently limits use of the land to protect the natural and cultural values of the property in perpetuity. When a conservation easement is placed on privately owned land, it still belongs to the landowner and they may, for example, continue to manage, live on, or use the land in ways that are consistent with the easement. Easements are an optimal way to conserve land throughout generations since an easement carries through to heirs and new owners. The Land Trust of Santa Cruz County holds approximately 45 different conservation and agricultural easements—protecting over 3,400 acres of land forever!

Monitoring Conservation Easements

Having 3,400 acres of land protected by easements entails the responsibility of monitoring the properties to ensure the easements are being upheld. Monitoring is required at least annually. During a monitoring visit, Land Trust staff walk the property, taking photos and making field notes, which are then used to write the annual monitoring report. Report content can vary greatly depending on changes to the natural and/or human-made features, as observed by the monitor. Reports are kept with the easement records and aid greatly in stewardship and perpetual protection of the land.

More About the Property

Hope Valley was the indigenous Washoe tribe’s primary hunting and fishing grounds for time immemorial. The property itself is surrounded by United States Forest Service land, giving way to a generous trail system, which leads to a beautiful scenic view from Sorensen’s Cliff—and, if you’re feeling more adventurous, Pickett Peak. After a long hike you can enjoy lunch or dinner at Sorensen’s Café in the Desolation Hotel, located directly in front of the easement.

The resort offers a variety of cabins, yurts, and campsites where travelers have stayed to enjoy the valley for over a century. If you’re looking for a little piece of Santa Cruz in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, be sure to go check it out!