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Land acquisition paves the way

Record-Courier editorial board

The Nature Conservancy’s first private land acquisition in Carson Valley – which means the preservation of 788 acres of prime river frontage for generations to come – is likely to be cited by both sides of the open space issue as paving the way for future transactions.

The Nature Conservancy and the Timken-Sturgis Foundation joined forces to buy the property for $1.53 million from White Rabbit Associates. The Sturgis family are long-time residents of Carson Valley.

What is notable about the deal is that it is 100 percent private. No public money was used to make the purchase.

Within the next 10 years, the equity in the property will be donated by the Timken-Sturgis Foundation to The Nature Conservancy. Plans are also in the works to evaluate the property for planning trails, habitat restoration and other long-term uses by the public.

The news of the transaction comes in the middle of private and public efforts to pass a sales tax increase to purchase development rights on other Carson Valley agriculture properties.

What The Nature Conservancy and the Timken-Sturgis Foundation have done is what opponents of open space initiative believe is the way to go: use private funds.

Advocates of the open space issue, however, believe that process takes too long. They argue too much property is lost to development by the time private funds and willing property owners are matched up.

No one argues that the view isn’t worth saving. What is at issue is how to go about it. This week’s successful sale of the River Fork Ranch proves that there are private ways to go about it.