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Granite Chief Land Purchase Completed

With escrow closed, 10,000-acre purchase area near Granite Chief Wilderness opens to public, preserving Tevis and Western States events on historic Western States Trail

 AUBURN, Calif. – A year-long fundraising and negotiating effort to help the American River Conservancy purchase a strategically vital 10,000-acre parcel for public use has been completed, the Western States Trail Foundation and the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run Foundation announced on Tuesday. Escrow for the $11 million purchase of old-growth forest and mountain meadows near Granite Chief Wilderness and the Western States Trail closed late last week.

“Both of our boards are extremely pleased that this acquisition has been finalized,” Western States Trail Foundation president Tony Benedetti and Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run Foundation president John Trent said in a joint statement. “Opening the entire 100 miles of the Western States Trail to hikers, runners and equestrians has been one of the overriding goals of this effort. Now that this 10,000-acre area has been acquired by the ARC and is no longer a private holding, the public is the clear winner. Both the Tevis Cup 100-Mile Ride and the Western States 100-Mile Run will now have perpetual guaranteed access to the last privately-held section of the Western States Trail, ensuring no disruption for the future of either event. In addition, the acquisition now enables the United States Forest Service to complete its National Trail designation for the Western States Trail.”

The ARC, of Coloma, Calif., having partnered with Northern Sierra Partnership of Palo Alto, Calif., and the Nature Conservancy earlier this year, was able to reach its fundraising goal of $11 million in late July. Through fundraising and matching efforts of their own, the Western States Trail Foundation ($250,000) and the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run Foundation ($100,000) contributed to the ARC’s total.

“We are so appreciative for the generosity the Ride and Run communities have shown over the past year,” Benedetti and Trent said jointly. “Our stakeholders have recognized the importance of this project. They’ve stepped up to the plate with donations, and with their overwhelming support in making sure we were able to cross the finish line for this project. It’s been quite an effort over the past year to organize, to raise money, and to make sure that the interests of our stakeholders were well-represented throughout the entire process.”

The 10,000 acres, located immediately west of Lake Tahoe and Squaw Valley, Calif., had been previously owned by a timber investment firm. It includes 1,200 acres of mountain meadow and is considered a vital part of the State and Federal water delivery system to 23 million Californians. The area includes four “blue-ribbon” trout streams and three popular trails, including the hiking/running and equestrian trail used by the Tevis Cup and Western States 100 events, as well as the Picayune Valley Trail.

Western States Trail Foundation

Western States Endurance Run




ARC Granite Chief Fundraising Update

Dear Western States stakeholder,

It has been a few months since our last update regarding the Granite Chief fundraising campaign that Western States embarked upon last fall with the Western States Trail Foundation (“The Tevis Cup”) and the American River Conservancy.

Here is the latest news:

Western States has successfully met its fundraising goal of $50,000. Your contributions, matched by the Western States trustees from our reserves created for purposes just as this most vital one, produces a total Run community support exceeding $100,000. Thanks to all of you for the generosity and interest you’ve shown in this effort. Your support is yet another example of the wonderful community and truly remarkable spirit that envelops all aspects of the WS 100.

According to the American River Conservancy, about $7.5 million of the overall fundraising goal of nearly $11 million needed for the Granite Chief acquisition has been achieved. The project’s deadline (escrow closure with the present owner) has been extended until July 31, which will allow ARC to complete the effort toward its fundraising goal. The ARC is now partnering with the Northern Sierra Partnership, of Palo Alto, Calif., and the Nature Conservancy, to advance the project, which we hope to achieve by the end of July.

On behalf of the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run Board of Trustees, thank you again for your generosity in helping move this important initiative forward. We will of course continue to keep you advised of further developments.


John Trent
Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run Board of Trustees

ARC Granite Chief Expansion

Dear Friend of Western States,

The Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run needs your help.

In July, it was announced that the American River Conservancy (ARC), a non-profit, 501(c)(3) public-benefit organization based in Coloma, Calif., had signed a purchase contract to acquire 10,000 acres of mountain meadows and old-growth forest at the headwaters of the American River. The purchase area, located immediately west of Lake Tahoe and Squaw Valley, has long been considered by our board to be the most strategically vital area in ensuring that the Western States Trail remains open and accessible for all public recreation for years to come. Once completed, the ARC’s purchase will join together two existing roadless areas, the Wild and Scenic North Fork American River and the Granite Chief Wilderness into a large block of contiguous protected land. The Western States Trail crosses this 10,000-acre of private land. Our board strongly believes that purchase of this land will guarantee the availability of these trails to hikers, runners, and equestrians, and enable the 100 miles of the Western States Trail to qualify for National Trail designation. We’ve agreed to help ARC in the next phase of this effort, which will include fund-raising for the $10.167 million purchase price from the parcel’s private owners. The Western States Endurance Run Foundation has pledged up to $50,000 to match donations made by friends of our organization.

Hodgson's Cabin Near WS Trail

Hodgson’s Cabin Near WS Trail

Against this backdrop, we are seeking your support. Please consider a donation on behalf of this historic effort to ensure that the “high country” portion of the Western States Trail remains open to the public in perpetuity. Deadline for donations in support of this effort is March. 1, 2015. One hundred percent of all donations will go toward the purchase price of $10,167,000, and, if for any reason the American River Conservancy fails to raise sufficient funds to acquire the subject property, then 100 percent of the donations will be returned to the donor. To make a contribution, please go to the Western States website at the following link. http://www.wser.org/granite-chief-wilderness-campaign/

To find out more about the ARC and the acquisition, go to arconservancy.org. Thank you in advance for your consideration regarding this project and your much-appreciated support of our race.


John Trent
Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run Board of Trustees

The Swinging Restoration

The Last Piece of the American Fire Puzzle

The Swinging Bridge is finally back in business! The bridge, which spans the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the American River at the base of the Devil’s Thumb climb, has been restored and brought back from the ashes following the 2013 American Fire.  This was accomplished jointly with USFS employees and WStrail.org volunteers. The USFS did a stellar job in getting the bridge done exactly one year after the American Fire was contained. As Craig Thornley, WSER RD, stated, “This USFS team did exactly what they said per our recovery plan in late 2013 — they delivered in a big way — huge thanks”.

The bridge work was completed over 5 days, but many days of planning, procurement, logistics and staging happened before the actual helicopter drops of material and equipment into Devil’s Basin.  We had a large volunteer crew on the ground watching the material being dropped into the canyon on Monday September 15th. “This is actually amazing how good these helicopter pilots are — pin point precision”, stated Bryan Cowger, WSTrail.org volunteer. Monday with the big volunteer crew along with USFS Engineer Ryan Mack’s direction we got the material staged at the bridge in 4 hours. Tuesday construction started with a small crew of USFS personnel and several volunteers. The days were long and there was a lot accomplished through Thursday. The bridge was nearing completion when the plug was pulled Thursday 9/18, and the crews removed due to safety and air quality concerns brought to us by yes another fire — the King Fire.

The King Fire was a fast mover, and actually moved very fast from Pollock Pines along the US 50 corridor to the north, and went all the way to the 2001 Star Fire burn, which in 2001 decimated 14 miles of the historic Western States Trail. The firefighters did their amazing magic, and with the luck of mother nature — a rain storm — the fire has been controlled (the King fire is 98% contained as of 10-3-14)

As the King Fire was reaching containment, and with the air quality improved, USFS personnel and a small volunteer crew were allowed to go back to the Swinging Bridge re-build on Monday September 29th. After another long day this crew got the job done and the bridge was historically restored. All the equipment and some of the old burned up materials were removed. These materials are being stored at the WSER Warehouse for historical safe keeping.

This was the final piece in a very long trail year that mainly focused on American Fire Recovery. Volunteers along with our strong USFS partner made this happen. Thanks to all who have helped either with sweat equity, planning, leadership or financial support. These volunteer and agency assets allow us to keep this precious resource, the Western States Trail, open.

Big Thanks… Put a fork in it — it’s done!!!






The Monday Helicopter Drop Volunteer Crew


Matt Brownlee, USFS American River Ranger District Trails Manager






From top left Joe Larkin (WSTF volunteer), Ryan Mack (USFS), Luke Haworth (USFS), Dan Manry (USFS), Mark Lambert (retired USFS), John Catts (WSER volunteer), Dave Noxon (USFS), Craig Thornley (WSER volunteer), Matt Brownlee (USFS)

American Fire WS Trail Recovery

A huge sincere thank you to the WSER community at large for your offers toward American Fire relief! This is what makes this race and trail so uniquely special.

Here is the current situation with American Fire Western States Trail recovery.

The WSER Foundation has been meeting with USFS Tahoe American District management and the Tevis Foundation (WSTF) on a regular basis to get a complete understanding of the fire damage. We have a joint foundation and agency team in place called the Western States Joint Trail Team (WSJTT). To date here is the status:

  • The fire affected the trail from Little Bald Mtn to Deadwood (~mile 29 to mile ~48). The fire was selective, i.e. some areas were burned and others not.
  • The trail physically has been impacted in several sections (erosion, debris, rock fall and fire suppression), especially Pucker Pt and in the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the American River (Swinging Bridge) canyon.
  • The WSJTT has given USFS a task priority matrix, specific to the Western States Trail, with the goal to have the trail open for the events next year (WSER and Tevis)
  • All hazard trees on this impacted section of the trail have been removed by USFS
  • The Swinging Bridge has structural damage (wood and steel). Awaiting final USFS engineer assessment. We have a river crossing contingency plan in place for next year in the event the bridge is unusable.
  • The trail is still closed from Deadwood east to Little Bald Mtn.
  • Our WSJTT is awaiting approval for a USFS led on-site visit (October) and the ability to mobilize our emergency experienced volunteer trail crew at a moments notice (October and November).
  • In the spring (March), all Western States Trail work volunteer events will be focused on American Fire recovery. These events will be posted on wser.org in January/February so if interested please sign up.

If you are interested in helping financially: Send check to

American Fire – WS Trail Repair
PO Box 99 Auburn, CA 95604

Or online:

Donations are tax deductible (WSER Tax ID #094-2902794).Again thank you for generous interest and support.

Western States Endurance Run Foundation

American Fire Map

American Fire Map