PG&E Secures Permanent Conservation for 140,000 Acres of Watershed Lands

Sonoma County, CA

As part of its 2003 bankruptcy settlement, PG&E conserved 140,000 acres of watershed lands and committed $30 million for youth investment and $70 million for land conservation. (Credit: Unsplash+)

by | Jun 5, 2024

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Land Conservation Commitment Achieved

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has fulfilled its Land Conservation Commitment, protecting approximately 140,000 acres of PG&E-owned watershed lands permanently.

This milestone, celebrated at the Pepperwood Preserve, was achieved in collaboration with federal, state, local, and tribal government officials and various partners. These conserved lands will benefit Californians by preserving habitats, open spaces, cultural resources, outdoor recreation opportunities, and sustainable forestry and agricultural uses.

Unique Partnerships and Lasting Impact

Over two decades, PG&E developed innovative conservation agreements and partnerships with private conservation groups, Native American tribal organizations, and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE). These partnerships have protected these lands in perpetuity for public benefit, education, and enjoyment. Completing the Land Conservation Commitment underscores PG&E’s dedication to environmental stewardship and community engagement.

Carla Peterman, Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer for PG&E Corporation, emphasized the significance of these efforts in preserving natural spaces for future generations, saying “We’re grateful for the partnerships formed over the past two decades to protect these lands for the benefit and enjoyment of Californians and its visitors. We’re extremely proud knowing that these beautiful outdoor spaces will continue to thrive and survive for future generations.”

Key Achievements of the Land Conservation Commitment

PG&E’s Land Conservation Commitment originated from its 2003 bankruptcy settlement, resulting in the protection of forests, wetlands, and meadows across the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges. Conservation easements were granted to local land trusts, and land not required for PG&E operations was donated.

Key transfers include:

A 62-acre parcel on Lake Valley Reservoir’s shores was transferred to the San Joaquin Office of Education to serve as a camp for underserved youth, with the Wildlife Heritage Foundation maintaining the conservation easement.

Nearly 15,000 acres in Shasta, Nevada, and Placer counties were transferred to CAL FIRE for forest research, restoration, and public recreation. These lands were managed in partnership with local land trusts to protect scenic, open space, forests, wildlife habitats, and cultural values.

Eight hundred seventy-nine acres of ancestral land were transferred to the Potter Valley Tribe in Mendocino County, with a conservation easement held by the Mendocino Land Trust. This easement allows for traditional land management and educational programs for youth.

Enhancing Forest Resilience

PG&E is also committed to building more resilient forests to mitigate wildfire risks. Local pilot projects are underway in various communities, focusing on forest fuel management and supporting community needs. In partnership with local organizations, these projects aim to reduce wildfire risk and improve community safety.

Initiatives include:

In Tuolumne County, forest health on private lands is restored through targeted treatments in collaboration with the American Forest Foundation and the county.

In Butte County, working with the Butte County Fire Safe Council, California Department of Water Resources, and CAL FIRE to treat high-fire risk areas.

In Sonoma County, supporting fuel reduction efforts around roadside rights-of-way in partnership with the Northern Sonoma County Fire Foundation.

Innovative Solutions at Pepperwood Preserve

Pepperwood Preserve, the celebration spot chosen to celebrate this milestone, features PG&E’s first 100% renewable remote electric grid, deployed in November last year. This remote grid is part of PG&E’s standalone power systems designed to reduce wildfire risks by replacing long distribution lines in remote and high fire-risk areas with safer, localized energy resources.

Located in the Mayacamas Mountains, the 3,200-acre Pepperwood Preserve is a living laboratory for climate and wildfire solutions grounded in conservation science. It supports over 900 species of native plants and wildlife and serves as a hub for climate monitoring, applied research, science education, and wildfire resilience demonstration projects, such as the ALERTWildfire camera network.

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