About Bucks Lake
Protecting vital natural and cultural resources
- 2,164 acres including lake, forests, and wetlands
- Protected by Conservation Easement in November, 2021
- Protected for: Recreation, Climate resilience, Wildlife, Habitat connectivity
- Rare or threatened species: Willow Flycatcher, Sierra Marten, Mountain Yellow-legged Frog, Quincy Lupine, and 29 other species
- Landowner: Pacific Gas & Electric Company
Water & Natural Resources
Bucks Lake reservoir is 1,827 acres in size (14 miles of shoreline) and is fed by cold water creeks coming off surrounding mountains, including Mill Creek (Middle Fork and Right Hand Branch), Bucks Creek, and Haskins Creek. Timbered hillslopes, creeks, wet meadows, and the lake itself sustain biodiverse communities of wildlife and plants. Rich with history, Bucks Lake was once a large meadow and is a place of importance to the Mountain Maidu people.
Most of the lands surrounding the Bucks Lake conservation easement are public lands managed by the US Forest Service, including the Bucks Lake Wilderness. The conservation easement adds to a larger landscape of protected lands creating connectivity for wildlife, special habitats, and a sanctuary from development.
Wildfires have threatened Bucks Lake recently with the North Complex in 2020 and the Dixie Fire in 2021. Thankfully, the lands and resources within the protected property did not burn. In addition to the lake, FRLT’s easement includes over 300 acres of Sierra mixed conifer forest, large willow stands, aspen groves, and wetlands.
Flora & Fauna
Bucks Lake and surrounding lands provide habitat for 16 rare and threatened species of birds, mammals, and amphibians including Yellow Warblers, Sierra Nevada Snowshoe Hare, Pallid Bat, and Mountain Yellow-legged Frog. Osprey and Bald Eagle nest close to the lake shore and are frequently sighted. Endangered Willow Flycatchers nest along Haskins Creek and a few acres of their habitat are found near Haskins Bay.
Seventeen rare or threatened species of plants flourish along the lakeshore, meadows, riparian corridors, and forested slopes of Bucks Lake, including Quincy Lupine, Mildred’s Clarkia, Plumas Rayless Daisy, and Northern Coralroot.
Bucks Lake supports a popular fishery of rainbow, brook, and brown trout, and Kokanee salmon spawn each fall in Bucks Creek.
Protect what you love
Help conserve and restore critical headwaters and habitats for wildlife, plants, and people
Working together to protect Bucks Lake
In partnership with Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and the Stewardship Council, FRLT has permanently protected 2,164 acres of publicly important lands and waters at Bucks Lake with a conservation easement. This conservation easement held by FRLT will prevent subdivision and detrimental land use changes within the protected property, including the reservoir itself. PG&E will continue to own and operate Bucks Lake and manage recreation facilities and leases.
The Bucks Lake conservation easement is part of a larger effort by the California Public Utilities Commission, PG&E, the Stewardship Council, and a variety of stakeholders to conserve 140,000 acres of PG&E watershed lands throughout California for ongoing public benefit.
Recreation & Access
Bucks Lake offers a variety of exceptional outdoor experiences, both on the lake and on adjacent lands. In the warm months, camping, fishing, boating, swimming, picnicking, and dining at the scenic resorts are all popular activities for locals and visitors alike. Several trailheads start near Bucks Lake and connect to the Pacific Crest Trail – a congressionally recognized trail that travels through the U.S. between Mexico and Canada – meandering through coniferous forests, aspen groves, wet meadows teaming with wildflowers, and over granite boulders. At an elevation of 5,200 feet, colder months bring snow and seasonal road closures allow for snowmobile use, as well as cross-country and back-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Stewardship of Bucks Lake
As the conservation easement holder, FRLT will meet with PG&E annually about management plans and potential impacts to special resources and public values at Bucks Lake. FRLT will visit and inspect the property on an annual basis to ensure that the terms of the easement are being upheld.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is a conservation easement and who will own the lands at Bucks Lake?
A conservation easement is a legal agreement that permanently protects the conservation values of private land and limits development, subdivision, and changes to land use. The Bucks Lake conservation easement protects 2,164 acres for public benefit. Lands within the easement area continue to be owned by PG&E with a conservation easement held by FRLT. It is FRLT’s responsibility to ensure that PG&E adheres to the easement terms that protect resources and beneficial public values specified within the easement agreement. As the landowner, PG&E continues to pay property taxes on its property. A conservation easement is a permanent agreement to protect conservation values, it will remain with the land forever even if the property changes ownership.
Will public access to the lake and surrounding PG&E lands change?
No. Authorized public access to PG&E lands and recreation uses are beneficial uses identified by the conservation easement and will continue. Identified authorized uses include boating (motorized and non-motorized), fishing, camping in designated areas, hiking, walking, swimming, day-use, skiing, over-snow travel, and more.
How about recreation amenities like campgrounds, boat launches, resorts, and day-use areas?
Will these change with a conservation easement? No. Campgrounds, day-use areas, boat launches, trails, and leases like cabins and resorts, continue to be managed and operated by the landowner (PG&E). The Mill Creek Trail, which crosses the conservation easement boundary for a short distance, will continue to be jointly managed by the Plumas National Forest and PG&E.
What impact will the conservation easement have on water at Bucks Lake?
None. PG&E holds water rights to divert, store, and use water from Bucks Lake primarily for its hydroelectric projects, although some of PG&E’s water rights authorize use of water for consumptive purposes (for example, agricultural use). Fisheries and lake levels are managed between PG&E and the State of California. The State Water Resources Control Board is the state agency that oversees water rights, water quality, wastewater management and several other water-related topics. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife manages fish, wildlife, plants, and habitats for the health of their populations and for enjoyment by the public. The conservation easement will not have a direct impact on water levels or water management by PG&E. Under the terms of the conservation easement, FRLT will not have enforcement authority over water-related issues.
Will the conservation easement prohibit hunting and fishing?
No. Hunting and fishing are permitted in authorized areas on the PG&E Watershed Lands in conformance with state and federal rules, regulations, and law. Hunting and fishing are specifically listed as examples of uses to be protected by the conservation easement at Bucks Lake.
Is Lower Bucks part of the Conservation Easement?
No, Lower Bucks is not protected by the conservation easement.
Are dogs allowed on the Bucks Lake conservation easement?
Yes. Dogs are permitted in accordance with PG&E rules and regulations. The conservation easement does not change any existing permitted uses.
I have a lease at Bucks Lake. How will this impact me?
Existing leases—including leases for resorts, boat docks, marinas, and public infrastructure—supersede the conservation easement. FRLT has no role, right, or responsibility to monitor and/or enforce the terms of any lease agreements that are issued by PG&E. If a leaseholder requested significant changes to the property that could potentially impact the beneficial public values within the easement area, FRLT would be consulted as part of annual planning and oversight process with PG&E. For questions about leases at Bucks Lake please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have more questions? Check out the Stewardship Council’s Land Conservation FAQs too!
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