Snow falls near Royal Gorge in the Sierra Nevada mountains. (Team Garmin)

TRUCKEE, Calif. (AP) — In what is being hailed as a major land acquisition in the Sierra Nevada, conservation groups say they have reached an agreement to purchase 3,000 acres atop Northern California’s Donner Summit.

Under the deal announced Monday, the Trust for Public Land and Truckee Donner Land Trust will buy the 3,000-acre Royal Gorge property for $13.5 million. They plan to build trails and take out fences.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the area has long served as a passageway for travelers seeking to cross the craggy peaks, including the ill-fated Donner Party. It also served as a trading hub for the Maidu and Washoe tribes.

The land has old-growth red fir forests, lakes and the lush Van Norden Meadow. It is also has the headwaters for three major rivers. It has been in private hands for several decades.

Donner Summit Land Preserved Through Land Trusts 6 August,2012KQED News Staff and Wires

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