History of Clover Valley

Before European Colonization

According to the latest cultural report, Clover Valley "… is located in an interesting area for archeological research because it is between three areas with defined archeological sequences: the Oroville locality to the north, the Central Sierra area to the east and the Central Valley/Delta area to the west." It is believed that the area was occupied by the Maidu branch of the Nisenan — meaning "people" — who controlled the watersheds of the Yuba, Bear, and American Rivers. Evidence suggests that Clover Valley was a major trading hub, a center where people came on a regular basis from the other areas. Its steep slopes provided both shade and protection.

The Nisenan were sensitive to the migration of animals, fish runs, and ripening or maturation of edible vegetation. They needed to be flexible to go where the resources were most abundant at any time of the year. Thus they did not necessarily have large, year-round villages. A smaller "home base" might be maintained where elders or very young children would stay, where food could be stored, and where hunters and gatherers could return after being out for a couple of days.

After European Arrival

At the time of contact with the Europeans, the area was reportedly controlled by "Captain John," a major chief based in Auburn who controlled the chiefs of several other smaller tribelet groupings. As the gold rush ebbed, farmers and ranchers emerged with their land claims, along with malaria, all of which decimated the Native Americans and their life styles.

Clover Valley was occupied in the mid 1800's by several "owners." Eventually, all were acquired by J. Parker Whitney, whose historical significance in the area is well documented.

Today, in addition to its important ecological resources, Clover Valley is home to at least 33 prehistoric sites, one of which dating back possibly 7,000 years. These sites all qualify for National Registry of Historical Places as an Archeological District. These spectacular sites provide a contextual picture, a chronological sequence that is being lost due to destruction from development.

As stated in the cultural report, "Most of the sites now lie in their natural unaltered setting, appearing much as [it] did in the prehistoric period of significance. Overall, the alteration of the landscape for the construction of modern features will alter the setting, feeling, association aspects of integrity of the district.

From 1999 thru 2005

In late 1999-2000, various newspaper articles reported the collapse of sales of Clover Valley to other developers, or of escrow not closing. Naively, a very small group thought the property simply could be purchased and saved as a preserve. What this original group did not realize was that the owners-developers had no intention of negotiating in good faith or of selling to "those environmentalists." The dye was cast at a Rocklin Planning Commission meeting when the city and the developers attempted to avoid preparing an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). However, with many citizens speaking passionately about all the environmental impacts, and with a Planning Commission that listened, it was determined that an EIR must be prepared.

Thus, the campaign to "Save Clover Valley" went into high gear. Clover Valley Foundation was created, and WPCARE (Western Placer Citizens for an Agricultural and Rural Environment) offered fiscal sponsorship under its 501(c)3 umbrella. Back in 2001, we thought the Clover Valley issues would take two or three years to settle. Little did we know. Finally, as the years have dragged out, we realized we needed to have our own non-profit corporate status. As of August, 2005, Clover Valley Foundation is a 501(c)3 California non-profit corporation.

Clover Valley Foundation knew its campaign to save the valley was starting late. The property had already been annexed to the city of Rocklin; the rezoning and development agreement had been approved; and the Programmatic Environmental Impact Report (EIR) had been certified. Because the citizens' group had little to no experience with CEQA, it became apparent that professional help would be needed. To level the playing field, an environmental attorney, Bill Yeates, was consulted. He in turn recommended a colleague, Keith Wagner, who was hired to write comments on the Notice of Preparation (NOP) under the auspices of CLAW (California Legal Advocates for Wildlife). Eventually, Wagner joined the Yeates law firm and also wrote comments on the Draft EIR in August of 2002.

In waiting for the Final EIR, it became apparent that there were significant Native American sites on the property. It was also known that new archeological excavations had been performed in '99 and '00. However, the results of those excavations, and the subsequent cultural report were not included in the August 2002 DEIR. Inquiries to the city of Rocklin regarding the status of the cultural report were met with statements that the cultural report was not completed.

Working behind the scenes, in the spring of 2003, a copy of the January 2002 cultural report was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) much to the chagrin of the developers and the city. Instead of 6 previously known prehistoric sites on the property, there were 33, all of which were eligible for National Registry. The city claimed no knowledge of the report; however, a 1999 memo also obtained under FOIA informed the city that the cultural report was to be finalized shortly.

2005 and Beyond

The city and the owner/developers have now decided that rather than proceed with the Final EIR (from August 2002) and subsequent Tiered EIR's, they will submit a small lot map in a new EIR and attempt to have all approved in one fell swoop. The NOP for the new "Draft Recirculated Environmental Impact Report" (DREIR) was completed in October of 2005. Clover Valley Foundation has retained the Yeates environmental law firm to consult or write comments on CEQA documents, believing the project is too important to leave any stone unturned, especially if/when litigation becomes the only remaining option to save Clover Valley.

Educational and fundraising activities have been effective in garnering public support and will continue. Clover Valley Foundation is committed to preserving the last pristine and most unique valley in Placer County's sprawling foothill developments. As one of the most magnificent irreplaceable landscapes in the country, we are committed to preserving this valley in perpetuity. To help, please call Allison at (916) 435-4845 or Marilyn at (916) 652-7005, or see our How You Can Help page for donations and other ways to help the effort to save Clover Valley from development.