Conservation groups finalized a deal Thursday night to buy the 3,000-acre Royal Gorge property on Donner Summit after raising $11.25 million, much of it in private donations, in time to close escrow.
The Trust for Public Land and the Truckee Donner Land Trust now own the landmark cross-country ski area and surroundings of Sierra Nevada peaks, meadows and forests.
The deal, first announced in August, allowed the groups to buy the land from receivership after would-be developers defaulted on loans. The developers purchased the property in 2005 with the intention of building nearly 1,000 condominiums and single-family homes.
But they were overwhelmed with opposition and brought low by the housing crash and recession. Conservationists saw it as an opportunity to buy a one-of-a-kind property at a bargain price and preserve it in perpetuity for public use.
The cross-country ski area will be managed by nearby Sugar Bowl, while new hiking trails will be laid across the landscape. About $7 million in donations came from residents of Sugar Bowl and Serene Lakes, a vacation community surrounded by Royal Gorge.