About Heart K Ranch
A natural and cultural treasure
- 903 acres in Genesee Valley
- Purchased in 2006
- Protected for: Water, Native Homelands, Biodiversity, Community, Agriculture
- 29 rare or threatened species including Yellow-breasted Chat and Sierra Nevada Mountain Beaver
- 2+ miles of Indian Creek, a Feather River tributary
- Landowner: Feather River Land Trust
Water & Ecology
The ranch lies just downstream from the confluence of Red Clover, Last Chance, and Indian Creeks, which converge in Indian Creek and flow through the property year-round. Eventually becoming part of the North Fork Feather River, Indian Creek is an important water resource for California and the ranch’s expansive meadows serve as cost-effective natural filtration and flood control. The creek and its surrounding riparian area provide crucial habitat for wildlife including Bank Swallows and six species of native fish.
Flora & Fauna
The Heart K Ranch is one of the Northern Sierra’s most biodiverse properties, supporting 29 species of conservation concern. It is a rich complex of lush meadow with dense willow stands and majestic cottonwood groves surrounded by mountainous uplands full of mixed conifer species and strong, old oaks. These habitats support diverse wildlife including:
- Mammals like River Otters, Black Bears, Beavers, Mountain Lions
- Six native fish species
- Birds like Golden Eagles, the endangered Willow Flycatcher, and Northern Flicker, of cultural importance to Mountain Maidu.
While many animals make a permanent home on the ranch, the property also serves as an important migratory corridor, particularly for the Sloat mule deer herd that winters and breeds here.
Culture & History
Genesee Valley (Yotomato Koyo in Maidu) was a traditional living, gathering, and hunting area for Mountain Maidu families. In the 1840s, the gold rush brought an influx of miners, and as mining waned, the logging and agricultural industry boomed. Though over time many Mountain Maidu were forced from their lands, the ranch is—and always has been—an important place for local Maidu families. With its historic barns, granaries, and homestead orchards; and the oak woodlands, grasslands, and willow groves managed by the Maidu for generations, the human connection to this land is long and deep.
The Feather River is truly unique. There is no river and no place like it. Knowing that the places I love, like the beautiful Heart K Ranch, will be protected for the next generations brings me joy and peace.
—Robin Meacher, FRLT member and local "mountain kid"
Working together to protect Heart K Ranch
In 2004, the Feather River Land Trust partnered with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to protect this critical landscape from subdivision. In 2006, in order to prevent the property from being sold into private ownership that would have limited opportunities for restoration and public access, the Feather River Land Trust purchased the Heart K Ranch from TNC with a $2.6 million dollar bridge loan from the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, which was paid back over time thanks to generous support from the community and multiple partners. Funding from the Wildlife Conservation Board, the Northern Sierra Partnership, and hundreds of individual supporters all contributed to protecting the ranch forever.
We need your support
Help us continue to restore and care for this historical and biodiverse property
Stewardship of Heart K Ranch
FRLT is managing the property with the goals of decreasing the risk of wildfire, protecting crucial habitat for native fish and wildlife, restoring the function of native vegetation in the meadow, and improving grazing practices. The ranch is also used for water quality and carbon sequestration projects that demonstrate the importance of these natural services. The stewardship team is continually learning and improving agricultural practices to revitalize and regenerate the soils of the property and support better watershed health.
FRLT does environmental education activities with local students at Heart K Ranch and works with the local Maidu community to protect and enhance existing cultural resources and to integrate Maidu practices and traditions into the ranch operations. Our team is also working to stabilize and improve the existing historical structures on the property.
Recreation & Access
In the heart of Genesee Valley, Heart K Ranch offers visitors stunning views and the opportunity to step back in time. We currently have no formal visitor facilities at the ranch, but visitors can park near the historical red barn and stroll the grounds or use the ranch as a starting point for walking or riding bikes on the surrounding rural roads. Improving facilities, expanding opportunities for recreation, and creating access points to neighboring public lands are all part of our long-term vision to deepen people’s connection to this spectacular property.
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Spanish and Indian Creeks Properties Conserved
You Can Count On Us
As a nationally accredited land trust, we are built to last. We leverage your donations with state, federal, and foundation dollars and strategic partnerships to achieve the greatest possible impact for the lands, waters, and people of the Feather River region. You can count on us to make careful and effective use of your support.
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