About the Loyalton Learning Landscape
Protecting vital natural and cultural resources
- 142 acres in Loyalton, Sierra County
- Protected by Conservation Easement in 2014
- Rare or Threatened Species: Yellow Warbler, Bald Eagle, Golden Eagle, Northern Harrier, Sandhill Crane
- Protected for: Kids in Nature, Agriculture, Open Space, Wildlife, Water
- Outdoor classroom for Loyalton schools
- Landowner: Anne Chadwick, regional conservationist, writer, and agriculture advocate
Water & Ecology
The 142-acre ranch protects scenic open space on the edge of Loyalton, a small town about a 45 minute drive from both Reno and Truckee. Three diverted channels of Smithneck Creek, an important tributary to the Middle Fork Feather River, flow through the property creating wet meadow and riparian habitats with dense willow stands, sedges, and cattails.
Flora & Fauna
The Loyalton Learning Landscape is home to Rainbow Trout, American Dippers, songbirds including Yellow Warblers and Bullock’s Orioles, many raptor species, including Bald and Golden Eagle, Northern Harrier, Ferruginous Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk, and a host of other wildlife species. The ranch is centered in Sierra Valley and is an Audubon designated Important Bird Area. Montane meadow, wetlands, and pasture lands provide migratory and winter habitat for the Truckee-Loyalton Mule Deer Herd.
Culture & Agricultural Heritage
Since 2014, the property has been integrated into academic programs at both Loyalton Elementary and Loyalton High schools. As a hands-on field campus, teachers and students work with our Learning Landscapes Coordinator, FRLT staff, and partners to manage and maintain a creekside trail and outdoor seating area next to the fields and irrigated pasture of the ranch. A long-time local ranching family manages agricultural production of the property, producing hay and beef.
Working together to protect the Loyalton Learning Landscape
We conserved the ranch in 2013 through a unique partnership with the landowner Anne Chadwick and Loyalton schools as part of FRLT’s Learning Landscapes Program. The purchase of the conservation easement was made possible with generous funding from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, Northern Sierra Partnership, Hind Foundation, and the Gimbel Foundation. Preliminary conservation work was generously supported by the Mellam Family Foundation, Firedoll Foundation, Morgan Family Foundation, and FRLT members.
Now, more than ever, we need your support
Help us protect critical open space, outdoor classrooms, and working ag lands.
Agriculture & Land Stewardship
The Loyalton Learning Landscape is managed for sustainable agricultural production, meadow and riparian habitats, and school use. The easement differentiates three distinct habitat zones:
- Education and Habitat Zone 1: This zone is fenced off for student learning and management as a natural meadow ecosystem.
- Education and Habitat Zone 2: This zone is a shared zone for agricultural production and student learning and restoration projects.
- Agricultural Zone 3: This zone emphasizes agricultural production and stewardship and is managed by the ag leaseholder.
As the conservation easement holder, FRLT meets with the landowner and ranch manager annually about management plans and potential impacts on its special resources. FRLT visits the property to monitor that the terms of the easement are being upheld and also coordinates with the schools and teachers for any student restoration or stewardship projects on the property.
Outdoor Learning & School Access
The outdoor classroom site on the property features a school-use trail built by students, teachers, and our partners, the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship. The trail follows along a lush riparian corridor, crosses Smithneck Creek, and leads to an open meadow with a seating area shaded by cottonwood trees. Each year, students and FRLT maintain the trail and classroom site to make it easier for all grade levels to study the natural phenomenon and agricultural practices of Sierra Valley. The Loyalton Learning Landscapes property is privately owned and managed as a working ranch. It is not open to the general public outside of school use. To see our properties that have public access and trails, visit our preserves page.
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I like learning first-hand. It's interactive. You can look at it, touch it, feel it, hear it, and smell it. Using all of your senses implants it in every part of your brain.
—Lucas, Loyalton High School student
My quest is getting kids interested in science and enjoying it. The outdoors is the connection to make that happen.
—Mark Fisher, retired Loyalton High School teacher
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.
We’re on a campaign to conserve 120,000 acres of Feather River headwaters and globally unique wetlands, meadows, and forests for current and future generations.
We’re conserving working family ranches in Sierra Valley, which hold the Sierra Nevada’s largest wetlands and montane meadows and sustain incredible biodiversity.
Sierra Valley Preserve is an ecologically rich 2,586-acre preserve protected for its unique wetland habitats and Feather River headwaters. On the Pacific Flyway, the Preserve offers spectacular birding.
Olsen Barn Meadow, conserved in 2015, is 107 acres of meadow and wetlands with a 130+ year old historic barn next to Lake Almanor near Chester, CA.
The 65-acre Sierra Valley Farms has been owned by the Romano family for three generations. The property is surrounded by FRLT’s Sierra Valley preserve and includes a certified organic farm and rich wetlands.
Help us build the new Nature Center at the Sierra Valley Preserve! We'll be installing straw bales as insulation.
FRLT uses conservation easements to protect important land and water in perpetuity. But what is a conservation easement?
Led by Rob Wade and FRLT, a national cohort of land trust folks are working to raise up the next next generation of earth stewards and building equitable, accessible, and community-driven programs for kids where they live.
Watch this page for frequent construction updates and pictures as we create the new Sierra Valley Preserve Nature Center.