About Sierra Valley Preserve
Where the Middle Fork Feather River begins
- 2,586 acres near Beckwourth, CA
- Purchased 2003-2019
- Protected for: Water, Wetlands, Biodiversity, Rare or threatened species, Climate resilience, Native homelands
- 1,100 acres of seasonal and permanent wetlands
- Landowner: Feather River Land Trust
Water & Ecology
The Sierra Valley Preserve’s network of braided wetland channels form the headwaters of the Middle Fork Feather River, a Wild and Scenic River. These high elevation freshwater wetlands support a rich variety of wildlife and botanical habitats including open water, and montane meadows, while upland areas include sagebrush, bitterbrush scrub, and dune habitats.
Flora & Fauna
Located along the Pacific Flyway, the Preserve’s 1,100 acres of seasonal and permanent wetlands and open water provide migratory and breeding habitat for 100+ bird species, including 17 rare or threatened species such as:
- Greater Sandhill Crane, Black Tern, and Yellow-headed Blackbirds.
Upland habitats support a diversity of wildlife species such as:
- Pronghorn, American Badger, Coyote, Western Meadowlark, Sage Thrasher, and mule deer herds.
Located at the convergence of three geographical regions, Sierra Valley is botanically biodiverse and includes unique plant species like:
- flowering bitterbrush, camas, Brown’s peony, sand lilies, Sierra Valley evening primrose, meadow penstemon, and wild iris.
Culture & History
The human history of Sierra Valley Preserve is almost as rich as its natural history. Historically inhabited by the Washoe and the Maidu, Sierra Valley continues today as an important intermixing zone of cultural traditions from the Cascade, Sierra Nevada, and Great Basin regions. The Preserve features a vibrant human history including prehistoric settlement and technology, native food and material procurement, historic exploration and transportation, European settlement, early settler agricultural practices, and water conveyance systems.
If you care about protecting Sierra Valley and the whole Feather River Watershed, don’t put off this decision: Join the Feather River Land Trust today and renew your membership every year. It is the best investment you can make in the long term sustainability of our region.
—Lucy Blake, Sierra Valley landowner and President, Northern Sierra Partnership
Working together to protect Sierra Valley Preserve
Conservation of the Sierra Valley Preserve is the result of a multi-year, multi-partner effort. In 2003, FRLT partnered with The Nature Conservancy and Sierra Business Council to acquire the 575-acre Maddalena Ranch, which the Maddalena-Tipton family leases a portion of for cattle-grazing. Collaborating again with TNC and the Northern Sierra Partnership, FRLT acquired the 331-acre Smith/Folchi Ranch in 2014 and the 1630-acre Bulson/Noble Ranch in 2016. FRLT’s most recent addition to the preserve is the 50-acre Marshall property, protected in 2019.
Successful conservation of this special place would not have been possible without generous funding from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, the Community Foundation of Western Nevada, the Resources Legacy Fund, and the Northern Sierra Partnership, and with support for preliminary conservation work from the Firedoll Foundation, the Morgan Family Foundation, and FRLT member-donors.
Now more than ever, we need your support.
Help us protect vital agricultural lands, wetlands, and wildlife habitats
Stewardship of Sierra Valley Preserve
In 2018, FRLT adopted an ambitious land management plan for the Sierra Valley Preserve. Our approach to management is guided by the Preserve’s unique conservation values, visitor experience, and long-term sustainability. We use a wide range of adaptive management techniques to protect the Preserve’s ecological functions and water resources, including targeted livestock grazing of invasive species to enhance botanical species diversity. Scientific and anthropological research guides our work to protect the Preserve’s rich cultural and historical resources. An objective of the management plan is to work with tribal partners to incorporate Traditional Ecological Knowledge for stewardship and land-use when possible.
Recreation & Access
Sierra Valley Preserve offers a variety of recreational opportunities including birding, kayaking/canoeing, trail walking, nature photography, and botanizing. FRLT is working to expand public access to the Sierra Valley Preserve. Visitors can currently access the East Entrance (near the Maddalena corrals) of the property from County Road A24, approximately 1.7 miles south of the intersection of Highway 70 and County Road A24. Open year-round to the public, this property features a wildlife viewing platform, interpretive trail, picnic table, and benches.
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Sierra Valley Properties Conserved
Sierra Valley FarmsConservation Focus
Loyalton Learning LandscapeConservation Focus
Church RanchConservation Focus
Grashuis RanchConservation Focus
Hill RanchConservation Focus
Puma Robles RanchConservation Focus
Potter RanchConservation Focus
Trosi Canyon RanchConservation Focus
Balderston RanchConservation Focus
Harris RanchConservation Focus
Sierra Valley PreserveConservation Focus
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.
More Stories from FRLT
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Nature photographers contributed their images to help conserve the Feather River region. We're grateful.
FRLT's founder Paul Hardy reflects back on starting the land trust in 2000 with a small circle of volunteers. In 2020, FRLT is a nationally accredited land trust, 1,100 members strong, and has conserved nearly 60,000 acres.
We’re conserving working family ranches in Sierra Valley, which hold the Sierra Nevada’s largest wetlands and montane meadows and sustain incredible biodiversity.
We’re working to permanently conserve 43,000+ acres of important Maidu homelands, headwaters, and habitats owned and managed by Pacific Gas and Electric for public benefit.
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.
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.
Mountain Meadows is a hidden gem of scenic beauty, fresh water, and habitat for a rich diversity of wildlife and plants. This special Maidu homeland and beloved place for quiet recreation was protected in 2018.
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.