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.
Photo by Andrew Wright/Lighthawkphoto
Photo by Jeff Bue
Photo by Andrew Wright/Lighthawkphoto
Photo by Andrew Wright/Lighthawkphoto
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.
Now, FRLT, The Nature Conservancy, and the Northern Sierra Partnership are working together to create a new Preserve headquarters and nature center for nature-based learning, recreation, and ecological stewardship.
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. Visitors can currently access the Preserve from two different entrance points. The West Entrance is located approximately 2.7 miles south from the intersection of Highway 70 and County Road A23, and features ADA access, a botanical trail, big views from the bluff trail and the historic Bulson House. The newly opened West Entrance is open Tuesday-Saturday, sunrise to sunset. The East Entrance (near the Maddalena corrals) is located on 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.
FRLT is currently working with our partners at the Northern Sierra Partnership and The Nature Conservancy to expand visitor amenities at the Sierra Valley Preserve, with even more trails and a new Preserve headquarters and nature center for nature-based learning and recreation (opening in Spring 2024).
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Sierra Valley Properties Conserved
Sierra Valley FarmsConservation Focus
Loyalton Learning LandscapeConservation Focus
Church RanchConservation Focus
Diamond G RanchConservation Focus
Hill RanchConservation Focus
Puma Robles RanchConservation Focus
Potter 8 RanchConservation Focus
Spring Creek RanchConservation Focus
Hollitz RanchConservation Focus
Genasci 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.
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Fire Recovery Progress Update
In 2022, we're one year into our three-year fire recovery initiative to mitigate the damage on 57,000 acres of FRLT-owned or conserved lands from the Dixie and Beckwourth Complex fires.
A new nature center at the Sierra Valley Preserve
A new Preserve headquarters and nature center is planned where visitors and locals alike can experience the wonders of Sierra Valley and deepen our understanding of the natural world and our place in it.
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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.