Purchased March 2003

Situated at the headwaters of the Middle Fork of the Feather River, Sierra Valley contains the largest freshwater wetland and marsh habitat in the entire Sierra Nevada and supports a host of bird species of special concern, including sandhill cranes and white-faced ibis.

The Maddalena Property is the only private property in Sierra Valley where the public has direct access the wetland ecosystem for walking, canoeing, nature photography, and birding. The Feather River Land Trust welcomes you to come out and enjoy the extraordinary wildlife and vistas of the Sierra Valley.


Conservation of the Maddalena Property

In 2003, Feather River Land Trust (FRLT) partnered with The Nature Conservancy and the Sierra Business Council to acquire its first property, a 575-acre parcel in the heart of Sierra Valley owned by rancher Tony Maddalena. The late Tony Maddalena shared that he felt the transaction was “a win for us and a win for FRLT because I know the Land Trust is going to take care of it.” (Listen to Tony's Saving the Sierra interview.) Through his daughter Annie Maddalena Tipton, the Maddalena family continues to lease part of the land for cattle grazing. 

In 2016, the Maddalena Property became part of a larger "Sierra Valley Preserve," a 2,500+ acre continguous preserve in the northern heart of Sierra Valley.

FRLT’s Maddalena Property has become a successful example of managing land for sustainable agriculture, wildlife, education, and low-impact recreation. The property is a birder’s paradise. Its wetlands support more than 120 bird species, including Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Sandhill Cranes, Bald Eagles, White-faced Ibis and an impressive variety of waterfowl and raptor species.

Stewardship and Recreation

Since taking ownership of the property, FRLT has made investments to improve its ecological condition and provide opportunities for public recreation and education. Restoration measures such as fencing, reducing livestock numbers, and adjusting the season of use, have proven remarkably successful; at least eight wetland-associated bird species not present at the time of acquisition now breed on the property.

One of the key goals of our work in Sierra Valley is to enhance the local ranching economy by making Sierra Valley a prized destination for nature-based tourism. That work has already begun on the Maddalena Property with increasing numbers of visitors – especially birders – coming to the property every year. Open to the public year-round, the property has a wonderful wildlife viewing platform and interpretive trail, the result of an ongoing partnership with the Audubon Society. Due to sensitive bird nesting habitat and livestock concerns, no dogs please.

Learn more about the Sierra Valley Preserve

Order your Sierra Valley Birder's Guidebook

Visit the Maddalena Property: Map and Directions

You are invited to visit the Maddalena Property year-round. Enjoy the interpretive trail, picnic table, benches, and wildlife viewing platform. There is a canoe available seasonally for boating but it is BYOP (bring your own paddles) or stop by the FRLT office to borrow some before heading out.

NOTE: Due to sensitive bird nesting habitat and livestock, no dogs please.

See Maddalena on Google Maps

Directions from Quincy:

  • Follow Highway 70 east to Beckwourth.
  • Just east of Beckwourth, go right (south) on County Road A24 and follow 1.75 miles to a set of wooden corrals on your right. Park nearby.
  • The trail to the bird watching platform starts at the corrals.

Directions from Truckee:

  • Head north on Highway 89 for 25 miles to Sierraville.
  • Turn right in Sierraville, continuing north around the Valley on Highway 49 toward Loyalton.
  • Look at your odometer. After 9.7 miles, turn left on Heriot Lane and follow 5 miles to Dyson Lane.
  • Turn left and follow Dyson Lane for 1.7 miles to County Road A24. When Dyson Lane turns left (west), follow A24 north for exactly 2.5 miles to a set of corrals on the left side of the road as it bends north.
  • If you reach Highway 70, you’ve gone too far. Retrace your steps 1.75 miles and park your car near the corrals.
  • The trail to the bird watching platform starts at the corrals.

Photos: (1) Michael Hofmayer; (2) Liz Fairchild; (3) Shannon Morrow; (4) Bud Turner