Purchased 2003-2016

The Feather River Land Trust partnered with The Nature Conservancy and the Northern Sierra Partnership to conserve three exceptional properties, which together form a 2,500+ acre contiguous preserve in the northern heart of Sierra Valley.

Pelicans fly in Sierra Valley

The 120,000-acre Sierra Valley rivals Lake Tahoe in size and beauty and its wetlands form the headwaters of the Middle Fork Feather River, which contributes to the California State Water Project, a system that provides freshwater for 20 million Californians. The Valley’s seasonal and permanent wetlands support the greatest diversity and abundance of birds in the entire Sierra Nevada—more than 230 species—and are a key stopover on the Pacific Flyway.

Click on the video slideshow below to enjoy some of the breathtaking views and wildlife you have helped conserve.

Yet to be named formally, the “Sierra Valley Preserve” includes channels of the Middle Fork and offers a rich variety of habitats, including extensive wetland marshes, open water, montane meadows, and upland areas of sagebrush and bitterbrush scrub, dune habitat, spring wildflowers, and native bunchgrasses. The upland habitats support a diversity of wildlife such as Pronghorn, American Badger, Coyote, Western Meadowlark, Sage Thrasher, and the Sloat and Doyle deer herds. The preserve’s 1,100 acres of seasonal and permanent wetlands and open water provide migratory and breeding habitat for sensitive species like Greater Sandhill Cranes, Black Tern, Redhead, White-faced Ibis, and 200+ pair of Yellow-headed Blackbirds. 

The property conserves a rich Native American and agricultural history. With a Land Management Plan to be completed in fall of 2016, the Sierra Valley Preserve will offer exceptional opportunities for paddling the waterways and exploring the land’s ecology, wildlife, and cultural and agricultural heritage.

Conservation of the Sierra Valley Preserve

Conservation of the Sierra Valley Preserve has been a multi-year effort. 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. Tony continues to lease part of the land for cattle grazing.  In 2014, FRLT partnered with The Nature Conservancy to conserve the 331-acre Smith Ranch (formerly the Fochi Ranch) in Sierra Valley. And in 2016, FRLT purchased the 1,630-acre Bulson Ranch (recently the Noble Ranch) in partnership with The Nature Conservancy and the Northern Sierra Partnership.

Conservation of the Sierra Valley Preserve was accomplished with 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 with support for preliminary conservation work from the Firedoll Foundation, the Mellam Foundation, the Morgan Family Foundation, individual donors, and FRLT members like you.

Stewardship and Recreation

Paddling Sierra Valley wetlands
FRLT is currently working on a Land Management Plan for the Sierra Valley Preserve. The preserve will be managed much like FRLT’s Maddalena Property, which has become a successful example of managing land for a variety of public benefits including wildlife habitat, wetlands and water, sustainable agriculture, cultural and historical preservation, low-impact recreation, and educational opportunities. Targeted grazing for habitat enhancement will continue on the Maddalena unit, and will be considered in the Land Management Plan for the Sierra Valley Preserve.

For now, public access is limited to the Maddalena portion of the preserve. Expanded public access in other portions of the preserve will be developed over time. For more information about the Sierra Valley Preserve, please contact Gabe Miller or Vanessa Vasquez of the FRLT Stewardship Program at (530) 283-5758.

Visit the Sierra Valley Preserve

The Feather River Land Trust welcomes you to come out and enjoy the extraordinary wildlife and 360 degree views of Sierra Valley.

While the Land Management Plan is being developed, public access is limited to the Maddalena portion of the Preserve.

The Maddalena Property is the only private property in Sierra Valley where the public has direct access to the wetland ecosystem for walking, canoeing and kayaking, nature photography, and exceptional birding. Open to the public year-round, the Maddalena has a wildlife viewing platform, interpretive trail, picnic table, and benches.

Directions to the Maddalena Property

Upcoming Events at Sierra Valley Preserve

Sierra Valley Birder's Guidebook


Photo Credits: (1) Andrew Wright/lighthawkphoto; (2) Shannon Morrow

Video slideshow photo credits: Andrew Wright/lighthawkphoto, Michael Hofmayer, Shannon Morrow, Liz Fairchild, and FRLT staff.