NSP Project:

The Sierra Valley Preserve

Preserving an Ecologically Critical Landscape

The Sierra Valley Preserve

Situated at the headwaters of the Middle Fork of the Feather River, Sierra Valley is the largest wetland and wet meadow complex in the entire Sierra Nevada and supports the greatest diversity and abundance of birds in the Sierra. The Sierra Valley Preserve, in the northwest corner of the valley, is a 2,535-acre private preserve owned and managed by the Feather River Land Trust. The preserve is open to the public for walking, nature photography, and bird watching. Public access is through the corrals on the east side of the preserve, off of A-24 (see map below).

Conservation of the Sierra Valley Preserve

In 2003, Feather River Land Trust (FRLT) partnered with The Nature Conservancy and the Sierra Business Council to acquire its first property in Sierra Valley, a 575-acre parcel in the heart of the wetlands owned by rancher Tony Maddalena. While Tony continues to lease part of the property for grazing, the property has also become a destination for school field trips and the thousands of birders who visit Sierra Valley every year.

In 2014, FRLT teamed up with The Nature Conservancy and the Northern Sierra Partnership to expand the preserve by acquiring 331 acres due west of the Maddalena property. The new property included an important diversion structure that enables us to retain water in the wetlands for wildlife and public recreation. Building on that success, this year we were able to acquire the 1,630 acres that connect the eastern and western parts of the preserve, enhance access to the preserve from A-23, and provide an ideal site for interpreting Sierra Valley’s fascinating natural and human history. Together the three properties now form a single 2,535-acre preserve.

Stewardship and Recreation

The Sierra Valley Preserve will be managed for a variety of public benefits including wildlife habitat, wetlands and water, sustainable agriculture, cultural and historical preservation, low-impact recreation, and education.  The property includes a rich variety of habitat, from extensive wetland marshes, open water, and montane meadows to upland areas of sagebrush and bitterbrush scrub, dunes, and native bunchgrasses. The preserve’s upland habitat supports a diversity of wildlife such as pronghorn, American badger, coyote, western meadowlark, sage thrasher, and the Sloat and Doyle deer herds. Its’ 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 also conserves a rich Native American and agricultural history, and includes portions of the Jim Beckwourth Trail.

FRLT is currently working on a Land Management Plan for the expanded preserve. The planning process is helping us identify and map important resource areas on the ranch, as well as opportunities for resource restoration and expanded public access and recreation. Our goal is to create a new network of trails, trailheads, bird viewing platforms, interpretative signs, and other facilities to help you and other visitors understand and appreciate the unique natural and historic heritage of Sierra Valley. While we complete our planning process, year-round public access is limited to the original, eastern-most portion of the preserve accessible on A-24. No dogs please.

Sierra Valley Preserve Fast Facts


NSP’s region extends from south of Lake Tahoe to Lassen Volcanic Park; the Sierra Valley is located 25 miles north of the town of Truckee in the northern Sierra


120,000-acre valley
2,535-acre property

What you will see:

Working ranches, expansive wetlands, and a wide variety of birds and water fowl

What you can do:

Canoeing, bird watching, and hiking

The Sierra Valley Preserve The Sierra Valley Preserve
The Sierra Valley Preserve Map

Directions from Truckee and Quincy

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.

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.